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Guest post by Mykelti Carlson

Anxiety. Everyone experiences it at one point or another. Some people deal with it more often than others, but it is not uncommon. Me? I’m not ashamed to say I have anxiety a lot of the time, and it sucks. I am a huge over-thinker, I psycho-analyze everything, and make up scenarios in my head that will probably never happen (but I have to know how I’d handle them if they did happen). I went to my doctor a couple years ago and told her I could not handle it anymore, I needed something to help me relax. Of course, she suggested counselling, which I 110 per cent hated a refused to go to at that point, so she gave me medication. It really did help for awhile, it helped me through school, and brought up my confidence a ton. But medication is not the answer, it does help, and I’m thankful for that, but when I finally decided to stop being stubborn and go to a counsellor, that helped so much more…

Now the anxiety I’m talking about is serious, but all anxiety sucks. It makes you feel so vulnerable and helpless, and it can come from anything. Mine stems from a lot of not great experiences in my past. My counsellor taught me that things that happen in the womb, or before you have any memories, can affect you later in life and you’d have no idea why. No, you’re not crazy for going through a conversation that happened seven years ago and thinking “I should’ve said that”, that comes with our lovely friend anxiety. But I found a lot of great ways to help get rid of it, and I hope they can help you too.

  • Talking to someone: not just a counsellor, yes that’s their job, but I find having someone you genuinely trust to tell every detail to about what’s going on in your head helps. Someone who understands what you’re dealing with is easier, you don’t feel weird telling them because they’ve gone through it too. My go to is my mom, always. I know a lot of people don’t want to talk to their mom, but they are pretty good listeners, so I highly suggest trying it. Friends are awesome too though, they usually have a different insight than your mom.
  • Joking about it: this might not work for everyone, but it has helped me a lot. Making light of the situation, teasing yourself for thinking of crazy scenarios. It helps. It takes away the seriousness of it and gives you a chance to relax about it. Sometimes the serious stigma around anxiety makes you feel like joking about it is so horrible because it’s a mental thing that people deal with everyday. Well, I deal with it, and I’m here to tell you that joking about it is okay if it helps you feel better for even a moment.
  • Distracting yourself when you can’t stop thinking about one thing: okay, this is probably something that’s different for everyone, but I know when I get stuck on one thing, I neeeeeeeeed to distract myself, especially when I know it’s crazy but it’s stuck in my head anyways. Some of my favourite distractions are: watching ‘Friends’ on Netflix (or whatever show), hanging out with a friend, cleaning, playing games on my phone, taking a shower, getting out of the house, or dancing around my kitchen to rap music. I watch ‘Friends’ all the time anyways, but it’s a great show to distract you if you need it!

Those are just a few things that have helped me a lot. Having anxiety is okay. Whether you want to talk about it or not, that’s totally your business, I know I was quiet about it for a very long time. But you’re not alone, no matter how cliché that sounds. I have amazing people in my life who have helped me through it, and I think that’s important, having people who support you. There’s some people who just don’t get it at all, they don’t deal with it everyday, and good for them, but make sure you have someone in your life that understands. First of all, it makes you feel like less of an outcast, and second, it makes it easier to talk about. I think having people who understand has made me more relaxed in life.

Our conversations during our free monthly meet-ups take us in a variety of directions, and in order to ensure we circle back for reference, we’re going to start posting these resource blogs the day following a meet-up. The intent is to provide a roundup of resources or references from the conversation the night before.

  • Self-care ideas include journaling or writing, many people seconded having a gratitude journal. Physical activity can be a great asset as well, and reading was also noted as an effective tool for self-care.
  • Changing perspective led us into a great conversation about how thinking about our trauma from another person’s point of view, can really reshape how we think about that memory. Try it for yourself!
  • EMDR is an incredibly powerful tool for dealing with trauma and PTSD. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is an integrative psychotherapy approach. This type of therapy uses a patient’s own rapid eye movements, to take emotionally charged memories out of traumatic events. Using eye movements and “tricking your brain”, therapists can essentially reprogram the memory of a traumatic event to more positive or neutral emotions.
  • Complex PTSD: we were led into this discussion surrounding another branch of PTSD, Complex PTSD. This article gives some great insight:

Unlike formally recognized PTSD diagnoses, C-PTSD doesn’t stem from a singular event, but is instead the result of sustained abuse and powerlessness, from which the victim has little hope of escape.

“C-PTSD occurs when the hyper-vigilance of PTSD is accompanied by a breakdown in the ability to self-regulate,” said Julian Ford, a psychology and law professor who heads the Center for Trauma Recovery at the University of Connecticut. “Intense emotions or emotional deadness will overwhelm the person’s ability to cope. Mentally, they will suffer lapses in consciousness or in problem solving or judgment. And interpersonally, they will have extreme conflict in or withdraw from relationships.” [Vice]

The Breaking Free Foundation Golf Tournament is coming up on September 21, and the push is on for more golfers! If you don’t golf, you can simply join us for dinner. Details and registration online here.