The Blessing of Broken

Why Anxiety & Panic are not the End of the World

Do you remember Crayola Crayons? Who doesn’t, right?

Which is better, whole crayons or broken ones?

I’ll get back to the Crayons in a moment.

In my years working with people who suffer from anxiety and panic I’ve noticed that the onslaught often comes when people are at a breaking point. Some examples…

I could list hundreds of examples from cases over the years. And I’m sure you could add an example to the above list too.

People in these types of situations sometimes feel like they’re having a “nervous breakdown.” While there’s no such diagnosis, everyone understands that this terms describes someone overcome by worry and unable to function normally.

The professional diagnosis might be Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, Mood Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The symptoms can include dizziness, exhaustion, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, uncontrollable crying, feeling disoriented, a sense of hopelessness, and/or a feeling that “I’m going crazy.”

But whether you “breakdown” is not so much a function of your symptoms; it’s a function of how you respond to your symptoms.

Worry, fear, unease, stress, and sadness are normal emotions experienced by healthy people. Expecting that we should always be happy—that’s not normal. Concluding that something is wrong with us if we’re stressed or sad—that’s wrong.

The problem is not that you feel anxiety or panic, the problem is that you don’t know how to effectively manage these emotions, so they grow and overwhelm you.

I remember when I finally learned to control my anxiety rather than have it control me. What a relief! I felt empowered to have strategies and interventions that made me the captain of my life rather than a victim to my impulses. (BTW, these strategies and interventions are what I teach in Dr. Dan’s Anxiety Plan.)

Some of the most successful people in history experienced what some might call a “nervous breakdown.” They went through a period of psychological exhaustion, despair, or complete lack of creativity. They achieved greatness not because they were free of stress or anxiety, but because they were able to manage it and steer themselves back on course.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln failed in business, lost 8 elections, suffered a “nervous breakdown,” and had many bouts with depression, all prior to be elected President of the United States.

Modern society tends to pathologize normal behavior. But feeling worried, scared, or anxious doesn’t mean you need therapy or medication. Our intolerance with discomfort leads us too quickly to pop a pill or enter therapy. But maybe what we need are simple life skills and anxiety management tools.

If you struggle with anxiety, stress, or panic, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means you need to learn to introspect and recalibrate your emotions. It’s not that hard. You just need to employ certain interventions, which I teach in Dr. Dan’s Anxiety Plan.

My sister liked the broken Crayons better. It turns out she was right. Broken Crayons can’t be grabbed by a clenched fist; they have to be held in the child’s fingertips. Studies show that this helps build fine motor skills.

Just because something looks broken doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Work with it. Learn to manage it. Your life will be enriched.

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Greensboro, NC

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