To start: I'm blogging from Martha's Vineyard! I arrived yesterday and so far it has been great catching up with family and friends and overall being in a place that has always been a sanctuary for my mental health.
This past New Year's Day I was driving to the Vineyard for the weekend and ended up in a horrific car accident just 45 min from the ferry boat.
Being a 17 year old and having this be the farthest I would have yet to drive, my mom had good reasons to question my anxiety with my accident and when I would get back on the road again.
This trip, I did not drive, but I was ready for it. My mom was willing to meet my grandmother halfway instead. Looking at how far I've come this year (for many reasons) it feels good to see how I am prepared for a challenge. I know that I can handle the drive, I had just ended up in an unfortunate circumstance before. I know that it will be easier for me once I am able to prove to myself I can do it. Which I will :-) Maybe next trip..
I was thinking about "advice" to give about things I've learned from suffering with anxiety. The first thing that came to mind was: speaking up when I am anxious.
As I have mentioned in other posts, as a kid I hated to ask for help. I hated to complain, and I always wanted to appear tough and in control. My anxiety was a wimpy embarrassment to me.
I realize at this point in my life how people handle their anxieties in different ways. Someone close to me expresses her anxiety in an outward panic. She repeatedly talks about her fears- out loud, where as I am known to hold things in and run over my worrisome thoughts in my head.
No way is better than the other.
I'll call it "verbal" and "thought" anxiety just for my own comparison..
Pros: Speaking up, getting attention and understanding from others
Cons: By speaking through only worries, it is hard to stop and allow yourself to calm down or convince yourself you will be okay.
Pros: By being quiet you are also fighting it. You may be anxious, but at the same time you are trying very hard to be okay.
Cons: You are holding it in, and that is hurting you much more.
Either way, if you handle your anxiety in an obsessive "internal" fashion, or an obsessive "external" presentation, it is important that you speak up.
What I find is a major contradiction.
It helps tremendously when I talk about worries. When someone else is aware, it brings me comfort, even if nothing is becoming solved. I want support, I want someone to know I am struggling so that a weight is off my shoulders and my anxiety will lessen at the fact that I don't have to try so hard to appear okay.
The contradiction comes along with who you present your worries to.
Anyone with anxiety knows someone that helps or hurts their illness, whether those people intend to or not.
We have all experienced the "just snap out of it" "it's all in your head" "Just calm down" "You have nothing to be freaking out about."
Those comments can lead us to feel we are annoying, crazy, and that our feelings are invalid.
But we know that what we need most is support, and in a weird way our anxious blabber that we throw on others- helps us.
So what do we do?
What I've learned in my "struggle moments" is that certain people can handle it perfectly, and certain people just can't. That's okay. I have anxiety and I still don't understand it, so how can I expect others to understand what I'm going through as well?
Acceptance is key. Accept your struggle. Accept you are doing the best you can.
By doing this, you will be less likely to shut down when a comment is made with such little support.
So a message from me, your fellow anxious friend: It is okay to be afraid to be speak up, but don't let that stop you. You may worry about annoying others, or worry about what they will think of you. If you want to babble your anxious worries in the present moment to help yourself, go for it.
I have discovered support that I never knew I could have, just by opening up about my biggest insecurities.
Anxiety occurs in everyone's life at times. However, anxiety disorders can lead you to feel ashamed with yourself.
You should talk about your anxiety because you aren't alone, and you will definitely realize that the more you speak up. You should talk about your anxiety because you never know what help could come along.
I am not suggesting this because it was easy for me, I am suggesting this because it was beneficial.
Don't hold back from babbling away, asking for help, letting someone know when you "can't", and speaking up about your fears.
We can only hold on to so much. It can only help a little, if we share a little.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.