Shawn Mendes Singing About Anxiety Made Me Feel More Normal

Shawn Mendes Singing About Anxiety Made Me Feel More Normal

Because giving up isn't "In My Blood" either.
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I definitely don’t feel alone in my constant battle with anxiety and I know a lot of people, especially at my age, are going through it. It just gets glamorized and misunderstood and it doesn’t help anything when there’s such a sense of being so unheard. The people telling us to not give up aren’t the ones dealing with it; it’s the people who don’t understand or seem so far beyond being able to relate.

Shawn Mendes, thankfully, is not one of the people who seems too inaccessible. We lead completely different lives, and yet I feel a lot closer to his level. It may be because he is just a few months older than me that I relate so much to him, but it gave me such a feeling of normalcy.

When he talks about “In My Blood”, he isn’t afraid to admit it was a personal thing for him and that also helps. He isn’t afraid to talk about how autobiographical the song was for him.

The lyrics in “In My Blood” so perfectly explained how I feel and it was refreshing to have a feeling of being understood like that. It wasn’t necessarily what I expected. I waited for the single to drop and I had high expectations, as I do with a talent as great as Shawn Mendes and they were so far exceeded. There are so many misconceptions about anxiety and what it’s like and as I listened to it I was constantly thinking “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!”

Sometimes you feel helpless. Sometimes it is that you’re lying on the bathroom floor where the walls seem to be closing in. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like things get better. Those are real, deep, personal things I deal with regularly. It’s confining and controlling.

Shawn Mendes surely didn’t speak for everyone in speaking of what he specifically went through, but for me, it was quite fitting. It takes a lot out of me and I overthink myself into a pit. I worry and become easily overwhelmed.

However, it doesn’t take much to make me feel okay. It could be a quick phone call home, listening to a few really good country songs, going on a run, or just laughing about my day with my closest friends. And not giving up gives me a whole new strength every day. I still learn how to cope and enjoy life the best I can.

But I also appreciate that he doesn’t speak of anxiety like it’s this disabling matter that can never be fully dealt with. There are moments when that seems to be the case and functioning on your own appears impossible.

But giving up is not what we’re built to do. We think we can give up or let it take us over, even when we know in our brave and strong hearts, we can’t. Giving up is not an option, but just nearing the point where you reach that can be scary.

Another common misconception is that people with anxiety always need to be alone, or they don’t like company. I know for a lot of people, it is that way. When the anxiety starts setting in, they need to be alone.

With me, that isn’t typically the case. I love being surrounded by supportive people who I believe do want to see me rise above my stress and pain and weaknesses. It feels good to have that visual proof that there is support and love to be shared through our worst possible experiences.

For him to speak of it so publicly is reassuring to me, as I’m sure it is for many who listen to his music. It also allows me to respect him more as an artist and trust him as a person. It takes a special person to voice what they go through rather than stick to generalities and the parts of anxiety that are made to look better than it is. Because it isn’t pretty; it can be poetic, but as we experience it, it’s terrifying and intimidating. We just try to live our lives and we get alarmed and it’s no way to live life.

Cover Image Credit: Island Records

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50 Things To Be Happy About

It's the little things in life.
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It is always easier to pick out the negatives in life. We tend to dwell on them and drown out the happy moments. I asked a friend to tell me something that made them happy. They sarcastically laughed at my question then thought about it for a minute. Nothing. But they could easily come up with things that made them unhappy. Then I read them my list, and they were smiling and laughing in agreement the whole time. There are so many more things to be happy and laugh about than we realize. After all- it's the little things in life that can mean the most! Here are 50 things that make me happy. What are your 50?

