You know whenever Facebook sends you a notification letting you know that Susie Lou sent you a friends request AGAIN and you're like "Okay Susie is was really cool talking to you in line at Walmart today but we are not on a FB friend level I am sorry but .. *IGNORE*."
Well, I did that with my anxiety for a long time.
One time I was driving in the car with a friend on the way to listen to Jordan Lee Dooley speak and in the midst of a heart to heart she just stopped me and said "dude you have high functioning anxiety". I was confused at what that even was, so when I googled it I realized, she wasn't wrong. In fact, this wasn't the first time I had heard it either.
I realized that having High Functioning Anxiety means that I act like I have it all under control and keep packing my schedule so tight until I either 1.) shut down or 2.) break down. And there is a difference. When I shut down I mean like, power off mode battery at 0% shut down. I don't want to leave my bed and when I do I am grumpy and really don't want to speak to people. When I break down I am sobbing in public, and almost impulsively removing myself from all the commitments I swore I could show up in.
If we're totally honest, it was a pride thing. I didn't want to admit that I had flaws. I thought that when I admitted that I had High Functioning Anxiety that I would be seen as weak, or unqualified for any extracurricular's that required me to be in a high intensity environment and that isn't the case.
I am a hard worker, and I love the adrenaline high of planning, coordinating, and working on projects by specific deadlines. I am motivated by inspiring and encouraging change in others by leading. But I am at fault for not serving my commitments to the best of my ability because I refuse to say "no" in fear of offending or hurting other people.
Saying "no" is nearly impossible for me. I don't want to upset or offend anyone so I just over-commit which leads my anxiety to flare up and my body to react in awful ways. I get sick, I act snotty, and I lose sight of the one thing that keeps me grounded: my faith.
With prayer and patience only did I recently stop ignoring my anxiety's friend request and just let them in on my life. I chose to welcome it to the network of what makes me, me. Because in all honesty, the longer I chose to ignore it the worse things were getting. My body was stiff, my head was always aching, I kept my contact with people small, and my relationships were struggling.
Anxiety only eases, when you do. Therefore, I made a promise to take care of myself and my mind because if I am not serving myself, then how do I expect to serve anybody else? I simply cannot lead a team of creatives if I am not allowing myself to be creative myself. Nor can I empower women if I don't take the time to empower myself.
So I picked up some hobbies, both old and new.
Take these tips and do with them as you please, it is not a one size fits all solution.
1.) I stopped scrolling before bed and started reading 1-2 chapters a night. I started sleeping better and dreaming more. I also lost my desire to care what @susielou thought of my recent selfie on IG.
2.) I signed up for a yoga membership. I enjoy my yoga classes because it's challenging to my body and my mind. For an hour a day I get to spend time alone in my mind and body, but surrounded with others doing the same. I push myself to let go of what I cannot fix, and encourage my body to test new boundaries.
3.) Praying more solves everything. I mumble my prayers before bed, just enough I can hear them but nobody else (mainly Preston) can because that stresses me out more. Also, if I just say them in my head I get distracted.
4.) Counting my blessings in the morning. You can see my previous blog post about this, it's very beneficial.
5.) Deep breathing for 30 seconds every 30 minutes. Thanks to my mindful creativity class this semester I learned that there is a breathing technique that helps you ease the mind. Imagine sucking through a straw and filling your belly instead of your chest. Breathe like that! It helps!
All of these things are small steps to embracing a friendship with the functionality of my mentality and well being. They encourage me to stop ignoring my anxiety, so that I can start living a life where I actually feel like I am living.
I encourage you to do that too. Honey, God created our lives with special moments to enjoy His work and grace. How can we do that when all we do is worry and overthink and consume our lives with pleasing the lives of others?
Join me in "adding" your anxiety to the list of friends in your life, and together we can take one day at a time in the healthiest, and most moving way.