This is fine

Hey there peeps! So as I’ve already established the reason I’m here is to talk about my life in a way that’s constructive, and hopefully gives a takeaway point. What I want to talk about today is a problem that I’ve been facing on and off for the past few years that’s related to anxiety. Keep in mind that this is just my experience and it cannot be broadly applied to everyone who has to deal with anxiety! But maybe you’ll find yourself doing something similar in other situations.

I don’t know any names to refer to this by, so here I’m going to refer to it as stacking. What this means is that I can experience a situation  or thought that brings me anxiety, and instead of going through that anxiety and overcoming it, it sets a new baseline. This means the next time I experience anxiety it gets stacked on top of the last one, which can lead to lots of stress. I’m absolutely certain that other people have experienced something similar at some point in their lives, it’s a ‘the straw that broke the donkey’s back’ kinda situation. Look, I especially made some graphs to illustrate it:

  1. How I’d ideally experience anxiety
    normal

    An event/thought happens which causes anxiety. It could vary in how long it lasts, or how much anxiety it causes, but it’s only temporary.

  2. How I experience anxiety when stacking
    stacking

    An event/thought happens which causes anxiety, and every time another thing happens the anxiety is added on top. This way it’s a lot easier to reach high stress levels.

  3. How I feel when anxious
    aghh

    Regardless of how anxious I feel, I always feel that internal panic and dread.

So this is something I’m actually going through at the moment. On Monday I was feeling pretty good, but now it’s Friday and I’ve accumulated lots of anxiety over the week. My mind has picked at things and proposed many questions to me. Most of them are along the lines of “Hey you know this thing? What if it doesn’t work out?”, “So this thing you have to do, why aren’t you doing it now?”, and “Oh look at this thing you’re doing, surely you’re not good enough”. Clearly there is some overlap with other areas such as self confidence, and it’s tailored to what’s going on in my life at the moment. And that’s why it can be so difficult to deal with, it’s personal. Anxiety makes you question your decisions in the most personal ways possible, and it usually has the biggest effects when you’re going through some other feelings/events at the same time. This is why it’s important to take into consideration what other factors could be contributing at any one time. These can sometimes be obvious, for example you might have a big workload, or have just gone through a breakup, but in other cases it can be a bit harder. And when it’s harder to see if there’s an underlying cause/contributor to anxiety I find that it’s easy to let it sit there and progress into stacking. In order to deal with this the first step it to actually realise that things are building up, and once you’ve realised that, you can start to look into what’s going on in that big tangle of anxiety. I find it helpful to think about the questions my anxious mind is asking me, and work backwards from there. So I’m actually at this stage at the moment, and I’m going to go through my thoughts and aim for a positive outcome:

  • The anxious thought: “You’re never going to get a job in the field, you have no experience and you’re not good enough”. The cause: anxiety around uncertainty after graduating. Can I do something about it? Yes. Action: focus on looking for experience, this is the next step after graduation.
  • The anxious thought: “You don’t have any friends, and nobody wants to talk to you”. The cause: anxiety around the thought of being alone, low self confidence, having gone through a recent break up. Can I do something about it? Yes. Action: reach out and make more friends, talk more to existing friends, focus on doing things that you enjoy you build up your self confidence.
  • The anxious thought: “You’re being irresponsible every time you spend money on yourself, you don’t deserve it and you’re only going to get into money troubles”. The cause: having recently spent some money on myself, having grown up with the idea that money is only for the absolute essentials, not keeping a strict budget. Can I do something about it? Yes. Action: re-evaluate my budget and see what extra money is free to spend.

Just doing this right now has given me some instant relief, and I feel like I’m unstacking. Instead of feeling like I’m under a crushing pile of undoable tasks, I have an action plan to work on and I feel more in control of the situation. Feeling anxious a lot of the time for me stems from worries, so evaluating the anxiety when certain thoughts come across my mind can help me trail back to the underlying worries. Putting them under pressure makes them crack when they don’t hold any ground. I tend to find that my worries are actually quite useful, like above, they can help point me in the right direction. That being said, worrying and feeling anxious still sucks ass. And I know that even though I’ve tackled some of these worries, I will still feel anxious in the future, worried or not. And that’s okay. When that happens, I’m going to try and not criticise myself and give myself a little time to recompose. I find it’s helpful to try and have a positive inner voice (when possible), which gets easier to use with more practice. Next time I feel like someone is staring at me in public, I’m going to consciously think “Oh hello there! Are you looking at me? Because I bet I can look at you harder, I would totally beat you in a staring contest. Or can you not handle my dashingly good looks?”. This helps me to recover from anxiety faster, or in some lucky cases avoid it altogether! It’s hard work though, and it takes a lot of mental effort. But practicing using a positive inner voice makes it a little easier over time. Personally, I like to give my inner voice a lot of sass. Heck, if you wanted you could have Alan Rickman as an inner voice.

