Anxiety

Here Comes the Sun

I always get mixed reviews when I talk about my anxiety. I get emails/comments from girls saying they completely relate and that they’re happy to know they’re not alone and I also get emails/comments knocking it down. The reason why I do share is because I know when my anxiety is really bad, sometimes I’m convinced that I’m the only one who feels that way, then I think I’m insane, and then I feel alone in it. The thing is that a lot of people, especially young women, do suffer from anxiety. I obviously have no training to give medical advice (duh), but I do think there’s serious power in sharing stories and experiences… in knowing you’re not alone. My intentions are not to glamorize anxiety, but instead to be a voice for someone who may read it and realize they’re not alone. (Something I wished I had had when I was 17 or 18.)
The hardest part of dealing with anxiety for me is that it’s nearly always irrational. I know whatever I’m anxious about isn’t logical, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I absolutely experience anxiety because of it. Do I think a waiter is going to whip out a butter knife and stab me? No… but I still feel like I’m going to faint when I have to give her my order. Did I forget to study for a test? No… but I still feel like a boulder is pinned on top of my lungs. Is it actually likely that a catastrophe will happen when I’m in a crowded place? No… but I still feel like I’m suffocating and need to escape right away.
I’ve been able to handle my anxiety better and better with each passing year. There are definitely days (weeks?) when it’s better than others, but for the most part, it’s been a steady inclination of improvement.
When I went home for my sister’s graduation, I made an appointment with my doctor. For weeks I had been feeling anxious without reason. Pretty much the minute I woke up, I had that pit in my stomach feeling. Some days I’d not even want to start my day knowing that I had a lot to do and the anxiety would get worse as the day went on. It was really starting to get on my nerves and I was even more annoyed because I hadn’t felt that bad anxiety for a really long time. I was reluctant to even go to the doctor to ask for more specific help, but I’m glad I did.
(Just another disclosure to be on the safe side because as I mentioned I’m not a doctor, but this is just something that helped me!)
She noted that I might be in a serious vitamin D deficiency. With the horrible winter and working from home, she encouraged me to bump up my time spent outdoors and in the sun. (In NYC, it seems like the sun rises later and sets earlier because it ducks behind all the tall buildings.) 
I started walking on the sunny side of the street (not the song, but literally on the non-shaded side of the road!) Switched to sitting outside when possible. And just trying to get a few extra minutes in the sun, whether an extra walk with Teddy or taking a phone call on my stoop.
The difference has been night and day (no pun intended). I’ve implemented a few other suggestions she had as well, but I feel like it’s the sun that did the trick. Whether it was the vitamin D or just simply being outdoors and getting away from my computer/desk for a bit or the warmth after the longest winter ever… my mood just did a 180.

Have you ever felt better after spending time in the sun?


xoxo

PS … but don’t forget sun safety tips once you get your daily dose!

PPS I don’t think I can survive another winter in NYC without investing in a light box…

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52 Comments

Meghan

I love these posts! I get anxious all the time and I love that you're so open about it! And the sunshine does help, I've been so much happier since it's been warmer outside!

-Meghan
meghanbanke.com

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Taylor Cunningham

I like these posts too! I'd be interested in hearing what her other tips were, I've been seriously feeling the same thing the past couple of weeks — really REALLY struggling to get out of bed in the morning, even though I'm absolutely a morning person most of the time.

http://www.taylormcunningham.com

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Caroline

So, so relate to this — and with the winter being much colder than last, I avoided being outside and was accordingly more anxious. Coupled with a windowless office, I was really having the winter blues + anxiety. Please post if you get a good light box! I was in the market for one late last year and didn't bite the bullet.

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Devon Huntley

Currently debating whether to go on a run outside today or not – being someone who also has high anxiety and after reading this, I'm definitely heading outside for my exercise today!

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Kate Mitchell

I needed this so badly today. I literally had a 2+ hour long anxiety attack today and it's absolutely helpful to know that I'm not alone in dealing with it.

