Most people who meet me wouldn’t guess I live with anxiety.
Like anyone else, I have to take special care of my mental health, my highs and lows, and my sobriety.
Just because I put down the drink doesn’t mean everything will magically be sunshine and butterflies. No, drinking was a solution to my crippling fear of what other people thought of me, my insecurities, and my stress. Alcohol became much more of a hazard than a solution as the years went on, so I was faced with no choice than to put it down.
People who don’t know me wouldn’t suspect I’m an alcoholic, either. But as I hit 30, I was no longer able to drink casually or control the things I did or said. It stopped being fun, and started making my highs and lows much worse.
Being home in Michigan has triggered those old feelings of anxiety, worries, and fear. Although I’m surrounded by love, there are still people in my life who just don’t get it.
They may think I’m pining away for a drink, but in reality, I’m so grateful to be sober. That doesn’t change the fact that I still have those teenage girl feelings from time to time- very real feelings of anxiety. It isn’t something I can control, which is why I started to meditate daily, take a lot of walks, and spend time in nature every single day. Spending time alone is crucial to balance in my life, which can be hard when I am back in the place I grew up.
When things are going well or life is mellow, I seem to forget about the anxiety. I forget how painful it can be, and how I feel I let people down if I’m not doing what “they” want or expect of me. However, living in NYC and Boston for five years taught me to set boundaries, love myself as I am, and to not let expectations rule my life.
I am what I am.
Sometimes simply a missed call or text message (which, of course, I feel obligated to respond to immediately) will get my heart racing and will send me into worst case scenario mode. I worry what people are thinking, whether or not they’re mad at me, or if I said the right thing if they need support or advice. I have to remember that even though I try to help others, I first need to take care of myself.
If you don’t fill your own cup of wellness, how can you offer anything to others?
I may put on my sunglasses and a smile, but I have hard days, too. Sometimes I want to spend all day in bed, ignore my phone, and be alone. On others, I am go-go-go, social, and energetic. Life is all about balance- and self care.
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can own the story that is yours.