An Ongoing Fight


I haven't written an article in a while so I thought I'd start back up with a topic that I'm all too familiar with and that is relevant to many of us, anxiety. My goal in writing this is that someone, somewhere who has felt this way will read this and find comfort. When you are in a place of extreme worry, I have found that it can be helpful to hear that someone has experienced a similar level of mental chaos. I have also provided some methods that I use to help when that feeling of worry creeps up.

The Struggle 

"The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of." 

- Holly Golightly, Breakfast At Tiffany's 

From the time I was young, I never understood why I was more afraid of things than other people. While friends of mine skipped into the classroom on Monday morning to go back to school, I clung to my mom's hand and held back tears. In sixth grade I became terrified of getting those around me sick; I washed my hands over and over to make sure I never passed any germs onto others. In high school I developed health anxiety and couldn't find the strength to step into a doctors office for almost two years.

Today anxiety for me comes in the form of missing out on events. At times it is the distrust that I feel towards those I am closest to, even at times myself. It is a sense of being totally out of control, afraid of the future, and in a state of constant preparation for the worst. There are days where I wake up and feel a cloud of raw, hungry, nervous energy come over me. Some days I have woken up and felt like I can't breathe, and there have been others where I am fully convinced that I have an incurable and deadly disease. I have had every kind of invasive and negative thought, and even some real physical symptoms. I have worried every kind of worry, and then some. If you have ever experienced this then you know that when you are in this place it is very lonely and very frightening, but know that others' have been there, and that you are not alone.

The Good :) 

Despite all the negative, there are positives to my struggle with anxiety. Dealing with worry has taught me to work harder and be relentless. Because of my exposure to anxiety, I feel I have a solid grasp of the emotions of those around me, and I try to gauge my actions based on this awareness. My fight against worry and negative thoughts is what has made me who I am today and I would not have it any other way.

In the past I have felt that anxiety is the thing that I like the least about myself. When a state of worry and panic sets in, a small voice tells me that the likely cause is anxiety, but a louder and more powerful, negative voice chimes in with a "but what if....?" To move forward in a positive direction the biggest realization that I have come to is that anxiety is NOT a part of me. That negative, powerful voice is not me, but the voice of an illness. With the right tools and methods, I can shut it out because I am in control of me.

If you are struggling with anxiety, remember that this struggle does not make you weak; internal battles are some of the hardest, and you are strong for fighting that battle. It's totally corny, but that Kelly Clarkson song that goes,"what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" really has some truth to it. Remember that you are in control of your thoughts and that fear can be strong, but you are stronger. Finally, remember to love yourself.

Lastly, here are some strategies that I have used in the past to calm and reduce that feeling of fear when you know that it's coming on. I am by no means any kind of expert, different things work for different people, but here are a few ideas:

1. Grab a friend/family member: When you feel that overwhelming sense of worry, find someone and go do something. The power of distraction, laughter, and talking is absolutely amazing.

2. Take a bath: Get the tub nice and hot, put your phone away, and soak. This not only relaxes the muscles, but the heat also has general calming effects.

3. Work out/ go for a walk: If you have the energy, go sweat it out. Exercise has been amazing for helping me manage anxiety and I would highly recommend a regular fitness schedule for anyone dealing with a large amount of worry. Even if you just go for a walk, get out and get some fresh air!

4. Write it down: Give in and write down all your worries. Writing is a great method of processing (similarly to talking).

5. Do something creative: Even not creative, just do an activity that pulls you out of your head. For me that is painting or sewing, but this activity may be different depending on the person.

6. Laugh!  : Find a funny TV show/ movie, a friend, anything that will make you chuckle. Laughter is another great way to get out of your head.

You are stronger that you think. <3