I have been going to therapy since I was 18. I have seen 4 different therapists and have been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, and few other mild diagnoses. Going to therapy has changed how I view the world, and more importantly, how I take up space in the world. And one day my therapist told me something that flipped my switch.
“Stop doing things that you don’t like.”
I was at a job that was crushing my spirit. I had little to no friends. I was terrified of doing anything in the city because my anxiety was overwhelmed by parking and crowds. I was convinced that this was the only life I could live because there didn’t seem to be a way out. And then I stopped doing things I didn’t like.
I quit my job. And now I’m at a job that I love with people who make me feel like a valued team member. I forced myself to make friends with the limited resources I had. And I can proudly say that I have 3 new friends since last year. And I realized that because I downtown parking gives me anxiety, I just go to places with parking. I still have a good time.
When I’m forced with something that gives me anxiety, I have two options. To do it, or not to do it. And while I can’t avoid work emails, this approach is about bigger decisions. Yes, I feel like I need to be out and about like a millennial, but I would rather be at home, reorganizing my skincare or writing. And by letting go of the anxiety associated with things I don’t like, I find peace in what I’m doing to fill my time.
If you don’t like where you live, move. If you don’t like your spouse, break up. If you don’t like being alone, be around people. Stop doing things you don’t like! And when you can’t avoid the anxiety – hello awkward social event – you’re able to take a deep breath because your anxiety isn’t exhausting you constantly.
I’m currently on a therapy break. After quitting my job, my therapist and I talked about it and I’m using this time to use my anxiety toolbox in situations without needing to call my therapist for reassurance. We’re 7 months in and I’m really proud of where I’ve come. Yes, I still struggle daily with my mental health – don’t we all? – but I have the tools to succeed.
“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” William Shakespeare