The Beauty in Anxiety

I came across this picture when I google image searched anxiety. I’m sure if I could be bothered and followed the links I could find out who created this beauty, but that requires effort and I seem to be lacking it right now #soz. I find this image breathtakingly beautiful. I have so much to say about it and yet I am lost for words. It encapsulates the very essence of anxiety for me.

 

It’s beautiful.

It’s raw.

It’s fitting.

It’s dark.

It’s vulnerable.

It’s anxiety.

It’s me.

 

Anxiety strips you naked and makes you more vulnerable than you ever thought you could be. You are never ready for this kind of vulnerability, it’s haunting, it’s all consuming, on your mind every second of every day, hiding in the shadows, ready to pounce and strip you down when you least expect it. You can’t escape it, you are on edge, waiting for that very moment you know so well, the one you have been trying to hide from the world, the one you don’t understand. The pit in your stomach, the unease in your step, the racing heart, the trembling body, the violent tears streaming down your face, the exploding fear, the panic pumping through your veins. This is the moment you are most vulnerable and this is the moment that you are the definition of pure strength. This is where you rise, knowing full well that it may happen again but you know that you can and have survived it. You are a warrior. A beautiful vulnerable warrior.

I find so much beauty in vulnerability. Call me crazy but to me, showing someone that you are vulnerable, showing them all of you, taking your mask off, showing them you are human, you hurt, cry, feel, bleed and grow like everyone else is how we truly connect with others. And isn’t that the greatest part of life, forming these amazing connections and bonds with others. Sharing moments with people who love you and understand your brand of weird, quirky and oddness, with no judgment. You are free to be truly you with these people, no hiding, no masks, no behaviour altering, no constant stress of formulating the correct words to say. You are free to be you, dripping little bits of you everywhere you go. Sharing with the world that the most beautiful thing you can be is confident in who you. You are free, you are beautiful, you are loved.

Anxiety makes your brain feel like it’s bleeding, pouring out information, thoughts, unwanted feelings, incessant worry. It’s overwhelming. You plead with your mind to stop for a little relief so that you can catch your breath. You patch it up as best you can for as long as your mind allows you. With each piece of your mind that you share you begin to feel lighter, you can feel some of the anxiety dripping away, you can breathe with ease again. But as great as it is to share your mind, freeing yourself from some of the heaviness, you still feel a sense of burden sharing it, no matter how comfortable you are with that person or how much you know they love you. That is the very nature of anxiety. The self doubt, the questioning of everything you have ever said or done constantly hanging over your head.

 

 

How I reduce my Anxiety

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I do a lot of talking about my feelings and what anxiety looks like to me. I thought I would share some of the things that I do when I get anxious to reduce my anxiety levels. I have different strategies for different levels. I usually just wing it and do what feels right in that moment. A lot of the hard work is determining what the cause of the anxiety is, I’m usually pretty good at working it out but sometimes, I get stumped and just have to remove myself from the situation.

Slow Controlled Breathing – This is my number one strategy, no matter the level of my anxiety. I always slow down, take a minute to take a few deep, controlled breaths. I find that stopping and taking time to control my breathing helps me acknowledge my anxiety and what I need to do next to reduce it’s hold on me. It also helps to reduce my heart rate, so a panic attack has less chance of rearing its ugly head.

Making lists – when I’m restless and I can’t stop moving around, it’s usually because I have a lot of ‘to do’ tasks on my mind. So I take myself away from all stimulation so that I can write down what I want to do and how I will achieve those things. I have multiple ‘to do’ lists separated into different categories. Other wise my to do list would be huge and I would get overwhelmed just looking at it. At the moment I have an exercise/health list, a home improvement list (and a folder of pictures on my phone), a blog improvement list and a list of other miscellaneous tasks that I would like to achieve.

Brain dump – This has been my lifesaver for those Deer in headlights moments. Basically when I’m so overwhelmed I’m about to have a breakdown. This is a document on my computer where I just write everything that comes to mind. I write down exactly what I’m thinking when I think of it, so it’s often in a nonsensical trail. This really helps me to explore the cause of my anxiety and what triggered it and how I would like to move forward. Sometimes I use the notes app on my phone if I don’t have my computer.

