When did you first realize you were struggling with anxiety? What was your first line of action when it came to conquering it?
I first realized I struggled with anxiety in 2015 after the death of my grandmother. My first line of defense was taking two weeks off of school, letting my counselors and professors know what was up, and going to therapy.
What does your anxiety look and feel like?
Anxiety feels like working myself into a tizzy over words that haven’t yet and may not be said and events that haven’t yet and may not happen at all. It looks like sitting in place, staring off into the distance tapping my foot or biting my lip. It looks like walking in circles ringing my hands. It looks like sleeping all day for avoidance – not rest. It looks like not sleeping at all. It feels like believing every lie I’ve ever been told. It feels like the lies are the truth. It feels like I’m not creative enough, burden everyone around me, as well as, don’t and won’t amount to anything. It feels like forgetting what peace feels like. It looks like losing sight of my worth.
* photo credit: Reggie Cunningham
How do you prioritize your mental-health? What are a few wellness tools or practices you use to manage your mental-health?
I prioritize my mental health by being open about it. I talk about therapy or how anxiety is leading me to feel all the time. I call it in because ignoring or strong-arming it away doesn’t work well for me.
Therapy. Journaling. Getting active – going for a walk, to the gym, or just dancing around my room for half an hour. Eating well. Sleeping 7/8 hours a night + naps and if I’m really on it, meditating daily.
How did or does your loved ones react to your mental-health?
Depends on the day. I think at first they were all surprised to learn I was struggling because I didn’t talk about it. There was some shock around my decision to go back to therapy & tentative interest in what I did there. But now, when I’m open, they are supportive and try to help or uplift me in whatever way they can. They act as a second line of defense. If my personal coping mechanism haven’t worked, I know they can and will speak life toward whatever is making me feel anxious. That often looks like affirmations and providing external contrary evidence to my anxiety. I need that sometimes.
Share one piece of advice for someone in the thick of their mental-health journey:
You may feel alone – but you probably aren’t. Reach out. No one can help if they don’t know.
Gabrielle Hickmon, Writer & Co-host – The Reign XY, sunny., EightyTwo NinetySix
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