Living With Anxiety & Why I Can’t Just “Suck it Up”

Recently at work, I overheard some coworkers talking. Now, I don’t know the full context of this conversation, but what one of them said something that really bothered me. “Everyone has stressors and anxiety, but we all have responsibilities, so you just have to suck it up when you’re feeling that way. Anxiety isn’t a reason to stay home all day and not work.”

Okay okay, hold up now.

Yes, we all have stressors and anxiety. That’s true, and to some extent, I do agree that when you’re just having a bad day you shouldn’t sit at home and do nothing.

But, anxiety is the real deal.

At least for me, it is. I don’t stay home when I’m stressed about moving or school or work or the million other things that could stress me out. But saying “anxiety isn’t a reason for someone to stay home” is wrong.

Nearly every morning I wake up and I wonder what the day will hold. Some days I start fighting my inner demons before the alarm clock even goes off, and some days the fight doesn’t begin until later. But I’m always on guard. I have my walls up and my coping skills ready, just in case.

With last week being mental health awareness week I wanted to write this post (even though I’m a week late.) PTSD and anxiety are a real part of my life. Which means that going to work EVERY DAY sometimes isn’t an option, even though I’d like it to be.

I want to suck it up.

I recently wrote a post about how hard self-care is for me. Taking time for myself has always been something that I struggle with. I am all about squaring your shoulders and working hard, but I am learning that I also need to take care of my mental state, and that means self-care, resting, and sometimes staying home.

I know that in the workplace mental health is a tricky subject. I am grateful for my employer who is understanding and willing to work with me since I work hard and do my job well. But I realized that even though some are understanding not all get it. And I guess that’s part of why I wanted to write this post. I want people to understand. I want to come to work and not stay at home. Sitting at home all day isn’t as fun as one might think. It’s not like I just want a day off every week or so, I hate missing work. But sometimes going into the office just isn’t possible. And that’s just my reality.

My anxiety keeps me home.

I don’t want to stay home, but sometimes that’s the only option. And to that coworker, I have to say that anxiety is one damn good reason to stay home. Otherwise, I’d be completely useless at work the rest of the time. But ya know, if you don’t get it, that’s okay. You do you and I’ll keep doing me.

Mental illness isn’t something that I understood until it impacted me on a very real and personal level.

Mental illness isn’t something that we should ignore. We need to talk about it. After this past week, I’ve realized more of the direction that I want to take this blog. There will be more posts about Mental Health in the future, and I cannot wait to share them with you. Also, I changed my major (again) back to Psychology, but more on that another day.

How does your mental health impact you in the workplace? I’m always interested in hearing your experiences, let me know in the comments!

I know that I’m not the only one who has a mental illness and works full time. These are some other stories that have stuck with me (from The Mighty):

What It’s Like Working with Anxiety and Paranoia
7 Things I wish I could tell my Customers and Co-workers About my Anxiety
The (Not-So) Silent Workplace Battle With Anxiety

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Coping with Anxiety: Reading

A few months ago I wrote started this blog series, coping with anxiety and I wrote about yoga and how beneficial it has been in helping my anxiety. But then I never wrote another post in that series, but I’m getting back to that now, now that I have a plan to blog more regularly. Today I wanted to talk about something that’s a passion and a deep love of mine, reading.

Where the love affair began.

I think I’ve always been an anxious person, like it’s always been inside of me and then after going through something traumatic it finally hit me full force. It hasn’t been easy living with anxiety, but finding different things that help me cope is HUGE. And reading has always been one of those things, I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. And unfortunately for me, I only started keeping track of what books I was reading last year, which is a bummer cause there’s 20 years of books I’ve read that I don’t have a record of. But thank goodness for Goodreads now!

My mom loves to tell the story of when I was 2 or 3 and my dad came home from work and my mom said “Look, Tay can read,” as I opened up The Very Hungry Catepillar and followed along with my little finger and ‘read’ the book word for word (I had it memorized) But obviously, my love for books has been around for longer than I can even remember.

Reading calms my soul

I don’t know when reading became my escape, but at some point it did. Books became my escape from the stress and drama of life in high school. Nearly every night I would stay up until 2 a.m. reading, which probably explains my emotional state from that time, since I wasn’t sleeping much. But I had/have a great love of entering a story that wasn’t my own. I was able to disappear for awhile and I loved that.

I know (or hope) that I’m not the only one that feels this way. True, I use reading as an escape, but even more than that, I use it because for me it is a form of meditation. I am able to be in the moment, even if that moment is fiction. When I get lost in a book, I am calm. Reading makes my soul steady. I have found that reading every day isn’t just a want, but it is an actual need. But, when life changes or my anxiety goes up, reading is the first thing to go! But I’m working on this.

Why reading is good for my anxiety.

I love stories. Love them. Just this morning I was thinking about how I am a collector of stories, fiction and non-fiction. I love learning about people and where they came from, and I love doing that same thing when I read. Life is tough and if I get caught up in my anxious or worried thoughts I only spiral faster. But reading someone else’s story grounds me to reality,  and helps me see between my rational fears and the irrational thoughts.

Reading is my saving grace. Books are my life line when I’m having a bad day. Which is why, if you find me buried in a book, know that I’m enjoying it and that I just needed to escape reality for a little while. I read for fun. I read when I’m stressed. Basically, I just read all the time.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository
I don’t know if there is any scientific study about this (hmmm maybe I’ll look into it) but for now, I’ll just keep on reading. (Which is by far my favorite coping skill) What is your favorite coping skill??

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