Living on the Edge with Anxiety

Anxiety is always there for me. It’s usually a dull roar in the back of my head that I control most of the time. Sometimes that dull roar morphs into this obnoxious monster from hell banging around in the front of my skull until I acknowledge it. Oh, hi, hello little anxiety monster. Welcome back. I can’t say that I missed you, but cool, I’ll make up the guest room for you. Would you like a beer?

Not all anxiety looks the same either. When anxiety comes tip-toeing back into our world, some people are forced to turn inward, shutting off completely from the outside world. That’s totally me. Other people might physically feel like there’s a hydraulic press on their chest forcing the air out of their lungs. Some go into full blown panic mode where their heart races, they can’t sit still and rational decisions…? Yeah, bye. It feels like the anxiety monster is chasing you through a post-nuclear apocalyptic world while your pants are on fire. Been there, done that, bought a t-shirt for it.

Self-help types tell you to meditate which is fine and dandy. If it works for you, that’s fantastic. More power to you. But not all anxiety looks the same so not all methods of self-care will look the same. As a total sidebar, I’m calling a spade a spade - meditation is basically a light nap. When you sit in a dark room for thirty minutes with your eyes closed thinking about clouds and rivers and shit, it’s a damn nap. And for me, meditating/naps doesn’t work. I don’t care what anyone tells me. I’ve tried it and my answer is nope, not helpful.

Over the years, I’ve matured into my anxiety and through a lot of practice, I learned how to hit the volume control on that dull roar. When this little monster is acting like a damn fool and creeping back to the front of my head, I can take it by the hand like it’s a drunk friend, promise it snacks and lead it back to where it came from most of the time. I’m not perfect at this thing by any means – it still gets the best of me sometimes.

Let’s take last week for example. I had a whole lot of shit going on: a blog launch, a break up and some uncomfortable changes at work. We’re going to look at the blog launch for example though. We’ll discuss break ups in future posts.

Let me tell you. Launching a blog is absolutely terrifying which is why it took me this long to do it. I think we all want to be accepted on some level no matter what our medium is and writing has always been a deeply personal piece of who I am. I have hard drives filled with stories and novel ideas that I’ve never shared with another soul. Writing is personal because storylines fill my head all the time and I have to put them down on paper or else they get trapped (that might not make sense, but that’s how my brain works). When these storylines are born, I want to be proud of what I put into the ethers and I want other people to like it. I can admit that. I expect perfection from myself and it’s what I assume other people expect too.

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I lamented over this blog last week with some deep anxiety, but I pushed through it anyways.

Here are a few techniques I use these days: 

I accept that this is who I am. Some of the coolest, most influential people I know live right on the edge of sanity. And if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. It’s okay to be me. It’s okay to deal with this. If other people judge me for it, they can kick rocks down the road. My friends and family support and love me and it’s not in spite of my challenges, but because of them. I’m really lucky to have the friends that I do. I isolated myself last week from the rest of the world, but a couple of my best friends pitched in to get a bouquet of daisies for me. They knew I was stressed and those flowers broke down the wall I built around myself and let some light in.  

I also stopped ignoring the anxiety. If ignoring shit was an Olympic sport, I’d win every single time. Like triple gold medalist – I’d be a star on People magazine. However, I’m trying to get better at acknowledging issues. And so I’ve started to challenge my anxiety with questions. First and foremost, why is it here right now? Understanding myself is a continuum, not a destination. As human beings we evolve over time. We mature, we grow up and we encounter new experiences that humble us. I suspect that there might be something new in my subconscious that’s the culprit for all this. Last week’s anxiety when I asked it? The fear of failure. And where does this stem from? My fear of failure is actually a manifestation of self-doubt. 

Ding, ding, ding.

Now that I knew where my anxiety was coming from, I asked myself “what if”. This is a whole new tactic for me.

What if I fail?

What if it’s not perfect?

What if I can’t write? Cause the writer’s block can be real for me.

What if no one likes it?

The answer for almost every what if scenario permutation is exactly the same. If I fail or mess this up, the blog is just another millennial’s attempt to express themselves and it gets logged into internet history, forgotten about and I go back to *gasp* not blogging. Nothing happens. It’s not that heavy. And if it’s not perfect? Oh, the fuck well. It won’t ever be perfect, but I get to learn some really cool shit, engage with other really neat people and practice writing with my own voice. 

I still need to work on the whole self-doubt thing. That's a new revelation that I'm trying to wrap my head around. In the meantime, I've got some more self-exploration to do. What'd I say about this being a continuum and not a destination? :) 

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Remember, lovelies, to always be kind to yourself and its okay to live on the edge. You're probably the coolest motherfucker around.