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Anxiety shows up in my life in the weirdest of ways.
It’s not always panic attacks and meltdowns. Sometimes, it’s simply hiding.
When I feel overwhelmed and anxious, I isolate myself. It’s not always obvious unless maybe you’ve known me for awhile. I may ignore a text or two, for no reason other than the thought of having to form a coherent reply is overwhelming. I’m not talking about confrontational texts, either. Invitations to hang out, friends checking in, anything. Wonderful, sweet texts.
Anxiety and depression tells me that I have nothing worth saying.
(Actual portrait of the inside of my brain)
It tells me that everybody is disappointed in me, and I can never do anything right. I can’t even articulate how they could be disappointed, only that they are. I suck. There’s no point trying, because I’ll only disappoint people and myself.
It’s inherently self-absorbed if you think about it. I’m assuming that people spend their time thinking about me, and how much of a failure I am. If they are, they are. So what? Most likely though, they’re not. They’re working on their own lives.
Fighting this voice takes a monumental amount of effort sometimes. Not all the time, thank God. The problem is, I often forget that I am not alone.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I am not the be-all, end-all. I don’t have to take on everybody’s emotions, fix everything, be everywhere. That’s on God. Not me. I have to remember that, and let Him do His thing.
Sometimes I don’t write, because when the “shut up, nobody cares” voice gets too loud while I’m writing, I stop. That’s the truth, as sad as it is. The number of posts I have in drafts with 2-3 paragraphs each is appalling to me.
Most of the time, I can handle it. It gets difficult when life is dishing out the stressful situations left and right. Unexpected bills, friends going through hard times, dealing with the IRS (don’t even get me started), ex-husbands, I could go on. I know I’m not alone in this. Everybody has their own situations.
How do you handle it? The remedy is so simple, but sometimes it feels like a full time job:
I can shut down, or at least minimize, anxiety by working to balance my hormones.
Proper nutrition, regular fitness, and good sleep are so important to this, but my default is to think like an addict. It’s all or nothing, and when it’s nothing, it’s really nothing. Throw it all out the window, eat all the Reese’s cups, don’t bother. I can convince myself that there’s no point in trying, because I’ll just fail anyway. Might as well live for today and eat that double burger 3 times today, right?
If I’m really honest with myself, I haven’t been working on my recovery as much as I could. When I’m more diligent about prayer, meetings, and letting God handle things, I can recognize these signs a little better. These are the signs of taking back control, thinking everything is on me, and getting overwhelmed by that responsibility. It’s so unnecessary.
This month, I will shut down anxiety by treating myself like a friend.
I won’t listen to the lies.
I’ll work hard, and then rest. I’ll eat something to nourish myself and give me energy, instead of something to give me an instant dopamine rush. More than likely, I’m dealing with a dopamine deficiency, and I just need to make better choices. Knowledge is power.
If this sounds familiar to you, and you want to do something about it too, let’s start a new habit together.
I’m going to be exercising every day this month, even if it’s just walking. Nothing crazy yet, just moving my body enough to call it exercise.
Another place I love for improving habits is the Sober Together community. Subscribing to Michael’s list will get you access to a great Facebook group and habit tracking form. For those who are in recovery, this is a great group of people!
One day at a time, one choice at a time.
It won’t be easy, but the alternative is much harder. Whether you join up this month or not, do whatever needs to be done to take care of yourself. Life is too short to live it full of fear and stress.
If there is a particular go-to habit of yours that helps relieve anxiety for you, I’d love to hear it in the comments!
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Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around. Read my story...
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