OVERPOWERING AN ANXIOUS MIND

The mind is a very powerful part of a person. It’s the mind and the knowledge we collect within it that help us build our lives and our future. Within our mind is intellect, knowledge, thought processes, decision making, creativity, and much more. Of course, the mind is a part of the brain. It’s one of the many functions of the brain. What happens to the mind when small worries and fears grow and grow until they become huge? An anxious mind can be overpowering and debilitating. Anxiety affects the mind and the whole body.

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My anxiety hit me powerfully in college when I fell to the rock bottom of my depression. I lost my cousin in a car accident my senior year of high school and I moved forty-five minutes from my home to live with my grandparents to be closer to college. My friend took notes I wrote her, telling her my deepest feelings and my need for comfort, to her mom and a teacher I had in school. My friend’s mother forbade her to see me, but she snuck out and began abusing me. On top of that, it was stuck in my mind that my grades had to be high because I had to prove to all those who thought I couldn’t do anything that I could succeed.

In the mornings before college the worrying and fears started.

I spent hours doing my homework and studying. I have to get a good grade. I can’t be a failure. I can’t let everyone be right about me. I’m so tired. What if I fall asleep in class? I didn’t study enough. I should have studied longer. I don’t remember what I studied. I forgot everything. I spent hours studying for nothing. I can’t go to classes. I don’t even remember the chapters I read last night.

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I started feeling nauseous. I began to dry heave.

What am I doing in college? I’ll just fail. I hurt my friend with my notes and I’m messing up my one chance to prove myself. Everything in my life is going wrong. I can’t go to my classes. I feel sick. I can’t do anything right. I need to study more. I have to get a high grade. I’m not ready. I need more time. I’m going to fail out of college.

My anxiety kept building as my mind made a small thing like getting a good grade on a homework or test into something huge. The more I worried about my grades in college, the more my body reacted. It started with nausea, dry heaves, and then getting sick. I got sick every morning before class, in between classes, and when I went to see my friend.

Woman feeling sick with stomachache in bed - Pain in stomach

At the time I didn’t understand what was happening to my body. My mom took me to a doctor and he gave me anti-nausea medication, but that didn’t even work. The anxiety didn’t stop until I moved back home and began therapy and the abusive friend moved away.

It wasn’t until many years later I learned what anxiety was. I was happily married, I had been working the same job for several years, and I was managing my illness, yet the nausea, dry heaves and throwing up started up again. Doctors did many tests and found nothing wrong with me. My doctor told me he believed I was having anxiety attacks. I thought he wasn’t taking my problem seriously and he was blaming my mental illness on an illness he couldn’t explain, but when I talked to my therapist, I realized my doctor was right. I started journaling my thoughts.

close up of patient and doctor taking notes

During a normal work day my worries turned to fears and grew throughout the day. It started in the morning before work.

I have to catch the bus on time. I can’t be late. I can’t be late for work. I hope I don’t make a mistake at work. We can’t afford for me to get fired. We’d lose everything if I’m not working. It takes both of our paychecks to pay our bills. If we can’t pay our bills we’d lose our home and everything.

By the middle of my day I was fighting nausea and dry heaves. The worries grew and grew. I began to fear throughout my day that I would make a big mistake and by the end of the day I’d have no job. My body reacted as the anxiety took over. I would fight my dry heaves until I had to get off register to get sick in the bathroom. The worries continued after work. I worried about not having enough money to pay our bills and to make it through the week. My anxious mind overpowered my body, my thoughts, and my feelings.

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Anti-anxiety medication helped a lot, but I also had to practice relaxing techniques like deep breathing, listening to soft music, and doing something I enjoyed. I also had to learn to identify my worries and take control of them before they overtook me. Recently my best friend Cheryl sent me a post about grounding. Now I keep the grounding techniques on my phone and when my anxious mind becomes overpowering, I use them.

If your anxious mind is overpowering, talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about anti-anxiety medications and talk to a therapist about coping and relaxation techniques. Learn to identify your worries and fears, then work on ways to stop them from getting bigger and bigger. When the worry starts, tell yourself, “Stop. You have worried enough. Now focus on something else.”

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Try grounding techniques like: look around you, find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Find this and more grounding techniques at https://www.redorbit.com/grounding-techniques-for-anxiety/.

With the help of medication, grounding techniques, and relaxation methods, my anxiety is pretty much under control. Sometimes it gets the best of me, but because I’m willing to fight it, my anxious mind no longer overpowers my life. Since I’m willing to work hard to calm my anxiety, I strive within the light of recovery.

 

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