When Anxiety Comes, I Tell It Stories of Better Days


This morning I woke up at 7:18 a.m. and the first thing I saw was the time, the first thing I felt was the anxiety. Here’s what I feel: shaky, unwound, overwhelmed, overstimulated. Here’s where I feel it: in my stomach, in my arms.

If my anxiety were an animal, right now it is a baby koala hugging my stomach begging me to fold over and just start again tomorrow.

I don’t have that choice though. I have a to do list, I have work, I have the life I love to live on good days, and need to actively immerse myself in on bad ones because it’s my form of self-care. Doing things that make me happy serve as a reminder that good days exist, even if today isn’t one.

One of the most frustrating parts of having anxiety, depression or the feels  —  whether you’ve been clinically diagnosed or not  —  is how little control you have over your ups and downs.

I’m not choosing to feel like this today, or any day I have bad anxiety. Shit, I’m coming down from a really good yesterday. I not only published my most vulnerable essay, but on top of that I decided to share it with a couple of people in my life who are new, and I’ve never chosen to open up to in that way before.

Maybe that’s what I’m coming down from. Regardless, here I am and for as overwhelmed as I feel right now, I’m grateful I sat in yesterday as much as I did.

I didn’t let the day just pass me by. We live in a world of back-to-back moments of instant gratification and authentic moments of triumph get lost in them. Moving on to the next one is easy because the last moment taught us that the next one will come.

On bad anxiety or depression days though I don’t have the luxury of knowing. On those days I don’t know how long the anxiety will exist on top of me, I’m unsure of how long this episode of depression will last. So all I’m usually left with are reminders that on any given day this usually made me happy.

I’m grateful I sat in yesterday as much as I did because right now I’m telling my anxiety the story of yesterday.

At 10 a.m. I texted my mentor this:

At 4 p.m. I g-chatted my friend this:

At 9 p.m. I was on the phone with my best friend telling her that the essay were thoughts I have only ever shared in therapy. I was writing like I was in therapy and it felt fucking amazing.

Writing was making me happy and anchoring me again.

Fear hadn’t stopped me. I chose to invite people into my uneven world and for the first time in a long time it felt like a choice I could make. Today I’m grateful for those small choices that led to a big moment of bravery for me because they led me here.

I’m in my apartment in New York City, writing in real time about the anxiety I’m feeling. I haven’t changed out of my pajamas, breakfast is a thing I will think of in a while. I’m anchoring myself in writing right now because the rest of the world is unsteady.

There’s something about putting these words down that frees me of their weight  —  maybe it’ll take the baby koala off my stomach and turn it into a baby kitten.

This piece originally appeared on Medium

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