  1. The first warm day of the year
  2. Laughing so hard your abs ache
  3. Freshly washed sheets
  4. Looking through old pictures
  5. The smell of a coffee shop
  6. Eating cookie dough
  7. Reading a bible verse that perfectly fits your current situation
  8. Seeing someone open a gift you got them
  9. Eating birthday cake
  10. A shower after a long day
  11. Marking something off your to-do list
  12. Drinking ice cold water on a really hot day
  13. Dressing up for no reason
  14. Breakfast food
  15. Being able to lay in bed in the morning
  16. Finding something you love at the store
  17. And it’s on sale
  18. Cute elderly couples
  19. When a stranger compliments you
  20. Getting butterflies in your stomach
  21. Taking a nap
  22. Cooking something delicious
  23. Being lost for words
  24. Receiving a birthday card in the mail
  25. And there's money in it
  26. Finally cleaning your room
  27. Realizing how fortunate you are
  28. Waking up from a nightmare and realizing it wasn't real
  29. Fresh fruit
  30. Walking barefoot in the grass
  31. Singing along to a song in the car
  32. Sunrises
  33. Sunsets
  34. Freshly baked cookies with a glass of milk
  35. Summertime cookouts
  36. Feeling pretty
  37. Looking forward to something
  38. Lemonade
  39. Comfortable silences
  40. Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you have more time to sleep
  41. Surviving another school year
  42. The cold side of the pillow
  43. The smell of popcorn
  44. Remembering something funny that happened
  45. Laughing to yourself about it
  46. Feeling weird about laughing to yourself
  47. Printed photographs
  48. Wearing a new outfit
  49. The sound of an ice cream truck
  50. Feeling confident
Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Anxiety Medications Aren't As Scary As You Might Think

It took me about 2 months to even find the right medication and dosage. It's truly a process.

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Before my journey with anxiety, I was very anti-medication. I truly didn't understand the purpose or need for it. Boy, have I learned a lot since then. Upon visiting the doctor, I learned that there are two types of medication that do two different things to the neurotransmitters in your brain. These are categorized as SSRI or SNRI. According to anxiety.org, "SSRIs increase serotonin in the brain. Neural systems affected by increased serotonin regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and digestion."

The medication that I am currently taking falls under the category of SSRI. As a result of taking this medication, "your brain is more capable of making changes that will lead to a decrease in anxiety" (anxiety.org). I don't know if that sounds nice to you, but I loved the sound of it.

On the other hand, per mayoclinic.org, SNRIs "ease depression by impacting chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) used to communicate between brain cells. Like most antidepressants, SNRIs work by ultimately effecting changes in brain chemistry and communication in brain nerve cell circuitry known to regulate mood, to help relieve depression."

From my understanding, the different types of medication focus on different neurotransmitters in your brain. I don't think that one of these is "bad" and one of these is "good." This is simply because anxiety and depression are very personal and impact people differently. My anxiety is not the same as my friend's anxiety. I think it's more of a spectrum.

There are a lot of misconceptions upon starting medication. I think the first is that it works instantly. I have some bad news and it's that some medications take up to a month to get into your system. I mean, you're chemically altering your brain, so it makes sense. It took me about 2 months to even find the right medication and dosage. It's truly a process.

Another misconception is that the pills are addicting- making them completely unnecessary or dangerous. That wasn't true for me. One of my dear friends told me that if you don't feel guilty for taking cold medicine when you have a cold, then you shouldn't feel guilty for taking medication that helps your anxiety. I think this really does boil down to knowing yourself and if there's a history of addiction in your family. However, as someone who's taken the heavy pain killers (via surgery) and now takes anxiety medication, I can testify to say that there's a difference.

The pain killers made me a zombie. The anxiety medication allows me to be the best version of myself. I like who I am when I'm not constantly worried about EVERYTHING. I used to not leave the house without makeup on because I constantly worried what people thought of me. I used to be terrified that my friends didn't want me around. I used to overthink every single decision that I made. Now, none of that is happening. I enjoy my friends and their company, I hardly wear makeup, and I'm getting better at making decisions.

Do I want to be able to thrive without having to correct my neurotransmitters? Sure. However, this is the way that I am, and I wouldn't have gotten better without both therapy and medication. I'm forever grateful for both.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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