Hopeless. It’s something I feel periodically especially when I think about where I should be in life compared to my peers. It’s a sinking feeling that leaves me feeling inadequate to be apart of a generation that is committed to making things happen for themselves. This feeling coupled with anxiety is what keeps me up at night. It’s what my adult nightmares are made of. When I was a child, I was afraid of dreaming of monsters and goblins but as an adult, those fears are replaced with buying a house or losing my job unexpectedly. I would cry to my ceiling begging God to send me answers or some help or even a ‘sorry dude’. Instead, all I got was silence.

This silence made me angry. I was angry that I consider myself a good person yet, I was living in despair and constant angst as if I committed a murder no one knew about.  Why me? Was a common thought during these times and it frustrated me that I couldn’t find an answer for it. I read self help books, I listened to my elders and peers and followed every Instagram fitness model for answers. This only increased my anxiety because I was now comparing my life against those at the top of the millenial food chain.

One day I had the WORST anxiety attack ever! I was defrosting some food so I could cook for dinner and noticed I was missing a key ingredient. Even though I was not in the mood to drag myself out of the house to go back to the grocery store, I knew I had to so I could eat. As I searched for acceptable out-of-the-house clothes, I felt hot. My body temperature was rising quickly and the palms of my hand were starting to get sweaty. I ignored it and finished getting dressed. When I put on my last tennis shoe, a wave of grief came over me. It felt like I had been smacked in the face with a thousand pillows. Unexplained tears flowed from my eyes as I tied my shoe. They didn’t stop, it was like someone turned on a switch and I had no way of stopping it. Shakily I grabbed my purse and headed out the door.

You have to do this Janae. You can’t let anxiety win. If you don’t make this seven minute trip to the grocery store, you’ll never leave the house again.

Nervously, I steered the car toward the grocery store. The tears blurred my vision and I didn’t care that I was going 10 miles under the speed limit because every molecule of my body was telling me to turn the car around, run into the bed and never get out again. My brain was playing every bad scenario possible. Maybe I’ll get pulled over, maybe my car will crash. What if someone hits my car? What if I pull over and someone hits me and I die? What if the house burns down while I’m gone? Did I lock the door? What if robbers come? My guitar! My laptop! Maybe this is a sign I should stay in the house forever. What is wrong with me? This is crazy!

All these thoughts circled my mind like a spotify playlist on loop as I walked frantically around the grocery store. I had to catch a grip. It wasn’t until I was home safely for an hour that I could finally breathe. Once again tears flowed and I found myself on the floor staring at the ceiling asking God for relief and suddenly I remembered something a pastor said. He said “God will not do for you what you can do yourself. He’s not a genie.”

My tears stopped suddenly. My hands stopped shaking. I thought about what that meant for me in that moment. Anxiety is a disease, a bad one. One that effects over 40 million Americans and can be a result of several different traumatic life events. I didn’t always have anxiety but when I did, I did my part to ensure my happiness. I started seeing a therapist, taking daily vitamins to keep up my physical health, & praying regularly. As I laid on that floor I tried to remember the last time I spoke to a therapist or vented to a friend or took vitamins…I couldn’t remember. How can I expect God to do His part if I don’t do mine and take care of myself? God is not going to force me to go to a therapist or help me take my pills.

Happiness is the state of well-being and contentment.

Regardless of if you personally have experienced anxiety or not, we all at some point struggle to find happiness in our lives. We all have areas of our life we wish were different and cause us stress. It may be your career, school, romantic lives, or family. So why is it so many people struggle with the concept of happiness?

I think it is because we are taught to shrug it off or suck it up or grow up which includes suppressing our very real emotions until we can no longer feel them or recognize them in ourself. Instead of getting help or finding relief with introspection we cover it up. It’s why this generation is in a silent competition to see who can care the least about anyone but themselves. It’s why we all know a functioning alcoholic and there are people well into their adult years that spend their weekends in the VIP section at the club and not their children’s soccer games.

My anxiety attack opened my eyes that even when I was feeling my best I was not well because I wasn’t doing enough to take care of my mental health. I wasn’t avoiding my triggers or talking about my feelings with anyone. I was walking around just hoping that the same things that caused me anxiety would magically not effect me anymore. Does that sound like you?

Well then join me in getting help. I told you guys that I would be more honest with you guys. So here it is…we all want to be happy and happy is more than just breaking up with your toxic boyfriend or getting into a new group of girlfriends.

In getting help you need to realize that you are not alone in this journey and not everyone needs a therapist but most of us do. We try to deal with past trauma, heart break and disappointment in ways that only temporarily hide the pain we feel. This mental health journey takes time and is constantly evolving as we grow in age and maturity. But it IS possible to heal, it IS possible to live an anxiety free life and it IS possible to be happy but as the legendary Iyanla Vanzant says, “You have to do your work.”

k, good talk