Embracing My Anxiety

By: R. D.

Artist credit: Gemma Correll

I go find a quiet space. But on an open office floor, that’s hard to come by so I go to the one place I know,  a cubicle in the ladies’ room. I sit there with my hands on my head and slowly begin to cry. This is the thing, no one has said anything to me, so why was I finding everything overwhelming. The voice inside my head, dressed as a good friend loves to tell me things. It tells me I am loser for crying when I don’t even have a decent reason to. Leading up this breakdown, it was telling me how I was not ‘good enough’. The reason for where I was in my career was maybe, just maybe, because I am not good enough. It doesn’t matter what  loved ones see and say, the voice keeps saying there should have been hard evidence to prove I am good enough. I just want to take something, a magic pill, that would make all this go away.

I have an anxiety disorder. It may be mild or it may be severe but I don’t really know. I am too anxious to go see a doctor. Most days, most of the time I am doing fine. But then, bam! It hits and I sit for hours cutting the split ends on my hair, so I could just stay inside my head and avoid doing what I need to do.

Which is exactly what I am doing right now.

Sometimes I am on edge. Waiting to tip over. I am uber sensitive of my surroundings and any little act by someone else could set it off. Then no one else, but my own voice inside my head, starts telling me how I am just not good enough, I don’t get anywhere in life, because I don’t deserve to, and I fail because I am just stupid. And everyone else has just been kind to me by not telling me this but the truth is I am just stupid. Yes, these are horrible things to say and we would never say that to anyone we know.

But for us, people suffering from anxiety disorder, these things, we say to ourselves all the time. Your brain is on a constant ‘flight or fight’ mode. There’s also the perpetual feeling of shame, because you feel like the ‘problems’ aren’t really ‘problems’. This low self esteem takes over our lives sometimes, it stops us from reaching our full potential. We don’t try sometimes because we think we’ll just fail anyways, we might as well save our disappointment. Or if we do go for it and achieve it, what if, someone finds out we are a phony and have been a failure all along.

So what do I do?

To not have my daily life majorly affected by this, over the last year,  I have tried to listen to my body and reduce the triggers as much as possible. Some of the things below has really helped me and I am going to share that with you today.

One of the main thing I have decided this year is to be kind to myself. This has been the most effective one for me. I know some days are going to be hard, some days I wouldn’t want to be with certain people, and that’s okay. I won’t make myself go through something I don’t want to do deep down. If I feel overwhelmed and have a breakdown, that’s okay too. I am just going through the emotions. If I am unwillingly mean to someone when I am irritated, that’s okay too. I will try not to do it next time and I will try to be kinder. I have told myself I’ll go to the doctors this year, and I haven’t, but I’ll go when I am ready. It’s a strange concept that I am getting used to as well. As humans, we are used to setting ourselves goals and then getting it done or feeling bad when we don’t get it done.

I also surround myself with people I want to be with and this has meant that I spend more time with my family now. It also means I spend a lot of time by myself. I need that time to recuperate and recharge. I deactivated my Facebook account many years ago, which has meant that i don’t know what many of my acquaintances are up to but also if I would try and contact friends I do want to see. This has meant that my group of friends has reduced significantly and I am not always comfortable meeting big group of people but it has also meant that I have started developing more meaningful friendships with some people.

Yoga is another thing that helps me immensely. I am not self-disciplined enough to practice this at home, so I go to the studio and practice. It helps me be patient, there are certain postures that I am not able to do even after many years of practicing. But it helps me stay focused and not give up, but then be grateful that I am practicing.

Having a routine and preparing for things beforehand was not something I used to do when I was younger. But recently, I have realised that having a routine really calms my mind. Also preparing for things beforehand, something I definitely didn’t do much of back in my spontaneous days, has meant that I have fewer decisions to make which stops my mind from getting overwhelmed by small decisions that need to be made.

There are also other things that I do that keep my mind calm. I have noticed that going for a walk helps clear out my head, even though it is occupied with thoughts most of the time, it feels like stacking books back in the shelf, my thoughts are more organised. I also find cooking therapeutic, so I try to do this when I have time. Drinking chamomile tea before my bed calms me down straight away so I don’t lie awake with my thoughts all night but this also meant I had to reduce my caffeine and alcohol intake considerably.

Looking back at my life, I have had periods of anxiety starting from when I was a pre-teen. Back then, I didn’t know what it was, I couldn’t understand it. I am in a place where I know what it is, I know the triggers and I am trying my best to embrace it and take it forward in a positive way.  

 

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