Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

Often people think their anxiety comes out of nowhere, but what if it was trying to get your attention and tell you something? 

Typically, underneath any undesirable feeling that we experience, there is something beneath the surface that’s been left unaddressed. Most of our fears and worries revolve around what we can’t control and unfortunately, sometimes it ends up controlling us. Anxiety sets in, we are able to regulate less and less, and catastrophizing runs wild. Underneath all of this is a “dark and unexplored cavern that we often perceive is too scary to explore when it just might hold the key to unlock our cell.” If you want to combat anxiety, you have to be brave enough to jump off of that high dive, plunge in headfirst, and go to that place you don’t want to go to, just for a little. Sure, we’d rather ignore and not dive into these areas, but the solutions themselves come from the exploration. 

Jim’s Mental Holocaust 

I want to tell you about a guy named Jim, and you might learn a lot from him – rhyme intended! Jim frets about the future often. Years ago, he used to be knee deep in addiction, but with the help of professional counselors, rehab, close friends and family, he was able to come out of it and grow exponentially. Outside of his success and growth, anxiety still tends to haunt him enough for him to be diagnosed (by professional counselors) with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). 

In struggling with anxiety, catastrophizing was his main habit as he used to often convince himself of worst case scenarios coming to fruition. He had a knack for turning “mundane life events or drama” into “a mental holocaust where he becomes convinced the worst will happen.” Jim eventually found a way to conquer his anxious thoughts, but only after he discovered that they were trying to communicate a deeper message to him. 

We’re Not Bobble Heads 

Our body constantly sends us messages. We often forget that we aren’t bobble heads, and that our minds and bodies are complexly unified, connected and in synch with one another. A constant dialogue is maintained between the mind and body. Our body constantly tries to unconsciously communicate with our mind, and pull our attention to an area we have either ignored or allowed to fester. When we need something to eat, we feel a hunger pang set in. When we feel romantic feelings towards someone, our hearts and minds are telling us that this person might have the potential to be more than just a friend. 

As difficult as it is to deal with depression and anxiety, maybe these awful things are trying to tell us something, just like our stomachs do when we are hungry. What if these plagues were trying to help us, not harm us? Perhaps what’s under the surface has been ignored. 

Jumping Off the High Dive and Unlocking the Dark Cavern

And now, back to Jim! Once he connected the dots and made the epiphany that his anxiety and depression may be coming from a place within him that has been ignored, he realized that he was only able to get a grip on it after diving deeper, exploring and facing what he experienced when he was overseas fighting in the war. In talking about and dealing with some of these daemons (with his counselor), he noticed that side effects of depression and anxiety subsided. Before this, Jim drank heavily and relied on drugs to numb difficult emotions and memories that he didn’t want to process. It’s much easier to ignore, but ignoring causes suffering. So, what would you rather do – live a lifetime of suffering, or temporarily visit a difficult place within you in order to stop the pain and distress?  

If you want to take that leap and courageously jump off the high dive, it might be a good idea to reach out to a therapist. At Symmetry Counseling, there are many talented clinicians that you can start working with today. You can contact a Chicago therapist at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.