So here we are with a long awaited topic (at least on my end, on your end I’m sure you were not awaiting me to discuss the anxiety that you never knew I had)
Anxiety is a funny word…a word that gets thrown around WAY too much (by myself included) to describe instances in which we may be nervous, or overwhelmed, or afraid. But for those that have dealt with true daily anxiety…well I don’t have to explain it to you. You know how debilitating it can be.
In actuality, I don’t think about my anxiety like I used to. I used to use it as an identifying word for myself. “Hi I’m Carolyn, I’m anxious about 99.9% of the time” This isn’t to say that I’m someone who is “against labels”, I just honestly have moved past the part of my life where I focus on this trait so much. I tend to forget about anxiety a lot of the time now (which I have to point out is so relieving for me to even be typing). I know that kind of sounds like I’m implying to “just get over it” for those who are suffering but that isn’t the point, especially coming from someone who knows all too well what it is like to be in the depths of real anxiety.
I’m not too sure how to form the right words on anxiety…which is really what had delayed me in forming this entire post.
To start here are a few real life examples of when anxiety took over:
- When I got my license 5 years late
- When I wouldn’t go to the gym because I had never been in it before
- When I avoided showering or leaving my home for a week at a time
- When I felt sick in the grocery store, for no apparent reason
- When my leg was physically shaking so much I had to hold it to stop it
- When my Dad would pick me up from high school after I called him from the bathroom crying
- When I stayed in my dorm while all my friends went out to a frat party
- When I had to remove myself from a class becuase my chest felt too tight
- When I avoided going to visit my best friend because I would have to drive on the highway (still a work in progress)
- When I refused to call my Doctor to make an appointment
Sometimes anxiety has no “reason”
No one “explanation”
There isn’t always a “why”
Sometimes it washes over you, and then comes and goes like a wave.
I do this thing where I hold my left collarbone with my right hand when I’m anxious, or hold the side of my face, and this always alerts my boyfriend to grab my attention to get me out of it (God bless him. Really. If it was tangible advice I would tell you all to just go find yourself a Jon and save myself the trouble of writing this whole thing)
I think I’ve been hesitant to write about anxiety because I don’t have a grand answer or solution to offer you guys on how I “beat it” (because I haven’t exactly “beat it”.) I just have my own personal experience on how I have a really great handle on it. I could tell you to go for a walk or try meditating (all of which honestly do really help, and stay tuned because I will give you a future post on my little “tricks”) but if we’re being really honest you already know these things.
There is a difference between knowing that you should be doing something and actually feeling motivated and inspired and ready to do whatever that thing is.
The trick about anxiety is that you have to keep showing up for the fight. You have to keep pushing past it, and over time what seemed like a war transforms into small battles from time to time. As long as you show up. Anxiety makes people want to avoid things.
To avoid classes that make them anxious
To avoid new situations
To avoid checking their bank account
Another comparison that I use, is that anxiety is almost like a muscle that you have to keep stretching. The more you show up to exercise it, the easier it becomes to use that muscle, as it gets stronger over time. It’s a skill really. I’ve developed this skill to the point where I haven’t taken a Xanax since last year (yep, I take Xanax).
Honestly, I’m sure you could probably name at least 5 people you know that have taken an anxiety medication (if not yourself) so it really isn’t as big of a deal as society likes to make. In fact, taking medication is SO normal (ask some of the other 40 million people in the US that suffer). Anxiety is so much more normal than I think most people realize because it is such a taboo topic.
Listen, I do not have it all together, and I know it can come off that way at times with my nicely edited photos and such.
But we are all human
And I am a regular human and I have overcome really severe anxiety, as I’m sure many others reading this have. I have strengthened my ability to combat the anxiety and therefore I don’t need medicine as much to fight it.
Life experiences and changes of environment can also help with certain anxieties. For instance, when I was in high school I had severe anxiety (to the point where I was barely in school my senior year and felt like I could barely catch my breath most nights). But as I transitioned into college I went through a large life change that I threw myself into, and that in a way helped with the anxiety. I know we can’t all just get up and go to college again (I wish).
Show up. Show up to your therapist appointment if you need it. Show up and ask your doctor about medication options because you value yourself and your life enough to do so. Show up to walk outside for 5 minutes. Show up for that party that you have been dreading all freakn day.
And then when you’ve done all this, take a break and take care of yourself. Check in with yourself. This is an everyday task that takes consistency to change into a new way of life. So don’t completely overwhelm yourself and burn out. Just like working out, you will only see results if you show up every day, and then over time, the workouts become second nature.
To combat your anxiety you have to show up each day, and face it, and then do it again the next day.
And then guess what? One day your anxiety won’t be the #1 thing on your mind all day. And that, is a really beautiful thing.