Creativity cured my anxiety.
Or maybe I finally allowed my anxiety to fuel my creativity.
I have struggled my entire life with anxiety, and if you’ve read my blog at all you know I’ve also suffered from debilitating panic attacks and depression since the fall of my marriage.
For those of you who don’t know what anxiety looks like or feels like, please check out this video:
I haven’t had a Xanax in 3 months. Coincidentally, I also started this blog three months ago.
So what’s the correlation? Why do I feel more at ease? More focused? Happier?
Should everyone who suffers from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks start a blog?
Well, no. But the blog is a creative outlet for my inner chaos. It’s a place where I can take all of the swirling thoughts inside my head and lay them down to rest. It’s a place where I can engage with people who understand me so I don’t feel so alone. It’s a place where even when I’m not writing, I’m creating and learning.
I’m taking all of that negative energy… the energy that usually finds its way to my chest in the form of breathlessness and pain; and I’m learning to make it useful. I found a purpose for it that doesn’t make me feel like a failure.
I used to cope by reading self-help books non stop and isolating myself. What I didn’t realize is that the more I focused on diagnosing myself and trying to pinpoint exactly what was wrong, the worse my symptoms appeared to get. You can’t fix yourself by laying beneath four walls and reading books about how to fix yourself. It’s just a trick your mind plays on you to make you feel like you’re making progress.
I know that I will never truly “cure” my anxiety and depression. It’s one of those illnesses that wax and wane. But I can starve off the debilitating symptoms by pursuing something that is bigger than me.
Now I’m learning what it feels like to be “alive”, to feel joy, to be FIERCE.
It’s getting easier to recognize the symptoms when they begin to arise. It’s so subtle that if I wasn’t paying attention I would surely miss it.
It’s that feeling…. that feeling of exhaustion. The one where everything feels harder. Bending over to pick up a pencil that falls feels incredibly difficult. It’s that …. “uuuuuuggggghhhhh” feeling, even after a full nights rest. The exhaustion turns into irritation and the irritation into procrastination and procrastination into avoidance. It’s not always in this order. Sometimes it bounces around. But more often than not now I can tell when I need to do something to calm my soul.
I made a list awhile back. A list of things I like to do that make me feel at peace when I’m beginning to have those subtle feelings. These things for me include: a bubble bath, a pedicure, music, writing, and creating. They’re generally solitary, but they’re rejuvenating. The other thing I do is confide in my 2 closest people. The ones who know I’m prone to fall deep. I give them a heads up to let them know where my mind is and they always make sure I don’t fall into solitude for too long. It’s a balancing act.
Speaking of balance…..
The blog wasn’t the only thing that helps me keep my sanity. Even though I firmly believe having a creative outlet has helped ease my anxiety and depression; there are other things that I have learned to do that help with the day-to-day anxiety and stress:
Find Your Routine:
I generally lead a pretty boring life with spurts of spontaneity and fun. While that doesn’t suit many people, it’s perfect for me. When things are somewhat predictable and familiar I am able to cope with my anxiety much better. Your routine may look completely different from another – it’s not about creating what you THINK a normal routine should be, it’s about creating a routine that matches your life and makes it doable.
Let Shit Go:
This gets a lot easier as I get older. Anxiety makes things seem bigger than they actually are. Life experience is proving my anxiety wrong. Put things into perspective… if it isn’t going to have a lasting impact on my life then I’m just not interested in allowing it to have any of my energy.
Take your vitamins and medications regularly and on time:
If you’re on mood stabilizers, antidepressants or antianxiety medication it is imperative that you take them everyday at the same time. Routine helps with this. I also recommend everyone check their vitamin levels. I found out I had chronically low Vitamin D levels 2 years ago. Vitamin D deficiency can mimic depression symptoms. Since I began taking it regularly I have noticed a shift in my energy and mood levels.
Set Realistic Goals and Deadlines:
Give yourself plenty of time to get things done, but not too much. I still haven’t figured out the magic answer, but I do try to set mini realistic goals. I may not get everything done, but I can get something done.
Procrastination is the number one way I self sabotage.
Even people who don’t suffer from chronic mental health issues have bad days. We just have to brush ourselves off and pick ourselves up.
For those of you who are suffering. The ones who feel like failures because their anxiety and depression makes them believe they are not good friends or moms or wives or siblings. The ones who worry endlessly about being thought of as lazy and unmotivated. The ones who sink beneath four walls and bury themselves in self-doubt, self-pity, and hatred. The ones who hurt so bad inside but can’t explain why.
I get it. I understand. You are not alone.
Breathe in, breathe out. You are special. You are a masterpiece. You are FIERCE. You have a story to share.
Write down the things that bring you peace and practice them regularly.
Find a place or a creative outlet to take your negative energy and turn it into something good.
Focusing on something other than ourselves gives us purpose and meaning.
One Flawsome Momma