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