Everything just feels gloomy and I feel misunderstood

Anxiety is one of those things that’s hard to explain. It appears in many forms and looks differently from person to person. It can be extreme, crippling and a major struggle in people’s lives or it can be minor random occurrences in others. For me, anxiety is something I’ve struggled with for many years and for the longest time ever I didn’t know it was separate from my depression. Anxiety is a constant worry or dreaded feeling sometimes triggered for a specific reason or sometimes for what seems no reason at all. When I have anxiety all I want to do is get back into bed and hide under my covers. When anxiety hits, usually it’s happening when I’m somewhere far from my bed, so having to deal with it in stressful moments is something I’ve done many times. Anxiety affects my day to day life and sometimes makes it impossible for me to concentrate or be productive even when I’m doing the smallest tasks. It can be physical or mental. My anxiety can make my stomach hurt, lose my breath or make my head spin or it could cause me to not think straight and feel 100 emotions at once.

Anxiety silently creeps up and consumes me but I usually know what situations are going to cause me to feel anxious since I’ve dealt with it for so long. Certain social situations, arguments and several other things trigger me and while I can do my best to avoid those situations, it’s not always possible. I tell myself to stay calm and that it will eventually pass. I try to refocus my thoughts and do one thing at a time. My anxiety makes me dread the day that hasn’t even started and I think of all of the possible things that could go wrong. Anxiety makes me only see and focus on the dark and cloudy. It emphasizes the bad in situations and disregard the good and positive that is also present. It doesn’t matter that the sun is finally shining this week or that I’m actually happy and healthy underneath these weird feelings. Everything just feels gloomy and I feel misunderstood. All I want to do in those moments is sleep for a month and hope these bad feelings go away. Through discussions and open conversations about dealing with anxiety on a day to day basis I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who goes through these things. 

Here are some tips that have helped me during moments of anxiety. 

  1. The best thing to do during feelings of anxiety is to first acknowledge it. Denying and not recognizing the signs / symptoms of anxiety does no one any good. Acknowledging your anxiety is one way to be kind to yourself during a rough moment. Saying something to yourself like “Okay, right now you may feel anxious, confused, scared but guess what? It’s okay. These feelings are only temporary and you will get through these uncomfortable feelings.” By talking to yourself, acknowledging your anxiety and being kind does more good than beating yourself up over something you can’t control. 
  2. Learn to pinpoint what triggers you and it’ll help you better prepare for what’s coming. Becoming familiar with your triggers is something that’s really helped me. Ask yourself, what makes me anxious? What makes me upset? When you’re aware of what causes your anxiety or panic attacks, you can do your best to avoid those situations or at least prepare you in case you feel down. You’ll already know that you’ll need to take extra care of yourself.
  3. Once you acknowledge that your anxiety is present, let the feelings roll out. Bottling things up isn’t good and will ultimately hurt you. If you need to feel sad, just feel it. If you need to cry and you’re in an appropriate place then go for it. Anxiety is normal and many people struggle with it every single day. Reach out to a friend and talk through your feelings or write down what you feel in a journal to help yourself better understand your emotions and how you feel in that current state of mind.
  4. Remind yourself of your strength. In the moment, anxiety may seem like this scary monster. Tell yourself that these uncomfy confusing feelings will pass and you are stronger than them. Sometimes we feel so small in bad moments but use your positive attitude and strength to be bigger than that anxiety monster. 
  5. Do small tasks that calm your mind. Things like journaling, counting, taking a walk, drinking water and hydrating yourself is helpful. Avoid caffeine during moments of anxiety because caffeine can elevate your anxiety levels. Doing small tasks that are calming and ease your mind can be a great way to keep your mind busy but sometimes doing nothing at all can be helpful too. Take a break from whatever you’re doing and just sit and chill out. Sometimes we need a moment of silence or alone time to get it together. Let the thoughts come in and let them come out too. 
  6. Controlling anxiety and panic attacks can be difficult in the moment but breathing helps so much more than we know. Deep breathing exercises are very important. Breathing is linked to your emotions and once you learn how to control your breathing it will help better control your emotions. By controlling your breathing you can get through distressful moments and even diminish the feelings of extreme anxiety. There are many online articles and videos that show and discuss the benefits of breathing techniques for anxiety / panic attacks. Some are easy as breathing in for 5 seconds, holding the inhale for 5 seconds and exhaling for another 5 seconds. Practicing these breathing techniques and focusing on your breath on a daily basis can drastically benefit your mental health and life. 

Do not let your anxiety tear you down and prevent you from living your best life. It is a very big challenge to overcome but take it one moment at a time and learn what works for you. Focus on your breath, think positive thoughts, and most importantly try your best to be kind to yourself even in those rough moments. 

  All photos by Samera Paz

All photos by Samera Paz