YOU ARE THE WORST: What to do when your mind messes with your own self-worth

I am working away on a typical Thursday when I hear the *ping* of my AIM chat ring. My work bestie copied and pasted a conversation that she was having with a guy we work with, who is also a mutual friend. “Hilarious!” she writes. Keep in mind, there is NOTHING malicious about what she is doing. We are friends, she has my back. She is part of my girl gang. Little does she know, however, that she has thrown a cantaloupe sized grenade into my anxious mind.

It starts with a pit in my stomach that makes me feel like I’m going to puke. Then my mind takes over the conversation. They are talking without you. Do they always talk without you? Probably. Is this a daily thing? Probably an hourly thing. You haven’t had your own conversation with him in days. Most likely because he’s over being your friend. Doesn’t want to talk to you anymore. Do you need to find a new job? Does everyone hate you? Are the new girls who just started much better than you? Will they take your job and your friends?

By now, the dizziness and tunnel vision sets in. As everyone continues to chatter around me in our cubes, I secretly panic, remembering that I’ve gained twenty pounds since I graduated from college 6 years ago. That’s probably why everyone is over you. Because you are fat and gross. I begin to job search. All of the best jobs in my field are in LA. You should have gone to school in LA. If you went to school in LA, you’d be rich. And skinny. I can barely move.

And that’s how – in a span of 20 seconds or less – I’ve lost complete control over my mind.

Regaining my mind is something that I have to practice on a daily basis. Some days are easier than others, and this situation was particularly difficult.  I had a really bad fight with my husband the night before so my anxiety was already high by this morning. When you can’t get up and leave (like when you are sitting at your desk at work or in a meeting, for example), it can be really hard to dig yourself out of a negative mindset. But it can be done and it’s really important to do so as quickly as possible. Not everything has to be sunshine and bunnies every single day, but by wallowing in your negative thoughts you are only allowing that anxiety to grow like a weed. So what can you do?

Write it down. This blog post is currently serving as my therapeutic remedy to heal an anxious mind. As I continue to type, I can feel the weight being lifted. I am fighting my anxiety by realizing that I am in the present moment. As everyone calms down and gets back to work around me, I realize that there is no reason for me to stress if I am not involved in one short conversation. I am loved. I have a support system. I will be okay.

Practice your breath. I have found that deep, long breathing allows my body to relax and that automatically helps my mind to slow down. It’s scientifically proven that there is a connection between your body and your mind when related to anxiety and stress. The ADAA has a few resources for this that I have found to be very helpful.

Stay present. If you are in a situation like I was, at work, try to do everything you can to stay focused in the present moment. Think of it as a battle with your mind. You are not your mind and you can overcome it. Continue to answer emails, plan your calendar for the day, or anything else that allows you to focus on what tasks are at hand at that exact moment. It’s important to realize that while you can blame these anxious thoughts on your mind, it is still your responsibility to rule your own well-being.

Walk away. This needs no explanation. If you can’t get out of your anxious mind, walk away. If you are working at your desk, go for a walk. If you are in a meeting, politely excuse yourself and take the long way to the bathroom. You will feel better just by focusing on your change of scenery.

Once you start to feel better (and you will – it might take a few minutes or a few hours, but I promise that you will), you need to applaud the fact that you got through it. The fact that you able to recognize your anxious thoughts means that you are self-aware. You have self-worth. That is something worth celebrating!

24/7 news = 24/7 anxiety

facebooknewsfeed

No joke, this is an actual screenshot of my current Facebook news feed. Where the fuck do I even start? In approximately thirty seconds or less, I have been exposed to Donald’s latest racist antics, missiles fired from North Korea, John Legend and Ariana Grande bringing back the classics, our US Marines sexually harassing female colleagues, and hundreds of animals dying at a zoo exactly 4,468 miles away from my current location. Feeling anxious 24/7? Um, of course you are.

It’s truly no wonder why our generation is overprescribed Adderall and underprescribed meditation. Why we have trouble focusing or why we are constantly trying to save the world, one online petition at a time. Up until the last 10 years or so, people – especially easily swayed young people – did not have access to information as easily as we have it now. This obviously had led to so many positive things as we connect with people all over the world. But it has also led to an overwhelming bout of anxiety as we are as equally exposed to the negative happenings. So, how do you deal?

