I’ve dealt with anxiety my entire life. I didn’t have a name for it until college. I used to think that I was just sensitive (a word often used to describe me) and that I was just prone to overreact (another word used in conjunction with my emotions).
My sophomore year of college was a breaking point for me. I was under so much external stress that my mental health started to crumble. I was irritable, absolutely exhausted, started to have serious negative thoughts, began to isolate myself, and lashed out at friends. I was turning into a person I no longer wanted to be. So, I sought help. I had a doctor’s appointment coming up and decided, “I’m going to tell her.” At this point in my life I really didn’t know anything about healthy coping mechanisms, talk therapy, or even medications.
So, when the time came around, I sat on the stiff, paper-clad bed in the exam room while my stomach threatened to jump out of me through my throat. My hands were sweating and I just waited for the question, “how are you?”
“I think I have anxiety,” I blurted. To this day I am thankful for how she reacted to my outburst. She took a second to respond and looked genuinely sympathetic (not the sympathetic that makes you rage internally).
I remember her saying, “Okay, would you like me to set you up with a therapist?” I responded, “sure.” She nodded.
“Would you want to try medication?” I responded, “yes” and nodded eagerly. She nodded again, just once.
“Okay. I’m going to put you on Celexa. It’s actually for depression but helps a lot of people with anxiety. We’ll start you at 10 milligrams which is half a pill a day.”
I finally took a breath. My shoulders slumped and my stomach went back to its rightful place.
She continued to explain that things may get worse after starting the medication but after about a month they would level out and it would become better.
Get worse they did.
A week after starting the medication I would cry uncontrollably. I couldn’t even help it. The only thing I felt like doing was lying in bed. It did get better though. After about a month or so I felt better. I felt relief. I also felt like I had something backing me up. The medication felt, and still feels, like a tool I can use to conquer my anxious thoughts. It didn’t get rid of my anxiety. But it felt like I wasn’t trying to deal with it alone. I had help from this tiny little salmon-colored pill.
Did I go to therapy? No. I didn’t. I called the number my doctor gave me once and got a voicemail box. I left a voicemail but never got a call back. Bad practice for a mental health office, but I could’ve called back myself. I was just scared. I didn’t want to talk to someone. I just wanted to learn how to deal with it myself. I didn’t want to rely on anyone else. Now, at twenty-two I realize that it’s not a bad thing to talk to someone. It helps in more ways than one. I have thought about going to therapy now and I may in the future. But right now I am the happiest I’ve ever been. However, talk therapy might help me stay that way.
There are a few things I do to help my anxiety. I must note that anxiety is more than rocking back and forth and crying. It’s irritability, isolation, exhaustion and numerous other examples.
You’re either going to love this or roll your eyes. I know. You’ve seen it before. But this is something I do–especially before I go to bed. My favorite diffuser mix for anxiety is: 3 drops frankincense, 3 drops lavender, 3 drops peppermint. I also put lavender on my chest and neck sometimes if I’m feeling really anxious. It’s a very calming smell. And I now relate it to feeling calm.
This is something I’ve always done without even knowing it was helping. I’ve always, always loved a good cup of tea. My favorites for anxiety are:
Either you’ve seen this and you love it or went, “WTF?” I love it. I watch it before bed when I feel like I won’t be able to sleep. If you decide to check this out and you’re thinking “this is weird” the whole time that’s okay. Repetitive movements and sounds really help me relax. Watch with headphones only or the effect is just not there. If you just type in ASMR on YouTube a lot will come up but my favorite channels are:
When I feel like I can’t handle things and need immediate help I go to Youper. It’s a free app that acts as a “chat room” (with a computer) and walks you through your thoughts. It makes you set your intentions and gives you meditations and deep breathing techniques that can really help.
Get it here.