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Circles of anxiety

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It’s been almost four years since my first serious period of anxiety, and for most of that time I have largely been alright. There have been a few ups and downs, but mostly it’s been OK.

Despite these ups and downs, I still haven’t really got to grips with working out what’s wrong with me when it does rear its ugly head until I’m in the middle of it. This last time, a few weeks ago, I had a lightbulb moment and I’m hoping it’s going to help a bit in the future.

I worry a lot about my health. Not all the time, just for a few weeks every now and again. I recently counted all the terminal illnesses I’ve convinced myself I’ve had in the last year, and it came to about twenty-five. My last health worry was skin cancer due to a persistent itch on my stomach and a sense that I was slowly going mad because I couldn’t concentrate and I was tired all the time. It got to the point where I couldn’t think of anything else so my long-suffering wife told me to go and see my counsellor.

It was in this first session that I realised my anxiety presents itself in the form of worrying about my health, and when I worry about my health, I feel more anxious. It seemed so simple and so obvious, given that the periods of anxiety and health worry generally match up, that I thought it couldn’t be true. But since this light went on in my brain, I’ve not worried about the itch any more. In fact, with the application of a little cream, it’s gone. I’m also thinking clearly again. When I stand in the shower in the morning (my usual time and place for scanning my body for mystery illnesses), I think to myself that I am not anxious so I don’t need to worry about my health. And I don’t have any health worries so I have no need to be anxious.

So far it’s working…

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