Living with mental illness is tough. While many mental illnesses go undiagnosed and are not disabling, others have the capacity to impact our daily functioning and often determine how we manage our day to day activities. I find it pretty ironic that, myself, having a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, have a mental health diagnosis that I have struggled with for quite some time.

At first, it was a little embarrassing, although most people wouldn’t even know about it unless i told them. I guess it was more so the thought of needing help, while working to help others, that didn’t sit right with me. “How can I help someone else, when I often can’t help myself?”  I’ve since found common ground. The truth remains that it is always easier to give advice than it is to take our own advice, and well… even the most amazing rocket scientist will have some sort of hang up at some point in time. Human nature is flawed, but it’s our flaws that make us uniquely beautiful.

So here I am, on a mission to help regular people overcome irregular experiences;  all while combating my own irregular experience with anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder, as the DSM-5 would categorize it.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting some 40 million adults age 18 and older; or 18% of the U.S. population. While everyone, at some point in time, experience some form of anxiety, an anxiety disorder has the ability to impact so many areas of life in a negative way. The good news is, there are solutions for anxiety. There are ways to minimize the impact of it and what better time than now, to share “My Truth” about anxiety and how I work to combat it daily, in hopes that it brings light to the phenomenon of anxiety disorders and brings awareness to how normalized a mental illness can be.

My Truth About Anxiety: how it impacts me and what I have learned from it

  • Anxiety is a real thing that often can’t be turned on and off like a light switch.
  • Having a high functioning anxiety disorder means, still being able to do life, but having life be very difficult to do, at times.
  • OVER has become a common word in how i describe myself. I OVER think, OVER analyze, OVER worry, OVER care, OVER love…you get the point.
  • People with anxiety disorders are not for everyone. I tend to not let many people close to me, because most people simply don’t get it, and well… that’s okay.
  • I can sit at home all day doing nothing and STILL be extremely exhausted at the end of the day, because sometimes… battling my thoughts is as tiring as running a marathon.
  • I’m often in a battle between what I know to be correct and true; and what I fear may happen.
  • Anxiety is typically the result of past trauma, failures, hurts and scars
  • Sometimes…, a lot of times, it doesn’t affect me at all.
  • Overachievers are among some of the most likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders… (wait… there is that OVER again).
  • My anxiety disorder has never impacted my ability to succeed academically.
  • My anxiety shows up most in romantic relationships (makes sense, given my history of heartbreak, headache and mistakes).
  • A combination of spiritual and physical fitness seems to help me combat my anxiety the most.
  • However, my anxiety sometimes has me feeling unmotivated to stay on top of spiritual and physical fitness.
  • I make a daily decision to not let it defeat me.
  • I’m learning to take life a day at a time.
  • You have to be willing to fight like hell to not let anxiety control your life.
  • I have learned to truly value the people in my life who are patient with me and love me despite my OVER.
  • A little extra love, attention, reassurance and support can be the difference between a full panic attack and a brief moment of high level anxiety…
  • It’s a thin line between okay and not okay.
  • There are lots of treatment models for anxiety: mindfulness, exercise, psychotherapy, and prayer are the ones I have found to be most effective.
  • There is a thin line between anxiety and depression.
  • Not ignoring how I feel helps me to stay on top of my mental health.
  • I seek people and connections who can handle my OVER… those who can’t… are simply not my people.

Living with an anxiety disorder is definitely not the most disabling mental health condition a person can have. It’s usually not a cause for major concern, but it’s rough. We fight battles people will never see. We overcome obstacles people can’t even imagine.

Battles of the mind are some of the hardest battles to fight, because they come with little to no instruction and are often won by trial and error. At the end of the day,  the best thing that you can do for yourself when dealing with any mental illness is to pay attention to your body’s natural warning signs that tell you when it’s time to seek help. You don’t have to live every day in an uncomfortable or low functioning manner. While the struggle is definitely sometimes real… your reality can be Healthy, Whole and Highly Functioning.  The goal is to overcome any Mental Encounter!

 

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