Last week was one of the hardest weeks that I’ve ever dealt with, both physically and emotionally. I’ll start chronologically on this one, with the beginning of February when my grandmother, Evelyn, was admitted to the hospital. I kept in close contact with my Aunt and Uncle during this time, we all knew that she would not be going home. We sat on the edge for weeks, wondering when the fateful day will arrive; my aunt & uncle were swarmed in her final arrangements while I held myself back in Toronto, tending to my little bump. My grandmother has always been a strong person, so it was no surprise to us all that she held on for as long as she could. On March 5th, two days after her 94th birthday, she passed away.

Even though I knew that this was coming, it was still a gut-retching thought to know that I will no longer hear her voice twice a week. Losing someone so close to you changes your day-to-day life, leaving you in an extremely vulnerable place which causes anxiety to surface in profound ways. Since I’m no longer on medication due to my pregnancy, it’s difficult dealing with my grief symptoms on top of everything else. Everyone deals with their anxiety differently, but I know that the best thing to do in these situations is to talk it out.

When I lost my mother at the age of 11, I did not manage my grief well during this time, and I bottled everything up. Most adults in this time frame just assumed that I would ‘get over it’ since I was still in school and would have a good distraction. To some degree, they were right, but not talking about it made my grief and anxiety worse. This time around, I was lucky enough to have a huge support system that kept checking up on me and making sure that I did talk about it. Even though this was overwhelming to a certain degree, having this sense of community was lovely.

I took four days off of work for bereavement before I have to go back to “normal.” Funerals and burials can be considered closure for most people, but due to circumstances out of my control, I was unable to attend both. Even though I was in a severe car accident, and worrying about my baby, I kept saying over and over to myself “I can’t believe I’m missing this.” I was unsure if I would get the closure that most people would get and my worrying started to snowball into my anxiety. I became reclusive and blamed it on the back pain from the accident.

I am thankful that my aunt decided to have a Shiva day in Toronto so that I would be able to immerse myself with family and say goodbye in my way. I figured out that anxiety was a normal response to loss, especially when you lose someone so incredibly close to you. Even though I suffer from G.A.D., my feelings were normal and valid. I just needed to remember what I learned in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and continue with my breathing exercises to know that soon enough it won’t hurt as much.

It still does, though, and that’s OK.
I will never ‘get over’ this, but I can learn to live, heal and re-build.

When my husband and I started dating, he didn’t understand what anxiety was. I tried my best to communicate with him what exactly was going on in my head, but even that thought alone would cause me to stay silent. No one ever understood what I was going through and whenever I did try to open my mouth, I was shot down by several people. It was exhausting, so, I just stopped engaging. I kept that fake smile on for so long that even when an intimate partner wanted to break me free, I immediately couldn’t. It was frustrating on both of our parts.

Over the years, I have tried to jot down my ideas on my anxiety – hoping that others could take away at least some knowledge of an anxious mind.

  • Anxiety & worrying are entirely different from one another.
    It’s normal for people to worry from time to time about finances, health, etc. but with GAD these worries are constant. It feels as if your suffocating within yourself, others call it drowning.
  • Even though I look normal or OK on the outside, my anxiety is wreaking havoc. I can’t just stop or turn it off; this is not a choice. Anxiety is an illness, and you can’t get over mental illness
  • I’m not overreacting. I’m not dramatic. I’m not ridiculous. I’m reacting to something that is attacking me from the inside, and I cannot escape from it. All the logic in the world cannot deter an attack.
  • I don’t always know why I get anxious and even a simple task can be overwhelming for me at times. I don’t need you to look at me like I’m crazy and say I’m irrational – I need someone to be compassionate.
  • I will always need to recharge after a long work week, an extroverted night out or an unexpected confrontation. This has nothing to do with you but everything to do with me. I will not be myself unless I’m 100%

Always in an emergency state

I’m sure that I’ll be adding to my list as the years go on but are there any points that YOU would like others to know about your anxiety?

Add them in the comments below!

I’m at the ratty end of a basement remodel, and I am feeling so depleted from it all.
Everyone usually warns you of how you and your partner will be whenever a renovation happens, and even though I fully expected it to happen, I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional drain that it has put on me.

I am quite opinionated whenever it comes to big projects like this, but I decided to take a step back and let my Husband be the project manager. I’ve done the ordinary tasks with no shame. Cleaned up all the debris, knocked out all of the nails of baseboards (in record time, I might add!) and tried to come to a solution on colors and organization. I know I could do more, but I’m trying to respect his decision and stay out of his hair. Saturday morning we got into a fight of how he feels that he’s doing the majority of the work and I just wanted to rip my hair out!

Even though he has taken the brunt end of most of it, he hasn’t asked for much help on my part. I kept offering my help many times, but I stopped at a certain point since he never accepted it. I have a lot of experience when it comes to hands-on work, and I never shy away from a hammer so it’s tough for me to accept that I’m not as involved as I’d like to be.

After our little spat, I started to shake uncontrollably. As my eyes darted back and forth, I began to question a lot of the decisions that we made and looked inward on our relationship. I immediately knew that I was over thinking, but I couldn’t shake off my anxious feeling and started to cry because I wasn’t in control. My husband caught on quite quickly and jumped over the newly grouted tiles so he could swoop me into his arms to calm me down. We stood motionless in our basement as he caressed my back gently to help regulate my breathing.

