Confessions Of An Anxious Heart

person's hands doing heart signage
rawpixel / Unsplash

There are certain things you’re simply not supposed to talk about.

You’re not supposed to talk about the vague feelings of jealousy that crawl over your skin when you find out your last single friend has found someone they want to be with.

You’re not supposed to talk about the ache in your lower belly when you find out your married best friend is trying to get pregnant with her first child.

You’re not supposed to talk about the fact that you secretly hope your friend who isn’t your friend and who is really more of a frenemy breaks up with her boyfriend – or, better yet, you’re not supposed to talk about how you wish he would dump her and leave her heartbroken. Just so she can get a taste of the pain you’ve felt over the past couple of years. A pain that she hasn’t really had compassion toward. And also because it’s not fair that she lies and is kind of an awful human but still managed to hook a dude.

You aren’t supposed to talk about the fact that you have no money to your name and live paycheck to paycheck, because you chose a field that will never be lucrative. Unless you want to sell coaching programs online to people as desperate as you are.

You’re not supposed to talk about the fact that while you administer advice that is insightful, thoughtful, actionable to friends who are lost and hurting, you’re yourself a lost soul. So many come to you, and you can’t tell them that you’re the blind leading the blind, praying that you don’t walk face-first into a wall or lead them tumbling off the edges of some metaphorical cliff.

You’re most definitely not supposed to talk about the fact that you wake up in the early hours of the morning in a stark panic, with your heart in your throat and your body drenched in sweat. You aren’t supposed to mention that it’s because you’re thinking of your ex husband and you’re doubting whether you should have left him.

But it doesn’t matter, because you did and he moved on. With a pretty blonde girl who is the antithesis of everything he wanted you to be.

You just aren’t supposed to talk about it.

But fuck that shit. I’m here. And I’m talking about it. This stuff is real. And it hurts. And it doesn’t make you a better person for not acknowledging that you sometimes have thoughts that are kind of crappy.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting by the pool in my mother’s apartment complex in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s just after sunset, and dusk is making the sky a soft gray and purple. I can hear the water fountain in the parking lot churning and the cars going down the streets outside the complex. It’s the first week of November, and the air is cool. It smells clean. Or, I’m sure it smells clean. I can’t quite confirm because my nose is so stuffy from the dry air.

I’ve struggled on this trip. To stay present. I’m struggling now, to stay present. My mind races in a million different directions, causing the familiar feeling of panic to rise up in my chest.

“What is going to happen tomorrow. Next week. Next year. In life.”

“What am I supposed to be doing. How do I do it.”

“Why am I not making a million dollars like the pretty girls on Instagram.”

It doesn’t help that I stopped working out for months. I go to the gym occasionally just to show my face. Not to the gym. To myself. I stare at myself in the gym mirror and take the requisite gym selfie and am like “see. I’m here. I did it. And now I’ll go home and eat an entire pint of Haagen Daaz coffee ice cream.”

But this can’t be what my life is about. It just can’t be.

There are SO many people on this planet who would love to have my life. Millions of people, actually. I am a privileged asshole. 100%. I can go on and on about the childhood traumas I experienced and how they molded me into the woman I am today, but the fact of the matter is: yeah, my parents did stupid shit. My dad is a recovering alcoholic. But they are amazing and beautiful people. They were 21 when they had their first kid. By the time they were my age (29), they had three kids, were running multiple businesses, and feeding the mouths of dozens of Indians immigrating to America to start a better life. My parents were kids raising kids, and they were stressed. So they did dumb shit. But now? I am literally, in my heart, the luckiest human I know to have parents like mine.

Anyways, back to my story: I’m an asshole. Because I’m sitting here, in a pretty swim suit, next to a pretty pool, typing on a pretty laptop, and I feel like I have nothing. In fact, I oftentimes say have nothing. The other day, my friend was like “Why are you sad?” And my response was “Because I have nothing.”

Someone should have slapped me.

Because, the truth is, I have everything. Everything I need is right inside of me. It’s the truth. I know it’s truth because it’s been my mantra when my anxiety gets so intense that I feel it clawing its way out of my eyeballs, fighting its way out of my nostrils, and escaping my mouth in horrible, panting sobs.

“Everything I need is right inside of me. Happiness is mine, and peace is within me.”

When I’m wallowing in my own pity party, I need to remind myself: THIS IS NOT SELF LOVE. Yes, self love is being gentle with yourself. It is being compassionate and patient. But victimizing yourself is not self love. Not in any way.

Suffocating yourself in your own anxiety is not self love. For me, self love would be identifying the things I can do to make myself feel better in certain situations. And sometimes, there’s no particular situation that makes you feel bad. You just feel an overall, generalized sensation of ennui. Of helplessness. Not tied to any one thing in particular. It just is. As undeniable as existence itself.

And when that’s the case, when life is just hard for you, for no specified reason, here’s what you do:

1. Workout. Consistently. EVERY DAY if you can. Even if that means just going on a walk for an hour, intentionally. Get your body moving. It’s proven to help in approximately one bajillion studies.

2. Eat foods that nourish your physical body. Donuts are cool, and they have their place. The fact of the matter is, though, that your body will operate best when it is given foods that are designed (by nature) to get it to run optimally. Fruits, veggies, protein.

3. Stop social media. I mean it! GET OFF INSTAGRAM. FUCK FACEBOOK. DELETE IT. There is literally NO need for you to be on social media ALL THE TIME. I don’t care if you have a business. Hire someone. If you can’t hire someone, then go off of it for a day and limit your social media time to 30 minutes per day. Your mental health comes before everything.

4. Breathe. Place your hand on your chest, and breathe. Tell yourself you will be okay. Because you will be. We all will be. We already are.

5. Sleep. It’s a non-negotiable. You will feel like shit if your body is not rested. Keep an eye out for oversleep, though. Constantly needing to nap and always waking up exhausted can be a sign of poor nutrition, but it’s also a sign of depression. The kind of depression that you can’t heal or come out of just by reading articles like this on the internet.

Rinse. Repeat.

Love yourself enough to at least try to do these things. Because no one can do them for you. And remember: you don’t win a prize for not talking about the painful things. Don’t let things fester inside. You’re only hurting yourself. TC mark

More From Thought Catalog