“Learning to shift and grow from a conditioned negative mindset to a positive one is a process that can add value and meaning to your life. A part of this process is the willingness to open your perspective, improve your self-awareness, navigate the discomfort of the unknown, and learn new ideas from the environment and people around you.”
“The middle ground when discussing and exploring the plethora of emotions is where we can build and accept our ability to feel. We are not “too much” or “too little” of anything and saying yes to our emotions is ok. Instead of being ashamed or embarrassed, we instead slowly begin to give ourselves permission to feel without judgment or ridicule.”
“Here is a simple letter. This letter thanks the person who wakes up every morning barely wanting to, but does anyway. This letter is to the survivor, the warrior, and the one who keeps pushing through. This letter is for you...”
I sat in my bed unable to grasp the idea of the morning. Morning means I must get up and go to class, again. But when did yesterday end? Why does today have to begin? My mind dozes off for another 15 minutes after realizing I fell asleep only three hours prior. With my body weak and my stomach nauseous, my mind overflowed with lists; lists of assignments, projects, tests, research, goals, ambitions, dreams, expectations, procrastination, perfection, the GRE, fixing my family, money…everything. Everything remained in the forefront of my mind daily. Time was a blur and so was my idea of eating breakfast. My stomach longing and screaming for food. Class! I have to get to class. I dragged myself out of bed and into my 9:15 am class. No food. No rest.
This pattern exists as my morning routine for most of my weeks. My days consist of dreadful mornings and long hours.
The more I worry and leave self-care behind, the more an unfamiliar sensation brew in the pit of my stomach. Walking around campus became foggy. Exhaustion is now my new normal. I am a zombie, slave to the regular routine of the student. All work.
Days pass by and nothing is better. I keep going. Work. Work and procrastination remain my cycle until the unfamiliar sensation manifested itself into existence.
My breath is short, my mind blank, my hands clammy, my chest heavy, eyes filled with tears looking into nothing, stomach aching, rocking to feel something. Breathe in. Breathe out. I’m all alone. I can’t catch my breath. I can’t do it. I can’t do any of this.
After some persuading, I found myself in the counseling center once a week for only a few weeks, then in psych services for the remainder of the semester. I must fix myself. I sat in her office, uncomfortable, nauseous, exhausted, and depressed. Talking didn’t help my daily nausea or worried soul, but I kept going. I kept going to class, finishing assignments, papers, and projects, and finally getting my degree. Magna cum laude with anxiety.
Post-Graduation and Anxiety
I can’t say actually getting sleep or eating reverses the effects of anxiety, but it helps to see better. The fog is clear now even though I often find myself nauseous. Every time I do something a bit risky, like taking a high-stress job to start paying off my loans, the tiniest amount of stress results in panic. My mind can’t take any amount of stress. It feels attacked overwhelmed.
I must explain to others what I have even though I don’t believe it’s valid or real. I felt embarrassed and ashamed at first. It’s difficult to admit I have a problem, but that is my first hurdle to overcome.
The first step I took in my mental health journey consists of addressing and saying out loud that what I have is real. I write to make all the lists real and tangible. What aids the stress in my head is no longer in my head, but instead reversed into something positive. I write down everything.
I’m in control again.
The Process of Achieving
It’s been two years since I graduated and I’m now starting to get back my ambitious spirit. I found myself afraid and unable to take risks because fear became my mirror. I’m no longer a robotic perfectionist expecting no mistakes from myself, I take my time, and I put myself first.
Self-care isn’t an idea we teach ourselves to prioritize but it’s the most fundamental necessity — the mental just as important as the physical. We must learn our boundaries and limits and figure out if the risks and stress we take are worth our energy.
Having anxiety, depression, or any mental illness or limitation does not mean we can’t have high standards, ambitions, and goals. We just know where our boundaries and limits lie. We must prioritize our self-care over anything else and that is ok. The constant task of weighing our options and declining some opportunities will be our regular because we know that we can’t do everything. That’s what self-care is.
We are able to do what we want despite the obstacles we face. The more we learn how best to take care of ourselves, the better we become at making sound and reasonable decisions about your future.
Self-doubt is crippling, paralyzing, and can prohibit the progress of what the immediate or far future may contain. While we wallow in our self-doubt and sink into procrastination, we think of every possible scenario that will lead to failure. We don’t see ourselves as people that are capable, able, or good enough for our own aspirations or ambitions. Self-doubt can be because of anxiety and constantly thinking about the future, or it can be because we are afraid and unable to see ourselves in our own potential.
These are four affirmations to remember if you find yourself in self-doubt.
1. I am good enough for who I want to become.
As we grapple and struggle through our insecurities, we must realize our own power in the decisions we make. The more we try, the more we are able to see our potential, therefore visualizing ourselves in new places. We possess unimaginable worth and are able to navigate that worth by first knowing we are good enough first.
2. I accept that at times I will not achieve the results I desire. Temporary setbacks, however, do not make me any less capable of progress.While we maneuver and dedicate our time to opportunities that fit our aspirations, sometimes we will receive rejections. Rejection is extremely difficult to deal with and can dampen self-esteem, but it does not have to define how we see ourselves or our worth. Rejection is a part of life’s process. The opportunities that are made for us will accept us and our talents.
3. I possess the qualities, traits, and abilities needed for success and happinessWhen we see ourselves, in order to be successful, we must first see all the characteristics that will ensure success. We must realize that we are deserving of the happiness and stability we strive for. Seeing in ourselves the success, and overriding the self-doubt is pivotal to being successful. We must build confidence, certainty, and courage in our own abilities to be successful.4. I will conquer every challenge presented to me.Challenges are inevitable as we find ourselves in spaces that are new. Challenges allow us to grow into better versions of ourselves. The more we conquer new challenges, the more equipt we will become in our skills. There is always room to better ourselves, so as we are presented with challenges, we will be patient, calm, and receptive in order to grow and become better.So, therefore, when our self-doubt tries to paralyze our progress we will affirm that we are good enough, accept possible rejection, build confidence in our qualities, traits, and abilities, and believe in our capabilities during challenges. We will be presented with different obstacles in our journey to success, but one obstacle we will overcome each time is our insecurities and doubts when in tight and difficult situations.
We often get discouraged when coming to the realization that we have to be something. We all want to be someone. We want to feel needed and wanted. We want to crave waking up in the morning because we have a purpose. We want to feel that our life is something. We want to feel that we are here for a reason. We are often filled with anxiety when we see that time is passing and we aren’t achieving anything or impacting anyone. We question whether we have a purpose at all. Do we have a purpose?
Making something of yourself, feeling a sense of fulfillment, being passionate, feeling joy, feeling peace and comfort all combine to reveal what your purpose is. Having and building a sense of self is purpose. Finding yourself and being yourself makes who you are special. The energy you lets saturate a room with passion and happiness is a major manifestation of purpose. Purpose is happiness in your current state. Purpose is time and energy being used in something that betters the perspective of yourself and others.
Using whatever gift or talent you have (this can be a plethora of things) to work at self-fulfillment is what purpose is. The next time you find yourself discouraged because you feel you don’t have a purpose, remember that you and your life is already purpose. Work on building and empowering yourself. Purpose is already there. It’s just a matter of feeding the beast that is you and showing who you are to the world. Let’s hope they’ll be ready for you.
Read the second story I wrote on The Mighty called Why my Dog is my Weapon Against my Anxiety and Depression. I dedicated the story to my dog Baby who has helped me tremendously through the rough times I had with my anxiety and depression following graduation last year in 2016. She has lifted me up, along with my other dogs, and has given me a reason to smile, try my best to stay positive, and wake up every morning grateful.