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Christina Quinn

Totally understandable and love when you do these posts. I'll be switching offices in the fall and did a test day in the new office two weeks ago…called my mom crying when I arrived because the new space I was in had no windows. Although my boss thought I was stressed for other reasons (impending move, new commute etc.) I really do think a large part of me was upset about not getting to see the sun, especially as I considered the winter! Glad that walks with Teddy have given you lots of new outdoor time. πŸ™‚

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Kim Topolewski

I've suffered from anxiety since I was a little girl. Seriously, some of my first memories are me in department stores having an (social) anxiety attack from all the people. As I've gotten older I've hid it much better (I don't break down and sob when I'm in a crowd, but I still get very anxious), but every night I do find myself thinking & worrying about everything.

I've never gone to the doctor about it because I don't want to be medicated, so I've heard and I've been trying the whole 'get outside' and even 'exercise more' thing, which does help on days I do it. It's a constant struggle!

<3
kimberrleigh

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Mikala S.

This is a good tip, thank you for sharing! I love these posts – sometimes an anxiety attack feels like the end of the world, but it's comforting to know you're not alone.

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Kerrie Mitchell

Thank you so much for being so brave and honest. Also, thank you for talking about what it's like for a blogger to discuss something like this. I've been dealing with my own stuff for years and know that some day soon I will discuss it on my blog and you've really helped me to prepare for the experience as well as inspired me. By the way I just found out I'm terribly deficient in Vit D – I have to take supplements of 5000mg. It's crazy what that winter can do… xo

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Jen

Thank you for sharing Carly! I used to have pretty bad anxiety but it's a lot better now. Although, now my brother has it REALLY bad and it can be hard to relate to sometimes so this post helped me think about what he's truly going through.

When daylight savings hit I honestly think my mood did a 180! I am SO much happier now that I can leave for work, and return home, with hours of sunlight left. It makes a HUGE difference.

xoxo, Jen
http://www.comfortably-chic.com

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Heather Boone Johnson

Thanks so much for the great post and for sharing your struggle, I love that your blog is a depiction of who you really are which includes the great things and struggles, not just a picture of an apparently perfect life. Thank you πŸ™‚

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Amanda Brock

Why would anyone give you a hard time for sharing a part of yourself that I think we all share to some degree? I hate when a blogger just shows the instagam-worthy, materalisitc side of their lives. Yeah, I want to see the 2015 Lilly agendas but I also want to know theres people out there who I look up to who sometimes feel like they can't get out of bed in the moring. It's what makes you such a great blogger! F$*#* the haters!

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K. Kidwell

I appreciate what you are trying to do here and I have seen the complaints on GOMI, however, you NEED to STOP throwing around the word "anxiety". You feeling "nervous" or "anxious" is not the same as general anxiety disorder. You are doing a disservice to all those who have been diagnosed. And if you have been diagnosed, you should come out and say it, not skirt around it as you have been. As someone with clinically diagnosed OCD, I am offended that your advice here is "get some sun". You are making light of those of us with genuine psychological disorders, and are encouraging others to associate symptoms with anxiety that simply should not be. This post is irresponsible.

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carly

The clinical legitimacy of my anxiety is none of your business. Yes, I've seen a doctor. Do I need to "come out and say it" for your (or anybody else's) sake? No, absolutely not.

I went to the doctor who has been treating me for years and among her recommendations was getting more sun.

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loveyoutake

On Carly's behalf she clearly said she isn't diagnosing anyone she is expressing her side and giving a tip that may or may not apply to people who as you say are "anxious" or to people who have diagnosed anxiety. I appreciate her post as her experience with what she deals with day to day and I think you're taking this a little too far. This post isn't irresponsible, I encourage you to read her post over and really listen to what she says about how she isn't saying symptoms you may have are a disorder.

