Gru, Minions & Anxiety

The above video clip is one that far too many of us can relate to. You know that feeling when you’d rather blow torch a phone than make a phone call… Or you’d rather go shopping for hours on end than face the fact that your in-laws are coming in town.  Maybe it is fear of allowing your little one to spend the night with a friend that causes you to become that parent who will lie and say “little Johnny is too scared to spend the night,” all while little Johnny is in the background begging you to let him go.

There is a certain level of anxiety that is actually healthy and normal.  Anxiety that prompts you to prepare a speech before standing in front of a crowd is likely to prevent you from total embarrassment. Anxiety about a job interview, which prompts you to dress in more than a t-shirt and shorts is more likely to propel you toward employment.  However, when our anxiety becomes so intense that we are unable to give the speech, or we bomb every interview we attend (or better yet, bail before we even get to the interview) then there is likely a more significant problem at play.

In order to adequately talk about anxiety we have to differentiate anxiety and fear because often, these words are used interchangeably, but the reality is – they aren’t interchangeable.

Fear is the feeling that you get in the middle of a crisis, when you are faced with something real and tangible.

Anxiety is the feeling that arises when we begin to think of and fear things that may or may not ever happen. 

Anxiety is an elusive emotion that can quickly go from a normal level to spiraling out of control, as seen in our video clip.  Most of us experience a little anxiety when calling someone for a first date, but in the clip Gru’s anxiety went to such an extreme that he not only melted a phone, but it resulted in thousands of dollars’ worth of fire and water damage, and worse, hurt the feelings of some of his minion friends.  Unfortunately, our own anxiety when left unaddressed has the capacity to do the same.

Anxiety disorders are the most common disorders in the U.S. with an estimated 41 million people struggling.  In addition to being incredibly common on their own, anxiety disorders are also seen as underlying issues which often trigger bigger problems such as addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, and major depression.  Anxiety disorders are, however, very treatable.

If you struggle with anxiety, here are a few tips to help you get on the right track.  The first step is to get to a place where you feel safe both physically and emotionally.  Here are some ideas:

  • Take slow deep breaths – counting to 5 as you breathe in and again as you breathe out
  • Go for a short walk – even if just to the next room or down the hall at work, often changing your physical location can be very helpful
  • Practice self-care – a bike ride, a walk in the park, a hot shower, read a book, enjoy a cup of coffee, go shopping, enjoy a cookie, call a friend, get a pedicure, or play a video game.

** It is important to note here that self-care will look different for everyone and you have to find what is safe for you.  If you struggle with an eating disorder then a cookie is not a form of self-care, or if you struggle with shopping / overspending, then a trip to the mall is not a healthy or safe form of self-care.

Once you have gotten into a safe space, then it is vitally important that you track down the root of your anxiety. What triggered you?  What can you do to handle that differently in the future, or to avoid a triggering situation?  Identifying the root causes and how to deal with them can be very challenging!  Often finding a close friend, or a therapist, to help you through this process is a necessity to true recovery.

Anxiety is the most common mental health diagnosis in the country, but only 1/3 of those struggling get treatment – the sad fact about this… Anxiety is a very treatable struggle.  You don’t have to struggle forever, and you certainly don’t have to do it alone.

If you think you or someone you love may struggle with anxiety, check out our Anxiety Test for a look at some very common symptoms.

Jennifer Smith, M.A., LPC-Intern
Supervised by: Tiffany Ashenfelter, M.A., LPC-S

“Addiction” A Powerful Poem

Whether or not addiction is something you personally struggle with or someone you know and love struggles with, I would encourage you to watch this video. It is a powerful poem that describes our fallen and broken nature. It describes how all of us attempt to fill the voids in our lives with things that will never really work.
The good news is that true healing can happen! The addictions and compulsions that bind us and hold us back can be broken! If you or someone you know is looking for a way out of a helpless and hurting place, give us a call. We would be honored to help healing begin.

“This poem is for the lost and found, those that have been tossed around…” Continue reading

Effective Addiction Treatment

I’ve recently read an article by the New York Times that discussed the need for effective addiction treatment.  In this article it discussed how often times many treatment centers utilize methods from the 1950’s rather than state of the art techniques.  It is imperative that those who struggle with addiction shop around for programs that offer well-rounded care.

Even in today’s more open and modern world there are still strong stigmas attached to those that not only struggle with mental illness but especially those that struggle with addiction.  Addiction is often misunderstood as a moral failure or a weakness of an individual that simply needs to try harder.  However as technology has advanced we’ve been able to learn so much more about the impact substance abuse has in the brain.

Substance abuse literally changes the way the brain functions.  It taps into the pleasure center of one’s brain and takes over.  Subconsciously the person struggling with addiction now compulsively seeks out their drug because their brain has told them they need it to survive; more than they need water or food.  I have personally sat across from countless women who question everything about themselves because of their compulsion to seek out and use their substance.  They are mystified and baffled at their behavior, because it defies logic.  They do the very thing they don’t want to do over and over again.  We’re talking intelligent, caring and good people here.  However, there is hope!  Effective addiction treatment is available.

So, how do you look for effective addiction treatment?  Do your research.  Effective addiction treatment needs to be well-rounded.  It needs to address the whole person: mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Effective addiction treatment addresses the underlying causes of the substance abuse such as mental health issues, like Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  It helps the person identify and address self-destructive thinking patterns that lead to self-destructive behaviors through evidienced based therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  It is highly recommended that individual and group therapy be utilized in conjunction with medical treatment.  Studies continuously support the effectiveness of individualized treatment.  In addition, better outcomes are observed with active family involvement.  Bottom line is that the more access individuals have to treatment, the more likely they are to effectively cope and manage the illness of addiction.

Remember that effective addiction treatment is available.  Addiction is truly a disease within brain and should be treated as such.  For more information regarding the relationship between addiction and the brian I highly recommend Healing the Addicted Brain by Dr. Harold Urschel.  This is a pretty easy to read book and was written specifically for those that struggle with addiction as well as their family members.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact me at tiffany@ashenfeltercounseling.com.  I would be glad to personally assist or provide more information on the battle of addiction.