A Whisper of Worry: How I Bested My Anxiety

Note: This article was written to help people cope and rid themselves of anxiety in that moment to maximize comfort and minimize stress. To “fix” your anxiety permanently, you will need to figure out why you are anxious and what psychological need you are trying to fulfill by worrying so much. Of course, anxiety takes on many forms and manifests in countless ways, but these are my experiences with Asperger’s and anxiety and how I overcame something that could have easily destroyed my life.

For many people, with or without an Asperger’s diagnosis, anxiety takes over all rationality and becomes the primary mode of functioning. While anxious thinking can scare, frustrate, or impede the person grappling with it, many people find comfort in the familiarity they attach to feeling worried all the time. That’s why most people afflicted with crippling anxiety opt to freeze and let it seize control instead of implementing strategies to help them reason their way out of it.

I’m constantly bombarded by anxiety, constantly forced to listen to those urgent whispers of worry that drown out all reason and become a roar. Sometimes, my anxiety would completely overtake my ability to function properly, leaving me in a crumpled heap on the floor of my apartment because that’s what is safe. I would lay there for hours, wrapped in a thickening cocoon of despair and helplessness that both suffocates and terrifies me.

Up until fairly recently, my anxiety had single-handedly severed bonds, burned bridges, and robbed me of many worthwhile experiences, all in the name of “safety.” But more often than not, my worrying hindered me and exposed me to unhappiness and pain rather than the security and comfort it promised. I lost my grip on myself, allowing the anxiety to define and consume me because I put too much trust in my “fight or flight” mechanism.

Now, my anxiety remains present but has ceased to be predominant. I’ve diminished its once formidable power to a strained plea to lure me back in, a desperate attempt to regain control of me. I can feel happy, content, excited, not worrying about situations or outcomes that have yet to happen and likely won’t happen. When those anxious whispers start to tickle at my consciousness, tugging me back into a false embrace, I put the tools, tips, and tricks I’ve learned over the years into action and take calm, calculated steps toward regaining control of myself and my life.

Here’s an example. I experience anxiety in almost every area of being, but airplanes have always been more than I can handle. So, last winter I found myself on a plane bound to New York, where my brother currently attends NYU and is pursuing his bachelor’s degree. Looking back at the flight, I remember feeling caught between two very different urges. On one hand, I was so excited to spend a weekend in the Big Apple with my incredible brother and wanted to tell my sleeping neighbors in seats 14B and 14C how much fun it was going to be. On the other, however, I was terrified that we were cruising along 36,000 feet above solid ground and felt an overwhelming impulse to start screaming at the pilot to land the damn plane. The fear became so intense that I retreated even further inward, dissecting why flying sent me into a panicked frenzy. Suddenly, it hit me. I discovered, in that moment of terror, that I was afraid of the plane’s lack of support, not the flying itself. There was nothing but 36,000 feet of cold, biting air between the plane and the ground, and that was what scared me so much.

So, to rectify this problem and silence my internal screaming, I started mentally constructing a set of tracks that I placed directly under the plane and kept there for the remainder of my flight. Even during turbulence, I remained calm because I knew those tracks were always there. And guess what? This works! I have flown over 20 times this year alone, and I use this tool every single time because it works every single time.

You can apply this to almost any type of anxiety in any situation. Figure out what makes you nervous in that moment, and create mental solutions to help calm yourself. It’s not difficult, and once you find something that works, you can use it and tweak it as the need arises.

I urge you, all of you, to think about what I’ve written here and demand your personal freedom back. Anxiety should not control your every move, and it’s time for you to take ownership and live a life free of shackles. You deserve the absolute best life has to offer.


67 thoughts on “A Whisper of Worry: How I Bested My Anxiety

  1. I’ve found, after years of trying to figure where my chronic anxiety (I mean, 24/7, I always woke up with for hours at night) comes from .. and accidentally discovered, that it comes from the gluten and corn and dairy in my diet. After eliminating these three food items from my diet, the anxiety diminished away to nearly nothing. Just a twinge now and now, but nowhere near the maddening monologue I’d hear in my head all damn day and night. Today’s food products will mess with you like you would not believe. (don’t even go near the gluten-free packaged products, they are worse than anything). Just plain fruit, vegetables, and meats if you’re not veggie..

    1. I have horrible anxiety and have been wanting to see of gluten, corn, and dairy were contributors. I’m definitely going to cut it out of my diet and see what happens. How long did it take for you to notice a difference?

  2. Hi, everyone. I need help!
    I took my son when it was 3 to the family doctor worry because I saw sing of autism they told to me wait. I waited jk was ok never rude or trouble this years he is sk since October he started telling me how much he hate school and his teachers he beg me every day to destroy the school and kill his teachers he said to me he is so sick like big giant. building and universe he also tells me he wants to leave this planet then he started having tenpertantruns at school they think he is rude and they are treating this as been rude he is put in an office for hours kicking and who knows what ells I’m not there to see it and they dont call me to picking him up they give me a list of parenting courses to take. they said he is trying to show powers. ILL be going to his doctor feb the 4 but I want to get your ideas to see how you parents deal with this kind of situation melt down at school do you leave your child there for hours ? do they call you? do you pick your child up? last week my son was put in an office for more than 4 hours dint eat all day got home sat in a sofa tired and sad .