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Jessie Patterson

Let me just start by saying I am not defending the commenter nor Carly here, but Carly.. it's just a bit ridiculous to write an entire post about this subject then snap at sometime stating that questions/opinions/etc on that very subject is none of their business. This is not a personal blog, this is your job, and that is respectable and impressive, but that comes along with your readers being your customers. To write posts about personal matters, while it is not necessarily a bad thing, opens yourself up to negative and positive feedback. I am no social media mastermind but I do know quite a bit about anxiety issues and the only thing I can think of that may help is to cut back a bit on personal life tidbits, the reason being, if you did a post on… let's just say a pair of shoes or something, and someone critiqued them.. well then that is not directed towards you specifically, but if you write about personal matters then the criticism is strictly you. This is far too long.. good luck with everything.

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Jessie Patterson

I forgot to add, Carly I do completely agree with you about not discussing "official" diagnosis. THAT is absolutely no ones business, I just wanted to add that being that it is something that angers me to an irrational level. If someone wrote on their blog stating they have diabetes, no one would state you need to upload your medical documents or I don't believe you, everyone would just believe the statement but people are still so skeptical of the legitimacy of mental health-related disorders and it is just ridiculous. Ok.. now I'm done, and I sincerely hope you continue to feel well.

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carly

Let's give the sparknotes version of the post in a way that's possibly easily to understand. (The minute I type "anxiety," I know what kind of comments/remarks I'll get because it happens every time… as I alluded to in the first line. And I am going to assume here that those readers automatically read "what they want to read" and not what's in the post. Per usual.)

1. I have anxiety that I've learned how to better deal and cope with over the years.
2. I started to feel like my "old self" as of late and it worried me because I had been doing so well.
3. I reluctantly went to the doctor
4. Among other suggestions (i.e. there were other courses of actions tailored personally to me and my history), she mentioned that I might be VITAMIN D DEFICIENT (i.e. the anxiousness I was feeling could be related to not my previous medical history but a deficiency)
5. The sun helped. A lot.

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Actual College Student

Carly, this is your JOB. By now, after having a blog for so long I thought you would've been better equipped to handle the naysayers. Snarking back at them is unprofessional. You're stooping down to their level.

And, thanks for the Sparknotes version! It's not the reader's fault that they can't understand your post. Half of your posts ramble on and on, and are riddled with errors and RStyle links. You could really use a proofreader.

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Jessie Patterson

Your demeaning response was unnecessary. As I stated I was not denying the legitimacy of this posts topic. I can understand how things can get frustrating and you may send a hasty response, but ALL I was trying to say was to stop snapping at people, and absolutely do not write your responses in way that suggests you believe your readers are unintelligent.

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Jennifer

Previous commenters are correct in pointing out that there is a difference between experiencing higher than normal levels of stress that a lot of people suffer from, and debilitating anxiety disorders to which the term "anxiety" is typically applied. There needs to be some differentiation between the two. I think that when you discuss these things publicly, you do implicitly make it everyone's business, unless you establish clear boundaries beforehand. It's completely acceptable to not want to discuss the details of your health issues with strangers on the internet, but there are ways to say so more tactfully. I respect you talking about personal issues so openly, but the condescending nature of your comments is a little off putting, and might be why people are responding harshly. Just food for thought…

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Heather

I can totally relate!! Something about being outside and getting that sunlight can really brighten my moon! Because I have such a high risk of developing skin cancer though it's been tricky for me this summer because I so badly just want to sit and soak up the sun but I can't! It's been the first time I've started to embrace the lots of sunscreen, long sleeve shirts and big hats look so I can be in the sun and not feel so guilty!

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Fairy Princess Jord

I don't feel like you are "glamourizing" anxiety at all. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember your blog has helped me to feel "normal" as opposed to like a neurotic high stress freak. Thanks for sharing your story and your tips for coping with anxiety!

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13333f40-8318-11e3-9ad4-000bcdcb471e

I like it when you write about your anxiety. But don't you think it needs more than just the sun? Especially if it's been going on for a long time (and it sounds like it has) not just this winter. I hope you get the help you need! πŸ™‚

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CT Cupcake

I wonder this too, some talk therapy goes along way, even just a few sessions in combating anxiety. It's great that getting more sun seems to be working for you, but for many people that just isn't enough. You have a great opportunity and platform to shed some light on anxiety and all the ways(beyond sunshine) that can help relieve some anxiety. As a someone with a master's degree in counseling, I cannot recommend talk therapy enough. It can help provide strategies for situations, such as ordering in restaurant, that cause you anxiety. Ordering a meal should not be a stressful situation.

