The thing about anxiety is it heightens all your sensations, and along with that, all your worst fears. When I had the worst episode of anxiety to date, I felt abandoned by EVERYONE I loved. Even when they legitimately did not do anything to hurt me. I felt like I could trust nobody and that I was all I had. This made me realize that I am probably not the only anxious person who felt that way. So I put together a list of things that I needed to remind myself whenever I was anxious.
1. It really isn’t the end of the world, although it might feel like it.
When my anxiety attack is over, everything around me is still going to be the same. I might be slightly different. Which is how I feel after every attack, but the world is still going to be the same and it’s definitely not going to end.
2. You don’t know what everyone else is thinking.
My anxiety taps me on the shoulder and whispers to me that the person who’s sitting next to me on the train might not like me. My best friends don’t like me. My family doesn’t like me. Nobody likes me because I’m oh-so-terrible. You know, because of that thing I said to my cousin over dinner last summer. Or because I borrowed my best friend’s jeans and forgot to return them in over a year. The thing is, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE THINKING. They’re often too busy with their own lives to be hating on you for something so minute. If you remind yourself that every time you get anxious over another person’s opinion, it could save you a whole lot of trouble. Even if you did do something terrible, you can’t change someone’s else’s opinion of you. All you can do is try and be a better person.
3. You are not your mistakes
Having anxiety amplifies all your negative thoughts. So it’s quite normal for a person with anxiety to be set off in a spiral of negative thoughts about their mistakes. It’s so so important to always remember that you are NOT your mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has messed up at some point. It’s human nature and it in no way makes you the worst human to ever walk this planet. Making a mistake or two doesn’t mean you need to give up on yourself. Just make sure you don’t repeat the mistake, and hurt yourself in process.
4. You don’t need a reason to be anxious
It is really okay that you are anxious for no reason. That whatever is going on in your head appears to be so much smaller than what is going on around in the world. It really is okay that there are children dying of hunger while you struggle with something people tell you is made up in your head. Your fighting demons others can’t see, and I think this makes you braver than most people. You are still here, so you keep fighting them demons, even when people around you tell you that you have it good enough and you’ve got a lot more than a lot of people.
5. Not everybody is going to understand your struggle
Mental illness, like many other issues in our society, has a lot of stigma attached to it. People are going to tell you things like ‘it’s all in your head.’ Mental illness is caused by an imbalance in your brain chemistry so yes, IT IS LITERALLY IN YOUR HEAD. I suggest trying to explain it to them once, but chances are, those who don’t want to understand mental illness will not put in any effort to understand it unless they go through it themselves. Stop trying to explain to people the gravity of it. As long as you understand your own struggle, that is all that matters.
6. Not everyone is going to abandon you
It’s awfully tough to trust people or believe the fact that they’re going to be there for you in these difficult times. Make sure you don’t shut yourself out no matter how bad you feel. Surround yourself with a few people who actually understand your struggle and support you to get better. Whether it’s family or friends, there WILL always be people who will help you get better. If it’s impossible to have friends or family who’d do this for you, don’t be afraid to join a support group or call a helpline. Your health is more important than anything else.