 

To summarise: don’t beat yourself up, be kind to yourself, and hone your inner voice.

– H

DogFire.png

Comic by KC Green

Flowers

Hello world

Hi there internet! So this is where I’m going to start writing about myself, my thoughts and feelings, and just generally what’s up with my life. I feel like a lot of the time I have thoughts come across my mind that I think are worth writing down, BUT I NEVER DO! So this is an homage to that. Also, I think I’m learning a lot at the moment about myself which would be cool to document and look back on in the future. Who knows, maybe it could even help somebody else out!

Where I’m at right now: I feel like I’m about to change a lot as an individual (for the better) and undergo a lot of personal growth. I’ve recently gone through some major relationship changes that have made me reevaluate myself and who I want to be. I’m pretty sure this is normal for every 20-something-year-old as it’s an important in life and you get to find out who you are! And that’s what I’m going to start doing, I want to know myself better through the process of ‘self-dating’, and invest in myself to make myself the best version of me. That concept actually really excites me, because I like who I am right now, but I could be even better. I bet I’m going to be fucking awesome (not to put pressure on future me, or anything).

Even in the past week I’ve made some major changes in my behaviour that will benefit me in the long run, I think. I’ve been more confident in myself and portraying myself as me. Basically, I’m becoming unapologetic, and I want to completely own my labels. Woman, feminist, bisexual, polyamorous. These are the things I want to wear proudly, and the more I put them out there, the more people in life I will find who are similar to me, and that like my genuine self. I’ve alway thought that’s it’s scary to genuinely put yourself out there for who you are for the fear of being rejected. But if you don’t put your genuine self out there, then how will people know who you are and get a good sense of you? You’re depriving them of your amazing self! I mean, I’d wanna be friends with me. On top of this, feeling accepted for who you are is the best feeling. It’s a reward for being brave: you do this scary thing, and then if all goes well you get wrapped in an invisible big warm blanket. If not? Fuck them, because your opinion shouldn’t matter (and you’re still amazing)! Using my labels I’m going to seek out people who also use these labels to describe themselves (or not at all, labels aren’t necessary!). So far I’ve gone to some of my university LGBT+ society events with the hope of bringing more queer people into my life, and become proud of my bisexuality. I think up until this point, I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in with a lot of things like sexuality, gender, and political views, but now that I’ve figured that out, I need to do something with them. It’s like suddenly discovering you have a little flower patch in your huge garden that you haven’t fully explored yet. I’ve come across my little bisexual flower patch- and it’s great! I mean I’m glad that it’s there, but what do I do with it now? If I leave it there then it will stay there and maybe grow a bit over time. But if I start watering it then it will grow faster, and bigger over time, and I can put time and effort into making it something to be proud of. I’ll even show it off to people, if I want.

I really like this garden analogy, so I’m gonna stick with it. Aspects of who you are can take all different forms to grow in your garden. Some things need more care, and some take more time to grow. Some get really messy if you don’t give it the attention it needs. So for me anxiety plays a big part in my life, and sometimes depression likes to pop in and say hello. These are plants that grow in your garden too, but I imagine them more to be like bramble bushes that can be prickly and slowly overtake your garden. It’s all well and good to tend to the flowers, but it’s important to keep the weeds in check too. I might spend some time in the future talking about anxiety and depression in the future in a different post, but I don’t think now is the right time. I mean, for me it’s still a slightly unknown species and I’m still figuring out what it is and how it works!

I’ll definitely come back to this analogy when I talk about owning my labels in the future. I’m really good at overusing analogies and completely killing them. I’m not going to apologise for it though.

– H