Exercise – This is just a general maintenance strategy for a healthy brain and body. I do notice that I am slightly more on edge when I don’t exercise. If I don’t exercise for a long period of time I quickly fall into what I like to call ‘the sads’, basically a mild depressive state. I get quite negative about everything and its tricky to call myself out on it. So it’s pretty important that I exercise regularly to keep the endorphins running through my brain.

Cleaning/Tidying/Culling – I kind of go into auto pilot mode and my brain just thinks what It needs to think whilst I concentrate on a task. I don’t really get the chance to focus on a thought, the thought just kind of floats through the space. I acknowledge that thought and continue with my cleaning task. I guess my brain likes doing this as cleaning the physical side of things somehow helps me to gain more clarity in my mind.

I guess those 5 are the ones that I rely on the most when my mate anxiety is laying it on thick. Other times when I’m restless or just feeling a little off I might read, colour in, watch a funny show or movie (get me smiling and laughing to improve my mood), read affirmations & positive posts (to help give me some inspiration and strength), have a cup of tea or maybe book in a float. Your turn, what do you do to dull the noise of your anxiety?

 

Current Feels

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I’ve been feeling my anxiety hanging around lately. I’m finding it a little hard to breathe some nights. My throat feels swollen, my air restricted. I have been restless. I’m finding it hard to get to sleep. I’ve got a lot going on in my mind but not a lot happening in my outside world. I’m currently unemployed and this really sucks, not only for the lack of cash money, but I function better when I’m in routine and taking the main part of my routine out sure doesn’t help me. There is only so much Netflix and Internet that you can trawl through before your brain turns to mush. I’m almost as brain mush stage. Not working has taken away my social interactions that I would normally have throughout the day. My mind isn’t challenged, so it’s left to wander and trust me, right now this is not what I need.

I’m focusing a little too much on all things negative, it’s hard not to. The old self doubt and blame has crept in. I feel terrible that I am unable to contribute to my household financially. I feel like I have failed George. I feel that he is judging me when he comes home and I’m on the couch, where I have been most of the day binge watching Netflix (let me know if you need any recommendations). He isn’t judging me at all. He gets how I’m feeling. I’m judging myself. The thoughts that I am hearing are just brutal. I’m finding it harder to call myself out on them. My mind is twisting thoughts and overanalyzing the little human interactions that I do have. It’s a bit of a nightmare.

It also doesn’t help that George and I are both still healing from the breakup I threw at him a while ago. I am not proud of it. I was hurting and had been for months. I was blaming George for it, forgetting to look at, well focusing less on what was happening in our lives and what difficulties/stresses we were facing. My efforts to improve the quality of our relationship were getting me nowhere and I took George’s lack of communication/action as disinterest in me and the relationship. I just ran with that, my mind was stuck on it and I couldn’t shake it. I felt myself shutting down and withdrawing from him. He could sense it too. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared to feel and to be in a position where I could hurt more than I was.

Some time apart and many conversations later we have begun to build us back together. I feel guilty for bringing so much pain to both of us. I am angry with George for his inactivity and lack of communication. He knows this and is working on it. I was not prepared for the pain of the healing and rebuilding, the vulnerability we have to surrender to. This has been one of the hardest things that I have put myself through. As shitty as it was, it felt right at the time and I understand why I did it. I know now that I should have handled it differently. Oh hindsight you magnificent thing you.

All this spare time that I have found myself with has got me questioning absolutely everything. This is normal for me, but it’s a hell of a lot louder now that there is nothing to distract it with. I’m conflicted with many things and I’m scared to talk about them for fear of a second shit storm appearing. I’m trying to allow myself the space that I need to heal and process the last few months. I may have allowed myself too much space as I have fallen into the self pity and misery pit. An all too familiar place for me. But don’t you worry, I will find my way out again.

This particular post has been hard for me to share and I have written a million different versions, but this one feels right.  I share my hard times in the hopes that it helps me to heal and that it might be something that others can relate to and know that they are not alone in their struggles. We all struggle, we all have dark times. It’s just that not many people talk about them and how they get through, for fear of being shamed or judged, which often makes it harder to talk about, further driving our feelings of being alone in our struggles.

