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Taming the Beast: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Mental Health and Anxiety

Author: Moriah DeJacimo

Girl with anxiety looking at phone

Your brain is an interesting beast. One minute, everything is exactly where it should be, neatly organized and functioning smoothly. The next minute, there are little file fires everywhere up there. A minor inconvenience, a single TikTok video, or an unexpected text message can completely change the way you feel. Suddenly, your once serene mental landscape is in turmoil. People, media, and the hustle and bustle of daily life can scramble what started as a great mental health day. So, where does it stop? How do we proceed when the ups and downs of mental health and anxiety seem relentless?

The Roller Coaster of Mental Health

Life with anxiety can often feel like a roller coaster ride. One moment, you're climbing steadily, feeling confident and in control. Your tasks are manageable, your thoughts are clear, and your emotions are stable. You might be enjoying a cup of coffee, ticking off your to-do list, or having a pleasant conversation. Everything seems to be going smoothly, and you think to yourself, "I've got this."

But then, in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, you're plummeting downwards, gripped by fear and uncertainty. Your heart races, your palms sweat, and your mind spirals into a frenzy of what-ifs and worst-case scenarios. It's as if your brain has decided to hit the panic button without any warning, and you're left scrambling to regain control.

The triggers can be anything—a stressful work email that disrupts your flow, a snippet of news that sends your thoughts into overdrive, or even an offhand comment from a friend that makes you question everything. These seemingly minor events can set off a chain reaction, causing your mind to race and your body to react as if there's a real and imminent threat.

It's like being in a constant state of alertness, always waiting for the next drop or twist. You never know when the next trigger will come or how intense the ride will be. You might find yourself in crisis management mode, trying to extinguish the fires of panic and anxiety that flare up unpredictably. You deploy coping mechanisms, perhaps deep breathing, positive affirmations, or reaching out to someone for support, but sometimes, it feels like you're barely hanging on.

This roller coaster of emotions can be exhausting. It disrupts your daily life, affects your relationships, and can make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. You might avoid certain situations or people, fearing the next anxiety attack. The unpredictability of it all can make you feel powerless, trapped in a cycle of ups and downs that you can't seem to control.

However, acknowledging that this roller coaster is part of your reality is the first step towards managing it. Understanding that anxiety can come and go, and that triggers are often beyond your control, can help you approach these moments with more compassion for yourself. By equipping yourself with the right tools and strategies, you can learn to navigate the highs and lows with greater resilience. Remember, it's okay to ask for help and take steps to care for your mental health. You're not alone on this ride, and there are ways to make the journey smoother.

My Personal Journey with Anxiety

After my mom passed away, I was under constant, crippling anxiety. In a moment, I would bust out in a sweat, unable to breathe, unable to cope with the slightest inconvenience. My stomach twisted in knots. I couldn’t face everyday life as I had in the past. The grief had triggered a deep fear of dying, a pervasive worry that people hated me, and a constant state of paranoia. It was so crippling that I barely left the house other than to go to work.

During that time, I gained weight, lost self-confidence, and fell into a deep pit of depression. I could barely function as a human. I cut ties with close friends, neglected responsibilities, and even lost my sense of purpose. Anxiety is real, mental health struggles are real, and if you are struggling, know you are not alone. There is a darkness to all of this that no one really talks about. It literally sucks the life out of you.

Imagine your brain as an office with filing cabinets filled with all your thoughts, memories, and emotions. Anxiety is the rogue employee who loves to set little fires in those cabinets. The more you try to put them out, the more fires seem to appear. It’s overwhelming, and it can feel like you’re constantly on high alert, waiting for the next spark.

Maybe your anxiety didn’t come from trauma like mine, but there are plenty of triggers in this life. One of them can be what you see on your phone screen; this was a huge trigger for me as well. The constant influx of information and negative news can exacerbate anxiety, making it harder to find peace.

The Digital Age Dilemma

In today's digital age, our brains are bombarded with information. Social media, news updates, messages—all of these can be sources of stress and anxiety. A single scroll through your social media feed can expose you to countless triggers. It's like throwing fuel on those file fires. The constant influx of information can make it difficult to maintain a calm and collected mindset.

I reached a point where I had to delete TikTok from my phone because I constantly found myself struggling with all the negativity. Each time I opened the app, I was bombarded with a barrage of distressing news, unrealistic comparisons, and negative comments that only served to heighten my anxiety. What was meant to be a fun distraction quickly turned into a source of stress and insecurity. I realized that the constant exposure to this negative content was severely impacting my mental health, exacerbating my fears and paranoia.

Taking the step to remove TikTok from my life was not easy. It felt like I was cutting myself off from a world that everyone else seemed to be a part of. However, I knew it was necessary for my well-being. Without the constant stream of negativity, I began to notice a significant improvement in my mental state. My anxiety lessened, and I found it easier to focus on positive aspects of my life. It was a small but powerful change that helped me take back control and prioritize my mental health.


Finding Balance

So, how do we proceed? How do we find balance in the midst of this chaos?

Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help you stay grounded. These techniques teach you to observe your thoughts without judgment and can provide a sense of calm amidst the storm.

Digital Detox: Take regular breaks from your screens. Disconnecting from social media and news can give your brain a much-needed rest from constant stimulation.

Routine and Structure: Establishing a daily routine can provide a sense of stability. Simple things like regular meal times, exercise, and sleep schedules can make a big difference.

Talk it Out: Don’t bottle up your feelings. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re experiencing. Sometimes, just sharing your thoughts can alleviate some of the burden.

Professional Help: If anxiety is significantly impacting your life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapy can be incredibly effective in managing anxiety.

The ups and downs of mental health and anxiety are part of the human experience. While we can't always control the triggers or the roller coaster ride, we can equip ourselves with tools and strategies to manage our responses. Remember, it's okay to have bad days, and it's important to be kind to yourself during those times. By understanding our brains and learning how to manage the little fires, we can navigate the complexities of mental health with greater resilience and grace.

Are you struggling with anxiety or any other mental health issue? Thrive Counseling is here to help. Our team of compassionate, experienced therapists is dedicated to supporting you through your mental health journey. Take the first step towards a healthier, happier you—contact Thrive Counseling today to schedule your appointment. Don’t face this alone; let us help you thrive.

About Thrive Counseling

We are offering counseling, home-based and group programs through telephone or online through ZOOM. Call us for your mental health & substance use needs! Call Warren, (330) 469-6777 or Youngstown, (330) 355-9998 TODAY!

Anyone can call for assistance or support. Assessments are based on the individuals' needs and what will work best for them. Thrive can provide immediate assistance for mental health crisis situations. Medicaid and most other insurances are accepted.

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