Unless you’ve lived with anxiety or have experience knowing people who do, it can be very difficult to recognize and/or understand just what is going on with a person. True anxiety that emerges can take shape in many forms. Someone who is anxious could lash out with anger, suddenly burst into tears, withdraw and become emotionally unavailable. Your lunch date may get canceled for no reason whatsoever and leave you wondering why they didn’t show up.
For me, my anxiety can take on many sudden and frustrating manifestations. One minute I could be feeling just fine, zipping along through my day and a single, intrusive thought pops into my head and well, there goes the rest of my afternoon. I have tried to develop coping skills over the years and find ways to calm it, address it, live with it. Sometimes I play a game on the computer, go for a brisk walk, head to the gym, write my worries down or talk to a trusted friend. The one thing I never do is trying to pretend that I can handle the anxiety without doing anything about it.
Thankfully, I can call and visit my therapist, who helps me understand why I feel so anxious about things. I’m grateful that I have this opportunity and take full advantage of the advice offered. I feel better about myself and feel like I’m really participating in self-care, which is so important when you are dealing with any type of mental illness. When I can’t see my therapist and it’s a while before my next appointment, I look for those other ways to build an emotional bridge until I can have my next appointment.
While I know that I most often have support if I were to voice my fears, worries and other aspects of my anxiety, I don’t always. Sometimes, people tell me to “stop worrying about it” or “you worry too much”. It can be frustrating, because hearing statements like this can make you feel like someone doesn’t care, but in many cases, it’s because they don’t understand how you feel. Only you can determine that. Also, I know that I don’t always present the issue in a way that can help someone understand. If my anxiety is coming out in the form of frustration and anger, that can alienate someone and create distance and delay helpful support.
Parenting two children who live with anxiety can exponentially increase my own anxiety, as I can feed off the many things they are dealing with. If I am anxious and they come to me with anxious concerns, I am not always in the best place to help them and that is frustrating. They often don’t understand and might think I’m mad or not interested in their concern, but that is rarely the case.
So, if things become too much for me, I try to do just one thing that can start to make things better. I may not be able to accomplish all the things written above, but I can at the very least, breathe. The worry may still try to control me, I may not be able to come up with solutions right away, but I will take the time to stop, even for only a moment and breathe. If I seek solace in that moment and give my mind time to slow down, I can feel better and perhaps even quiet my anxious thoughts if I’m lucky. If I’m very fortunate, I’ll feel better and be able to move on from that thought process.
I will never allow my anxiety to make me feel like it’s not worth fighting to feel better. Even that can seem overwhelming some days, but I will not give up. I will never allow my anxiety to make me feel ashamed of who I am and how it affects my behavior. I will own my actions, but I will acknowledge that sometimes I am powerless over how things immediately affect me. I will never give up trying to be the best me I can be, because I am worth it.