On a positive note, I’ve been given the okay from my physio to get back into the gym (back injury. Vomit), so ill be dealing with my overwhelmed, overthinking, questioning, anxious mess of a brain by getting back in the gym. Getting me some endorphins love those guys). Giving myself some routine, writing more, reading more, clearing out my closet, practicing my interior decorating skills by taking screen shots of everything I see, adding everything to my online cart and then closing the browser before I accidentally type in my credit card details and it shows up at my door.

Body Love & Acceptance

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I thought that I would expand on my Instagram post about body love and acceptance a little more to give you an idea of what it was like for me.

I was 10 the first time I remember hearing that there was something ‘not right’ with my body. I cant remember exactly what my Aunt said to my Dad about my weight but I do remember that when I heard it I felt ashamed of my body and embarrassed that I wasn’t as small as other girls my age. I just wanted to curl up and cry. Every time I see the picture that was taken at that moment, I can still feel the sting of those words. I get so worked up and mad, no child should ever hear that there is something wrong with their body. I also remember a few family members saying that I wasn’t fat I was just big boned. This is bullshit guys, can we not say this to people, especially children. I really wish that I had never heard any of those comments. These comments paved the way for me to think that there was something wrong with my body and that I needed to change it to fit in.

In high school I always compared myself to the ‘popular’ girls. I would beg my parents to buy things like they had in the hopes that it would make me cool and people would pay attention to me and I would be accepted. I desperately pleaded with my body to just be skinny. High school is all about being liked and accepted and I get how important that is when you are in the middle of it. I just wish that it wasn’t about that. I remember overhearing one day that a boy didn’t like me because I was fat and my friend was hot because she was skinny. This crushed me. I didn’t think I was fat. I just felt awkward in my body that was growing, like I’m sure most teens do. What I didn’t like is feeling that I was less than someone else because of the way that I looked. The person who made the comment actually had no idea who I was and knew nothing about me. So it really threw me off that they decided they didn’t like me because of the way that I looked and then compared me to someone else. We were two different people. These comments and the million more I have heard about me and others have contributed to me struggling with my body image and self-confidence. They have made me doubt myself, think less of myself, make me think I wasn’t good enough and drive me to always compare myself to others.

The Internet wasn’t so prominent when I was young and trying to figure out who I was and it absolutely scares the shit outta me just how destructive it can be today. My ideas of what’s real sure as shit get blurred. Even with my adult brain that knows most of what is on there is absolute bullshit and those girls and guys on there promoting their #healthylifestyle #blessed #feelintothismoney #allnaturalwithallthismakeuponbutitsallnatural focuses way too long on the picture and gets sucked into the self doubt. I often catch myself thinking, oh if I just had hair like that, if I just had fake boobs, if I just ran into a bit of money or if I just changed this I could get the things that I want and life the lifestyle I want. Get fucked, please. That is exactly what I don’t like about social media. I don’t like that it makes me question myself, I don’t like that it tricks me into thinking that I need to change myself physically to be happy.

It has taken me a long time to get to where I am today. There has been a lot of self-hating, a lot of binge eating and punishing myself by over exercising. I had established a really unhealthy relationship with food, using it as a reward, using it when I was sad, happy and pretty much all of the emotions I have ever felt. There was no magic cure to being comfortable with my body; it has taken time, mistakes and a lot of growth. I also got sick of letting the things I heard get to me, making me feel like shit. I was sick of being in a destructive cycle with myself. I also started to have intolerances to some foods which led me to seek out nutritional help and learn more about food so that I would have enough information to make better decisions for my body. It also helped me to understand where my feelings were coming from and why I was feeling them. Making the connection that our brains and bellies are so intricately intertwined really helped me too. I began to listen to my body and really notice which foods made it feel healthy, nourished and happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning and I make mistakes, I don’t have it all worked out. I still eat too much of some foods and make myself feel unwell at times, but it’s okay. I am much kinder to myself and my body, which makes me a lot happier and more confident with taking life on. I feel that we all need to be kinder to others and ourselves. We need to change the way we think about our bodies and the way we think about others. We need to change the language we use when we talk about ourselves and others. What our body looks like is NOBODY else’s business. NOBODY has the right to comment about our appearance uninvited. Words hurt people like you wouldn’t believe and you have no idea how long these words will stay around and affect others. So don’t be a dick. Be kind, always.

