Tag Archives: Conquering Anxiety

A Punch from the Brain, Retaliation from the Heart

If someone has a magical solution to help a person stop overthinking things, I, personally, would love to learn more about said solution.

Because it’s exhausting, friends.

I overthink to the point where I only focus on the negative outcomes. My immediate reaction is to assume the worst, because my mind easily twists and warps things to fit into that equation, where the only solution is the one my overthinking brain creates. Until that worst case scenario is proven false or doesn’t come true, I just assume that’s the reality, the truth of what’s to come. And then once it doesn’t, I feel like a fool, because everything obviously pointed to things being okay or things working out, yet my brain couldn’t help but distort those signs, those facts. I tell myself, See, you didn’t need to worry? Don’t put yourself through that again.

I’m sure you’re not hard-pressed to figure out what happens next.

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I’ve been doing this a lot lately in terms of my evolving friendships and undefinable love life. It can be the simplest things, from not receiving a text for a while to not being called a pet name to putting in all the effort to being left out of a hang out session. I over-analyze, I replay conversations, trying to pick up meanings from inflections and word choice and things left unspoken. I become hyper-focused, always worried that my reality is actually going to become what my brain tells me it will–and it’s never good. And life is good, right now, and who am I to deserve that? How long can it last before I mess it up; then, once doing so, how long will I spend regretting that one confession, that one crying session, that one time where I admitted too much or became too vulnerable and fucked everything up?

These thoughts and fears and scenarios birth in my brain and then worm their way into my emotions, twisting me into a sour mood where I either don’t want to talk to anyone at all or I become needy, desperate for affirmation and confirmation that these fears are heedless and merely vicious to my own subconscious. Suddenly, my desire to be productive diminishes, and even writing and reading become chores when they should be exciting. If it’s really bad, the emotions will manifest into physical pain, in my chest or my stomach, a throbbing pain in my temple.

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And all the while, the scenarios don’t stop replaying in my head, pointing out exactly what went wrong and how I caused it.

This sucks. It makes me seem like my brain isn’t exactly all there. That I’m emotionally imbalanced or the most needy human. It makes me seem like…a bit much, maybe too much to handle or perhaps not even worth the trouble, even for the good times; for the times when I have my brain under control and I don’t give into every seed of doubt, every change, every fear. How can the good times be worth it, for my family and friends and partner, when they also come with moments of the bad, which occur more often than I like to admit?

I can’t make a case for why, but I like to believe I’m worth it, anyway. Even though it’s not the most enjoyable part of my personality, being an overthinking worrywart is a part of my personality. A part I’d like to lessen, a part I’d like to be more in control of, but it’s a part of me nonetheless. So yeah, I have a lot of anxiety and I overthink way too much. But that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to me. That doesn’t mean that those demons are right and I’m going to ruin every aspect of my life, to my family to my friends to my love life to my writing career.

So thanks to those of you who stick by me, despite of this.

And also? A little note to that overthinking brain of mine?

Yeah, I’m in a point in my life right now where I have a lot less friends than I used to, so the few I’ve held onto, I’m suddenly so paranoid I’m going to lose them for good and my life will become nothing but working and coming home to an empty house; a routine never broken up by coffee dates to catch up, weekly 1-1 sessions, long conversations or tears caused by laughter. I’m at a point where I am falling hard for a man who is scared of commitment, so we might never have the type of relationship I’ve always dreamed about, and he’s become so important to me, I’m so nervous he’s going to disappear from my life and not only will I be alone again, but I’ll also no longer have him as a constant presence, support and light. I don’t want to lose him. I’m at a point where I’ve been struggling to write and I’m scared I’ll never get over that, but I’m also scared of the books I have written never going anywhere, never being loved the way I love them. I’m at a point where I feel like my financial status is dominated by bills and I’ll never catch up and feel ahead or financially comfortable, so of course I’ll either always live paycheck-to-paycheck….or worse.

But you know what, my lovely, over-energized, never-ceasing brain? All of those things could happen, all of those fears could come true, and I will still be okay. 

I could lose every friend I have and see no one. I could get my heart shattered by this man. I could have every book I write get rejected. I could lose my job or live paycheck-to-paycheck forever. One or all of these things could happen and yet I will still make it. You wanna know why?

That’s calling living.

That’s life.

If I didn’t have these fears; if I wasn’t putting myself out there and risking my heart, risking my hopes, risking my dreams; if I wasn’t so attached to people and passions and things; is that the kind of life I want to live? Sheltered, comfortable, safe, complacent, routine?

No, I don’t think so.

Some days, you win. You make the inside of my head a living nightmare. You exhaust my friends when they have to remind me, again, that they aren’t going anywhere. You make my family’s foreheads meet their palms when I repeat the same mantra of, “But what if X? Can’t you see Z?” You give me anxiety, you make me fear, you add unnecessary stress, you steal sleep, you absorb will, you cause pain. And I hate you for it.

