I don’t think anxiety ever goes away. At least, for me it doesn’t. Maybe there are some #blessed people out there who have figured out a magical way to defeat their anxiety once and for all. But for most of us, there’s no cure. There’s no mountain you climb, or bridge you cross, so that you can get to the other side where you’ll be free from worry and fear. It’s more about learning to deal with anxiety when it comes, and learning to treasure those beautiful moments in time where it’s temporarily absent.
A life plagued by anxiety is one of racing heartbeats and fast breathing. Your shoulders often feel heavy and sometimes you’re almost sure that you can see a dark cloud hanging over you. There’s a strange fear that doesn’t seem to stem from anything specific. It’s just fear. It’s just there.
Sometimes you can’t enjoy a nice, peaceful train ride. Or a trip to the movies with your friends. Because the minute you sit down, you’re forced to be with your own thoughts. They start running around in all different directions. You’re thinking of possible dangerous scenarios, or things that have caused you anxiety in the past. Or you just feel scared for no reason at all. It just happens, and you wish it wouldn’t.
It’s worse in the winter. So much worse. The days are short and the weather is cold. It seems like it’s always dark. The small amount of sunlight we experience during the day doesn’t even feel like sunlight. It just feels like a strange and brief phase of the day that will be over quickly. Darkness will descend in no time.
This is when it’s the hardest. When everyone feels cold and bitter and cranky and cooped up. We can’t distract ourselves with light breezes and bright colors. We can’t walk around outside for hours and free ourselves from our own heads. It’s winter. Everything is dead and gray and muted and cold. This is when your state of mind and your way of thinking can either make you or break you.
You have to acknowledge that you probably will not defeat anxiety. You don’t need to focus all of your energy on “fixing yourself” or finding a cure. Stop making yourself feel like there’s something wrong with you. Stop making yourself feel ashamed of your anxiety. Stop being frustrated with yourself. Just because you can’t beat anxiety doesn’t mean you’re letting it win.
Yes, you’re probably going to have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Not all the time, of course. Sometimes you will have incredibly wonderful periods of time where you don’t have any anxiety. You can go days without it. You can go months without it. Sometimes you will go years before you have to deal with it again. But often, regardless of how long it’s been, anxiety will find its way back to you. You do not have control over the cure, but the beautiful part is that you do have control over how you handle it.
The most important thing you have to work on is your state of mind. When anxiety starts to take over, it’s tempting to give in to your thoughts. To let yourself crumble under the fear and the worry and the terror. What you have to remember is that you’re not alone. You are not by yourself. You may feel like you are the only person in the world to ever feel like a prisoner inside their own mind, but you are not. There are so many others who have been where you’ve been, but they eventually got free. Not free from anxiety, necessarily, but free from the dark way of thinking that anxiety can cause.
A lot of people struggle from anxiety. Not everyone, but enough people to show you that there are others who have gotten through this, just like you will. You’re struggling now. You’re terrified now. You feel alone now. You’re telling yourself it will be okay. You’re telling yourself you will get through this. You’re telling yourself you will be stronger when you come out on the other side. But you have a hard time believing it. That’s okay. As long as you’re trying to believe it, as long as you are wanting to believe it, those thoughts will carry you through the darker moments. And eventually, they will start to make sense. They will start to seem possibly true.
A lot of people will give you a lot of different advice on how to deal with anxiety. Some of it will work for you, and some of it won’t. Some of the things that do work for you will not work for your friend or your coworker. Everyone is different. Everyone’s mind is different. So everyone will deal with anxiety a different way.
Here’s what you need to remember: there’s a lot of advice floating out there about dealing with anxiety because so many people have had to deal with it. So when you’re feeling ashamed or frustrated or exhausted or embarrassed about your anxiety, just remind yourself that you are normal. You are not a freak. You are not the only person in the world that has ever been this terrified. A lot of us are fighting it. A lot of us are scared. A lot of us have had bad nights that we didn’t think were ever going to end, just like you have.
You are human. Which means you will get through it, just like so many other people have. You will not defeat it forever. But you will learn how to be okay – and more importantly, how to be happy – in spite of it.