In my sophomore year of college, I had an anxiety disorder.
My carefree self was replaced by someone who overthinked every action she took and every statement she made. Someone who mentally blocked myself from existing. Someone who couldn’t leave a social situation without going through every single moment where they felt they had done something wrong.
Before that, anxiety was a term I was familiar with, but not so familiar. I attributed it to nervousness and anxiety, but when each day turned into a struggle between myself and an inner monologue, I was facing a foreign problem.
Nothing was particularly bad in my life. I did well in school, had many friends, and lived in a supportive environment with my sister and housemates. I felt safe, loved and successful in the end, but finding fun felt like a constant stretch.
It’s strange to be happy in the end, but I can’t enjoy it because my mind is playing pranks.
While taking a walk with my housemate I realized how much of an issue my anxiety was and was about to text a mutual friend. It took me 10 minutes to find the best 5-word combination.
“I have noticed that your anxiety is starting to grow,” said the housemate.
I saw a therapist and started taking anti-anxiety meds, but after months of doing what I was told was the right thing to do, I didn’t feel any difference and my frustration turned to myself. I was disappointed.
Anxiety I had never felt before suddenly ruled my life. I tried to act like everything was normal — I tried to deny what was going on. .
I had to step back and learn how to ground myself. I had to face the fact that the meds gave me space between my current and anxious thoughts, but they couldn’t get rid of them the way I thought they would. Treatment was not the easy solution I desperately wanted.
Intentionally practicing mindfulness was something I had never tried. Mindfulness always seemed like a buzzword until I actively experienced the opposite.
Affirmations and grounding techniques proved useful, no matter how silly and artificial they seemed in the moment. started to go well.
Writing down my thoughts when they overwhelmed me did more to heal my broken cognition than sitting for an hour talking about it.
Through writing, I have explored topics that feel invisible and have physical signs of rumination that can be put away and moved on. My notes and notes app is full of ramblings that I don’t understand.
The methods I was taught in therapy were effective only after alleviating the emotional burden I was carrying. Moving forward meant letting go.
By stopping overthinking, I was able to move forward from my anxiety-ridden self. I finally understood what was at the root of this seemingly random rumination, and that it wasn’t really random.
Rebuilding a positive relationship with my subconscious didn’t happen overnight. I’m still far from where I want it to be, but the intention and dedication made it so much better.
Practicing mindfulness is not a straight line path for everyone. Mindfulness looks different depending on who practices it. How to think intentionally and listen to your thoughts is the basis of the method.
A friend of mine recently told me that she started experiencing the same thing that I did. The person I loved and knew to always be myself suddenly became more and more insecure. That’s what inspired me to write this article.
It comforts me to know that there are people who understand how paralyzing it can be to have an anxious brain. It helped me understand what works best.
In my case it all came back to writing. He healed me in a way that talking never could.