How Anxiety Affects Me
Welcome to a more casual blog.
And, welcome to me.
So, mental health. Seems to be the topic recently! I have always struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Endlessly worrying, planning, and ruminating. Stomach and chest-clenching sensations. On edge. Couldn't accept the present. Sound familiar, anyone?
In 10th grade, I had crippling social anxiety. This was a new one, and I remember sitting at lunch with my friends, wondering why I was constantly thinking before I spoke. Someone new would come to sit at our table, and I would sweat, my body would be extremely tense, and I could barely talk. I crafted every sentence in my mind so my words would be accepted by others. And straying away from my true, authentic words started to really affect my happiness.
When you're in a constant state of worry, you just can't be content.
Oh God, did I want to just live and act without having to constantly think about it first. One day at therapy, my therapist was telling me about how we can change the way our brain is wired by creating new practices. That idea sat in my mind for a couple of days, and I decided that I could change the way my anxiety lived inside of me.
Every day, I would talk to someone new. I'd ask someone sitting next to me a question, I'd raise my hand in class, and I'd force myself into conversation. I knew I'd feel anxiety no matter what I did, so may as well act social, right?
After a couple weeks, I saw immense improvement, and after 4 months, my social anxiety went away. I feel outgoing and content. And, I feel like I can talk to absolutely anyone. Isn't it cool how you can create new habits? Seriously, anxiety is nothing but a habit.
But, anxiety appeared in many other ways in my life.
As college decisions came closer, I became incredibly anxious. Not just about college, but about everything. I planned (making lists in my mind AND on paper), worrying, constantly thinking, mind spiraling, etc. It literally made me crazy.
I'm currently working on all of this. And what I've learned is that worrying is a way for me to feel a sense of control and security. I go up the anxiety mountain, I plan and control, and I never let myself go over the mountain. In reality, controlling things actually produces anxiety because I am unconsciously teaching myself that I can't handle negative emotions. That I can't go over the mountain naturally. Damn, am I trying to learn that negative emotions are OKAY and that planning PROMOTES anxiety and doesn't make the bad emotions go away! It's just showing me I can't handle feeling them.
I am on my way toward coping in a more healthy way with anxiety, and accepting that it may never go away completely. So, here is what I am going to do. I am going to practice leaving my anxiety behind. Putting it in a balloon and letting it float away. Stepping on the train and stepping off. Just letting it go, and whenever my mind tries to fight, I will step off the racing train of my mind until I am not on the train anymore.
Let's re-train our thoughts and behaviors together!