As you all know, I have anxiety and sometimes it’s pretty gnarly. With a lot of work, it’s gotten to the point where I have a pretty good handle on it. I know when it’s about to hit. It’s like a storm brewing on my horizon and sometimes I can move out of its path. I do this by getting really serious about my self care. Which can get annoying, don’t get me wrong. There are days where I can’t (or won’t) take time off work to deal with it, or I have too many things on my to-do list to just stop for a few hours and sort myself out, or I’m stubborn and tell myself that it won’t be that bad and that if I ignore it it will go away.
Self care manages my anxiety.
It’s not perfect but anxiety doesn’t control my life anymore and most days I truly feel as if I have some control over it. Which is pretty empowering and makes me feel even less anxious because there’s nothing worse than feeling like your anxiety will control you and never ever go away, like a nightmare houseguest you’ll never be rid of.
Then there’s the anxiety that hits you like some freak tsunami out of nowhere when you were expecting a fairly sunny day.
This happened to me the other night. Bam! Shortness of breath, thoughts that run over and over in my head and convince me that every bad thing I could think to happen IS GOING TO HAPPEN RIGHT NOW. That feeling of absolutely no control, wondering if I’m about to lose it in public because any ounce of control I thought I had was an illusion. Yeah, that feeling.
I was at work, not the time to turn off the lights, lay down somewhere warm and comforting and quiet, with my incense and essential oil, and Krishna Das playing in the background.
Anxiety, in addition to turning me into a self care fanatic, has also turned me into a bit of an internal hostage negotiator. When I can’t immediately practice self care I am left with nothing but the reasoning power of my brain. (Thank you DBT [Dialectical Behavior Therapy] for teaching my brain how to negotiate)
Go Brain! Go reason with Anxiety and make it back the ‘eff off! But Brain doesn’t want to co-operate because Anxiety is making a little bit of sense, and what if Anxiety is right? And Brain better get into Doomsday Prepper Mode because the End of Times is nigh. However, Brain makes a last stand.
“You’re going to stop feeling this way soon.”
“Everything is going to be okay.”
“You will get through this.”
And for some reason the last line makes me chuckle. It makes me think of “Calm your tit, just one tit. Leave the other one crazy and out of control; that’s your party tit.”
And that lessens it a little bit.
Brain is like, “You know what? Maybe I need to try a new tactic.” So it stops with the zen-meditation-positive affirmation negotiations.
Brain tells me something very wise. “Give less f*cks.”
In the moment, that was what I needed to hear. Smart Brain.
I’m all about sitting in my meditation room with my mala beads chanting “Om Shanti om.” but sometimes that’s not possible. You just have to tell yourself to f*ck it. Tell yourself you’re not, you’re just not, going to put up with it.
Anxiety likes to lie and tell you that whatever you’re getting anxious about is the End All, Be All. Sometimes you’ve got to look it in the eye and give it the finger.
Of course, it probably won’t work every single time, or maybe not at all, but for me, just mentally telling myself to give less f*cks made my anxiety go down to a manageable level. Sometimes the best you can do is distance yourself from a thought by telling yourself it doesn’t matter. Especially if it’s an irrational, anxiety-fueled, lie.
What kind of pep talks do you give yourself when you’re anxious?