Managing Anxiety and Phobias with a Workbook
Around 2013, I was dealing with the worst period of depression and anxiety that I had ever dealt with up to that point. It was so bad that I sought out counselling and medication. None of the medications were helping me, though, and therapy was. Medications take a really long time to figure out and it’s such a taboo conversation, so don’t ever feel ashamed to take them. They didn’t work for me back then but today, I’m on medication for my anxiety and depression and they changed my life drastically.
Seeing someone and talking to them was calming to me and having someone help me work out my problems by giving their insight and finding solutions was incredibly cathartic. The main therapy that was used in my sessions was called CBT, “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy”.
CBT focuses on how we act (behaviour) and how we think (cognitive) as individuals. If you want to get a more in-depth look at CBT, Anxiety Canada has a whole section about it on their site here.
Essentially, CBT allowed me to put my thoughts onto paper in a chart so that I could analyze my thoughts clearly. Were my thoughts helpful? Were my thoughts realistic? How did my thoughts make me feel? What did I factually know about the situation I was freaking out about that deemed my anxious thoughts irrational? It was hard work but it was worth it.
Mid-way through my given sessions, my counsellor suggested a workbook that I now currently use again after years of not having used it. It’s called “The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook: Fifth Edition”. You can find the most updated version, edition six, at Indigo (or your local bookstore if you’re not in Canada).
My current psychiatrist was more than happy to hear that I went out of my way to focus on a workbook without him advising me to. He told me that anxiety and phobia workbooks are an anxious person’s “bible”. It’s something that we should refer to each and every single day so that we can do the activities in it and to understand how our diagnosis affects us as individuals better. It helps us gather our thoughts better and helps us improve a little day by day.
Personally, I’m still working through the workbook so I can’t speak for it all (it’s a pretty big book) but so far, I’m remembering why I used to love using this book.
One of the best activities I found is the one where you have to scan the page and make 52 copies (1 for each week of the year) and focus on the weekly activities that best suit your needs according to what anxiety(anxieties) and phobia(s) you have. The beginning of the book goes through different anxieties and phobias with detail and explains how it affects someone and what solutions there are to help you get a better handle on your struggles. You’ll be able to identify what you’re struggling with and then you take those identifications and do the suggested activities given each week.
So for 52 weeks, you get to focus on bettering yourself daily and weekly with a checklist to keep yourself on track and not feeling overwhelmed. Getting a handle on our anxieties and phobias isn’t easy or quick – we didn’t get anxiety or phobias overnight and they won’t go away quickly either.
This book definitely isn’t meant to self-diagnose but if it helps you, it helps you and that’s what matters in the end. You can also always go seek help from a professional and show them a workbook that has been helping you and ask them to help find you a proper diagnosis. Mental health is a much discussed topic this day in age and if you feel as if there is something going on, you can always pick up a book at Indigo (or your local bookstore) and start reading through it to see if you relate to any of the topics discussed.
Personally, I highlight all the descriptive words that align with what I’m dealing with and I make notes as I read. Not only is healing not quick, it’s not easy either. It takes hard work and dedication and you’re allowed to have days where it doesn’t feel like it’s helping because you’re human. Not every day is going to be perfect but you can persevere and get through the activities each day. Our hardest days are the days that matter the most. You’re worth the fight.
Have you ever used a workbook to help yourself? How did you find it? Let us know!