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What does Anxiety look like?

”It’s not visible, people don’t understand it and too often they think willpower can make it go away.” ~ Anonymous Anxious Person


I first shared some of my story on my Facebook page a couple of years ago. It came up in my memories feed a few days ago and I decided not to re-share.


Then, over the course of the last few days, I have had discussions, chats and reach outs from 3 different people in my life needing to talk. And over the course of the last two days, I called two of my friends to reach out after reading something they shared on social media.

I saw it as a sign that I should share it again. Here it is edited to bring it up to date:

I hate this picture of me.

.....Big smile.

.....Bright eyes.

.....Make-Up was on point.

.....Cute hat I just bought in the Vanderbilt gift store.


It was about 6 years ago and I was in the middle of one of my worst anxiety manifesting periods. It was a beautiful day with my sister’s family at Vanderbilt Mansion National Park ... We had a wonderful time exploring the mansion and the grounds and then we headed to the Everready Diner for treats. It was a great day and we have many pictures to prove it.


But I couldn’t get out of my head. I was at the park with the family but my mind was racing in a million different directions. And I could barely catch my breath. And everything hurt inside.


I reach out to share that I am an anxious person. I tend to be more anxious than depressed. I also have the ability to manifest my anxiety into a physical pain in my body that can become overwhelming.


Most of the time, I am able to understand what my anxiety is and respect it.


Anxiety is a normal emotion that we all experience and can serve a healthy purpose in our lives.


Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.

— Walter Anderson


It can act as a motivator helping you get stuff done. A little bit of anxiety can inspire action to getting a job done - likely one you have been putting off. The benefit for you is the job is done and anxiety goes away.


Anxiety assists in preparation. For example, I teach group exercise classes and I am always a little anxious when I am teaching the new programming. I want to make sure I get it right. Anxiety assists me in preparing for all the scenarios so when the time comes to teach, I have my go to plans in place. The benefits for you is preparing for a situation that makes you anxious diminishes that anxious feeling.


It can be a part of connecting you to what’s important in your life. Anxiety can shift our attention to those things. It assists us in awareness of the stuff that deserves our attention and then becomes a big part in motivating and prepping for action and prepping.


And anxiety can be a protector. A lot of the time anxiety is connected or related to fear. It is part of our protection and danger system by keeping us alert and ready to act.


Anxiety is an essential part of our lives until it isn’t ......

It is when someone finds they are always or most of the time feeling anxious or on edge that it becomes a concern or a mental health challenge.

And I have been there .......

When my anxiety took over it almost always became a physical pain somewhere in my body. I became so obsessed with the pain that it became an overwhelming darkness and I lost the ability to clear the darkness.


Out in the world, I managed to smile, laugh, and go about my everyday stuff and, for a little while, mask the physical pain I was feeling. I could hide what was happening in my racing brain.


And yet there were times that I felt so dark, and so exhausted from my pain that I heard myself say out loud, “I don’t want to feel this way anymore, I am tired of hurting. It would be nice to not feel this way ever again.”

It was then I understood how someone could make the decision to not be here anymore.


”I’m tired of hurting. It would be nice to not feel this way ever again.“


It has never been my thought to make this decision because most often my anxiety is caused by my paralyzing fear that I won’t be here with/for my people.


Yet, when I realized I was able to vocalize “I am tired of hurting and it would be really nice not to hurt anymore” I truly understood how immense the darkness is and how it can be so much bigger than you ....... you can’t find you anymore.


If you are the anxious person, more often than not, it is hard to ask for help. You feel like you are annoying your people. You feel like you are a bother and you know people are rolling their eyes when they see your number come up on the cellphone.

While it is not true, it does become part of the message your anxiety will scream at you. Your anxiety is a liar.

You are not a burden.

You are important.

Your people love you.

Your people need you.


Talking to your immediate circle of people may not be something you are willing to do because you feel like a burden and you don’t want to hurt them with your dark thoughts .....so please reach out to your doctors, therapists, life coaches (for mild anxiety) and the mental health helplines. When I was experiencing my anxiety disorder, I felt better talking to the third parties — my doctors, therapists, and yes, my life coach — I was able to organize and share my feelings and thoughts without hurting or surprising my people with my darkness.


And likewise....

.

If you have someone in your life you suspect is dealing with feelings of isolation, fear, anxiety, depression and helplessness ... Please reach out.


Check on them. Re-check on them. And then check on them again.


Let them know with no uncertainty......


They are not a burden.

They are important to you.

They are loved by you.

They are needed by you.


2020 has been a tremendously challenging and tumultuous year. Feelings of isolation, fear, anxiety, depression and helplessness are on the rise. Reaching out and connecting with your people one way or another has never been more important.


Reach out and check in!! Either way. Reach out and check in!!

The following is a list of resources with special attention on the needs of the year 2020.


2020 Resources:

Black Community Resources

https://thementalhealthcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Black-Mental-Health-Resources-MHC-3.pdf


COVID-19

https://thementalhealthcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Mental-Health_COVID-19-511.pdf


Additional Resources:


https://thementalhealthcoalition.org


https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

1-800-273-8255


https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/immediate-help

1 800-273-8255

Local Friends in the Hudson Valley

http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/dbch/26781.htm

1 877-485-9700


https://ulstercountyny.gov/health/health-mental-health

(845) 340–4110


https://hvmh.org/

845-486-2703


References:

https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/about-mental-illness/learn-more-about-conditions/anxiety-disorders/


https://www.psycom.net/living-with-anxiety/


https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/media-centre/responsible-reporting/mind-your-language


https://hogg.utexas.edu/news-resources/publications/language-matters-in-mental-health


https://www.verywellmind.com/top-ways-anxiety-is-helpful-1393079


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