Mind-taming tips that two girls employ to cope with anxiety, OCD

The are several ways of dealing with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder and lead a peaceful life. Image used for representational purpose: SewCream / Shutterstock

“It’s like the sand beneath my feet slipping away and that I may fall down any moment, Thoughts run too fast in my head to the point of loosing my control on myself,” Ann, a 20-year-old girl hailing from Chandigarh, suffering from social anxiety and anticipatory anxiety says explaining what anxiety for her is like. She is worried about the future, feels as though her accomplishments are not enough, that she isn’t trying hard and thinks she is “wasting away my present with all these worries.” Ann struggles to communicate with her close circle of people sometimes as she is too preoccupied with the thought of how they perceive her. Her anxiety has several times affected her relationships making it complicated as she is perpetually stuck in a constant thought “I am not good enough.”

She is tormented by anxiety attacks that come with hyperventilation and tremors while also wrecked with crying spells. The best she can do is try and prevent her anxiety from advancing into these attacks as it is truly painful to handle. Her first technique to slow her mind and ease her anxiety is to do breathing techniques as “breathing always works.” Mrs Sneha Ker, a trained counsellor also agrees. “With anxiety, you go into the past or you go into the future and you have this anxiety that is not in the present. By doing these breathing exercises you’re grounding yourself and bringing yourself back into the present,” she says.

Ann usually holds her right hand over her chest and left over her navel while breathing slowly and deeply. “By doing this you’re telling yourself that it's okay and that this too will pass, because you can hear your heart racing and you’re reassuring yourself that everything is going to be okay.” She also usually resorts to zentangles which is an art therapy technique of relaxing one’s body and mind by completely concentrating on drawing simple and small blocks of patterns.

While Anvi (name changed), 21, from Kottayam, suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which is an anxiety disorder. When the heat of summer makes her wake up in the middle of the night with her throat parched, she sometimes chooses to go back to sleep thirsty rather than getting herself a glass of water from the kitchen due to the amount of triggers she has to encounter. “I cannot deal with all of that in the middle of the night and it takes so much time, so I just go back to sleep without drinking water even though I am thirsty.”

She is disturbed by the thoughts that there is water dripping from the tap even when she had tightly closed it a while ago, that the lights are on though she had switched them off and that the doors are still unlocked after she had already latched them. She says that she is consumed by this “icky feeling in my chest” that doesn’t dissipate until she checks it multiple times and these thoughts persist till her anxiety is soothed. Sometimes she’s even left with callouses on her hands after repeatedly doing her compulsions.

Anvi explains in detail her coping mechanism. “When I’m locking the doors and leaving the house, I usually just record myself doing it so that when my brain tells me that I didn’t lock it, I just go back and watch the video so that I know, I in fact did lock the door,” and a lot of the times she’s able to go about the rest of her day without worrying. Mrs Sneha noted that this coping mechanism was a good and adaptive behaviour on Anvi’s side.

Cases of anxiety that come with great severity and go beyond the lines of daily frights and worries, need to be dealt clinically with the help of therapy and medication depending upon the individual. Mrs Sneha Ker had also mentioned that one should try to fight the stigma that exists with regards to mental health disorders and treatments, try to come beyond it and reach out the help that is needed for oneself for their own betterment.

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