To my anxiety:
I know you better now. Back in the day, you hit me like an unexpected wave that knocked me down in the ocean. The summer morning I woke up, unable to sleep and scared out of my mind for no reason, is a day I will never forget.
I have mistaken you for depression, a heart attack, general nervousness and so, so much more.
You have stolen months out of my life, caused me to fight a vicious cycle of depression, to lose countless hours of sleep, and to second-guess every decision I made in 2014. I used to blame you for my failed relationship, and thought I had no control over how you made me feel and what you made me do.
But then, something changed.
I made a choice — to become empowered, aware and alert. I learned the difference between anxiety and depression. I researched the symptoms and causes of anxiety. And I learned to see the signs and the ways in which you manifest.
Today, I can feel you creeping up on me from time to time ... when I start a new project at work, when I have to stand up to my coworkers and boss, when I start writing that chapter of my book.
I know what that heavy feeling in my shoulders, and what the jolts that cause me to flinch mean. It’s you, creeping up on me, to steal precious moments of peace.
To keep you in check and still thrive, I make sure I clear my schedule and rest if you really run me to the ground. I make sure I meditate daily, whether it is in the form of actual meditation, talking to a friend or therapist, or reflecting on my thoughts. I make sure I continue running and practicing yoga weekly, for those are my therapeutic exercises.
I also make sure to disregard that voice in my head you like to team up with that tells me I am not good enough, and will never amount to anything. I make sure to remind myself that just because my energy is limited in the current moment, that does not mean it will always be.
One of the most important things I do to defeat you, is practice forgiveness. Specifically, self-forgiveness.
I forgive myself for losing the precious relationship that became toxic partly due to your presence. I forgive myself for not progressing with my goals as fast as I had hoped, because defeating you and your in partner-in-crime, depression, was and is my biggest success.
Equally important, in order to defeat your negative impact on my life, I thank you and make you a friend, daily. For without you, I would never know how strong I am. I would never know that there is help out there and that strangers can be so kind. I would never know the simple fact that everyone goes through similar struggles, for we are all human.
Thanks to you and your PIC, depression, I was able to reach a place where I can feel true contentment. Dealing with your impact on my life has caused me to learn who my true friends are, and we have bonded more than ever. After escaping your clutches, I learned that life is so, so, beautiful on the other side.
Better yet, I can help others get to the other side.
Thank you anxiety, thank you depression. You allowed me to feel sunshine in a wasteland.
Edited by Jody Smith