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Anxiety: How I Cope

I was officially diagnosed with anxiety at eight years old, but I'm sure there were signs prior to that. By 10, I was prescribed with a daily dose of Lexapro. Lexapro and I were friends until I was 12. I somehow figured out how to unfriend him. We met again at 14 or 15, though, along with some other friends that joined us, but their names escape me right now. Now, present day, I have no friends to assist in my daily dance with #anxiety.

That's solely by choice.

Dealing with #MentalIllnesses is not cookie cutter work. It's not a "one size fits all" nor is there one single solution that is right. The journey to dealing with #MentalIllnesses is unique to the individual. With that being said, I can only tell you about my experiences.

Anxiety feels like being in a room with people filling it's entirety and not having space to move.

It feels like running full speed on a treadmill even when your legs are tired. It feels like having a hundred tabs on your browser opened and not knowing which one to look at first.

Anxiety is overthinking what you want to say because you're nervous someone will laugh if it doesn't come out properly.

It's repeatedly checking your watch to make sure you'll arrive fifteen minutes early to a special event.

It's a pounding in your chest when you feel like you're no longer in control of what's going on around you.

Anxiety, for me, is all of the above. And mostly, #anxiety is exhausting. I will be the first to admit that being medicated helped me during my childhood and adolescent years. I remember being very focused and feeling like I could think one thing at a time. I hadn't been that focused in I don't know how long. While it had its benefits, medication for me wasn't the solution. There were days that I didn't feel myself, that I didn't recognize who I was. I was numb. And that numbness was scary.

I had taken it upon myself to stop taking medicine...something that I suggest talking to your doctor about before doing. The alternative for me was finding another method to slow my brain down and to be present in any situation. At the time, I was still seeing my therapist, and we had created a game plan for me to lessen the amount of anxiety attacks I had, while remaining off the medication. The first part of the game plan was the hardest, but the most simple. Do not allow yourself to get to that point. It's easy, right? Just don't have anxiety attacks. She described it as a "Build Up." I was getting the attacks because there was too much building up all at once that I was not having time to process it. Between work, school, dance, friends, family, events, due dates...the list went became too much for any one person to handle. The fix was map it out and take it day by day. The second part of the game plan was staying consistent and on top of myself. This meant sticking to what it is I had written down and holding myself accountable. If I knew a day was going to be busier than another, it was up to me to not overbook myself. If I knew that I had a project due in two weeks, it was my job to map out time slots throughout the week, so that I wasn't postponing it until the day before it was due.

Consistency and Accountability are my two keys to managing my anxiety.

I'd be lying if I said that this plan was flawless and that I lived every day this way. I am human, and I fall short. I still overbook myself. I still believe I'm superwoman and can do 25 things in a 14 hour time window. What's important to me is that I try. I try everyday to be the best version of myself that I need me to be. I also try my hardest to be patient with myself. The reality is that some days are going to be better than others, and that's just the way it is.

Human beings are innately flawed. We all have our shortcomings. We all have our imperfections. What matters most is that we strive to be the best versions of ourselves even if we aren't feeling it that day. To all my fellow humans who deal with #anxietydisorders, there is nothing "wrong" with you. I am here for you. I relate to you. I empathize with you. & I hope that my strategy can help alleviate some of the anxiety you may be feeling!

Please always remember that if a situation or a place doesn't feel good to you, it's okay to leave. You are the driver of your life. NOT your anxiety.

May your day be ever filled with love, light, and of course, an abundance of chicken tenders💜🌻✨

Cheyenne Pajardo

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