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In the film, Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany describes herself as “not a very good dancer” but that “it’s therapy and it’s fun.” The first time I saw the film, this line spoke to me. I related to her, because it made her depression a bit more bearable. I have a YouTube channel, where I’ve talked a few times about self care, and found myself using this sentiment as advice recently. I found myself advising people to find a passion to help them through anxiety. Writing had basically saved my sanity and honing it has been the best medicine. But who was going to see that? My channel has 52 subscribers and averages 15 views per video, so who was I really talking to?
I was telling myself...
The last couple of weeks have been really difficult for my anxiety. I took a job I didn’t want, but seemed harmless enough, updating local authority records by calling people and collecting information. I figured it’s not ideal, but it’s the only job that finishes before I go home in December and it’s not like I’m selling anything, how bad could it be? But I found myself, not immediately, but randomly in one of my shifts, starting to panic. I wanted to cry, I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t figure out where the anxiety was coming from. I couldn’t find the trigger. But I felt a bit better the next day, so I went into work not worrying too much. But the second I walked through those doors it was like being slapped in the face with anxiety. I came to realize over the course of the rest of the week that it was the job, the nature of the work that was just so uncomfortable and so triggering I couldn’t function in normal society. I don’t feel like I can quit, the job is only three more weeks. But I spend six days a week there, wrapped up in a job that I hate, an environment which triggers me. How do I even think about approaching this?
The first thing I did is recognize I need help. I contacted the school’s counseling program for a referral and downloaded an app with an all-day chat for workplace anxiety. I scheduled a careers appointment to figure out how to retool my CV to avoid triggering jobs. And I started doing research. I knew I wanted to be a writer, so I researched how to do that when I have bills to pay, but want my writing out there.
And that’s how I found it. I got inspired for a seventh WIP. And like with most creative ideas, I needed to get everything down before I forgot it. I spent the night researching and brainstorming, and brought a notebook into work the next day so I could think about potential characters and plot lines. I started editing, slashing words from my completed manuscript one chapter every night. I got myself motivated to write again. It was easily the first time I felt human for a while. I had something to look forward to.
This has happened quite a lot in my life. I go through this period of intense anxiety and become severely depressed, like I’m in a rut and can’t get out of it. Then I force myself to write something down, or get an idea for something else. And I get wrapped up in it. I feel happy again. No less stressed, but not crushed by the weight of everything because there’s something positive in my life. In remembering my passions I start to feel human again, one bit at a time, and that, I realized, is advice I need to share.
Find your passion, find something that speaks to you. Maybe it’s a hobby, or your dream job, like mine, religion or even a person. But had I not started writing again, I wouldn’t be functional in society. My social anxiety and borderline agoraphobia would be severely worsened. My writing has helped me rediscover what I love, and it gives me something to be excited about. And that’s why I’m here, writing this post now. It’s why I’ve decided to dedicate my time in 2019—I know, getting ahead of myself a little, but I’ll be busy until then so that’s when I’ll be able to get started—to writing more. To find my voice in articles like this one and getting that voice out there. Because I deserve not to feel like that anymore. You deserve not to feel like that anymore. Find your passion, find what makes you, you, and use it. Use it to convince yourself that you’re okay, you’re just in a situation that makes you unhappy. That that one situation isn’t who you are. It’s not going to cure your mental health. I’m still going to that counseling appointment. But it’ll help you survive until you can get help.