Discover how our anxiety creates a “first fear” and “second fear.”

Depression usually carries with it a large dose of anxiousness. I don’t know how anxiety affects others, I do know this, it’s usually a large part of one’s depression experience.

My strategy was to run away from it and not face or accept it for what it is: that is moving my body, walking away and changing the mental channels in my mind. While this is going on in my head I would let   the “first fear” overcome me with the “second fear.” What happens at this point is best illustrated with a personal example.

A few years back, I was in the dentist’s chair needing  some teeth  to have fillings. The Doc gave me a few shots of   novacane,   lowered the lights and left the room indicating he would return in a few minutes.

As the novacane began to take its numbing effect I noticed that I couldn’t feel my tongue. That is when the “first fear” reared its ugly head. I immediately started thinking  I could swallow my tongue and choke to death.  The more I imagined that horrible scenario and continuing listening into ” my own thinking the “second fear” smashed into my mind, like a bull in the proverbial  china shop. 

Immediately, my  mind began to speed up with more disastrous thoughts, my palms becoming sweaty, my heart rate accelerating. I panicked and was ready to yell for the Doc to  rescue me before I actually did swallow my tongue, which I could no longer feel.

 In the midst of this chaos and anxiety, I suddenly remembered what a Dr. Claire Weekes, taught us to do at this most  anxious  time. (Hope and Help for  your nerves.) She wrote that what was happening to me is what happens to all of us, when the “first fear” is “listened into” and the avalanche of the spiraling downward fearful  thinking  paralyzes us. We run away from the anxiety and put mental energy into fighting the fear. She tells us to “float” past the disturbing thoughts, refuse to listen into  fear causing even more fear, the “second fear.”

At this point in the midst of my panic I started to talking  to myself and telling myself that what was happening was   uncomfortable, but NOT life threatening. I kept repeating this mantra with its calming words till  slowly my heart rate began to slow, my  palms no longer were sweating and by continuing to repeat the words, “it’s uncomfortable, but not life threatening.” my whole body returned to a calm and relaxed state. I had almost scared myself to death.

The Doc comes back, turns the lights up and asks me cheerfully “how are things  going?” Sheepishly, I answered clumsily with my thick tongue “just fine.” If he only knew.

 After   putting into play the  steps of faceing, accepting, floating and letting time pass, you will with practice find a helpful way to regain your composure. For me, repeating my own mantra, and turning on my own accepting and not fighting my physical symptoms of panic, I was able to calm myself with a reassurance that all would be well. 

Dr. Claire Weekes, MD. Hope and Help for your Nerves: End Anxiety Now. 1969. Berkley. Imprint of Penguin Random House. NY.NY.

For more information about depression and anxiety please read the following:

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

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