“Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes. Ever since I was a kid, I have dealt with anxiety and loads of fear in regard to all of life’s ‘what ifs.’
Because of Endometriosis and other stomach issues I have had in the past, I became nervous to leave the house because ‘what if I didn’t feel good’ or ‘what if I felt sick?’ My Endometriosis pain will hit me out of nowhere and then it is suddenly hard to move. The pain is excruciating and causes me to feel sick to my stomach. I also struggle with OCD and germaphobia, so going out triggered those anxieties. Everything I touched made me wonder if I needed to wash my hands, and those thoughts wouldn’t go away until I gave in and finally washed them. The feelings of fear, instant stomachache, anxiety, sweaty palms, all of it. I let my anxiety win for so long and would come up with every excuse in the book as to why I needed to stay home and couldn’t go out to eat, or to the store, or go away on a weekend vacation. I let all the what-ifs I have no control over, control me.
But it goes back even further than that. When I was in grade school, I had weekly meetings with the school counselor to try and help me work through my anxiety and fears. As the years went on the anxiety would come and go in waves. I would say ever since early high school though, it has been consistent, but I tried to not show it. I knew my fears and anxieties were pretty irrational, but I still let them control me.
As time when on, it was more and more noticeable I was struggling. I remember one time my fiancé, now my husband, held me in the driveway as I broke down crying because I was tired of all-consuming anxious thoughts that made me second guess everything. My anxiety would make me not feel good, as in my mental health was making me feel physically sick. I would even have nights where I would lay in bed and not be able to sleep because of all the anxious thoughts racing through my head.
The ones I am closest to, my husband and my family, were noticing these patterns and I am thankful for them for challenging me and questioning my behavior. I was so focused on how I felt I wasn’t even realizing how my behavior was affecting my relationships with my family, and even my husband. After seeing how it was not only affecting me but also my loved ones and friends, I decided to make an appointment with my doctor and start on anxiety medication. That has helped me SOOOO much. I felt like I was back to myself, was able to go out without crippling anxiety.
Then COVID hit.. Now we are told to stay home, to wash our hands all the time, and to not go out. I was getting used to being home again all the time and not going out.
At the beginning of COVID, I started a new workout program and joined a community of other women who also do the programs. Not only did this community help push me to work on my physical health, but also my mental health. I created a morning routine I love and wished for so long, I just never had the push to really stick to it. I start my day off with my devotional, then read some personal development, and then do my workout. Having this routine I stick to every single day has also helped me tremendously in these uncertain times that are creating anxiety for people who never struggled with it before.
My routine and medication help a lot, but there are still many times that I struggle, and the anxiousness starts to creep back in… My husband and I had plans to go out with a couple of friends this weekend and I was starting to notice those anxious feelings coming back because I was so used to being home. Before we left, I could feel the wave of anxiety and those thoughts that come along with it. I was just thinking about the what-if questions I mentioned earlier and thought about it even until the second I got there. The difference this time is I know what it was like to let my anxiety win for so long and how trapped that made me feel, and I knew I did not want to steep back into those patterns.
So, this weekend I embraced the what-ifs, tried to push away those thoughts, didn’t let the anxiety kill my plans before I even took a chance… and dang, I had a good time.
I share this so you know it’s okay to worry about the what-ifs and the things you can’t control, but when that starts to become all-consuming and create crippling amounts of anxiety, please don’t be afraid to ask for or get help. I wish I allowed myself to do that sooner. I thought medication and talking with my doctor about it made me weak because I should be able to handle it on my own. Friend, that is NOT the truth at all. I realized asking and reaching out for help was actually the opposite of weakness.
It will not always be easy, but it will ALWAYS be worth it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Bryant from Portland, Maine. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories about mental health here:
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‘Don’t try to fix me, or tell me it’s in my head. Just show up. Just love. I promise I’ll do the same.’: Woman pens letter to friends explaining anxiety, ‘true friendship is loving each other in ups and downs’
‘Your son cut class today.’ I got the phone call no parent expects. ‘Excuse me?!?!’ I was LIVID.’: Mom comforts teen son battling depression, ‘we should treat mental illness the same as physical ailments’
‘My psychiatrist said, ‘Technically, you’re on the highest dose I can legally prescribe you…’ At 8, I’d had my first panic attack. I didn’t want to live life this way anymore.’: Young woman details journey with anxiety
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