Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just for the Sake of Being Transparent...

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my recent push of bible based posts. Prayers, verses, and such...

Lately, my heart's felt heavy. Not for my father and his illness that plagues him and our family; instead, for my blogging "friends". (I use that term loosely, because really, I know many of you through the internet, not in proximity to one anotther) So many are struggling with anxiety in big and small ways. They're reaching out, asking for help, tips, suggestions, even just taking the chance to share in relief from a secret. 

Today, I share my experience. For some, it'll be encouragement. For others, a shock. And for those who don't fell into those groups, a complete bore. 

Four years ago, I was a 20-year-old sorority girl looking forward to moving in with one of my best friends. Life was enjoyable and easy -except during midterms and finals.

Then, dad got sick (no more details, you've got the archives for that) and he was no longer the invincible man I grew up knowing. Then, I moved from a horrible living situation into a new, different place which, while fun, was stress-filled in many ways. Then, Alzheimer's appeared and I didn't know which way to look or how to life could suddenly fly out of control. Then, money was tight and I needed to save on rent, queue the second and third moves. 

I know, life gets crazy. Chill out and stop being dramatic woman. But this was different. 

As Korea launched "practice" missiles towards United States shores, as doctors gave us conflicting diagnoses for sick Popsicle, and as school approached finals, I stopped sleeping and started cleaning, bleaching, organizing. Night after night after night for months. 

It took a lonely, tear-filled night in my third-floor, 1940's studio apartment to get a grip. I'd spiraled into a routine of insomnia, rituals, and pure, unadulterated fear. At the time, it was how I kept myself at "peace". But now, years later, I recognize it as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder spurred by anxiety.

I've run the gamut as far as how to rid my life of my anxious tendencies. I wish there was a perfect way to rid my mind of those -sometimes- crippling thoughts. But life, and its worries, don't work that way. So, I'll share what's worked for me... 

1. Honesty with family and friends. 
What's that saying? ..."Honesty is the best policy." Yes, I know, share this bizarre behavior with someone? How terrifying. But, doing so allows others to pull you out of your funk. In my worst moments, I'd withdraw from those I thought would "catch" me, this only made things worse.

2. Medication.
I'm not saying hit the bottle or the bong. Talk to your doctor. I did numerous times -complete with water works. And still have a prescription on an "as needed" basis. Hearing that I'm not a freak, that life is hard and unpredictable which can be scary, that anxiety is a tough circle of difficulties gave me a little slice of peace.

3. Get a sense of humor. 
Laughing is the best medicine. Even for the anxious soul. And making light of the little stuff helps keep my reeling mind in check. Plus, the more you laugh, the more the people around you do too... Think how popular you'll become.

4. Know your triggers.
The news terrifies me. I enjoy being educated about current events, but I can't let myself go too far. I read the current stuff on the Google News Homepage or Yahoo, then stop. As soon as I start searching, seeking information, I start catastrophizing, stressing, panicking.

5. Get on board with God. 
The worse my anxiety got, the more angry I got with God. This is the opposite of what I needed for goodness sake! 

Today, life's still scary. There's this NSA leak, Syria and World War III talk, dad's sicker than ever, plus we're talking about houses, kids, and grown-up-married-life sort of business. This time I'm doing anxiety different. I've made an active choice and honest effort not to become comfortable and complacent in my fears. I keep some routine since I thrive in it, but break it up with spontaneity for my sanity.

Remember, I haven't got anxiety mastered. There's still nights I lay awake, moments my hands burn to clean, dust, bleach... It's about varying your methods, trying new things, being honest with yourself -and if you're like me, someone else.

Some of His words for the road: 
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 
-John 14:27
I'm praying for your hearts, friends. Yours and mine. 

Share your tips, tricks, and anxiety reducing routines please... Goodness knows I need them. 

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