Yesterday I made this as a reminder to myself about how I need to face life with anxiety and severe panic attacks. I don't talk about my condition in public very often but I wanted to share this:
My name is Kendra L. Saunders. I'm a published author, fashion blogger,
music store nerd, frequent traveler...and I also suffer from severe panic
With much love from some special friends and family, I'm working hard to
battle my panic and depression, and love life with all of its
challenges. It's not easy, but as the lyrics to one of my favorite songs
says, "I live, but I love this life." (Coldplay)
A few of the important things I've learned recently are:
*We all have quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Just because someone else seems to have a perfect life doesn't mean they do. Just because we feel we have overwhelming odds against us doesn't mean we need to give up.
*Anxiety is fear of fear. It's fear that you will be afraid, you will react badly, you will suffer again out of fear of something that has or hasn't happened. Knowing this helps take away some of its strength.
*We don't usually see our best moments coming any more than we see the bad ones coming. Just because we've had a series of unexpected misfortunes doesn't mean we'll never have another moment of happiness. It's all fluid, it changes, and it goes up as well as down.
*Look back to your favorite memories to be reminded that you got through darkness and found light, not to make yourself feel bad for what's happening right now in your life.
*Most panic attacks only last five minutes if you don't fight them or feed into them. Only FIVE minutes! That's not so bad, really, is it? Just let your body do its panic thing, tell yourself you're going to let it happen for five minutes and wait it out. The more you accept it in the moment, the faster it will pass.
*You are more than your mental illness, depression or anxiety. You are a multifaceted human being with loved ones, dreams, talents, and a future. Accept your dragon, whatever form it takes- anxiety, depression, etc- and then say, "This is MY dragon. And I will fight it." Battle it, but remember that it is yours, it's a part of you, and that's okay, but it is not all you are made of.
*When panic begins to form inside you, just tell yourself, "This is it! Another challenge! And when I beat this one, I'll be one step closer to being panic-proof!" Think of it however works best for you- imagine battling your anxiety in a video game, or imagine a big calendar with check marks, each day and each check getting you close to vacation, aka the end of feeling so overwhelmed by your anxiety.
*Something that a very sweet person told me recently made a huge difference with my panic attacks. She told me to think of what made me feel most alive. Think of it fully, in detail. She said some people think of a person who is vibrant and colorful, some think of a beach or a fond memory. For me, its the Tick Tock Diner in NYC. I'm stepping off the bus, I'm turning right off the bus and adjusting my backpack strap and popping my headphones in, looking up at the late-afternoon sky, listening to cars and trucks roll by, half-noticing the tourists buying cheap scarves and bags and pictures of Marilyn Monroe, smelling second-hand-smoke and burned hot dogs. It's my happy place. It's where I feel alive. When I feel like I'm about to lose control of my anxiety, I tell myself that I'm there, I will BE THERE again, and let that soak clear through to the cells of my being. Find your happy place, find what makes you MOST ALIVE. Be there. Live in that moment, always.
Living with panic disorder can sometimes feel like you're not living at all, but you're not alone, and there is always a new opportunity for you to fight- and win- whatever is holding you back. Much love to you, and feel free to tweet me anytime if you need to talk about this. @kendrybird