Have you ever had to try to manage anxiety? How did it affect your day to day life?
“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” — Arthur Somers Roche
That is so true, isn’t it? When you let yourself be consumed by anxiety, it bleeds into every aspect of your life.
For me, I dealt with it off and on as a teen, but chronic, daily anxiety? That’s a whole new world.
“A dismal place I never knew.
And when I’m feeling fear,
It’s crystal clear.
Obviously, I am about to die.”
-Me, about to get sued by Disney (2019)
I have had depression for a very long time. Insert the origin story of your choice. Let’s say for the purposes of this, I watched my parents die in a mugging gone wrong in an alley after leaving the theater.
Twenty plus years later, my brain is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. Except all the pieces got dumped into a pile of shit and put back together by a gorilla.
I’ve spent years trying lots of coping mechanisms, including surrendering to it, which you can probably imagine doesn’t cure depression. Eventually, I got into a rhythm of self-care that left me with a shred of sanity, a slice of dignity, and a modicum of happiness.
Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
Fatigue is basically depression’s super rude cousin. Depression has you hobbled with self-doubt and worry and feelings of failure. When Cousin Fatigue comes over to play poker with you guys, he cheats like a bastard and takes you for everything you have. But since you tend to believe everything Depression tells you, you kind of just accept it and leave the game with nothing.
Another fun pal of Depression’s? Auntie Anxiety! She is a dramatic little thing. She shows up unannounced at all your parties, and tells you what to do and how to think. Also, she’s is negative and turns you into the sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that makes you a freaking blast to hang out with.
Auntie Anxiety has been hanging around with Depression, Fatigue, and me lately. Complicating matters is the fact that I have tons of travel this year that I need to be well for.
It’s a hard road…
I went to the doctor today because I have got to figure out why she has been showing up so much (bringing her pet dog Digestive Issues, after I specifically told her he wasn’t welcome.) I am determined to manage my anxiety and ban all these clowns from any future family functions.
We went on a trip to Washington DC this past week for my husband’s work. First, it began with a 1 hour-ish drive to the airport. MY BRAIN: Need to pee, gonna die, need to pee, short of breath, maybe if I close my eyes, it will go away.
Next, we had to take a shuttle in the freezing cold to the terminal. MY BRAIN: I’m gonna die out here in the cold because the shuttle is going to break down and my body is going to succumb to the anxiety rolling around in my stomach like a deranged python. Then, we waited for our flight. This part actually is okay for me, if a little boring. Next, we got on the plane. MY BRAIN: Well, this is it. Take me home, Lord. Bye, gurl.
I mean, what is that even about? It’s an annoyance I don’t really need. So, I got my blood work done like a good girl. Now, I just need to wait. Auntie Anxiety is telling me to prepare my will and inform my loved ones of my final wishes because I’m OBVIOUSLY dying.
The tiny part of my brain that still belongs to me says, “Take a deep breath. You got through an unmedicated labor and delivery, you can get through this.”
Tips for managing anxiety
There are a lot of tips out there for managing anxiety but here are my top 3 favorites.
Plan plan plan
The best way that I have found to manage anxiety is to plan ahead for things, and make lists.
That being said, you don’t want to become such a slave to lists that you lose any shred of spontaneity you might have. After all, that’s where a lot of the beauty and joy in life can be found.
However, you may find proper planning ahead of events that could trigger your anxiety to be helpful. For instance, I tend to prefer being the one to take the reins when we travel, because I am an anxious traveler.
Tell those close to you
Be open about your triggers, and give your loved ones feedback about how they can better support you.
Our mental health struggles truly take a village to manage. People cannot help you to help yourself if they are in the dark about what is going on.
Get adequate self care
People with anxiety require daily, individualized self care to keep themselves well. They need proper sleep. They need exercise. Nutrition can certainly help.
Self care is very individual. What it looks like for me might not at all be effective for you.
It takes some time and patience, but getting into a good self care routine should see some of your anxiety lessen.
You got this.
What you have to remember is that as awful as anxiety is- and it is truly awful- it is just a thing. It is a disease. Diseases have treatments, even if there is not cure. It can be hard to remember that when you are in the throes of a panic attack, and barely feeling like you’re clinging to life.
But there are things you can do to manage. It just takes time.
Do you live with anxiety? Tell me all about it in the comments! And don’t forget to share this post if you found it helpful.