I have been with Anxiety Resource Center for eight months now, (Time does fly when you’re having fun!) and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve already learned so much about anxiety, it’s symptoms and the multitude of ways in which it can present itself. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be in the presence of such intelligent, compassionate therapists who have been more than willing to share with me the complexities involved in helping people deal with anxiety.

     I have often joked that I surround myself with “nervous women.” Nearly all of my closest friends battle with their anxiety symptoms in some way, shape or form. Before I became the enlightened and evolved woman I am today (all it took was eight short months) I was part of the problem in the lives of the people I claim to love. I didn’t get it. I have anxiety. We all have anxiety, but I acted as though the things that my friends did, how they reacted to things, was a nuisance, and looking at it now frankly embarrasses me. Since the overwhelming empathy of Katy, Laura, Paula and Kelsey has started to rub off on me, I feel that it is only right to offer apologies to all of the “nervous women” in my life.

    I’m sorry for all of the times when I tossed out such nuggets of wisdom as “It’ll be okay.” “There’s nothing to worry about.” or the tried and true (and pretty insulting) “Calm down!” while you were in the midst of being held hostage by your anxiety. I realize now that what is needed when symptoms rear their ugly head is support, plain and simple. I’ve also learned that in some cases, silence isn’t just okay, it’s required. Just knowing that someone gets you help those not so great feelings subside a bit. The last thing you need is a friend barking demands at you.

    I’m sorry that I stopped checking in with you after the fourth or fifth time that you cancelled plans, not realizing that sometimes you just weren’t up for it. I’m sorry that I didn’t share with you the times when I felt the exact same way. I chalked my anti-social behavior up to just being cranky or burnt out from work, but anxiety is a tricky beast, and presents itself in many forms. Had I realized my own mechanisms when those Automatic Negative Thoughts hit, and recognized how my own symptoms wipe the floor with my psyche, I would have been far more understanding of yours.

     I’m sorry that I added on to your stress by dumping my emotional garbage onto your pile whenever you came to me for advice, not recognizing that you needed and ear, but seeing it as a venting session. I should have listened and offered encouragement and support instead of jumping in before you could finish a thought to add my own toxicity to your already heaping pile. I realize that when someone needs the space to talk through whatever less than great feelings they are dealing with, they are looking for just that, space. They aren’t looking for a Greek chorus.

    I’m sorry that I pushed you away when your anxiety caused you to go above and beyond in your need to take care of everyone. Or I seemed resentful at your obsession with perfection. What I saw as an annoyance, or an infringement on my own life was you just trying to make a little order out of yours. I have replaced my unfounded irritation with profound gratitude, but be warned, I will still try to make you stop taking care of me…so that you can focus some of that love and care onto yourself.

    Finally, I’m sorry that the world has made it hard for you to feel seen and understood. I’m sorry for people like myself who say how much they love you, but diminish your suffering with terms like “nervous women.” I’m sorry for the people who do not understand that your symptoms do present in ways that can completely wreck you in a moment’s notice; mentally and physically as well as emotionally, and I’m sorry that you’ve felt that you’ve had to put on a brave face and power through just so that you won’t have your pain dismissed or have to hear “Calm down!” for the 1,000,000th time.

    BUT I will tell you that if I can make this much progress in changing my mindset in eight months of working with therapists in a professional role, just imagine what you can accomplish by working with one in a personal role. Self-care isn’t just scheduling a massage, getting a mani/pedi, or sleeping in. It’s also getting right from the inside out, and an investment in your mental health is worth everything. It’s like scheduling a massage for your soul. I see you. I see you now more clearly than I have ever seen you before, and I know that there is an answer when it comes to overcoming your anxiety.

#rethinkanxiety #breathe #automaticnegativethoughts  #amazingwomenstressfullives