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Anxiety - a story to remember

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

My Experience with Free-Floating Anxiety

By Dan A. Cardoza, Master’s Degree in Counseling (M.S.)

Anxiety is a part of life. You can have anxiety when you're not sure about your goals, how to get there or if you're suffering from a mental health condition.

When you or someone regularly feels high levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Of course, there are many treatments and other things you can consider if anxiety is playing too big of a role in your daily life. Some traditional ways to fight long-term anxiety includes the following:

1. Medication

2. Group or individual therapy

3. Exercise

As a young man, I had anxiety from time to time. At its worst, I would go weeks experiencing moderate to high anxiety. I rarely had anxiety attacks except with moving away from a small town to attend college. I worked through school, so most of my anxiety was related to earning a living and getting good grades. I can remember one particular occasion where everything around me seemed surreal. This was in the middle of a science class. To this day, I’m sure how I stayed seated for the entire session. On another occasion before a final examination, I was waking from sleep with my chest rising and falling and my heart beating so fast, my chest was sore the next day. I was frozen in fear until daybreak. Sleep would never be the same for years.

Somehow, I was able to complete my undergraduate work and graduate with honors. Experiencing episodes of anxiety was hard. I thought to myself, “how am I going to be able to assist others with their own counseling needs, if I am not comfortable in my own skin most of the time?” I decided I wasn’t going to let any anxiety or occasional depression get in my way. Sometimes ongoing anxiety caused some depression while I was a young adult. As you know, depression and anxiety can happen together. I rarely discussed this with friends or relatives, thinking they would not understand or related to me.

With time, and experience, I’ve adjusted to what I call “free-floating anxiety.” This is anxiety that can’t be because of a direct cause, such as job stress, bills, state of the economy, family considerations, etc. Reading about anxiety helped and a mindfulness course was helpful. I guess what I want to say is accepting your anxiety in small waves or a tsunami is worth the effort. It was less work accepting it than trying to outsmart my anxiety. Every chess game I ever played with anxiety, I lost. To me, acceptance was the only way I could move forward and grow.

Dan A. Cardoza has now retired. He has a Master’s Degree in Counseling (M.S.)

His career included working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Case Manager

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