5 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self About Anxiety.
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
Anxiety, like most other shit, tends to present itself as we get older. It’s not that it wasn’t there when we were children, it probably was, it was just better hidden under the ignorance of childhood.
Now, this post isn’t about preparing my 6-year old self for the anxiety apocalypse! This is more the list I would write to myself, just before the shit hit the fan, so to speak.
I will again point out that I am not a therapist, professional, or even that emotionally stable. I am however, someone who has suffered with anxiety for many years. I have undergone hours of therapy, and had two mental health breakdowns. So yeah, maybe I am an expert after all.
If anxiety has taught me one thing, it’s that we are a lot more resilient than we ever give ourselves credit for. Battling your own head is shit. You can’t punch it in the face, walk away, or get a restraining order. However, you can put in the work and get your mind back on side. Your brain, like any muscle in your body, requires exercise, training and commitment. J-Lo’s arse wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your mental health! We can get there though, that I can promise you. I may not be the Dalai Lama yet, but I’m nearly Yoda.
So, with the hard lessons I’ve learned since hitting rock bottom, it got me thinking, what advice would I give myself before the battle got harder? What do I know now, that could have helped me feel less alone, afraid and confused? How would I give my younger self a helping hand if I could? Then I thought a little bigger. How could this knowledge help you? How could I help you feel less terrified about what lies ahead? How could I help prepare you for the scariest journey you’ll probably ever make, whilst reassuring you that it will be okay?
Below is what I thought of. Just as a starting block on your journey. Just in case your mental health isn’t quite right, and has steadily been getting worse. I want this list to give you comfort in knowing that you will be okay. Even on your days when getting out of bed is terrifying, you will be okay. I promise.
5 things I would tell my younger-self to make anxiety a little easier
1) It will probably get worse before it gets better – Now, this is not to terrify you into thinking you are going to lose your marbles and become the cat lady from The Simpsons. It is simply to let you know, it is by no means a failure if it gets worse. It doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong, or that you aren’t strong enough. It is nothing to feel ashamed of, or scared about. It just means you are on a journey and every journey has setbacks. It’s also to let you know, that when you have what feels like the worst day in the world, you are totally normal. Those days will happen, but they will also end and a better day will start.
2) It will be the hardest thing you ever do – Going on this journey is going to be incredibly tough. You are going to discover parts of yourself you didn’t know existed. You will learn there are parts of you which need some serious work, and that you have both good and bad traits. The main thing is though, you will gain a new-found love for yourself that you’ve never felt before. Smashing down your walls and re-building them, means you will have to look at every aspect of your life. What’s good for you, and what isn’t. What empowers you, and what harms you. You will become so in tune with your own self, that you will respect and love yourself fearlessly, because you will know what it took to get to the person you are fighting for.
3) It will cost you relationships – You know the saying, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. Well, that applies with your mental health journey. When you are at your most vulnerable, you will be your very own emotional rollercoaster. You will be exhausted from the constant fight, angry that you are having to deal with this shit, sad because you don’t feel normal, and happy that you see progress. Your mood will change from second to second. You are likely to be over-sensitive, paranoid and defensive, but this will pass. It’s during this stage of your journey you will see who your true team are. You may lose people that can’t handle it, but that’s okay. They were never right for you anyway, and they don’t deserve the awesome person you are becoming. This point however, is not a get out of jail free card to be an arse hole to your loved ones. Please remember, it’s hard for them too. They are seeing someone they love struggle, and are pretty helpless to stop it. Make sure you talk to your loved ones, tell them how you are truly feeling and help them understand.
4) Every aspect of your life will change – When you are forced to assess yourself, you in turn have to assess your life; your priorities will shift. Before your journey, you may have been a people pleaser, the ultimate social butterfly, or totally career driven. Now however, you will be whatever you have to be to protect yourself. You must become your first priority, whatever that means. If you know pushing yourself to go to that party is going to make you feel panicked, that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to say no, and take some time for self-care. If you need to drop some hours, and responsibility at work, or miss some family functions, that’s okay too. Your mind is all you have, so protect it at all costs. Listen to what your body needs, and don’t be afraid to follow through on that. The world won’t end, everyone will understand.
5) You are the bravest warrior this world has ever seen – This is by far the most important point. If you take anything from this post, please let it be this. There will be days when you feel like you can’t go on anymore. Where you are so exhausted, anything must be better than what you are experiencing. Life will feel heavy and you will feel a mere shadow of yourself. But, and this is a big but! I promise you with every part of me, it will get better. The fight will get easier, and you will feel peaceful again. No matter what, do not give up. Do not let go. The fact that you are going through this every day, makes you incredibly brave. I am so proud of you and you are so loved. Never forget that. This will be tough, but it will be so worth it. You are going to love this new person you’re becoming.
It’s okay, I promise.
I really hope this post is able to give you some comfort on your journey, no matter what stage you are at. Mental health is so important, and should be discussed openly and honestly. I hope I have achieved that for you. I wanted to be honest with you, whilst reassuring you that even rock bottom is okay.
If you are struggling, then please reach out. You can send me an email, or a message on Instagram. There are free lines you can call, where you can talk honestly about your problems. There are free, and private, therapy sessions you can attend with actual professionals. Family and friends are always there too. Whatever you are going through, you are not alone.
‘Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light’ – 10 points if you can name that quote!
As always, tight squeezes! X
P.S For any of you wonderful people who are struggling with your mental health, and could do with some self-care, please subscribe to my newsletter. I will send you a free copy of my '31 Day Self-Care Calendar', to help you on your way x