My Chimp is out of control!

By Prof Steve Peters

In January last year I started getting chest pains and I was having trouble breathing at night time. This went on for a good few months and before I knew it the symptoms changed.

Soon I got back pain, neck pain and jaw ache (not because I talk so much) and I was petrified as to what was happening to me. I was constantly worrying about what it could be and genuinely convinced I had some life threatening illness. I was having every test imaginable at the doctors and it took 5 months to finally rule everything out. Then one doctor said to me, we think it must be anxiety.

I could not believe it. I was devastated to be told that I had a mental health condition and coming to terms with it has taken a long time. I didn’t understand what I was anxious about!

Fast forward one whole year and I have done lots to manage my anxiety (meditation, exercise, less caffeine, less alcohol and CBT) and began to uncover why I’ve got it. One of the most helpful things I have done is to read. I’ve read books on the mind and how it operates (fight, flight or freeze) and I’ve read all about anxiety and how to recognise triggers and deal with them.

There are lots of books that have changed how I see things in the last year but the most current one is “The Chimp Paradox” by Professor Steve Peters. This has been a game changer! The main bulk of his book talks about the Chimp, the Human and the Computer that all make up our Psychiatric mind. Without giving away any spoilers, the Chimp is the part of my brain that is responsible for the overthinking, ruminating and agonising worry that makes up my anxiety. For any anxiety sufferers this is a MUST read. You will soon see that the Chimp has a lot to answer for!

The second book was “The Anxiety Solution” by Chloe Brotheridge. For the first 6 months I could not read any book related to anxiety as funnily enough, they triggered it. Also, I could not find an anxiety book that was not clinical and medical. Chloe’s book was a revelation! She discusses anxiety in the most normalised way and made me feel as though I was just another girl in her 20’s going through the motions.

On Chloe’s Instagram account she has a quote from Pema Chodron which says:

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know

Pema Chodron

My anxiety is much better than it was this time last year but it is still very present. I am not sure I’ve got the full lesson yet, but as I uncover it, I will share it with you. I hope this helps anyone out there with Anxiety and know you are not alone!

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