If you know me, you know I’m anxious. I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember and I have a really good memory. I have been to counseling a few times and was on a variety of different anxiety medications throughout my life. Nothing seemed to “really” help. Moving away from home, going to a major university, and moving in with my boyfriend of only a year, really exacerbated it. I was close to a mental breakdown. Those were the hardest times in my relationship and knowing that we can get through something as tough as that… we can get through anything. So when we found out that infertility was a factor in our lives, I knew I had to discontinue the medicine I was on as it wouldn’t be safe for the baby if we conceived with the treatments. From then until now, I have made a complete transformation (in my eyes) and that was with dealing with infertility, a pregnancy that got a little complicated, and having a newborn all without having to take medication. SO let me spread the wealth on how I made improvements with that aspect of my life.
Like I said before, I have seen some counselors in my past. I met some wonderful women who truly tried to help but I never felt I made any progress. Not many people know this, but I saw a therapist pretty regularly once I got pregnant. I took it upon myself to ensure that I had the best chance at not having pregnancy anxiety and depression and postpartum anxiety and depression. I knew I was at a higher risk for that due to my past. I was having a VERY hard time relaxing and accepting the pregnancy as I was afraid for the worst. Let me tell you, this woman was amazing. I always felt better and equipped with more mental strength the more I went to see her. I eventually stopped because of the preterm labor scares (feel free to read my pregnancy updates from 31 weeks on). I’m obviously not getting into what we talked about but I will try to explain some of the tools she gave me to deal with anxiety.
First thing I decided to do was to STOP saying “my anxiety”. This was before I even started therapy but it is important! Using those words made “anxiety” a part of me. As if it was like a body part or something. I was owning it. I have anxiety but it’s not “mine”. It comes and goes as it pleases and that isn’t something I want to take ownership for. It slips out occasionally from habit but I make a point in not saying it out loud.
Anxiety is like a high school girl in love. The more you push her away the more she comes back, and she comes back hard. It is useless to tell someone struggling with anxiety to “stop thinking about it”, “ignore it”, and “fight through it”. The more you try to fight through and push it away, the harder it is to deal with. Feel what you’re feeling. Understand it. Anxiety is ALL in your head. Your thoughts dictate your feelings. Tell yourself those feelings are there… they suck… and they will pass. Like they always do. You always make it out alive don’t you?
Don’t be afraid to say no. You’re not here to please everyone. Most times, getting through tough situations makes you feel good. You did it. It’s over. YAY! But don’t let anyone tell you you “always” need to do something you don’t want to do. Don’t take that the wrong way. Life is all about doing things you don’t want to do. School is a HUGE example of that. You do it because you know it’s what BEST for you and you DO have to go lol. But you DO NOT need to go to that party an old friend invited you to if you’re too uncomfortable. You DO NOT need to go to dinner with your family if you don’t get along with “that cousin”. You are allowed to skip events that may bring out the worst in you. Being around someone negative, does nothing but harm you. I am an introvert, being alone is energizing. Taking time for yourself is key. You can go to dinner with them next weekend.
That brings me to the next tool. Removing yourself from negative situations when you see them starting. If you’re the type of person to say “I don’t like drama” you’re a liar or just a true rarity (I don’t mean fighting, I mean dramatics). If you truly believe that, you need to stop watching MTV reality shows, stop watching the bachelor, and DO NOT eaves drop on the lady in the store who is arguing with the cashier because she didn’t use her coupon. It’s entertainment. It’s a shame but it’s true, so lets stop fooling ourselves. It’s completely normal. Sometimes it is hard to not get into that Facebook politics debate… or leave the house when your family is having a huge blow out fight… or not answer the phone when that “friend” constantly calls you just to bitch and complain. You’ll call her back tomorrow 😉
Make situations doable for yourself. This may be funny to some but it isn’t funny to me! lol But I have an irrational fear of getting “sick” in public. You can decide what that means for yourself. It has never happened to me, so I don’t know where it comes from. If I have to be somewhere and I CANNOT say no, (there are situations like these so do not use my explanation as an excuse to never do anything, that is NOT what I am encouraging) just knowing where the bathroom is located cuts my anxiety in half. You have to make these situations work for you. Do what is necessary to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Even if it seems silly.
Anxiety stems from negative thoughts and negative feelings. It is impossible to cut negativity COMPLETELY out of your life. It is a part of life but you can control how a lot of it affects you. You just need the willpower to do so. Do better, for YOU, and you will notice a difference 🙂