I Have Anxiety, It Needs To Be Treated, And That Is Healthy

I Have Anxiety, It Needs To Be Treated, And That Is Healthy

It's OK not to be OK.
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Last week, I took my 6 hour drive back home from college for Thanksgiving.

I took a sharp corner and the plant I had been growing for my botany lab tipped over, sending dirt all over my car. When I stopped for gas, I tripped over the hose on the pump and face planted right into my car.

Usually, these little things would irritate and embarrass me to the point that I would cry, be in a nasty mood and throw some things around, but today, I literally got back in my car and laughed at myself.

I went through years of being terribly irritable, anxious and upset all the time before I realized it wasn't right. Worrying constantly was giving me migraines, making my stomach hurt and just making it hard to be normal. I would get angry at the drop of a hat and always felt irritated with every little thing and everyone, making it difficult to have healthy relationships with anybody. I had a constant fear that everyone around me was judging my every move and hated me for no reason.

After debating it for over a year, I decided to go to the behavioral health center on campus to talk to someone. The doctor asked me a million questions and listened to everything that I had been having trouble with. She nodded, smiled and listened like she really cared, which made it much easier to talk about things that were difficult. And then she diagnosed me with anxiety.

At the end, she looked at me and said, "I would like to start you on some medication to help your anxiety. Trust me, it will do you wonders."

I drove numbly to CVS to pick up my prescription. A million thoughts raced through my mind and tears blurred the road in front of me. Was I really so broken that I needed medicine to be normal?

After a long, difficult week of awful side effects, something hit me like a truck. I was walking down the street with Starbucks in my hand and my mind felt... clear. Focused. There weren't all these little thoughts nagging at me.

I started realizing how truly wonderful my life was. School didn't seem like a burden. My assignments were just things I had to do, not things I had to worry about. I stopped snapping at my boyfriend for stupid little things. I sang in my car on the way to school and didn't give a crap who saw.

All of this coming from the girl who used to be afraid to get up to throw away trash during class in fear of being judged? The one who got irritated if someone looked at her the wrong way? Who constantly kept herself awake at night, worrying about what the next day might hold? It felt amazing.

I felt normal for the first time in a long time. When I first was diagnosed with anxiety and started taking medicine, I really didn't want people to know because I didn't think they would understand. A few people that knew even told me not to mention that I was on medication because "not everyone understands" and "you might be judged." But now I have accepted it and if I accept my own struggles, eventually others will too. And if not? That's ok too.

I need something to help me feel better and that is perfectly fine.

Mental illness isn't a dirty word. Neither is medication. Needing medicine to feel okay and happy is just fine. Nobody can be perfect. Some people just need a little more help.

It helps me actually be me, not the irritable, anxious, upset version of myself.

Don't be afraid to admit if you need a little help. Maybe it's therapy, maybe it's medicine, maybe it's simply talking to someone about the things that are bothering you. Life isn't easy.

It's okay NOT to be okay.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Crabb

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Bailey Posted A Racist Tweet, But That Does NOT Mean She Deserves To Be Fat Shamed

As a certified racist, does she deserve to be fat shamed?
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This morning, I was scrolling though my phone, rotating between Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Snapchat again, ignoring everyone's snaps but going through all the Snapchat subscription stories before stumbling on a Daily Mail article that piqued my interest. The article was one about a teen, Bailey, who was bullied for her figure, as seen on the snap below and the text exchange between Bailey and her mother, in which she begged for a change of clothes because people were making fun of her and taking pictures.

Like all viral things, quickly after her text pictures and harassing snaps surfaced, people internet stalked her social media. But, after some digging, it was found that Bailey had tweeted some racist remark.

Now, some are saying that because Bailey was clearly racist, she is undeserving of empathy and deserves to be fat-shamed. But does she? All humans, no matter how we try, are prejudiced in one way or another. If you can honestly tell me that you treat everyone with an equal amount of respect after a brief first impression, regardless of the state of their physical hygiene or the words that come out of their mouth, either you're a liar, or you're actually God. Yes, she tweeted some racist stuff. But does that mean that all hate she receives in all aspects of her life are justified?

On the other hand, Bailey was racist. And what comes around goes around. There was one user on Twitter who pointed out that as a racist, Bailey was a bully herself. And, quite honestly, everyone loves the downfall of the bully. The moment the bullies' victims stop cowering from fear and discover that they, too, have claws is the moment when the onlookers turn the tables and start jeering the bully instead. This is the moment the bully completely and utterly breaks, feeling the pain of their victims for the first time, and for the victims, the bully's demise is satisfying to watch.

While we'd all like to believe that the ideal is somewhere in between, in a happy medium where her racism is penalized but she also gets sympathy for being fat shamed, the reality is that the ideal is to be entirely empathetic. Help her through her tough time, with no backlash.

Bullies bully to dominate and to feel powerful. If we tell her that she's undeserving of any good in life because she tweeted some racist stuff, she will feel stifled and insignificant and awful. Maybe she'll also want to make someone else to feel as awful as she did for some random physical characteristic she has. Maybe, we might dehumanize her to the point where we feel that she's undeserving of anything, and she might forget the preciousness of life. Either one of the outcomes is unpleasant and disturbing and will not promote healthy tendencies within a person.

