There I was, listening to Holocene again, for the hundredth time, for all the wrong reasons.
There I was, crying on the floor, one of the dogs across from me. She rested her paw in my hand.
And just a couple years ago, I was in my bedroom (the one I covered the walls with pretty quotes and pick-me-ups), sobbing into my hands. My baby brother was sitting there just listening. He reached for my pinky and looked at me as he held it tightly, speaking the most powerful kind of language – the kind that everyone can understand.
The present moment tears me away from memories and my mind’s distant meanderings. I am cold now. My toes are curled, and my nose feels better when I bury it in my sweater.
It’s raining, so my head hurts. The sky drenches the road in front of me, dimming my headlights. I feel dozey, so I roll the window down and tune in to what’s playing on my radio.
I couldn’t sleep last night, not for hours.
And here I am, listening once more to my melancholia playlist on my drive home.
I drive past the police station the same way I do every day and wonder if I went in and asked for a hug, just a hug, if someone would give it to me. I wonder that a lot, but I never stop.
The air suddenly bursts itself through the crack in my window, whipping my hair. I roll it down more and extend my arm out, feeling bullets of rain against my tattooed skin and I feel free and I let the tears on my cheeks dry.
For those of you who have never felt anxiety, I’ll do my best to describe it. I feel as though I’m walking across an empty land, feeling earth beneath my feet, but seeing nothing. I want to see more, to look more closely – the land must, after all, not be THAT empty. I search for life. There is nothing. I feel suffocated. When I try to reach down and lift the silt – it sifts between my fingers before I can bring it close enough to examine.
I feel as though I’m reading a book and one paragraph doesn’t make sense, so I keep reading it, over and over again, but every time I read it, it gets harder to understand instead of easier.
That’s how anxiety presents itself in my world. It comes and goes as it pleases, and takes many forms. Today, it took sadness. It really likes sadness, so it will manifest as that within me quite often. With other people, it probably manifests differently. It’s a very malleable beast.
I used to have it so bad I’d have to get pulled out of volleyball games because I’d start crying on the court. The noise, crowd, lights, pressure… It was all too much stimulus and I felt overloaded.
I’d cry from a pillow in the “wrong” position on the bed, which is ridiculous because there isn’t even a “right” position for a pillow on a bed – that was completely made up by my brain (who seems to have a brain of it’s own sometimes. More on that in a later article).
Now, it only happens every so often. I only have this notion to thank:
If you change your thoughts, you can change your life.
Corny, right? I know, but I’m serious. I’m a believer that you shouldn’t worry too much about things you can’t change, so I accepted it and changed the way I viewed it.
Basically, one night it hit me. “Well, I have anxiety,” I thought, then let out a hefty sigh, then an ever-so-subtle “fuck.”
And then I thought about all the things I have ever worried about in my whole life, and reminded myself that resistance is futile and I always made it out alive, and most of the time, happier, stronger, and more resilient.
I have anxiety. It comes and goes as it wishes, so it will pass in due time when it does rear it’s ugly little head.
Once I realized that I couldn’t change the stimulus overload during volleyball games, I found a way to accept it by channeling the energy it gave me to useful, productive energy instead of malicious energy. I started looking at all the things around me as exciting, not as overwhelming, and hardly had to get taken out of games anymore.
Same goes for pillows in the wrong place – I mean, in this situation, I could always change the pillow’s position. I can put it in the “right” place, but technically, there’s no “right” place for a pillow to begin with, so my anxiety literally manifests over nothing in instances like these. For some reason, my brain makes it seem like it’s important… But that’s just it. It only seems like it matters – in reality, it doesn’t.
This is in great part due to mindfulness meditation which I had started practicing around the time. It didn’t happen overnight, and it took patience and self-brain training, but it was worth it – I completely changed the way I see the world.
So to all of my readers (all two or so of you), remember that you’re resistance is what is hurting you, not your anxiety. It’s easy to feel like a victim to your own mind because your mind seems to know all your secrets – I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t. Your soul has plenty of magnificent tricks up its sleeve, most of which your mind will never see coming.
Anxiety is a very human thing to feel – and just like all other human experiences, it is a valuable tool for growth. If you are given this tool – you can use it to destroy yourself or sculpt yourself. Each will be difficult, but only one will keep you moving – and movement is life.
My tips to fight anxiety:
1. Befriend your soul and get to know it. It is your greatest ally, and it will show you the way.
2. Release your resistance, and let what is, be. Stop fighting how you feel and face it instead.
3. Know the things you cannot change. If you cannot change a thing, change the way you see it. The only way you won’t be able to change the way you see something is if you don’t want to, and if you don’t want to, it’s because the way you see said thing is in line with your values. This is good and fine, you do not have to feel positively about every damn experience you have.
4. Choose whether you want to destroy yourself or sculpt yourself, and accept the pain that the thing you choose will bring. They will both bring pain, guaranteed. You just need to choose the pain you would rather feel.
5. Heed my advice, or don’t. I am wrong about many things – so the things I say here may not work for everyone although they do for me. Remember though, even if you do, things will not change overnight. I never said it was simple.
Humans are unique creatures, and very strange at that. Explore yourself and feel the things you were meant to feel. Connect with your soul, and flourish in all your misery and glory. You were made to feel this.
No matter what you do, or how you feel, or who you are, I hope you know that there is always someone who wants to listen.