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When Anxiety Makes My Mind a Stormy Ocean

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My mind is like the ocean. My thoughts are the waves. It is continuous like the blue depths of the ocean. Some parts are calm. The water being motionless, unruffled, undisturbed. My thoughts calm and tranquil.

Some parts comprise tiny waves, small ruffles within the serene water. They create tiny agitated storms but dissipate into nothing more than a ruffle. They leave me uneasy, but vanish, leaving me as I was before: unchanged.

Then there are intervals of gigantic waves that could reach above my head. The type of waves that look small and inadequate at first, but over time, as it inches closer, becomes a enormous thunder of water. It’s a wonder how these form. They start as small disturbances in the water, and grow. They grow larger and larger as if the ocean is throwing all of its energy into such a small fragment of itself.

The thoughts all start minor, too. Things that shouldn’t matter, things that don’t matter. They grow and grow, until they embody a greater area. It becomes stronger and harder to forget. They can grow into an entity of its own. They crash down hard, they are strong and solid.

These waves can be hard to navigate. When the water is still, a boat would move gently across the surface, unharmed. As the waves move in and become stronger, my boat will need to steer clear of these waves, but it can’t avoid every one. Some times my boat will need to ride the waves.

Together, these waves and quiet pools of water make up the voice inside my head. That voice I listened to once, demands to be heard every occasion after. You have to listen to me, it taunts. It gets louder and louder, with an ever-increasing volume, so that every part of me, every inch of my body hears it, feels it. These are the unavoidable thoughts that run through my head on the bad days, and the mumbled, quiescent cries I hear on the good days.

Doing all this thinking can be lonely and overwhelming, to live life inside my head. Every night is spent replaying events on repeat, being filtered out for all the positive, leaving behind a negative core that is cold and raw. It’s gets hard to navigate that boat alone, through all the rough patches of waves. I get tired. It gets harder to steer clear of the dangerous waters.

As any earthly event, it cannot be controlled. The waves cannot be tamed, and sometimes they cannot be avoided. The ocean holds its power and gives no one else the reigns. All that can be done is steer my boat to safety, to a part of the ocean that makes me feel safe, protected and secure. I cannot control the waves, I can only steer the boat.

These are just like my thoughts. Some of them can’t be avoided. Some of them pass with no need to steer the boat. And some require my utmost strength. I have to concentrate on the direction that the boat moves, avoiding all the subtle bumps in the water so I can reach my final destination.

When the waves get aggressive and fierce, it may get hard to steer my boat alone. Sometimes I need a second pair of hands to set the sail in the right direction. Sometimes I need help to make it to safety. It can be hard and miserable to go through it alone. I believe no one wants to venture through an unforgiving and overwhelming encounter by themselves.

But it doesn’t have to be lonely. And it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. I don’t have to let those thoughts take control of my life. I don’t have to drown in the water. I don’t have to stay quiet about what I’m feeling.

I have to let these thoughts out. I have to talk to someone, or write about how I’m feeling because once those thoughts are out in the open, unable to hide any longer, it isn’t a one on one battle anymore. It becomes a team effort to navigate through those fierce waves. Because I do deserve to feel better, and I am worth it and I do have value. Together, we can battle these thoughts and these voices. Together we can make it to the clear, blue, delicate water. Away from the storm.

Originally published: May 18, 2017
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