Anxiety, A Restriction of Privileges

In my opinion, anxiety is absolutely the purest form of fear and it comes in all different shapes and sizes. It is an apprehension caused by either danger, misfortune or error and the results can be detrimental, ranging from a troubled mind to suicide.

Having anxiety can make an individual feel as though they are doing time. They are a prisoner in their own minds.

I would like to think that we have all heard of the controversial military punishment ‘Restriction of Privileges ‘(ROP’s). This is a punishment awarded to servicemen and women whom have REALLY mucked up. When given ROP’s it lasts for a period of a few days to a few weeks. Servicemen and women lose their basic rights, during this period they are constantly working, they are never comfortable, basic rights are stripped of them as they cannot relax or enjoy life because they are forced to have inspections, parades and do mundane tasks such as weeding the pavement, mopping floors which are already clean and they are subjected to constantly getting shouted at, told off and told that what they are doing is never good enough. ROP’s are exhausting and humiliating (I would like to add that whilst I was serving, I have never received this award. It was always a huge deterrent to do something wrong).

Arguably people with anxiety live a very similar lifestyle as these servicemen and women. Although, in many cases, anxiety is permanent and constant, whereas ROP’s are temporary. If you were to strip away the military aspect and replace the angry ‘shouty’ corporals or sergeants with an inner critic, what is left with is a scared and vulnerable person who is being bullied by their subconscious mind.

I would like to focus on two words, they are ‘vulnerability’ and ‘avoidance’. When we are confronted with trauma both of these words recur time and time again. Vulnerability is anxieties’ best friend.

Once an individual has experienced trauma they have a tendency to avoid similar scenarios or experiences because it reminds them of fearful, scary memories. We start to avoid anything related to the root cause which we can remember so vividly. Concurrently, we end up forgoing things which we once enjoyed as our internal avoidance dial turns to maximum. Anxiety is a fear of the future, it is an internal dialog that tells us to stop what we are about to do and to do something different in order to distract us with mundane jobs such as cleaning the dishes or polish the furniture.

Doing something safe at home like ironing or hovering is much more appealing to an anxious person than going out into the scary world with nasty dangers, regardless of how real the threat is. Our subconscious mind will always convince us that the difficulties we are faced with is much more severe than they actually are, because it does not understand logic but only emotion.

People only see the result that anxiety has on an individual. So many people cannot articulate the build-up of the stresses compiling inside or the physical effects that can seem disproportionate to a normal everyday event. But to the individual doing a simple task; such as taking a trip to the local shop or walking the family dog can be overwhelming. Nobody can see our inner demons intimidate us, they only see someone acting out of the ordinary. In order to save face, we tend to try to act normal or stoic to hide our worries and concerns. However, as a result of doing this we hide away and suppress our emotions which is absolutely the worst thing to do, as the body keeps the score. After suppressing emotions people tend to develop other acute or permanent illnesses such as anxiety attacks, headaches, irritability, sleep problems, fatigue, chest pains, IBS, depression and many more including suicide.

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