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There's no downside to seeking help for anxiety

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Seeking professional help for anxiety is a good thing

Anxiety or Personality? What should I watch for when deciding if my anxiety requires a professional's attention, or if I should just accept that I am a little less calm/more nervous than most people? Any baby steps I could take to assess myself before I cry uncle?

Carolyn: I feel like I ask some version of this question every other week — why is getting help equated with defeat or failure?

You don't "cry uncle" when you see a professional — you just take a new step to gain control of the situation. You've tried other ways to manage your health, and you're not satisfied with the result, so you take the next logical step.

Banish the whole white-flag idea and see yourself as a boss who's making a business decision to increase productivity. Make a few calls, vet a few providers, and see if one offers something valuable to your business. This is a practical decision.

Re: Anxiety or personality?

Anonymous: (Watch for) when you make your problem everyone else's problem. I have a friend who (I think) has anxiety. Rather than deal with it, she puts restrictions on certain topics, has a meltdown when her unrealistic expectations aren't met, and allows the tiniest thing to ruin our group's experience. When it's so out of control that you have to turn others' lives upside down to quell your fears, it's time to get help.

Carolyn: Important point, thanks. Unfortunately, it takes a basic lack of self- and environmental awareness to let things erode to that point — either that or a towering sense of entitlement — so the syndrome itself might prevent the cure.

But facts might help people recognize themselves: If you have a list of must-avoid topics that you expect friends to heed, then consider enlisting a pro to help shorten that list.

Proposal is no guarantee, so look at big picture before move

Problem: Boyfriend doesn't want to propose till we know what it's like to live in the same city (we've been long-distance for more than two years). I'm unwilling to leave my job and move without the guarantee of an engagement. He can't move because of a four-year work commitment. What now?

Carolyn: Even if you got engaged, that would be no guarantee you would end up married. You know this.

So, the purpose of his proposing would be proof, for you, that he's serious about you and about marriage, vs. content to just date you (and therefore benefit greatly when you undertake all the risk of relocating).

Does that sound about right? If it does, then that suggests you don't completely trust him or trust what you have with him — and it makes sense to move for someone you don't fully trust ONLY when the new city appeals to you for other, solid reasons, or because you think it's worth moving just to find out where you and he stand, knowing full well the relationship might tank.

Even if you do trust him, you shouldn't move unless you can live with the idea of winding up in a new city and new job, single. If you have too much riding on one specific outcome, then that will put all kinds of pressure on your relationship. Some of the happiest outcomes emerge from go-with-it expectations.

There's no downside to seeking help for anxiety 08/10/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 4:30am]
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