Anxiety | Joel

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Today I woke up at 4 AM. I’d love to say it’s because I’m an early riser who takes advantage of as many hours-in-a-day as possible. I’ve tried that a few times, it never worked very well. It turns out I truly love the peaceful serenity of the morning, but my REM cycle does not.

When I turned over in bed and saw 4:17 AM on my phone’s clock, I sighed in relief. 4 AM was close to 5 AM, and 5 AM was close to 6 AM, and 6 AM is time to wake up. 4 AM was a warm welcome compared to my recent insomnia episodes. Consistently waking up between 2 and 3 AM over the course of two weeks was just becoming a nuisance. With no ability to fall back asleep, it made the nights long, grim, and dark. So waking up at 4 AM instead? It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Living life with an anxiety disorder is quite often like that. Boundaries and obstacles arising, seemingly from thin air, with no resolution in sight. Sometimes you even grow complacent with fixing the problem at hand because even the thought of fixing something makes you anxious. This entire ordeal can become overwhelming, pile on, and lead to discouragement. And my last couple of weeks have been filled with that same discouragement at almost 3 AM every night.

That is just the form my anxiety has decided to take on for me recently. It really holds no punches and takes many different forms, though. One day it could be a nausea attack about going into work, others it could make me paranoid, irritable, and selfish towards those I love. There’s not much method to the madness.

It’s very likely that either you or someone you know lives with a form of an anxiety disorder. In fact, many others live with anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), it is estimated that “40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year” have an anxiety disorder but that sadly “only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.”

I’m not sure what battles you may be fighting this Christmas season. Maybe you’re a parent having panic attacks thinking about how you’re going to make Christmas happen for your family. Or maybe you’re a college student worried sick about finals. No one is too good for a check up of their mental health. Do not let your pride get the best of you! When anxiety rears its ugly head, be ready, be prepared, and be ready to respond.

I turned waking up every night at 2 AM into 3 AM, now into 4 AM. Tonight, I’m gonna turn 4 AM into 5 AM! It’s not ideal, but its progress. It’s being aware of the situation, not letting it accumulate and become worse, and attacking it head on. Be ready, be positive, and fight back against anxiety this busy Christmas season!

Merry Christmas, y’all!