 

 

 

Hey there old mate Anxiety.

The last few days (maybe a week now) I have been feeling anxious. I have felt old mate anxiety sitting in my throat, threatening to make a full blown appearance. Look mate, you are either going to do it or your not. Make up your mind. This neither here nor there shit aint helpful, it’s very frustrating and I am NOT a very patient person so this is not working for me.

It started a few days ago,  I could feel my throat starting to close over and my body felt uncomfortable almost like it wanted out of its skin. I took a few deep breaths, acknowledged it and carried on. That seemed to be okay. I made a mental note to myself why I thought I was feeling anxious and what actions I needed to take to feel in control again. I validated my thoughts and plan for moving forward. Knowing very well that I might need to feel a little uncomfortable until I get on top of it all again.

THEN over the weekend I had a little baby moment. George and I were grocery shopping on a Sunday (don’t do it, worst day!). There were a lot of people in the area that I was standing in. They didn’t have the chicken that I liked and I just kinda lost it. I got overwhelmed. All the anxiousness from the last few days took this opportunity to pop out. I was uncomfortable because there was so many people in my space and they were just too close to me. I didn’t know what I was going to make for lunches because I don’t like any of the other chicken that they sell. I told George that I was uncomfortable and there were too many people around. My body must have been showing some different signs to my head (slightly more panicky than what my head was doing). He suggested that I go and get a coffee and he will finish the shopping (nice guy right?) and I said I don’t want a coffee (I must have snapped at him) because he then raised his arms in frustration at me. Straw. Camels back. Broken. After a few words said out of stubbornness and frustration, I left, sat outside and had a little cry to myself. I don’t really know what I thought about, I just sat there and the world passed by. I was sad. I was sad that I frustrated him, I was sad that he lost it at me for something that I have little control over. I was sad that I didn’t react very well. I was sad that I couldn’t participate in life and do a normal thing like grocery shopping. I had been fine the last few million shops. Just not that particular Sunday.

The last few days at work have been rough. I have felt my anxiety sitting in my throat trying to choke me and let out a panic attack. Work has been busy and a bit stressful but I feel that this is because I am in a new position, I’m still learning how to make it work. So I think that all the little balls of anxiety that I have had over the last few days have started hanging out with each other and made a mega ball. I took the morning off work today, to let my brain relax and do what it needed to do. The only goal that I set myself was to go to the gym. Nothing like a good rush of endorphins to the brain to make it work better.

I am so grateful for my morning off, as it brought me some much needed calmness and strength. By doing not much at all, my brain was given the space that it needed to work out whatever in the hell is going on in there. I know it sounds so stupid but sometimes all we need is a few hours to ourselves. My mate anxiety is still around but that’s okay. I will be okay. I am strong. I am resilient. I got this.

 

This is what i know: Part 2

Part 2

I’m posting this a lot later than I intended because life got in the way. You know how it does that sometimes.

This is what I know (part two):

It’s okay to feel shit. It’s okay to have feelings. They are important. They help us function. They help keep us safe. They help us understand. You are allowed to feel whatever you want to feel and don’t let anyone else take that away from you. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to express your feelings and have someone hear them. If you need to stay in bed all weekend because your anxiety has taken a hold of you, do it. You will find your feet again. What is not okay is feeling like shit all the time and keeping it all inside, letting your feelings consume you. I urge you to find support if this is you. I have been to some very dark places thanks to my feelings. There were times where I thought they would not end. But somehow I was able to claw my way out. I still have really bad days sometimes. I’m not sure that my anxiety will ever be gone but I’m starting to think that it might be okay. You might think I’m crazy for saying that, but sometimes my anxiety helps me. It helps me be hyperaware in most situations; it helps feed in information for me to make decisions. It has also helped me tune into my body and be mindful of what it is telling me. My anxiety is as much a part of me as my dimples are when I smile.

