Hi, I'm Amber and I have anxiety.
My brother, Joe, can sense when I'm particularly anxious, even though he lives hundreds of miles away. Late last week he sent me a random text that read, "a successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation from the bricks thrown at her" during a rather challenging work day. His little positive word boost was what I needed to lift me back up on the proverbial horse. Anxiety is a beast. It strikes out of blue and can be debilitating, both emotionally and physically.
My initial diagnosis came several years ago during a time in my life that was exceptionally taxing. You probably know someone who suffers from anxiety. Or perhaps you're one of the 40 million* Americans diagnosed each year with an anxiety disorder. Having anxiety is doable and possible to overcome. You just have to find your coping mechanisms. Faith and self love are the keys for me. Being true to yourself is a biggie.
I believe I was born anxious. My childhood was far from traumatic and I pretty much lived an idyllic life on our little farm in the county. I remember no life altering events that would have caused any inklings of anxiety in me. I was nearly always happy and so was my family.
I was described by my grandmother as always being nervous. I often chewed my fingernails to the 'quick' and would spontaneously throw up in the presence of strangers or foreign situations. I did endure a couple of surgeries as a small child and never failed to get sick on the car ride to the doctor's office because I was anxious about what might happen when we got there.
Ask my sister Janice about the time she had a boyfriend over for dinner at our home for the first time. She describes the horror of her little sister vomiting all over the table mid meal. I was so nervous to be around the boyfriend. We laugh about that incident now, but I'm certain there was no laughter happening at the moment. By the way, we had spaghetti that night. Can you imagine?
I was prescribed a couple of different medications over the years to alleviate my symptoms and to boost my coping skills. Under the direction of my doctor last year, I was able to wean myself from the medication, successfully. Realistically, I may need medication in the future, but for now I'm ok.
Anxiety kept me from living my life fully for a good number of years. I would fall into a pattern of self-doubt and worry that would hinder any goal I was seeking. I'd put off things and shy away from life experiences because of anxiety. I missed many important life moments because of anxiety.
The turning point for me was becoming a mother. Knowing I had a little human being to care for gave me the focus I needed to change and finally accept my anxiety as a battle scar, rather than a cross to bear.
Embracing a relationship with God was also instrumental in putting my anxiety in check. Letting go and 'letting God' allowed me the opportunity to earn a long awaited college degree at 50 years old and get on with my life, one step at a time. Embracing my true self, flaws and all, and being honest with myself has been the best medicine. I'm not perfect; nor will I ever be. I still have anxiety attacks once in a while, but they are fewer and far between nowadays.
If you, or someone you love, is suffering quietly with anxiety, don't be afraid to speak up. Talk to someone you trust who can guide you in finding a solution that works for you. Most importantly, love yourself enough to get help. Trust me, you're worth it.
* statistic from the ADAA of America.