Anxiety came into my life long before I decided to become a designer and lettering artist, back when I use go to to parties with some friends as a teenager and, as the everyone's expectations around me were incredibly high and I had no idea how to block this from having a negative influence on myself, my expectations began to grow pretty high as well. That made me throw up every time, which made my friends say I was allergic to parties. What they didn't know is that I was allergic to them. KIDDING.
I started to identify as anxiety what I had after an episode. I felt my hand hurt after drawing for too many hours one day and suddenly began to imagine the thousands of terrible things that could be happening to me, making me feel I could be having a heart attack. In the end I was having a panic attack, or at least that’s what the nurse at the hospital told me during a heart exam. Later I began searching for anything that could make me feel better, reading books, watching videos and taking a seminar I had promised I would to my uncle before he passed away. That course taught me about meditation, and so many things beyond. I learned that I needed to control my own mind and thoughts or otherwise, they would control me.
I have no cure for your anxiety, because it can be a lot of different things for each one of us, but I can tell you one thing: look for a therapist. Anxiety is A LOT about self control, about imagining a lot of bad things happening in the future because you’re not worth anything good in life, or about super high expectations aiming at something you can’t control.
I created Lettering to Anxiety with sentences that were coming up during my therapy sessions and noted them to make me feel better when I needed to. And I suggest you to follow these sentences, to understand their meaning and remember these phrases when you’re feeling lost, they certainly make me better whenever I need.
To overcome anxiety is to live one step at a time, noticing any subtle agitating behavior, keeping your expectations as low as possible, and reminding yourself every single day that you deserve the good things you receive. Bad things happen to all of us, but good things happen as well, and sometimes we keep waiting for the bad things to come, and forget how wonderful our life already is, despite all the bad that has happened. Sometimes we’re so anxious about something that we forget to be grateful. And I don't mean using #gratitude on Instagram. Please don’t do that.
Having anxiety is sometimes to have the need of being in control of everything all time. We can’t control time, know exactly when we’ll achieve our goals, or what other people think or say. We can’t control who’s going to live or die, but we can study about death in other cultures and religions or even become a doctor. We need to understand that bad things happen to all of us and the only thing we can do is to appreciate and enjoy time with those we love, so when they’re gone, we won’t regret that hug we didn’t give, or that sincere “I love you” we didn’t say.
Overcoming anxiety is learning 24/7 about your own behaviors, what they really mean and thinking about what you CAN change so that you won’t feel that way anymore. It is to face your worst fears, and think to yourself that you’re AMAZING for overcoming that after years struggling. It is to throw up all your organs out during a crisis, then clean up your mouth and just keep going - because anxiety crises will always come back, but it’s all in your head, and you can’t let it hold you back anymore.
Don’t avoid your anxiety, or it will grow, making you fight harder to overcome it later. If a crisis is coming, understand rationally why (or maybe with a therapist's help, if necessary), let it come and after resting a bit, just continue to follow your path. The crises will become smaller with time. Treat your crisis like any other disease: let it come, treat with medication if needed, rest and take care of your body and mind. With patience and respect.
And for anyone that knows someone who deals with anxiety, you can help an anxious person by listening to them, by respecting their time and being there to talk patiently about what can be done. Oh yes, and give love. Lots of love, so they’ll can know and feel that they’re not as horrible as they think. :)
Text Revision: Mari Pinheiro