Anxiety, Therapy, the Stigma, and Me.
Moments filled with anxiety can be crippling and scary as hell to someone who may already feel alone or may be facing some huge life events. My worst memory of having anxiety is driving down a busy freeway, cars in every direction, impossible for me to escape, on my way to a time-sensitive meeting, feeling like I couldn't breathe. That's the thing about anxiety, it takes a simple situation, like traffic on a busy freeway, and exaggerates them. Quickly, traffic on a busy highway becomes a feeling of entrapment and the need to escape.
I have found that, when my anxiety starts to take over, I have to do my best to focus on the moment and then the next moment. So, using the car example, I would focus directly on merging to the lane I need to be in and finding the right exit. I shake my hands, reminding myself that I am present, I am here, and I can do this. By focusing on a task and doing your best to remain grounded, you can sometimes trick your mind and get the attention off of anxiety and back to the real world. In times where I feel particularly overtaken, I will turn to my therapist.
Therapy, I have learned, is an amazing addition to my self-love routine. And it isn't just for people who are grieving or who are facing a giant life change. Therapy can be a regular part of life for anyone, at any time. Once I got past the stigma that counseling was only for fighting couples or grieving loss, I felt the freedom to get the help I needed. There is magic in creating a safe space for yourself to unwind and verbalize your problems, or even just vent about something as dumb as your dog misbehaving that day. Every session doesn't have to be extremely dark or heavy. It's actually better if it isn't, I have found. This way, it feels more routine and normal and supplements a lifestyle of positive mental health.
Also, therapists are not scary or intimidating; they're medical professionals who have a passion for helping people. They are equipped with the education to properly handle whatever you may throw at them, making all of the things you've built up inside manageable. Internalizing is very damaging, and is the seed from which massive anxiety grows. Most insurance plans cover therapy, and it is super easy to set up an appointment. And if you don't vibe with the first match, try again! It's important to meet with someone you trust, enjoy talking to, and feel comfortable with. It's okay to say it's not working after a session or two. It's about YOU and what makes YOU feel good and happy, and a good therapist will understand that if it works out with them or doesn't.
Panic-filled moments are terrifying, but the idea of anxiety and overcoming your own should not scare you. Even when it feels impossible, try not to feed the anxiety and fear; it doesn't deserve that. Be stronger than the internal enemy. Allowing anxiety eat at you for too long can have very damaging effects in the long run. While a hard day might seem like something you can brush off, accumulate enough of these, and you may take yourself down a path straight to a massive mental breakdown. Talking about it is okay. Visiting a therapist is okay. Anxiety isn't something that people will shun you for having. And it's important to show the world the full and real you. It's all about moving forward, upward, and onward.