Being stressed really does affect you physically. We need to make sure that we are looking after our minds and body. They are more connected than you might think. When I am stressed my body goes into nuclear meltdown mode. Everything I eat doesn’t sit well. I’m nauseous. I’m tired. My tolerance for everything is lowered. I eat foods that aren’t good for my body because I am too rundown to make better choices. My brain doesn’t function properly. I make silly mistakes and then beat myself up for it, because I should know better and just focus better (rolls eyes at self). My attention span is minimal and I find it hard to function. I feel like I am floating along. I forget what is said to me. I forget what I say. I turn into a zombie.

Buying clothes and shoes that are too small is never a good idea. Saying ‘oh I’m sure the shoes will stretch’ or ‘I will lose the weight’ is really not a good enough reason to buy them. I have donated so many clothes and shoes lately that I have bought when I was in that frame of mind. It only makes you feel worse for not having lost the weight you intended to lose in some silly timeframe that you gave yourself. And there are only so many times that you can wear your new shoes with thick socks to break them in before admitting defeat.

You are allowed to change your mind. This is how you grow. You don’t have to think one way for the rest of your life. I think it’s important to have an open mind. We are always learning and growing. Just don’t be a dick about it, don’t force shit down peoples throats. It’s also okay not to know and just sit back and take it in. I thought I had parts of my life mostly figured out and then one day, poof, I don’t want those things anymore. I am not sure of what I want. I’m not sure why it changed either, I feel like I lost my way a little. Or maybe this is the way that I need to be going. I’m learning to be okay with this, it’s really hard (I am trying my best not to over analyse, wish me luck). For now, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and see what comes my way.

Social media is powerful, but powerful in all the wrong ways. It can be so hard to ignore all the subtle and not so subtle messages about body image and comparing what you have with someone else. This is something that we all need to do a little less. We are all at different stages of our lives and it just doesn’t make sense to compare our chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10. Social media can be a nasty space for scared people to say horrible things through fake profiles. I don’t understand how they can do it, but I guess some people just want to watch the world burn. I am hoping that there will be more and more positive and real pages coming through to remind us of all the love and support there is out there.

There is a lot of sadness, hatred and fear in this fucked up world. There is a lot of injustice and unfairness. There will always be something out there that has the power to suck you in and bring you down to a place that you thought you would never see. Your heart will break in so many ways that you never thought were possible but it will also swell with love and happiness. There is also lot of beauty in this world, sometimes we just have to look that little bit harder through the darkness to find it. But I promise you that it is there, waiting for you to be ready to see it.

We can’t fix it all. Even though we think that we can, we cant fix everything all at once. Sometimes it takes time to sort itself out. Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom. Sometimes we need to take small steps to get to a better place. Sometimes we have to go through a lot of shit to find our way. I think that sometimes we forget that it is unhealthy to be happy all the time or to have everything perfect. We need to feel a whole range of emotions to learn how to regulate them and we need to fail a number of times before we understand how to do something properly.

Some people have opportunity fall into their laps and some people have to work 10 times harder than everyone else to get where they want to be. Both of these are okay and neither should be judged. We are all finding our way in this world, our experiences will be different. No matter which one of these people you are, remain humble. Nobody likes a prick.

The world needs more real people in it that: are not afraid to be themselves, are not afraid to speak up when something is not right, that support others with no judgment, that are accepting no questions asked. We need more people who are open and honest. It just makes it so much easier to get through life. I often worry what people will think of me and am afraid of judgment. But that quickly fades when I remember that I am surrounded by such amazing friends who just get me and love who I am. Be real and be kind that’s all I ask.

Taking a few deep breaths when you are overwhelmed really helps. I can’t even count the number of times doing this simple exercise has really helped me calm down. Breathe all the way in until your tummy is as full of air as it can get, then slowly release it. I try to imagine what it would look like to follow my breath in through my nose, down my throat and into my lungs and then back out of my body; it really helps to just focus on breathing and nothing else. Your brain is forced to just think about your breaths. I guess its like mini meditation but less effort. I’m all about a minimal effort.

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This is what i know.

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I have been trying to post blogs more regularly but I’m finding it a little hard to come up with topics that don’t feel forced. I have a few blog posts in the works but I’m just not feeling them at the moment and I don’t want to share something with you if I’m not 100% feeling it. So, I thought that I would share a few things that I have learned. Just a heads up, this might be a long one so grab a drink, get comfy and settle in. I’ll wait while you grab a drink….I’m considerate like that…. okay, ready?

