What a difference a year makes. As I sit down and write this post I feel thankful and grateful. Thankful that in the last year, so much good has come into my life (despite numerous health setbacks), and grateful that a year later I have learned to cope better with my anxiety and become a more optimistic person.
To take you back, last year at this time I was struggling with lots of changes in my personal life, which led to almost crippling daily anxiety. I wasn’t able to enjoy the summer as I would have liked and the summer of 2016 went down as one of my worst. Thankfully, by summer’s end, I was able to see a light at the end of the tunnel—things began to look up. I found solace in meditating, and I promised myself that I would never allow my anxiety to have a hold over me again.
I’m reminded of a line from Big Magic in which Elizabeth Gilbert writes about fear. I adapted the passage to address anxiety, but the takeaway remains the same. In the paragraph, she talks about how fear will always be a part of her life, like anxiety is a part of mine. She writes about how fear will accompany her on a fictional road trip she will be taking with creativity—and defines its role on the trip.
On this trip, fear can have a seat, offer an opinion, and enjoy the ride—but it is forbidden to drive. That last line resonated with me so much that I actually saved the paragraph and look at it from time-to-time when I need to exert a check on my anxiety.
Then, in November, I began on this journey with my rising anti-thyroglobulin levels and so…much…waiting. Waiting for the doctor to run more tests, waiting three months to repeat the labs…waiting to see what a panel of doctors thought about my case and treatment. I would have found all the waiting insufferable had I not learned to keep my anxiety at bay last summer.
I’ve always said that I am grateful for my struggles because without them, I wouldn’t know my strengths. There are plenty of things that I could be anxious about every day—the recent waiting game over my potential treatment options being just one of them. But every morning when I wake up I choose to start each day with a grateful heart and an open mind. You are not defined by your struggles or setbacks, but by your attitude, grace, and poise in dealing with them.
The past year has been one of immense personal growth for me, as I shed a lot of my fears and insecurities. I know that each struggle I have endured has led me to where I am now—some have given me pause, while others have given me purpose. But all have led to a stronger me.
What has helped you cope with anxiety in your life?