Is It Anxiety? Tips and Tricks to Recognize Signs of Anxiety, and To Deal With Them

I have a fairly normal outlook on the world:
-someone’s late coming home …so he must be dead or kidnapped.
-that person didn’t smile at me …she hates me.
-the warning light came on in the car …it will blow up before the next stoplight.
-I feel somewhat sick …yes, Google, it must be cancer.

What? That’s normal, right?

It’s not?

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

This way of thinking has hounded me for most of my life. Not until it exhibited as severe depression from how other people treated me did I know …these thoughts may not be that normal. I also didn’t realize my worries had a name: anxiety. That realization didn’t come to me overnight. It didn’t come from a counselor, although uncovering and treating it did come because of counseling sessions. My learning about anxiety –my anxiety- came after talking with a neighbor.

“I felt like I should save up money for a trip,” I told the neighbor, back in June, “But then it got cancelled because of Coronavirus. So… I guess this means I’m going to get sick and will be hospitalized.” *Sigh*

Without skipping a beat, she responded, “No, that’s called anxiety.”

Initially, I felt shocked and surprised. I then felt denial, since anxiety was not a condition I’d ever considered. Anxiety was for other relatives of mine who had experienced panic attacks or hadn’t been able to sleep with the lights off. Anxiety couldn’t affect me…

Then, the puzzle pieces fit together -answers to my racing and irrational thoughts. I brought these concerns to my video counseling session; my counselor was not as surprised as I had been. I’m just glad she’s as smart and observant as she is.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

With her help, I learned that many of my panicky thinking is anxiety. I started making a list whenever I worried about a situation. I shared the list with my more-rational husband or a good friend. I learned which voice spoke: me or anxiety. Over time, I could see the differences.

After that, I learned to answer the worries:
-someone’s late coming home …so I’m anxious.
-that person didn’t smile at me …she’s having a bad day.
-the warning light came on in the car …and that light could be anything from needing an oil change to needing more coolant.
-I feel somewhat sick …it’s probably a cold.

Once I could recognize anxieties and stop the rising panic, I was able to formulate solutions. At the very least, I got better at delaying irrational actions and stress. Which, of course, does not mean the anxiety evaporated.

Sometimes, at times of high stress, my tips and tricks do not work. In times like that, I contact my counselor. Sometimes, she suggests anti-anxiety medications. Why? Because anxiety is like other mental illnesses in that I can’t always fight it on my own.

Armed with tricks, encouragement, professional advice, and help when I need it, I’ve found anxiety to be less formidable than before. I’ve found a freedom I didn’t know before. And it’s wonderful.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

©2020 Chel Owens

Change Gives Me Anxiety

My last post and this one are going to be a little contradictory because circumstances have changed. I previously said that I am mentally ready to take a break from therapy, that I am in a good place to be independent.

Now I can’t wait to see my therapist on Monday morning because my anxiety is weighing on me. It’s not the worst I’ve ever experienced but I feel that the anxiety is growing each day. I really want to talk through what’s happening in my mind. I want to cry in her office and spill my guts.

“What is making you so anxious?” you may be asking.

Change.

Change has always been something that I hate whether it’s good or bad. One of the best times of my life was living in England but I was depressed for a big bit of it. I did a lot of isolating myself and watching every Wes Anderson film alone in my flat.

As I may have mentioned on here before, I am moving out of my childhood home and into a house with my boyfriend of 2.5 years. The thought of not being in my comfort zone that I have been in for almost all of my life makes me so scared.

I’m walking around the house taking in every inch of it. The carpet beneath my bare feet. The view of the street outside my window. The beautiful counter top in my bathroom. All of it so familiar to me.

I need to grow up which comes with a lot of discomfort, something that also makes me anxious. I will have to adjust to so many new things and leave many of my comforts behind. Mainly my cats, I will deeply miss not having them sleep with me every night.

I’m only moving a few streets away from my mom’s house where I live now but once I move all of my things out, I won’t have any true comfort to return to. My bedroom has always been my solace, my safe place. Without everything in it, it’s just a room.

It’s the equivalent of taking away my baby blanket.

There are lots of things I’m looking forward to in my new house such as truly feeling like an adult instead of a teenager, spending more time with my boyfriend, cooking in my own kitchen and having a porch.

A few years ago I wrote a poem about how my mind is like the night sky. That the darkness is my depression, anxiety and all of the bad stuff while the stars are the happiness and positive stuff. I look up and I focus on the darkness instead of admiring the twinkling stars above. I’ve rarely been the one to look on the bright side.

Does change make you anxious and/or depressed? If so, how do you cope with this? I’ve never seemed to find a way to positively cope with change so I’m open to all ideas!

Taking a Break with my Therapist

I have been thinking for a while now that I want to stop seeing my therapist. Typing that makes me nervous about ending it!

I have been seeing my therapist almost 3 years, which is crazy to think about. She has been my support through everything that’s happened in my life. When I was suicidal, she was there for me if I ever needed her outside of our sessions. When I was struggling with self-harm, she never shamed me (I am 487 days clean!). She was helped me dig through my negative thoughts, depressive episodes and anxiety attacks.

