"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
These are a few words I always carry with me.
Having an anxiety disorder can be overwhelming in more ways than one. Your thoughts latch onto the smallest thing, whether that be something physical in your body, or a thought, and spiral out of control to the point where they become louder and more grating. Some thoughts can be difficult to understand but for anxiety sufferers, they can be terrifying. So, I try my best everyday to make sure that the first thoughts I wake up with, and the last thoughts I have at the end of the day, are positive.
Now, this is an incredibly difficult thing to do as it seems my default setting is to think negatively about everything, or to inflate a thought to an inch of its life, "I just took in a really shallow breath" equates to "Oh my gosh. I can't breathe, I'll never be able to catch my breath." (An example of my thought pattern this evening). The words in my thinking can be toxic, lots of "I'm dying," "I can't do this," "I won't be able to get out," "no one will care," etc., so this has to be changed. Patience is a virtue when it comes to anxiety, specifically, tackling our negative, spiraling thoughts.
It is so difficult to do but the more I consciously put in the effort to take in positive words and things around me, the more my own thoughts take on positivity of their own. For example, I start my day with a run in the morning. There are many reasons why I choose a run over going to the gym, but the main one is that it allows me to surround myself in the most beautiful, brightest parts of existence, nature. I jog past beautiful trees with golden, sun-kissed leaves, I pass cute, sprightly dogs being walked by their owners, I hear children’s laughter in the park nearby. I pass locals who will say a cheery “good morning” to me. (Always puts me in a good mood when that happens!) And I just have to look up and there is a beautiful, pale blue sky with a warming sun. And by being surrounded by all these amazing aspects of our natural world, I am reminded that there are so many positive things that we can let into our lives, and by extension, our minds.
And this quote has stayed with me for as long as I can remember. Many, many times I have felt that the world is closing in around me and there’s no way I will ever get out of this. So, this quote holds such power to myself as an anxiety sufferer as it takes a thought that is so terrifying and twists it on its back into a positive message. And that's the habit that I need to do more—taking my default, terrifying thoughts and turning them inside out into a positive one.
For those of you who have recently been diagnosed with a mental disorder or are currently going through a challenging experience, I thoroughly recommend holding onto this quote and using it as a template to combat your own negative, scary thoughts with a whole new positive spin.
Whatever problems you're going through, and no matter how much it seems like the world is crashing in on you, you do have the wings to fly on through. It is never the end of the world.
You will be ok. You will get through this. You’re doing great.