When Anxiety Takes Hold

The other night I sat on our big, blue ottoman, curled up in a blanket, crying. My husband sat on the couch facing me. He listened as I listed off all of the things that were stressing me out and causing me to feel so helpless.

There’s too much credit card debt, I feel like we’ll never pay it off. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do all of the things I need to do, like workout and spend time with you and get enough sleep. My job is too stressful right now and it takes all my mental energy just to make it through the day. 

Everything just poured out. Tears streamed down my face as I sat there, ugly crying, and I kept adding things to the list. The weight of the stress was too heavy and I couldn’t get out from under it. I felt like I was drowning, like all of these things were weighing down my shoulders and pushing on my chest. Being a living, breathing human was the bare minimum I could accomplish and even that felt like an effort.

As I added more and more things to the ever-growing list of stressors, my husband calmy, softly interrupted my lamenting:

Oh baby, you need to start talking about the good things.

And I’m not exaggerating, this literally stopped my negative thinking stream-of-consciousness brain dump in its tracks.

I looked up at my husband and I saw that he was hurting. He was hurting watching me cry, watching me in pain, watching me crumble under all this stress. He was hurting listening to me list off all the things that were going wrong in our life. He was hurting trying to take responsibility for all of the things causing me stress.

But he knows it could be worse. He tells me all the time.

So, I asked him:

Can I come and sit next to you while I talk about the good things?

And he said:

Of course, baby.

I curled up next to him and laid my head on his chest and started listing off the good things.

We’re together. We’re married. We have jobs that pay well and have good benefits. We have a roof over our head. We have food to eat. We have clothes on our backs. We have family and friends who love us. We’re in love and we’re happy. 

He kissed my forehead:

That’s right, we are happy, aren’t we?

Listing off the good things made me cry even harder. I don’t know whether it was the weight of the stress being lifted off my shoulders or the guilt of forgetting that there are so many good things.

I think sometimes, especially for those of us who struggle with anxiety and depression, it’s easy for us to forget about all the good things. We get stuck in this rut of negative thinking once we let the anxiety take hold, and it’s hard to remember the good things when we feel like we’re drowning in all the bad things.

Remember the good things.

Talk about the good things.

Write about the good things.

For me, the struggle is accepting and enjoying where I am now in my life. I have so many goals and dreams that I get hung up on where I want to be and frustrated that I can’t just be there right now. It’s not that I don’t want to work for it. I just want the work to be going faster.

I get so hung up on chasing my dreams that I feel unsatisfied and unhappy with where I am and what I’m doing right now. I can’t be present in the here and now, because the future seems like such a better place to be. I get overwhelmed by all of the things I need to accomplish in order to get to where I want to be. The worrying sets in, and the anxiety takes hold.

I am posting this to remind myself to take a moment each day and express gratitude.

To appreciate the good things.

To be present in the here and now.

To love my life, my husband, and most of all, myself.

And I hope that you will too.




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