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Do you have Anxiety?
If you’re reading a post about living with anxiety, chances are good that you or someone you know is dealing with anxiety. It can feel like a real uphill battle sometimes. (That’s the understatement of the year, no?)
It’s difficult for me to change lanes and write about the mental, the theoretical, the sometimes intangible. It’s just so much easier to write about the physical world. (Haha, it’s just my anxiety talking I’m sure!) So bear with me while I attempt to get on the right track – no two people are the same, but on the other hand, we’re all human and we’re kinda all the same.
I have spent many, many years battling anxiety. I’m almost always on the winning side of the battle now, and I want to share with you some of the methods I have learned for living my life well with anxiety, and to encourage you – you don’t have to live with a raging anxiety disorder. You might not be able to get rid of it completely, but you can tame it. If you are ready to re-claim your life, I am here to help you try.
Let’s start with a cliche:
I understand what you’re going through
Even if I don’t know you’re exact situation or your specific fears, I know what it’s like to feel absolutely powerless over your thoughts, your body, your life. To feel like you are losing it, to wonder what sane person would possibly allow their thoughts to control their lives? To be totally unable to make decisions or commitments because the anxiety is crippling.
I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that I have an anxiety disorder. I was quite aware that I was living in a constant state of worry, trying to ward off panic attacks, trying to cope with everyday life in my reality – a reality where nothing was safe and nothing was certain.
It’s really interesting to watch how the anxiety evolves over the years, as your understanding of the world evolves. You might be an adult with anxiety, you might have a child with anxiety – neither one is less real or more devastating than the other.
As a child my anxiety was childish; irrational fears of vampires and werewolves and “scary things” during the day, and uncontrollable night terrors while I was sleeping. Under the bed, in the closet, in the dark, whatever it was that lurked there was ruining my life. I don’t think my parents slept through the night until I was eight years old. Looking back I can see them there, completely exhausted and at a total loss of how to help me, how to deal with me.
As a teenager who understood that there were no vampires or werewolves, my fears were often vague but no less panic-inducing. They’d reign from mild social anxiety to all consuming terror at the realization that I was not in control of much on this earth or at the thought of death and eternity. The anxiety took over and I spiraled down into a deep depression.
I started therapy when I was in my late teens. I had reached a point where I was having consistent panic attacks. I had come out of the depression, but I was more or less paralyzed by fear all the time.This is when I really started to think I was crazy. I knew enough to know that this wasn’t normal. I wanted to hide my anxiety, but it would also burst out at embarrassing and inappropriate times.
As an adult, I am finally (usually) in control of my anxiety. It’s not gone… it’s always there, lurking, waiting for me to let my guard down so it can sneak in. Sometimes I don’t even recognize it as anxiety because many of my worries are adult, rational worries that cross many people’s minds from time to time. Sometimes it’s bigger, but still a shadow of the overwhelming creature it was once.
What I want to share with you
Therapy has been a key factor in my success. Implementing the strategies my therapist and I have discussed over and over has completely changed my life. Understanding what roles diet, hormones, and outside influences play has been another major factor. Helping my family and friends to understand what I deal with has really helped them to help me. Learning to trust God is something I am still always working on; I don’t know how I would navigate this life without Him.
Over the next few weeks I want to talk about the many strategies I’ve learned to help me deal with anxiety, some of them are really simple and some of them will take some practice. All of them are integral to keeping the anxiety at bay.
I’ll share a post every Monday in this series for the next 10 weeks. If you have any questions or want to further discuss anything I talk about, PLEASE feel free to get in touch, either by email or in the comments section.
Read Part 2 – Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Read Part 3 – Understanding Panic Attacks
Read Part 4 – Anxiety and Diet
Read Part 5 – Natural Supplements for Anxiety
Read Part 6 – What can Exercise do for Anxiety?
Read Part 7 – Do Not Feed The Fears
Read Part 8 – Talking About Anxiety
Read Part 9 – For the Christian With Anxiety
Read Part 10 – 3 Things to Remember When You’re Anxious
21 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Living (Well) With Anxiety – Part 1”
I know about anxiety. I am in my 60’s now and my really mind boggling, out of control anxiety began when I was 18. I was in a car riding with my boyfriend when I had my first really horrific attack. I wanted to curl into a fetal position in the floor of his car, literally.
O Carole that is AWFUL! Panic attacks can be so absolutely blindsiding, and terrifying to say the least. Have you found anything that works to help control your anxiety?
thank you for sharing your journey , Mine as well started at 26 and now being 56 I finally have a hold on it and have a decent life . Work and family and no longer bound by my anxiety which got worse 2 years ago and then settled down again lol.
