Anxiety: Wishing It Would Go Away Won't Work
Humor Does Help, But It Might Be Hard To Find
Anxiety Can't Be The Winner
I'm not entirely sure why, but my anxiety has been at an all-time high lately. I've learned over time that my anxiety does not like to follow neat rules, but sometimes will sneak up on me without any real cause to do so. It's taken me time to reach that stage of realization, but here we are.
Nearly eight years ago, I started having panic attacks, which I'd never had in my nearly four decades on the planet at the time. If you want to experience something that will completely freak you out and make you question whether or not you're dying, I highly recommend experiencing a panic attack. It was one of the worst feelings in the world ever, and shortly after that, I began seeing a therapist and taking medication in order to manage my anxiety.
Flash forward to now. I no longer see a therapist and weaned myself off of the medication. In my case, and I can only speak about my experiences, coming off medication was a necessary evil, as I was only sleeping "properly" for about 3 or so hours a night. I believe the preference from the nurse practitioner was that I undertake another regimen of medication once I was weaned off, but I made the choice to try and deal solo.
I'm also not endorsing not using medication to deal with mental health conditions. In many cases, medications are an absolute life saver and there are thousands of individuals who wouldn't be out there right now living their best lives if not for the right combination of medication to deal with their anxiety, depression, or whatever the case might be.
In my case, though, I have opted to at least try to deal with my anxiety without medication. If I'm finding my thoughts are racing, I'm more irritable than I generally tend to be and negative self-talk starts to climb - all symptoms that my anxiety is flaring for one reason or another - I've learned that I need to grab my gym gear and go. Sometimes, I can't go right away - for instance, I might be caught in traffic - other coping strategies have to be used, like slow breathing or forcing myself to move just a hair slower than I may have otherwise done. For instance, if I'm walking to the store, instead of striding quickly, I will slow myself down to a casual saunter. Just that physical slowdown of what I'm doing can sometimes be just enough to signal my brain that the thoughts need to slow their rapid-fire pace as well.
Sometimes, there may not even be an exact trigger for my anxiety to be bad. That's the problem; while sometimes I can look at things and realize that my anxiety has flared because I haven't been eating properly or because I've not really slept well, sometimes, there's no apparent cause for the flare up. That's when I really have to step things up and remind myself to just breathe, if necessary.
What's the alternative, really?
I used to wish that I didn't have anxiety - that it didn't feel at times like all the questions and ideas and thoughts in my head when my anxiety kicks up were going to spill out my ears. That's like wishing I wasn't tall, or wishing that I had a million dollars.
Nothing ever disappeared simply by wishing it away, or by pulling the blankets over your head and hiding until it vanished. Once I heard someone say, "The only way out is through," and I rather like that, particularly when I think about living with mental health conditions like anxiety.
Much as I get there are so many days where it's hard to deal with life in general, we need to live it. Kids and pets need to be fed. Laundry and groceries need to be done. Bills - so many bills! - need payment. The basics of life can be quite stressful and sometimes overwhelming, with and without mental health conditions. However, if I chose to self-isolate because the world can be hard to cope with when anxiety is bad, I'd miss out on so many things.
My kid graduating Grade 8 in a couple of weeks.
The joy my kids have in being with their friends doing a sport they love.
The job that I love.
The friendships I enjoy.
So, even though right now my anxiety feels bad, I keep breathing and I keep going.
There's too much life out there for me to simply let anxiety win.