I am impressed with your attempts to manage your anxiety. Your method was essentially to “sit with” your anxiety until it decreased. Generally speaking, that can be an effective approach.
Anxiety is reinforced (made stronger) when engaging in avoidant behavior. For instance, let’s examine the time that you volunteered to do face painting but had to stop because your hands were shaking. Ideally, it may have been better to have remained in that situation until your anxiety diminished. The anxiousness would have likely diminished but by leaving the situation prematurely you may have inadvertently reinforced your anxiety.
One approach you can build upon or practice is reviewing a situation to determine if your panic or anxiety is warranted. One’s level of anxiety should match the situation. For instance, putting a thermometer in a patient’s mouth should not generate anxiety. There is nothing to fear. Putting a thermometer in the mouth of an angry lion, on the other hand, should lead to a great deal of anxiety and panic.
In the first situation, there is no danger involved in placing a thermometer in the mouth of the patient. In the latter example, placing a thermometer in the mouth of a very large wild animal should generate fear because the risk of danger is high. That example demonstrates the notion that one’s level of anxiety has to match the situation. A therapist could greatly assist you in determining how much fear or anxiety you should have in a given situation.
As a teenager, your mother would not allow you the option of seeing a therapist. You had no choice but to try to work through your anxiety on your own. As an adult you have the ability to make your own choices. You can choose to see a therapist. Therapists are experts in treating mental health disorders. Despite your commendable efforts, anxiety remains a problem in your life and because of this I would recommend seeing a therapist.
Medication may be helpful as well. It can help to “take the edge off” of your anxiety, enough to tolerate an anxious situation. Medicine might also eliminate your anxiety completely. You most likely would not have to take the medication for an extended period of time but that will depend on what your doctor recommends.
Anxiety is holding you back from engaging in activities that you would enjoy. It is degrading your life but it does not have to. Millions of people have anxiety but are greatly assisted with the help of mental health professionals. To locate one in your community, try clicking on the “find help” tab at the top of this page. Please take care.