Hey Lew! Thank you so much for sharing YOUR journey! Anxiety does that – comes and goes. I’d love to know what methods you’ve found helpful to get your anxiety under control?
Amazing post. I love when people share their experiences. We all need to be open so we can finally crush the stigma. Thanks for sharing.
HI Michele!! Thank you! I TOTALLY agree – if everyone shares their stories then we are all SO much more better off, and I believe that we can benefit from each other’s experiences 🙂
Anxiety, the dreaded A word, for me started at age 3. Impending doom followed my every existence with terror that shook my whole body, to the point it was thought to be seizures. By age 4 this torture of course got worse in watching my mother’s murder, which in turn made my anxiety worse yet again. I was about to be hospitalized for anxiety, when the Dr had me listen to different kinds of music. The music has kept me out of the hospital, but my anxiety is still a major factor in my life.
Wow Theresa, that is an incredibly difficult story! Thank you for sharing it… it’s amazing how one thing can make a difference. I haven’t really tried music for anxiety (except in conjunction with exercise). I guess after hearing your story I would STRONGLY suggest people try it.
I also suffer from aanxiety. My social anxiety had held me back so much in my life at work, with friendships, it’s even hard for me to be close to my immediate family. It feels like I’m stuck in my head 24//7 Anyway I love all of your advice and will be trying some of your suggestions.
Hi Julie!! I’m sorry to hear that you struggle with anxiety too… I totally understand what it’s like to be “stuck in your head” – I wish you all the best, and I encourage you to try some of the “get out of your head” tactics from part 7 of this series – Do Not Feed The Fears!!
Hi Carly! Thanks for sharing your battle with anxiety. I too have struggled with anxiety since I was a child in many different ways and revealed in many different forms. I also find the link between anxiety and depression interesting. I now have such a passion for helping those with mental illness that I started a blog as well! I pray God continues to give you peace that surpasses all understanding.
Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for reading and thank you for your prayers, I appreciate prayers more than ANYTHING! – I’m sorry that you struggle with anxiety, it just sucks! Blogging about my expereinces has been one of the most awesome “side effects” of anxiety, and I bet you will love it too.
I have had anxiety and depression since I was 14- I am now 25. It started with an ex boyfriend, every time I saw him I threw up and could’nt sleep (obviously my body was trying to tell me something) but I stayed in the relationship for almost two years, lost an unhealthy amount of weight and spiraled downhill. When we finally broke up, my panic attacks vanished. I started dating someone new who is now my husband, and I felt great. About 5 months into our relationship the panic attacks started again but this time they were different, my whole lower body would convulse and I would get sick to my stomach. I missed classes and had to call out of work multiple times. I have no idea to this day what caused all of this, I did have a great deal of childhood trauma and went to about 15 different therapists in 10 years and only found one that worked. I no longer go because I feel as though I do not get anything out of it. I just got married a month ago and I am making a move to the Caribbean in a few months and I have been stuck in a rut. You can have all the things in the world that one would think would make you happy, yet your mind will not let you accept it and be happy. All I want is to be free of this depression and horrible anxiety and be able to do it without meds. 🙁
O Tiffanie that sounds awful! I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling like that. If you absolutely haven’t had any luck with counselling I’d sure try some of the other things that this series talks about, like cutting out sugar, exercising regularly, taking supplements and maybe doing some CBT at home.
Thank you for this series! It’s given me a lot of encouragement that I can be a wife and mom that has anxiety and not be terrible at both! I only have been dealing with anxiety in this last year since we lost a baby in pregnancy at 15 weeks. It hit really hard and out of the blue. Now I’m pregnant again, and still struggling with it. I appreciate what you’ve shared.
I’m so sorry – anxiety is so hard!! It CAN get better tho <3
Anxiety has controlled my life for as long as I remember. I used to have vivid dreams about a steam roller running me over. Then it got worse during my middle school years when I endured 3 years of sexual abuse. Then I went to college and freaked out and used food to control my life since my whole life had always been out of control. Got married and ended up in a thirteen year emotionally abusive marriage. Now as a 43 year old I have started therapy to begin to gain control of my anxiety and my own life. God, music, and yoga helps me some too. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Dawn – I am so sorry for everything you have had to go through. That’s amazing that you are finally in a place where you can start dealing with the trauma you have experienced. I wish you the best. <3
The fact that you said this really shocked me because that has been a fear of mine that I have never heard anyone talk about “at the realization that I was not in control of on this earth or at the thought of death and eternity.” I am also a believer in God and I try my best to look to him, because I don’t know where I would be without him either. I honestly want to find a solution to get rid of it permanently I really believe it is possible. My life is definitely the most stressful right now than it has ever been, but I am willing to find a way out of this stress that’s causing me anxiety. I also want to say thank you for sharing your tips!