This is what I know:

People are shit. I tell this to everyone in my life, especially when they have been hurt by someone’s actions. It is one of the first things that comes out of my mouth and I’m finding myself saying it more regularly. Everyone is out for themselves. There must be something in the water. I feel that this is a part of human nature; we have the ability to be kind and selfless but more often than not we say/do shitty things. It is very rare to find people who genuinely want to help you grow. But when you do, hang on for dear life and do not let them go. There is nothing wrong with being out for yourself if that’s what you choose to do, maybe just be honest about it. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather someone be straight up with me then get caught up in all the bullshit, trying to figure out what happened. It is such a waste of energy.

People don’t fucking listen. This drives me nuts. They only partially hear something you say which is often not what you want them to focus on. I honestly spend at least half of my day repeating myself to others. I understand that we all think we are so busy and have to multitask all the time because that’s what you are supposed to do. So much time and energy would be saved if we honestly just took the time and just listened to each other. I would own a small island if I got a dollar for every time the words “I just said that” fall out of my mouth. I am learning not to fire up and jump down people’s throats when I have to repeat myself. I am not responsible for what information others take in. Luckily humans love repetition so it will eventually sink in, but until then I will patiently repeat myself again and again and again. I will patiently repeat myself again and again and again. Just messing with you.

Do what you gotta do. Sometimes we just have to do what we feel is right even if it doesn’t make much sense. Sometimes we have to be selfish. Sometimes we have to say no. Sometimes we have to ask others to give us space. Sometimes we need to be alone. Sometimes we need to be all up in someone’s face asking questions so that we understand better. Sometimes we need to go and buy a new outfit to feel better. Sometimes we need to be blunt. Sometimes we need to withdraw. Sometimes we need to eat our feelings. And that is perfectly okay. This one has taken me a bloody long time to be okay with. I still struggle sometimes and stress what other people are going to think. But you know what? They are never thinking what you think they are. Your head is being a jerk. If you just ask them what they are thinking you will often find that what they are thinking is something entirely different and actually, has nothing to do with you. Even if they were judging you, who gives a fuck?! It’s just a thought, they are fleeting and often change. Plus you don’t want people in your life who judge you, you want to surround yourself with people who accept and support you.

Anxiety is a dick. It affects way too many of us. It makes functioning harder. It can destroy you if you let it. You can’t control it, but you can do many things to dull its noise. You just have to find what works for you. Anxiety is normal. There is nothing wrong with you for having it. Sometimes it’s important to feel it, to understand your triggers and reactions, to know what it feels like and come out the other side knowing that you are strong and you survived. I know that sometimes that’s easier said than done. And boy do I hate my high anxiety moments but I’m also grateful for them for some reason that I haven’t over analysed yet. I have faith that with every anxious moment I have, the stronger I become, the more I understand and the easier it will be for me to get through it. Anxiety is still a dick though.

Risking it if you are DF & GF is never worth it. I’m always saying oh it’s worth it for the little bit of chocolate or whole bag of Malteasers. You know what? It’s NOT worth it. The discomfort lasts way longer than the happiness that those treats bring. I say this now, but I can guarantee you that sometime in the next week I will eat something that with give me grief. I will never learn (in the mean time, thank god for digestive enzyme tablets).

Some days are easier than others and that is okay. It’s okay if your only achievement of the day is getting out of bed or showering. Some days it’s all about putting one foot in front of the other. Not every day has to be filled with smashing goals and taking on the world. We have to stop this bullshit thinking, its unsustainable. We cant put this kind of pressure on ourselves. We will drive ourselves into the ground. Most things take time to reach fruition. Embrace the hard days, flip those days the bird and take comfort in whatever you can to get through, knowing that tomorrow is another day. Another day to try again, another day improve, another day to get closer to where you want to be. Whatever it is, tomorrow is a fresh start. Even if tomorrow is another bad day, that’s okay too. You will get there.

I told you this was a long one and I’m not even finished! Don’t panic, I wont make you read anymore. I forgive you for stopping half way through to top up your drink.  More of what I know to come later in the week.

 

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