Instead, we should make her feel supported. We all have bad traits about ourselves, but they shouldn't define us. Maybe, through this experience, she'll realize how it feels to be prejudiced against based off physical characteristics. After all, it is our lowest points, our most desperate points in life, that provide us with another perspective to use while evaluating the world and everyone in it.

Cover Image Credit: Twitter / Bailey

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DIY Self-Care Guide For College Students Living With Anxiety

Wherever you are out there, you're doing great.

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Your anxiety does not define you-- but, I know it takes a toll. I'm a fighter myself, on my own journey. Here are some tips and tools that I use that might help you, too.

1. Identify the trigger.

One of the most important things to do when confronted with any type of anxiety is identifying the trigger. It could be something personal in your life-- a relationship, body image issues, social interactions, past relationships, or really anything that could affect a person either consciously or subconsciously. It could even be as simple is the cumulative stress that you're feeling in school, no matter how happy you may be.

The first step in reducing the onset anxiety is to identify the root issue and what is causing it to stir up. Once you know your triggers, you can learn your coping methods as well as the things that help you over those hurdles more effectively and smoothly. If possible, you can even learn to avoid such triggers if they are toxic and unnecessary to your abundance in life.

2. Take action!

Once you have identified your own personal anxiety trigger(s), you then can begin efficiently taking action and swiftly kicking you anxiety's ass. I don't even mean mental action, necessarily. While that is certainly the place to start from, sometimes the initial distressed mind is not the brain you wanna be talking to yourself with. Something that I've noticed in my own personal experience is that I have a habit of shriveling up and internalizing when I am anxious. My immediate fight-or-flight instinct says to run, when really; 99% of the time there's nothing to run from.

One of my best pieces of advice that I feel I can give ever is to actually take physical action if you're feeling the burdens of anxiety creeping in. Whether that is going to the gym, turning on your favorite jams that make you feel like you, dancing in your room, going out with friends, doing your homework, doing your laundry, doing a facemask, treating yourself, watching a movie, going to a new club/activity on campus, or just doing what's right in front of you. It can be anything-- anything that has a better chance of getting you out of your own head than ruminating over your irrational thoughts ever will.

3. Prioritize.

All of the above being said, don't worry about "doing things" to much to the point where it stresses you out more. If you need to, make a list of what you need to do on any given day if you really just need to take a break for your own mental health. Here's the list of things that I prioritize: 1) Myself, 2) Sleep, 2) Enough Food, 3) Brain Power, and 3) What-I-Absolutely-Need-to-do-in-This-Day.

Something that often happens when humans feel overwhelmed is that we feel like everything in the world needs to get done, be fixed, be cured, be alright, and have answers. This is a fiction made up by our sensitive hearts and brains in reaction to our anxiety. It is not a truth, and it is not up to you. If you are struggling, take things day by day. Enjoy the moment. Be gentle with yourself. Do what is needed for you survival, your health, and your happiness.

4. Accept your anxiety for what it is.

It's important to remember that, unfortunately, about 50% of the world knowingly suffers from anxiety. There is nothing about your anxiety that makes you incapable, an outsider, ostracized, or less than. You are enough.

It's also important to recognize that you need to, in a way, become friends with your anxiety. It is a part of you, at least for this moment. If you need to have a sit down talk with yourself and your anxiety just to say, "hello. I recognize that you are present. I understand why you are here, but you are not in control of my life", then that is totally acceptable! The only way that you are ever going to grow from it and move forward is to accept yourself with your anxiety. It's just another one of those imperfections that makes you human and beautiful.

5. Come to terms with the fact that you are the one in control.

One of the biggest things that will make an uneasy person feel even more helpless is feeling out of control. Sometimes the spiral gets so uncontrollable and deprecating that we start to feel like it is no longer our battle to fight. This is not true. If you've come up from it once, you already know you have the strength. If you're having your first mental breakdown (hopefully these things will prevent you from this if it hasn't already occurred), then it is imperative that you become aware that you are so much stronger than you think.

Your anxiety is in your head, and that's what makes it so difficult. Yes it manifests through somatic and physical symptoms, but it is a sickness of the mind. You have to right to take care of yourself. You have the right to heal yourself. Take the reins of your life, tell yourself what you know is the truth and grab ahold of that abundance you know you are worthy of.

6. Be careful of where you put your energy…especially if you’re an empath.

Ugh!! This is so important!! Not only am I someone who has struggled with anxiety, but I am also an Enneagram Type 2 who is an extreme empath (and proud to be one). It is not surprising that these things all go hand in hand. One of the things that I've learned a lot about being an empath with anxiety is that it is all too easy to overextend, co-depend with people, and experience other people's pains, fears, and worries. It is crucial that you develop the ability to distinguish your own feelings and needs from those needs and feelings of others. This is way easier said than done if you are a person who feels energies and vibes as strong as a physical touch.

