When you hear about mental health problems, the stigma instantly makes you think bad things. However, when I’ve opened up to my friends about my struggles with anxiety, their first response is ‘Oh, but you seem like you’ve got it together.’ Owning my anxiety helps me cope.
A Swan Looks Graceful When It Floats, The Chaos Remains Unseen
Throughout my teenage years, I’ve been reminded of the analogy of the swan. A swan looks graceful as it floats on the water, but the mechanism, the chaos of its feet paddling like crazy as it tries to stay afloat and move forward is unseen.
I’m coping with my anxiety now, to the point where my GAD score is once again below a level of clinical concern, but I could have another episode where I’m not coping, and it can come out of nowhere.
We’ll call my current levels ‘background anxiety.’ The anxiety is still there, I know it’s still there, but it’s not really doing much. Sure, it’s nagging me constantly, telling me I’m doing things wrong. It says I’m going to fail, people don’t like me. I have felt it trying its best to stop me from sleeping, and constricting my chest. I’m never going to get rid of that, so what can I do?
The answer I can give is: I’m going to own the crap out of it.
The Symptoms Aren’t Going Anywhere
We’ll start with the nagging. I’m worried that I’m not going to meet deadlines. That my work isn’t good enough. I’ve never missed a deadline or failed an assignment before, but what if this is the first time? Thanks to my anxiety, making me jump to the worst conclusions, I am time conscious. I meet my deadlines, I meet my deadlines weeks in advance. Cheers, anxiety.
The chest tightness? It goes away when I exercise. And guess what else happens? My head feels clearer. Even just enough for me to sleep well that one night. Not to mention all the other health benefits of exercise that I won’t go into.
I Have Found a Silver Lining
Anxiety is probably not going away. But I can utilise it, train it to help me, rather than hinder me. A paraplegic once told me that he wasn’t disabled, he was just differently abled. So I may be suffering with poor mental health, but I’ve found the silver lining to help me cope as best as I can: owning my anxiety.