What is Anxiety? Anxiety isn’t just someone feeling nervous…anxiety is a full body and mind, emotionally and physically draining experience . It is a silent chaos that takes control of your greatest fears and injects them in to your everyday life situations. Anxiety is a dreadful feeling that weighs so heavy on your heart, that you just can’t bring yourself to interact with the world because you cannot mask the havoc inside of you.
Staying inside is a self sabotaging battle. You desperately want to be included but you are horrified of not being good enough for their standard of proper social interaction. So you make excuses and continue to feel like a fraud because you cannot admit that you are just not mentally well enough right now to see anyone. The stigma is real and even though we are here spreading the word about our suffering, we still feel like there is much work to be done. Until we can call in to work due to having a rough day with a mental health issue and not be judged, until we can tell our friends we can’t go to that event because it will trigger our social anxiety and not be laughed at, until we can be open with our families that we cry so much more than we laugh and not be bombarded with more tough love….only then will a transformation of taken place.
But I want you to know where my story changed and where my own personal transformation commenced. Because let’s be real, waiting for society to change is not in our control but what is in our control is changing ourselves.
In 2012 I hit rock bottom. Rock bottom was the best thing that could have happened to me. I lost myself completely and that was actually my saving grace. I was so broken down that my former foundation that I had created myself from, was demolished. To most this would be nothing short of a catastrophe but for me…it was exactly what I needed. Why you ask? Because the old me was an unhealthy me. I had no confidence…I LITERALLY MEAN NO CONFIDENCE. I thought I was an embarrassment. I felt like my husband naturally would want to hide me because I was repulsive. I thought friends only invited me to be polite and I thought family felt stuck with me. I had no concept of self love and it caused the most awful concoction of anxiety mixed with a heart breaking depression.
I got so fed up with struggling to speak up, I got sick of hating my reflection, I got so frustrated with the limits I had placed on my own life…. I got so sick of being sick. I was done with feeling intimidated and less than good enough and I decided I had to figure this out. If not for me, for my children. I couldn’t allow myself to be less then they deserved and I couldn’t keep sheltering them because of my constant anxiety. It took a new level of commitment from myself that I had never known existed inside of me. It took a COMPLETE lifestyle change. It was not just a few tweaks here and there…this meant changing how I spoke about myself, how I managed my thoughts, how I analyzed situations, how I challenged myself and the list goes on. YES it was not easy, in fact it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done BUT it changed my life and made me the polar opposite of how I used to be. I am here to tell all of you that if I can do it there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you can do it too.
I feel like I have moved mountains. I stand so strong now because I know there is nothing in life that I can’t handle. I also have a deep understanding that there will be things that make me uncomfortable but I now possess the ability to make a healthy decision about whether or not I need to endure that situation or if I should walk away. I respect that I am different from others and do have a preference for a lot of alone time, self reflection through introspection and constant self healing. I know now that I have boundaries of things I will and won’t do and I am allowed to say no to people and say yes to myself without feeling guilty. Self care comes first and foremost and prioritizing yourself is imperative to lasting recovery.
By Leigha Benson
Anxiety and Self Esteem Coach