Anxiety: How Long Does it take to Heal?

Confession: I read a lot of other people’s blog posts about anxiety.

To be honest, even though most are complete strangers, it makes me feel connected in a way I can’t find elsewhere. I feel like we all share in something – something awful, but special – something that only if you’ve lived through it could you ever understand.

Some people are just beginning their journey with anxiety, while others have been hammering away at it for years, trying to figure out how to help themselves.

This is my question: How long does it take to heal?

This is my answer: No one knows.

Some people find that one thing that really works for them. Some people search and even try what feels like hundreds of things, but nothing has quite clicked yet.

It makes me upset when I see people giving up on themselves, or being hard on themselves, all because they need more time than the next person.

Look, it took me the better part of 10 years to get the hang of this thing. Am I healed? I don’t know. I know that I’m helped, I know that I’m capable of helping myself. I know I’m more in control of that part of me than I’ve ever been. I know it feels good.

Maybe that’s the point. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be ‘better forever’, but that doesn’t exist. With anxiety there is going to be ups and downs, all we can do is learn to manage it – in however much time it takes.

How long have you been at it for?

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I can’t carry all these rocks.

Imagine that all of your priorities are like rocks. You have big rocks, like work, parenting, being a good partner, and good pet owner. And then you have little rocks, maybe tasks such as cleaning the kitchen, grocery shopping, dropping off the dry cleaning, you know – things on the ‘to-do’ list.

And then there is a special rock. It’s small, but it’s heavy. It’s a pebble you chose from an entire beach of pebbles. There are so many that you could have picked, but you picked this special pebble, and no one else can have it because it’s all yours. It’s your purpose. It’s your reason for being. It’s your reminder of why you get out of bed every day. You’re purpose pebble.

Now, imagine all the rocks that you carry every day. The more responsibility you have, the heavier it gets. Sometimes we have to put rocks down because we simply cannot carry all the ones that we are burdened with. You might put down laundry and say “I just can’t do this today”. You might put down being a good friend and reschedule your coffee date for next week when things calm down. That’s what prioritizing is I guess, it’s deciding which rocks to carry.

What happens if you don’t put any rocks down? They just keep piling up. You try to do it all, and not even just that, but you try to look happy doing it. Your ego is in the way, you don’t want to let anyone know that you can’t handle all the rocks you’ve picked up. How embarrassing, you think, so you continue to juggle them. But then…

the pebble slips through.

You’re so busy with all of your other rocks, you didn’t even notice you dropped your purpose pebble. You’re not even sure when or where you dropped it. frantically, you search for it. You might have to retrace your steps to find it, but even if you find it you have so many rocks to carry right now, you might not even be able to pick it up.

If you pick it up, you risk dropping everything else. You risk dropping being a good daughter. Maybe you risk providing for your family. Maybe you will drop all of the rocks that require social obligations for the next month. You might lose everything trying to find your purpose again.

It’s up to you. You can continue carrying all the other rocks, and piling them up just as fast as you can get rid of them. You can even look good doing it. You can convince everyone else and yourself that this is fulfilling for you.

All the while knowing you lost the pebble with the most meaning, the most substance.

The choice is yours, it’s up to you.