When I was 6 years old, I decided to go to church on a beautiful sunny morning. As I made my way down the avenue which led to the church, I was approached by a pack of dogs. The dogs had a field day on my 6 year old body, I was rescued by an older lady who happened to be passing by on her way to church as well. Under the circumstances, I continued my journey to church accompanied by this wonderful person. We sat in the front row, I could hear people talking and felt them pointing at me, you see, I was bleeding and my clothes were torn and shredded.
Years later, in my 40s, as my wife and I were taking our afternoon walk, we were approached by a medium size dog. The dog was friendly and did not bark at us at all. However, I started to shake and hid behind my wife and started having a full panic attack. My body was shaking, I could not move and felt extremely scared that the dog was going to attack me. My wife looked at me and said, “ What is wrong with you? You are shaking. This is a friendly dog.”
Was it normal to feel nervous or anxious at the approaching dog or is this an anxiety disorder I need to work on?
There are instances where it is natural to feel nervous or anxious. People may experience anxiety in different ways. In this case, one my imply that phobias of certain objects and situations may lead to panic attacks. However, other forms of anxiety which may include social anxiety may bring only a mild discomfort.
The distinction between an anxiety disorder and just having normal anxiety is whether your thought are controlling your emotions causing a lot suffering and dysfunction. Are you staying up all night worrying about things you can not control? Do you fear that something is going to happen and as a result you are going to get hurt? In the case above, I felt the dog was going to attack me, when in reality, the dog just wanted to be friendly.
A form of anxiety call GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is define as worrying excessively or constantly worrying. You may worry about your body image thinking that others are making fun of how you look. Parents may worry about their adolescent children thinking something is going to happen to them every time they go out, thus becoming over-protective parents.
There are times when anxiety completely takes over your mind. This is when you start thinking about one thing after another from the time you wake up, until you go to sleep. Sometimes, the thoughts may wake you up in the middle of the night keeping you from sleeping. One explanation is that part of your brain is thinking constantly, nonstop. Such thinking may include irrational judgments – ‘No one will ever love me’ ‘exaggerating difficulties like blowing things out of proportion’, and placing rigid, unrealistic demands on oneself and others.
This sort of negative language could lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, among other problems. If you are experiencing anxiety or any other form of mental health issues, get help soon.
In conclusion, I would like you to know that this week, my wife and I were taking our evening walk. I had gone ahead of my wife and had already cross the street when I was approached by 2 Labradors being walked by their owner. This time, I merely looked at the dogs and stated to the owner, “such beautiful dogs”, the owner replied, “thank you” and we went on our way.
Regardless of severity of the anxiety you experience, there are resources that help you deal with the emotional expects of anxiety. Call us at Positive Soul Holistic Therapy at 210-858-6127 for a free consultation .
Written by Juan F. Lira LPC-S