There are times when you will feel hollow. You will know the all-too-familiar feeling that you swore you would never feel again. It might be that feeling when a significant other leaves you. It might be that feeling when you worry you might lose your job. It’s the feeling of being homesick but not being sure if and when you can return home. Simply put, it’s the hollowness of loss and we are all bound to feel it sometime.
When you’re feeling hollow, your heart may feel heavy and your stomach may feel empty in a way that food cannot nourish. Your mind may be searching for a distraction that can help you forget, if only for a moment, that you feel broken.
For some reason, you’re feeling this hollow feeling and your body is catching up to something your mind is only now deciphering. Maybe it’s shock over something you couldn’t have predicted. Maybe it’s panic over your predictions of what may or may not happen yet.
Your thoughts could be going a million miles a minute or they may be walking through quicksand, trying to piece together where things started to go wrong. You’re getting caught in a thought spiral and all you know is you don’t want to feel this way ever again. It’s like drinking too much and knowing you can’t un-drink it and all you can do is wade through the dizzy sickness until it is all over.
The first thing you must know is that you are not the first one to feel this. I have felt it before you and someone will feel it after you. It is an awful feeling, but it is a completely human thing to feel. And oftentimes it means that you must have loved someone or something so much to feel the loss this deeply.
The second thing you must know is that you will not feel this way forever. Not because there is a clever adage I can tell you or a fate that we can predict. You will not feel this way forever, because that is the very nature of feeling and life — it changes all the time. It may be painfully slow, but even in the processing of it you and your thoughts are changing.
And the third thing you must know is that in the very awfulness of this, you will become stronger by going through it. Not by choice, but because you have no choice but to get stronger. You will have to get out of bed and do your laundry and eat something that does not come in a plastic container or a paper bag. You will have to choose to live, because otherwise your mind and your body will suffer. You will have to take care of yourself, because you will realize that you are the only one who will know how to take care of yourself best. This may be the hardest lesson of all — to learn your own strength because you are left to depend on yourself.
In those times that you feel hollow, I hope you remember that you are not alone in it, even when you alone have to go through it. I hope you know that there are so many souls who understand you, even ones you haven’t met yet. I hope you remember your own strength and know that asking for help is also a sign of strength. I hope that after the initial shock, you remember to take care of yourself the way you would take care of a dear friend. And if you momentarily forget, I hope you read this and can remember all over again.
Sometimes I am not okay and I used to think it was not okay to be that way. It’s okay to break down and cry. It’s okay to admit to yourself and to the world that you’re not okay. It’s okay to ask for help and to talk about your problems.
It is easy to put up a front telling people around you that you are fine when deep within yourself, you know you are not. It is easy to remain quiet and keep everything to yourself. But that means you’re hurting yourself more and that’s not okay.You’re the only person who actually knows what is going on in your own head and you should not be afraid of your own thoughts or about how you feel.
It’s okay to talk about your problems. It doesn’t make you weak. Yes, it makes you vulnerable, but it will make you stronger.
Sometimes all you would feel is that everything around you is crumbling. It sometimes feels as if you are hit by strong currents or on some days, it feels like you’re being hit by a tsunami. It feels like as if you are drowning. Sometimes it feels like everything around you is happening so fast and you are trying your best not to drown. Sometimes it would feel like your entire vision is clouded by a wrecked storm.
You’re human and it’s important to remember that. It’s important to remember that no matter how strong you are mentally, you’re allowed to have bad days. You’re allowed to cry. But that doesn’t mean you should stay and be stuck in self-pity. Take your time to pick yourself up and glue back the broken pieces. Give yourself some time to heal.
It’s okay to voice out to someone. It’s okay to have days when you are not strong. It’s okay to be not okay.
In Australia we have had 37 Deaths from the virus. What I am more personally concerned about is the rise in suicide. The last data captured in 2015 had 3027 Deaths.
