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Aya

I've never been diagnosed for anxiety, I've never spoken to a professional, and I'm definitely not the type to "self diagnose" or believe whatever they say on the internet.

However, I do believe that I have a serious anxiety problem. I'm constantly scared and worried, it's like a dark cloud shadowing over me that makes me feel afraid and in doubt of myself. It's very crippling and debilitating, and I feel like it's beginning to impact my physical health as well. The funny thing is that most of the time what I'm scared of never even comes to pass, and it's mostly silly stuff too. For example, I'm in my second year of Masters, and I've spent the entire first year (two semesters) just stressing out about my credits and final grades, to the point where I couldn't sleep or eat well. In the end, my results came out and I actually did great, I was one of the best in my class.

Which brings me to my point: Most of the stuff I'm worried about never even happen, but it still doesn't stop me from being eaten up by my anxiety. And it's not just my degree either, it is almost every aspect of my life. As an adult, it makes it extremely difficult to come out of my comfort zone. I just want to see if there are others here that understand what I'm going through. I want to learn some useful tricks you guys have that could help me deal with my anxiety.

Thank you so much for reading my "rant", I just really needed a safe space where I could express myself because I'm too scared to reach out to anyone in real life. I've tried before, but I almost never get any advice or help, just patronizing comments or an empty, shallow "stop worrying so much!" Again, thanks for your time, I hope to hear from you guys.
Yes, I definitely relate to a lot of what you described. I have diagnosed anxiety. I'm not the best at offering advice, but I can say with certainty that you're not alone. A lot of people are going through the same things as you. You have our support.
Talking to a professional probably would help you a lot, since they are people who are much more equipped to help you than random strangers on the internet. That being said, it's okay if you aren't ready to speak to anyone about it yet. Maybe you can work your way up to doing that, or maybe you don't want to. You should never feel forced to get professional help if you don't want to, but it can be a really big step in helping yourself. (They can prescribe medication, if you want to take it, as well as discussing other ways to deal with anxiety that aren't medication.)
As for tips, I have a few though I'm not sure if they're very good.
  • Firstly, as much as I know it's not as simple as "just stop worrying!", mindfulness CAN help. If you start to worry about something, you can try to think it through realistically (or talk to someone about it, if you can/want to— another perspective can help a lot.) It won't necessarily make the worry go away completely, but it can help to try to see it from a more logical and objective standpoint, to understand that just because you worry something will happen, it's not always a very likely outcome. For me, at least, it eases the worrying a bit even if it doesn't work completely.
    For an example, I'm really afraid of anesthesia. I think things like "what if I wake up in the middle of the proceedure? What if something goes horribly wrong and I die?" I worry about these things, because I know they are technically possible even though they aren't at all likely. When those thoughts get too overwhelming I remind myself that these bad things aren't likely to happen to me, that even if something does go wrong, there are people right there to try to fix it. The worry will still be there, but reminding myself to think about the situation logically helps me to calm down and not panic, usually.
  • This one might sound facetious or something, but it can help to look at the big picture. What I mean is, if you're worried about something, you can think "okay, even in the worst-case scenario, what impact will this really have on my life?" Obviously, some things CAN have a serious impact. Like if the worst-case scenario is dying then obviously that's not good; this advice doesn't apply to that. It's more for things that you worry about, that would be considered "small", I guess? (That isn't to say that they aren't important, since they're affecting you in notable ways.)
    I'm not sure if I'm making much sense, but here's an example: Say you're going in for a job interview, and you're worried about failing. Firstly, you can consider that you've prepared for this, you know what you're doing, and you're probably not going to fail. Even so, you will probably still worry. You can also consider what would be the worst thing that would happen if, hypothetically, you do fail. Yes, it would be very unfortunate. You wouldn't get the job you applied for. But even in that case, there will be more jobs. There will be more interviews. You can try again, and at some point you WILL succeed. And five years after that, you will look back and think "I failed a job interview or two, but I still got a job. This is where my life is." Even if you didn't get that first job, you're still okay.
    And if you don't pass a test? You can retake it. It'll set you back, but it won't ruin you.
    My biggest worry is usually in social situations, like "this person is going to hate me. They're going to make fun of me. They're going to talk behind my back. They're not going to want to be my friend." All the variations of that. And will those things happen? Maybe. And if they do, yeah, it'll really hurt. But there's also the chance that I could have a lot of fun, and make new friends. So I remind myself that if things don't go well, at least I tried. And if people treat me badly, I don't want their friendship anyway. I'll still be afraid to talk to new people, but I'll keep reminding myself that no matter what, it'll be fine.
    Or maybe I'm just too optimistic. But either way, it helps me. It might help you.
  • Another thing that can help is writing down your negative or overwhelming thoughts. You don't have to share it with anyone if you don't want to, of course. You can even type it somewhere and then delete it, or post it to a social media account that's privated, or physically write it on paper, anything you want. For me, doing this helps me to let go of the thoughts. When they're circling around my head and won't leave me alone, writing them down makes my mind go "okay, this has been recorded. You can let it go for now", even if I don't keep what I wrote afterwards.
    This might actually be more of an ADHD thing than an anxiety thing. I'm not actually sure since I have both and they probably work together to mess with my brain anyway. But I still think it's worth trying it out.
  • You can also try to just distract yourself from worrying at times. I know it's easier said than done, but it's worth a try. Just try to focus your attention on literally anything else (music, a show, movie, game, book, or project, chatting with someone about unrelated things... anything you like, really), so that maybe you can be spared from worrying about other things for the time being.
  • Not anxiety-specific, but if you're having trouble sleeping, taking melatonin can help. It comes in pill form, and probably other forms too? And it's a natural medication, so it isn't likely to cause you any problems. It doesn't work for everyone, but if you can/want to try it, there's no harm in doing so. As far as I know, you don't need a prescription for it, either.
    Things like lavender, valerian, and other herbal remedies can help with calm/sleep as well. There are a lot of teas, essential oils, pills, and other things, if you choose to go that route.
  • Certain background noise can also help with sleep. Something like calming music, white noise, or a quiet show or video. For me personally, my mind races when I try to sleep. Putting a show on quietly gives my brain something else to kind-of-focus on as I try to sleep. Again, it doesn't work for everyone, but still worth a try.
    Good sleep leads to improved mental health. Fun fact.
That's all I've got at the moment. I hope I've helped you at least a little bit.
Medication. Struggled with it for years. It took one stop at a doctor to get some pills and then it went away within days.

