Drama queen has been my personal description for as long as I can remember.
I am an emotional person. I am also sensitive. These two things are not synonymous. My emotions are right at the surface, and I do not have thick skin. I have always been this way.
I’ve been experiencing anxiety lately. Actually, I am certain that I have had anxiety almost all of my life.
After suffering an abrupt and excruciating end to a tumultuous relationship, my anxiety reached an all-time high. Now, over a year later, I still experience flashbacks and anxiety attacks when faced with certain triggers. Despite the fact that I have largely, and in every way imaginable, moved on with my life (career, boyfriend, apartment, etc.), my anxiety remains.
I come by it naturally. (It’s a nature over nurture kind of thing). My mom once told me that I reminded her of my grandma—she had a flair for the dramatic. She was excitable and had mood swings. I have been that way too, for as long as I can remember. I have always just accepted it as who I am.
At the age of 30 I decided I would no longer accept it—that I could be better if I tried hard enough.
It’s a daily struggle. Sometimes I win; sometimes I don’t. It can be exhausting. The constant introspection and repeated attempts to control emotional impulses is harder work than you might think, but it’s so necessary.
So now, I’m doing something about it (or trying to), and this is what I’ve discovered:
1. Anxiety is a real thing.
It seems everyone and their dog claims to be anxious these days, but it is not a new phenomenon. It is not trendy; it is simply more accepted—more talked about now than before. I’m a big advocate for mental health awareness, and it seems more and more people are becoming vocal about it. Together we’re chipping away at the stigma associated with mental illness. Go us!
2. Mindfulness and meditation are worthwhile.
These are not novel concepts like popular culture would have us believe. I’ve read books and attended seminars on both of these things. Mindfulness is a practice; so is meditation. The same way that we make time to go to the gym or meet a friend for coffee is the way we should make time to take care of our mental health. That’s not to say I’m constantly mindful (I’m not) or that I meditate every single day (I don’t), but I try. I make time.
It’s a different way to take care of yourself, and it’s as vital to our health as drinking plenty of water and getting a good night’s sleep. Look for seminars or workshops in your area and find a friend to go with. You might find it more beneficial than you think.
3. It’s okay to ask for help.
Often this is where judgement begins and where the stigma originates. (In fact, sharing this piece of the puzzle with readers makes me nervous. And it shouldn’t!) I’ve done my research, and by all accounts I’ve learned that anxiety is a symptom of a neurological condition—it starts in the brain. I don’t claim to understand all the inner workings of a human mind or the biology behind it, but I trust science. That’s not to say medication is the answer (there is no miracle pill for anxiety), but it helps manage the symptoms.
For me, help looks like this: anxiety medication, psychologist visits and support from friends and family. All of these things, in addition to practicing mindfulness and meditation, are necessary to overcome anxiety.
I am by no means an expert on anxiety, but I experience it every day, and being able to name it has helped me tremendously. It has allowed me to take a step back, observe it and attempt to manage it.
Your anxiety will probably look different than mine. Do your homework, draw your own conclusions and find out what works for you.
To all my fellow anxious friends, anxiety is a human thing; it is not who we are. It does not define us, and it does not have to control our lives, either. We can take back control. We are not alone in this battle; we are in this together.
Author: Lindsay Brun
Assistant Editor: Carlotta Luis / Editor: Toby Israel