Calmness Comes From Within
I have struggled with anxiety for a very long time. When I was younger, I dealt with my anxiety in very different ways than how I cope with it today. In retrospect, I believe a great deal of my eating disorder came about as side effects of me not being able to manage my anxious personality on my own. From a very young age, I was always a busy body. I had to have something to do. Constantly. I had to stay busy; I had to accomplish more; I had to go to every event. ‘No’ was not a part of my vocabulary in high school or college.
Until I crashed.
It was my final year of college. I had just finished being President of my sorority. I had three jobs. I was a full-time senior undergrad student. I was in too many clubs and never got enough sleep. I worked out every day.
I never did anything fun.
I rarely went out on the weekends. I was consumed by the chase I had in my mind of doing and accomplishing everything under the Sun. I was racing myself. However, I was losing the race… big time.
I remember my first panic attack. I was supposed to meet up with my mom, aunt, and brother for a concert near my school. It was probably a 45-minute drive from my college campus. So, I got in my car, pulled out onto the highway, and I freaked out. I remember pulling over and calling my mom. I was balling my eyes out. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I was shaking from head to toe and sweating profusely. I was terrified of nothing. I was lost for no reason. I told my mom I could not make it. I didn’t know why, but I could not go out today. I had done too much overthinking. I had spent all morning running the scenario through my head.
“Okay, I am going to go to the concert. I am going to drive to the concert. I am going to watch the music. I am going to talk to my family. Then dinner. What about dinner? Where will we go? What time will I be home? I need to be home before 10 pm because I have to be up early. I have to study tomorrow morning.” And the noise went on and on and on.
I was experiencing mental shock.
I had hit my own roadblock and I hit it hard.
But, this was what my life had become. This was how bad I had allowed my anxiety to get.
I was in a constant state of panic. I was in a constant state of fear. For nothing.
Nothing scared me.
Nothing was overwhelming to me.
I couldn’t do nothing
I couldn’t be nothing.
Nothing was what robbed me of so many things.
I tried therapy for my anxiety. I tried journaling. I tried meditation. I tried anxiety medication.
Some of these things helped more than others.
The medication was not for me because I used it as a crutch and not a tool.
I told myself, “Okay, now the medicine will fix my problems, so I don’t have to try to get better anymore.” That is not what happened. The medicine masked it for a while, but then the cracks started to show.
I tried therapy. Therapy was a similar experience. It was easy for me to lie to my therapist about my anxiety or anxious tendencies. It was also slightly hard for me to explain myself and my situation when I was half in denial about the whole thing.
Meditation and journaling were good tools that helped get me to where I am now. They took longer and made me work harder at them, however, they only worked when I really put in the effort and dedication. I had to prove I wanted to be better. I had to work harder to beat my own battle.
I have no problem with people who use medication, therapy, journaling, etc. to help them deal with their anxiety or any mental illness for that matter! Whatever helps you is EXACTLY what you should be doing!
My point writing this blog post is two-fold.
1. I want to shed some light on anxiety.
Anxiety can affect all walks of life and it can manifest itself in very different ways in very different people. When people talked about anxiety I always viewed anxiety as people who could not go outside or people who were scared of large crowds. This kept me in the dark with my own struggle for a very long time because I felt that I did not fit the ‘mold’ of what it meant to be anxious.
For me, anxiety was the inability to ‘calm the fuck down.’ I was incapable of relaxing. I was incapable of being still. I was incapable of resting. This took a huge toll on my body and mind. Until one day, my brain was done. I suffered for months after my first anxiety attack with many more to come. I had literally exhausted my nervous system to the point of shutdown. I found myself unable to do anything, to go anywhere, or to talk to anyone about how I was feeling or what I was experiencing.
It was terrifying.
I don’t want that moment of the shutdown to happen to other people.
If you feel anxiety, recognize it.
Work on it.
Talk about it.
Find alternate coping mechanisms.
Understand that your anxiety does not have to fit in a perfect, little box just like other people experience it.
However, just because you don’t fit the mold, does not make your journey or your struggle any less important or valid.
Your anxiety is valid; however it manifests within you, it is real.
Now fight it.
2. Calm comes from within.
Nothing you do on the outside will bring you the peace of mind you are seeking on the inside.
You need to look within yourself.
You need to spend time with yourself.
You need to be still….. within yourself.
For me, anxiety was the repercussion of me trying to escape myself for so many years. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to be nothing and the rule I had made for myself years ago was that if I was not doing then I was nothing.
My anxiety stemmed from my ultimate fear of being worthless. I had no self-worth for me, therefore I had to go out and accomplish, so others would find me worthy.
Once I realized that calm comes from within myself it was so powerful.
Because it meant I was in charge of it.
I was the who could alternate my reality.
I was the one who could change those negative laws I had made within myself into positive ones.
I could seek the calm I had always so desperately wanted.
You deserve to be calm.
You deserve to feel worthy on your own and by yourself.
You deserve to be still.
Go out and try new things that your anxious self would normally overthink. Read a book completely alone and in silence. Whenever you experience your mind drifting, bring it back to reality. Focus very hard at living in this moment and not the next. Anxiety can only exist in our future thoughts. When I started to focus on here and now, I worried less. I stressed less because I was in charge of now, I was not unsure that I was in charge of the future and that was what led me into my anxious spirals. You are safe, here and now. You are worthy. You are going to get through this just like I did.
Fight very, very hard for the calm is to come.
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.”