I wrote all about anxiety over THREE YEARS AGO. Even one year ago I was nearly an entirely different person then who I am as of today. I really wanted to give an updated post about coping with anxiety because there is no doubt in my mind that I have a much better grasp on it at this point in my life. I think a majority of us have anxiety in one way or another - so I believe it's imperative to openly discuss anxiety/depression and share the laundry list of ways that are available to deal with it! I mentioned depression being tied in with anxiety because typically if you have anxiety - you probably are suffering from some sort of depression as well. I know that's true for me. I am aware anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes and I cannot relate to a lot of those different variations so after reading this, if you want to add anything, please do so in the comments! For those who do not understand anxiety at all - some of you lucky peeps exist - maybe this article will help you too with the ones you love in your life that suffer from anxiety!
" anx·i·e·ty // aNGˈzīədē
(noun) a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. "
Anxiety comes in almost any way you can possibly concoct in your imagination. The most common signs that you may have an anxiety disorder are: EXCESSIVE worry, IRRATIONAL fears, sleeping issues, muscle tension, stage fright, chronic indigestion, self consciousness, flashbacks to traumatic events, general PANIC & OCD/perfectionism.
For those who do not have anxiety and are trying to relate to help a loved one: PLEASE understand -- anxiety can feel disabling at times and crippling. It can be this dark storm cloud that consumes your body. It can be so random and unpredictable - which is probably what makes it the most terrifying for the sufferer. It can lead to physical health problems and mental health problems. It's a disease that does not have a cure but it IS possible to live with it in a healthy way! If you want to be there for someone you care for that has anxiety - remember to be patient and understanding. TALK ABOUT IT WITH THEM, no matter how tough that is. Force it out and figure out what they need you to do to help! Real life example: my boyfriend understands when I need to be alone, when I can use a laugh and when I need to GTFO of the house to get some fresh air. That all came from openly discussing uncomfortable feelings though! I applaud you if you are reading this to help someone you love. My main advice is just reiterating to be patient and as open minded as possible since this is something you have no personal experience with.
YOU CAN'T EXPECT SOMEONE ELSE TO FIX YOUR MENTAL ISSUES
Yes - friends, family, acquaintances and significant others can vastly help us in conquering our problems but do not think for a second that they will be able to be your cure. You must love yourself in order to give yourself to others. It took me up until the past year to fully start loving myself to the best of my ability. It's taken me losing a lot of who I thought were good friends and gaining wonderful people too. I'm not saying, though, that you need to morph into a conceited creature. Don't be dramatic! I have moments daily of self doubt, ridicule, and all of that jazz that comes from the bully that lives rent free in my brain. But -- thanks to some of the tips I'm going to share today -- I know how to get past those dark moments fairly easily!
FIND THE CAUSE(S) OF YOUR ANXIETY
This definitely takes reflection and time - but find out the exact reason for the majority of your anxiety. Is it when you have too much on your plate? Is it when you don't have enough on your plate? Is it going to large events? Is it hanging out in an intimate setting? Oh the list is literally endless. For me, I have "high, general anxiety". This means that really anything can set me off with little to no warning signs. Sometimes I'm stoked AF to go to a concert while other times I have a hard time breathing just contemplating being around tons of people. Small talk forever makes me anxious. At other times I can take on the concert but can't get out of bed thinking about going to the movies with a friend. If you're like me and almost anything can randomly give you a wave of severe anxiety - you have two options: (1.) self medication (or prescribed) (2.) setting up a routine that will eliminate all of these attacks. Of course, you can perform a mixture of these two options which is what I do! Being on prescribed meds made me a zombie woman - so I do not take prescription medications anymore. What I DO is responsibly drink when appropriate OR I will take benadryl, ginger extract or ibuprofene to take the edge off. All in all - just determine what has given you the biggest anxiety attacks.
NIP IT IN THE BUTT
You can't run away from your anxiety. Even if you are a homebody and avoid all social interaction - you will start getting anxiety about things at your house further down the road. Trust me, I tried to avoid it for years! Now - this does require a system of balance. I'm not telling you to go to a huge event and have an anxiety attack so that you end up in the emergency room. Take it a little bit at a time. Be courageous and remember the more you practice something - the easier it is to conquer. I used to be unable to go to any concert just thinking about my anxiety. I started going to shows once a month, then twice, ect. Do not feel obligated to stay the whole time or to even talk to anybody! I figured out that was what was giving me such terrible anxiety - fathoming small talking with strangers or having to leave early. To avoid feeling guilty about spending money on a ticket, I'd just hit up free events at first! What really helped me with freaking out over chatting with strangers is this blog actually. Interviewing someone is both the biggest rush and also the biggest sweat fest ever. It's terrifying but I love it at the same time. If you find your "interviewing", i.e. playing an instrument, painting, exercising, building things, or whatever - it can be the best medicine.
