I recently received an e-mail for a personal essays project. I was so excited that I responded with my pitch:
“I was thinking about writing about how my anxiety has made me a kinder person. While I can't always control how I feel, It makes me think twice about other people and the struggles they might be going through.”
I was so glad when I heard back that I would be able to share my experience, but now comes the tough part, writing this. So here goes nothing.
I went to UCONN but lived at home for the first two years of college and was soon transitioning to the main campus to live with one of my best friends. As an almost-twenty-year-old. I was panicking. Moving away from home, my parents, my grandma, and my favorite bagel shop – my comfort zone – didn't sound appealing. Change was clearly not my friend.
After a great day shopping with my soon to be roommate, I got a text-- a breakup text (yes, seriously). I was mad and sad, then confused. I didn't even know what to feel, to be honest.
I really wanted to talk to my sister, who at the time was pregnant with my twin niece and nephew. I called her, but she was asleep.
Later, in the middle of the night, she called me back to tell me she’s going to the hospital because she needed to be on a medical bed rest to keep her and the babies healthy. I told her to keep me updated and we hung up. Then I realized I was struggling to breathe.
Crying and panicky, I realized that all these sudden changes have me anxious and nervous but I didn't want anyone to worry or wonder what’s wrong. I tried to keep it cool and stay strong. At the time, this was my normal. I had anxiety attacks on an off since I was 17 and I was always dealing with it. Most people didn’t even know. But this was so much different. It felt bigger. and heavier. I had hit my breaking point. I was not at all excited about going to parties or meeting new people or even going to class. I just wanted to be alone and by myself. I was irritable and anxious. Anyone and everyone would set me off.
Eventually I got through it. I met the kindest people on my floor and made friends. These people, without even knowing about my anxiety, cheered me up. When I was anxious, I had friends who wanted to stay in on a Friday night and just knit or crochet. I found crafting to be my meditation, I was calm and my mind was at ease. I now have many things that I use to keep my anxiety away - DIY, meditation, yoga, and working out. Once I found these things that made my heart happy, my anxiety stabilized.
My sister gave birth to the two best kids I know and the three of us share a birthday and a bond like no other. To this day, when I look at them I smile. I want the world they grow up in to be just like them, fun and kind. And I have a great boyfriend who would never dump me via text. He loves me when I am happy or when I feel anxious and always helps me get through it.
I have learned two lessons from dealing with my anxiety:
First, find something that makes your soul happy. For me it’s knitting and crocheting or just being creative in any way.
Another lesson is that if you can be anything, just be kind. People have struggles we can’t see and as corny as it is, it’s true. Being kind is easy and it’s free. Just make a note to self: be kind.
I'd love to know: do you struggle with anxiety? What lessons have you learned from it?
Felice is the writer and creator of 1001knits, a knitting and crochet blog that encourages a modern DIY lifestyle. When she's not crafting or working on her blog you can find her playing with her Dachsund Stella, doing some yoga with her twin niece and nephew, reading at a local coffee shop or at her new favorite place: the gym. If you'd like to have knit or crochet lesson for yourself or a group of friends, check out 1001knits.