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But other days, I win. I take risks. I follow my heart. I create art. I enjoy the little things. I run miles. I laugh with friends. I get overly excited about dogs. I nerd out. I go on adventures. I work. I live as a hopeless romantic. I do whatever I can to break up the monotony and mundane aspects of life.

No matter how hard you hit, no matter how many punches you throw, I’ll come back swinging just as hard. It may take hours, days, weeks, before I retaliate. Before my positivity can make a comeback and prove more powerful than my anxiety. But know this, anxiety. Know this, my overthinking, over-analytic, obsessive, cynical, hopeless mind.

I will never stop fighting.

And I will conquer you.

Cheers.


Running Anxiety

I’m not sure how long you could actually label me a runner, but I’ve had runner’s anxiety for as long as I could remember.

It’s a really stupid feeling where you’re worried about what everyone else thinks concerning your own running style.

For the longest time, this anxiety was so intense, I would actually avoid running at all costs. I couldn’t run at the gym because it was always so crowded, everyone could see me, everyone else running would most likely lap me and inevitably everyone at the gym wouldn’t be focused on their own workouts or striving to achieve their own goals; no, obviously they’d be too focused on watching me and judging me. Running outside was off the table, too, because even though it’s less crowded, you never know when you’ll pass another runner and then you spend the rest of your run worrying about their impression of you.

Stupid, right?

Yet that fear was so real. For a very long time. So I wouldn’t run. And because running was my favorite form of exercise, this meant I just wouldn’t do any physical activity at all. I was too concerned with what everyone else thought. About my running form and whether I was doing it properly or not. About my physical appearance and how I was “too big” to run, how you can see my thighs jiggle or my arm flab shake, how my face gets really red, my breathing labored and my entire body just becomes a sweat bucket. About my running speed and how when I claim to be running, I’m actually jogging or fast walking at a really quick pace (which translates to running at a really slow one). On average, it takes me between 14-15 minutes to run a mile. Not very fast.

For years, I let all these concerns of fleeting judgments and the opinions of strangers stop me from achieving weight loss and strength building goals surrounding my own body that I had for just as many years as I did the anxiety, if not even longer.

But then last November, my heart was a little confused and a lotta hurt by this guy who ghosted on me. I’d cried too many tears, yet a mix of emotions was still raging inside of me and I just wanted to be rid of them, and crying wasn’t doing the trick. I had no idea how to release them. So I went for a run.

And for the rest of that day, felt amazing.

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Not all of us can be this cute when running. Or smile and run at the same time. 

Granted, my heart still hurt and my body was sore as hell, but I experienced something I hadn’t in years, the main reason I love running in the first place: that natural, endorphin-driven high you get after running, i.e., the runner’s high. I didn’t realize how much I missed that feeling. So I kept running, for five weeks straight, before winter’s cold kinda ruined my groove. And though I haven’t had a streak that long since, I have been running more consistently since November, even if more consistently is only one or two runs a week.

It’s July.

If you read last week’s post, you’ll see there has been some progress made in my self-love journey thanks to that change. Progress that could have been made years ago, if I could have ignored my anxiety and pushed forward anyway. Because honestly? That anxiety was really pointless. Nine times out of ten, any other runners aren’t thinking about you at all when they pass you on the trail. If they do, the thought or judgment is fleeting, at best. At worst, it might be a comment like, “I saw this slow runner on the path today” they bring up to their family at dinner, but hopefully, it’s followed by a positive spin like, “but I was really impressed that I saw them on that trail. It’s obvious they were trying.”

Because here’s the thing, friends. So what if I’m a really slow runner? So what if my body jiggles when I run? So what if I don’t pump my arms enough or my strides are short instead of long? The only point is: I’m running. I am trying. Sure, a 15-minute mile isn’t exactly impressive generally, but for me personally, all I care about is that I completed that mile. And then ran another (and if I’m feeling really motivated, even a third mile in one run). It’s about completion, not speed.

The most ironic thing is, any time I see a runner, whether while I’m running, too, or just out on the street while I’m driving by, I’ve never once judged them. Usually, my reactions spanned from being super impressed, being super jealous or feeling guilt that I wasn’t out there running, too. Quite frankly, the larger the person, the more impressed I was, because I understood how difficult that was for them, yet they were doing it anyway. Who knows how many times I’ve motivated a stranger to push a little harder or impressed someone because I was out there running? Not to mention the number of waves, smiles or thumbs up I’ve gotten from other people during running. Or how amazing I feel afterwards. It’s gotten to the point that, when I didn’t run at all last week, my mood actually blackened and depression kinda took a hold of me again. That’s how important running has become to me.

Looking back at all the anxiety I felt–which was very real, but not very logical–I could almost laugh, but I mostly just shake my head and wish I’d conquered my own mind a little bit sooner and didn’t wait until running was my last resort and only option to release some pent up emotions. I can’t lie and say there aren’t times when I’m passed by a really fit runner or I’m just having an off-day, that anxiety doesn’t creep up again and whisper in my ear.

I’m pretty jazzed that I’m now able to tell it to shut up and keep on running.

Cheers.