I just wanted to share a little something on here that I feel could be helpful for other people who may have gone through or are experiencing the same things. This is not an easy subject for me, or for most people, to talk about but it is highly relevant and nothing to be ashamed of and I want to shed some light on the subject as well as give my heart over with advice and reassurance that you or whoever is going through this is going to be all good. So. Here we fuckin’ go.
I am going to start by saying that I never truly experienced what it was like to feel anxious in large doses until about a month ago. Of course, there were times where I would feel momentarily anxious, especially before heading on stage or making a big decision, but that feeling would almost immediately dissipate. Most of the time, I am feeling pretty calm, I enjoy my solitude, and I also enjoy being around people!
Not this time.
Long story short, I made a very big decision that landed me back in NYC in a crazy situation with no job and the heat of a humid, smelly, New York Summer. On my way back, I thought that my shit was going to be on lock. I thought that a job was gonna roll on through, that I would start working on a show, and that I would immediately gain back any momentum that I had sneakily tried to trick into thinking that I hadn’t thrown it off. But alas, it was not as unnoticeable as I thought. The universe had plans to toughen me up, and boy did it shake me. Hard.
Well, I have always had a little bit of a tendency to overthink, but that was never really accompanied by much and left on its merry way because usually, I make sure to weed it out. However, this time, the overthinking came and it would. Not. Stop. It would go in circles, saying crazy things that weren’t even remotely true about myself and making me feel like a failure. It got to the point where the stress was so intense that I began to experience physical symptoms. For about 2 weeks straight, this was the reality of the day to day struggle with mental health:
- waking up to my heart racing/ heart racing throughout the day
- losing sleep
- wanting to be alone but also needing someone there
- the evil loop of doom going on in my brain
- tension headaches
- Feeling inadequate or stupid, like I couldn’t hold a conversation (even though that was never an issue for me before)
I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I had never experienced anything like it. I did everything I possibly could to alleviate the constant torturous thoughts but it was still a very real and very scary struggle.
Here are some things that helped me to get through that time. I’m still coming out of it and learning to manage anything that may come up on the daily, but for the most part I am thankfully feeling back to myself. I just want to let you know that if you are feeling anxiety, you are not alone. Most people experience this in heavy doses on a regular basis, or at least once in their lives. I know it can feel like you are transparent, like everyone knows, and like your personality and well being are being hijacked, but believe me when I say that it will pass. It doesn’t have to be something that rules you. YOU rule you. So, here is what I did that has really helped me along the way because let me tell you, I was terrified, but I knew that there were ways to help myself.
HELPFUL PLANS OF ACTION
- Talking to someone. Whether that is a friend, family member, or therapist, take the time to express your thoughts out loud to another human being. It may feel like you are burdening someone with your own thoughts and issues, but that’s not the case. The truth is that even just one true friend who is there to listen and give you advice through the hard times will be ten thousand times more valuable than keeping it locked up in your head.
- If you feel you aren’t ready to speak with someone, write it down. Get angry, get real, let the word vomit flow. Just get it out of your head.
- Do your best not to isolate yourself. Even on those mornings when I would be getting sick and was shaking like a leaf, I knew I had to make an effort to be around other people. Even if it’s one friend every other day, it makes a difference and will help you to stay social and take your mind off of things for a time.
- Make sure you are eating. I lost about 7 pounds during this process. It was not something I was excited about and it freaked me out because I love food and have maintained a steady healthy weight all of my life. If something like this is happening to you, make sure that you focus on getting your three main meals of the day in, even if you want to gag. Your body needs the nutrients. And make sure to drink a lot of water as well! Also, if it gets intense, please be sure to see a doctor. I ended up going to get everything checked out and make sure that it wasn’t something else.
- Spend time with yourself. Get to the root of the issue. I immediately knew that the reason why anxiety came to visit was because I made a major life change without much of a back up plan and it was scary not having a routine and feeling like everyone else had it together. (No one really has it together, and that’s ok!) Find out why these feelings are coming and investigate them deeply. Watch videos that are helpful and inspiring to keep you moving in the right direction. Do things that usually make you happy, even if you lack the motivation to do so.
- create a routine. If your week is a blank canvas, that can be daunting or it can be a week of opportunity! Even if you are broke, there are things that can be done to better yourself. Read a book, start a new hobby, write out a routine for exercise, bring your laptop to your local cafe and write, make plans with friends or family, plan a trip, make lists of things that make you happy or things your want to accomplish, explore in nature, go for a drive, go to the beach, do anything that will help to get you out of bed and out of the house. Out of your head and into your body.
- Cultivate gratefulness and be kind to others. I know this is part of everyone’s guidelines, but its true. Take the time out to be thankful for the friends, family, shelter, jobs, passions, etc in your life. If you put your issues on the table with some others, you would most likely wanna take yours back. Be kind to strangers and genuinely focus and listen when you ask someone how they are doing. Make a list of gratefulness right after releasing all of the negative bullshit and trust that it will get better. It always does.
- Finally, accept it for what it is. The more that you try to fight against anxiety, the stronger it becomes. The more you psych yourself out, the more your insecurity grows. If you are “off of your game”, spend time with friends who wont judge you for it. You don’t have to impress anyone right now or ever, really. (People pleasers like myself can find this to be a difficult concept to grasp, but you don’t always have to be ON for people to like you for you. You aren’t one dimensional. You are human.) Please, give less thought to what other people think. That is a main theif of happiness.Take a step back from friendships that you think won’t be helpful at this time. Take time off from social media if you have a habit of comparing yourself. Work on YOU and your heart and your mind and spirit. Spend time looking up people you admire and know that they, too, have probably gone through this before. I would not wish anxiety on my worst enemy, but it is manageable and you can and will make it through. Please let me know if there is any specific information that you want. Also, below are a list of some books and material that helped me to focus in and face this beast head on.
Get Your Sh*t Together- Sarah Knight
You Are A Badass- Jen Sincero
Failing Up- Leslie Odom Jr.
How To Relax- Thich Nhat Hanh
Big Magic-Elizabeth Gilbert
Oprah- Super Soul Sundays
The Positive Head
Earn Your Happy
Any material you can find with Mel Robbins. She is KILLER.
This is not easy, but it is possible to persevere and get back into a healthy mindset. Accepting it for what it is and knowing that when it passes, you will be stronger and more self aware in a healthy way will be such a wave of relief that you may even forget about what it feels like at all. And should it rear its ugly head again, you will know how to handle it better. Cultivate love, trust, and strength within yourself and you are unstoppable. Easier said than done, but it is possible and will happen.