Today is not one of my typical posts. It’s time to dig deeper and let you guys in on who I am on the inside. In honor of World Mental Health Day, I have decided to write about my struggle with anxiety.
About four years ago, I made a doctors appointment because I thought something was wrong with my heart. When I would be sitting on the couch, my heart would start racing. I had a constant feeling of uneasiness come over me. There were even times when I would feel a shooting pain in my chest and left breast. Well, my EKG results came pack and my heart was completely healthy, thank God. But I knew there had to be another issue if it weren’t my heart. My doctor explained to me that I did not have a heart condition and that I was experiencing mini panic attacks due to anxiety. It all made sense.
Looking back, I had anxiety long before I found out what anxiety even was. I always lived life in fear of what people thought of me and always tried to be a perfect girl that lived an imperfect life. I was a huge over-thinker and the smallest things, especially decision-making, felt massive. I also feared change and anything that was not in routine. I put pressure on myself to excel in school and make my family proud and that pressure followed me all the way to college. I’ve always been extremely passion and driven about my education. My family always talked about how proud they were of me and I put unnecessary stress on myself to keep that reputation, especially when attending a boarding high school. It wasn’t until having a mental breakdown my sophomore year of college that I realized how serious anxiety really was. I was in my first and current relationship, struggling to find friends, and experiencing the feeling of being alone. It felt like a dark cloud was over my head everyday. I tried to be optimistic, but college life made it worse. I would lay in bed all day after class, struggle to manage my time and coursework, and have sleepless nights. I actually depended on Melatonin, a natural sleep aid I took to help me sleep at night. My anxiety was so bad that it got to the point I could not go to sleep unless I took it.
One day I called my sister and asked her to pick me up from school. She didn’t ask or know why, but she never fails to come to my rescue. I went home and the first thing I did when I got home was sit on my mom’s lap and sob. I couldn’t even explain to her why I felt the way I felt. I just knew that I was not feeling myself and I hadn’t been myself for a while. I will never forget my mom asking, “Do you pray?”. When I said “no”, she said “Do you still have faith?”. The answer was no. I did not have faith. I was not praying. I turned my back on my faith when it was the one thing I needed the most. I still think about my mom asking me those questions to this day and I can honestly say it was a turning point in my life. That was my moment of truth. My dad immediately made me an appointment with a therapist and my life has changed for the better ever since. I could go on and on about specific things that trigger my anxiety, but the most important thing is that I have identified those triggers and I have re-lived most of my experiences in therapy sessions, which is how I have been able to move on. Talking to loved ones and letting my guard down was one of the best decisions I have made. In fact, it wasn’t much of a decision, more of an instinct. Knowing that I was surrounded by my support system and they would never judge me for the struggles I faced made it easy to let it all out.
I can say I have been out of darkness for a while now, but it took one hell of a journey to get here. I am not where I want to be mentally, but I know I will get there one day and that is the one thing that keeps me going. I still overthink and have extreme anxiety in certain situations but I am no longer struggling to sleep because of it. I choose to deal with it and not let it consume me like before. I go to sleep peacefully, knowing that when I wake up it will be a new day and I have the power to control my mindset. The most important thing that I have learned is that I am the driver. Anxiety is the passenger, just along for the ride. I control the path and the destination and I have the final say because I am in full control. I made a vow to myself to never let anxiety take the wheel and send me on a downhill spiral again. I am in full control.
3 Tips on Facing Your Anxiety:
- Be honest with yourself. The first step is to admit you are not ok. You have to dig very deep in order to find any root. If you cannot self-reflect and look at yourself in the mirror with transparency, that is a large part of your anxiety, whether you know it or not. You have to tell yourself “It’s ok not to be ok and one day I will feel ok again”. A positive mindset sets the tone for any aspect in your life.
- Find your person. Trust me when I say that you will feel like a million weights have been lifted off of your shoulders once you talk to someone about your problems. Be open. Find a friend, loved one, support group, therapist. With talking to someone, you have to desensitize yourself to criticism and judgement, two main causes of my personal anxiety.
- Find coping mechanisms. When you are not feeling yourself, one of the best things you can do is something that makes you feel better. I like to blog, take photos, give social media a break, and watch Netflix when I am feeling down. Find what makes you, you.