5 Mental Health Resolutions For Those Struggling With Anxiety

“I will stop being afraid of life.”

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For the past decade, I’ve let my soul-crushing anxiety and depression dominate my existence. They have been the consistent roadblock standing between me, and the life I want to live. The dreams I want to turn into reality. The inner peacefulness that I want to attain.

It’s 2018 and I finally feel ready to really, truly take control over my anxiety and depression. I’m not going to ignore them. I’m not going to pretend that they don’t exist. However, I’m going to confront them. Because the only way to get a true handle on the power they have over me, and start taking the wheel of my own life, is to look them, directly in the eye.

So I decided in this new, glittery, year to make some concrete resolutions that will put me in the driving seat of my own life.

Here are five resolutions I’ve come up with. Message me and tell me yours, babe. After all, we’re in this haphazard life together, right?

1. I will stop the self-medicating.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the cycle of self-medicating when you suffer from anxiety and depression. If a glass of wine temporarily staves off the sadness, it’s tempting to want to drink. Every. Single. Night.

If popping a Xanax temporarily quells the overwhelming anxiety that consumes your soul, why not toss one of those pretty blue pills into your anxious little mouth? If binge eating temporarily makes you feel safe and comforted when you’re feeling out of control and in danger, why not eat an entire pizza in one sitting and polish it off with a pint of ice-cream?

There are so many vices out there to turn to when you’re feeling like your heart is going to explode out of your chest from all the feelings burning inside of you. But herein lies the trouble with self-medicating and numbing the pain away: Every single vice comes with an ugly rebound effect.

Yeah, that bottle of wine to the head might make you feel a little bit calmer and cozier as it’s trickling down your throat, but tomorrow you will feel five times more anxious than you did the day before. What comes up must always come down.

Xanax might make you feel lovely and numb twenty minutes after ingestion, but not only will it make you lose your confidence in dealing with your anxiety without it, it also comes with a rebound effect. The more you take it, the more you rely on it. The more you take it, the more of it you need for it be effective.

Before you know it, you’re caught up in the vicious cycle of self-medicating. And self-medicating works, until it doesn’t work. Pretty soon your life will spiral out of control and you find that none of your quick-fix remedies are working because you never got to the root of the problem.

You stuck a pretty pink sparkly band-aid over your gaping wound, but you never treated the actual wound. Now the wound is so wildly infected that no amount of beautiful pink sparkly bandaids are able to cover that sucker up. What was once a paper-cut is now a full-body rash that is rapidly spreading.

So this year it’s time to rip off the band-aid let the wound breathe, feel its burn, and let it heal. For real. But don’t worry babes. You’re not alone. I’ll be clutching your proverbial hand the whole time.

2. I will commit to finding a therapist.

The gaping wound that you’ve tucked beneath a bevvy of band-aids won’t heal itself, babes. You need a medical professional to examine why the wound exists at all, and to slowly but surely provide you with the proper tools and resources to embark upon the healing process.

A therapist is a doctor for your mind. If your mind is unhealthy, broken, and stuck in the quicksand of depression, everything else in your body will feel sick and off-kilter too. Depression is a powerful disease. If left untreated, it can give you incessant migraine headaches, constant fatigue, insomnia, a sore body, a f*cked up relationship to food, and a generalized malaise that tugs at your limbs and weighs you down. The whole mind/body interconnection that the annoying yogis preach, is real, girl. Your brain and your body aren’t disconnected. You won’t feel well if your mind doesn’t feel well.

This year we will commit to finding a therapist that we truly connect with. Yes, therapy is terrifying, painful, and exorbitantly expensive, but you know what is more terrifying, painful and expensive? Never truly addressing the problem. Letting the infection fester and then spread throughout your body so that five years from now you find yourself really, truly sick (we never think we’ll be the one carried off to the psych ward until we’re the one being carried off to the psych ward).

The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you will start to feel better.

Think of therapy as crawling through the mud to get to the other side. You can’t get to the other side of bliss and happiness, without crossing through the mud. The journey through the mud will be tough and it will be challenging, but there is no other way to get to where you want to be.

3. I will do things that naturally stave off the anxiety.

Do you know that there are actual real-life things that you can do, things that are not destructive or addictive, that can provide you with the quick-fix feel-good effect of booze and pills, without the brutal comedown and rebound? Like running to angsty old-school lesbian music whilst sweating the demons out? Or walking the streets of the city whilst listening to positive affirmations via youtube? Or stretching your limbs in a yoga class? Or punching the shit out of a punching bag?

4. I will find new emotional outlets.

An anxious entity can never have too many emotional outlets, take it from me. With so many thoughts and feelings swirling inside of you, self-expression is a must! You’ll explode from all of those feels if you keep them locked inside of you.

For me, writing is my number one companion, but writing also comes with its own set of stresses, particularly when it’s your ~paid~ career like it is for me. This year I want to find brand new emotional outlets that don’t attain the fiscal pressures of writing.

I’m going to take an acting class. I’m going to start connecting with people via pouring my heart out on Facebook Live. I might even go to goddamn group therapy! The possibilities are endless and I’m looking to find as many homes as possible for all the thoughts racing inside of me.

Share with me your emotional outlets for the year!

5. I will stop being afraid of life.

The other day I was hit with an epiphany as I was staring out the window of a taxi. It was one of those jarring epiphanies, that come from seemingly out of nowhere and randomly sock you in the gut when you least expect it. I realized that my underlying anxiety stems from a generalized fear of life. A fear of the unknown. A fear of failure. A fear of letting people down. A fear of letting myself down.

Living in a state of fear is such a staunch roadblock in the great course of my life. It leaves me paralyzed, unable to move forward and clutch on to all that I long to achieve in my short time on earth. In 2018 I’m going to abandon the fear. Because I’m going to remember that everything in this life is temporary. Fear is temporary. Bad feelings eventually fade. Disappointment dissipates. Failure is OK, and the shame of failing eventually softens and you become stronger and burn brighter after owning it.

It’s OK to be afraid. It’s OK to be a deep feeler. It’s OK to be a wildly sensitive creature. We need to start viewing these stigmatized aspects of ourselves, not as flaws, but as our greatest gifts. We need to learn to channel them into fantastic art, crazy essays, personal connections, and meaningful relationships that worth are our energy. And the first step in doing that, is to stop fearing feelings, and instead, start revelling in them.