How to Deal: An Email Conversation About Anxiety Between Leandra and Amelia

Helpful tips in e-mail format to deal with anxiety

09.29.15
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On Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:38 PM, Leandra Medine wrote:

Hey! Are you getting that post-summer anxious feeling?

On Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:45 PM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

I would say that my post-summer anxious feeling has transitioned into near-violent, premature winter terrors. It’s already made getting out of bed hard again, which is stressing me out because I was so good this summer…

WHAT DO I DO?

On Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:48 PM, Leandra Medine wrote:

My career coach tells me that when I start to spiral (that’s what anxiety is, right? Like mental spiraling), I should just acknowledge that my mind, in a state of distortion, is doing something it’s now conditioned to do and then let it go and move on. It sounds and seems so simple and sometimes works but other times does not at all. I feel like wearing sandals even though it’s getting colder also helps. And fitness! You should have come to The Class with me this morning. I screamed, I cried. It was good.

On Sep 22, 2015, at 2:40 PM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

What’s tough about anxiety is that it can be paralyzing. There are days when you wake up and despite logically knowing that working out or even just getting up and tackling the source of stress will help you feel better, you can’t. You just sort of lay there and panic until it’s too late and you have to run to work. Cue more anxiety.

Anxiety is such a buzz word now, too. Everyone I know “has anxiety” (some medicated, some not, some involving panic attacks), but almost everyone I know claims it in a very real way. Do you think that’s a sign of the times or has everyone always “had anxiety” and we’re just now in tune with it? (Or bigger wimps?)

On Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 4:03 PM, Leandra Medine wrote:

Well, anxiety is pretty closely connected to depression, right? I think there is really something to living in NY and the pressure that presents. This is a menial example but the traffic in London was so mind numbing, considerably worse than the traffic here and yet drivers (and passengers!) remain calm through it. There’s no honking or anything. In NY, I feel like I’m constantly supposed to feel like I’m about to blow up. Not sure really what a cheap (as in: not a monthly, week-long vacation) antidote is. Breathing does help and so does laughing. What do you do to quell it?

On Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 10:22 PM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

I have to escape the city. (Sorry for this: I go riding.) The problem is that it comes back when I come back — the moment I hit reality.

I’m least anxious when: I’m ahead of my work, I’m working out, my apartment is clean, I have money in the bank after paying rent and responding to my Venmo payment requests. But life happens, so there has to be a way to alleviate anxiety when things are stressful, too. I wish I could stick with meditation — is that helping you? I never stick with it because I’m like WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS?

When I stop everything and put music on and draw, that helps. Moving helps, like walking/running. Getting away from anything with a screen helps. I want to do what we talked about the other day and put my phone away at least an hour before bed.

Sometimes the only thing that helps is repeating, “It always ends up being okay, it always ends up getting done.” Because a little bit of stress can push you to meet a deadline but anxiety can prevent you from being productive at all.

On Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 10:33 PM, Leandra Medine wrote:

Yes, meditation helps immeasurably. I’m finding the afternoon meditations a bit harder to commit to, but when I do them, I feel like a new person afterward. There is something so empowering and energizing about just closing your eyes for 20 minutes in the middle of the day and then coming out of it. You just clear up or something. It’s like emotional Benadryl wherein the city is your allergy.

I’m also doing a new 24-hour technology detox every week (Fri at sundown to Sat at sundown) and according to those around me in my personal life, I have become, like, 20% less insufferable. Last night my dad even accused me of seeming happy! I’m also really trying not to internalize things and take them so personally/make them so personal. E.g. if comments are down on a specific day, I’m not taking it as a direct assault on us and literally driving myself to the point of illness trying to figure out what everyone is doing at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday in lieu of reading Man Repeller.

^^^ So that was me projecting. I do think you’re on to something with the staying ahead of work and taking good care of yourself — the thing with working out, I’ve realized, is that it’s starting to seem like holy me-time in a way that manicures or blow outs don’t really feel anymore. (Probably because we’re glued to our phones in those latter situations whereas when you’re working out, you have no choice but to torture yourself with dumbbells and the like). And you’re right! In the end, it’s always okay. Why is it so hard to remember that while we’re freaking out? Maybe because we feel like it’s only ever okay in the end because of the way that we freak out in order to get it done?

On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 12:00 PM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

How do you detach yourself for 20 minutes mid-day in the afternoon? Aren’t you like, OhmmmmmmRENT. FUCK. I FORGOT TO MAIL IT AND THEN DO 2345678 OTHER THINGS I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO YESTERDAY and then open you eyes and poof, ruined?

The fact that you just pinpointed why blow outs and manicures no longer feel like “me-time” was such an epiphany for me. Basically anywhere I have service and a free hand — just one — I’m on my phone. That is so bad.

Maybe we freak out because of some sort of latent survival instinct: the chillest cavemen probably died. (“Na man, I’m good, I’ll learn how to build fire later.” *Death*)

I swear I once read or heard that it’s actually harder for the brain to be happy and it’s easier for it to worry.

The other day, I lost my wallet (in my apartment) while I was already super late, worried about a million things and sleep deprived. I was cursing at inanimate objects and made my roommate turn the TV off so I could concentrate. I was all hot and thinking: great, now I have to get a new ID. Cancel my credit cards. Wait for new credit cards. Go through the awful motion of having Chase read a list of all of the dumb things I’ve spent money on in the past 24 hours just in case my wallet was stolen.

Then I found my wallet on my bed and felt really dumb. Not for losing it because that happens but for letting myself freak out. That’s what I want to avoid more than anything, you know? Is that anxiety or just a personality disorder?

On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 12:12 PM, Leandra Medine wrote:

Sounds like anxiety perpetuated by distorted thinking. I feel myself under a lot of pressure right now, actually. Between London, then being offline for 25 hours for Yom Kippur, and feeling like I’m not hitting any of my deadlines because there aren’t enough hours in the day to write and organize and schedule and edit and shoot videos and Instagram and answer emails and eat and call my mom to tell her that I love her, it starts to weigh on me and make me feel like an inadequate person. My heart starts racing and I start pulling at my eyebrows. I so miss the days when I had no responsibility but to just write what I was thinking, which has essentially been superseded by making sure that everyone around me is either writing or shooting or thinking and feeling and that’s when I know I need to not drink coffee and do shut my eyes.

So I’m gonna do that right now.

And then I’m going to make a list in priority order of all the things that I think need to get done today. Then I’m going to group it by things that actually need to get done and things that can wait until tomorrow. And then I’m going to tackle and destroy and by the time this piece is published, I am probably not even going to remember what was stressing me out.

Do you think that’s it??? Just like, breaking down the experience of anxiety and turning it into a series of to-do’s that are manageable and can be checked off your list?

On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 2:02 PM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

Reading what you are going through which is what I/the whole world except for babies am/is going through and then watching you come out of it was so reassuring, like when a stressful movie ends in a comforting way.

Having a game plan, not necessarily a solution, must help. I love that you have a to-do list, and are then realistic enough to chop it into days. I definitely just make long, looming lists which don’t help so much as they do remind me of all the shit I’m not doing.

I think what really causes anxiety is feeling like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. A long, imposing, scary to-do list is a long, long tunnel. You can’t see the light.

But if you’re like: Okay, look! I just gotta do all of this by the time it hits 7. Then I’m done. Then tomorrow I do round 2, but look: another light. That helps.

The only thing I’m putting on today’s list is: drink margarita.

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