This past weekend I got a lot of love and it made me feel like a big sigh… like my entire life just took a nice big sigh of relief and that is all I was… a sigh made of flesh and bones.
I almost feel comical writing this as though I have something to sigh about. My life is recognizably good right now. I don’t have any true hardships. I live in a world of love and peace and pleasures and wealth of all sorts, not just the monetary kind. Still, leave me without a defined purpose and you might as well put me in a straight jacket. Me, my brain and I… we can go places… shitty, cryptic, cynical places. Without intention but in full throttle, my lack of purpose will drive me to feel like something is wrong and I’ll put it on everything and suck the enjoyment out of my life- my relationships, my habits, my health, my anything.
As a truly sunny person with an general enthusiasm for life, I feel almost like a traitor admitting that I have some legit anxiety issues. Not the kind that leaves me hyperventilating and sweating from a panic attack (I feel for anyone who does deal with this), but enough to know that it affects my health and peace of mind. Some people think worry warts are funny “HA HA HA that silly woman, she is sooo hilarious with all her goofy worries, she is so endearing like the main chick in a rom com, HA HA HA…” And I make fun of it too. I make light of my own pain because humor makes me happy and it’s a way to express my thoughts without making people uncomfortable. I also feel like anxiety is somehow self indulgent and should not be openly soothed. Crying from my own worries never fails to make me feel like a self-pitying idiot. So, here I am, getting emotionally naked for the world, letting them know that I can be a restless, worrisome piece of poo, all with a blog that has my goddamn full name on it. I am (possibly against my better judgement) branding myself in a less-than-perfect light with hope it will bring solace to anyone else who suffers the reality of anxiety.
According to my dad, I got this wonderful trait of worry and anxiety from my mom. If she doesn’t have something to worry about, she’ll find something. And so it goes, we share this wretched fate and vent to one another. Thank goodness for her, with 45ish years of learning and a wisdom that’s quiet but vast, she reminds me that life is too short to worry about the what if’s and that it is better to just enjoy the moment. All you sentimental, mush-ball, mommy-blog quotes, you’re right – I am becoming my mother – but happily so because she has also become my beacon of sanity when our shared trait rears its ugly head.
Well, like eluded to earlier, I had a bit of a freak out this last week. While I was supposed to be SO EXCITED about my two weeks of funemployment – that beautiful
crazy stretch of time between accepting a job offer and starting your position – I actually had to maintain my sanity when I was left with all this time to do whatever the hell I wanted. I’ve somehow come to the life conclusion that I am most happy when I’m most overloaded with ridiculous amounts of work. I’ve finally accepted that I like to place my anxiety into a funnel of purpose. Having a complex, crazy task at hand keeps me sane. I am fully aware that some people like the peace and quiet of no work, they dream of winning the lottery and ditching their jobs, however, I am not one of them. My drive is my sanity. Call me an addict – I won’t be offended and I’ll probably never stop.
The week went on and little by little I grew a mental monster of anxiety and doom. About what you may ask? Everything and for absolutely no reason. Logically I understand that things are great but emotionally, I had a bit too much time to dig myself into a black hole of “lets analyze my whole life.” Despite the brief spurts of relief – spending quality time with my best friend, side projects, dinner dates, happy hours with the most fabulous people and trips to shop with emergency retail-therapy money, my mind lingered into undefined restlessness.
With a hefty salve of mental elbow grease, goods words and even better hugs I got past my own spontaneous paranoia. So here it is – my best remedy of taming the wild beast of anxiety – that intangible but massively present asshole that gets to us time and again.
Remember That It’s All In Your Head - I find mental health to be such a strange thing - the way it blends chemicals/hormones that we cannot control and our very much controllable outlook – how we chose to react to it. There is no doubt in my mind that happiness is part what we do with our minds and part what is out of our hands. When I really feel like I’m getting in over my head with anxiety, I have to remember that it is all in my head - this is both calming in that I can tame it and relieving in the sense that it is something that just happens and I have to roll with the punches. It can be good to remember that your anxiety isn’t always the result of a life circumstance that you need to worry about and fix, but just your head, being silly.
