“Stay in the moment. The practice of staying present will heal you. Obsessing about how the future will turn out creates anxiety. Replaying broken scenarios from the past causes anger and sadness. Stay here, in this moment.” ~Sylvester McNutt
Like many people, I have an anxiety disorder that twists my thoughts and feelings. I call it my “anxiety octopus,” as it feels like there are tentacles in my brain triggering fear-based reactions for no reason. In everything, even things that I am confident in, I suddenly feel insecure and unsure.
It takes time to realize that the “anxiety octopus” has …
“Take care of your mind, your body will thank you. Take care of your body, your mind will thank you.” ~Debbie Hampton
4:00 p.m. I am suddenly aware of my heartbeat. It feels more insistent than normal. Is it faster? Is it jagged? Am I out of breath?
I try to reason with myself: I’ve just done a brisk walk pushing the stroller over some hills.
My anxiety responds: Those hills were awhile back… you wouldn’t be out of breath from that.
Anxiety sufferers have a heightened sense of, well, a lot of things. For me, I am acutely aware …
“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
Let’s be clear:
This isn’t an article about positive thinking.
This isn’t an article about how silver linings make everything okay.
This isn’t an article about how your perspective on anxiety is all wrong.
The kids call those things “toxic positivity.”
No toxic positivity here.
This is an article about my lifelong relationship with anxiety and what I’ve learned from something that won’t go away. At times the anxiety spikes and feels almost crippling. I have a hard time appreciating the learning at those times, but it’s still there.
That is what …
“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” ~John Green
I remember being fifteen. I was a high school freshman who loved drawing, books, Harry Potter, and Taylor Swift. I hated math class with a passion. I had a loving family and a small white dog named Maddie. I wanted to be a writer, and to have a boyfriend. I also wanted to die.
It started in seventh grade, when my best friend, Meghan, dumped me. You hear about romantic breakups all the time, but no one seems to talk about friendship breakups. They hurt a …
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you really are” ~Carl Jung
Yoga is often celebrated for its physical benefits: greater flexibility, increased strength, improved circulation, and so on. But nothing could have prepared me for the transformational effect that yoga has had on my mental health and well-being.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was fourteen, and I have struggled with both for most of my life. My mind was my worst enemy, constantly worrying and criticizing to the point where it became hard to do anything. Even the things I really wanted to …
“Sometimes just being there is enough.” ~Unknown
It felt like I couldn’t breathe. Like someone was holding me by the neck, against a wall, and the floor might drop beneath us at any moment.
I’m describing a panic attack, but this has actually happened to me before—being held by the neck against a wall, that is, not the other part. Growing up I experienced many moments like that, moments when I felt unsafe, physically and emotionally.
There were countless experiences that reinforced to me, over the years, that I couldn’t let my guard down, because at any moment I …
“When thinking about life, remember this: No amount of guilt can solve the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.” ~Unknown
I was buckled in on a small, twenty-person airplane, and we were heading toward the runway, when I looked out the window and saw the airplane wheel was wobbling.
I gathered my courage, unbuckled my seatbelt, and approached the flight attendant, who told me to sit back down.
“I think there’s something wrong with the wheel,” I said.
He looked out the window and said, “It’s fine.” But then he radioed the pilot, who turned the …
“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.” ~Paulo Coelho
“Am I focusing too much on my anxiety?”
This very question weighed heavily on my mind as I found myself in yet another bout of anxiety. I was playing professional baseball at the time, and I just couldn’t seem to free myself from the constant and unending worrisome thoughts racing through my head.
A lot of these thoughts centered around how …
“When the world feels like an emotional roller coaster, steady yourself with simple rituals. Do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Water the plants. Simplicity attracts wisdom.” ~Unknown
I’ve suffered from anxiety since my childhood, but it was only seven years ago that I was formally diagnosed.
My symptoms began to get worse after my long-term relationship ended and I felt like my world had collapsed around me.
I was suffering from extreme fatigue, having trouble concentrating, not sleeping well, and I was constantly worrying.
Over the next couple of years my mental health continued to deteriorate, and I had trouble …
“Perfectionism is the exhausting state of pretending to know it all and have it all together, all the time. I’d rather be a happy mess than an anxious stress case who’s always trying to hide my flaws and mistakes.” ~Lori Deschene
“That’s not how you do it!” I slammed the door as I headed outside, making sure my husband understood what an idiot he was. He’d made the appalling mistake of roasting potatoes for Thanksgiving instead of making stuffing.
He was cooking while I studied, trying to make sure I got a semblance of a holiday. We lived away from …
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” ~Oprah Winfrey
In 2012, during my community college years, I began to experience mild anxiety.
I assume it was the stress and fear that came with maintaining a good GPA in hope of transferring to a well-known university, alongside deciding what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Or perhaps it was because of the time I knew I’d wasted slacking in high school to fit in with what I was surrounded by and to …
“Your mind, emotions, and body are instruments and the way you align and tune them determines how well you play life.” ~Harbhajan Singh Yogi
The earliest memory of my anxiety was at ten years old in fifth grade.
I remember it so vividly because in middle school the bus came at 6:22am exactly in the morning.
Each night I would look at my Garfield clock and think, “If I fall asleep now, I’ll get five hours of sleep…. If I fall asleep now, I’ll get four hours of sleep… If I fall asleep now, I’ll get three hours of sleep…”…
“Lean into the discomfort of the work.” ~ Brené Brown
Anxiety was the core of my existence for decades.
When I look back at my life over that time, what comes to mind first is the constant tension in my chest, a knotted stomach, and a lump in my throat.
From the outside, my life looked great. I was college-educated, had a good job, was in a relationship; I lived in a nice place, had a decent car, and enough money to buy organic food and a gym membership.
But I was miserable.
Not only was I anxious all the …
“Beneath every behavior there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when we meet that need, rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom.” ~Ashleigh Warner
Do you ever wonder what creates anxiety and why so many people are anxious?
Anxiety doesn’t just come from a thought we’re thinking, it comes from inside our body—from our internal patterning, where unresolved trauma, deep shame, and painful experiences are still “running.”
It often comes from false underlying beliefs that say, “Something’s wrong with me, I’m flawed, I’m bad, …
“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.” ~Robert Tew
“I have bad news. I am sorry. You have cancer.”
Sitting in the cold, clinical doctor’s office on a snowy, cloudy January day in Chicago, I was six months postpartum with my daughter, and I felt like I had woken up in a nightmare.
My husband had gone to work that day when I was supposed to have my stitches removed after the laparoscopic surgery to remove a large cyst, so I was alone with my daughter.
When Dr. Foley entered the room, I took one …