Most of my posts won’t be this heavy, but I have been struggling with my own anxiety over the past several weeks, so I figured this would be an appropriate first topic. The thing with anxiety is that it takes over your mind. It can make you believe a lot of things that just aren’t true. Whether you’re just discovering that you might have an anxiety disorder or you have been dealing with it for years and just need some reminding, here are a few things you might not realize when you’re in the middle of an anxious spiral.
1. Your thoughts are your own. Anxious thoughts are one of the most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder, and they can sometimes border on obsession (particularly if you have other disorders as well). However, people with anxiety often project these thoughts onto others. Instead of “I think that I am a failure” you might instead say “My mother thinks I’m a failure.” Unless she has said so herself, it is safe to assume that this is untrue. The way you feel about yourself is not the way that others feel about you.
2. People care about you. Your anxious thoughts can be convincing, and it can be easy to believe that the people in your life don’t really care about you. They’re just being nice. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. Maybe they have some sort of ulterior motive for keeping you around. What you need to remember here is that people aren’t going to make an effort to interact with you if they don’t want to. Your family likes you. Your friends like you. Your partner likes you. You are loved, and you are wanted, and you are important to people.
3. Not everything is a big deal. You know how sometimes a small event will seem like the most important thing in the world? Maybe you tried talking to your partner and they didn’t give you their full attention. Of course this means that they hate you, don’t want anything to do with you, are going to leave you, and you’re going to be alone forever, right? This sounds silly, but this is how anxiety can make you think. Catastrophizing causes you to take small things out of proportion, over-analyze them, and assume that the worst is about to happen. Most things just aren’t that important. Not everything has a deeper meaning. You don’t have to look so far past the surface.
4. It’s okay to take a break. When you have an anxiety disorder, even normal everyday tasks can feel overwhelming. It’s okay if you want to order in instead of cooking dinner. It’s okay if you don’t want to change out of your pajamas or put on makeup or take a shower. It’s okay if you don’t finish everything on your to-do list, or even one thing. Taking time for yourself when you need to can actually improve your mental health, so there’s no need to feel guilty about it.
5. You won’t feel like this forever. Maybe it feels like you have been in this dark hole of anxiety your entire life, but there have been moments of joy and happiness and excitement. You have felt content. Maybe it was last week, maybe it was a few years ago, maybe it’s been so long that you can’t even remember. But you have felt these things, and you will again. Your moments of peace might only be fleeting, but they will happen. You will likely feel sad, anxious, frustrated, and angry again as well. You will experience a full range of human emotion, and this comes with both ups and downs. Whatever you’re feeling now, this too shall pass.