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Lauren

I'm vitamin d deficient, and I didn't know it for the longest time until my last blood test. When the doctor told me to start taking vitamin d supplements, I too noticed a DRASTIC change in my mood. I suffer from incredible anxiety as well, and it was such a relief to know that something as simple as a vitamin can help ease that anxiety. It's a horrible thing to experience, and I wish it upon nobody. I'm glad the sun has helped you!

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Lindsey Lam

I am usually vitamin D deficient and the two doctors I have seen have both told me I need to take supplements to adjust it. Edmonton (well, Alberta in general) weather gets pretty depressing and I've heard a lot of people in Canada are prone to getting SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) because of the long winters. I've been getting lazy about my supplements the last few months and I have definitely noticed my RBF (Relaxed Bitch Face) coming back haha πŸ˜›

– Lindsey

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Cheyenne

YES. I can get extremely anxious at times. Like so anxious that it can turn into a small depression. I think it's so ignorant that people would go out of their way to email you about how they think you're glamorizing it or what not. This blog is your place to talk! And honestly, hearing you talk about your anxiety helps make all of us other anxious people feel better about ourselves. πŸ™‚

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cheyenne

some of these comments are just unbelievable. i'm glad that something as small as going outside into the sun helps me ease down my anxiety πŸ™‚
xo, cheyenne

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siva

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ediesumms23

Thanks for this. I'm a new reader, but I also have lots of anxiety issues. I totally agree with the difference sunshine makes. I work near a park and go sit there whenever I get overwhelmed. I got a light box/alarm clock for the winter months and it really helped with my energy so definitely something to consider!

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cocktailsandquinoa.com

Thank you for sharing this post. I think that doctors these days are quick to prescribe medicines (granted for many people, meds are necessary). I'd much rather take a walk in the sun! Whenever I start feeling anxious I try to hit a few yoga classes. Focusing on my breath helps me forget about nearly everything else.

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Debits and Credits

Have you considered making changes to your diet and regular exercise in addition to the light therapy? One of my siblings has an anxiety disorder and they credit clean eating and 30-45 minutes of daily exercise with helping significantly, in addition to regular appointments with their therapist. Exercise releases endorphins which boost your mood and eating 3 balanced meals with healthy snacks in between helps to keep blood sugar even throughout the day.

I bet you are doing these things already and I'm sure your doctor told you similarly, but I thought it may help the other readers consider clean eating and exercise to help with their stress. Good luck!

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living well

I have to second this. I used to have terrible anxiety and it seemed to randomly come and go. I did a Whole30 challenge and eliminated certain food groups from my diet for a month. I discovered dairy not only caused my anxiety issues, but it caused my asthma issues too. It sounds hokey, but it changed my life. I haven't had an anxiety or asthma attack in over a year. Highly recommend looking into it!

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Tracy S

I have terrible anxiety too and can identify with pretty much everythign you wrote in this post. My doctor did a blood test a year ago and my vitamin D levels were a 6 (supposed to be in the 40s), so she had me start taking 2 vitamin D pills a day. It has made a marked difference.

The other thing that makes a gigantic difference is exercise. I hated exercise and refused to do it for years, and recently I ran a 5k. To practice, I'd run 3 miles 3 times a week and the difference is unreal. Lifting weights or using machines does not make as much of a difference in my mood, but the running really keeps me feeling very even keeled. Sometimes I hate doing it, but the benefits are worth it.

Good luck, hope your anxiety stays away for awhile!

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Christine Borne

It's fascinating you mention this, my doctor yesterday asked me about my exercise regimen and any stress factors (new puppy!) that could be helping/hurting my upset stomach. She asked about my Vitamin D intake, and i had no idea that was even a thing! It feels good to know others experience the same thing.

