I talk so freely about mental health now, because unfortunately I didn't come from a place where that is spoken about.. if ever. I never understood anxiety or depression or anything manic growing up although I had firsthand experience with people around me who were dealing with all those things. They didn't understand these things either. To be fair, I think that not until recently has society been able to handle those conversations better.
My sophomore year of college, I would say my anxiety was at it's peak. My world had so much going on and no mental space to handle it and I truly felt like I was going crazy. I didn't understand what was going on in my head then and it took rock bottom for me to take a step back and really access the problem. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't relaxing, I felt stressed 100% of the time even when I was laughing with my friends or having a genuine fun time with them. I would never allow myself to be wholeheartedly happy. I would lie awake each night with the same thoughts and same problems plaguing my brain into the worst scenarios that at the end of the day I KNEW were never going to happen but yet I let them get to me. You know how they say that the only way to get over something is to get through it? Well, that doesn't mean shit for anxiety. This was never going to a be a one-and-done battle. This is a lifelong mosquito, biting the crap out of me when I least expect it.
|Sophomore year of college.|
Looking back now, I think that a lot of college kids probably go through this. Not at such a heightened state maybe, but right after your first year of college is when so many people drop out from not handling it. I can see why looking back. The next year, I ended up being a Peer Mentor for a group of 38 psychology majors and my main focus was having an open conversation about how overwhelming university can be sometimes and how I was there to help them when they felt like they were sinking.
However, that was my worst. Today, I am my best. I am the happiest I've ever been, with the most responsibility I've ever had that could trigger me. While I wake up with these feelings each day, I've learned how to swat the mosquito away. After the first few thoughts, I'm able to have the conversation to myself to calm down. I'm able to weed out the bullshit that clouds everything and brings my heart back down to a steady beat. When I'm stressed or overwhelmed now, I recognize it and I wish I could tell you how important of a step that was to come to. It's like when you're watching a scary movie and you can feel the fear creeping inside you and then you think to yourself - this is a movie, this isn't real, why am I freaking out over this? (Unless you're watching some paranormal stuff because that is real and we don't play that in this house.) My job is very stressful - sometimes I play a game in my head with how many people come to me with a problem the first 10 minutes I'm on the clock and I bask in how (most days) I can handle it with a smile on my face. Progress is great.
Also, I think it's important to say that while I have dealt with anxiety my whole life, I don't think I've ever considered myself depressed. Most people think they go hand and hand and while they do, there are still some exceptions. I am no one qualified to give you professional advice (although I do have a psychology degree gathering dust on my bookshelf), but I am a real person who has a pretty good grasp on it now. If you're okay with that input, these are some of the things I live and breathe by when it comes to anxiety:
1) Recognize it, don't ignore it.
2) Surround yourself with people who can love you at your worst, but..
3) Don't fault someone for not knowing how to handle you.
4) If you can't handle it on your own, seek professional help. There is no shame in that.
5) Understand bad days happen.
6) Understand that you always have the control even when you don't feel like you do.
7) Find what helps calm you - music, people, books, art, etc. Let it.
8) If you have a constant stressor, find a way to organize/control it. (i.e: bills stress me out so I keep a planner with all my due dates & amounts. Seeing the bigger picture always gives me a piece of mind).
9) Find someone who has dealt with something similar; conversations with allies are soothing.
10) When you're not feeling anxious, take a step back, and take a mental snapshot for you to look at later.
~Make anxiety your bitch~