Hello Anxiety. Thanks For Visiting.

There are times in my life when I entertain an unexpected visitor. There are times I can feel her coming. Other times she sneaks up on me from out of nowhere. My visitor can call on me anywhere and at any time, Who is this visitor you may ask? Well she goes by the name of ANXIETY. And she is real.

I struggle with anxiety….AND THAT IS OKAY.

Like all of you I have good and bad days. But I can tell you that my bad days can be frightening.

When I am visited by anxiety my chest tightens. I become short of breath and I feel completely hopeless. During this time I feel overwhelmed. I feel as if my life’s energy force is being sucked from my body.

I have moments where I get so frustrated with myself because I am unable to just “feel better”. I am unable to change my mind set and get to a better place. I get angry at myself because I feel like I have no control over my anxiety.

Thankfully I am getting better at dealing with my anxiety.  Although I never feel “normal,” I am able to get myself back on track quicker.

I have learned that the more you try to control your anxiety, the more it fights back. And until recently, it did just that. The more I would try to control my anxiety, the more it would control me. The more I tried to ignore my anxiety and push it away, the more it would rear its ugly head. It got to the point where I was battling myself every day and I was just exhausted.

I still have those bad days where I try to push it away and feel like I’m not able to “fix” the way I’m feeling. However, I have also learned so much about myself and how I can manage those days better.

I have learned more about anxiety as a whole. It is reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with anxiety. It is even more reassuring to know that I am not the only athlete who struggles with anxiety.

There is a stigma around high level athletes and mental health. From a young age it is ingrained in athletes to be mentally tough and push through the hard stuff. For a long time, I thought the same thing. I never wanted to be honest about my struggles because I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t mentally tough. Which, now thinking about it, is just crazy.

One of the most helpful things I have learned is that it was okay to feel the way I do. It is okay to share how I feel. I am not weak just because I struggle with anxiety. I am strong because I finally opened up to people about this battle I was having.

Opening up to my friends was difficult at first. I would see my friends in really dark places. I would feel like I shouldn’t say anything because my struggles seemed to not be as dire as others. I never wanted to make what I was going through a big deal because I knew so many other people were in a darker place than I was.

Honestly, that was the worst thing I could have done. There is no Mental Health condition too small to talk about!

Like I said earlier, the more you try to push Anxiety away, the stronger it fights back. For me, instead of trying to “fix” and control the anxiety, I started to only control the things that were in my control. For me, it was a lifestyle change. I started to create a more consistent routine for myself. I began to be more consistent with mindfulness practices and different breathing exercises. I became aware of what helps me and what triggers the Anxiety. I continue to talk to people, instead of pushing them away like I used to. Most importantly, I was able to let go, ask for help, and started to feel a sense of freedom.

Once I learned these things, I began to truly believe that how I felt was OKAY. I was able to erase the stigma I was putting on myself.

It is a difficult and ongoing journey for me, but visitors are always welcome.

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