When I am busiest I feel the least anxious
anonymous Asks ...
I take SSRIs for GAD. I keep it fairly well under control but it flares up and worsens every few months. I have a very demanding job and I am under a great deal of stress most of the time. I know that the crazy stress I put myself through worsens my disease but paradoxically, when I am busiest I feel the least anxious. It’s like I don’t have the time to start ruminating about stuff. When things slow down at work and when I have some time to myself that is always when the anxiety gets much worse. I feel as though I am in a bit of a catch 22 situation and I am not sure how to get out. I manage it by trying to stay ridiculously busy all the time but this is not an ideal situation for me since I am now a new dad and I also want to be able to spend a good amount of time with my family. Do you have any suggestions that might be useful to me? Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.
Jill Palmer Says ...
Great question. The problem with SSRIs is that they take the edge off of anxiety but they don't teach us coping skills. I always recommend therapy in conjunction with SSRIs. It is best that you don't keep so busy you miss out on your family. You'll need to learn to cope with the anxiety so you can get a peaceful life.
There are a few ideas you can start with. There are anxiety workbooks available at book stores you can work through. They teach you to pay attention to the thoughts and give you ideas on how to conquer those thoughts. You can also try meditation or mindfulness. There are books about being present which help us not worry about the past or the future (anything by Eckhart Tolle). I would also recommend exercise if it isn't already part of your lifestyle.
The other thing I recommend is to have quiet time for some amount of time that is uncomfortable but manageable. Sit with the anxiety and deal with whatever emotions are coming up for you. As you get better with that manageable about of time, increase the time until you can be with yourself in quiet for a reasonable amount of time without too much anxiety. This way you are teaching yourself that you can manage your anxiety in time chunks.
Staying super busy is only a distraction and avoiding the issue. Learning to deal with the underlying issue will allow you to manage the anxiety and eventually get off of the SSRIs.
I wish you the best.