Mindful Journeys: How do I rewire this brain of mine?

Never in a million years did I think I would ever have to deal with anxiety growing up. I knew of friends and family who had anxiety, but I didn’t think I would have to experience it. I remembered briefly learning about mental disorders in health class growing up, but it was never touched upon in great depth like physical health or nutrition. 

When it first happened to me, I didn’t know what was going on. The conglomeration of symptoms I was feeling made it feel like I was going through one of the worst sicknesses one could possibly go through. Sleep was my only solace. Waking up was torture. Each day felt like a massive struggle. 

The lack of serotonin and rush of epinephrine all the time made my brain feel off-balance. Having a rush of adrenaline was keeping me locked in a state of fight-or-flight. At the same time, I didn’t feel motivated to do anything except fall into a constant state of worry about my health. I didn’t even want to read or write, my two favorite activities of all time. After I was diagnosed with anxiety and a minor bout of depression caused by anxiety, all I could ask myself was “How do I rewire this brain of mine?”

It’s no overnight success, I can tell you that. First, it was learning what the symptoms of anxiety can look like. Once I was able to associate what symptoms quickly came on when I became anxious helped me recognize it wasn’t a random virus going around. Then, I had to learn what tools and coping mechanisms worked best for me. I’ll cover more about this next week, but there were dozens of different techniques I tried before I found the few that worked out for me. After that, I had to become consistent with my newfound practices when said symptoms arose.

I also had to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and getting out of my comfort zone. Besides learning new methods to calm down, I arranged to meet with a therapist. Talking with someone whom I had never met before made me nervous, but she made me feel comfortable and helped reassure me that what I was going through happens to millions of people. 

I also was encouraged to get on medication to help with my symptoms. I was extremely hesitant to get on medication, thinking that it would make me feel worse than it already did. However, it did the complete opposite. It took me a few weeks to get adjusted, but once my medication finally started to work, it took away a lot of my struggles.

Almost a year later, I’m still trying to figure out how to rewire this brain of mine. To me, this seems to be a never-ending process when it comes to learning how to deal with my anxiety. I’m still taking it one day at a time, but the process I’ve made shows me that change can be possible.

Write to Emma Johnson at

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