The overwhelming messages in my inbox of people loosing their jobs, riddled with fear and anxiety of the unknown and isolation with unhealthy vices which can all lead to a deterioration of mental health and high risk of suicide deaths. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I have battled with mental illness , hence why it’s my number 1 priority to stay on top of my mental health at this time and encourage you all to as well. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1. Check in daily with a loved one or friend. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2. Join free groups, online soul circles and fitness challenges. Community is important so I’ll be running a free call this Sunday at 6pm for anyone who needs connection and a safe place to express. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3. Seek professional help if you consistently depressed , anxious or suicidal. Life life number is 131114 – I’ve had to call once and it was such a beautiful loving experience. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 4. Daily movement , journaling, meditation, dance , breathe work, essential oils . All the things in your tool kit make it a non negotiable to force yourself to do a task that makes you feel good each day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 5. Eat nourishing foods!!! Our food has a huge impact on our mental health. Refrain from emotional eating and binging. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 6. Be gentle on yourself, nurture your heart at this time melt into that softness. If you need help, guidance or healing be willing to ask. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 7. Reach out to people in your life and check in on them. Create meaningful conversations and deepen the togetherness. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I am sending deep healing to you all. To those who have read this post and are feeling the waves of emotion I invite you to reach out. You are not alone.
Feel free to share this with someone who might need it.
The negative, irrational voice in your head may talk you out of self-help. However, if you can learn to recognize it, you can learn to replace it. Use logic as a weapon. Address each thought individually as it occurs.
If you believe an event won’t be fun or worth your time, say to yourself, “You might be right, but it’ll be better than just sitting here another night.” You may soon see the negative isn’t always realistic.
If depressive symptoms disrupt your daily routine, setting a gentle schedule may help you feel in control. But these plans don’t have to map out an entire day.
Your schedule could focus on the time before work or right before bed. Perhaps it’s only for the weekends. Focus on creating a loose, but structured, routine that can help you keep your daily pace going.
Mother Nature can have a powerful influence on depression. Research suggests people who spend time in nature have improved mental health.
Exposure to sunlight may offer some of the same benefits. It can increase your serotonin levels, which can provide a temporary mood boost.
Consider taking a walk at lunch among the trees or spending some time in your local park. Or plan a weekend hike. These activities can help you reconnect with nature and soak in some rays at the same time.
You may also find it helpful to speak to a professional about what you’re going through. A general practitioner may be able to refer you to a therapist or other specialist.
They can assess your symptoms and help develop a clinical treatment plan tailored to your needs. This may include traditional options, such as medication and therapy, or alternative measures, such as acupuncture.
Finding the right treatment for you may take some time, so be open with your provider about what is and isn’t working. Your provider will work with you to find the best option.
The stresses of life and work deadlines will leave anyone tossing and turning. However, for the highly sensitive person (HSP), which is approximately 20% of the population, a good night of sleep can be more of an enigma than a simple part of everyday life. Sleep requires us to be in a deep state of relaxation, which is not easily attainable or familiar to an HSP. Having a more sensitive nervous system lends itself to a predisposition towards insomnia, because while experts say that HSPs usually require more sleep than others, they can be prone to anxiety and therefore have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
While us sensitive folks may not have the ability to doze off at the drop of a hat, we can certainly get the shut-eye we need by creating an environment that’s conducive to deep relaxation.
Try one of these tips tonight for sweet dreams and a peaceful slumber:
1. Emphasize relaxation one to two hours before bedtime.
In the evening hours, decrease stimulation as much as possible. Dim the lights and slow things down. Do something you find relaxing, such as practicing gentle yoga without doing any inversions, or taking a warm bath. As much as possible, make relaxation the theme of the evening. If certain tasks are unavoidable, then practice doing them in a relaxed manner.
2. Quit caffeine by noon.
Caffeine’s effects vary from person to person, but in general, if you are having trouble sleeping, caffeine could be the culprit. If you’re caffeine-sensitive, try completely eliminating it for a month and see if that improves your sleep. Also consider sneaky sources of caffeine such as chocolate, tea, and soda, and instead opt for water, herbal tea, and herbal coffee substitutes.
3. Have a sleepy meal at dinnertime.
Eating foods containing nutrients that promote sleep, including natural sources of tryptophan, melatonin, and magnesium can also help you get some shut-eye. At dinner, eat a combination of high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates, like quinoa mixed with sautéed greens or baked chicken breast sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds. For dessert, try a bowl of fresh tart cherries or a frozen yogurt made with frozen tart cherries and coconut milk.
4. Turn your lights off at the same time every night.
Aim to go to bed around the same time every night, whatever that is. Some studies have found that the actual time you sleep doesn’t matter—it’s more about regularly going to sleep at the same time every night. This is, of course, a controversial idea, but it stands to reason that consistency is key when developing a healthy sleep routine, so figure out what works best for your schedule and stick to it!
