This Is Anxiety

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Them: What state do you live in?

Me: constant anxiety

There are a lot of ways to define anxiety. Webster’s Dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome”. The Mayo Clinic defines anxiety as “a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities”. I define anxiety as a shit storm of emotions, sweaty palms, an overactive bladder and spending 5 extra minutes in the parking lot of a Taco Bell rehearsing my order.

It was William Shakespeare who once said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”.

I was born with anxiety thrust upon me.
No really… According to the doctor I had “separation anxiety” with my mother’s womb. That’s a fun fact I could add to my Tinder bio. Anyway, I have been riddled with anxiety since birth.
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I had my first panic attack when I was 13 years old in my high school math class. I was taking a test that involved graphing exponential functions when all of a sudden everything started to go really fuzzy. The walls of the classroom started to close in and my body got really hot. You know what they say; “a girl never forgets her first panic attack”. I soon started seeing a therapist who told me that having panic attacks every time I took a test was not actually normal. That blew my mind. One day I will avenge my fear of exponential functions. One day I will rise again.

Therapy was a God send. It was amazing to have someone validate the fact that I wasn’t alone in this. The clouds cleared and the gray skies became blue the moment I realized other people felt this fear of impending doom I feel everyday. Not everyone has a panic attack over graphing paper, but it felt good to know that the feeling was not unique. I was able to learn to trust myself and fight the uneasy feelings my anxieties kept forcing into mind.

Anxiety has some benefits though, it’s not all bad. Fashionably late? More like anxiously early. I’m always at least 45 minutes early to every appointment, so I’ve really gotten to know some great buildings over the years. My mind is always thinking of past events, like mini movies playing in my head. Except those fun little mini movies are actually just  self tortured thoughts of awkward conversations, which I promised to stop thinking about, because it happened 4 years, 2 months and 12 days ago. It’s not like I’m counting though…

The truth is that anxiety is debilitating and there are times when it prevents you from living your life. Anxiety makes you feel like a mime, locked inside a glass box with the world passing you by. Your mind is at war with your body and you’re physically unable to perform even the simplest task. You think of the worst thing that could happen, and your mind jumps from A to Z. Your emotions start to spiral out of control all because you thought someone was waving at you, so you waved back, but they were actually waving at the person behind you and now you have to consider moving to a different country.

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There are times when I have control of my anxiety and times when anxiety makes me its bitch. Humor is a great way for a lot of people to cope with their anxiety, but if you found a lot of things in this post a little too relatable, you might want to look into ways to take care of yourself.  Everyone is different and what works for some, might not work for others. Whenever I’m in a place of struggle I do a mixture of the following things to alleviate my anxieties.

Deep breaths.
Here’s an article about 3 effective anxiety breathing techniques to calm you down and focus your attention of your breath. It takes a little bit to get a hang of but learning to control my breath has saved me from a few public panic attacks. https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/breathing-exercises

Listen to music.
Music can do wonders for a busy mind. One of my favorite playlists on Spotify is called “Tender”. It has soothing, mellow, beats that allow my mind to be cleared of thoughts. It’s also great to put on in the background while doing Yoga. Tender Playlist

Light a candle and take a long bath or shower.
Smells always seem to bring me to peace. Find a scent that clears the craziness away and centers you. My favorite scent is bergamot and citrus. I like to breathe in a cup of Earl Grey tea and take a moment for myself each day.

Soak away the stress. Throw some epsom salts in there, hop in the tub and enjoy a chance to treat yourself. My favorite epsom salts are Dr.Teal’s and can be found at nearly every convenience store. http://www.drteals.com/explore-products/

Talk to someone. Anyone. People care.
You’re not alone in this. Anxiety can be isolating but there are people who are feeling exactly what you are feeling in this moment. Reach out to them. Find a therapist. Find a community.  My favorite instagram account to follow for anxiety is @AnxietySupport. It’s a safe community to talk about real shit, self-love and how to navigate through life and mental illness.

Give yourself a break. You’re doing the best you can.
Life isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard. For the love of God be kind to yourself. It’s so easy to blame yourself for what you are feeling, but the fact is your emotions are valid and you’re not to blame. In fact, you’re pretty freaking amazing and you will get through this.

Learn to laugh at yourself.
I can’t count how many times I have had to push myself through fear and anxious feelings. Anxiety sneaks into every single thought I have and it makes even simple tasks more difficult.  However, I think laughing about anxiety is really, really important. I know that a lot of people think of anxiety jokes as trivializing and offensive. You’re entitled to that opinion, but I think that taking a light-hearted approach can be helpful. Laughing at my anxiety, can sometimes make it less intimidating.

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I hope you found some comfort in this blog. I hope you got to laugh and it alleviated some stress you didn’t know you had. I hope reading it made you realize that you are not alone in feeling this way.  I hope you’re not upset that I was a week late on posting, because when people are mad at me I just get like super anxious and oh god, oh no, it’s happening again….ANXIETY.

3 Comments

  1. Ann Duncan says

    Well written Mack, with your special sauce! Keep looking for new and improved coping strategies to help diminish this beast.

    Like

  2. Brian Hayes says

    Great read. It’s amazing how anxiety can make ones mind run 24/7 in overdrive. Therapy does help and what you listed do as well. I do love your superhero pic, that’s awesome.

    Like

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