After years of battling anxiety, months of allowing it to become all-consuming.. I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. 2 months and 7 days ago, I allowed myself to admit I needed help – and I shared my story.
What better day than World Mental Health Day to share the next chapter?
9 weeks later, while I would be a fool to say that I have conquered my demons – I can say with certainty that I’ve come a long damn way in doing just that. Some days are still worse than others, but I’m reclaiming my life.
My anxiety doesn’t own me. Not anymore.
When I first decided to open up about my anxiety, I was scared. Terrified might be a better word for it. “Who cares about your worrying?” I asked myself. “Don’t you think people will think you’re just looking for attention, and judge you for it?” When I realized… in a sense, I was looking for attention.
I was looking for attention toward a topic that controlled my life, but that I was too afraid to talk to anyone about for fear of how it would sound. I was looking for attention for the 1 in 5 people who also suffer with anxiety. I was looking for someone to grab me by the shoulders and tell me, “You’re not crazy. You are stronger than this. You don’t have to let it control your life.”
To all of the people who reached out to me – asking what it took for me to get the courage to see a therapist, sharing stories, saying “Hey, that’s me too.” – I can never thank you enough. I am so proud of you. You can do it.
The past two months have been nothing short of life-changing for me.
I’ve been regularly seeing a therapist, and with her help I’ve found just how powerful cognitive behavior therapy and journaling truly are when it comes to coping with stress and anxiety. I’ve started really taking care of myself – daily yoga and meditation, regular exercise, and even right down to a new skincare regiment. It’s true what they say, you can’t pour from an empty glass, you’ve got to take care of yourself first.
So… Why am I still talking about it? Because it isn’t just me.
Especially not when it comes to what led me to my breaking point.
I mentioned earlier that today is World Mental Health Day, and fittingly, the theme for 2017 is “mental health in the workplace.”
Ever have one of those jobs that you dread waking up and going to every morning? That leaves you stressed on the weekend (or whatever days you may have off), agonizing over what you will be told in your weekly meeting? The type where, no matter how hard you try, nothing ever seems to be enough?
… Yeah, me too.
For those who have been wondering, that’s a big part of what led me to seeking out a therapist. My work had become all consuming. I would cry over the thought of having to even just ask for a day off (my “choice” time off was required to be approved by 3 superiors.) I worked through lunch, and felt like I was looked down upon if I wasn’t in the office from 7:45am until (at least) 6:00pm. I was struggling with expectations and deadlines that seemed all but impossible, let alone in a workplace where everyone else felt the same tension – and it hung in the air like a wet blanket.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t putting in 159 hours of work per week, but I was starting to see the physical side effects of the stress my job was putting on me in addition to my underlying anxiety. Insomnia, low energy, frequent “allergy” attacks, dizzy spells – it got bad enough that I was tested for thyroid disorder, and almost passed out walking to my car in the parking garage in June.
Fast forward to today: I’m in a new job, putting a major emphasis on self-care, and learning how to actively manage stress and anxiety.
My first week here, my office manager had to remind me to take a full hour for lunch – how crazy does that sound?
I’m not saying high pressure environments aren’t for anyone. I know full well that some people work better under pressure, and that’s great! What I’m really getting at is… Don’t allow your work environment to consume you. It’s a scary leap to take when you feel comfortable, make good money, and like the people you work with. But, if I’ve learned one thing over these few months, it’s that anything that steals your peace is too expensive.
I keep coming back to pictures of the ocean, and I promise there’s inspiration behind it.
When I was really in the depths, I came across a quote that I had used to caption an Instagram post a few months prior (how millennial of me, I know).
If the ocean can calm itself, so can you.
After all, we are both salt water mixed with air and emotion.
We’re all on different roads, leading different lives. But we all have a story to tell about our own mix of salt water, air, and emotion. Don’t be afraid to take control of yours, and don’t be afraid to tell it.
You’ll be glad you did.