5. Focus on your breathing.
If you’re stressed out, it’s imperative that you do what you can to calm yourself down before bed. One way to do that is to regulate your breathing—it triggers our relaxation response and helps declutter our minds. There are plenty of resources online where you can learn how to practice different types of deep breathing, like left-nostril breathing which is said to have a soothing and relaxing effect on the body-mind.
6. Let go of any fearful thoughts.
Have you ever been so worried about going to sleep that you end up sleepless? Yeah, it’s the worst. Fearful thoughts like this create tension in the body, and a body that is tense will not be able to fall into a deep sleep. The fear of not being able to fall asleep can easily keep one from falling asleep night after night. When those thoughts creep in, I often use the affirmation, “I choose to relax and let go now.”
7. Play with light and sound.
Light and sound can play a large role in whether or not you sleep well. In the evening, a few hours before bed, try dimming the lights. Sleep in a pitch-black room or wear an eye mask. If you find that you’re more relaxed with some background noise (or need to drown out noise from outside), try switching on a fan or noise machine while you sleep. Earplugs are also a great option if you’re sensitive to noise.
8. Take a soothing bath.
Is there anything better than a warm, calming bath when you’re worked up? Probably not. Some studies found that bathing on a regular basis helped lower stress and improve sleep in participants. Here’s an Epsom salt bath recipe:
Combine 2 cups of Epsom salts with a few drops of an essential oil* (like lavender) in hot water.
*Make sure you choose an essential oil that won’t cause irritation.
*The water should be warmer than your body temperature.
Soak for 30 minutes.
9. Try acupressure or another relaxation technique.
There’s no denying that sometimes breathing or telling ourselves to sleep just doesn’t work. Insomnia can be brutal. Acupressure has been shown to have pain relieving and relaxing effects, so if restless muscles seems to be your issue, you could try lying on an acupressure mat before dozing off. That said, these mats can be pretty intense, so you’ll want to do some thorough research before you purchase one, and consider consulting with a physical therapist first. Alternatively, you could try a guided progressive muscle relaxation meditation in which you relax each part of your body using your mind.
10. Take relaxation breaks during the day.
This one is simple: Try taking at least one 15-minute relaxation break during the day. Going for a short walk or even taking time away from staring at a screen can help keep your body in balance (and help you avoid that dreaded state of overwhelm at the end of the day). Try to remember that life is short and balance is the goal. Do your best to leave your stresses behind, and you’ll be sleeping like a rock in no time.
Episodes of anxiety attacks can be uncomfortable, unpleasant and unhealthy. Because of this, most people head to the medicine cabinet for a quick relief. While some may find medications as an effective way to battle anxiety, there are more natural and equally effective ways of dealing your excessive emotion without subjecting the body to different negative side-effects.
Exercise – Exercise improves the health of the body and mind, and improves the overall well-being of a person. A 30-minute exercise, 3-5 times a week is enough to provide anxiety relief. Increasing to at least an hour of aerobic exercise each day provides maximum benefits for relieving stress and anxiety.
Sleep – A popular adage, “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” speaks of the importance of sleep in the overall health of a person. Qualitative sleep for 8 hours a day is a proven and effective technique to battle stress as well as anxiety attacks.
Healthy diet – Along with exercise, diet plays an important role in the overall health of the body. Eating healthy food maintains the normal chemistry and hormones of the body as well has provides resistance to common ailments that increases the risk of anxiety attacks.
Avoid unnecessary stressors – Most stressors are unavoidable and it is also unhealthy to turn your back to certain situations that need to be addressed. Still, some situations and people cause unnecessary stress that result to anxiety attacks. Avoid people that stress you out, learn how to say ‘no’, trim down your to-do-list, avoid sensitive topics such as politics and religion, etc.
Relaxation techniques – Yoga, meditation, Taiji, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization and breathing exercises can reduce anxiety and promote the feeling of relaxation and emotional well-being.
Keep a positive outlook – While it is very difficult to maintain a good attitude when experiencing an anxiety attack, it is very crucial to be more conscious and help stay in control over the situation to effectively battle your condition. Do not think “Oh no, not again!” or “I’m screwed” when an episode hits you. Think that it will be over soon and control your emotions so that your anxiety will now get worse.
If the abovementioned techniques do not work for you, it is probably time to consult a health professional about your health. Since symptoms of anxiety attacks may be a result of other psychological and physical conditions, you need to see your medical doctor first and get a complete physical in order to rule out any other possible causes.