PRACTICE SELF LOVE
Loving yourself, as I mentioned earlier, is the number one thing you must do to make anxiety your friend and not your foe. Loving yourself is a catalog that is composed of zillions of compartments. Spiritual, sexual, mental, physical - it all ties together.
What are you doing for yourself spiritually? Are you religious - do you go to Church? If you are - find a Church you love! If you are not, like me, find another way to practice spirituality. I love nature and get that same sense of what you get at Church by being outside. So I force myself to take a walk everyday and just enjoy the outdoors even if it's for ten minutes. I also practice meditation for five to ten minutes each day too. This helps me calm down, clear my head and prepare for the day.
If you have high anxiety chances are you are uncomfortable perhaps in the bedroom - just like yours truly. If you are enjoying being single, then disregard this part and keep playing with yourself. But for me, I've never been comfortable in that department thanks to my upbringing. All it took though was to meet the right person, to be honest. For the first time in my entire existence, I feel as normal as possible when the lights are off with my partner. It's super liberating and makes me feel like I should have when I was a teenager. If you are with somebody that makes you feel uncomfortable sexually - you will never have the sex life you need! Trust me! I didn't think it was important until my last relationship ended. Now, I realize how truly imperative it is to be connected sexually too!
Mental self love is practicing staying positive towards yourself and others. Stop criticizing others. Stop putting yourself down. Stop blaming others for your past mistakes. Stop focusing on minuscule problems and quit not being grateful for what you DO have! It sounds easy, I am aware, but it's not simple to implement daily. It took me so long to regularly practice positivity in all of its forms. I still have slip ups - but don't let those slip ups stop you from continuing. Start over everyday if you must - you will have less and less slip ups with practice. Think about what you are good at now - did you just magically become awesome at it the very first time you tried? DOUBT IT. Keep in mind, too, that happiness is a choice and does not come as a reward for anything specifically. You will not have eternal happiness because of "x", "y", and "z" -- you just choose to remain happy through ALL life delivers to you in a hand basket.
Last but not least - loving yourself in the physical aspect is the last ingredient of practicing self love. Get some sort of physical activity each day! If you don't want to join a gym - go for a long walk. Practice yoga in your living room. Get creative but make sure you get at least 10-20 minutes each day no matter how hard it is. I know when I feel crummy from food, it affects my mental health too. If you want to see mental changes - CARE about what is going into your body! You don't need to diet or anything either. What I am talking about is just monitoring your portion control, drink your eight glasses of water each day, take note on how much fast food you consume, don't drink too much alcohol.. do you get what I'm saying? When you feel good physically - you will feel good mentally. It all balances each other out!
SPEND TIME ALONE
Part of living with anxiety, for me, is embracing that I've always been a comfortable loner. I have never craved having a ton of friends or going out to parties. I like being alone to listen to music, watch movies, play games, draw, ect. I know for a lot of us that is not the case though. Being alone can be seen as a weakness but that is not true at all! Spend time by yourself everyday. That can be done with meditation if you decide to start doing that as mentioned above or anything really. You just need to be your own best friend NOT your own worst enemy! You are with you 24/7. There is no escape. What is the point in making that unbearable when being with yourself constantly is pretty much one of the few things you don't have control over in life? There is no point, I swear!
YOU CAN BE SAD
By being your own best friend - I am not saying you have to be happy/positive/go lucky all of the time. That is not natural. You are ALLOWED to experience all emotions on the spectrum of being human! If you are sad, be sad and cry if you want to. If you're angry - BE PISSED. Just like with everything else, though, balance is required. If you need a day to just lay in bed and hate yourself - take it! Just don't let that turn into a pity party week , month or year! If you are still in a bad mood after dwelling in it for a day or so - you need to force yourself out of it. Whether that's having a friend drag you out of the house, making yourself take a walk or whatever -- you have to remember to not let that bad day consume you. See -- all of these things are "common sense" but in the moment are very easily forgotten! Find out what you need to do in order to avoid having a bad day turn into a bad week. For me - once I sleep something off and it's a new day - that's my sign to start over. I refuse to let most things affect me for more then 24 hours. Personally, that is pointless to me. When the moon sets and a new day approaches - it's time to move on. What's your version of that? Find out and IMPLEMENT IT!
ADMIT MISTAKES, ADMIT VICTORIES
This point is terse. If you fuck up - ADMIT IT. Don't be embarrassed. Who do you know that has never made a mistake? At the same time - be PROUD of your victories! Did you get out of bed this morning instead of sleeping in until dinner time? GOOD JOB. Don't feel bad for being proud of yourself for your accomplishments. If you are trying your damn best - you have bragging rights no matter what the outcome.
