Something that not many people know about me – until now – is that last year I spent almost 4 months taking Anti-Anxiety medication. Depression has played a part in my life but it has only ever been a small one. Anxiety on the hand has been totally debilitating at times.

The dictionary defines Anxiety as; a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

I prefer Seth Godin’s definition

Anxiety is nothing… but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.

And me at least – Anxiety is like a having a crushing weight on my chest for days at a time, making it hard to breathe, sleep, think or communicate with anyone, except for snapping at them.

I have usually managed it with the help of professionals, making sure I eat right, exercise and limiting my coffees. Last year however, I need help to get out from under the weight of it. So I went on meds.

I hated it.

The first six weeks where hell. I stuck it out – they said it would get better. But after only a few months I decided I wanted to do anything possible to control my anxiety without the help of meds – they made me more sleepy than I could handle and made my mind totally foggy.

I did some research and I decided to work hard at alternative methods of reducing the symptoms.

I read loads of advice, tips, arguments and discussions. But one thing that kept coming up time and time again was

Gratitude Journalling

About six or seven months ago I started the simple process of taking five or ten minuets out of my to write down what I was grateful for that day. If you saw my earlier posts you will know I like to document them in photos but in my journal the pictures are always accompanied with words as to why I am grateful for that thing and how that makes me feel.

The impact was so fast. Within a week I felt light, within two I felt that I could breathe again.

The crushing pain is mostly gone now – there are days when it tries hard to return but I can fend it off most of the time.

The most amazing thing though is, I discovered I am not all that far from my ideal life.

Sure there are things I want to improve, more money would be nice, more of the big project work would feed my soul. But the day to day stuff is almost where I want to be already and I hadn’t stopped to notice that before.

While at first some days it seemed impossible to be grateful for anything, the thing I find hard now is picking only one thing to be grateful for. I notice things like the incredible smell of the first coffee in the morning, the scratchy wonder of sand under my feet and the little look and a wink I get from Aston as I sneak out of the classroom on mornings when we are running late.

sand-feet-seekingmore-stayinggrateful

Life is a wonderful thing – we just have to take the time to notice it.

{Disclaimer – I am not suggesting anyone to take this as advice, if you are taking meds please consult your doctor before stopping. If you feel the crushing pain on your chest and want to get help start by heading to Beyond Blue, there is so much information as well as people to talk to.}

Have you suffered from anxiety or depression? Do you have tools that help you keep it manageable?