This is a topic that is kind of sensitive and difficult to talk about but the whole point of this blog was to be honest and open and therefore wanted to share my journey with Anxiety. I truly believe that, once you open up about anxiety it’s easier to overcome it.
I recently realized I had anxiety a few years ago and now suddenly, everyone is talking about it. Influencers, athletes and other famous people who are incredibly successful, everyone is talking about it and suddenly it feels more accepted. Once I started reading about anxiety and different peoples experiences, it started to make more sense to me, all those feeling inside me, there was a reason for it. And the best part was that, I was not alone. People that I had followed for years had the same issue and I felt less shameful.
What is anxiety? Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress and people who deal with anxiety can go through very different experiences. But the core problem is probably the same and needs to be treated one way or another. This is for everyone that goes through any kind of stress or anxiety. For me personally I never really felt stressed, but very anxious.
How did I realize I had anxiety? Well, looking back, maybe I always had it, but like I said, I never really felt stressed. I think I am a very hyper person who likes to do many things at the same time so why would I be stressed? Stress is fun and it keeps me busy. As a person, I am very outgoing, but growing up I was probably more insecure than I appeared to the world. I did not really grow up with the attitude to be confident and independent and to stand up for myself. My parents were more old school and I grew up in a more traditional household where my parents wanted me to have a high education, get married and have children and live happily ever after. I am not saying that they were the blame for my anxiety, absolutely not. They were doing their job to raise a family the way they grew up. The problem was, I didn’t agree with their life philosophy and therefore had issues finding myself. Was happiness about finding someone and get married?
After moving to the States, I started to feel a lot of anxiety and loneliness, I had just left behind my home, family and friends, but according to my parents this was the path to happiness, right? I was desperate to find new friends and to call USA my new home. It took me over 2 years to make this place a home (again, this is my personal journey, I have plenty of friends that were fine moving to a new country). It was hard getting back to the work routine and finding a network I was comfortable with.
What does this have to do with anxiety? Well I think my anxiety got out of hand when I became a mom and realized I suddenly had to take care of another person who clearly could feel my anxiety. There was many nights when I was alone with my son (traveling work hubby) where I would basically cry with the baby (crazy crying baby and anxious mom is the worst combo), until one day I hit a point and STOPPED feeling sorry for myself. One night when he was sleeping (cause they are the cutest when they sleep, lets just admit that) I realized I just wasted 2.5 months of my motherhood crying cause I could not breast feed, I did not feel that immediate bond and it just had to be the C-section, right?
The day I realized being an imperfect parent was OK, I started to gain confidence by handling hard situations by myself and gained strength from it. I also noticed that when I was calm, so was the baby. So I was aware I had anxiety issues and it needed to be treated asap. I was losing precious time by feeling sorry for myself. Obviously, there were a lot of hormones involved, but I just decided that I was going to change my attitude and become a more positive person. There will always be hard days, its part of parenthood, but when you change your attitude, things just get easier. Does it mean that the anxiety goes away? NO, you have to work on it (at least for me).
How did I treat my anxiety? First you have to acknowledge it. I have anxiety and I want to deal with it, it shall not take over my life and I am going to get through it. This might sound silly, but I learned this from my therapist. Yes, you heard me right, I have a therapist. In the past I would probably never be able to admit this, but I think most people would benefit from a therapist. I did feel weird the first few times, I would judge myself as I would walk into my session (was I a crazy person?). But as soon as I met her, I knew I made the right decision and she also thought me the power of meditation. If I don’t help myself, no one will. We are in charge of our own future. Here I am being a mom, something I had been dreaming of my whole life, and all I felt was anxiety. So by treating it, things started to feel different. I started to feel gratitude for the many things I had. But it’s a lifestyle and something I work on everyday. I am happy to be 35 and realizing this and not 50, life is so short.
If you have never been though anxiety and can’t relate to this subject in any matter, I completely understand. A lot of people may look at me and see me as ungrateful. I promise you, I am not ungrateful. Anxiety is a real thing and we need to be able to talk about it. I just needed to learn to practice gratitude and make it a routine. It sounds weird, but it’s just reality for some people. When you are in a dark hole, it’s very hard to see all the amazing things we have in life, even if it seems ungrateful.
Now as a mom, I plan to teach Milan to be happy for himself, and to also practice gratitude. I won’t just tell him, eat your food cause there are children starving. Instead, teach him that we need to be grateful and happy and find the things in life that makes us feel that way. Explore and communicate and find what your passion is. If you want to be happy, only you yourself have to make you happy. Don’t depend on someone else for happiness. It’s all an attitude and as I accept that anxiety is a part of me and therefore started to find solutions.
Things that worked for me:
- Working out (in any form) – It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your body
- Meditation – This was an idea from my therapist that took me weeks to understand but once you do, it’s amazing!
- Gratitude journal – I got a 5 min journal where I white three things that I am grateful for every morning and then three things before bed. Simple but very powerful.
- Self-help books – I just love self-help books, and I will post some that worked for me.
Milan was always sick from his first year of daycare and therefore till this day, my gratitude journal starts with; thankful for my son waking up healthy.
These four things might not be for you, but they are key for me and my anxiety journey. I now have a very simple goal and one new year’s resolution every year, live in the present (that has been the hardest for me). Live for the moment and enjoy the little things in life and always practice gratitude even on those days that are little darker.
“The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become”
I am going to post a 10 day mediation challenge using one of my fave meditation app (headspace, or you can use Insight timer). If you are interested, please join and see if its something for you, anxiety or no anxiety.