A is for Anxiety

A is for Anxiety

My whole life I've been told I have a way with words. Eulogies, yearbook entries, heartfelt love letters, a Walmart list. But when given the opportunity to write on behalf of myself, of course the words are nowhere to be found. I've never been one for attention; I've never graciously accepted compliments. I've NEVER been well spoken outside of writing.

That's why when I was contacted by MyTrendingStories my heart jumped into my throat a little. My ears rang. That tightness arose in my chest. Me? Someone came across and read MY blog and found the content interesting and well written enough to want to reach out to  me and invite me to be a contributor to their website? What if I choke? What if it looks like I'm trying too hard? What if there are...spelling errors?! (Yeah right. I was a spelling bee champion. Second grade. No big deal.)
Eep! I thought about it and decided that I will be taking this opportunity to allow myself this 15 minutes (eh, probably more like 30 seconds...) of pride and Internet quasi-fame. Will anyone read this besides my husband and my family and think it's cool, and not just because they have to? Yeah probably not. But, I digress.
Hi, I'm Jen. If I had to say 10 things about myself it would go like this:
- Chronic list maker (yet still horribly disorganized...how?)
- Unbelievably patient
- Coffee
- Night owl 
- Likes to sleep outside on purpose
- Multi-tasker extraordinaire 
- World of Warcraft junkie
- Prefers home and sweats over parties and people
- Not good at math
- Anxious
My personal blog, www.jennythetrailhead.com was started because of and is based on my normal human struggles with anxiety, depression and loss. It's all about helping myself overcome those three things a day at a time with little to no help from taking prescriptions or self-medicating with other substances. My treatment plan includes positive thinking, writing, hiking for nature therapy, amateur photography, camping and traveling with my husband. 
I know more people than I don't who sincerely suffer from anxieties of all levels and battle feelings that are more than just winter blues; some may not even realize that they are affected. It's sometimes more than just being "OMG I'm so awkward." It's time we address the seriousness of these afflictions. Mental healthcare is not treated as it should be. These are sicknesses you cannot always see, and it is important to acknowledge them. Talk about it, write about it; be heard. You're not alone!
I am a firm believer after trying everything (and I mean everything...) under the sun to help escape from and subside my feelings, that choosing to face them head on and embrace the sheer rawness of these emotions is what brought me to the positive and realistic outlook I have on life and my anxiety today. It took me a long time to grasp that while I cannot help the way I feel, I can HELP the way I feel. I now choose to make the most out of it and learn from the experience instead of running from it. In this revelation I have become very focused on me, myself and I. You will always have yourself. You must take care of you. Unfortunately, that sometimes means sacrificing places, people and things to allow yourself to get to a positive place. 
Hello, I am a 32-year-old adult who cannot go into a grocery store alone, be a reasonable passenger in a car, make a simple phone call or pump gas by myself due to the overwhelming thoughts and irrational fears I have. I absolutely loathe any form of confrontation. I will be awake for days dwelling on things that have happened or on things that haven't happened at all. I cannot say "no." I will often avoid answering calls and texts so I don't even have to THINK of saying "no." I'm not a bad person, I promise. It's not you, it's me.
I was a doormat for a long time. The part that is hardest for me is that while I have always been this way, I don't even know what gives me those anxieties but I have had to learn to live with them. I hate to think of how many opportunities or things I have missed out on because of the feelings that hold me back. 
It took losing the first very important person in my life to become the strongest me I have ever been. The death of my grandmother has absolutely been the test of my life thus far. If I could survive this, going on without her...I could probably do anything. I could continue to live and love wholly. Without the nagging constant fear of losing everyone around me. (I'm still working on that last one but nobody is perfect, okay.)
I found it really odd yet enlightening that this opportunity was placed upon me just two days before my late grandmother's 69th birthday. As I write this entry, it is 1:22am Central Time here in Southern Illinois. I am one hour and 22 minutes into December 29th and I am doing alright. I still have a full day ahead of me, yes. But I am thoroughly convinced that I was brought here for a reason. (Also yes, I'm one of those annoying people.)
It was obvious that I should write about my biggest obstacle on this day as a prime example of my form of self help as a continuing growing exercise. My personal form of medication. A full circle, in a tangle of other circles yet to come. I haven't cried yet. Maybe I won't at all. I cried a lot last week, before Christmas. But not ON Christmas. I don't know. Grieving is the strangest thing I've ever experienced. Anxiety times 3000. A random Tuesday in April could be harder than those "grief milestone" days, and it has proven so. I have woken up in the morning a few times with my face covered in mascara, after apparently crying in my sleep. (Yeah, I should probably wash my face and take my makeup off before bed but...I'm an adult and I can do whatever I want.)
Here I am. I have made it one year, six months, three weeks and five days without seeing or talking to my very best friend and person. Sometimes the horrific and suffocating thought creeps in that I have a whole lifetime yet of missing her. Sometimes I am up all night thinking, holy crap...I still have a plethora of beloved people I am one day going to lose.
Those are some of the more intense feelings that I have yet to work on. My poor husband. For a solid year and a half I have lived in constant fear of him being in a car accident, rogue bullets going through the windshield on the freeway, rare forms of cancer, heart attacks, him going to sleep and never waking up. Guh. No lie, I wake up and habitually check his breathing at least twice a night. It is exhausting. 
Anyone struggling with any feelings remotely similar or even something entirely different that causes you strife, stress or sadness, please listen to me. Don't cloud yourself with anything that affects your thinking. You WANT and NEED to think, you just don't know it yet. I spent years abusing substances that made me feel good temporarily, hanging out with the wrong people, doing things that weren't me. I lost myself and many friends along the way. Maybe some of us just like to learn things the hard way. The fact of the matter is, you have to face it eventually. It will always be there. Take it all in no matter how scary or weird or whatever. Start now. Get a cheap, 99 cent notebook. Use the Notes app on your phone. Start a Wordpress blog. 
Write it out. Make a list. Scribble words. Feel those feelings. Talk about them. Grab them by the nape of the neck and look them square in the eye. It's a ride I tell you. But it is something that will make you unbelievably proud of yourself when you look behind you and see all the steps you've taken to get yourself to a point where going forward is easier than just sitting down and letting it overwhelm you. You won't believe that even when you lose someone who means the world to you, that yes...while it is unbelievably and inexplicably hard, you can still have a beautiful life full of meaning and look forward to new things and the days ahead with no guilt. It is okay to live. That's what we're here to do. Even if we're a little awkward. 
We can all do this. You can do this. I can do this.
Follow more inside thoughts from this outside girl, at www.jennythetrailhead.com and check out my travel and outdoors inspired Instagram @pottsiepackin! 

Published by Jennifer Potts


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