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RoyallyPink

This post came at the best time ever. I really needed it, you have no idea. Summertime always brings out my anxiety because there's no routine; I'm home from school and able to do whatever I want, whenever I want but at the same time, I have my mom to answer too. I always feel anxious through the day and confused as hell. Now, I'm a post grad, living at home indiffently with the thought of finding a real job on my mind, the anxiety has been through the roof the past few days.

It's just how you said, you don't know where it's coming from or why and it's not even upsetting, it's more annoying than anything. I realized that my anxiety is a lot worse when I'm inside so the Vitamin D thing really makes sense and hearing it come from a doctor makes me feel a lot more secure in that idea.

I'm definitely going to take that into consideration. Thank you for always sharing your story, Carly. There are people who relate to you and need your advice.

xoxo
Briana
RoyallyPink.blogspot.com

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Hannah

I suffer from anxiety and possibly depression as well. I have not been to the doctor yet but I plan on going when I get back to school in the fall, just so my doctor will be close to me throughout the year if I have problems. Yoga and meditation have helped me a lot! I have never done yoga before this year so I was intimidated at first but if you really go into it with the right mindset then it is very beneficial! Regular exercise is also helpful, I try to run about 5 miles on the elliptical 4 times a week. I feel like the sun would help me too but I live in Texas, where sitting outside in the summer for any length of time is almost unbearable due to the heat.

Hannah

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Eliza Neal

Carly it is so nice to read this blog post and know that there are others like me who suffer from bad anxiety. I mean, I know its not uncommon to be nervous or have stress but sometimes I am just frightened by how upsetting my stress and nerves can make me. I can totally relate to thinking I'm insane and realizing I'm being totally irrational. I hate that it's something that you can't just "turn off" even when you know your fear won't happen. I've been trying to write a post on my own blog about my feelings but it's just so hard to describe and is a very personal thing to share. I admire your courage in writing this post and I'm sorry you've gotten some negative responses. You're an amazing person and have been an inspiration to many people including this 16 year old.

Have a great day (I'll make sure to get some sun tomorrow πŸ˜‰ )
Eliza l elizathecatlady.blogspot.com (oh how I wish I could change my URL)

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Mallory Crandlemire

Interesting post. I'm glad to see you found something that worked for YOU!!! I am seventeen and dealt with anxiety for a while…later found out that it was due to candida. A clean diet and lots of lemon water cured it and I've never felt better! If you start to see symptoms again, I'd definitely look into candida- it's a silent, malicious infection. Love your blog!

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Michelle Kiwi

Thank you for posting this! I'm glad you're able to share your experiences with everyone! It definitely makes me feel like I'm not so alone in my own personal experiences with anxiety.

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Trois Petites Filles

Last year in my school's newspaper, there was an article about a few girls that attended my school who had a real disease that caused them to be depressed during winter due to their lack of sun exposure. Their solution was to use a light box as you suggested. I don't remember the name of their disorder or if that's what you have but your situation reminded me of it. I also commend you for being so brave with sharing your life on your blog and wish you luck with getting enough sun safely.
xoxo
Hannah

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Sara Chuirazzi

Carly,
Thanks so much for this post. As a rising college junior, it's so nice to hear other young women face anxiety head on. Your acceptance brings me a lot of comfort. Regardless of any negative responses, please know that you've at least helped one girl who admires you endlessly–seriously, on my radar, you're more important than any celebrity! I so look forward to your posts and you remind me a lot of myself. Again, thanks for your honesty and for taking bold moves like this one. Take good care!

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Classic Style Inspirations

Great posts! πŸ™‚ I have suffered from anxiety as well and for many years I have tried to search ways which would help me dealing with anxiety. About a month a go I found "Tapping EFT" technique which is based on acupuncture. First it looked really weird but after I used it couple of times I noticed that it really works. It would be great to hear if this technique has helped anyone else as well. Also I agree that anxiety is something that should be talked about more.

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wole william

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