Anxiety (noun): a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
This word has and will always be a big identifying factor in who I am. My earliest memories from grade school include a lot of nervousness and anxiety filled feelings. I remember becoming so incredibly distraught, unable to breathe, and sick to my stomach while working on a project in the 5th grade, I found myself crying in the nurse's room and wondering why I felt this way, why was my body having this reaction. Little did I know, that, was my first panic attack.
I displayed the classic symptoms of anxiety from a very young age, and it wasn’t until this year, 2017, nearly decade after my first panic attack, that I’m addressing my feelings. It’s taken me not only a decade, but my really whole life to figure out why I felt this way, why was I the only one who was like this, why me, why couldn’t I just be normal.
Daunting thoughts of insecurity, nervousness, and apprehension have affected me so greatly my whole life: in relationships, social situations, and self esteem, that this past winter, I was so done with settling in my own anxieties. I couldn’t accept and justify these feelings anymore, I knew that I deserved much better thoughts in this life, and so does anyone who suffers from anxiety.
I know just how fucking scary it is to ask for help, and it's part of your anxiety that makes it so hard to open up and put yourself in a vulnerable situation, such as asking for help, but I can personally testify that doing so, can save your life. If I hadn’t pushed myself to ask for help, even though my voice was trembling and tears were flowing down my cheeks, I would be stuck in a deathly loop for a the foreseeable future, maybe even my whole life.
I really tried for a long time to work through my anxiety on my own, through ted talks, buying inspiration framed quotes, practicing yoga and mindfulness, but in the end, nothing healed me more than therapy. The scary but also incredibly healthy thing about therapy, is that you are forced to face all these flaws in your life, and work through them. Imagine getting a phd in yourself, that's how I like to describe therapy. You get to find out so much about you, answer questions that would have never been able to be answered in any other form, and most importantly, gain the knowledge to cope with things in your life like anxiety.
When I find myself overwhelmed in anxiety (because just going to therapy and talking about your feelings, doesn't grant you a stress free life):
- Imagine yourself tieing each worry or situation that causes your anxiousness, to a balloon, and letting that balloon drift into the sky. This little exercise I use, a lot, it helps my brain associate my problems with a physical action, which eventually translates to my feelings and thoughts.
- Write it down, and get it onto paper. This was something I learned to do long before I ever received advice from my therapist. It’s more of a temporary, quick fix. It’s really easy to just pull out your phone, open notes, and get your feelings out of your head for a few minutes- this little practice has always been able to ground me.
- Knowing your limits is going to be your number one ally. Again, I know it can be really scary to admit to yourself, and others that you suffer from anxiety, but part of coping is admitting to others/yourself that you do have lines drawn, and you suffer from a very real (not-in-just-in-your-head) mental illness that forces you to set limitations. There have been moments where I’ve just been so overwhelmed by anxiety that I have to exit myself from a situation to just remind me that everything is okay. For me, going back to school each year brought back a lot of new anxiety, and while I never mustered up the courage, if I could go back I would have a heart to heart conversation with each one of my teachers as soon as I met them and explain my worries. They were once teenagers, and they are there to do nothing but support you.