Unhealthy anxiety coping mechanisms

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When I drink, I can’t stop until I black out and pass out. When I start working on something, I find it difficult to stop–no matter how hungry I get or how badly I need to pee–until I’m done. And, even then, I find myself really, really wanting to get started on the next project. In the past, when I started eating junk food, I’d find it to difficult to stop; I’d make grilled cheese after grilled cheese until I was out of bread or munch on cookies until none were left in the bag, no matter how full and sick I felt.

I figured I had impulse control issues and poor self-control, although I’ve been vegan for a decade, studied enough in high school to get a 98 per cent in pre-cal and never handed an assignment in late.

As I’ve been dealing with and exploring my anxiety, I’ve realized these are all coping mechanisms. A early 2017 car accident, resulting in a head injury that I’m still struggling with, took my coping mechanisms away, highlighting how much of a dependency I’ve had on them. Kicking the crutch out from under me forced me to find new, healthier ways to cope with my uncomfortable emotions. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • Write about ’em: In outbursts of complete rage, I’ve sat at my computer and vomited my intense feelings into a piece of writing. In some cases, they’ve actually turned out pretty good and I’ve been able to publish them, giving others some insight into what’s going on with me.
  • Talk it out: I’ve gotten so much better about reaching out to friends and family when I’m feeling like I’m going to snap. I let them know if I’m looking for advice or just need to vent, ask if they’re up for the task of listening and then let it all go. I usually end up talking myself into a place where I can look at the positives.
  • Find the upside: Last year, I moved to the US from Canada. If I had known it would take months, rather than a few weeks, for my cats to follow, I likely wouldn’t have done it. On Christmas day, my little David ended up being hospitalized in our new Montana home town. A few days later, he was transported to another town for an invasive surgery, which was followed by weeks of healing. I was so upset, beating myself up about not having been with him for months, agonizing over whether I could have prevented his suffering. Realizing there’s nothing I could then but care for him, I looked at the bright side. I’d felt like the worst cat mom for months. This was an opportunity for me to love him and nurse him back to health, making me feel like a good cat mom again and giving us a chance to re-bond.

When my brain heals more, I’m going to find more healthy coping mechanisms. I used to love to run and have always loved going for long walks, so I’ll try them out again. I’d also love some suggestions of different things I could try out! What healthy coping mechanisms do you use?

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List of podcasts with anxious hosts

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I’m trying a new thing this year! The second Monday of each month, I’m going to give you a list of something mental health related. This month, a list of podcasts that have hosts who struggle / have struggled with their mental health.

With these podcasts, the focus isn’t necessarily on mental health. Which, honestly, I love. When anxiety and depression come up naturally in a conversation about murder, it normalizes those feelings. It’s also fun to learn that the host of a podcast I love is dealing with some of the same things I am.

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Beautiful / Anonymous: Show host Chris Gethard is a comedian who frequently talks about his struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts and addiction. On this podcast, he takes calls from anonymous strangers and they direct where the conversation goes, but it often touches on mental health.

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Budgets & Cents: In this podcast about money, co-host Cait Flanders sometimes talks about her mental health struggles.

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Call Your Girlfriend: In this weekly call between two long-distance bestie, Aminatou Sow sometimes jokes about her anxiety.

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Guys We Fucked: In this anti-slut shaming podcast, one anxious comedian and another with OCD talk sex with their guest and, of course, mental health often comes up.

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My Favorite Murder: Although the premise of this podcast is to talk about the details of murders, there’s a lot of chit chat. Co-hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark frequently touch on their struggles with alcoholism and anxiety (respectively), with a shit ton of humour.

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Recovery Elevator: Mental health doesn’t frequently come up in this podcast for recovering alcoholics, but there are a few great episodes that talk about how alcohol can increase anxiety and how alcohol can be used as a coping mechanism.

What podcasts would you add to this list?