Anxiety is Not Always the Bad Guy

anxietyThis is not easy to write. It is one of those “ ah-ha” moments you get when your mind has a minute to idle. But not one of those on all the Dove commercials. This is the moment where your heart tells your mind what it needs to do, all the while your mind is telling your heart to take a vacation. So like I said, not easy to write. 

Background: 4 days prior to my “ah-ha” ( more like “ah..nooo”) moment I was a bystander of an accident that you usually only hear about on the news. One of those situations that makes your heart drop to your feet and all the blood rush to your head in a millisecond. The ones you read about, but half way through the page you have to put the book down and go do something else before returning. And I am extremely grateful that my husband was there with me, and that we are both home safe, laying in bed with our pup as I write this…

Okay, back to the moment. After the accident, and the shock had faded, full-blown distraction mode kicked in. I am talking, constant distraction of any sort. Constant calls to my sister and husband if I was on a break from work, snap chats for days, working out and as much school work as I could do. Enough to leave me so tired I could fall asleep at the end of the day.

Paired with the distractions, I was using every anxiety blocker I had on hand…Candles, music, stress relievers, breathing exercises and calming statements; the whole 9 yards.

I have gotten better at blocking anxiety attacks. I know the triggers, and how I feel beforehand, and as the week went on, any moment I would start to feel what I thought was going to be an anxiety attack, I would block it. I would stop all thinking, calm down, and move-on. I was thinking, wow I am doing pretty awesome here. I have not freaked out about the hard stuff once. Look at me handling life over here like a pro!

This is when my moment happened. I was visiting with my mother-in-law when she asked if I had cried yet. In my head I thought, “ Hello, I am handling this way better than I even expected. Zero freak outs over here!” and when I told her no, she mentioned that maybe I need to. This is something that my heart knew all along, but my mind was telling my heart to take a hike already.

As I drove away I realized that not only was she right, but that I had not handled the “hard stuff” – I hadn’t even tried. I had locked it all in a box that as far as I knew, would never need to be opened. Since I had ironically finished every distracting thing that day I could think of; the house was clean, all homework was done, the dog had been walked.. I really had nothing else to do but to take the hard stuff as it came.

I started out by just letting myself think about it, when I started to get anxious, I let it happen knowing that everything was OK. When I had enough I temporarily put it back in the box and moved on. Then when I was off work and at home, I really let myself take it in. I wasn’t alone and made sure my husband was with me as we talked through everything that we had on our minds, and the things we had been avoiding. I yelled, tried walking away, cried, and talked about the things I was scared to admit bothered me. It was not a short process but I worked through the thick of it and didn’t let it go back in the box.

I let myself freak out.

Now, I am not saying that now everything is golden, but it is better. I know that I can handle the hard stuff. I know that sometimes it is okay to feel anxious, and that in some situations it is necessary. Anxiety is not always the bad guy. It can warn us if something is dangerous, or if something is off. It makes us re-evaluate our environment and say okay, what is off today? What can I fix to make myself feel calmer? What is going on that is making me feel this way? In my situation, I needed to feel what had happened, and anxiety was just apart of that process. I have been making my anxiety the bad guy for so long that when I was in a place where I needed to feel what happened, I was afraid to.

Sometimes we need to embrace it, embrace the hard stuff and prove to yourself that you can do all things. There are still parts of that day that I haven’t totally taken in yet. But I know that when I am ready I not only can, but I will.

Life is too good to be constantly running away from the bad guy. Be the super hero.

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