Thursday, September 2, 2021

A Crippling Monster: Anxiety

 When I was young, I went from a carefree child to a child that always assumed the worst case scenario. This curse has since followed me into adulthood, but significantly worse. From daily anxiety to severe panic attacks that make you feel like you can’t breathe. 

Anxiety is the intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, excessive sweating, overly fatigued, and a sense of impending doom. Millions of people suffer with some form of anxiety daily. But it affects everyone differently.

For me anxiety feels like a monster trying to suffocate me from the inside out. My mind starts racing, my chest gets tight, my throat starts to close. This is the start of an anxiety attack for me. What caused it could be anything, from forgotten laundry to work stress to motherhood. 

Ever receive a phone call from and immediately assume its bad news? This is a daily battle for me. Feeling alone in a crowd, lost, hopeless, with this monster consuming me from the inside. Constantly worried that I’m not doing enough as a mother, or that I’m helicoptering them. That I am failing at my job. That I am failing at my relationships with friends, family. That I am alone. And then the panic sets in.

For me, when I have a panic or anxiety attack I try different things to ground myself. My favorite technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. 5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell, 1 thing I can taste. And if that doesn’t make the monster crawl back to his cave, I use my last resort: anxiety medicine.

Everyone’s monster is different, which means everyone’s battle with anxiety is different. What works for me might not work with you. Other techniques that help with anxiety include: putting your hands in water, deep breathing, taking a walk, even reciting a poem or song are all good techniques to try. The goal is to ground yourself, focus on something else and relax your mind. Another thing for me is my kids, seeing them laughing, playing, it brings me back down, like they fight the monster for me. Pets are another good way to become grounded. 

No matter the battle, whether big or small, just remember the monster does not define you. You are stronger than you think. One thing my therapist has helped me understand is to take everything “One day at a time.” For me this is something I tell myself everyday, but some days are harder than others. Even if you have to say one minute at a time, you are taking control. I am stronger than my anxiety, it does not define me, don’t let yours define you.

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