A couple of years ago, I was in your place: anxious, nervous, and extremely stressed out for my very first therapy session. Countless questions were running through my mind, like, "Will my therapist judge me?", "Will they understand where I'm coming from?", "What will happen in the first session?", and "Will my therapist think my concerns are stupid?" Being anxious about your first therapy session is normal. As someone who grew up surrounded by people who thought that therapy was for "crazy people," I was extremely clueless about therapy and didn't know what to expect.
When I have racing thoughts, feel overwhelmed, and feel like things are out of control, it becomes a major struggle to feel a sense of calm. Calmness, when you're anxious, becomes difficult to achieve, at least at the moment, because it's so hard to quiet all of the other thoughts and resulting symptoms that accompany anxiety, especially when you experience a panic attack. So, then I try to pull myself away from being overstimulated.
Do you know the feeling when you successfully book your flight and accommodation for a vacation? No, not the feeling of excitement -- the uncertain feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you something might go wrong on the trip. That feeling is trip anxiety.
Something that I have learned about my anxiety is that it won't go away. It has been something that I have coped with since I was a teenager, possibly even earlier than that, and it is never going to go away. But there are things that I can do to lessen the effects of anxiety.
For people with anxiety, being assertive and upfront about how they feel and what they think can be hard. As someone with social anxiety disorder, I was no different.
A part of being chronically anxious includes constant worry about what might happen in the future. But what I've also experienced is that along with this is not just the worry, but the fear of not being good enough, of feeling like you don't meet up to certain standards, and feeling like a failure.
When my phone lights up with a notification from Instagram, I immediately open the app and start scrolling. Scrolling on Instagram is quite addictive, and I cannot seem to stop once I start. This doesn't just waste my time but also has detrimental effects on my mental health. From body image issues to low self-esteem, using Instagram is anxiety-inducing.
Over the years, I have learned so much about my anxiety, not only through formal education but also simply through taking the time to analyze what I am going through. Some might say that this is just a part of dealing with anxiety -- the overthinking and the constant overanalyzing of what you feel, think, and do. But I think it has also been helpful because it has helped me recognize my triggers and anxiety symptoms. It has also helped me figure out things I can do that are helpful for me. One of those things is leaning into my anxiety and accepting the anxiety instead of running away from it.
"Wow, you look so pretty in that dress." -- Compliments like these are hard to accept when you have anxiety.
After years of coping with anxiety and trying to understand it, I've learned that one of the things that affect how I feel is how others feel. In other words, I've found myself quite empathic towards the feelings of others. For me, empathy and anxiety occur together.