Storm clouds gathering representing anxiety

Anxiety Out of Nowhere

Somedays are better than others for all of us. There are days that we go out and about and we feel great and ready to seize the day and there are other days where we feel tired and everything annoys us. For some people there are days that are going fine and all of a sudden the mood shifts and anxiety or even panic happens. The day is ruined and all the person can think of is their comfort space usually home to relax.

I have seen that in my work plenty of times where people come to me because they get anxiety and panic while driving somewhere or while in an elevator or while in a dark room or while walking in the street. People are really uncomfortable with the feeling of panic which usually they describe as “Fear of dying” but also what is baffling to most of them is the unknown reason of why it’s happening. “How am I having a normal day and all of a sudden I get those terrible feelings?” is the main question. There was a girl I was seeing that got panic attacks every time her boss was approaching her desk to have a chat or give her directions on a project. I remember her during our sessions getting worked up even thinking about it. She could not understand why as she thought her boss to be a great woman whom she looked up to. We worked a lot through sessions with different CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) strategies and although logically she was aware and she knew that her boss is a good human she still had those reactions. That’s when we shifted our work and went mostly into exploring her past to see the roots of this reaction.

“I know my boss is a great woman but I still can’t stand her coming towards me as I’m sitting in my desk”

This reaction I just described is what we call Trauma response. The trauma response happens when people are “traumatized” psychologically from some incident in their past and the trauma is stored in the body and brain with specific emotions, sounds and even smells and body sensations. These may come up again at any point when one of these “storage” points is triggered through something in the present. The lady I was working with had a bad experience growing up when she was 10 with a female teacher who had yelled at her in front of her classmates while in a math class. To find that memory we had to do a lot of work through EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) work to be able to dig in her past memories and find the root of the trauma.

In my work I am privileged to work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, religions and schools of thoughts and all of these different people have different types of small or big traumas happen to them in the past as a result of different ways of parenting or just circumstances in their lives. As different as all these people are they have one huge thing in common: They get anxiety out of nowhere as I call it.

This thread today is about understanding how similar we all are in the ways of storing trauma and explaining things that happen to us. Nobody is alone with their trauma as we all have “thorns” in us that we need to work on to be able to live whole and fulfilling lives. Trauma, most of the times is the root of anxiety and long term depression and the good news is that it can be dealt with and can be “healed” through therapy. You are not alone!