Today was really shitty for me. And guess what? I have no concrete reason as to why. I actually stopped and thought about it, then I made a list:
I had a healthy breakfast
I worked out
I closed a deal with a brand I like
I followed up on some outstanding payments I have due
I spoke with my new colleague who is doing a GREAT job
I have a meeting tomorrow with a potentially big client
My current clients all seem happy
I have a fun week ahead with my bf and friends
I got some new snacks (important)
There is literally nothing fucking wrong with today. My sneakers got wet earlier as I was leaving the gym because it was raining. And that picture I used above is blurry and off center and I don’t like it. That might be the worst thing I’m dealing with today. SO WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS MY PROBLEM WHY DO I FEEL LIKE SOMEONE STOLE MONEY FROM ME AND PUNCHED ME IN THE EAR?!
I have no idea. None. This is just what happens to me sometimes. And if you have anxiety, I’m sure it happens to you too. Welcome to the shitshow.
In the back of my head, this is what’s going on:
I’m moving soon. FUCK.
My knee hurts from working out earlier. Ugh.
I want cookie butter. NO DON’T DO IT YOU ATE HEALTHY ALL DAY.
What do I have to do for that brand deal? What if they don’t like it?
Should I order more contacts?
Am I being a good boss? What if she thinks I’m not?
What if I’m late to the meeting tomorrow? Or it doesn’t work out? I suck.
Are my clients REALLY happy? I don’t know. I suck.
What if people bail last minute this weekend? That would suck.
What if I get food poisoning on Valentine’s Day?!
So…for those of you who have anxiety issues too, I’m sure you understand this mentality. It’s just a constant state of feeling like nothing you do is ever good enough and you’re always questioning things.
Additionally, let me just add that when you’re an entrepreneur and you work for yourself, you have literally no one telling you that you’re doing a good job, you have no one to vent to when you have a bad day (like today), and ultimately, you are never satisfied.
Or maybe that’s just me. I feel like I’m always sort of in an uphill battle with myself. Whenever I reach the top, I see another staircase with 100 stairs.
I didn’t know how to start this post, but I think that’s a good summation of how I’m feeling right now.
This happens to me every now and then. Not often anymore thankfully, but sometimes I just have days where nothing feels good. Even if good things happen, I don’t feel the joy that comes along with it. Instead I just feel bad and I don’t know why.
It’s one of the most frustrating things and I’ve been meaning to put this in writing for a long time. Mainly because I’ve found that coping with anxiety sometimes means TALKING about anxiety. So…I guess you’ll have to forgive me, for this is partially to help anyone out there who struggles with the same shit, and it’s also partially for my own impending catharsis.
Writing down your feelings is a good way to cope with anxiety and I have been doing that for a long time. But it’s not always easy to just stop your life and write down what’s running through your head. Not to mention you might run out of fucking paper. I know I would.
Because that’s the thing about anxiety – it doesn’t really come up around one thing. It’s usually a bunch of little bullshit things floating in your mind, some are even WAY WAY BACK THERE, and you don’t know how or why it decided to pop up in your brain today. Why now? Why not tomorrow when you have a big meeting? Why not yesterday when you were behind on a deadline?
No, for me, it’s when everything is technically going just fine that my brain decides to go “HAHA JUST KIDDING HERE’S SOME STRESS FOR YOU FOR NO REASON “. It feels like some little shithead is sitting on my shoulder, poking me and telling me to do something, but in another language. ALL. DAMN. DAY. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or when, and I can’t even ask the damn shoulder demon because he doesn’t speak English. What a dick.
So what do you do? You sit and you stew. And you feel:
Kind of sad
Kind of angry
Kind of nervous
Overall you just feel bad and you can’t fucking shake it
It blows. Trust me, I’ve been dealing with PTSD and anxiety issues for almost 20 years now. YIKES I feel worse now because I just realized how old I am. Woof. Cue more anxiety.
But anyway, here’s a few things I can offer you in terms of advice:
Don’t beat yourself up
It happens to more people than you know
It helps to talk to someone (friends, family, or a therapist)
No really, talk to a therapist (it really helps)
Any activity that uses your hands I find to be helpful (and now you know why I like blogging and cooking)
Try coloring and yes I’m serious they make coloring books for adults – you can read more about it here
Meditating (that one seems obvious but it’s much harder to master)
The whole point of these types of activities is to take you out of the “panic” mode and place you into the present, aka a state of “mindfulness”. Research has shown that using your hands and doing an activity for just 2 minutes can help break the cycle of your mind ruminating on negative thoughts. And for what it’s worth, I actually did like meditating, but I found it to be a lot harder than some of the other tactics I’m sharing here.
Now, if you are like me and have panic attacks sometimes, first of all, I’m SO sorry. They are awful and I know they are hard to control because you never see them coming, but I have found the following usually helps me:
If you’re able to call someone close to you, do that. And I don’t mean physically – your boss probably doesn’t give a shit. I mean someone you trust. Tell them you’re having a panic attack and you need them to talk to you (they need to distract you from the shit that’s going on in your mind). I know it sounds weird, but a lot of times this helps me because it takes me out of my own head. I would listen to my friends talk about fucking shoelaces as long as it took me out of whatever I was thinking about/freaking out about. If that didn’t work, then I would literally have them ask me questions about how I was feeling, and ask me to expand on it as much as humanly possible. I know this sounds counterproductive, but sometimes people with anxiety just need to get it off their chest in detail. Ramble away. Within minutes usually I feel calmer. Also drinking water during this process is helpful but do it slowly. Small sips.
