The Art of Living With Anxiety
I have good days and bad days. The good outnumber the bad, but lately, it’s a losing battle. It’s a struggle to find the strength in doing activities, most of the time I avoid leaving my room and socializing with others. It’s for the best, I tell myself. Unread messages fill my inbox, the thought of replying fills me with dread. What if what I say is misinterpreted and our friendship crumbles? What if they never respond? The amount of what-if’s pile up and my breathing rapidly increases and my head swirls with implausible scenarios. Ever since I was a child, anxiety has long been present and it’s something I live with. For me, there is no beating it or overcoming it, I live with anxiety and it lives within me.
I know logically that most of my fears are irrational. I need you to know that I know it’s irrational. Sure, there are common fears like acrophobia that worsen my condition. For example, I climbed on the first ring of a ladder and froze. I cried because the thought of falling down terrorized me. I stayed there for a solid hour, refusing to budge even though the ground was less than a foot away. It was through the support of my mother that I finally brought myself down. Anxiety only worsened one of my fears, and even now, I refuse to set foot on a ladder, whether it be a stepladder or not, I simply cannot do it.
Other times, my anxiety just sees me have an episode of tears and panic. Over a year ago, I began work in retail and despite having an entire department destroyed from price changes, the pressure of cleaning it in under thirty minutes overwhelmed me and I began having an attack. I cried silently and resumed my minimum wage job at a steady pace, forcing myself to focus on what was at stake. When I finally went on break, I discussed what happened with my coworkers openly and went home not long after. I learned that sometimes being direct and honest helped me ease into a crippling problem.
It’s not just external factors that cause my anxiety to flare up. I struggle with issues some identify with — complexities with my cultural identity, sexuality, physical appearances, all of which cause a state of confusion. There are days I don’t feel Mexican enough. There are days when I hate my skin for breaking out. I pick at my permanent flaws that are financially out of my grasp. There are days when the only solution is sleep to avoid worrying. Those are bad days. I can function to a point before I seemingly fall apart.
The good days, however, I find myself in a joyous moment. I listen to my favorite artists, I read my favorite books, I write what comes to mind. While this comes off as a feasible solution, it is temporary but is enough to keep my anxiety levels down. Music is often a savior for people and I keep a steady supply of upbeat synthpop tunes at hand. My favorite tunes provide a simple getaway, offering a distraction from the worrisome troubles of my mind. My work here at Sensible Reason often contributes to wellness, my favorite days being when artists share our work on social media. For creative moments, writing has always been my purpose and whether I wrote to remove sadness from my life or to create a story that showed a part of who I am, it has no doubt had a positive effect.
For the social aspect of anxiety, I cringed at the thought of interacting with strangers, and sometimes family. Nowadays, there’s an equal chance I’ll either be nervous or a happy-go-lucky guy. Most of the time it’s the latter, now that I’ve eased into dealing with my social anxiety. The bad days I turn to my best friend. He listens, he doesn’t advise me on my disorder — he simply listens to my panicked moments and endures them with me. Having someone understand you is important to your well being, and I am grateful my friend understands what I go through.
I was diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder at ten years old. Fourteen years later I still struggle with it. Over the years I found some ways to relieve myself of stress that didn’t include medication. Some of the choices I make are healthy and some are quite questionable. I talk to myself about the issues I face and often times, I can convince myself to keep cool. Others aren’t so lucky. Anxiety can overcome you and I understand how painful it can be to lose yourself. It’s important that you seek help to manage it.
If you need help, feel free to reach out to these organizations or consult your doctor on how to help treat yourself.