To someone with anxiety, the smallest things can conquer thoughts and lead to panic. Anxiety and other mental disorders are regarded as a taboo topic, but millions of people suffer from anxiety. Sometimes when I tell people about my anxiety, I feel as if I am not taken seriously. I am worried I’ll be laughed at and accused of making it up in my head. Everyone feels anxious and depressed occasionally, but when you are so anxious and sad you can no longer function at the high capacity of which you are capable, it becomes a serious problem. The fierce sensation of not knowing what lies ahead is intoxicatingly exciting, but also terrifying. I am constantly on the edge of my seat, questioning past actions and future happenings, hopping from not caring what others think to caring too much about what others think.
An anxiety or panic attack often comes on suddenly, and includes at least four of the following signs: sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing your mind, feeling that danger is nearby, a racing heart and feeling an intense need to escape. Phobias of events, activities or social situations are all rooted in terror, causing the person suffering from anxiety to panic when they come face-to-face with that stressor. Anxiety converts fear into feelings and people who suffer from it tend to avoid what’s making them fearful, which can make it worse. Remember that calming your anxiety is not one bit related to whether something unexpected happens or not. The crazy train of fear prevents you from being present to what is, and it most definitely keeps you from enjoying what is here in this moment. Living with fear is one thing, but not living because of fear is something no one should encounter.
This is what we do — we seek help during mental and emotional lows, but when the going isn’t so tough, we return to former habits, we become our true selves once again. Whatever your burden — anxiety, depression, straight up stress, or sadness — it will be back. They are reliable companions and will almost always re-emerge. True happiness, the kind that wells up from deep down inside — cannot last forever. We can’t buy it, steal it, or borrow it. Certainly we can’t own it, though nothing would feel better than to move into that state of blissful happiness and call it home forever. In reality, all we can do is welcome those periods when they arrive; live gratefully inside them for as long as they’ll stay and hold the door for them when they go again.
Mindfulness sounds like hippy dippy quackery, but with practice, this method can greatly improve one’s mental health. Say no to any and all judgment. Accept everything, because most things you can’t change. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, but don’t let your anxious thoughts keep dragging you backward to a place of negativity. It’s not healthy or productive. Actively stay present by paying attention to the little things around you. Finally, get rid of any expectations of yourself, your ability and the end result of the mindfulness process. Maybe we can’t own happiness, and maybe we can’t live there indefinitely, but we can always try to make the rent.
On a day-to-day basis I am as free as a bird. I am a girl who loves. A girl who lives. I don’t know where this girl goes when an anxiety attack comes on. She vanishes into thin air. But, she always comes back swinging, which is the only thing that matters. To those who are suffering from anxiety, stress or depression I know you stumble sometimes, and I know that some falls are bigger than others. Please know that you are not alone. I know you don’t always feel strong, but you put on a beautiful brave face and push through. You don’t have to do this alone. If you reach for me, know that I will be there each and every time and everything will be all right.