It’s Mental Health Awareness month y’all! This is a topic I write about each year because I’ve struggled with anxiety at varying levels in my years, and my experience with it has deeply shaped who I am and how I navigate life. Despite feeling suffocated and hopeless, my concerted efforts to turn that train around has made me a stronger and steadier person. I can say this after sufficient cycling between cold, heavy, metallic dread and warm, soft, buoyant contentment, along with all the other possible feelings in the human range.
While mine is a personal and ever-changing story, I’ve shared it on my blog to connect with others and show that we are all human beings, all imperfect walking bags of emotions. It’s hard out here for everybody.
My latest update mental health update is that I’m seeking therapy again to re-examine some of the existing anxieties that consistently come up for me, and recommitting to understanding myself more (yey!). Unlike the previous psychotherapy practices I’ve sought before, I am actually very excited about it, and approaching it with a mindset of curiosity and growth, rather than an SOS triage.
Although I’m learning this is quite common, my strongest, most visceral, most terrifying symptoms of anxiety come from relationships. Like the flick of a switch, I can go from being blissfully in love to terrified for my sanity in just a moment. Once it’s on, the anxiety finds a way to creep on me, always threatening my happiness. This has reinforced a belief that maybe I’m not meant to be loved or am incapable, and but it only takes verbalizing to realize how ridiculous internal beliefs can be, and why sometimes we need to be curious, patient, and flexible with ourselves to evolve. If I don’t do that, and sometimes I don’t, what results is an extreme and unfair pressure on my relationship partner, and it spirals me further away from what I want in life (lurve).
I’ve never publicly shared the source of my scariest anxiety before because it felt stupid, unworthy, and there’s a sense that saying it out loud makes it a **real** problem, rather than an imaginary one. But, the truth is that my anxiety is real AND imagined, and she’s HERE. What is more helpful and productive is to hold onto what I’ve found consistently true about anxiety: it’s a temporary state, and the resistance / denial / fear of it leads to even more suffering.
My favorite Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches a gentler approach. When I am in a more mindful state, I treat my anxieties like a crying, stressed out 5 year old version of myself who needs tenderness and care, and while that may not be as quick or as widely referenced in trap music as xanax, it’s a healthier, longterm, and free solution.
In any case, New-York-late-twenties-Tracy is interested in spending 45 minutes a week, working some internal triggers out and trying to be the best version of herself. Anyone else here considered therapy (yes)?
Logistically, I’m at the stage where I’m looking for in-network therapists because I am lucky enough to have health insurance, and out-of-network therapists can be super expensive, like $$$$ on yelp expensive, which alone can be anxiety-inducing, but for some people this is the right investment and choice. For now, I am open to in-network providers, and potentially through video therapy session (had not considered it, but may not be a bad option).
I will always support anyone who is helping themselves at any part of the journey, whether it’s climbing up out of a deep valley, keeping steady on unfamiliar terrain, or even making the most out of the summit. I appreciate that at any given moment, we can and will find ourselves in any of those metaphorical or literal situations. I hope that you take a moment to be thoughtful about what you need to care for yourself. Mental health is a life long marathon, y’all. Get going!