I woke up with anxiety today. The kind that makes your heart feel like it’s twice it’s size and beating so hard that I wonder if it’s just going to burst.
I close my eyes and take deep breaths but all that accomplishes is even MORE awareness of my body’s current state of panic, which sends my mind spinning…
Why am I feeling this way?
Why did I wake up like this?
What was I dreaming?
WHAT IS WRONG??
I am an analyzer. I need to know the WHYs of life. This isn’t a bad thing, it means I naturally question the world around me and want to get to the bottom of things. I’m curious. And it’s cultivated a life of learning for me, a thirst for knowledge and truth. Sounds like a great quality, right??
Not so much when it comes to my own mental health.
You see, asking these questions about myself, while in a mild state of panic, means that I am telling myself it is WRONG to be feeling this way. Anxiety is bad and I need to make it go away right now. How do I fix this?? Where did it come from? If I can find the source then maybe I can make it stop…
Anxiety isn’t wrong. It isn’t bad. It actually makes complete sense, considering what I’ve experienced in my life. My anxiety is NORMAL.
I am normal.
The major concept I’m learning right now is acceptance. Accepting myself for who I am, accepting other people for who they are, and accepting the circumstances of life, especially those that I have absolutely no control over (which is a lot more than I’d like). And this morning, it means accepting my anxiety.
Something I find myself saying a lot these days to the people in my life who are also struggling is, “Give yourself grace.” We often think of grace as something we give to other people… we almost equate it to forgiveness. Giving someone grace means you give them another chance, you forgive them and we all just move on. Right? No harm, no foul…
Grace is so much more than that. It is a radical acceptance of what is, without trying to change it. When we give someone grace, we are accepting who they are without judgment and allowing them to BE. It doesn’t excuse bad decisions, it doesn’t “forgive & forget”, it doesn’t mean everything is fine… but it does accept that this is just how things are right now. Grace leaves room for growth, for mistakes, for imperfection.
Do you expect yourself to be perfect? Do you feel uneasy and impatient? Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling the absolute weight of the world pressing on your chest because your life ISN’T perfect and you aren’t sure if it ever will be?
Maybe we should start a club! (Man, that would be a depressing club…)
Give… yourself… grace.
Many of us are able to extend grace to others but judge ourselves on a totally different level. When a friend messes up, we assure them that they are still a good person, we still love them, their failures do not define who they are as a person… But what do we say to ourselves when WE are the one that fails? I know what I say… obviously I am a disaster of a person and I should’ve lived my life completely differently and now it’s too late, I am a lost cause. Might as well go live out my days alone in a cave.
Seems a little bit harsh, no?
I am learning. Radical acceptance of myself, first and foremost. Giving myself AAAALLLLL the grace. I’m learning how to take care of myself, how to talk to myself, how to LOVE myself. How can I claim to love others if I don’t even love myself? And how can I expect others to love me if *I* don’t love me?
Acceptance. Grace. Love.
So this morning, amidst an anxiety attack, I stop and love myself. What do I need right now? How can I take care of myself right now? I slow life way down because frantically forcing myself to take two small children grocery shopping is definitely not going to help the situation (even though that is what I was “supposed to do” this morning). I needed to stop, to sit with myself and my cup of coffee, to feel the feelings without judging them and to allow myself the time to just BE.
And then, like a reflex I can’t control, I began to write.
I don’t know what is compelling me to filet myself open and share all my innermost thoughts publicly on the interwebs. Actually, strike that, yes I do… it’s all of you. Or even just one of you… If I feel these things then I know someone else out there is feeling them too, and maybe that person needs to know that they aren’t alone. Maybe they need to know that whatever they are feeling is ok, that they are normal, and that they are loved.
You are loved!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. How are you doing? Do you need someone to talk to? Love yourself enough to stop and take time for you. You are valuable. You have something to offer the world that no one else can. So what do you need right now, to be the best you? Give yourself grace. You are worth it.
(Quick side note… my anxiety still isn’t gone today. Life feels daunting and I’m overwhelmed with it all. I’ve read through this post probably 10 times, editing, questioning, trying to decide if it even makes sense. I want my words to be so much more eloquent than they sound! Today, my brain feels scattered and confused, so the words that come out feel that way too. But that’s ok. This is where I am today.)