Rocket Girl’s Tips for Surviving Anxiety

There’s no easy way to talk about the details of anxiety. It can be nasty and embarrassing to talk about. For some of us, anxiety makes us bite our nails, makes us too anxious to move or shower, and can even prompt GI distress in the worst kind of way. For me, my anxiety makes it so that my appetite turns off…completely. Given a stressful enough event, my appetite can be turned off for a few days at time even. With my body producing cortisol and with no food or rest from anxiety, the effects of stress can wreak unadulterated havoc on my body. Fortunately, I’m slowly learning to deal with the effects of stress and I’m passing on my tips to you.

  1. When you can’t eat, something is better than nothing: Listen, if you feel anxiety like this, full meals might not be in the cards for a while. Especially balanced and healthy ones. You might not have the energy to cook a full meal. However, nutrition is important and at this point, eat anything your body wants/will accept. At this point, you’re just looking for calories. Candy, fast food, anything is on the table so long as you can get something down so you can get your strength back.
  2. Stay hydrated: In the grips of an anxiety spell, try very hard to stay hydrated even while your eating is out of whack. Water and herbal teas are best because they won’t dehydrate you, but anything will suffice so long as your having plenty of it. Not having fluids WILL make you feel worse, and as an added feature, peeing will feel REALLY uncomfortable because it’s more concentrated.
  3. Practice whatever hygiene you can: Sometimes you just don’t want to go through the whole rigamarole of cleaning yourself. That’s fine! If you can put on some deodorant or splash your face then do it. If you can keep in the habit of brushing and flossing then you’re already on the right track. Your hair can be greasy. Your make up can be smeared or flaking off. But try to muster the strength to do little things like brush and floss to care for your health. I find that swishing mouthwash in my mouth helps when I can’t be bothered to uncap my toothpaste.
  4. Slowly reintroduce food: If you go for a few days having eaten very little, don’t try and rush back into full meals. Breaking your calorie intake in a bunch of small meals will make it easier on your stomach. Pick some things you enjoy eating and have them in small amounts throughout the day to get your body used to eating again.
  5. Exercise: I know, I know. It seems kind of ridiculous to suggest exercise again like it’s some kind of cure-all. But it has a lot of good effects and I really recommend even quick walks. It’ll help your body feel better by producing endorphins and I find that it regulates my appetite.
  6. Get a screen dimmer app: Anxiety can make it hard to sleep. What can aggravate this even more is the blue light from screens. One way to help with this is getting something like F.lux that dims your screen as the sun goes down. It saves your eyes and has helped me go to bed earlier because the orange light is a) ugly b) doesn’t strain my eyes and c) doesn’t trick my body into wakefulness.
  7. Journal: Writing can help you process your feelings. By confronting your feelings on the page, you can sort of kick start the recovery process. I’m not saying that it’ll always help, but a private space where you can scream and be dramatic without getting any of the neighbors upset is incredibly therapeutic for me.

I’ve been in the grips of a bad spell lately, and I’ve just managed to dig myself out thanks to the love and support of my friends and family. With love and patience, I’ve been able to get the gumption to post again and I’m extremely grateful for that. And also? Happy New Year! LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE OF ME?! CAUSE I AM.

Discipline and Recovery

There is no way to say this in a way that doesn’t sound shameful. But I am an addict. To what you may ask? Well, it’s not to anything substance related. My weakness is for social media. The almost drug-like high feeling of seeing my followers retweet my work, the fun interactions, the browsing of media content, all of it is a rush for me. Heroin doesn’t hold a candle to the instant gratification of penning a tweet that gets likes. Seeing my blog do well gets me jazzed to the point of distraction. And I should be happy! But unfortunately, this gets in the way of the real crisis. As someone currently unemployed (having just quit my waitressing job), social media has been kneecapping my dreams.

By putting all my energy into my online presence, my real life situation has stagnated. I haven’t studied like I should for the tests I claim to want to take. My application for jobs lately is admittedly half-assed, wanting to just send in my resume without putting in the extra ten minutes to make it appealing to the actual employer. I can explain in part, that social media is something I’m good at and my deep fear of failure is crippling me. But of course, that just leaves the ugly solution staring me in the face. If not quitting cold turkey then at the very least highly structuring my online activity such that it doesn’t ever encroach upon my real life ambitions to such a degree ever again.

Social media is addictive to people like me. And when I say people like me, I mean people with executive dysfunction/ADD. A lot of bloggers struggle with mental illness, and I’m not any different. My struggle is one of self control, anxiety and maladaptive coping. I cope with my feelings of inadequacy and fear badly. Sometimes I get into funks where I don’t eat and don’t buy groceries because I feel stuck in my own brain. And the way I’ve been coping with this illness until now has been harmful to me and to the people who believe in me. And so something will have to change.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t painful to write this. As I think of it now, I’m ashamed to show anyone these words. It’s tempting to hide this post in a journal entry and forget about it. But I need to make a stand here and now to tell not just myself, but everyone that I’m going to discipline myself and recover. That I’m going to get my life on track and seriously pursue my ambitions and once again commit to putting in the hard work.

So what does this mean for this blog? Is this a fiery declaration of imminent shut down? Well no. I still believe this blog is important. It’s brought me into a wonderful world that I honestly believe has made me a better person. What it will mean is that I’ll be taking a much more structured and scheduled approach. I’ll be less active on my Twitter, being reachable there for just a portion of the day. I’ll set boundaries and deadlines and work on them in a way befitting of a professional. In short, this is not the end, merely a restructuring for the benefit of myself and others.

There is one note of brightness. I know I can do this. I have the most supportive friends and family I know. My partner loves me deeply and will help me get through this. I’m going to get better. For everyone who believes in me. My parents, my partner, and my friends all want me to succeed, and I haven’t been worthy of that support. Not yet anyway. But I will be working to be worthy of these people.