Was short, simple, and sweet. My life has definitely improved.
This is surely pedantic beyond what you meant, but: for the large majority of cases where it's an on-going issue that interferes with life, there is no cure, only management. I'm differentiating because "cure" means the cause of the problem has been removed from the picture; anything that relies on ongoing treatment to keep things under control is only being managed.

Semantics aside, sometimes anxiety can be managed (and in certain cases, functionally cured) effectively through some form of mental health therapy, and that can come in many different forms. Ideally, you get set up with a professional to at least periodically check in with, even if you don't otherwise rely on some form of regular talk therapy with that professional; as they get to know you and your goals better, they can help point you toward useful resources, offer assurances and suggest adjustments as needed, etc. Peer counseling can be a more affordable and more quickly attainable way to get something like talk therapy in with someone who has experienced similar struggles as so can relate, and options exist for 1-on-1 and group settings. Therapy courses typically are managed as groups and provide a bit of relatable community, but they are primarily focused on providing instruction to help you better understand and accept yourself, and ways to help manage things fairly independently; one of the most common group therapy courses (other than addiction-specific ones) is DBT, which honestly teaches a number of skills and ways of thinking that basically anyone could benefit from. There are therapy apps (some better, some worse) that many people find helpful, and they can work in a number of different ways (calming, advice, habit tracking, self-care reminders, etc). RPR actually has a Help Page for mental health, too, including lists of resources.

It's not unusual for a person to also need at least temporary assistance from medication. Sometimes, it's just needed until a person has managed to develop a good system for themself, basically just a little push in the right direction to help get going. More commonly, those who get medication and find one that helps (it can take a few attempts) tend to stay on it - and so long as that's not causing you problems elsewhere, that's totally fine! If things are too difficult without medication, there is nothing inherently wrong with medication. Just be sure to really discuss side effects, interactions, warnings, etc when making choices about meds. Also, unless you have a pretty bad doctor (who I'd encourage you to replace!) who also figures you'd never sue, it's good to ask about any "alternative" treatments you might be considering to improve the chance of hearing from someone knowledgeable and less likely to be relying entirely on confirmation bias for how "amazing" something is. There are things that do legitimately appear to help with what it's supposed to, but there are also things that can be very dangerous, and a lot of things that manage to be both.
I struggled with anxiety for my entire life until I was diagnosed and prescribed medicine in about 2014. There are a bunch of graphics related to coping on this page that may help.
My answer is the same as others: Medication, talk to a doctor, maybe talk to a therapist as well. It's important to understand if your condition is clinical or caused by other factors.

My personal coping mechanisms might not help others, but I have struggled with anxiety disorder for my entire adult life. I can relate to feeling like there's something lurking in the back of your mind that wants to come to the forefront like some kind of eldritch horror. Unfortunately, there was no one 'big' thing that made that feeling easier to deal with, it was years of self-analysis and little milestones that eventually took its power away.

On top of seeking help, all I can say is that every day survived with that feeling is a really important step. Just take each day as they come, and do things one step at a time.
Aya Topic Starter

Thank you so much, everyone. I really value your advices, and I just feel really good being able to talk about it openly here.

I agree that I should probably talk to a professional about it, and taking it one day at a time sounds like a good idea.

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