The Truth About Anxiety & Ways To Cope

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I have had anxiety since I was a little girl. It all started once I got to middle school. Middle school was really tough for me and kids aren’t particularly the friendliest in middle school. It’s when you start growing out of that child stage and right before you grow into that young adult “I don’t care” stage. Kids start getting cliquey, finding boyfriends/girlfriends, all while going through puberty. (Yikess)  So I was never quite the outgoing/popular type in school, and it was hard for me to cope growing up. It also didn’t help that my parents were going through a messy divorce so my mom moved often, so we had to learn how to make new friends on the regular. Switching from school to school when you’re young like that weighs on you.

When you’re a child it’s even harder to get through life because you’re confused at what is happening to you, and you don’t have the means to get help for it. So it was really hard getting through middle school happily, making friends, and making good grades. Daily life was a struggle.

Then came high school. High school was kind of a blur for me. It was similar to middle school, except “on steroids”. My sophomore year of high school I took my first sip of alcohol. (Peppermint Schnapps to be specific) -gross! Trust me, I know. That was the only bottle mom had in the kitchen cabinet at that time. 😛 That was sort of a turning point for me from then on. It was good and bad. Alcohol gave me the confidence to make new friends, and do things I wouldn’t normally do. It showed me a whole new world, and gave me a different picture of life in general. The only downfall was that I started drinking a lot to cover up the anxiety. Then came depression. They go hand-in-hand usually. Many times people get depressed as a result of the anxiety. I started partying a lot more than I should have. To be honest though, I don’t regret any of it because it helped shape who I am today. I think that we need to let go of things from the past & learn from them. Don’t dwell on the past, make it a positive thing. Every day is a new day.

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College life was a lot of fun. August of 2008, I got accepted at the only school I applied to, West Virginia University. I became a Mountaineer for life. I was born in West Virginia so I always knew I wanted to go there. College life was probably the best time of my life. I learned so much during my four years at WVU, and not just what I read in the books. I started school with $0.00 in my pocket pretty much. My parents (Mom, Dad, and Jerry) did just about everything they could with my sisters and I, but it wasn’t in the cards to pay for us to go to college, so I had to find a way to make it happen. Through hard work and their support, I was able to secure financial aid, thank God for that! If you’re in the same boat as me with no money, and you aren’t sure what to do, just know that it IS still possible to go to school. Financial Aid made that possible. Shortly after moving into my dorm I was able to find a job and I attended school full time. Times got tough dealing with school and a job, but also still coping daily with anxiety and depression. But somehow I managed. And really, my parents not paying for us to attend college was kind of a blessing in disguise, because I was forced to figure it all out myself, and learn the value of money.

May of 2012 I graduated WVU. It was that Summer I decided to go to see a psychiatrist. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I needed to talk to someone to get it all out, and the doc put me on a low dose of Prozac for depression, and Gabapentin for panic attacks. It changed my life. Just a reminder though, medications shouldn’t be the only thing you use to cope with your problems. There are so many other methods to use along with them. Medication should just be a supplement, in my opinion. Below are my favorite ways to deal with my anxiety that aren’t medications.

Exercise.

This has to be my number 1 favorite way to deal with anxiety and depression. I try to work out at least 3-4 times or more per week. One work out consists of 30 minutes of cardio and two other work outs of my choice. I usually go for various ab workouts, squats, and weight lifting for my arms. You can find awesome ab workout routines via YouTube.

Take a hot bath.

Bath time is a really good way to relieve anxiety. I take a hot long bubble bath, listen to my favorite music, and just think about everything. It’s such a good time to just meditate and give some time just for you to gather your thoughts.

There are also breathing exercises, calming teas like Chamomile tea, and finding hobbies that you enjoy to keep your mind occupied. Some of my favorite hobbies are hiking, anything nature, interior design, painting, photography etc.  Only YOU are in charge of yourself, so you have the power to control your mind. Don’t let anxiety take over your life.  Always remember, “Mental illness is not a choice, but recovery is”.

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I do feel that I have risen above my mental illness and have taken over it. I see a Dr. regularly, and I use my daily coping mechanisms to get through life. I now live in Annapolis, Maryland in Chesapeake country & I love it here! I have a full time job, new car, house, and friends. I am enjoying life to the fullest. I have learned that you must accept you for you, and all your flaws to be truly happy. Understand that not being perfect is okay, and that mental illness has nothing to do with weakness. Actually, overcoming it makes you strong. “Being happy is a very personal thing and it really has nothing to do with anyone else”.

xoxo Amy M

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