GET A PLANNER
I've found a large portion of my anxiety comes from feeling overwhelmed by my busy life: doctor appointments, blogging, my online shop, school, work (before getting laid off), working out, chores, ect. By getting extremely organized and writing every little thing down inside a planner and also in a realistic manner with timing - that part of my anxiety has vanished. I also get horrible anxiety thinking about not having a clean house and getting errands done in a timely manner. I'm a crazy old grandma, I know. But this was an easy fix! I do the same chores everyday and keep the most uncluttered home. By doing chores each day instead of once a week or something - I not only feel accomplished but the anxiety I experienced thinking of living in a shit hole is no longer existent in my brain. If you can relate - try doing simple chores each day: making your bed, cleaning dishes, sweeping, dusting, and putting things back where you found them. As far as making sure my errands always get finished, I rely on my planner. I do grocery shopping on the same day each week, I pay my bills the same days, and I just be as realistic as possible at planning in advance. Cut yourself a break every once in a while - sometimes there really is not enough room on your plate to clear it in 24 hours. Nobody is asking you to do most of the things you plan for yourself daily - so give yourself small rewards for little victories and please do not beat yourself up if you DO forget the dishes one day! It's NOT the end of the world!
Give yourself a little time everyday to have fun in your own way. As you probably know by now - for me that's watching TV/movies, listening to music, gaming, drawing, ect. Figure out what you like doing that does not cause you stress! For some it's building little model planes, walking on the beach, social media, or what have you.
When those bumps in the road pop up that you have no control over - which remember is MOST of the time - have a sense of humor. My humor at this point in my life is so morbid thanks to learning how to make a lot of things a joke. Laughing really helps you move on from most situations and leave it in the past. Learn how to laugh more at the shit that everyday life brings - it's the best habit to form! PS - ACCEPT THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO KNOW ALL OF THE ANSWERS, shizzle just occurs for no reason. That's the universe, okay!?
SEE A PROFESSIONAL
If you follow all of these steps religiously and for a long while but are STILL suffering on the usual - it's time to see a doctor. There's no shame in seeing a therapist or going to group therapy too. PERSONALLY - I hated who I was on anxiety medications BUT anxiety meds help millions of people each day! If the medication doesn't work for you, fine, but if you haven't tried any yet how will you know? Exhaust all of your options (listed above) first before researching doctors. Actually TRY, too. Don't half ass these steps for a month and expect a change. For me it took my whole life to figure out these steps - and it took a little over a year to see visible changes after having to start over a dozen times to make these a habit in everyday routine. I messed up a lot at first and still do - it's just staying resilient and refusing to give up. Give it time. If you need to see a doctor - be picky about who you see! Try twenty different doctors out if you need and find one who you are comfortable with.
As much as anxiety plain and simple SUCKS - it is capable to live a normal life with it! Trust me, I never thought those words would come out of my mouth - or my fingers I guess if we are getting technical. There have been countless times in my past where I've missed important celebrations, job interviews, and simple hang out sessions literally just from an anxiety attack. Here I am now - going to almost all the things I want to, CONDUCTING interviews, networking, and living a fairly normal life! I will always have anxiety - but I can safely say that I know how to conquer it in most moments now. How do you deal with your anxiety? Where does your anxiety come from? Please share to help others!
VEGAN PROGRESS OF THE WEEK
As most of you know - as per my doctor I am supposed to be converting to a vegan diet. (for two years now actually shhhhh) My entire life I've been vegetarian but it's still a difficult transition for someone who LOVES cheese. I also thought, for no legitimate reason, that buying vegan groceries was going to be outrageously expensive. I wanted to share with you my groceries for the next few weeks because it's a total myth! I spent a little under $100 for EVERYTHING pictured -- most of it being vegan. I know it's not totally vegan so please don't come at my throat - I'm doing my best! But I think that myth truly stems from getting salads perhaps at fast food places because those are usually around $8 each. Yes, THAT is expensive but so is eating fast food everyday - vegan or not! If you are worried about the cost of going vegan, don't let that be the reason you aren't getting started. I went to my local 99c store and Wal Mart for everything! Please share your vegan tips for us noobz if you wish!
I went to my first Fest this year and it was SO, so fun! Our flight out was delayed almost ten hours so we were a lil late getting there -- but regardless it was an amazing time! I didn't drink too much and met some rad people. Stephen and I decided to be basic and put some whiskies on our mugs instead of lugging costumes across the United States on a plane. I cannot wait for next year already and won't even go into all of the awesome bands I loved so much that performed because there are too many. I tried a lot of new foods, played darts, and did lots of site seeing on foot! You can't go wrong with a weekend full of good music, new/old friends, food, booze and just making memories. Honestly just hanging in our hotel room was a good time too. If you're on the fence about going you DEFINITELY should just take the plunge and experience it at least once. You won't regret it!
COUNTDOWN OF THE WEEK
The time is almost here! Melvin + I's online shop is opening in less then TWO WEEKS! I cannot wait to show you what we have as our first pin. We plan on quickly expanding with a variety of products too such as patches, clothing and more! Stay tuned for the grand opening!