If you’re alone and find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxiety-ridden or like a panic attack may happen, try this: lay down (or sit down if laying makes you dizzy) and look around you. This is definitely easier at home but even if you’re in public and it’s chaotic – don’t focus on that – find a little space where you’re out of the way of other humans. Now focus on the colors around you. This is where I’m going to sound a little nuts but just stay with me here. Look at the trees, the clothes on people, the storefronts, your couch, your book collection, whatever. And then try to identify the colors of each one, sloooowllllyyyyy. And say them to yourself. “Couch…grey, cat…orange and white with black spots, mug…navy blue”. You get the idea.
Think about it. When was the last time you got angry at purple? Or stressed out about green? Do you see what I mean? It’s a little weird, but removing your emotions from your brain for a second and just focusing on LITERALLY what’s around you can distract you and calm you down from your own bullshit. Again, being mindful is the key here.
You thought I was going to say “be grateful you have a couch”, didn’t you?
Sorry, I’m not that kind of person. This isn’t that deep. If anything this is the opposite of deep. Sometimes you can see the dirt on the bottom when you clean the stuff on the surface. It just takes a little bit of practice.
Those are the things that I find work best for me when it’s really bad. But when I have days like today…it’s a bit harder to pull myself out of it. Probably because it’s not as extreme, so I just push through and try to go about my day without taking any “me time” or doing anything about it.
This is why I’m writing this post. Because it’s taking “me time” but also giving me a moment to say, for all of you out there who deal with anxiety, just know you’re not alone. It’s so much more common than you think, and there are a bunch of coping methods out there, you just have to do some trial and error and find what works for you.
Now, some of you might be in denial and/or are freaked out because you think you’re some sort of headcase for having anxiety in the first place.
First off, no. You are not a headcase and you are not damaged because you have anxiety.
Do you live in NYC? If the answer is yes, you most likely have anxiety simply by existing in this city. Have you walked outside in Manhattan today? That’ll do it. Seriously.
You know all those people who lived in Manhattan or Brooklyn for 10+ years with a great job who “all of a sudden” moved to Montana or some shit where they now have a low-pressure job, a family, and a farm? Do you think they just decided that overnight?
THEY’VE BEEN PLANNING IT FOR YEARS. THE ANXIETY JUST FINALLY GOT TO THEM. THEY LITERALLY COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE.
That’s how that happens. I’m fairly sure of it.
So yea, if you’re a New Yorker (*raises hand*), then you’re going to need to find some ways to chill the fuck out, anxiety or not. This place will GIVE YOU anxiety. It’ll be spread on a really delicious bagel, but it will fucking get to you. Just give it time.
For the rest of you, don’t worry, you’ll be ok. I know it sucks A LOT to feel this way, to think this way, and to not even know why. But I think it’s important to stop asking those questions – the “why/what’s wrong with me” type questions.
It’s very possible that this is just how your brain works. My brain sometimes keeps me up at night thinking about shit that has never happened or even come CLOSE to happening. Other times I just sit there and think about all the things I COULD be doing with my time and why I didn’t do XYZ when I had the chance.
Do you know how many nights I have stayed up thinking about the fact that I never owned an iron? And that I don’t really know how to fold a fitted sheet? Yea I’m not kidding this is the type of shit that can keep me up at night. You don’t want to see my YouTube searches after 2 am.
Spoiler alert: lots of fitted sheet folding
Anxiety can be crippling. Literally, in some cases. I know when I have a panic attack, I can’t use my hands or legs. It’s kind of scary. My hands clench in this weird Spock-like formation (my fingers kind of glue themselves together and lock up), they get tingly, and then the same sort of thing happens to my legs. They get tense, numb, and tingly all at the same time. The shortness of breath is really fun too, which can make you feel like you’re gonna faint. I also tend to get nauseous too so it’s really just a symphony of fuckery for my senses and central nervous system.
If this all sounds familiar to you, join the club. And if this is a new thing for you, there is no shame in bringing it up to your doctor. I take half a pill of an anti-anxiety medication ONLY at night when my anxiety is really bad and I can’t sleep. I never take it during the day because it makes me too tired to actually function, not to mention you need to be careful with drugs like that, they are HIGHLY addictive.
Believe me I would much rather not have to take it at all but nighttime is always the worst for me and thankfully it just helps me sleep.
CBD is also something you can consider trying – I take Feals occasionally for my anxiety – just half a dropper or so under the tongue and it chills me out. I also find it a little numbing so I wouldn’t take it say, before a meeting, but if I’m alone/working at my computer all day – totally helpful.
Now again, I’m no doctor. So don’t go to yours and say I told you to take drugs. I’m just out here trying to help those who suffer from this bullshit the same way I do. Writing this post did actually make me feel a bit better, so thank you for that.
And if you’re feeling extra shitty today, or tomorrow, or whenever you read this, I hope it inspires you to write it all down, color, reach out to a friend, or find a therapist. Go ahead and email me if you want – I’m all ears (or eyes). If it helps you get it out of your system, go for it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Leave a comment below if you have any tips of your own, I’d love to hear them.
Stay sane fam.