This is what I’ve learned from my journey so far with anxiety. No one’s journey is exactly the same, but maybe someone can relate and take comfort that we’re not alone in this sometimes silent struggle. Talking about it takes away some of its power and the stigma will continue until more of us speak up for ourselves.
Let’s get one thing straight — anxiety is not a choice. Anxiety is a cruel bitch and she does not discriminate. People may look at someone like me and think I have nothing to whine about. I’m lucky. I had a great childhood, awesome family (parents are still together after 40 plus years), good education and great career opportunities. But anxiety doesn’t care about that. If she’s going to get you, there’s no hiding. So until you have been in my head and stared down the darkness I battle every day, please don’t add to the stigma that anxiety is a choice and it’s mind over matter.
Anxiety leads to fear. Fear leads to anger. And I was so angry at myself all the time. How dare I give in to this nonsense? Why can’t I just shake it off? Pink was quoted as saying, “If there was one thing I’d change about me it’s the voices in my head. They don’t like me.” Those who suffer with anxiety may relate. I saw myself as weak. I perceived myself as broken. I became my own mental bully on my own mental playground. I stopped liking myself when honestly, I needed myself the most. Ultimately, no one could help me if I wasn’t willing to help myself.
Like a mere shadow of my former kick-ass self, I couldn’t see the girl I was once was. Once you stop yearning to be someone who doesn’t exist anymore, the self-loathing subsides a little. Now that I have stopped looking back and am accepting who I am now, I feel I can finally move forward. And that decreases some of the hold my demons have over me. Like the scarlet “A”, I felt like everyone saw it and it weighed me down daily. Moreover, I realized it was always part of me. Even as a child, I would worry about things. I was always a worrier and a perfectionist. I still believe that my anxiety partly ended a long term relationship because my ex couldn’t handle my meltdowns. In addition, I have had career problems as a result. And then there’s the anxiety over having anxiety. “No one will ever love me. I’m crazy. No one will put up with this. I’m going to die alone.” And so the spiral continues. But now I realize it is part of the package deal. Take it or leave it, the menu is not a la carte.
With therapy and medication, anxiety can be kept under control but I have finally accepted that it’s part of who I am. It’s not the flu. Most likely, I will not “get over it “. I have good days. I have bad days. Sometimes I can laugh it off as what I like to call “the ‘xiety” for short.
I am still coping every day with anxiety and I don’t have answers for questions that I’m constantly asking, but I’m optimistic that I will find a way to co-exist with my brain’s way of thinking. Sometimes I best it and sometimes it gets the best of me.
My only advice for fellow anxiety suffers is to learn to be your own best friend. Take it easy on yourself. It’s almost like being an addict. Recovery means letting go and taking one day at a time while recognizing you may always have to work at it.
Anxiety is just another thing to add to the list of quirks that make me, well, me. Even Supergirl had weaknesses, so if it’s good enough for her it’s good enough for me. Maybe I’ll look in the mirror one day and see Supergirl again. Maybe a wiser version with more scars and a few grays, but with the most ass-kicking weapon of all in my arsenal…hope.
Jennifer Jablonski is a teacher and blogger living in South Philly. Her heroes are her Grandma and Kermit the Frog. She enjoys sneezing, writing and the smell of Play-Doh. Dislikes and fears include squirrels, needles and the ocean. Please don’t confuse “your” and “you’re” in her presence less you suffer her red pen of wrath. You can follow her on Twitter or lollipopsandrain.com for random brain droppings.
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