Lately I have been anxious: unbearably anxious at times.
Maybe it is all of the impending changes in my life. The next nine months of my life. Reflections of the past year triggering flashbacks. Or maybe it is just my damn anxiety disorder, but whatever it is I find myself on almost constantly on edge. My heart has been racing and my mind has been chasing after random thoughts and barely formulated ideas unable to concentrate on the tasks in front of me.
I am afraid of a monster I cannot see, of a future I cannot predict, of the past i’ve had to leave behind, and of matters in which I have little to no control. And earlier today, my anxiety came to a head. I found myself shaking, almost in full blown tears. I found myself unable to articulate anything. To think about anything. My thoughts, my feelings, everything was just too big.
Life suddenly became too overwhelming.
I have anti-anxiety medication to take when I feel this way. A little pill which should put everything into perspective. Which should calm my mind and slow my heart. But it is a little pill I often refuse to take.
Out of embarrassment.
Out of fear.
And out of shame.
(Ridiculous, I know, but it is how I felt in the moment. It is often how I feel even though I am incredibly open about my struggles and shortcomings.)
So instead of taking my prescription, I sat with my anxiety. I tried to meditate and breathe through it. I tried to write and work through it, but nothing helped.
Nothing was working.
So I headed outside for a run. I ran until my breathing was laboured and erratic. Until my heart beat so fast and hard I didn’t think it could beat anymore. And then I just stopped.
I sat on the concrete steps back on my front porch and focused on one thing, well two: inhaling and exhaling.
In and out.
In and out.
It took 4 km — and, yes, that damn little pill — but I finally feel settled. I am calm(-ish).
Make no mistake: anxiety stinks. Depression stinks, and the associated fear, uncertainty, despair, dread, sadness, self-loathing and doubt? It all stinks. (Sorry. I told you finding words was hard today.) But with time it passes. With medication. With meditation. With exercise. With counseling or cognitive therapy, group therapy or art therapy, pet therapy, or any other thing which gets you through.
It’s a reminder for me and for others to find what centers you. What grounds you. And what pulls you through. And when you need it, go to it. Don’t put it off. Don’t put yourself down, and don’t feel like a pill is giving up. Don’t feel like taking “me time” is giving in. Take a moment and just breathe.
Try to remember to breathe.