If anxiety prevails and symptoms last for more than 1 to 2 weeks, especially if you have no idea why, see a trained therapist.
A person with anxiety disorder usually goes under medication, therapy or both. Prescription drugs for anxiety are usually antidepressants and benzodiazepines. However, they provide short-term relief and thus, other therapy is often recommended. Therapies given are cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. They are both effective (especially when combined with medication) to treat anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps patients to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Exposure therapy, on the other hand, helps treat anxiety attacks by subjecting the patients to control fear in a safe and controlled environment. Through repeated exposure, patients gain greater self control and more confidence in facing fearful situation.
I think that, for most of us, there are times in life when it all just feels like Too Much.
There may be some days, weeks, months, maybe even years when – for whatever reason – just getting through the day, or going to work, or putting one foot in front of the other feels hard. Really, really hard.
Maybe it’s because you’re wrestling with anxiety, depression or some other mental illness. Maybe it’s because you’ve had your heart broken. Maybe you’ve gone through a physical or emotional trauma. Maybe you’re deeply grieving. Or maybe there’s no easily understood reason for why you’re feeling bad.
Whatever the case, I want you to know that it’s OK if you’re going through a tough time. This doesn’t make you any less lovable, worthy or capable. This just means you’re human.
Being a human can be a messy, hard, confusing, painful experience sometimes.
So if you or someone you love is going through one of these tough times right now, a time where it all just feels like too much, I want to offer up 101 suggestions for self-care to help you or your loved one get through this time.
1. Have a good, long, body-shaking cry.
2. Call a trusted friend or family member and talk it out.
3. Call in sick. Take comp time if you can. Take a mental health day.
4. Say no to extra obligations, chores, or anything that pulls on your precious self-care time.
5. Book a session (or more!) with your therapist.
6. Dial down your expectations of yourself at this time. When you’re going through life’s tough times, I invite you to soften your expectations of yourself and others.
7. Tuck yourself into bed early with a good book and clean sheets.
8. Watch a comforting/silly/funny/lighthearted TV show or movie.
9. Reread your favorite picture and chapter books from childhood.
10. Ask for some love and tenderness from your friends on social media. Let them comment on your post and remind you that you’re loved.
24. Go to a 12-Step meeting. Or any group meeting where support is offered. Check out church listings, hospital listings, school listings for examples.
25. If you suspect something may be physiologically off with you, go see your doctor and/or psychiatrist and talk to them. Medication might help you at this time and they can assist you in assessing this.
26. Take a long, hot bath, light a candle and pamper yourself.
71. Go to the mountains. Absorb the strength and security of them.
72. Go to the forest. Drink in the shelter, life and sacredness of the trees.
73. Put down the personal help books and pick up some good old fashioned fiction.
74. Remember: Your only job right now is to put one foot in front of the other.
75. Allow and feel and express your feelings – all of them! – safely and appropriately. Seek out help if you need support in this.
76. Listen to sad songs or watch sad movies if you need a good cry.
77. Dance around wildly to your favourite, most cheesy songs from your high school years.
78. Put your hands in dirt. If you have a garden, go garden. If you have some indoor plants, tend to them. If you don’t have plants or a garden, go outside. Go to a local nursery and touch and smell all the gorgeous plants.
79. If you want to stay in bed all day watching Netflix, do it. Indulge.
80. Watch or listen to some comedy shows or goofy podcasts.
81. Look for and Google up examples of people who have gone through and made it through what you’re currently facing. Seek out models of inspiration.
82. Get expert help with whatever you need. Whether that’s through therapy, psychiatry, a lawyer, clergy, let those trained to support you do it.
83. Educate yourself about what you’re going through. Learn about what you’re facing, what you can expect to feel, and how you can support yourself in this place.
84. Establish a routine and stick to it. Routines can bring so much comfort and grounding in times of life that feel chaotic or out of control.
87. Go outside and set up a chair and watch the sunset.
88. Make your own list of self-soothing activities that engage all five of your senses.
89. Develop a supportive morning ritual for yourself.
90. Develop a relaxing evening ritual for yourself.
91. Join a support group for people who are going through what you’re going through. Check out the listings at local hospitals, libraries, churches, and universities to see what’s out there.
92. Volunteer at a local shelter or hospital or nursing home. Practice being of service to others who may also be going through a tough time.
