How do you deal with anxiety? | One To Nothin'

How do you deal with anxiety?


The other day I was talking with my friend (who has been dealing with myriad health problems and has been through a lot in the past couple years) about anxiety. I started to tell her about it, but not before prefacing with, "I know it's a buzz-word lately, but..." to which she stopped me immediately and asked what I meant by that. She's good like that. 

I think what I meant was there's a huge different between having an anxiety disorder and feeling anxious sometimes, and I know the two can go hand-in-hand, but when it's mental health month and suddenly every influencer known to man finally feels brave enough to say they struggle with anxiety, well, it makes me hesitant. That being said, there's a huge difference between getting anaphylactic shock from dairy and being lactose intolerant, but that doesn't stop me from whining when my stomach explodes from accidental cheese consumption...

...I digress. 

As a person who only used to really understand anxiety in the context of "social anxiety," it's new, it's weird, I hate it, and I'm not sure how to handle it. Maybe it's finally having a name for the feeling, maybe it's staring at my phone all the time, maybe it's growing up, or maybe it's because I've been through a lot of shit lately, but whatever the reason, it's quite disruptive.

Here are some of the normal-not-new-things that have sent me into full-on fight or flight mode lately:
  • A water bottle top popping off on a train ride
  • A man yelling BEAUTIFUL WOMAN at me while I was on a run
  • Something sparking on the train track (I thought it was a bomb)
  • Someone jiggling my door handle (it was my roommate)
  • A fire alarm at work
  • Driving pretty much anywhere that has traffic
  • Having two periods a month for, like, eight months
  • Reading the news
Here are some shitty things that are not so normal that also sent me to a dark place:
  • Nia Wilson was stabbed to death at my train stop one year ago
  • Someone trying to steal my car (bled on my seat, still has the spare key, smashed the window)
  • Someone who rented my car on Getaround smoking INSIDE my car and denting it in several places
  • My dentist knocking my crown off at a routine cleaning
  • Being told I had to get a root canal because of said knocking out of my tooth
  • Spending approximately every other week at the dentist for about three months straight
  • Realizing it was Mike's 30th birthday and I couldn't call him
  • Reading the news
Sooo yea, that combined with days where I want to cry (and often do) uncontrollably, have no energy or will to clean my room even though looking at the mess makes me want to cry more, neglecting exercise for MANY months, etc. etc... 

Cue obsessive problem-solving in the face of an issue. In the past I've dealt with a loss of control by taking control of something, no matter how small, like doing a cleanse, training for a marathon, redoing my bedroom, or focusing on self-care even when it meant dropping $80 a month on mani/pedis (I've always said that self awareness is sexy...), but no amount of manicures helped and I'd inevitably end up binge drinking and blowing money on overpriced dinners any time a coworker would ask. That's not to say I don't still find myself doing that from time to time, but I've been trying other things. 

One, I did a workout challenge in June. This was admittedly mostly because of weight gained during the aforementioned binge drinking and eating of my feelings and the fact that I was about to be on a boat in a bikini with all my best friends from college who also happen to look like supermodels... but it resulted in much more than more confidence in photos. I remembered how important exercise has been to me ever since I was 14, and looking back it probably saved me from falling into a deep, dark hole on a lot of occasions. In fact, the other thing that's kept me sane over the years has been writing. First a journal that I kept religiously and then this blog. I exercised and wrote this blog less in the past year than ever before. They may seem like small things, but I think they added up to much more than I realized.

Two, I started looking for help. I did a therapy consultation to get matched up with my soul-therapist, which was fantastic until I realized it would cost $200 a session, so I went back to the drawing board. I called about 10 different offices in my insurance network and the first person who was actually taking patients stood me up on our first session. Not off to a great start, but it fully got worse. She was ancient, she was judgy, and she couldn't hear me because her hearing aid was dying... I didn't go back. I certainly haven't given up on talk therapy, but the whole experience was extremely overwhelming and I'm still trying to find the answer.

Three, I started acupuncture, regular yoga practice (which includes a lot of intention setting and meditation), and having open, honest conversations with friends about things like anxiety, overwhelm, depression, financial stresses, etc. It's been incredible to see how many people are going through the exact same shit, but are too afraid to bring it up. Finally, I'm more open than ever to podcasts, blog posts, articles, and new-agey stuff that could possibly offer some sense of relief or camaraderie. If you have any suggestions, please send them to me.

It's a work in progress. 

Some days I worry that I'm making the wrong face for the conversation I'm having, panic when someone slams a door, snap at the people around me, and lacerate myself for being ungrateful when I have so much. 

But some days I feel really good and whole and grateful. When I do, I try to think of what all I did leading up to that day and how to recreate it. Lately it's looked like cutting down on alcohol, eating vegetables, working out, and spending time with the people I love. 

And now, I'm adding this whole journaling thing back into the equation. Here's to hoping it helps. 

Have you struggled with anxiety? Let's chat. We're in this together.

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