Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dear Diary :: Anxiety

I've dealt with anxiety most of my life.  At times it can be hard to stop and breathe, and remember that 'this too shall pass'.  Sometimes you can't get out of your own head no matter what you do. It's a smothering, suffocating, all encompassing, crippling feeling. I hate it. It makes me feel weak and lost.

The extrovert side of me is a people pleaser.  I think most of my anxiety attacks happen because I'm trying to please EVERYONE all the time.  While the introvert side of me tends to try to cocoon myself and spend quality, quiet time alone. That's what keeps my anxiety attacks at bay. I enjoy and am comfortable being alone.

I've learned in my short time here on earth that you can't please everyone all the time.  You have to make yourself happy.  This sounds really easy in theory, but it's really not.  I constantly end up worrying that someone is "mad" at me for not coming to their party or not doing them a favor.  It really puts me in what I like to call 'anxiety city' mode. Sometimes I worry until I'm sick about it.  I've learned that saying no is almost always my best bet though.  If I say yes to something I don't want to do, I get anxiety about it.  Then, when it's time to do the thing, I am filled with dread about having to do something I don't really want to do.  It's a vicious cycle.  In reality, most people will tell you no (without feeling bad about it) if they don't want to do something.  Why should it be any different for me?

I also worry about people taking what I say the wrong way. I'm sort of dorky/socially awkward.  Sometimes hours after I've been at a party or public function I start to worry about things I've said.  I wonder, "Did _______ get offended when I said that?"  Or, "Did they think I was acting weird?"  Now I'd like to think that this kind of behavior stems from insecurity, but most people that know me in person know that I'm not insecure.  I'm a pretty knowledgeable person, with strong morals and I know what I want out of life.  So maybe I'm just neurotic?  In fact I often tell my brother I'm neurotic when we're having heart to hearts about things.  He just laughs and tells me to calm down.

As a child I was very shy, although, you wouldn't know it now.  I'm comfortable talking in public, I have a pretty nice clientele at the salon and I don't have a problem telling people how it is.  But, maybe this is a factor.  Maybe hair dressing forced me to get out of the shy box, which in turn created anxiety for me?  I think it did.  I remember being so afraid (anxiety city for sure) to walk to the front of the salon and call my client's name out loud.  But the more I did it, and the more I dealt with unfamiliar people, the more comfortable I was with it. Hence, the anxiety about it went away.

Anxiety can be managed.  It takes a lot of work, and a lot of cognitive therapy.  You have to tell yourself not to sweat the small stuff. You have to look at yourself honestly and understand where your anxiety is coming from.  Most of the time it's fear rearing it's ugly head.  Having to deal with different situations that you're not used to (or don't like) will definitely cause anxiety.  People are going to like you if they want to, and I can promise you there will almost always be someone that doesn't.  You can't let the anxiety about it take over your life and ruin your day.

Honestly, I'm feeling A LOT of anxiety about publishing this post.  I know why too. I'm not used to sharing such intimate details about myself here. I also don't want anyone judging me or disliking me for being honest and real.  I want to be real with you.  I don't want people thinking that I don't have problems.  We all have problems, whether we like it or not. Like I said earlier, I'm hoping that writing about personal stuff will eventually rid me of my anxiety about publishing it. I also do it because maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there that needs to know that they're not the only one going through this.

Be strong and stare your anxiety problems (and fears) in the face.  Challenge yourself to let certain things roll off your back.  I guarantee that the more you face your fears, the less anxiety you'll have. I'm working on mine as I type.


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