I’ve been absent from the blog world for the last few weeks as I broke my computer and had to take it in but mostly it’s because I’ve had some anxiety creep in that I was trying to navigate. I’ve learned it’s never a good idea to put those thoughts onto public paper. So I wanted to weather that storm before continuing forward.
It’s funny because I’ve had anxiety for about seven years now and have been vocal about my struggles with it and have (hopefully) been a supportive friend for those with it too but when mine rears its ugly head, (which I should be grateful that it’s less than occasionally now!) I become very ashamed and mad at myself. I berate myself for being “weak” and chastise myself because anxiety was something I was supposed to have overcome by now. I feel like people think I’m crazy and I am reluctant to ask for help or reach out to anyone. After a particular situation triggered it, I closed off from my friends and business partners, embarrassed and ashamed and upset; when I reconnected with them three days later and explained where my head was, they were so supportive and made me look at the situation with new eyes and a more positive perception. If I had of just told them how I was feeling off the bat I could have potentially saved myself three days of self-torture!
It’s also funny because when someone reaches out to me about his/her anxiety, I NEVER judge them. I’m open-minded, compassionate and empathetic, actively listening and offering love and advice (if it’s asked for). But yet, I judge the SHIT out of myself. Why is that? Am I alone in doing this?
I haven’t had anxiety for a prolonged period of time for a loooong time, probably three or four years now. So when it happened, I dug out the tools I typically use to overcome it: exercise, meditation, magnesium and extra vitamins, yoga and a sad attempt to treat myself with compassion. But it still thundered on which made me only more frustrated and feeling more weak and crazy.
In any other circumstance, I truly am my own best friend. I can talk to myself with love and compassion and work out any problem or feeling with grace and gentleness but when it comes to anxiety, I am a bully.
I feel like less of the amazing person I want to be. I believe so much in choosing our thoughts and responses that when anxiety seems to be pulling the strings, I feel weak and out of control. I feel like a trainwreck. I feel like people look at me and think I’m weak, out of control, trainwreck-y and crazy.
Why do I even care what people think of me when I’m going through this?!
But after a week and feeling frustrated with the lack of change despite working damn hard I did two things: I reached out to my best friends back in Ontario and asked them to send me some love and light. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help. It makes us feel vulnerable but after twenty years of friendship, I shouldn’t have felt that way. But anxiety was running the show and I did feel that way. BUT I PUSHED THROUGH the haze of the anxiety clouds and asked for some love to pick me up. All three of them sent me a prayer of love and one sent me a quote that resonated on a deep level:
The second thing I did was resume my gratitude practice. Lately, it’s been difficult to focus on gratitude when I’ve been so sick with my morning sickness and once the anxiety moved in, it became even harder. So again, I consciously made an effort and forced myself back into my normal routine of morning declarations of awesome days and sending three things I’m grateful for to my two friends and also writing them down for my gratitude jar.
It helped to force my mind to thoughts of positivity. It rewired my thinking.
I’m feeling great now but looking back I think the biggest lesson I took from this bout was how important it is to reach out to family and/or friends and talk about it. More importantly, to come into the conversation with an open mind and a heart centred approach. Anxiety is a trick your brain plays on you and like any muscle, if you exercise it the right way, you can strengthen it. So I had to ensure I was ready to listen to a new way of seeing the anxiety/feelings/emotions swarming under it and be open to receiving and allowing those new thoughts/perceptions to penetrate the haze of anxiety.
I also learned I need to give myself a friggin break! NO ONE is perfect. I can still have my life together with anxiety popping in to say hi like an unannounced guest once in a while. Anxiety doesn’t make me crazy or trainwreck-y or weak. Actually, the fact that I can recognize anxiety when it hits and purposely work towards getting through it is a sign of strength and resiliency. Anxiety may never go away for me and I am learning how to accept that. I’m not 100% there yet but I’m talking to myself the way I would someone else reaching out to me would and I’m trying to be compassionate and loving. At the end of the day, my relationship with myself is the most important love I need and I need to still love her even when my thoughts are being unkind and unloving. Actually, that’s when I need to love her the most! So I’m adding these two new “tools” to the anxiety toolbox for next time because I’m sure there will be a next time. And when it comes, I’ll be more prepared with my arsenal of strategies, tools and a self-loving disposition. I hope!
United, we rise