I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder (and clinical depression) the summer after I graduated high school. The diagnosis was and still is a big deal because black people hardly go to the physical doctor so they really don’t go to the head doctor. There was an incident my senior year with in the principals office when I went postal and almost ended up in handcuffs. I told my mother that at times, I felt like I literally couldn’t control myself. Later, I realized that these were anxiety attacks and very treatable.
I carry my anxiety in my chest. When I’m having an attack, my chest gets tight and my heart beats very fast. Different people with anxiety disorder have different symptoms. It is my desire to educate people through my experience and encourage ERRRbody to go to therapy and get on the necessary medicines that you need. Especially, people of color; just having this brown skin is enough reason to go talk to somebody about our frustrations.
Also, especially Christians. Sitting in a pew and praying that thing away is not the solution for everything (that’s another post for another day). I wholeheartedly believe in the power of prayer and faith. I also believe God gave DOCTORS the knowledge and us the MEDICINE to be able to function a little better. Diabetic people take their insulin. I make sure I take my anti depressants/anti anxiety medicine.
That being said, with prayer and taking my medicine there were some things I’ve had to do recently to.. shrink my anxiety if you will. Put together a little list that I hope helps somebody. Like to hear it, hear it go.
1. I Moved
My lease was up in May/June. It was time for me to move out of that place. My roommate moved her boyfriend in, they were playing house (again, another post for another day) while I was paying the electricity, cable and internet by myself. I addressed the issue with her, told her I didn’t sign up to live with him and nothing really happened. I came home vexed daily. The resentment I felt paying half the bills with 3 people living in the house added to my daily anxiety. I couldn’t enjoy my own townhouse. I stayed in my room all the time because I was not feeling my living situation.
Your home must be your sanctuary. Being out all day at work is supposed to be a little stressful, coming home is supposed to be relief. I wasn’t getting that. I’ve moved and now look forward to coming home.
I spend lots of time in my car and in my room and because those are the two places I eat there’s always lots of trash in these spaces. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. I’m addicted to Thorton’s ice and I just threw away 4 of those 40 oz cups from my room. Again, your home has to be your sanctuary.
Cleaning and decluttering has never been a habit of mine because my mother has OCD and did it for me my whole life. She STILL cleans out my car and room when I go home. The de-cluttering habit is still being worked on. Yall pray my strength in the Lord. LOL
3. I stopped carrying around 2 cell phones
I had my personal phone and my business phone. I realized I was constantly looking for the other phone while I had one in my hand. They both were constantly ringing and buzzing. One of them was always about dead and I was constantly looking for a charger or an outlet to keep them both charged. I never knew which number to give out.. It was just too much. Nobody should be constantly accessible. With two phones, ‘me’ time was very hard. I turned off the business phone (which is saving us about $70 a month) and sold it for a similar model. I’m giving away the old personal phone to someone who provides phones for soldiers stationed abroad.
3b. I turned off sound notifications and the vibration feature
The chime of text messages, emails, facebook, twitter, tinder, & games is unnecessary. I check my phone when I want, not when it tells me to. I also always silence it when I’m sleeping. People always say ‘what if it’s an emergency?’ If it’s an emergency, call 911. I’m not the ambalamps. Society functioned just fine without cell phones. I’ll wake up and check my messages eventually.
4. I turned off my cable
As I’ve gotten older, I rarely watch TV. I still haven’t plugged in the one TV I have in my new place. The news and reality TV are my guilty pleasures. But I had to realize they can be poisonous and constantly trying to get home to make sure I catch the latest LHHATL or Catfish takes away from quality time with friends and just being out of the house enjoying myself. I do have wifi in the new spot and use netflix or DVDs if i want to watch something. I mostly listen to music in my leisure time though. Also, I’m saving about $100 a month. Eliminating anxiety is saving me around $170 a month so far. Ain’t God good?!
5. I got off Facebook/Twitter (as often)
As someone who’s profession is heavily involved in social media, I had to deliberately NOT get on facebook and twitter. People only share what they want to and looking on your screen seeing happy couples and people having babies while you’re laying in bed alone is depressing. I have no desire to be in a relationship or be somebody’s wife or momma for the next 5-10 years but social media can still make a young single person feel out of place.
Another reason I got off social media is because when we overshare our lives, we let people’s opinions and energy influence us and that is not what we are made for. We are made to have some privacy, some intimate moments that we don’t let everybody see. There is power in sharing our lives, but there is peace in keeping some things private.
I do miss live tweeting/facebooking shows and I’ll probably turn my cable back on (in a limited capacity) when Scandal comes back because there are some things I just must have (LOL) but it is important to know that I don’t need to sit in front of the TV to relax anymore.
6. I take my medicine
I’m habitually scatterbrained and side tracked. If I go more than about 30 hours without my medicine I may get nauseous, have a headache, an anxiety attack or a number of things. It is important for me to take my medicine every 24 hours. I set an alarm on my phone that says “Take your Medicine”
7. I budgeted my money for the next 4 months
I believe money causes all of us anxiety. I’m a ‘free lancer’ in my field and with one of my main jobs I get a check every 4 months instead of the regular 15th and the 30th. Last check I didn’t budget as well as I should have and ran out of money too early. This month I made a chart and made sure that my bills would be paid until October. That eliminated a HELL of alot of anxiety.
Working my body as hard as my mind has really lined up my energy in a positive way. Also, I have a hell of a lot of weight to drop. I joined a bootcamp with a wonderful (scary) trainer and a bunch of ladies who aren’t scared to yell at me but are also very encouraging. It is one of the most positive things I’ve done for myself in my life. Pushing your body and mind to it’s limits sweats out physical and mental toxins and also makes you realize that this thing is mental and you have control over not only your body but your life as well.
9. I’m learning to express my feelings.
I may need to cry. I made need to punch something. I may need a hug or somebody to talk to. I had to realize that those needs make me human. Friday, we buried my grandmother’s sister. We ALL sat there and hugged each other and cried because we miss grandmomma and we will miss Aunt “Nit”. I found myself beating myself up Friday night because my heart was so heavy with grief. But why shouldn’t it be? My grandmother’s generation is slowly going home to be with the Lord and I (we) miss them. It was the day of one of my favorite aunt’s funerals and I was supposed to be sad. I was supposed to want to cry.
I am a Christian. My identity is wrapped in Christ. I had to improve my prayer life. “Oh what peace we often forfeit…” I had to go to the word of God, the love letter He inspired for us to realize that He has plans for me and I must walk in His will and EVERYTHING will come into place.
This is all a process, I’m not telling anybody what they need to do, i’m just sharing this particular part of my journey. I pray it helps somebody. I hope it inspires. I hope somebody feels compelled to share.
I think this is the longest one I’ve wrote in years! Whew!
Thank you for reading, thank you for passing it along. Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.