Stories, skills, and positivity- to anxiety sufferers from anxiety sufferers.
I had a lot of difficulty thinking of the best way to share my story. Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. And while I know many of us have had the feeling where there is no hope or that anxiety is ruining my life, I am here to tell you that things can and always will get better. I am here to share my story with you because the lowest points in my life today I can attribute to anxiety. However, despite this I have had the opportunity to cope with this illness to a significant degree. I have been able to use it to help shape me into a better individual rather than allow it to tear me apart. Everyone has the ability to do the same.
The reality is that anxiety is often not just going to disappear in the future; it is a part of who you are. As an individual who suffers from anxiety the best remedy is to acknowledge how anxiety influences your life, learn from it, grow from it, and adapt. The goal of any individual who suffers from this illness is to learn to turn the lessons learnt into positives that can help you achieve control and embrace a life that works for you, that betters you. Trust me its possible.
In simple terms my story revolves around anxiety’s worst partner, depression. This is the greatest concern and fear in my mind in regards to what anxiety can lead into. And the best remedy is to do something about it. We are not solving any problems or attempting to learn from these experiences by sitting around and allowing it to happen. I understand the difficulties in being able to do take that initiative as anxiety can have that effect on you. However, listen to my story and try and understand what I mean.
Throughout my life I have suffered a great deal from anxiety whether it be from trivial things, overthinking/analyzing a situation, a lack of friendship and relationships, weight issues, and so on. However, my story focuses on the anxiety created from a lack of friendship and weight issues that controlled me for the majority of my life until recently. Throughout High School and into the early portions of my University education I suffered major anxiety attacks over feeling lonely or unwanted. I constantly felt that not only did people feel put off by me because of my weight but that they saw my personality/behaviour as unlikable. I did not have many friends and anxiety often leads me to have panic attacks over this singular thought when I walk into a room: “nobody in this room, nobody else I know, would miss me if I wasn’t here.” (Before I continue I hope you all know that while anxiety may make you feel this way, it is the farthest thing from the truth, there is always somebody who cares, there is always somebody there for you!)
Anyways, my problem was I never talked to anyone about my problems. I never tried to make a change, difference, or really contemplate much of anything in terms of why am I feeling this way, and why don’t I make a change. I allowed my anxiety to turn into depression and therefore control my life. It unfortunately got to the point where this led me to contemplate whether life was worth living and I must admit that there were times when this got rather serious. However, on one of these days I looked at myself in a mirror for a good twenty minutes and you know what I told myself, “what about the future?” I learnt something from my anxiety that day, and that was there is a good and bad side to everything, its what you make of it, what you learn from it, and what you do about it that makes all the difference. I learnt that my anxiety was stopping me from this decision and rather teaching me a lesson that just maybe focusing on the future, on the next day, and setting a goal or a dream for myself was the solution.
I took my anxiety as a positive that day and instead of wanting to run from it or hide from it I embraced it and allowed it to teach me a lesson, to grow and learn how to better cope with in the future. The key to coping with my anxiety, especially in regards to when it has led to depression, was to focus on a future goal. And every week I found myself looking towards this goal, wondering where I would be a week from now, and it excited me! I decided to take the initiative to lose weight and by creating this sort of focus I was able to transform my health and lifestyle not just physically but also mentally. While anxiety is a part of who I am I decided to embrace it, I created a positive out of a negative situation to combat the depression that had become so associated with my life. I used exercise and the future goal of a healthy lifestyle to change my outlook on life.
I know that anxiety affects each person in different ways. We all have certain things that set us off or certain ways that we typically handle it. However, regardless of these differences the one constant that we all need to embrace is that we are not alone. While I chose to focus on certain future goals as my positive outlook to combat depression and the onset of anxiety attacks, I also realized that talking to others is a medicine unlike any other. I realized that day I looked in the mirror that I would miss out on getting to know so many different people throughout my life, and that thought scared me. While anxiety has often hindered me in terms of making strong friendships or connections I realized that the best place to start was by sharing with others, because bottling up or emotions or anxiety can often only make things worse, such as depression. And as I said I know it can be difficult to approach others and such but at the very least confide in your family. I made the mistake of not doing so, but they love you and wish the very best for you.
Anxiety is a part of life. Yes there are many of us who experience it on a whole different level then others. The takeaway message that I hope each and every one of you can grasp and appreciate is as I said before: there is a good and bad side to everything, including anxiety, its what you make of it, what you learn from it, and what you do about it that makes all the difference.
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Katie McLean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and bases her anxiety aid in personal experience, as well as techniques that have been passed on to her by counsellors, friends, and fellow anxiety sufferers.