Every day counts
I have lived with anxiety for nearly my entire life. My entire life, actually, if you ask my mother. When I was in high school, I woke up every morning sick to my stomach. I always assumed it was because of having to get up so early. Or because I was tired much of the time. Then I got married at 19 and had my first baby at almost 21. Less than a year later, my husband and I separated and decided to divorce. My mother-in-law threatened to take my son away from me because she was afraid she would never see him again. For three days after her threat I was very sick with what I thought was a stomach flu. Then I began noticing a pattern in my "sicknesses." Each time something emotionally painful occurred, or something that I began to worry over, I would begin to feel sick. I was going to college at the time, trying to get my AA in psychology, so I began to learn about the different psychological disorders. One struck an instant chord with me: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It made sense. I worried constantly over absolutely everything and even nothing at all; all the time! The stomach flu's were just a greater manifestation of my already overwrought nervous system. Once I knew what the problem was, I began to learn how to handle it better. I finished my BA, my mother-in-law got to see my son just fine, and I've remarried. I have two more children now. It's been 7 years since I first realized what my problem was and how to control it. I wish I had known long ago what the deal was. I felt like I had been so blind. My mother was and still is an inspiration to me. She has been my rock. She taught me my first skills in anxiety management. She taught me that the serenity prayer is so true for my issues. You must learn to deal with the hand you are dealt and the rest that is out of your control needs to take a backseat. Especially to worrying. She taught me to divide my worries between things I had control over, and things I did not. I began to do this whenever I began worrying incessantly over this or that. She even taught me how to figure out what was even worrying me, putting a face to my worry, rather than allowing empty worrying to have control over me. Once I finished my BA I began that summer to immediately work on my Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. It was honestly the smartest decision I had ever made for myself. Not only did I gain training in helping myself work through my difficulties, I also gained an amazing mentor and skills to help those around me. I learned how to use guided imagery and box breathing to beat my automatic nervous system response every time I began to worry and feel fearful. I learned that no day is a throw away. Every day can start over whenever you choose for it to. And my mentor's most popular saying, "the past doesn't get any better." Although I have made mistakes in my past, and my anxiety was at times crippling, I have since made enough progress past it to consider myself in control of it. There have been a few instances in the past few years when my anxiety was overwhelming, usually when I lacked sleep, but I have been managing them better and better. I am a firm believer that mental health is not a state of being, but rather a constant state of change within each of us. We all will always have difficult times in our lives, but the battle we fight to stay afloat is what makes us healthy. Especially when we are able to say, "I know something is wrong, and I am going to find help for it."