I hate my anxiety.

I hate that something like this can come out of nowhere and make me so incredibly doubtful of everything.

I hate when arguments lead me to question my relationship with said person.

Do you know what I don’t hate, though? My husband makes me feel like a ‘normal’ person when I can’t see it in myself.

After this, we went to pick up our paint colors and finally agreed not only on the hues but the placement of them. Instead of going home immediately, we went to a local burger joint and took a well deserve and needed break from our mess of a house. It’s always crucial to make sure that you don’t forget who you are as a person and who you are as a couple, knowing that we both needed that space away from our project was our blessing in disguise.

We spent the next day painting the majority of our basement, and I’m happy to say that we’re both feeling relieved that we’re in the home stretch!

Whenever someone asks how I am my usual response is “I’m tired.”

This tiredness isn’t because of a long day at work, or not getting enough sleep at night (although sometimes it does add to it). It’s usually from the constant battle of anxiety that pulsates through my head telling me not to speak up because I will annoy those surrounding me.

Some days I can fight that voice, but often than not it’s hard to find the strength to ignore it. I want to word vomit how I am feeling

I’m burnt out; life is overwhelming right now, I’m mentally exhausted.

But my anxiety will send my mind spinning telling me that no one will understand, so I resort to the short version of “I’m tired.” I can be in the same room as people that I’ve known for years, whom I trust dearly, but I won’t over divulge.

It’s exhausting having that voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m weak, that I shouldn’t expect much and nitpick away at everything that I do. It makes me feel less of a person, and I think everyone can see it. It makes it easy for me to cancel my plans because the thought of being around people would be too much to handle on top of this.

I refuse to let my anxiety control my life any more than it has. Even though my mind rushes at a mile a minute the moment I wake up: I still get out of bed, I still prepare for my day, and I still go to work. All I want to do is go back under my warm blanket with my husband. (I can make a living like this, right??)

I push through the discomfort of my day so that I can turn my dark thoughts into positive ones. I ignore my thought of “everyone is judging you” and force myself to be productive. Always trying to be one step ahead is tiresome. I feel like I’m constantly trying to get out of my comfort zone and never feel truly relaxed. Yet, I try. I try so hard and put in so much effort.

The days when I do find the courage and strength to speak my mind amaze me – how can I be so brave when other days I let it consume me? These are the days that I realize people with anxiety are the strongest because we never have a minute of peace. I’ve been called “Strong” before, but I don’t feel it, I have a tattoo as a reminder.

Ani Hazika
Hebrew for “I’m Strong”

The next time someone says “I’m tired” try to understand that they might be struggling with something deeper. Maybe they need words of encouragement, a shovel to dig them out of a situation or just a simple hug saying “It’s OK to be tired.”

For the longest time, people mention that I take things too personally or that I’m too sensitive. Hearing it for years and from different groups of people, I started to look in on myself and ask: is there something more to this?

Last year I decided to research this aspect of my personality as I started to believe that there was more to me just being “emotionally sensitive.”
On top of being emotional, I know I get easily overstimulated by
a) Noises (One Example: When my husband sharpens the knives I cannot be in the same room)
b) Lights (One Example: Some concerts I have to lower my head to withdraw from the strobes)
c) Smells (One Example: Old Spice triggers me)
d) People (One Example: Feeling others emotions all too well)

All signs were leading to me being a “Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP for short). I couldn’t believe it! When I was a kid all of my peers called me “shy” or “quiet,” but I was mislabeled. Since I was highly sensitive, I often felt overwhelmed in most aspects of my life that would make me clam up and withdraw from others. Especially when people subject emotions around me on a daily basis. Through being highly sensitive, I’m more susceptible to anxiety through this absorption.

MIND. BLOWN.

It also affects the way that I think, since I have a more creative and active imagination, it can become more challenging to remain calm or convince myself there’s nothing to worry about since I deep dive into negative ‘fantasies.’ It usually feels like there is nothing that I can do to lessen the intensity.

AHHH what do I do?!

Well, first things first – You need to learn how to stop allowing emotions from invading your mind and protect yourself. Easier said than done, right? In all honesty, you just need to find the willingness to react differently if you don’t want to be overwhelmed.

  • Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of getting overwhelmed: for me; it’s usually dry mouth and a racing heart. Being in the present will help you overcome your situation.
  • Focus on yourself: If you’re anything like me, you tend to put everyone over and above yourself. Well, STOP. Self-care is imperative to recharge yourself and to boost your self-confidence.
  • Get mindful: you cannot control what others are going to do so live in the now, breathe deeply and try relaxation techniques. I cannot emphasize enough how important exercise is to burn off the adrenaline coursing through your system
  • Set Boundaries: Avoid the sources of your fear but don’t run away. The more you understand about your boundaries you’ll be able to prepare ahead of time to avoid or adjust your day to reduce the effect on you. I don’t like to avoid things as I feel it sometimes makes my anxiety worse, so I adjust.
  • Remember that it’s not the “end of the world” all of the thoughts racing through your brain is part of your imagination – let them go!

Curious to know if you’re an HSP, too?
Take this test to find out