The Ugly Truth About Anxiety Because Deep Breathing And Therapy Don’t Always Work

God & Man

I wish I could tell you about the magical cure I’ve found for anxiety. I wish I could tell you that therapy or deep breathing or retraining my brain to think positive have taken away my fears completely — but that would be a lie.

The ugly truth is that I deal with anxiety by creating an escape plan for myself. Whenever I walk into a room, I glance around in search of the exit. Where is the bathroom? Where is the front door? How far away is my car parked? The less trapped I feel, the more comfortable I become.

If I know that there is always a way out of the situation, it’s a little easier for me to relax. I can tell myself, “It doesn’t matter if no one laughs at my next joke or if I spill water on myself or if I make a complete fool out of myself, because I can hide away in the bathroom or drive away in my car to escape the situation.” Sometimes, for me, running away is the answer.

I deal with anxiety by having lies lined up in the back of my mind. My mother just texted me and she needs me to come home immediately. I have a test early tomorrow morning. My neighbor needs me to babysit for her.

I come up with excuses and leave them in the back of my mind so I have a reason to leave anyplace at anytime. That way, I don’t have to admit to my friends or to my boss or to whomever is around that I’m leaving because my anxiety is acting up again. I can be sneaky about it. I can feel less awkward about it.

I deal with my anxiety by bringing trusted friends with me to restaurants and to movie theaters. I will try my best to bust out from my comfort zone, to walk up to cashiers and speak for myself, but if I’m having extra trouble that day I know my friends will speak for me. They will take control so I can take a breather. They will be my voice when I cannot find my own.

I deal with my anxiety by pumping myself up before barreling into social situations. I have a playlist of songs that make me feel more active, more alert, more alive. I will blast them in the car on my way to a party to get myself in a better mood. I will lose myself in the lyrics so that by the time I reach my destination, I feel less stressed.

I deal with my anxiety by practicing what I’m going to say ahead of time. I will talk to myself in the car. I will write scripts for myself before making phone calls. I will daydream about social interactions in the shower. I will try my hardest to prepare for what is ahead so I am mentally ready.

I deal with my anxiety by dressing nice when I know I’m going to be surrounded by strangers in an uncomfortable situation. When I feel confident about the way I look on the outside, it’s a little easier for me to stand up straighter and feel like I belong. It sounds shallow, but it’s what works for me.

I deal with my anxiety in the boring ways too. I will attend therapy each week, even when I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone. I will focus on my breathing, even when I feel like it isn’t helping me at all. I will keep moving forward, even when I feel like I am eternally stuck in the same place. TC mark

The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved.

You don’t have to solve your whole life tonight. You just have to show up and try. Focus on the most immediate thing in front of you. You’ll figure out the rest along the way.

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