93. Accompany a friend or family member to something. Even if it’s just keeping them company while they run errands, sometimes this kind of contact can feel like good self-care.
94. Take your dog for a walk. Or borrow a friend’s dog and take them for a walk.
95. Challenge your negative thinking.
96. Practice grounding, relaxation techniques.
97. Do something spontaneous. Walk or drive a different way to work. Order something new off the menu. Listen to a Spotify playlist of new songs.
98. Work with your doctor, naturopath or nutritionist to develop a physical exercise plan and food plan that will be supportive to whatever you’re facing right now.
99. Pray. Meditate. Write a letter to God/The Universe/Source/Your Higher Self, whatever you believe in.
100. As much as you can, please try and trust the process.
101. Finally, please remember, what you’re going through right now is temporary. It may not feel like that from inside the tough time you’re in, but this too shall pass and you will feel different again someday. If you can’t have faith in that, let me hold the hope for you.
I hope you found this list of self-care suggestions helpful in some way. But please remember, by no means is this list exhaustive nor will every item on this list possibly feel good and right for you. This list is not meant to be prescriptive, nor do I mean to imply you need to do all or any of these things to take good care of yourself. You are the expert of your own experience and I trust that you know what’s best for you.
Really, this list is really just a starting point meant to catalyze your own thinking about how you can best take care of yourself during life’s tough times and to spark your curiosity and interest in strengthening your self-care now and ongoing. Also, my hope is that in reading this you’re also hearing me say how normal and natural it is to struggle and to have these tough, hard times. It’s part of being human. You’re not alone in this.
But I have to say: The suggestions in this list are in no way a substitute for care or advice from a licensed mental health care clinician. These are self-care coaching suggestions, not therapeutic advice. Moreover, if you feel suicidal or find yourself having suicidal ideations, please call the 24/7Lifeline Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 13 11 14 (24 HRS a day).
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments below:What self-care techniques have really supported you when going through life’s tough times? Let me know one or more ideas, tools or activities that have brought you relief and comfort so that others can benefit from your experience and wisdom.
Taking action doesn’t have a direct dollar figure on it. It definitely may not look as shiny and nice as a dollar bill and it certainly is not as fun of a topic as “I filled up my coaching program!”
However, taking action is one of the number one things I see holding back entrepreneurs. And why do people hesitate on taking action? Well its simple: Fear. That 4 letter word can leave you feeling paralysed and, quite frankly, if you let it overcome you, it can stop you right in your tracks. Ideas are easy to talk about, it is easy to “fake” the success of your business, but nothing holds more importance than taking action.
So then comes the question: Well how do you get past it? And don’t you worry, I want to share my top tips on how to take action so that your to do lists get shorter and you find your peers asking you, “How have you gotten so much done?”
ACTION CREATES MOTIVATION
I heard this once and I thought, “Wait what?” I thought I got motivated and then took action. And let me just tell you, the minute you make a choice to take action, you will have this amazing rush come over you and that adrenaline will be enough to help remind you why it is important to just dive straight in & tackle your to-do list.
STAY IN TUNE WITH YOUR “WHY”
It all goes back to your “why.” Often times, people forget why they even entered into the business in the first place. Let me just tell you, your “why” is going to be what will get you through all of the challenges. When your “why” is in sync, you are on the right path! And when you know your action items are in line with that “why,” I promise you that you will feel a lot more confident in taking action.
TAKE BACK YOUR POWER
The voices in your head will distract you. Ok, I know you must be thinking, “What voices?” But we know we all have them. Those thoughts that say, “I am not good enough.” If those voices are holding you back from taking action, then while you are listening to them, there are thousands of entrepreneurs getting ahead of you by taking action and telling those voices to take a back seat. And how do you get past the voices? Acknowledge that they are ridiculous, take back the power and go take action (it will feel ridiculously good).
HAVE A PLAN YOU ARE WILLING TO COMMIT TO AND ACTUALLY DO IT
This may sound simple, but I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs create a plan and then doubt the plan or don’t act on it! Create a plan that you feel good about, one that is inl alignment with your goals, your target market and why you are in business. Then commit to acting on it. Sure, some items may need to be altered, but I dare you to create a plan and commit to it for 90-days. I bet the outcome will be pretty amazing once you see everything you have accomplished!
