To read about anxiety, you’d think that your life screeches to a halt until you can somehow contain or banish it.
But anybody who’s had anxiety knows that’s not the truth.
We know we’re expected to function WITH the anxiety, DESPITE the anxiety.
The world doesn’t screech to a stop because we’re anxious.
We’re still expected to get up, go to work, go to school, be parents, partners, people out in the world.
Some people may express sympathy or empathy for our anxiety…but the world STILL doesn’t screech to a halt until we can deal with it.
So we’re often dealing with our anxiety on the fly.
Most people have to deal with our anxiety while doing other things.
And we find ways to do it. Even when our anxiety feels like a hurricane inside our chest, we find ways to function— sometimes very sell, deceptively well— out in the world.
This happens ALL the time. And not just with anxiety, either.
People who are depressed, people who struggle with trauma, people who are addicted— we all very often find ways to be out and about and functional, more or less.
Sometimes we’re so functional that other people underappreciate how much we’re struggling.
How can you be so anxious, they’ll ask, if you’re able to function like this?
Your anxiety must not be THAT bad, they figure.
It must be just a matter of, you know, sucking it up and going about your day…right?
Some people have NO IDEA the kind of energy it takes to function at the same time we’re staving off anxiety.
There’s a reason why there is a significant overlap between anxiety and chronic fatigue symptoms: because coping with anxiety is exhausting.
And there is no pause button— either on our anxiety or on the world around us that expects us to go on functioning as if there’s nothing wrong.
If you struggle with anxiety, you need to know you’re not alone.
You also need to know that what is being asked of you— to be out in the world every day despite what you’re struggling with— is an objectively exhausting, intimidating task.
You’re not weak or crazy.
You’re being asked to do something that 100% of humans would find difficult to do.
Learning to contain and work through our anxiety is a long term project. Nobody expects you to master it overnight.
The skills and strategies you’ll learn to manage and reduce your anxiety WILL become second nature over time…but remembering them when it’s crunch time is going to be difficult, because anxiety by definition is a consuming, immersive thing.
You WILL learn to talk yourself through anxiety and panic attacks.
You WILL get to the roots of what fuels your anxiety every day.
Anxiety IS something that we can understand and successfully push back against— but it takes time, patience, consistency, and self-compassion.
For many people, that last one is the stumbling block.
You’re not “broken’ if you’re anxious. Lots of people are anxious for lots of reasons.
Even if you’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as you remember, there is hope for dialing it down.
For now, just remember to cut yourself some slack. You have a lot on your plate, and nobody’s expecting you to manage it perfectly.
I’m not, anyway.
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