It is absolutely necessary to your mental health for you to pick and choose your battles. Yes, you are an empath. Yes, you care about other people deeply. Yes, you want to help. However, you need to understand that you cannot give the help that you want to if you are not first fully loving and taking care of yourself and your needs. Set your boundaries very clearly, and know when it has become out of your own control to help another person. These experiences affect your mental health and your personal anxiety more than you probably realize.

7. Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is essentially the practice of accepting and enjoying the moment. It's a practice of being present, and it has become one of my most treasured remedies for anxiety in my own personal life. Some things you can do literally whenever (such a perk) to practice mindfulness are listed below

  • Identify one thing in the present moment that can be assigned to each of the 5 senses: smell, touch, sight, hearing, taste.
  • Do a body scan and notice what things feel tense, loose, out of place, or any other general state of being. Begin to focus on releasing the parts of the body that feel tense.
  • Close your eyes, touch an object that is available in your present moment, and soak it in.
  • Recognize the moment that you in, take a deep breath, and accept yourself in the present.

Mindfulness is literally one of the best things ever and I'm so glad to be a missionary of its existence! Breathe in, breathe out. You got this.

8. Accept that it’s okay not to have the answers.

Alright… this is a big one. I am one of the biggest culprits of being a worry wart as it pertains to this very issue. One of the most common things that an anxious person does is worry about literally everything that is unknown or in the future. Feeling anxious can basically compare to driving in a dark tunnel with a blindfold on without knowing if there's a cliff at the end. We want to know every single answer to our lives, fix every single thing, and solve every single problem there is in the world. Well, sorry to tell you irrational brain-- but you're probably not gonna know who is going to marry you within the next day.

This is a great place where mindfulness can come into play, also. If you're finding that your mind is piling up with these obsessive thoughts and keeping you from even getting the answers you're so desperately searching for, then you must take a breath. You must realize where you are in your own process, and stop comparing it to everyone else's journey. You must realize that, again, it is not in your power to cure every single bad thing in the world. You must realize that you have so much life to live, and that life is for learning. It's okay. It's okaaayyy. I promise.

9. Journal.

Okay so, this is one of my favorite things to do in general. That being said, it really does help with sorting thoughts out. I'm serious when I say that if your brain just feels like it's a bunch of staticky, white noise; journaling will probably help you align all of that chaos up there.

Also, keep in mind, journaling does not need to be some pretty, organized thing. It's beautiful in it's messiness, just like you. ;) You can write about anything. Your day, your favorite memories, what's really going on and setting you aflame, that guy you've had a crush on but just haven't told anyone, anything. This is also a great place to begin to identify your anxious triggers if you are struggling. It's also just awesome. So, yeah.

10. Seek Help!

Please, please, PUH-LEASE seek out help. Even if you are not dying or going through a complete mental breakdown, I would still strongly consider it. Among other options, there are things like: psychotherapy, medication, and more natural things like CES (cranial electrotherapy stimulation) that is one of my favorites. I'll put the link below this paragraph. I am in talk therapy, and let me tell you-- I love it. It's great, and it makes you more aware of what's going on and how to handle it. Then, once you know how to tackle it-- that's half of the battle. Most colleges and places have services where you can get insight/psychotherapy, and if they don't; there is somewhere you can find it. Please do. It's so worth it. You are worth it.

I am not a clinical psychologist nor am I a licensed therapist, so I can only do what I can do by sharing my own personal nuggets and tools with you! Don't be afraid. Break the stigma. Go get that self-care.

https://www.drdiane.com/ces-device-treating-anxiet...

11. Read Self-Care Books!

Okay, real talk. One of my favorite authors ever is Sylvester McNutt. He's honest, vulnerable, raw, and relatable in his writing. He does not sugar coat his truth and the truth of humanity. Here are some of his phenomenal books that I've read below:

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/books/care-package-a-path-to-deep-healing

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/books/this-is-what-real-love-feels-like

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/books/lust-for-life-1-ktcl7

Also, here are his main social media handles, because he's just amazing. Yes.

https://www.sylvestermcnutt.net/

&

Instagram: sylvestermcnutt

Okay. I will now get off of my soap box.

12. Listen to Dear Evan Hansen.

Okay... It doesn't even matter whether or not you're a musical theatre person to enjoy this musical. It's beautiful, honest, hilarious, considerate, accurate, and so promotional to the mental health of our generation today. Also, it's my favorite show ever. I think you can see why.

Link to the cast album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO1dAwW-wUk

And to their website: https://dearevanhansen.com/

14. Lastly and most importantly, know that you are not alone!

Out of everything I've said, this is the most important!!! You are not alone. You are enough. Your anxiety does not define you. You are valid. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. There are so many people in your struggle with you, myself included. Never be afraid to reach out.

Also, I know you may not believe it but your anxiety is actually something that attributes to the beautiful, complex human being that you are. You're anxious. So what. It's because you are a living, breathing, feeling, empathetic, caring person who yearns to find every bit of meaning there is to find in life. What you need to do now is recognize the strength in your anxiety, and use it to your advantage. Use it as an asset. As a superpower. Use it to help yourself. Use it to help the world. You are you. The beauty, the ugly, all of it-- and that is enough.

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