WORK THROUGH YOUR BARRIERS
I had to do a virtual cringe when I wrote this. Sometimes your barriers can be pain-staking. But you have to get creative and strategic. Ask yourself what are you missing by not getting past these barriers? Then ask yourself what action items can you take to move past these barriers? Then go take those steps! Barriers only hold you back if you let them.
FIND AN ORGANIZATION SYSTEM THAT WORKS FOR YOU
For me, I write a list of all of the items I want to get accomplished for the week and then have at them. Some people do it day by day, some print it out, some don’t. Find a system that works for you, commit to it, and create a habit of it so that none of your action items get missed! I want to remind you that you have a seriously amazing gift to give!
The world needs more women who are brave enough to take a chance on themselves. The world needs you. So don’t hold back. Take action! Even the scariest of action steps.
Tell fear to take a back seat; that is where it belongs in your business.
With Love elle
Believe in yourself, your “why,” you purpose, and remember, if you don’t take action, you are letting down someone that really needs you and your gift.
My life has been a series of saying, “I’m sorry.” Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m sorry for, the two words just slip out. Most of the time I’m sorry because I feel as though I carry a great deal of baggage. I feel like a burden. I don’t want to put anyone out because of my anxiety and the person I am. I don’t want people to judge me, but I don’t have control of that. I don’t want to say sorry, but honestly, I am.
For so many years, I’ve felt like a burden because of my anxiety. I put myself in a bubble because I was concerned if I let my guard down, you’d see me differently and insist I was being dramatic. I guess those concerns came to fruition because I’ve heard, “You’re just being dramatic” quite a bit.
Interestingly enough, anxiety isn’t acting. Anxiety comes in many different forms, but having anxiety doesn’t equate to being dramatic. So please, don’t tell me otherwise. I’ve heard how ridiculous it is that I worry about certain things and have been told on numerous occasions, “I don’t need to worry.” If only it was that easy.
Does anyone truly believe I enjoy worrying? Do you think I enjoy when my stomach is in knots? Do you think I enjoy when my body shakes or my mind and heart are racing? I’m sure you can answer those questions on your own. Please, know if I could flip a switch and turn off the anxiety, I would, but anxiety isn’t wired that way.
Teasing me about my anxiety and panic isn’t funny. I know you say you’re joking, but there’s always some truth behind every “just kidding.” With my anxiety comes sensitivity. I’m a fragile person. The way in which you use your words are not taken lightly by me. I need you to know my anxiety isn’t something that should be mocked or joked about. It’s an illness.
Anxiety doesn’t come with a guide. It can hit you anytime, anywhere and can leave you in a heap in the middle of the floor. I’ve been there a thousand times.
The thing is: Anxiety is real. It’s painful. It’s numbing and it’s a great big ball of fear, tangled thoughts and worry. When I’m in an anxious state, I can’t think straight. I fixate on things. When I say fixate, I mean I obsess and overthink. For some reason, I think if I fixate and obsess on something it’ll go away, taking my worry and fears with it. But guess how many times it’s worked? None.
Please, be gentle with me. I carry a sign that says, “Handle with care.” I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love with everything I have.
Often times, when I’m in an anxious state, I can’t hear the words you say to me because the thoughts in my head are much louder. Sometimes, I don’t need you to say anything. Just hug me. Just sit with me. Just be there for me. That’s all I need when I’m spiralling.
Please, don’t disregard my worry and fears. It just makes the situation worse for me. If you tell me you locked the door, I have to check it. If you tell me you’re going to do something, then please, do it. I may ask you four or five times just to make sure. I know it can get frustrating for you, but it’s what I need to feel secure, to feel like I can put my faith in you. Please, know I don’t think you’re a liar. I just need to feel like I have some sort of control of my mind.
My anxiety is a battle, but I’ve chosen to put my armour on to take on the task of tackling the giant. Anxiety doesn’t define me, but it’s a huge aspect of my life and I’ve come to accept that. I hope you’ll accept not only that, but also me. I am who I am. Even though my mind and body are riddled with anxiety, I still believe I can make a difference.
I did not make many close friends during my schooling life. Friendly acquaintances, sure, but very few who I actively spent time with. It turns out, making friends is hard. I kept thinking things would fall into place and I’d find my group, but it never really happened. Why? Because making real friends takes hard work in areas I am terrible in.
I am an introvert living with anxiety. Individually, either of these can make making friends difficult. But combined, they make it a nightmare.
As an introvert I’m at a disadvantage from step one.
