I’m sitting at my desk at work, having an anxiety attack from the normal stresses of life, I’m sure you can understand. I don’t get how these normal things can freak me out, in fact I wish to god that they didn’t. That’s not the point though, back to the story. I’m sitting at my desk worrying about this and that, and when I can’t take it anymore I inevitably run to the fridge, grasp a cold can of pop and let the intoxicating burn of the liquid run down my throat until I feel the burn in my stomach too. The weird thing, it calms me down, don’t ask me why, if I knew I probably wouldn’t have to use it as a crutch. We all have these small things, some healthy some not, mine happens to be the latter. I have been addicted to pop since middle school. It started with mountain dew, really unhealthy I know. It later evolved into a serious health matter when my dentist told me I needed to stop drinking mountain dew or face serious dental issues. I stopped drinking mountain dew that day, that was somewhere around my junior or senior year of high school. Now it’s Pepsi. I try to keep it to 12 ounces or less per day, while drinking over 100 ounces of water a day, but I often drink more pop then I should. It all sounds trivial right? Why not just stop?
If you suffer from depression, stress, anxiety or all of the above, you probably have your own vice or method of coping. Maybe it’s a stress ball, maybe it’s alcohol, maybe its weed or coke, maybe it’s lashing out at someone or maybe it’s letting your mind go numb while you watch mindless television for hours. We all have something whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. If you have a healthy way of dealing with the anxiety, that’s great. I really want to focus on talking about the unhealthy management of anxiety. To those who turn to alcohol, I get it. I by no means am an alcoholic, but I know what it’s like to feel intense sadness and anxiety and turn to a bottle of whiskey to numb the pain, only to find hours later that it has instead intensified it to an unbearable point. Unhealthy vices help momentarily, but they always seem to leave me worse than before. I have an anxiety attack, my muscles tense up, my mind swirls in worry so I pop open a pepsi, and it clears my mind for a while. Then 20 minutes go by and the anxiety is back. No lasting relief, no long term positive effect. And that’s it, the extent of the relief from my anxiety attack that I can muster.
Everyday I try to stop my destructive behavior and try to start better behaviors. Behavior’s like writing, reading and exercise (Although I struggle very much with the exercise part). I’ve committed to reading one book every week this year, and the last couple weeks I have actually averaged two. I have started to seriously work on a novel I’ve been thinking of writing for a long time, and camping and hiking really help me get away from destructive behavior and away from stress to just focus on the good things in my life.
If you have a bad habit that you use as an escape from your anxiety or depression, I get it. It won’t help you though, it will only delay and amplify your feelings. Try putting positive things into your life, focus on your relationships, do more things that you love, try changing your routine or completely changing out things that have a negative affect on you. Put your old behaviors behind you and move forward into new, positive ones.