Tag: anxiety

The Responsibility We Have To Ourselves

By Michael Arndt

Growing up, I hated the word responsibility. I hated being told I was responsible for things. I didn’t want any responsibility, I don’t think I thought I was capable of taking any. I was so downtrodden and could not accept that I was responsible for everything that I created in my life. It felt overwhelming and caused me feelings of anxiety. It was easier for me to just blame others for my problems. As I have begun the journey into recovery, I have learned that I cannot fully heal and evolve into my best self unless I take full and ultimate responsibility for my life, my healing, my actions, and also the people I allow into my life.

I could wrap my mind around being responsible for my actions and my healing. But when I was told that I also had to take responsibility for the people I allowed into my life, I balked. At first I could not accept that level of responsibility. It would require that I push my sphere of responsibility outward. I had never considered this before.

But it sunk in, and over time I began to see what that really meant. It meant that if I make the choice to continue interacting with someone who has shown me that they are not capable of respecting my boundaries, or that they are not capable of respecting my desire to be healthy, I am responsible for the damage caused. Sometimes it can be as simple as not walking similar paths in life with similar goals. But if I try to force these relationships, or even simply allow them to continue, and continue to allow those people into my life and my space, I am responsible for the consequences. I cannot sit back and say to myself that I didn’t know better. I cannot sit back and complain that I am being negatively affected by the relationship when I allowed it to continue, whether it was out of fear of being alone, fear of confrontation, or because they were filling some base need for me. If I allow it, then I am responsible for it.

I began to see that just because I am responsible for something, does not necessarily mean something bad — it isn’t a judgment about who I am at my core. I think this was at the heart of my aversion to responsibility when I was younger. I thought that if I took responsibility and failed, it meant I was a bad person. This could not be further from the truth. Taking responsibility is ultimately about protecting one’s self and one’s energy. It is the tool by which we can honor our best selves, and protect our hearts and our minds. Without responsibility, we live in a perpetual disempowered state of victimhood in which we have convinced ourselves we have no power and are at the mercy of other people and circumstances.

Exercise For Anxiety And Depression

Are you aware that your breathing can affect your anxiety? CAST Centers Clinical Therapist, Robert Oppenheimer explains.

“Shallow breathing sends a message to your brain to be alert, whereas when you do deep belly breathing, it changes that message towards a less anxious state.”

—Robert Oppenheimer, LCSW

Read more on Healthyway about the mental health benefits of exercise for depression and anxiety.

What is Deipnophobia?

Earlier this month, our very own Dr. Cecelia Mylett was quoted in Women’s Health Magazine on the topic of deipnophobia.  It is not a word or a phobia we hear too often, even in a professional clinical setting.  However, just because we do not hear about, does not mean the phenomena does not exist.  What is deipnophobia?  What is its association with other phobias?

Defining the Undefined

The DSM-5 provides clinicians the criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. Mental disorders have a range running from substance use disorder to depression, from anxiety to PTSD. However, the DSM-5 does not describe deipnophobia specifically.  

What people are describing in the term deipnophobia is the fear of dining or dinner conversations.  So, if it is not explicitly defined in the DSM-5, how does one diagnose or describe deipnophobia?  

Using the DSM-5, deipnophobia would be classified broadly under Anxiety Disorders.  More specifically, the differential diagnosis may either be Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) or Specific Phobia.  If the situation is feared because of negative evaluation by others, it would be considered a Social Anxiety Disorder.  Otherwise, deipnophobia would be a related to a Specific Phobia.

Symptoms and Manifestations

Symptoms appear consistent with anxiety symptoms, which include avoiding the situation, fearfulness of being criticized, embarrassment, racing heart, sweating, nausea, and feeling trapped, to name a few.

Although deipnophobia is associated with dinner, mealtime, or eating, it is not the actually eating that is the phobia.  Rather it is the fear associated with social interactions during mealtime.  Individuals experiencing this type of specific fear may intentionally avoid dinner or other mealtime social gathering altogether.  

Managing Deipnophobia

Embrace your deipnophobia, don’t ignore it.  It is your brain’s response to a perceived threat, which is the flight or fight response.  But when you embrace it, focus your thoughts to the “present”.  You can say to yourself, “I’m okay right now, in this moment, I am okay.”  Take a deep breathe, pause, and exhale.  

Shift your focus to the present moment.  Focus on what is going well, such as “the food great.” We all have anxious feelings.  Decide what is a real threat, or a perceived threat, and move forward.

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