  3. The article and many of the replies are referring to PHOBIAS. A phobia is an irrational fear i.e., fear of flying) that results in anxiety, usually temporary (i.e., it resolves relatively quickly when the plane lands). Solutions for overcoming phobias (and thus reducing your anxiety) are much different than they are for generalized anxiety disorders most often associated with Asperger’s — especially for those Aspie’s who have severe and debilitating anxiety for which there is most often NO KNOWN cause.

  4. You guys are awesome! Keep doing what your doing! My son had ADHHHD, yes, I meant to put 3 H’s in there! He was never diagnosed with autism, but probably had a mild form. People either really loved Micaiah or couldn’t stand to be around him. Anyway, school was the hardest thing WE ever did! I felt like I had graduated to at his senior graduation. It was wonderful! I just wish we could have had some cool guys like you to help us get through it a bit easier. I would have answered yes to all 4 of your questions at the start of every school year & school/ homework continued to be a struggle every year. Now, I can share your website with others at least. P.S. My Son is now married, owns his own auto shop & is the worship leader at our church. He is loved by all who know him. God bless you!

  5. Patti, I am having the same problems. Because my son is an adult I can not get him any help unless I am his Guardian. He is an intelligent young man (39) and has been able to live independently quite well. He does not need me to be declared his guardian, and yet I can’t talk to anybody about helping him and he himself thinks he is just fine…despite the fact that he gets fired from every job because of his social interaction difficulties. I am his only support and friend as well as his mom and just like you my son tells me everything. He just can’t see in to his future and realize that he needs to have a job, money for retirement etc. He spends every cent he gets and then when he loses his job he has no money to live on!!! I would love to hear from other parents ofadult children with AS and how have you handled the employment issues!

  6. Feeling Beverley’s issues with my 20 yr old grandson. Exactly the same. This is a very hard age group to deal with, I think mostly because we are still dealing with someone trying their hardest to be the adult the world tells them they are. Problem is, they aren’t there yet. This creates the problems of even getting them to any doctor or psychologist because they know now they can refuse legally…..and we can’t make them go…..and the doctors can’t do anything to aid the parent because they are bound by HIPPA to protect the rights and confidentiality of their client…who is Not the parent, but the young adult. I run into this all the time. I’m the policy holder, pay the insurance premiums, pay the doctor…..but then I am completely helpless to ask for anything else. Trying to get the young adult out of defense mode and to listen to any suggested advice is extremely difficult. I’ve had the “I don’t need your help” conversations many, many times, even though I have a good, open relationship with my grandson. I’ve raised him since he was 3 months old. How do we break this wall…..which clearly is defensive….and get them to the point of actually listening and accepting the help? We don’t have trust issues either….he tells me almost everything. So what is that wall or block, and how do we get past it? All I get is “you just don’t understand”. I tell him I’m trying to, and to help me understand. He knows I would do anything to help him. I see so much in Hayden’s stories and experiences that are so similar…….how did your mom finally get through? Especially if the trust and love appear to be there. What am I missing?

    1. We are constantly learning how our own brains are wired as we grow up, handle challenges, and deal with the many responsibilities that accompany adulthood, children, difficult bosses, untenablly boring work, etc.

      Never give up on your child. This generation is adjusting to a learning and world environment in which our world-knowledge is expanding. Learn what you can. Seek support from experts, compassionate professionals, and especially those who provide proven solutions.

  7. I am terrified of flying too, and even though I love this website, I don’t think this strategy could help me …

    …because I know that if I build a track for the plane in my mind …IT’S ONLY IN MY MIND.

  8. I myself have an Autism-Spectrum Disorder and find myself nervous driving. I read your article about how you imagined tracks underneath each airplane when you’re flying and how it has helped. This will definitely help me as I intend to fly very soon; however, I’m thinking that a great idea with driving would be with “barrier pads” or something like that. Also, “smart guides” would definitely help me with my backing and turning.

  9. My daughter is 8. She has such severe anxiety, sensory processing disorder and OCD along with a “mood disorder” which therapists says makes hers a difficult case.
    Right now seperation anxiety is the strongest it has ever been. Daily we have to battle her fear to even try to get dressed & drive to school where she still holds out hope that I will change my mind and take her home until I physically pull my body away from her right hold as 2 adults help hold her back so she can try to attend school without me

    1. Hi Ann…what a difficult way to start each school day! Our son, who like me is also an Aspie, used to refuse to get up and get dressed to go to school. We’d go through all of his antics until everyone was completely frustrated…what a mess! Just to give you some hope…believe it that she will grow out of this…my son is 28 years old now…and makes it to work fully dressed 😉 My instinct is to launch into a bunch of advise but i remember how it felt when someone did that to me….i am sure you are trying to do everything possible. Im curious though…has your daughter told you why she’s afraid to be apart from you? Keep the faith!

      1. Hi Jen, just saw your piece on separation anxiety in your son. My son is 8 and has esculated to screaming kicking violent won’t let my husband or I leave or takes half hour to get into school. We are exhausted…. Any tips? Thanks so much… My guy can’t say why apart from feels if we leave he feels like he will never see us again! Scary… But low risk for that?.

  10. thanks for sharing, my fear is America my become a communist nation, and ISIS may invade us. How would u use this on that topic?


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