We’re awful at small talk, you see. No, that’s a lie. We can make small talk. We just hate doing it. Small talk is exhausting and such a waste of time. It sounds terrible, but I really don’t care what your plans are for the weekend. For people like me, small talk is what you do to avoid awkward silences with strangers when you make the mistake of going out into the world alone without headphones. It is shallow and pointless, but it fills the silence.
But when I’m trying to make friends I want to find out what you’re passionate about. I want to talk about your favorite books and why you related so strongly to a particular character. I want to know what your dreams are and what you are most afraid of. Basically, I prefer to skip the tedious polite acquaintance phase and jump right to the deep existential conversation phase. It’s an introvert thing, and it can be off putting for some and that’s fine. But the real problem is that when you pair this with an anxiety-ridden mind that constantly tells me I’m annoying everyone around me, I end up being too scared to start up any of the conversations I actually want to have. Which means I get bored. And I also come off as really boring.
On the odd chance I survive phase one, you might think things would get easier from there. If only.
I rarely make the effort to reach out to people, which probably makes a lot of people think I don’t care enough about our friendship to be bothered. Most of the time I badly want to talk to someone more, but I avoid reaching out because I worry I’m bothering them. Then (and here’s the real hypocritical kicker), when people don’t reach out to me, I assume I was right and they don’t actually care about me or like me. If they had any interest in me, they would have texted, right? Obviously.
On some level I of course realize this goes both ways. I cannot expect others to make an effort when I won’t, but the voice in my mind insists that no, they just don’t like me. They are just being polite when we’re together. I did them a favor by never trying to talk or hang out.
If I am too anxious to text someone, it maybe goes without saying I’m also terrible about making plans. I probably come off as either a boring introvert who never leaves her house or someone who can’t be bothered to try and therefore isn’t worth the time. The truth is I avoid making plans with people because I’m terrified that if I try, nobody will show up and I’ll look like an idiot. For someone without anxiety it might just be a bit disappointing, but for someone like me it is utterly humiliating. And it has happened before. It might sound ridiculous, but trying to make plans with people has a high risk factor in my mind. Best not to bother, the voice insists.
People like me are terrible friends. When we’re first getting to know each other we will want you to reach out to us and make an effort to invite us places, while rarely doing the same for you. We will sometimes back out on plans because we’re having a bad anxiety day. We’re the worst for spontaneous nights out because we get overwhelmed when our plans suddenly change, and we’re probably already in bed with our sweats on anyway. We will need constant reassurance you actually like having us around, and it will take you months to convince us to stop apologizing for literally everything.
But if you are patient with us…
…we are also the best friends you could ever ask for. The more time we spend with you, the less high-maintenance we’ll become. We will realize you don’t secretly hate us, and we will start reaching out to you. We’ll send you pictures and videos we know will make you laugh and tag you in every adorable puppy picture we find on Instagram when you’re having a bad day.
Our introversion and our anxiety means we are always tuned into to our environments and the people around us, so we will always know when something is bothering you. We will let you vent for hours while we just sit and listen. We will trust you with our deepest secrets, and we will never share yours. We will never be angry with you when you wake us up in the middle of the night, because we know better than anyone how terrible it is to be hurting and alone.
We will never judge you for what you love. We’ll watch your favorite shows with you even if we think they’re silly, because we know how important they are. We will remember every single inside joke, partially because we are so embarrassingly excited to have inside jokes with someone. We will value you more than you could ever possibly know, because we know exactly how difficult we are to be friends with. And because we will never forget how much you made our day the first time you asked us if we wanted to hang out.
I am working hard to become a better friend.
I am trying to make a point to reach out to people, to try making plans, to let them know I would actually really like to have them in my life. But it’s a process. And even knowing how much I have to improve on, it is really discouraging to feel like no one cares enough to shoot me a text, and that gives my anxiety just that much more fuel when it is trying to convince me not to say hi to someone.
I know I am not the only one who feels like this. So, if you were kind enough to take the time to read this whole post, I encourage you to reach out to someone today. You never know; you might make their whole day with just one quick text. And if you know you have introverted friends with anxiety (or any friends with anxiety, really), be patient with them. Take the time to reassure them they are valued. Remember that it is highly unlikely they are ignoring you or blowing you off. In reality, they are probably terrified of annoying you, and are hoping you’ll decide to text them.
And when you do, it really will mean more than you could ever possibly know.