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Dear My Anxiety.

I was 6 years old. It took me 6 years to begin feeling the heaviness of the world. I couldn’t understand it, where it came from, or what it meant. All I knew was how I felt. It was like a thousand bricks resting on my chest, breaking me down slowly until I could no longer carry the weight. Anxiety is like that, sometimes.

It took 10 years to even know that what I was experiencing was anxiety.

For 10 years, I believed that a heavy chest, profuse shaking, vomiting, intrusive thoughts, trouble breathing, trouble sleeping, and stomach aches were all just “normal”. Or at least, my normal. My life was filled with so much anxiety, I didn’t know what it felt like NOT to feel it.

I remember the day that I realized something needed to change. It was a very pivotal moment, one that will always be engraved in my mind. I was looking in the mirror, tears streaming down my face, eyes puffy and red, and I could barely recognize myself. I didn’t know who stood before me.

I was so debilitated by anxiety that I completely and utterly lost touch with me.

So what was I going to do to find myself? What was I meant to do to stop, or at least decrease, the debilitation of what I was feeling? It took me another 10 years to really figure that out. But it doesn’t have to take you 10 years.

After realizing that something needed to change, I reached out to my family doctor and set up an appointment to talk about how I was feeling. I didn’t really know what to expect, but she was very supportive, reassuring, and compassionate. She reminded me that there are treatment options and that I didn’t need to feel that way forever.

After going to therapy, I started learning more and more coping skills, and it felt so nice to be able to get how I was feeling off of my chest. My therapist also recommended that I start journaling, which was such a helpful way for me to express how I was feeling.

Although anxiety is something I feel will always be a part of me in some way, it’s not something that controls my life anymore. I had to make peace with the fact that anxiety is something I have to work on every single day. It is a facet of my health, one that I need to take care of consistently.

With a combination of medication, mindfulness, exercise, therapy, and journaling, I have finally released the grip anxiety was holding on me for so long.

Anxiety is something that is so individual to the person experiencing it, which means that different coping skills work for different people. It’s really about trying to find what works for you. But know that there are options out there and that you’re never helpless.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, I would urge you to speak up about it. I can promise you that you’re not alone.

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