Talk to Somebody - I kind went overboard with this because I have a personal bias to vent to my loved ones. I spoke to my mom…. then my dad and eventually had a little teary-eyed, narcissistic bout of despair to my boyfriend. It feels good to just say all your crazy thoughts and to get outward approval that these worries are just that – worries. Not fortune-telling, not a soon-to-be reality, but your own mental bug to squish. While everything might feel so real and plausible and hopeless, your loved ones will happily remind you that life is good, you’re okay and things will be OK.
Don’t Always Trust Your Gut
Thoughts – By this I mean, don’t automatically assume its your gut or your intuitive wisdom, sometimes its just your own worries or biases, that defy logic and keep you from accepting things that might be in your favor. As a naturally intuitive person, I’ve frequently sought counsel from my feelings rather than the obvious facts in front of me. I’ve had countless bouts of good and bad “gut” feelings about something that I really just hadn’t felt or experienced before like traveling around Europe on my own – not always easy and breezy or intuitively chosen but massively worth it… or the amount of times that I became infatuated with a slippery snake of a dude in college because “I feel like we just had this crazy connection.” The older I get, the more I believe that life is a lot of choosing things by both logic and emotion. Sometimes, our worries can mask themselves as intuition and hold us back from true growth.
Try. And Then Keep Trying More - This sounds simple but it can be very hard. It’s oftentimes much easier to keep stuck in our own ugly feelings, to let our minds run wild and lose ourselves in doubt or worry… justifying it because you felt it so it must be valid and noted and dissected. But to truly try to defy your own thoughts, to hush them and stomp them out with the positive.. you have to be mentally strong and you have to have perseverance. Trust me – I know what a messy web anxiety creates. You start with a worry, then you have to understand why you are worried about this one thing, then it leads to another worry and etc., etc., until you have come to the conclusion that your whole life is awful and upside down. The best method for me is to quell my worries by countering them with a positive about life. Example: Say I’m worried about if I’ll ever find a job… because this was totally a worry for me about a month ago. Instead of going down the path of “the economy is still sketchy, no one wants a 20-something, there are so many other qualified candidates, OMG OMG OMG my life is such a fail *imagine myself depressed and homeless in 4 months*” I rethink – “OK this takes patience, a lot of people go through this and find jobs, I have a lot of people who love me, I’ve experienced some great things *flashback to happy moments with people I love.” This helps. This made me want to look at that blank screen and type up another cover letter. Sometimes you have to re-start your brain with positive thoughts. Think happy thoughts! You might not fly like Peter Pan but you will get places.
Do Something – And this time, do trust your gut. Will you benefit more from doing something productive or something fun? Because, FYI, you will still feel like a restless poohead if you choose the wrong one. Trust your feeling on this – do you need a break or do you need to get your hands dirty? Whatever it is, get to it. STOP brooding, but your brain to work in more productive ways and get something done.
Let In The Good Stuff – I am definitely guilty of muddying the color in my life. When I feel subconsciously raked with anxiety, I’ll just go through the motions of my day and wait till it passes. Moments that are colorful and vibrant are turned a slight grey and filled with that nagging feeling of “ehhhh… I can’t place it but something is just bugging me.” Let it go. It’s not that easy but the best way to try is to live in the moment and savor the stuff in front of you. All self-help, life, happiness, etc. blogs say this… so this shouldn’t be news to you. But its very important and very true. Stop over-analyzing and just live in it. Experience it. Don’t just watch from the sidelines. I’m a bit too young to be sure but according to various sources, life is short and goes by too quickly. It is better to spend time experiencing it rather than dissecting it.
Work Out – Also, something a lot of blogs say but fuck, its so true. You don’t have to be an Olympian just take a fast walk. Put on some good music, drown out your own mind and instead envision the strength of your stride, take in the fresh air (or smoggy city air that still feels fresh) and just get lost in the physicality of working out.
So there it is – my personally tested remedy for an anxious mind. My ugly half. My not-so-cool truth. And SCREW anxiety… ain’t got nothin’ on you ;)