It was around the end of my junior year of high school when I ended up having a complete mental and emotional breakdown. I didn't know what was up and what was down, and I literally thought I had gone CRAZY.
I was struggling with my friendships, I was struggling with school (more than usual), I was struggling with bitterness towards my family, and more importantly I was struggling with loving...heck even liking myself. It got to a point where I had started cutting, and even had feelings of simply not wanting to exist.
Little did I know, I was dealing with ANXIETY & DEPRESSION. I don't know how it started and what 'triggered' it, but I can tell you it was VERY INTENSE and REAL. At times it was so bad that it made me physically sick and I felt so emotionally and mentally paralyzed that I missed most of my senior year. I was physically at school, but emotionally and mentally I was in a really dark and scary place.
Throughout this time I wasn't aware that others were dealing with something similar, or that others even really struggled in general. I didn't know how to get better or even feel better. I felt as though I was completely HOPELESS.
It was this experience that led me to getting a degree and a masters in counseling. I didn't want others to feel the way I did, and I wanted to be able to provide for them what I never got for myself.
So now I am a therapist and I have the opportunity to help females who are walking that similar journey. I get to offer hope, resources, and encouragement on a daily basis and I LOVE IT.
Now I want to share with you, what I wish I knew back then about anxiety. I am going to share the what, the why, and the how to encourage, empower, and equip any of you who may be dealing with anxiety or who may know somebody who is dealing with anxiety.
here we go.......
let's first define what anxiety is...
"Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure" (American Psychological Association)
I like to explain it to those I work with, as an INTENSE, OVERWHELMING EMOTION that is often rooted in FEAR. Fear of not getting an A on the next test or even the fear of not succeeding in life at the age of 15. There is also fear of talking to people, and being social.
Keep in Mind.....anxiety looks very different in anyone dealing with it, but it is very real to everyone struggling.
why do some of us deal with anxiety....
This is probably the biggest anxiety trigger that I have noticed and worked with. Whether it is the midterms that seem to be impossible tasks or the professors piling on EVERYTHING at once. School can be a high stress atmosphere and sometimes that negative stress turns into crippling anxiety.
Family is a constant revolving door of ups and downs, no matter how 'perfect' your family is. Whether it's parents who we feel are 'pressuring' us, or siblings who seemed to have set the bar so high that we will never achieve what they have done. Family is an anxiety trigger for a lot of girls in high school and college.
If your in high school and driving, there is sometimes pressure to get a job and figure out how your gonna pay for things like gas and college. Or if your in college the big question is what are you going to do once you graduate. Finding a job or a career is a DAUNTING task that causes a spike in our anxiety as well.
4. Social Media
I can't tell you how many young women deal with anxiety of social media. Whether it is longing to create the perfect post, or comparing ourselves to others perfect post, it can become overwhelming. Some of our anxiety spikes just thinking about how many likes we are going to get, and whether or not we should even post it.
how do we manage and cope in a healthy way...
This coping technique seems like it would be the easiest one to do, but the truth is it is one of the hardest ones to remember. Anxiety causes a shortness of breath, so it is so important to remember that we need to breathe through the anxious moments.
2. Be Mindful
2 parts to this one
1. It is necessary to be AWARE of what your body is telling you, because often times it tells us when we are about to experience an anxious moment. Whether its our heartbeat getting a little faster or our breathing becoming shorter or sweat starting to drip down our forehead. Our bodies are amazing tellers of whats going on around us, we just have to become better listeners.
2. It is also so important to be mindful of what we are filling our minds with. Sometimes certain lyrics of a song, or a scene in a movie can trigger negative thoughts and patterns within us so we have to be careful of what we are putting in our minds.
3. Reach Out
This one is SUPER IMPORTANT, because reaching out and talking to someone about your anxiety is a key piece to learning how to cope and process it. Bottling it up and PRETENDING to be ok is NEVER a good idea, because it does more DAMAGE than good.
Now to close this very long post...I wanted to mention 2 things.
1. Know that there are A LOT of why's to anxiety, and I just mentioned a few of the 'popular' ones. So if you find yourself not falling into one of those, but know your dealing with anxiety please STILL SPEAK UP. I also know that there are A LOT of other ways to cope and manage in a HEALTHY way, so don't feel like these are the only ones that work.
2. Lastly and probably most importantly, when the attacks come remember IT IS JUST A MOMENT! Don't allow rough moment's to determine your future.
I hope this ENCOURAGES, EMPOWERS, & EQUIPS you friends.
remember: YOU'VE GOT THIS......and......YOUR NOT ALONE
Until Next Time