Struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia is hard, like really hard. And one of the things that makes struggling with your mental health so hard is that your thoughts, the symptoms, fears, and experiences are something that only you feel and experience uniquely to you. Don’t get me wrong, there is some comfort in knowing that there are others that struggle with similar symptoms, thoughts, and fears as you, but our struggles aren’t identical and we are each on different paths to healing.
BUT! There are some things that ring true for everyone struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, and I want to share these things with you. Because when I was struggling, there were so many things that I wish people had told me. So I’m here right now, giving you the messages that I wish had been shared with me. My hope is that these messages make your journey a little less hard!
01. You aren’t just an anxious person. Anxiety isn’t your natural state, and you aren't "just an anxious person." There are reasons why you are struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, or agoraphobia. What has caused, or is causing the anxiety, are things that you can heal from. You can have a healthy relationship with anxiety, and you are absolutely capable of peace (you’ve proven this many times). The symptoms, panic, and fears might be a part of your life right now, but they won’t always be.
That message is on the front page of my website and there’s a really good reason for that. It’s because I believe in this message wholeheartedly. I remember feeling highly anxious at a very young age. I often had an upset stomach, especially when having to go to school, while riding the bus, or being around lots of people. Then in high school I experienced my first panic attack. This panic attack led to a daily fear of experiencing another, which ultimately led to many panic attacks. Then I learned that many people in my immediate family had, or were struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia, or OCD. This only further convinced me that I was destined to be “an anxious person.”
But the truth was that there were many reasons why I struggled with anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia. Things like childhood trauma and emotional trauma were big contributors to my struggle. There were also many unhealthy decisions that I made that also contributed to my struggles. It took lots of hard work but I healed from my 15-year journey with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, and you can do this too! And it doesn’t have to take you years! You aren’t just an anxious person and you are absolutely capable of healing.
02. Anxiety hasn't and can’t take away all of the amazing parts of you. When I was struggling, I would often look back on who I used to be and I would feel jealous, angry, frustrated, and sad. Do you ever find yourself doing this - comparing yourself to the “old you?” The truth was, I missed that person, but that person hadn’t gone anywhere. Sure, it often felt like anxiety had taken everything from me, but my reality (and yours), was that anxiety couldn’t take away all of the amazing parts of me.
As a kid I was always adventurous, daring, and creative. I did everything my older brother told me to do, even when I knew it’d likely end in me being hurt and crying. Did I second guess myself and my abilities? Eh, I probably did for a split second, but I typically just went for it and was totally fine with the fact that things might not go well. Talk about being courageous! I lived for excitement and adventure!
Fast forward to my teenage and young adult years, I began to second guess every decision that I made, and I usually landed on the idea that I wasn’t capable of doing just about anything. I had zero confidence, and I was convinced that I had turned into a person that I no longer recognized, a person that I didn’t want to be.
A quick side note - if you’re struggling with feeling confident, I want you to check out my blog post where I dive into Confidence & Anxiety. I promise it’ll be super helpful to you!
But my reality was that I was still an adventurous, brave, and creative person. I simply had to take healthy action in order to reignite those amazing parts of me. You are capable of this, too! Remember, anxiety hasn’t and can’t take away all of the amazing parts of you. You will do so many amazing things that you never even imagined you’d do!
03. You are worthy and deserving of love and support and I am here to support you. Struggling with an anxiety disorder can often convince you that you aren’t deserving of lots of things, things like love and support, but this just isn’t true. I’m not here right now writing this post to you because I feel obligated to support you. I genuinely want to support you on your healing journey because you are worthy and deserving of my love and support.
I can remember feeling so needy when I was struggling with anxiety and I often felt like such a burden. Do you feel like this sometimes? I want you to know that you aren’t a burden. We all need and are worthy and deserving of support. And those who support you, they want to support you. And it’s a gift for them to be able to support you. They do it because they love and care for you. They want the absolute best for you. I want the absolute best for you.
The next time you need support, ask for it. And if you feel as though you’re being a burden or needy for asking for support, I want you to remind yourself that it’s an honor for those who love and care for you to support you. After all, isn’t that how you feel about those you love who ask for your support?
04. You are allowed to feel anxious. When I was working to overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, I was often incredibly unrealistic with myself and my journey. Oftentimes I'd convince myself that I wasn't allowed to feel anxious because if I felt anxious, it somehow meant that I had failed. I would convince myself that feeling anxious meant that I had experienced a setback, or that I was broken and incapable of healing.
But you know what? I was often feeling anxious and experiencing the symptoms and panic because I was taking healthy action. I was pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I was pushing myself to do the hard things.
Instead of beating myself up and convincing myself that I had failed, I should have been celebrating the healthy action that I was taking. I wasn’t failing, I was healing!
When you feel anxious, work on allowing yourself to feel it without judgement. You are human. Humans feel anxious. Yes, you probably feel anxious more than you’d like to, but you’re taking healthy action and you’re healing. Feeling anxious is going to happen, and you’re allowed to feel it. Give yourself some grace!
05. Just because you can’t imagine that you CAN overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, doesn’t mean that it’s not possible! I know that it's so hard to imagine your life without all of the anxious thoughts, symptoms, panic, and fears, but just because you can't see that it's possible doesn't mean that it isn't possible! I used to think that I'd never overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. I was convinced for over a decade that it was just what my life would always look like. I was so wrong! Start envisioning and manifesting what you want your life to look like instead of reinforcing the idea that you're going to be stuck living the way you currently are forever.
06. I’m no more special than you are. This couldn’t be more true. You are just as special as I am. I recovered because I consistently took uncomfortable action. I recovered because I consistently practiced healthy habits. I recovered because I consistently committed to me and my mental health. You are capable of this, too. You have what it takes already in you to overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, my hope is that I can make your journey a little less hard and less long!
I’ll admit, I'm not a hugger, but I wish that I could hug you right now. Better yet, I wish I could sit face-to-face with you and feel all of the emotions alongside you. Recovery is hard work and you’re doing an amazing job. I am here for you. You are amazing, anxiety and all.
And if you want a little additional support from me, check out my free training where I teach you 3 actionable steps that you can start taking right now to heal from anxiety, the symptoms, panic, and fears.