  1. Take a social media break. After a certain point in the night, take a break from your phone. I’ve found that even watching trash TV (I am NOT the type of person to cut out all tech before bed #sorrynotsorry) helps to ease your mind instead of tackling a new topic before you end your day.
  2. Meditate. Be in the present moment. Realize that you are a being on a planet of 7 billion. While it is obviously important and encouraged to help others, it’s also important to help yourself. Realize that the only thing you can control are your own thoughts and actions.
  3. Focus on your inner circle. There are times when my anxiety kicks in and I begin to feel helpless. Like no matter what I do, the world keeps turning and it’s good, bad and ugly. I like to call my best girlfriends and get together for dinner or drinks (just a couple) and chat about the good, bad and ugly in their lives instead. It’s a personal connection that you can control and help a sister out.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by your news feed? How do you handle it?

purgatory is the life of a 28 year old girl

These types of memes are everywhere these days. Making fun of the fact that most 28 year olds are in total limbo, and it couldn’t be more true. My best friend got engaged last night and I congratulated her on the way out the door to dinner with my husband. After dinner, we went over to another friend’s house where shots and beers were free flowing. We accompanied him to a ridiculously boujee bar downtown where he was meeting up with a new girl. Because we are such great friends (ha) we stayed out until 2am drinking and trying to dance to obnoxious EDM music. Literally two different worlds – my husband and I stuck in the middle of them.

Today could have gone one of two ways. I could wake up in a panic. Beat myself up for staying in bed all day or missing the gym. Or I could take it easy. I could realize that I’ve got NO plans until later this evening and spend the day slowly cleaning the house and doing laundry. Doing things that I enjoy, like reading and writing. And that’s what I’m doing. I am realizing that I am in control of the way that I shape my day. Each day does not have to be the most successful day of your life. Sometimes, if the coolest thing you can do today is guess the movie that’s on Comedy Central by only watching the opening credits and without looking at the title (mine was Napoleon Dynamite), that is freaking enough.

I can become the world’s next biggest success tomorrow. Or at least make time for the gym.

Lazy Day Essentials

where do I begin?

“I was talking to your father today, briefly,” my mom began. “He said when you finally figure this stuff out, you are just going to be kick ass.”

I know that this was her way of making me feel better, but God, that felt like a lot of pressure. This happened a day after I finally let my anxiety win in a very public way. After a week of stressors like work deadlines and a flat tire and parking garage fender bender, and a trip planned for the weekend, I thought I could take the edge off by hitting the town for a friend’s birthday the night before I left. Now, keep in mind – this has NEVER worked in the past for me but  after persuaded myself into thinking I could juggle it all I ended up thinking that things were going to go my way. That I was going to wake up Friday morning feeling refreshed and satisfied with my party antics. Yeah, totally.

Instead, Friday morning catapulted towards me in a complete state of panic. When 6 AM rolled around I wasn’t packed, wasn’t ready to go to work, and the booze leaving my body left me feeling dizzy and disoriented. Physically and mentally sick and exhausted, I literally could not leave my bed. I had to get my car fixed, head into the office and then run off to the airport for the 5th time in 2 months.

My depression (which usually comes after a bout of panic) set in and I couldn’t think of anything more horrible than getting ready for another weekend of excessive eating, drinking and socializing. So, after hours of overanalyzing and worrying I pulled the plug.

Cancelling on my best friends made me feel horrible. My depression began to creep up on me even more and convinced my mind that they will never speak to me again. That I will end up alone, with nothing but the drunk memories of Thursday night to haunt me when I get to work on Monday (keep in mind, nothing “bad” happened on Thursday. But when you suffer from such bad anxiety, you literally comb through every waking memory and dissect it until you are convinced that you somehow made a fool of yourself.) Of course, my besties were not upset. I didn’t get into the details of why I couldn’t make it. Just that I was so terribly sick that I couldn’t get out of bed. Which really isn’t wrong. It’s just hard to explain that my symptoms were more mental than physical.

Back to what my mother said. “When you finally figure this out…” It’s hard to put a countdown on something like that. Will I ever truly “figure it out”? How many more times do I need to go through this before I realize that a combination of alcohol, lack of sleep, shitty food and focusing on the wrong people in my life is really not helping. When I visited my therapist the following week, she told me that I shouldn’t look at it as “letting the anxiety win”. Instead, I should look at my decision to cancel my trip as a personal self-care choice that I made for myself.

That’s why I am starting this blog. As a personal self-care choice that I sure hope will help me stick to a plan of wellness and health and help other people battle with their own anxiety and depression as well. My journey needs to begin now. Do you suffer from anxiety or depression? How do you cope?