I am back to report on week two of overcoming anxiety and depression. And I have got to say, I am feeling so much better (knock on wood).
The last five weeks I have been focusing on not having anxiety at all. Trying to get rid of it or ignore it, breathe through it, or wait it out. The problem with that is when I do feel anxious I can’t control it, and then I am just frustrated that its happening. But something I realized after my last therapy session is this: The goal isn’t to not have anxiety, the goal is to manage the anxiety, expect it, and realize that I am the one who is in control of my thoughts, feelings, reactions, and emotions.
I think I felt like because I had anxiety I was somehow a bad person or a weak person, but that isn’t the truth. The truth is everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, literally everyone. It doesn’t mean you are weak or going crazy or can’t handle hard things. Anxiety is a fleeting feeling that doesn’t need to be in control all of the time.
Anxiety can be a good thing. Its our “fight or flight” response mechanism. It alerts us when there is danger and if we need to run and take cover.
But when you have an anxiety disorder that alarm system, which is normally a healthy and good thing, has gone out the window and will alert you that there is danger and you need to “escape” when there is no danger at all.
This week as I realized I needed to focus on the fact that anxiety is normal for me, I came across a phrase that I say to myself in my head. This may sound a little funky to you but it is a mental reminder that I am in control of the anxiety.
“I am calm, I am in control of my thoughts and emotions. There is no danger in front of me. I feel the anxiety but I will let is pass. There is no need for it to linger.”
And somehow, this little mantra has worked. Or at least its helping.
The other thing that happened this week that has me feeling back to my normal self is the motivation to get up and get things done. I have been writing more, leaving the house more, working more, cooking more, watching less TV, etc,. These are trivial things but I now have the motivation to start doing them again! They don’t feel like so much of an obligated task anymore.
Its encouraging to me that I am starting to feel more like “Erin” again. Part of me wants to scream and shout for joy, but another part of me still has a little bit of that anxious brain waiting to erupt.
This last week I announced on Social Media that we are moving again! We will be headed to the East Coast for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). This anxious brain of mine hasn’t gone haywire yet thinking about moving 2700 miles. I’m sort of laughing at it now because it truly is our life, moving around.
We have known about the move for a couple of months, but we didn’t know the location until recently. I wasn’t really anxious about the move (if you can believe that) until it was paper official.
A few days ago I had a really cool reminder from God. Story time!
When we drove across the state border of California one of the first places we stopped was a little fast food place called “Del Taco”. We stopped to grab something to eat, figure out a hotel, and take a break. I remember being so excited that we finally made it to California!
Now, we haven’t eaten or even looked at a Del Taco since that day last year. A few days ago I was running errands, walking out to my car I was suddenly filled with anxiety thinking about moving. As I looked up I saw a Del Taco in the shopping center parking lot. I was reminded about the first time we went there and how excited I was. And then I thought, “Erin, it’s OK to be nervous about moving. Everyone gets nervous for that! New beginnings are something to look forward to and something to be excited about.”
And then I realized that was a reminder from God, that it’s okay to be anxious about moving, it can be a scary thing! I immediately felt at peace as soon as I was reminded about Del Taco.
This week I am working to be more thankful for the circumstances I am in. Sounds a bit odd but as a Christ follower I am called to be thankful for trials of many kinds. So I am going to do just that, be thankful for the anxiety.
I am also SO thankful for the literally hundreds of you that read last weeks post and have reached out to me in support. I know these words are helping someone somewhere and that makes me feel so grateful.
Stay tuned for next weeks meal plan and 3rd update on my healing from anxiety post!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”James 1:2-3 NIV
Thanks for reading,
~Erin, The Short Wife