When Anxiety Rears Its Ugly Head

When Anxiety Rears Its Ugly Head

My anxiety is like a monster from under my bed, but it’s with me all the time, always lurking in the back of my mind.
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You remember the monster from under your bed from when you were a child? The one that you were so sure was there but whenever your parents would look it suddenly disappeared? And as soon as they walked away, it was back to taunt you and keep you awake for seemingly all night with fear.

Now I know that monsters aren’t real in the physical sense, but let me tell you, living with anxiety really feels like you’re being haunted.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Kylie, quit being so dramatic, we all get a little worried sometimes.” But that’s not what I’m talking about.

We throw the word anxiety around so much that it’s beginning to lose all meaning. I’d go so far as to say that stress is glorified in today’s world.

But you’ll never catch anyone with an anxiety disorder bragging about how worried they are, and how much they have on their plate. And let me tell you why.

My anxiety is my biggest bully. It’s the monster from under my bed, but it’s with me all the time—always lurking in the back of my mind.

It whispers in my ear, a constant nagging that never goes away.

It’s not that I can’t handle criticism, it’s that I’m the first and the only one to put myself down.

It turns me against myself.

It tells me you hate me.

That for some reason I’ve done something to annoy you. That I’m an annoying person.

That you’ve moved on and no longer are interested in me.

How could I have been so stupid to think you were interested in the first place?

I can hear it laughing whenever I start to feel the slightest bit confident in myself. “You think they actually want to be your friends? Just you wait, it won’t last long.”

And just like that, one insecurity spirals into the oh-so-familiar pit of worries. One concern leading to a larger worry and a larger one, until I can’t take it and eventually I’m pacing back and forth. My body is shaking, and I can’t recognize my voice when I snap at my family that I’m fine.

It creates a monster out of me, a reflection of itself.

My heart rate slows and my muscles relax. He’s gone.

He hides for a while, but his job is far from done.

I can see him in the stressors around me. The food I don’t want to eat, the fear of rejection, not being good enough, and the feeling of being forgotten.

Anxiety never goes away. It’s something I deal with on a daily basis. Some days are better and some are worse.

But there’s always an upside, I suppose. I’ve hit rock-bottom, and I know I’m never going to let myself slip so far again.

Never again will I contemplate suicide or cry looking in the mirror. I’ve learned that my anxiety isn’t something to be ashamed of, and I don’t have to hide it.

Those who love you will accept you and embrace your imperfections, including the monsters you carry with you.

Cover Image Credit: Kylie Hofmeister

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

This one's for you.
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You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that. I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions. After everything life has put you through you have still remained soft. This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did. You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself. You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away. Remember that it is OK to say no. You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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A Reiki Session Cured My Anxiety And Opened My Eyes To Methods Of Alternative Healing

I left the session feeling completely relaxed, and for the first time in months, not anxious.

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You may have heard the word "reiki" thrown around here and there, but may not have known what it means. Dr. Oz spoke about using a Reiki healer while performing a surgery on a cardiac patient, but what does it all mean? Reiki is a Japanese word, pronounced "ray-kee." The "Rei" means universal and the "ki" meaning "life-force energy." Reiki is a natural therapy that works to balance, realign, and recharge the mind, body, and spirit on all levels. It is not a religious practice nor a massage or physical manipulation. The benefits of Reiki are numerous, according to "The Healing Power of Reiki" by Raven Keyes, Reiki eases aches and pains, relaxes muscles and reduces tension, relieves fatigue, balances energy, relaxes the body and mind, promotes a feeling of calmness and well-being, encourages emotional release, soothes emotional distress, and promotes peace

Reiki is a simple, natural healing system. During a Reiki session, the practitioner positions their hands at the various energy centers of the body, this activates the flow of energy or ones' "chi." During this time one may feel a sensation or warmth, a pulsating rhythm, tingling or calmness, and relaxation. It is also effective at reducing anxiety and inducing relaxation and balance. You're probably reading this and thinking "Okay awesome, sounds cool, but it definitely doesn't work," and I totally get where you're coming from. My mom is a certified Reiki master and at first, even though I never admitted it to her, I didn't believe in it at all. It wasn't until I caved and finally went to a session that I fully appreciated and understood what my mom had been talking about for weeks.

Prior to moving into college, I had been suffering from anxiety over the big transition, so my mom suggested I go to a session, at first I was hesitant, but then thought that nothing negative could come from the session. I went in with an open mind and for some reason the curiosity over what color my aura is. The session is 90 minutes, you lay on your back for half and then your stomach for the other half. I know what you're probably thinking: Laying completely still for ninety minutes not doing anything must be unbearable! But I can honestly say it was probably the most relaxing and comfortable experience for my life.

I kept my eyes closed during the session so I could fully relax, and during this time I kept seeing the color green over and over. Before the session, the practitioner explained that I may see colors, feel things, or hear sounds during the session and that I should bring it up after to discuss. During the session, the practitioner said she picked up on energy blockages showing up in my throat and heart chakras, she related this, in detail, to a falling out months before with a friend and a boy. This immediately shocked me as nobody had informed her about this experience prior to the session. She explained to me that she would be clearing both of these chakras, as she did it I immediately began to cry, but at the same time felt relieved as well as happy.

The session soon ended and she explained to me that my anxiety had been over my transition into college but she ensured me that the universe and guiding spirits would help me on my journey. (I know I sound crazy but this was super cool). Before walking out, she looked at me and said, "Oh and by the way, they said your aura is green." My mouth immediately dropped, as I had completely forgotten to mention her that during the entire session I kept seeing green. She went on to explain that a green aura relates to one's throat and heart chakra which she cleared during my session. I left the session feeling completely relaxed, and for the first time in months, not anxious. It was the most eye-opening experience I've ever had. My mom later went into detail explaining the universe and how the energy you put out is the energy you in turn receive.

Since my first session, I have gone back to receive another, and am planning on going again during winter break. I'm also planning on taking a class this summer in order to become Reiki certified, but until then I've just been telling my story to whoever will listen with the hope that it peaks their interest and motivates them to go and have an as amazing experience as I did.

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