For as long as I can remember having an overstimulated racing mind and an (oh so painful!) tightened chest have been my norm.
A few years ago my doctor informed me this delightful feeling I was experiencing was called Anxiety. As an over-thinker, I’ve naturally pondered ever since what this really means and how best to deal with it.
Learning I have anxiety has in a way set me free because it has explained so much to me in hindsight “pre-enlightened”. Self-inflicted pressure and high expectations, constant questioning of my thoughts and actions, eating disorders, relying on other people to build me up and caring too much about what everyone (and I mean EVERYONE!) thinks. However the biggest one which I’ve only realised this year is my inability to tolerate silence and stillness by myself.
I find it so hard to explain and articulate why I feel the way I do because sometimes I genuinely don’t even know myself – is there something I’m subconsciously stressed about or is it just one of those days? Being a highly-functioning and outgoing extrovert, most people don’t suspect I’m constantly fighting an internal battle in my head.
I’ve got the most amazing family, friends and loving partner anyone could ever ask for. I’m educated and employed, regularly travel and the list goes on … So what is wrong with me that I’m so on edge and have become my own worst enemy?! This only heightens my anxiety because then the guilt rolls in to top it all off. Sarah Wilson in her book ‘First we name the Beast Beautiful’ puts it perfectly, “The more banal the supposed trigger, the guiltier and more self-indulgent and pathetic we feel, thus adding to the anxious spiral”.
Since being diagnosed I have by no means figured out how to overcome these negative thoughts which still creep in and the daily pain in my chest, however I’ve become far more self-aware which has been a somewhat revelation for me.
I’ve realised I have the power to choose my thoughts and attitude towards myself. I was once told “Control the Controllable’s” which is what I now try to do – internally! Knowing it’s ok to have anxiety (and I’ve discovered so many of us young, happy souls do!) and accepting it in all of its familiar forms has helped me to slow down, reflect and chill out on the self-criticism.
I still feel anxious much of the time however I no longer let it define my thoughts. I’ve realised my verbal diarrhoea isn’t pleasant for anyone and by simply taking a moment to consider my true thoughts more carefully and not let my mind run wild, I’ve been able to take more control in my life. This small realisation and awareness has been very empowering and an overdue change which I’ve blissfully welcomed into my life.
I used to envy people who are neutral and in control because it’s what I’ve craved more than anything. Now that I’ve learned that my norm is that of many others as well and become more open about these cheeky struggles that enjoy challenging me, I know everything will be ok and I just have to get on with it and do my best.
Written and Submitted by Katie Guthrie