The Importance of Taking Little Steps in Anxiety Recovery


I can smile. I can laugh. I can be happy.

Now, I do this without having to fake it, without wearing a perfected mask to disguise the truth of my illness from those around me. I do it because it is finally true, and I don’t want to let it fade away.

I had been letting my mental illness suppress my capacity to enjoy things. I was looking through fear-filled glasses, and they would not break. I knew no matter how much I tried to deny it, the fault was in my perspective — a perspective that over the last few years had been shaped into something that meant I saw danger in everything. By changing my view of anything I deemed slightly scary, I opened the door to so much more.

Little by little, I have branched out and I have become myself: a girl who doesn’t always need to worry or live in fear of danger, a girl who knows how to be happy.

The process has taken months of self-help and therapy; I have tried everything. Mindfulness, reflexology, hypnotherapy, writing — anything I could do to diminish the pain I was going through. I had been living in fear of my own fear – of my panic attacks, and the symptoms coinciding with them. I was terrified of what could happen if I wasn’t kept busy enough to shut out the thoughts echoing inside my head. My head became a noisy place, battling with me on my path to my revival. I set myself small goals and took each day as it was. Pressure hurt me. I knew I couldn’t rush this, but I never stopped trying. I knew I wanted and needed change; it was just going to take time.

I learned communication is the biggest help; distance is the worst.

Positivity, patience and praise became the instruments to my recovery, as the weight of my illness no longer fell on just my shoulders. I didn’t need to run away and hide, fighting my panic attacks by myself because someone was always there. They knew my anxiety was not a personal attack on them. I was picked up, supported and brought on a journey — a journey of health, happiness and comfort I never got from being alone.

After realizing recovery isn’t an overnight process, I knew I could fight my anxiety. Everyone takes a different route, which is never going to be easy. I no longer have consistent panic attacks, I sleep better at night and I don’t constantly worry. I try to see things in a more positive light – I won’t let myself believe any intrusive thoughts I have.

I didn’t control my mental illness, but I certified it couldn’t control me. My anxiety will always be a part of me, but that’s OK. If there are setbacks, I know I am strong enough to get back to how I am. Whatever I go through, I will be OK. I am happy again, and that’s the most important thing.

It was always going to take little steps, but little steps make the biggest changes.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via LeszekCzerwonka.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Anxiety

a photo collage of a bottle of Febreeze, a lit candle, and fresh tulips in a vase

My Anxiety Didn't Stop Me From Throwing a 'Crappy' Dinner Party

Once in a while, my husband, Lee, and I will sit down and do a relationship check-up. Just a couple of questions like “how are you doing?” and “anything you want to do differently?” Kind of like Festivus but without the pole. Lee brought up that he’d like to entertain more. Like, people in our [...]
Girl walking along a tightrope in the trees.

How Living With Anxiety Can Feel Like Walking on a Tight Rope

There’s such a blessing and a curse involved in living your life with your heart out on display. It’s the biggest blessing when you give love to those around you — friends, family, strangers on the internet. I would be lying if I said my heart didn’t bust at the seams with joy at all [...]
Doctor using a smart phone in hospital. Concept of medical appointment, communication.

When You Want to Go to the Doctor but Anxiety Doesn't

For most people, going to the doctor is a simple interruption in their work day or day off. It’s a simple, “I’m here for a checkup.” It’s a boring two-hour period of waiting for a doctor to speak to you for 15 minutes before sending you on your way. For someone with a mental illness like [...]
Portrait of red haired girl though palm tree

To the Person I Feel Like I’m Pushing Away With My Anxiety

Thank you for staying up on those late nights talking to me about all of my anxious feelings. You always tried to help out and make me feel better even though you struggled to find words to say. And honestly? You’ve always helped me. You understood there wasn’t a cure and sat by me to [...]