It's not a secret that I struggle with anxiety. I've talked about it here before and I'll talk about it with people if they ask. Sometimes people tell me I'm brave for being so open about it. That always surprises me because I don't think I'm brave at all. I think for so long I lived my life pretending that everything was okay when it wasn't that I just can't do it anymore. It takes too much energy and it's too hard for me to keep things inside, to put up a front and pretend that everything is fine if it's not.
Sometimes I think if I would have known others who were more open about their struggles it wouldn't have taken me so long to come to terms with my own. So I don't think I'm brave, just honest...maybe too much so sometimes.
Today is World Mental Health Day. The world would be a better place if we talked more openly about mental health issues. If we didn't stigmatize them or perpetuate stereotypes and judgement around getting help for them.
So because of Mental Health Day and in the spirit of vulnerability, I wanted to share a bit about my journey with anxiety.
I've know for awhile that anxiety is what causes so many issues with me...it's mostly why I go to counseling, it's why I'm passionate about self-care and it's also why I just don't know what to do with myself sometimes. I've realized it's the root of many health issues I've had throughout my life and it's manifested itself in ways I never would have realized without help.
Not too long ago I felt like no matter what I did I couldn't get it under control.
A few different people asked me if I had ever taken medicine for it. I would say no and change the subject because that freaks me out. I don't like taking medicine if I don't have to and I didn't want to for this. But I decided to ask my counselor about it, confident she would dismiss the idea, say that I was over-exaggerating this "issue" and be done.
That's not what she said.
She said medicine could definitely be an option I explore. She didn't give me the answer I wanted to hear. We talked about my options and then I left and had a mini-meltdown in my car.
I don't know, I guess medicine made it seem like I had a "problem" and I should be strong enough to deal with it. I shouldn't need help. I've lived with this for most my life so I can just keep handling it.
But the problem when you see truth is it's hard to unsee it. This is why we need truth-tellers in our lives. They can help us see what we need.
I couldn't just keep handling my anxiety.
I decided to try different natural things to help with my anxiety. Thankfully, this worked for me. I started feeling better, but also not.
It's one of those things where you don't realize how bad something is until it's better. But I also didn't know how to deal with this new "better" feeling.
Anxiety feels different for everyone, but when I started dealing with it and acknowledging it, I've been able to articulate it better.
Imagine water filling up your body (I know, I know, technically our bodies are made up of water, but stay with me on this...). For me, living with anxiety is like that water inside you is constantly moving. Sometimes it's big waves, sometimes it's just a little choppy, sometimes it's a huge tidal wave, sometimes there's just a little hum of something, but there's always movement.
Sometimes it knocks you off your feet, sometimes it just makes you a little uneasy, sometimes it's calmer for a second but then someone rocks the boat and there is a ripple effect. It's always there.
Along with this movement, my brain is always moving. Taking off into the land of what if's and trying to get my train of thought to stop, but the brakes just went out and there's no turning back. It's like my thoughts are on a hamster wheel and I can't get off. It can all be pretty exhausting.
I was tired of being tired all the time so I did research of what I could do besides go straight to medicine. I tried different things to see what would help.
I started feeling calmer inside. It was so different it messed with me. What do I do now with this buzz of energy gone? It was like the water went still. There weren't even ripples. It threw me off.
I told my counselor how I was feeling and she said, don't fight it.
But the problem was, I didn't feel like myself. This was the only reality I knew. This constant hum of energy, the feel of being on a hamster wheel, staying on high alert and always being prepared for that tidal wave to knock me off my feet.
I eventually settled into this calm and peaceful water. I figured out what works and what doesn't.
I finally think I'm doing great and then I have a panic attack. The thing with anxiety is it doesn't really go away. It also doesn't discriminate when it decides to pay you a visit.
But now, walking towards wholeness with help and in health, I bounce back a little more easily after it comes.
I manage my anxiety better these days - to me that looks like counseling, natural supplements, no caffeine, limiting sugar and lots of good self-care and boundary setting. For others it looks like all those things and medicine. And that's so okay. It looks different for everyone.
We all have stuff, we all have issues, we all have things and lies that take root deep into our being so that when we start doing the hard work of uprooting them, we don't feel like ourselves.
Sometimes it takes awhile for us to allow ourselves to recognize health and wholeness.
It's not a linear path. Sometimes it's two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes we fall, sometimes we take a roundabout way.
So whoever may be reading this, may you be encouraged today that you are not alone.
May you remember that everyone has struggles - we're just not always great at talking about them.
May you find peace and freedom.
May you take the two steps forward after the two steps back.
May you rise again.
May you allow these truths to take deep root in your soul:
You can do hard things.
You do not have to pretend to be someone you're not.
You are not alone.
May you find the courage today to walk towards health and wholeness for yourself.
I'll be here cheering you on.