If I have learned anything in life, it is that the quick fix is always looming and tempting. If I try this weight loss diet/fad then I will quickly lose the weight. If I read this book, then I will be able to automatically fix my anxiety. The world offers these false promises of, "if you take this product you will lose your belly fat", "this exercise is the only one you will ever need to see those results you desire", "having mental health issues, we can slap a band-aid on so you can get your life back." We are bombarded by ads, magazines, well intentioned friends and family. With the hyper-connectivity of the internet the quick fix bombardment is almost non-stop.
I won't lie, I fall victim to this type of manipulation. At first, I am skeptical, then I think "could that product really work?" Could there be a natural all inclusive pill to cure my anxiety, I could be fixed. Then, the scientist in me starts digging and I decide that magic pill isn't the best choice. The world preys on our hope for a quick fix, we don't want to suffer, not a single moment longer than we have to. Let's be honest, I am not sure why, but a lot of us aren't just struggling, we are desperate for a fix.
What if I was to tell you that it takes self discipline, willingness to change, and taking ownership of our issues, regardless of who caused the trauma. Well, that doesn't sound like fun. I won't sugar coat it, it can be exhausting, soul draining, taking all the focus you have trying to fix yourself the right way, but let's be honest it is the only way that it works. Don't get me wrong, I think there are medications for those of us that have a true imbalance that we can't fix on our own. I am not saying gut it out and don't seek medical intervention. I am saying that is a piece of the whole issue, there is so much more that goes into healing.
I am going to use myself as an example. Starting in 2016 I was having a very difficult time regulating my emotions, I was anxious, angry, depressed, and lonely. It took until 2017 for me to start seeking help from a doctor. I tried cognitive behavioral therapy on and off, started meditating, and slowly got back into working out. I was doing well. I eventually started lifting with a group of women and it was enough to keep me in a good place mentally.
Then a life event happened that knocked me off my path of healthy living. I spiraled from having things under control to barely keeping in control, but I was keeping the bandage on over the seeping wound. Then 2020 hit, let's just say the band aid wasn't cutting it anymore, and now it wasn't just a small wound, it felt like I had been attacked by an alligator. I couldn't handle the slightest upset, I would be in a full blown panic attack. I started having physical issues and the doctor was like, " I think it is anxiety, how have you been managing this year?" I felt like I was managing by holding on to the last thread of my sanity and a glass of whiskey.
I continued down this road, scream crying that I couldn't do this anymore. In 2021, when all my efforts to find that quick fix had failed, I went to therapy again. I knew all the tools in my bag, but they weren't cutting it, and frankly neither were my coping mechanisms. This time I had an amazing therapist, I will be grateful for her the rest of my life. She made me dig deep into why I feel the way I feel. She prompted me to take action in my life and do the hard work. She helped me identify where I am holding myself back and to deal with the trauma from my life that was hindering me. She never let me use others as an excuse, but listened with care. She helped me navigate how I felt about things and that it was okay to have those feelings, but to not hold on to the lies I was telling myself. Am I a 100% cured, no, but I have changed a fundamental part of me in a healthier way. I still feel like there are days that I am back to square one, but then I think of how far I have come and call bullshit, it is just a bad day.
This has been a process over a long period of time and I still have work to do. If I don't keep up with the things that center me or bring me joy I can feel my life start to slip back into that depression that was ultimately caused by my anxiety. I can feel when I am anxious now to try to stave off that panic attack, and give myself grace in those moments. Before, I couldn't identify when I was feeling anxious, so I couldn't take any countermeasures. This brings me full circle on the quick fix. Sometime when I am super anxious all I want is a drink of alcohol, it stops the spinning and calms my mind. Then, the next day I am more anxious than I was before I had the drink. It has taken me the last 10 years to identify this pattern. I still enjoy drinking occasionally, but honestly, I am learning that alcohol is best enbibed in small amounts and when my mind is in a good place in order to not be negatively affected mentally.
Even with putting in the work and being consistent I have noticed that there are times I absolutely can't control my anxiety, usually around my menstrual cycle. Now, I have to face that I probably need to add another piece to this puzzle to feel better and that is visiting a doctor. I would so much like to be like, yeah I kicked anxiety in the ass without medication, but know that hormonally it just may not be possible.
We have to take ownership of our issues and try to learn how to manage them. There is not a single person on this planet that is perfect and doesn't struggle in some area of their lives. Ask for help, learn how to work on the issue in a healthy way, and dig deep on the self-discipline. Add in a giant helping of grace, because you will ultimately have a few set-backs, don't let them de-rail you. Accept them for what they were then climb back in that arena of life and give 'em hell!