I’m Anxious, But That’s Not All

Anxiety

By Kate Kole

It was almost a month ago that I finally made the call.

“What’s the appointment regarding?” The receptionist asked.

“I’ve just really been struggling with anxiety,” I responded, feeling somewhat surprised by my candidness as I finally spoke the words I’ve worked so hard to keep hidden aloud.

The anxiety isn’t new. It’s simmered inside of me for the better part of the last 12 years. I felt it as I stared at tests I’d studied for in college with crippling fear that I’d somehow forget all the answers I knew. I felt it as I struggled to sleep, consumed by thoughts of tasks I should be doing, chores I should be completing, and errands I should be running. I felt it as I replayed conversations, situations, and worst case scenarios in my mind. I felt it in my gut, my chest, my shoulders, and my breath.

I had all the symptoms. The perfectionism, self-doubt, and worry. The tension, panic, and fatigue. I was a textbook example of what it looks like to live with anxiety.

And yet, I couldn’t admit it. Because paired with the perfectionism, self-doubt and worry was pride. It was the idea that I was a strong, independent woman who could cope on her own. It was the belief that my faith, yoga practice, and healthy lifestyle should be enough to pull me through tumultuous times.

Coupled with the tension, panic, and fatigue was shame. It was the reality of having to admit that I, the person who always wanted to help other people, needed help myself. It was the desire to just be normal, whatever that meant. It was feeling out of control, despite my best efforts to keep everything in order. It was the overwhelming thought that in admitting imperfection and struggle, I had somehow fallen short, or even worse, failed.

As pride and shame battled inside of me, something else happened simultaneously. Perhaps miraculously. I felt the need to finally become a friend to myself. I discovered a desire for self-love and compassion that was greater than my desire to look good, and to have all my shit together. I realized that I did need help. That I’m worthy of help. That I deserve to feel well. That I don’t have to deal with life alone.

The admitting I wasn’t okay was hard. The phone call was hard. The appointment was hard. The accepting medication was hard.

You know what else it was? Liberating. Empowering. Refreshing.

As I began to speak my truth aloud, it felt like the floodgates of secrecy breaking open. It was scary and exhilarating all at once, which I suppose is how it often feels to be fully alive.

Anxiety is part of my story, as are humor, gratitude, and joy. Perfectionism is part of my path, as are acceptance, organization, and ambition. All of these things make up the person that I am, and yet none of them alone defines me.

That realization, the ability to see myself as a whole, made up of so many unique pieces, has been the ticket to destigmatizing myself. It’s allowed me to see that I am more than my struggles, and that my combination of characteristics isn’t good or bad, it’s merely human.

I don’t know what battles you’re facing today or what thoughts may keep you up tonight. I’m not sure how you feel when you look in the mirror or when you stand in a crowded room. Maybe you feel at peace. Or maybe you’re struggling to make it through the morning. Wherever you are right now, I just hope you know you’re not alone.

May is Mental Health Month. Find out more here.

{featured image via pexels}

10 thoughts on “I’m Anxious, But That’s Not All

  1. bone&silver says:

    That’s a great honest post, thank you. I think most of us have ‘felt a bit anxious’ at some point; but that deep, ongoing state of Anxiety has such a detrimental effect on our well being… well done for addressing it : )

    Like

  2. Monte Parker says:

    I think it’s beautiful that you are able to share this. People sometimes feel ashamed of anxiety, because they think it takes away from their strength and independence, when really it shows just how strong people with anxiety are. They overcome more hurdles on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  3. zainaqazi says:

    I accidentally stumbled across this post and even though I don’t know you, I am so incredibly proud of you for sharing your story. Anxiety is one of the worst things anyone can deal with. I know this because I’ve dealt with it and its been a constant battle of getting up and crashing back down. I’ve made progress but it takes a lot of determination to get through. This is a beautiful post, while reading it I felt like I was reading bits and pieces of my own struggle. All I’ll say is “Anxiety is horrible but don’t you ever let it define who you are”. Keep fighting, keep dreaming and know that the world is yours. Chase your goals and show that damned anxiety what you’re made of ❤

    Like

  4. ofelia ga says:

    Thank you for sharing. This is inspiring. Depression, Anxiety should not hinder us from becoming the woman we want to be. From becoming the person God wants us to be – better and saved person. Keep up!

    Like

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