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The Need to Know: Life as an Anxious Black Girl

Disclaimer: Be open minded and understanding.

“The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” – Maya Angelou

If I had a dollar for every time somebody told me “Your worrying too much” or “Don't think about it”, I’d be rich. If only the cure for anxiety was this simple. Everybody has some type of anxiety, it’s your body’s way of reacting to fear as a defense mechanism. However, they’re people like myself who worry excessively or overthinks everything to the point where functioning day to day can be difficult.

Here’s a quick list of some of the things I literally sit around and worry about:

Am I making the best choices for my life and education?

Will I lose friends over the next year since I moved away?

Should I focus on love?

Will I get breast cancer?

Will the option to have kids be available if I decide I want to be a mom in my 30's?

When's the right time to release another book?

The list of worries can on and on, but let’s get into some of the behaviors/signs of anxiety.

  • Crying & searching for answers. When I get too worried and overwhelmed with my thoughts I cry, simply because I don’t have the answers. One of the main sources of anxiety is the need to know. Not having a right now solution or something to soothe my mind is what increases the anxiousness & for some people including myself this leads to an anxiety attacks.

  • Waking up on ten. From the moment I wake up I can tell what kind of day it’s going to be. I strongly dislike days where I wake up on ten, meaning anything and everything is liable to piss me off and send me over the edge. On days like this I prefer to be alone and minimize my interaction with people because somebody is liable to get cussed out & feel the wrath of Erica.

  • Isolation. A lot of people with anxiety are loners because we feel like people don’t understand and we don’t want to talk in circles, literally. If you have anxiety, it’s very easy to talk about the same shit every day if it’s still bothering you or if you haven’t found a resolution that soothes your worries. The crazy thing about me is if somebody ask me what’s wrong I’ll lie and say nothing because I don’t want to feel like I’m bothering them.

  • Controlling much. Oh yeah how dare I forget that another source of anxiety is the desire to control everything. Personally, 50% of my anxiety starts when I feel like I don’t have control over a situation, which is why I plan so far in advance to avoid things not going my way. Thankfully, the people in my life know that I have a takeover spirit and usually they let me do whatever to keep the peace (I love y’all for real). Yes, I know I can’t control everything but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try too.

  • Emotionally Unstable. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve sent myself on an emotional rollercoaster. Between the epic tears and racing thoughts I'll go from being upset to frustrated to anger to depressed. A lot of people’s anxiety lead to depressive episodes as their worries has transitioned to feeling hopeless and lost, then some people also experience anger after they’ve lost control.

  • Lashing out at others. Unfortunately the people around you tend to feel the effects of your anxiety the most and it's easy to blame them if they don't have an answer or find a way to soothe your worries. I've had to go an apology tour numerous times after I've calmed down and realized I said some unwarranted things.

  • Binge sleeping. For me I use to binge sleep for two reasons, 1) It was a coping mechanism whenever I couldn’t stop worrying. 2) After the mental and emotional episode I took my mind and body through I’m typically so tired to the point that I needed to go to sleep to restore my energy.

  • Suicidal Ideation. This is the most scariest symptom and whenever my anxiety has reached this point I know it's time to pray and reach out to my support team. In those moments disappearing and not living anymore seems like the best way to escape my ongoing thoughts. Thankfully I haven't felt like this since the beginning of the year and I can be transparent with my momma and guy bff when I feel this way and they always know how to handle me and the situation without sending me over the edge.

There are many more signs and symptoms of anxiety, but these are ones I know of from personal experience. Everyday isn’t a struggle, but it’s during the bad days that we need people’s love and grace the most.

Mental health is often overlooked because you can’t physically see it. People are often shocked when I say I have anxiety because I look like I always have it together. Just because I don’t let people and social media know I’m falling apart doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Also, many minority populations especially black people are taught that they don’t need therapy you just need to be strong and get over it or go to church and pray about it. Unfortunately it's not that simple. Everybody can’t get over it and some people haven't reached the spiritual level yet where they can solely depend on their faith. Some people need therapy, some people need meds, and everybody needs people to stop judging them for their personal struggles especially mental ones.

Here's some tips on how to manager life with anxiety.

  • Figure out some coping skills. When you start to feel anxious you need to self-soothe as quick as possible before your mind start racing and spiraling out of control. For me dealing on where I'm at I'll play games on my phone, read a book, sit by the pool, call my momma, get on Pinterest, watching the Youtube girlies, or create a shopping wishlist online.

  • Find a hobby. Take a break from your day to day life and give yourself the opportunity to enjoy something that isn't mentality taxing. Trying new restaurants, recording Sunday reset, and writing are some of my hobbies.

  • A strong support system. I would've checked out on life a long time ago if I didn't have a support system. My NC bestie will randomly seen me positive words when she sense something is wrong. My guy bff will send me a "be serious, how are you" text and it gives me the opportunity to be honest and vulnerable. Also a few years ago two of bffs would randomly spend the weekend with me laying in the bed and reminding me that I'm not alone. My out of state friend gives me the space to vent about life and he always reminds me that my feelings are valid and I'm going to be okay. Then my go to person every time is a my momma who takes the brut of my anxiety moments.

  • Taking meds. Some people are anti-meds but a lot of people including myself need them to stay mentality stable. Also if your against meds ashwagandha pills or some type of calming tea are great supplements.

  • Therapy. My quality of life and grip on anxiety has improved tremendously thanks to therapy. Also if you battle with suicidal ideation I strong recommend you see a therapist. Those thoughts are dangerous and they should be addressed with somebody who is educated and trained on how to deal with it and talking about these thoughts doesn't mean you'll be involuntarily committed to the psych ward. That was worst fear which is why I never mentioned it in therapy until recently and there's a lot that has to occur in therapy before a therapist would recommend a facility or legally have to have you comitted. Furthermore therapy is a judgement free zone where you can say whatever and know that they wouldn't tell your business or be bias.

  • Journaling. You need to release your inner thoughts and sometimes you need to do it without another person being involved and the best way to vent or gain mental clarity is to write out your feelings.

A lot of people don’t understand that being diagnosis with anxiety is deep…way deeper than just the basic worries, which is why I chose to speak on some of the signs and symptoms. For most of my life especially during the college years I was silently suffering from anxiety and I didn’t even know it. I thought most of my behaviors were normal, but once I started therapy I learned it was never normal to keep excessively cry or isolating myself from people. I've also learned over time that some people will understand or try to educate themselves on mental health issues, whereas some people will remain ignorant. Fuck with the people who are willing to stand by you on your worst day and not when it's convenient for them.

How I'm doing currently...

Thankfully over the years I've gotten a grip on anxiety and I don't sleep anymore and over the last year I've worked on and showed major improvement when it comes to lashing out at other people. Periodically suicidal ideation will occur but I'm dealing with those thoughts in therapy. I still take my meds twice a day and I pray some day that I don't need the meds. Chapter 27 has been mentally changing especially after I moved but I've been happy and at peace for the past few weeks and I pray this serene feeling last for a while.

If somebody in your life is dealing with anxiety, depression , etc. people give them grace and support them the best way you can.

Lastly, if nobody else has told you this it's okay to not be okay, living is worth living, and in time you're going to be okay. You're having or had a moment and these moments don't define your life or who you are.

Happy healing and cheers to mental health awareness month.

"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

- Ian MacLaren

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