16:19 september 4th, 2017
so i wrote 75% of my insecurity post already, but i realized that i want to write this post first so i can reference back to it.
also, i’m leaving for soco in 2 hours!! woo!
so. my anxiety. here’s a brief FAQ:
DISCLAIMER: I am 100% only talking about myself and my own experience. I am not going to claim that I can cure or fix anyone’s anxiety. I am not speaking for every single person that experiences anxiety. I am not saying my experience is typical, nor am I saying my case is severe or not. My anxiety affects my life in a deep and unique way, as does everyone else’s.
All I want to achieve, with this post, is to normalize the discussion of mental health and seeking help and raise awareness for something that I care about a lot. I am willing to share with you something that I have been struggling with because I hope that anything I say can resonate in someone out there looking for affirmation and strength. No one talks about this enough in an optimistic way.
Yes, I am anxious, but I’m still kicking butt in every realm of my life to the best of my ability. It’s just a thing. I’m getting help. I’m not broken. So here we go!
Anxiety! What is anxiety? Exactly?
Read up on this quick blurb about generalized anxiety from the DSM-5! https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/symptoms
What gives you anxiety, personally?
Feeling helpless. If I feel incapable/overwhelmed/like I’m running out of time/like my time and energy is not under my own control, my brain starts to catastrophize, and my anxious mind takes over.
For example: If I am sitting in class and I understand absolutely nothing that is going on, but an exam is coming up really soon, sometimes that would trigger my anxiety because I have concepts of “not having enough time to study,” and “I will never be good at this class,” “I am completely incapable of anything good, ever,” even though I know for a fact that none of those things is ever true.
Uncertainty also triggers it, but I’ve gotten better at coping because I understand now that ALL of LIFE is uncertain, and it excites me now to a degree, rather than always stressing me out. Getting better. Conscious adjustments.
How does anxiety feel? I have been anxious before, but what makes this anxiety?
It manifests itself very physically. My heart starts to beat really fast, I feel tingling in my fingertips, my breath gets shallow, sometimes I feel all the warmth flush from my face, and I have a “lifting” feeling in my chest. I kinda just wanna cry, and I often times excuse myself to do so if it happens in a public space.
While this is all happening, my anxious brain begins telling me all sorts of things that are untrue (some popular hits: “i’ll never get it done,” “i can’t do anything right,” “why is everything so wrong right now?” “i am going to fail everything,” “they are probably mad at me,” “why am i like this?”) while my rational brain is in the background, a voice of reason trying to break through the din. It is telling me that the feeling and the thoughts will pass— that I am in an anxious moment, none of the thoughts are true, I am a capable woman, there is always a solution— but it is hard to believe those things when I’m in that state, although those are all the things I believe to be true. Part of me shuts down while the other part goes into overdrive.
How does anxiety manifest itself in your everyday life, when you’re not having an episode?
I am so bad at texting people back. That’s a big one. I can be really flakey sometimes, because of a lot of worries about anything and everything come up at the last minute. As soon as I got to college, I suddenly became absolutely terrified of speaking up in class. I sometimes can’t sleep, I get really restless. I sometimes feel really sick, like it feels like my heart drops to the bottom of my stomach. I stress eat. I procrastinate a lot. On really busy days, I sometimes have trouble starting my day because I am nervous about having so much to do. I have trouble getting started in general. I allow things to pile up. I am slowly working myself off of this, but I can only really work when I have a limited amount of time, aka I procrastinate until I am forced to do a lot all at once. I apologize a lot. One day, I’ll write about my experience in high school and what my anxiety was like back then.
How long have you had anxiety?
I’ve been calling it “anxiety” since the beginning of freshman year of college (so one year, now), but I have definitely had it since sophomore year of high school. I never called it “anxiety” because I thought everyone felt like this and I thought I was simply just a stressed, fragile, and volatile person. I also never called it anxiety for (irrational) fear that people would think I was using it as an excuse for not getting stuff done properly/on time/well (this was before the self-care wave of 2016 and before the normalization of mental health conversations).
I was often exhausted, irritable (especially at my mom), hard on myself, depersonalised, spaced out, on edge, etc.. Junior Year, I started pouring love in into every corner of my life that I could, and it helped, but then I started to hide behind this guise of being happy and perfect all the time, which worsened the “bottling up” of emotions. Senior Year, I started my blog, which helped some (check out “Art of Acceptance” for a real Iife validation of my own emotions at the time), however, I had the added layer of impending existential doom that came with college applications. I started taking better care of myself once I got to Stanford.
