Five things you can see, four things you can physically feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. If you’ve ever had to use these grounding skills, firstly I’m sorry and secondly, this one is an ode to you.
Coming from someone who was first diagnosed with Anxiety in the third grade, let me tell you it’s been rough. The constant feeling of regretting every decision I’ve ever made, obsessing over small interactions I’ve had in passing, and the results or reparations of my actions is tiring. Actually, it’s not just tiring, it’s exhausting. I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember and the most frustrating part is that it never seems to get any easier.
If you know me, or get to know me personally, you’ll understand that I’m a very open book. It’s part of my nature to be a storyteller, as well as exhibit outstanding candor about myself and my personal experiences. However, usually after talking to someone about my experiences and showing them that part of my personality, I instantly regret it. I often think I come across too strong, and that people won’t like me if they get to know me. All of this irrational reasoning is due to my anxiety and slowly over time I’ve come to realize that.
I’ve always been a huge people person, a social butterfly if you will, and college handicapped that aspect of my nature. I don’t know if it was moving to a completely new town, with new people and leaving the comfort of my quiet hometown, but something changed. I remember last year I was scared to talk to people, and completely out of my element. I didn’t know anyone, and honestly I only talked to my roommate after forcing her to become my friend. However, it sent me spiraling into everything I thought I was doing wrong. I was so unfair to myself just because I would overthink things. My anxiety has also put a tremendous amount of strain on relationships in the past, both platonic and romantic. I just never really understood why my brain was wired to think the way it was and I hated myself for it. I always dug myself deeper into a hole and convinced myself there was something wrong with me.
Up until recently, I haven’t worked on forgiving myself for placing unnecessary stress upon myself. For multiple personal reasons I started going back to therapy, and if you’re scared to get help, take it from me and just do it. Anxiety wasn’t the only issue I started going for, but it’s one of the central reasons as to why my therapist is rightfully concerned about me sometimes. I never thought I’d be able to forgive myself for anxiety-related issues as well as others, but I’m working on it and I’m so proud of myself.
Firstly, it’s not your fault if you’re wired the way I am. No matter who you are, no matter what age, gender, sexuality or ethnicity, your mental health is important. YOU are important. I’ve learned how to better ground myself when going through a panic attack, which can take physical forms such as shaking and sweating, and can even make me throw up if bad enough. I’ve learned how to let things go instead of dwelling on them and dragging myself down. I’m still learning new coping mechanisms and how to destress myself as well. It hasn’t been an easy road and it won’t be in its continuance, but I’m glad that I started working on it for myself.
Anxiety manifests in different ways for everyone, but it is a mental illness that can and will make your life miserable if you don’t know how to cope with it. You owe yourself the help you deserve, and you don’t owe anything to anyone that may stand in your way. I’ve had to put my personal relationships on pause, set new boundaries, and do the same for academics and work. It may be stressful at first but I promise it is so worth it to work on yourself and to become a better, healthier version of you. You can forgive yourself, you can get help and you can live with Anxiety. I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago, and I thrive off the motivation that gives me to go even further. I owe it to myself to forgive, and forget, as well as unpacking my baggage while moving forward.