My mental health has been pretty good for the past few months. I have been seeing her monthly to discuss what’s going on in my life, how my mental health is and whatever I’m worried about at the moment. I love seeing her but I think it is time to take a break with our sessions.

The idea of stopping therapy scares me.

It automatically turns on the anxiety bells in my brain and starts to tie my stomach into knots. My worry is that I will get bad again, that I will plummet to the bottom and not have her there to help me get back up.

She has helped me get to this positive place in my mental health journey. She has helped me with coping skills, rational thinking and how to question my anxious thoughts.

BUT

Change always makes me depressed even if it’s a good change. Growing up I would get depressed when I moved up to the next grade. I got depressed every time I moved back to college or moved home from college. Most big changes immediately send me into a depressive spiral.

I have a big change coming up that I am pretty sure will make me depressed even though I am excited about it. My boyfriend and I are taking a huge step together! We are buying a house! (Please don’t tell me in the comments that I should be married first or that I’m doing this backwards.)

I’m worried already about everything that comes with buying a house and moving in with a long-term partner. I worry that all of the stress will push me into a depressive/anxious mess that I would have to cope with without my therapist.

I meet with her the second Monday of July. There I will tell her what I’m thinking, maybe she will alleviate some of my worries.

What has your experience been like after you stopped therapy? Leave me a comment please!

Depression & Anxiety Returns

My title sounds like a bad sequel in a movie franchise that will not die. I’m trying to keep it light hearted since I’ve really been struggling today.

My mental health has been doing so well for the past few months. I’ve been able to think clearly, function normally and even step outside of my regularly scheduled programming. It’s been great! I’ve been proud of myself even!

But of course all great things must end.

Yesterday my anxiety began to gnaw at my stomach during work. Then the thoughts started buzzing around in my mind as I started worrying about upcoming changes in my life. I also made two mistakes yesterday and today that brought out my depression.

Anxiety was the opening act and now depression has come out to sing a duet. It’s kinda of like in “Camp Rock” when Demi Lovato is singing “This is Me” then Joe Jonas comes to finish the song with her. (I got to see this happen twice in concert in 2008, it was so awesome!)

I can’t focus.
I am stuck in my mind.
I want to hide in my room for the next century. At least it’s safe in there.

It’s amazing how individuals with mental illness can be fine one moment then something happens and our worlds are crashing down around us. Our minds only push us down instead of being able to rationalize and pick ourselves up.

These are the moments I wish I didn’t have a broken brain.

I wish I could brush stuff off but I can’t all of the time. Lately I’ve been mentally stable enough to do that but today I can’t.

I don’t want to go through the misery of a depressive episode. I don’t want my anxiety to be taunting me again. I have enjoyed the peace for months, I’m not ready to give it up.

What about you guys? How’s your mental health been lately? Whether it’s been good or bad, please leave me a comment! I love chatting with you guys in the comments 🙂 It always makes me feel better about life. Like maybe I’m not so alone after all.

Can I Keep It Together?

I’ve lived with depression and anxiety my entire life so I understand the ups and downs of mental illness well. There are days when all things are fine then others where I wonder if getting out of bed is even worth it.

Right now I’m in a good spot mentally. It’s nice to have that moment to breathe in the fresh air of mental stability. The past few weeks have been lovely because I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate all of the family members I love.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my journey and have been asking myself how long can I keep it together. I wonder how long will it be before I’m crying under my covers in bed because of my illness. I am worried about how long I’ll be able to stay clean from self-harm.

These spells of mental stability don’t last forever. Eventually I will fall back into my struggles. But how bad will it be next time? How soon should I prepare myself for when everything goes to shit?

Though my overall mind is calm, anxiety still tries to claw its way through my brain so I start worrying again. Then depression is right behind to try and drag me down from the weight of my thoughts.

I worry that my next episode will be miserable. I worry that I won’t be able to keep it together.

How do you keep it together when you feel like you’re crumbling into a million pieces?

Does Mental Illness = Weakness?

This weekend was very difficult for me. My mental illness had me in its grip tight which kept me in bed for Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and about 75 percent of Sunday.

My boyfriend and I were butting heads which really made me anxious. I was having so many worries because of our argument that it made things worse.

He is a very introverted person so sometimes he needs an entire day to re-energize. He told me that he needed alone time this weekend to recharge and spend time with his friends who he doesn’t see very often. In true Megan fashion, I freaked out.

I plunged into my anxious thoughts so deeply that I thought I might get sick. I worried fervently about whether this was the end of our relationship. Whether he didn’t love me anymore. Whether he wanted to find somebody better than me who could meet every single need of his without fail.

My mental illness often makes me feel weak. That if I didn’t have these nagging thoughts that led me to staying in bed for hours, flipping out over a change of plans and crying a lot.

I feel like I should be stronger.

That I should be able to tackle my mental illness to the ground because I don’t fall for its bullshit anymore. That I should be able to rebound quickly or just stand strong after my intense sensitivity teams up with my anxiety to spiral me down into the arms of depression.

If I was stronger I wouldn’t lose an entire weekend because my feelings are hurt and my anxiety is making it 50 times worse.

But I can’t do those things.

I am too weak to overcome my mental illness.

I always ask for your opinion at the end so please leave me a comment! Does your mental illness make you feel weak too?