This summer, it dramatically worsened- and in July, there was a two-week long period of time when I would have an attack every day. There are a lot of things that catered to that, but it encouraged me to get help and come to terms with it as a thing… so I will use this point as a segue to……
How do you deal with it? And why are you so open about it?
Well, I am open about it because that is how I deal with it.
I used to have so much anxiety about the fact that I had anxiety— which is a messed up downward spiral that is super self-destructive. Feeling insecure, untrusting of my self and my relationships with others, needing perfection, criticizing myself— this all happened inside my brain, and it was always catastrophized and blown out of proportion in there.
Talking about it allows me to rationalize and talk all of it down. Usually, the worries are illogical and can be remedied. Hiding the worry and hiding the hurt traps you in your head with your anxious mind. You sit there and soak in it, rather than letting it out and allowing yourself to hear your irrational fears out loud. I sought professional help at peak points of distress, and the sessions helped so much because I simply entered a space where my worries were irrelevant, which allowed me to rationalize properly.
It takes small, very focused and conscious adjustments in the way I think. Obviously, I am not, in any way, free of anxiety now. However, small adjustments in my thinking have made a big difference.
- I’ve adjusted my perspective on myself, considering the fact that I am not #neurotypical! I can’t sell myself so short or beat myself up so much because the fact that I am out here making moves when it’s hard to even get out of bed sometimes is huge.
- Stop comparing to others. It is the death of self-love. My standards do not relate to hers or his or theirs. I am me, and I have certain expectations for myself, and I will not allow others to dictate that in any way (especially not when I am the one inflicting others’ lives upon myself).
- Being anxious is not something to be ashamed of, honey. I don’t have to hide it. I also don’t have to pity party myself over it. It’s just something I live with: I wake up and get over it and then start working. Then it comes again and I get over it again. It keeps creeping back up on me at certain times of the day, but what do I do? I fight it off, again and again. And that is beautiful. It’s strong as hell.
- Vulnerability is not weak. Taking a break is not weak. Mental health breaks are not weak or lazy. I started telling people when they ask, “How are you?” the truth, which is “I’m having a pretty bad mental health day today, but I’ll get through it,” and it makes all the difference. Because I WILL get through it. And not only that, but the interaction will be much more meaningful. Back to the big ol’ capital L Life theme: Normalizing vulnerability and emotionality in casual conversation is a highway to more meaningful relationships and connections! Own your struggle, baby. Say what you feel.
- My support systems do not think I am annoying, no matter how bothersome I believe myself to be. Reach out for help. They care about me, and they want me to be okay. My feelings and experience are not a burden.
- Love more. It is important to love myself, be proud of myself, love others, find my happy things/places/people. All I have to do is remember that I am 1) not broken, 2) powerful, 3) capable, 4) loved, 5) worth everything, 6) growing, and 7) learning— and it eases at least some of the tensions.
Also, I’m on this new wave where I am on the journey of internalizing the fact that I am All That™ (because I am). I am brimming with excitement over writing the self-love and confidence post. Coming soon!
BONUS: Mega Resource
Thanks to Brenna, I have been listening to this nonstop.
Here Comes a Thought – Estelle, AJ Michalka (from Steven Universe)
Read the lyrics, watch the video. And then do that over and over again, especially when you’re anxious.
So yeah. I’ll just put this down here again:
DISCLAIMER: I am 100% only talking about myself and my own experience. I am not going to claim that I can cure or fix anyone’s anxiety. I am not speaking for every single person that experiences anxiety. I am not saying my experience is typical, nor am I saying my case is severe or not. My anxiety affects my life in a deep and unique way, as does everyone else’s. All I want to achieve, with this post, is to normalize the discussion of mental health and seeking help and raise awareness for something that I care about a lot. I am willing to share with you something that I have been struggling with because I hope that anything I say can resonate in someone out there looking for affirmation and strength. No one talks about this enough in an optimistic way. Yes, I am anxious. And despite that, I’m still kicking butt in every realm of my life to the best of my ability. It’s just a thing. I’m getting help. I’m not broken.
So, my dear, whether you are anxious or not, I wish you nothing but strength and courage. It takes a lot of bravery to admit something is wrong and that you need help. And it takes a lot of strength to get up every day and just get through it.
in the wisest of words:
I’m Getting Thru It, U Can Too
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