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3 Invaluable Lessons I've Learned From Anxiety

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I’m a firm believer we are a sum of our choices, that we decide what makes us and what takes from us. I believe I am personally responsible for my own happiness. While there will be times when I need to lean on others, when I need to be vulnerable, I ultimately decide if something steals my joy or not. I will not be a victim of things I cannot control, nor will I be ashamed of the moments when it feels too hard to keep going. I want to see my anxiety as not something that defeats me, but something I can learn from. These are some of the lessons I feel it has taught me.

1. All things pass.

As you may know, when you are experiencing an anxiety attack, your perspective becomes severely skewed. You trust nothing, and you fear everything. There’s a sense of impending doom that can’t be explained in words. There have been times when I have holed up in a closet or a under a blanket to escape the overwhelm. But it’s only a moment in time. So, I wait it out. It passes. And I am OK.

2. Control what you can. Release what you can’t.

I can’t control the way my body reacts. I can’t control the tightness in my chest, the struggle to breathe, the fear washing over me like a violent wave. I don’t have power over that. What I do have power over, however, is whether or not I let my anxiety win. In the midst of those sensations, I can still choose to be gentle and kind and communicate what I am feeling. But I no longer try to get rid of the feelings of panic. I can’t. They come, regardless. So, I let them happen, and then I let them go.

3. There is nothing more important than love.

It’s cliche for a reason. It’s true. Love is the only thing worth having. Everything else pales in comparison. Love passionately, love authentically. Love without condition and limitation. Forgive others, forgive yourself. Exercise unconditional self love. Because we all need that. And we all need each other.

Someone out there is alone and feels forgotten in their struggle. Please, know you are not. Please, know you are loved. Even when your illness is at its most aggressive, never let yourself grow cynical and bitter. Keep falling deeper in love with life. It’s a precious gift.

Above all, I learned I am stronger than I realize. And you are too.

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Originally published: May 27, 2016
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