By Kristen Feasby
There are days when I feel stuck on a hamster wheel. I can’t get off. The harder I try to free myself from the anxiety, the voices and images dance around the room taunting me. The faster the wheel goes, the more I am trapped. Luckily these days are going by the wayside. I have struggled with mental health issues for fourteen years. If I wasn’t on the hamster wheel, I was drowning in quicksand. I thought I would never find peace, solitude, freedom from my morbid thoughts that scared me. My actions terrified my family and friends so much that many shied away.
Anxiety affected my activities of daily living and my social life. My fear of the outside world and people grew fiercer. I became a hermit in my own home. Then I locked myself away in the bedroom. I didn’t want to see the few people I had not yet alienated. Lastly, I couldn’t even stand to be in my own skin.
I took my prescription medication as directed. The handful of rainbow coloured capsules were not enough to release me from my own personal hell. My hands trembled. My heart thudded in my chest. I had nightmares and night sweats. I constantly worried about anything and everything. To calm myself I began self-medicating.
After a head-on collision with a deer I was in physical and mental pain. I began taking pain medications for injuries sustained in the car accident. My stomach felt sick. I justified taking anti-emetics, over the counter. Next, it was sleep medications. Nightmares were keeping me up. I liked the combination of over-the-counter drugs (not all mentioned here) mixed with my prescription medications. I became drowsy and would sleep the day away, along with my worries.
By not confronting my anxiety I was only hurting myself. I did not realize this at the time. I was engaging in other self-destructive activities that I thought helped to curb my anxieties. I shopped. I drove recklessly. I self-injured. I experimented with drugs. I thought I was helping myself. I was wrong.
It has taken me at least fourteen years to learn a very valuable lesson. Everybody suffers from anxiety at some point in their lives. The key is how you react to it. You can choose to run and hide like I did for numerous years. The results of running keep you stuck on the hamster wheel. Instead, it is better to choose to actively refocus your attention on a positive thought. Don’t let your symptoms drag you deeper into the quicksand and chase you faster on the hamster wheel. Take a deep breath and refocus your worries in a positive light. It’s not about the junk that gets tossed our way in life. It’s about how we choose to react. We can latch onto the junk and cause ourselves more worries and problems. Or, we can decide to let the junk fly by us while we focus on the beauty this world has to offer.