The first time I met anxiety, it took my breath away. And no, it never felt like a love story, but it felt a lot like forever. Anxiety would dangle promises of a lifetime before my eyes, but it didn’t realise that I was becoming tangled in a love triangle between me, myself and I.
I, who had to learn how to love myself despite living with you.
Breathe. Breathe deeply. Breathe slowly. Breathe breaths more frantic than before, and more laboured than the rest because despite your best efforts anxiety will often take your breath away; like it did on that first day. That first day, when you felt the balloon pop. That first day, when you felt like you’d never be able to catch your breath again; but you did, and you will, every time. Just breathe.
Eat well. Eat plenty. Eat in spite of the voice that tells you not to. Every time anxiety tells you that you’re full, reply “anxiety, you’re full of shit’. Anytime it promises you that you will be sick, let it be known that you’re already sick of it. Drink water. Drown the bad thoughts. Wash them away like chalk drawings in the rain. Train your body and your mind to find peace in a good meal.
Flow. Anxiety is a river. And maybe it’s been tainted, but there is still some good in it. You are the good in it. You are currently stuck in its current and feeling off balance but who cares about balance when you can just flow? You never know what’s just around the river bend so bend and swirl and flow.
Exercise. Run down hills like you did as a child; before growing up made you afraid of going downhill. Run the distance between where you are and where you want to be. Be the two steps forward and forget the one step back. Run your life back on track. Take baby steps. Take giant leaps. Feel your heart race faster than you ever could. Feel your lungs fill and empty like a balloon in process. Do not fear the pop you felt on that first day. Lay footsteps and footprints and listen because this is the sound of moving forward.
Stay home; but not in a house. There are things to be explored so build a home inside your skin and bones; they already house greatness. You have shoulders built to carry the weight of the world. And hands built to hold onto love. Connect with people and stand together like apartments, side by side. You have feet like tents, built for travelling. Learn not to build houses inside of people who will never be home, put your security in yourself. You are home, and you are home.
Be kind. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Let kindness be the sunshine that warms you. Let the universe reward your sunshine with brighter days. See how kindness pulls people in tighter like the hug you so desperately needed. Hold onto kindness like an old friend, let it be your comfort zone so when you are kind you are home.
Go outside. Be in nature and let it nurture you. Learn from trees. Watch them change their leaves from green to orange. Watch them shed said leaves and see them swirl like dragon breath, understand that this same fire lies in you. Sit in the grass and feel the first friendly blades between your fingers. Watch flowers open up and be beautiful in doing so. Grow like grass, shake like trees and be open.
Be an anxious person. Be present. Be panicked. Be positive. Be positively certain that you are still a person. Understand that anxiety is just something you have; It’s not who you are. You are so much more than a nervous system. You are more like a solar system of stardust and sunshine; so keep yourself in a sunshine state of mind. Find your space. Remind yourself that there are constellations of stars you haven’t seen yet and you have to be alive to see them. See stars fall and understand that people are still wishing on them, just like people are wishing on you no matter how many times you stumble. Let anxiety humble you. Let it pull you from your comfort zone and push you to become the person you were always meant to be. Be an anxious person. Just be.
If you need help please talk to friends, family, a GP, therapist or one of the free confidential helpline services. For a full list of national mental health services see yourmentalhealth.ie.
- Samaritans 116 123 or email email@example.com
- Pieta House National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement) or text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
- Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
If living in Ireland you can find accredited therapists in your area here: