Have you been dealing with a lot of anxiety lately? I have. Truthfully, I’ve been dealing with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder since I was a young child. I didn’t always know that was what I was dealing with, but it has become obvious in the past few years that I’ve been dealing with mental health issues for a long time. I mean, how many 4 year olds do you know that refuse to sit in Santa’s lap because he wasn’t wearing his gloves? Yep. That was me. I was that 4 year old. Even at 4, the obsessive compulsive disorder was there and it was gearing up for a long ride. I am 31 and still suffer with crippling anxiety and OCD. However, because I am 31 and have been working on it since I was 18 years old… I’ve developed quite a few strategies for making it. And yes, I said making it… because for a while you just have to make it. Once you start making it… you work toward other goals like living a happy and fulfilling life. Goals we’re all working at!
- Therapy. I cannot stress the importance of therapy. Therapy has saved me time and time again. However, I also cannot stress enough that the important thing is finding a therapist that you mesh well with. I’ve had several over the years and some were not a good fit. I currently have a phenomenal therapist that has helped me through the hardest times and has helped me see my own worth. She has been a true Godsend. Find a therapist that is there for you and not because it is a job. Find a therapist that you trust and are comfortable with. You can start searching here. (Make sure you read reviews and talk to them ahead of time about what insurance they accept!)
- Medication. This one may get me a lot of backlash and that is fine. I have tried over and over and over again to tackle my issues without medication. I’ve told myself I didn’t need it. I’ve told myself that I’m better off without it. The truth is, I can’t really function. I am a miserable wife and mother. I am an obsessive ball of crazy that can’t see past my own eyeballs. I only see everything inside of my head. I’m not present. I’m not well. I started seeing a psychiatrist (which is important, I have issues with general practitioners prescribing these and then not adequately following up) and started Prozac several years ago and the change it has made in my life is unbelievable. I am more level, I have fewer obsessive and anxious spells and am able to see more clearly. When I miss doses and really get off track, it is obvious. This drug has helped me and I am thankful for it. I think medication can be really helpful, especially with therapy.
- Self-Help Reading. Mental health is something you need to work at like a subject in school. For some people, they just “get it.” They don’t have to work at it as much as some of us… but for me, mental health is like math. I’m always having to really work at it to try to figure it out. Thankfully there are excellent resources out there that really help. I recommend the following books: Self Esteem: How to Heal Addictive Thinking, Feeling Good, Full Catastrophe Living. These books have helped me in the hardest of times. I’ve read and re-read them and they are amazing resources. Very beneficial.
- Mindfulness Meditation. Meditation may feel silly at first but the results speak for themselves. I’ve had random meditation apps on my phone that didn’t do much for me, but then my therapist recommended the Insight Timer app. This app really changed the way I viewed meditation. I could feel the changes in my body. I remember the first time I really got lost in the meditation. I suddenly had this awareness of every move– Every small move in my body. I was so calm and in tune with myself. Studies have even shown that meditation changes the brain after a period of weeks. Seriously! Really about it here.
- Support System. Finding a support system is very important in treating debilitating anxiety and other issues. Explaining your feelings and thoughts to a trusted individual whether it be a spouse, friend, parent, etc. is very important. They may not fully “get it” but they will know that it is something you’re working on. Let them know how to help you. It isn’t always easy or fun, but it is necessary. My husband has learned so much about my issues and can even tell when they’re coming on. He knows how to help me and reminds me to take my medication.
When you’re living with anxiety/depression/OCD, etc… it can be hard to know where to begin when getting help. Sometimes its hard to see beyond your own thoughts. It is hard to get out of bed… it is hard to be a good parent or spouse. It helps to know that others have been through it and you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with what to do next or how to help yourself, please just take these few steps first. One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes comes to mind,
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
You don’t have to set any huge goals at first. You don’t have to fault yourself or tell yourself you have to be cured immediately, just do what you can to get through each day and then each day will become easier. You will get through this and things will start to fall into place. But to get to where you want to be in life, you must help yourself first!