By Paige Jordan
The majority of my life growing up, I was a nervous wreck. Many factors contributed to my anxiety. Having a speech impediment, having a parent that was absent and addicted to drugs, and low self-esteem were just a few factors that caused me to struggle with anxiety.
I used to struggle with feeling like I didn’t fit in. I went through life always trying to make people like me, becoming a people pleaser. Anxiety can make you feel like you’re not accepted by others.
In order for me to feel like I was accepted, I felt like I had to say yes to everyone’s request or be the best in everything I did. If I didn’t say yes to a request, I felt like I would come off as mean or I felt like I would lose a friend. If I wasn’t the best in everything I did, I felt like a failure because I put my sense of self-worth into my accomplishments. If I didn’t get praise or acknowledgment for what I did, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. The thoughts and emotions that come with anxiety can drive you crazy.
For years I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. Anything would trigger them. I would have a test coming up and would have a panic attack while studying. Being around certain family members would cause me to have panic attacks. If someone didn’t recognize my efforts or pay attention to me, I would tear myself down. If a guy I was dating didn’t return my texts right away, I would freak out and be paranoid that he was cheating. I avoided making new friends because I also had social anxiety, constantly feeling awkward and less than others.
Anxiety controlled me.
It made me mentally and physically sick. I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers at the age of 14 because the anxiety had taken a toll on my body. The anxiety attacks would also trigger migraines that would send me to the ER sometimes.
I missed out on so many opportunities because of anxiety and panic attacks.
One time I was hospitalized due to a panic attack when I was 18 years old because I thought I was having a heart attack. I remember the nurse practitioner barging into the triage room and saying to me, “What’s wrong with you??” I had no answer.
She prescribed me a medication that would help me calm down when I felt a panic attack coming on. I took pills only a few times and then threw them away because I didn’t want to be dependent on pills for the rest of my life.
I didn’t want to live like this for the rest of my life. I knew that the anxiety attacks were happening because of something deeper, because of unresolved issues that I had to deal with.
So I went on a journey to heal myself of this disease. I knew I had to do some soul and spiritual searching in order to overcome this battle with anxiety.
I’m glad to say that over the years, I have overcome my battle with anxiety and I feel so good!
I forgave my father, who was the biggest factor that triggered my anxiety. You don’t realize how much anger and bitterness cause you anxiety until you let it go.
2. Prayer and scripture reading
I began to activate my faith and build an actual relationship with God. I meditated on scripture that spoke to my situation and released all of my worries through prayer.
3. I accepted myself
I finally accepted myself and stopped pressuring myself to be perfect, something that would never happen. I stopped trying to be the best at everything. I stopped comparing myself to others and I made sure that I only surrounded myself with people who really cared about me.
4. I let go
I stopped trying to be in control of everything. I accepted that bad things happen in life and instead of trying to avoid it, I embraced it. I accepted the unpredictability of life and learned to just go with the flow.
5. I learned the power of no
I put so much pressure on myself by saying yes to anything and everything. Even things I didn’t want to do, things that brought no joy. When I learned to say no, I felt like I gained control of the direction that I wanted my life to go in. When I stopped trying to please others, I became happier.
6. I started journaling
I love journaling. I love releasing my thoughts onto paper. Once it’s on paper, it’s out of my head. Anxiety and anxious thoughts felt almost like a stomach bug to me. The only way to get it out of my system was to vomit it on paper, with words.
Don’t let anxiety control you or ruin your life. I understand that sometimes, medication is necessary but sometimes it’s not. If you can find the root cause of your anxiety, do it. It can be a scary journey but your freedom from anxiety is worth it. We all have moments when we are nervous or anxious about something. However, living with chronic anxiety is no way to live. Be free.