coping skills


Don’t Worry About It

by Heather Loeb

I hear these words far too much, and I’m here to tell you that if you have anxiety (multiple forms), you can’t help but worry.


For example, I noticed that my left breast had a red spot and I could feel a tiny knot/lump. It hurt a little. This has happened before — I had to get a mammogram then a biopsy. Luckily, it was benign, but the radiologist told me that I should start getting mammograms because my breast tissue is so dense.

Looking back, it wasn’t a huge deal. Was I worried? Yes. Did I ruminate? Oh, yeah. And now that it’s happening again, it seems like my anxiety disorder is in overdrive. Since discovering it, I’ve Googled everything from “dense breast lump” to “lump in breast” and “breast cancer lump.”

I feel like it’s normal for me to do that, but then my brain takes it to another level. I start to think about getting cancer, and losing my hair, and radiation, and whether I’ll be able to work as I’ve been doing. I texted the picture of the red spot to a friend and kept repeating myself, “It’s probably nothing. It’ll be like last time, right?” Then I awaited her reply, searching for assurance. I did the same to another friend.

I realize that it is probably nothing, that I’m overreacting. I also know that my brain is an asshole, always exploring the worst case scenarios. This is what I hate about anxiety. It’s relentless. And what also sucks is knowing that there are people out there who can really tuck an issue away and worry about it later. Or not at all.

It’s important to know a couple of things: when someone has an anxiety disorder, they can’t control it. Also, it takes a physical toll.

The Mayo Clinic reports the following symptoms:

  • Persistent worrying or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the events
  • Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes
  • Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty
  • Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
  • Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”

Physical signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy
  • Nervousness or being easily startled
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Irritability

Some people think that anxiety is “all in our heads,” but for me, and millions of others, it affects our everyday life and relationship to others. It’s difficult to deal with. It’s difficult to control with medicine. Believe me, I’ve tried. I even got addicted to Klonopin a few years ago. It’s pretty easy to do.

The Mayo Clinic also reports the following:

Generalized anxiety disorder often occurs along with other mental health problems, which can make diagnosis and treatment more challenging. Some mental health disorders that commonly occur with generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Phobias
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide
  • Substance abuse

Unfortunately it’s not something that goes away. Learning healthy coping skills helps, as well as therapy. It can be manageable, but it’s still a major bummer to deal with it. To say the least.

My whole point during this rant is that I can’t control my anxiety. I try my best, I take medicine and I go to therapy but it’s still there. It’s like my brain just wont turn off. It’s non-stop intrusive thoughts, and I rarely get breaks. It’s just fucking dark in here, y’all.

I know there are others like me, and I’d just like to say that you’re not alone. I urge you to seek help, such as support groups and therapy.

I’d like to hear from you guys and ask what you do to manage your anxiety?

That’s it for now. Thanks for listening. Stay in the light.

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I can feel it coming. My body feels weighted down, I’m irritable and even more sensitive, which is saying a lot. It’s sort of like PMS but it’s more than being moody and there’s no relief in a few days. Sometimes I just want to die.

I can remind myself how lucky and privileged I am, who I need to live for but the pain is deep and distorts everything I know to be true. It’s a scary feeling and I hate feeling out of control. Despite having a safety plan (a plan of action for when or if you’re suicidal), I don’t feel safe. There have been times I have called the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and tried to use the chat feature but there were more than 70 people also waiting for help and support. I could have called the hotline but I resigned myself to sleep.

Things looked better in the morning but it was still creepily dark in my head. I didn’t want to get out of bed but had to take the kids to school. I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t brush my teeth. I forced myself to take my pills and retreated to the comfort of my bed.

After a couple of (weepy) days, I did feel the fog lift but it took awhile to return to “normal.” That’s the scary part of depression – one of them, anyway. You can do everything right – take your pills, see your doctors, see your therapist, put real pants on and shower but depression will find you.

So will anxiety. My depression and anxiety go hand and hand. Mine makes me obsess about the weirdest things – things that have happened years ago, hypothetical tragedies that could happen to friends/family, bad things happening. Sometimes there are no thoughts behind it. It’s just there, a heavy weight on my chest making it hard to breathe.

Since going to the Menninger Clinic these symptoms have gotten better but not all together gone. When I can muster the strength to combat my overwhelming sadness and panic, there are things I can do to help.

  • I take my anxiety pills
  • I get under my weighted blanket
  • I listen to guided mediations or favorite music
  • Write

But if you’re in a scary situation that you can’t get control of, please call the National Suicidal Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or call your city/county’s mental health resources to see what’s available to you. And you can always call your primary physician. There is help out there and I know sometimes you don’t feel you need help but that’s just the depression talking. People care.

I’d you’d like to list your positive coping skills, please feel free to in the comments.

Stay in the light, my friends.


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