There are some days when I feel more anxious than others. I feel restless and frustrated, and every minute feels like an hour. My mind is overwhelmed with thoughts, thoughts of worry and concern filled with ‘what ifs.’ I try to talk to others but it seems like no one can understand – they tell me it’s okay and that it is a phase that will pass, and it just ends up leaving me more annoyed. This leaves me feeling sad and helpless, because no one can make me feel better and nothing seems to work. I close my eyes to calm myself down but those thoughts just get more exaggerated. I want to scream and I can’t. I want to cry, and most often I do, but I cannot understand why and I am not even sure if it really helps. At times like this, I feel alone and I only wish I could stop feeling like this or that someone could help me.
That is what it feels like when anxiety takes over. For some of us, it comes and goes; but for others, it tends to stay with us all the time, just the severity of it changes. It feels miserable; it feels like you are slowly suffocating yourself in your own thoughts. It’s overwhelming; it feels like you are drowning in your pool of emotions.
I have been that person who was literally worried about everything – will I wake up on time despite the alarm? Will I make to work on time? Are my coworkers upset because I got a better bonus? Are my friends mad that I was too tired to meet them for brunch? Is the guy even interested in me despite him meeting beautiful women every day? Is my family still slightly upset that I did not become a doctor? I bombarded myself with so many irrational worries, which took over my life and affected so many relationships. I could never relax, I could never sleep.
When you feel like this, you probably feel like your anxiety will never go away. But let me tell you this: it does and it will. The truest (and the worst) thing anyone told me about anxiety is that it will go away, and it will take time and some work.
I have tried everything – self help books, medication, exercise, and therapy; you name it. I would try anything to get rid of this awful feeling of anxiety. Therapy never worked for me because I never quite believed in therapy.
If I believe something won’t help me, it never will; but if I believe that something can help me, maybe it will.
Let me start by telling you that if you feel like anxiety will never leave your side, have a little faith in yourself. Put some faith in the belief that it will go away or that you will manage it better. I started to pray, I was raised Hindu and I had faith growing up but somewhere along the line, I lost it because of the things that happened in my life. I wanted to give faith another chance. Believing that there is something bigger and greater than you out there, someone or something that will help you, made a big difference in my life. It made me feel like I was not alone in this struggle and helped me find a social network (online) where I didn’t feel crazy for feeling the way I did. I am not saying start going to church, but have faith that something that you believe in will help you heal. Believe in yourself that you will heal.
When you are anxious, deep down you know that you have nothing to worry about, but you still cannot help it. Maybe it’s the environment or maybe it’s the brain, some of us just work that way.
Two years ago, I started practicing mindfulness; when I started, I felt quite stupid and thought it was a waste of time, but two years later, it is finally starting to make sense. People with anxiety live in the future of what might happen; we are never really present in the here and now, and that needs discipline and practice. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to meditate and getting distracted by all those thoughts. Countless meditation and breathing exercises later, I finally started feeling more present. Mindfulness is paying attention to experiences occurring in your present moment. Take a minute to close your eyes and just breathe, pay attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale because nowadays we are always rushing. Pay attention to what you can hear or how your skin feels, or what you can smell at that moment. Trust me, keep doing this and meditation will become a life changer.
When I started talking about my anxiety, I was quite ashamed; I did not want people to know, because I felt it labeled me as weak. I felt I would get judged by my family, my friends, and society. I thought my family and friends were embarrassed by me. When I started writing about my anxiety, I realized that so many people were feeling the way I did and in a strange way, it was very comforting (and relieving) because I did not feel as alone – because so many other people were in the same boat. Trust me, managing anxiety is a struggle every day but I try, and it is getting better.
Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Your anxiety does not describe who you are as a person. It is a part of who you are and how you are feeling, and it is okay to feel that way as long as you try to help yourself.
Treat yourself the way you would a loved one who is going through a hard time. There are many ways to deal with anxiety – different methods work for different people. Give yourself a chance. For me, it was faith, meditation, exercising, and writing that helps. For some it could be medication, therapy, or just time. Just remember that you are not alone in this.
I am learning to breathe. But most importantly, I am learning to tell myself that sometimes it is okay to not know what I want or need. Life never gave me a timeline, I forced it upon myself – and I do not need a timeline to live my life. What matters most is right now.
My old friend anxiety still pays me a visit once in a while; I mean we were together for a long time. That is when I think of the people important in my life and I remind myself of how far I have come from where I started.