Jemima — my anxiety — and I

I do not have a dog, a cat, or even a bunny. Actually, I wish I had. I'm just anxious.

My anxiety is my puppy and I named it "Jemima", as I love Beatrix Potter. As you can see, my anxiety is a "she" and I really hope I don't regret this decision.

Jemima follows me wherever I go. She is a constant presence. Some days, she gets really excited and I feel like I cannot control her. The more I try to catch Jemima, the more she runs away from me and, in the end of the day, I got really tired.

On the other hand, there are moments when Jemina is so, so, calm that I almost forget her by my side.

But, you know, Jemima’s mood is very unpredictable. As we are always together, I needed to find out how to get a healthy relationship with her. For survival.

Here are my findings after strugling so much to get away with Jemima.

Photo credit: Meg Kannan

Accept Jemima

One of the most important things I’ve learnt so far was not to punish myself for having Jemima around. She is part of my life and that’s ok.

Now, instead of loosing my energy fighting back Jemima, I accept and befriend her. It was not helping me to ignore her presence. It just made me feel exhausted.

Get along with Jemima

Once I’ve recognised that Jemima was part of my life, I’ve saved a lot of energy to myself. Although it is true that I don’t consciouslly rememember the moment I welcomed her into my life, it’s a fact that Jemima is part of it now and I want to get along with her. I don’t ignore she, anymore. Otherwise she will do everything she can to catch my attention, which is worst.

Have a plan and stick to it

Usually, Jemima is very loud. It’s difficult to concentrate on my own things with so much “ dack, dack”, going on. I used to get so distracted by her.

Nowadays, I make my plans and stick to them, no matter how loudly she is. I keep my life moving on and always remember myself that "I follow my goals, not my mood."

I’m my best friend

When Jemima is very annoying and I loose my patience, I like to imagine that I’m one of my friends and I give to myself some advice.

I learned to really take care of me. For example, I do mindfulness (I use Headspace) everyday, which relaxes my mind and my body; I exercise, at least four times a week.

I allow myself little gifts, such as not working on Fridays, when I enjoy the moment to catch up with my readings, going to museums, writing, etc.

I realized that routine makes me healthier. I feel more energized and stable. Because of that, I plan my week ahead, finding slots on my agenda for both, wok and leizure. Just a little of what is called behaviour activation.

Get support

Getting along with Jemima is a long-run, every-day-learning relationship. I’m always looking for new and better ways to cope with her. I’ve read books about “her”, I talk to my family and friends, I’ve attended groups to exchange experiences, where I learnt some helpful techniques to get along with her.

I got support and it made the whole difference.

Be patient

All relationships demand care, kindness, and lot’s of patience. There are days when I feel more energized and happy; Jemima is calm, and things between us are quite easy and calm. However, there are other days when everything seems upside down. Jemima is in a bad mood and I’m not in my best days, as well.

At the beginning, I used to blame myself, which made me feel worst. Nowadays, when I feel I’m having a bad day, I just take a deep breath and focus on what I have to do. I don’t judge myself anymore. I don’t try to control Jemima anymore. I wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow is gonna be another day.

Love

That'’s the most powerful ingredient for any relationship. Love. Love. Love. When I'’m almost giving up of Jemima or even myself, I give it another go. And it works.

And I always rememeber…it'’s my choice!

I cannot control Jemima, but I can do control my behaviour. It’s in my hands; it is my choice how to have a healthy relationship with Jemima. It is not easy, but it is worth trying it. And everyday I feel a bit stronger than the day before, and this keeps me going on and on.

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