You might find yourself wondering… “Can you recover from anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia?”. And the short and sweet answer is, yes, of course! But if you’re struggling, you might still be getting sucked into the belief that recovery isn’t possible. It’s a common belief, so let’s talk about that!
A few episodes ago, I mentioned that it’s absolutely possible to recover from anxiety. But after that episode aired, people had lots of questions! So many of them said they doubted that recovery was possible for them, or that they’d been told there’s no such thing as anxiety recovery. I was so sad to hear this because it’s the farthest thing from the truth!
So in this episode, I want to take some time to talk about your recovery doubts, the unhelpful messages we hear, and I want to answer your questions. My goal here is to leave you feeling much more hopeful (and clear) about why recovery is possible for you! And to make things even better, I want to address what recovery actually means.
The Difference Between Normal Anxiety and Disordered Anxiety
I want to start by explaining the difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a normal emotion, so we can never make it fully go away (as much as you might want to!). Those with normal anxiety are accepting of anxiety, and it doesn’t lead to anything more. To them, anxiety is just an emotion, and it doesn’t mean much else! But for those with disordered anxiety, we fear the next panic attack, the symptoms, and sometimes fear itself. And when we learn to fear the feelings of anxiety, our lives can become pretty small. But the good news is that we can turn disordered anxiety back into normal anxiety!
Can You Recover From Anxiety, Panic, & Agoraphobia?
Can Disordered Anxiety and Panic Go Away?
Now that I've recovered from panic disorder and agoraphobia (and have been recovered for 7 years), I am always getting asked if I struggle with anxiety and panic today. Honestly, I think people ask this because they truly don’t believe that it’s possible. And if that sounds like you, I want to offer some encouragement. I can honestly say that no, I don’t struggle with anxiety or panic attacks anymore!
So here’s the thing…being recovered doesn’t mean that I never feel anxious, or that I haven’t had a single panic attack (I've actually only had one panic attack in the seven years I've been recovered - yes, one!). The difference now is that I don’t struggle with these feelings the way I did in the past. Because now, I know how to respond to these thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. A way that doesn’t leave me spiraling and going down rabbit holes. Now, I respond to myself with lots of kindness and acceptance. And you can, too!
What Anxiety Recovery Really Means
I think that a lot of the confusion about the term “anxiety recovery” comes from the thinking that we can completely get rid of anxiety. If that’s what you’re hoping for, you’re going to be let down, friend! When my student’s therapist said that recovery wasn’t possible, I’d like to think what she meant was that it’s not possible to never experience anxiety. Because if that was the case, she’d be correct!
And if you are feeling confused about what anxiety recovery really means, I want to share my explanation. To me, recovery means that anxiety no longer controls your life or makes the decisions for you. It means you move through your life, not being consumed by the fear of experiencing anxiety or a panic attack. And yes, you might still experience anxiety sometimes. But you let it happen, and you keep going about your day. It might be uncomfortable or scary sometimes (because you’re human!), but you no longer waste your time looking for safety. You no longer have to look for a way out, and you no longer perform the behaviors that reinforce its presence.
Overcoming anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia is absolutely possible, my friend.
And I'm no more special than you are. I recovered because I took lots of healthy and uncomfortable steps, and this is something you can do, too!
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