Chapter 36 - I am Anxiety, Anxiety is Me
Do you ever find yourself in a position where you are feeling anxious, but you keep trying to brush it off? Put on a face and tell yourself that you're doing okay because you don't want to be a burden on the world? Start having anxiety attacks because you are not ready to face the consequences of closing off yourself to the world? Fill yourself with self-doubt because you feel like no one will understand what you are going through? Feel all the emotional fatigue but still show up for others because you don't want to disappoint them? And then write a blog because that's your only coping mechanism that works?
What do you do when you are in that position?
And don't tell me you go to a loved one and seek comfort, because that does not work. In my personal, non-professional opinion, that's just a method of deflecting your actual feelings. So what do you do, for yourself, when you are in that position?
For days, weeks, months (even years), all I had been doing was telling myself that you need to show up for others, be there for them, reply to messages, have conversations, put off your anxious feelings because "it'll pass" and then find distractions so I don't have to deal with any of my feelings.
Why do we choose to silence ourselves because of how we feel? That's a trauma response and it's not a good coping mechanism. What good are you getting out of shoving all the feelings away? It leads you to not choose yourself at the end of the day, and you end up living life for others or those around you. You find yourself being happy for others, which isn't a bad thing, but you show no compassion for yourself. Again, not ideal, again - a trauma response. You end up in a position where you don't decide who you are, because you're living in a world of what others think of you, and start keeping up with the expectations others have of you. But why should someone else decide who you are?
I hardly spend time with myself because I always chose someone else to spent time with - and that, in itself, is the worst thing that one can do to themselves. Putting yourself in a position where you are not comfortable to be true to your own thoughts and feelings is a means of numbing yourself and self-sabotaging. So why do I do that? Trust me, I've asked myself that question countless times, I still don't have an answer, and I'm not even close to being away from this approach - but baby steps is what we take.
So back to my question - what do you do, for yourself, when you're in one of the worst mental health spaces?
I try to take a moment and appreciate what I recognize within myself.
I try to take time to heal and learn things about myself.
Because I put myself in the company of myself. I try to give myself a safe space to sit and think about all the thoughts, without any rules or boundaries.
I try to forgive myself for any wrong that I have done to my mental health, I try to take the negative space away from me.
I try to check in with myself at the end of every day, sometimes even during the day if its beast-mode on all day.
I try to believe in my own self-worth and understand fully that anyone else being added to my life in any form should simply be an adding to what I have built for myself and not a nuisance.
I try to tell myself I don't need external validation because relying on an external source is unsustainable at the end of the day.
I try to read up on empathy, I learn more and more about what the term means, the positive effect it has on others and then apply that to myself, because I shouldn't preach what I don't practice.
I try to remind myself time and time again how capable I am of doing things and that I do not need to rely on anyone.
I try to build boundaries so that people are unable guilt me for things. I tell myself that others may think I'm 'lonely' when I want me-time, but it's just an ongoing journey of finding myself (and a semi-beautiful one too).
I try to reiterate to myself that creating boundaries does not mean that I do not respect other people, it just means that I am showing up for myself. Showing that I can trust myself.
I try to remind myself that if someone does not respect my boundaries, they do not respect me. I tell myself all the harsh truths that I wouldn't hear otherwise.
I try to take care of myself.
We may not realize this, but taking care of yourself should always come before taking care of others. Self-preservation is the most important act of kindness that you can do for yourself. When you get cheese, you preserve it in the fridge ASAP so it doesn't go bad. Why can't you show yourself the same preservation that you show the cheese?
- Lock your feelings away in the fridge and eat them later -
Bad joke soz. Moving on.
I tell myself that I need to be kind, compassionate and empathetic towards myself.
I tell myself that it's okay to cry. Others may call you a cry-baby, but embrace it. It's okay.
I tell myself that I am a priority. I am the most important person in my life, believe in that.
I tell myself that my mental health is a priority.
I tell myself that having anxiety is not a part of my life, it is a part of my life.
I tell myself that anxiety is me, and I am anxiety - and that's okay.
But do I really?
I keep telling myself everything I've written above, I have 3 good days followed by 4 bad days. And that turns to a couple okay-ish weeks, followed by what seems like a turmoil. I put so much pressure on myself to be okay, that I ruin myself in the process. So I am on a journey where I keep reminding myself that it is a process and it will take time. It won't happen overnight, it may not even take a couple months. It takes time.
So I ask again, what can we do, for ourselves, when we're in one of the worst mental health spaces?