Monday, May 30, 2016

Collecting Thoughts

This series didn't go where I wanted it to, and there's a lesson to learn from that. Whereas I usually don't publish unless I feel like my writing is an Instagrammable açaí bowl—tasteful, healthy, well laid out—this time all I could muster was a bowl of overcooked and left-out-too-long oatmeal—thick, unappealing, but it does the job.

I took a look at the posts for MHM that I did this time last year. They're not badly written but my outlook changed moderately since then. In the time since then, I've had amazing experiences in college and my mental health has indeed improved. The thing is, I still struggle a lot with mental health: horrible dissociative episodes (especially the recurring identity crisis, which is especially nasty), social anxiety that prevents me from leaving the house some days, panic attacks every so often, depression that I've been managing to keep at bay, regular anxiety just to keep things interesting, and who knows what else.

But my attitude towards recovery has changed. Whereas I used to believe that "the end goal is recovery," I am now of the opinion that success in mental health issues is making the choice to get up in the morning, having a horrible day or a great day, and going to sleep with the ability to make that choice again the next day. It's fun and easy to dream about having a life completely recovered with no mental health problems whatsoever, but that's not realistic. There will be good days, maybe even for weeks at a time, but for some people, mental health is a struggle that is lifelong, and their success is lifelong, even if some days are more difficult that others.

I attended a Mental Health monologues event last semester. A quote that stood out to me is that, "The burden doesn't get lighter, but your muscles get stronger." That is the essence of living with mental illnesses. It doesn't get better, you get better at dealing with it. And that's ok. ◊

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hello Seattle

After two weeks in Suburbia, enough was enough. Though I enjoyed seeing my friends again and working with my speech and debate team, it was time to move from suburban San Jose to suburban Seattle, for a change of scenery at least. This was the first time I was taking a full trip alone, and the airport is a nasty place to be with social anxiety, but the flight itself was fairly uneventful. I had a window seat and a lovely view. I sat next to two pleasant middle aged women and played solitaire for the entire duration of the flight, and before I knew it, the plane was landing at SeaTac Airport. After a long drive to my former roommate Megan's house, where I will be staying for the next week, it was quite late and I was ridiculously sore from carrying my luggage everywhere, so I slept like a rock to await further adventures ahead.

Waking up around noon the next day, I realized that I had nothing planned for the week ahead. I knew I had some forms to take care of for this summer and the next year in college, but aside from that and catching up with blogging, I had no idea how to spend the week. I only know that Seattle is mainly known for three things: the Space Needle, good coffee, and the lush nature. So Megan and I walked the trail near Lake Sammamish for six miles. We saw a good deal of wildlife, including an egret, two bunnies, some bald eagles that were too far away for much detail, and a crow eating a snake (ah, the circle of life). Hopefully I'll be able to ask some friends for recommendations and hit up all the cool quirky coffee shops. Aside from that, there's not much to say, so I look forward to an interesting week in Seattle, the Emerald City. ◊

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sad Music (Tweedle-dee-dee)

You can't talk about mental health without talking about...


It's like the panda of conservation for mental illnesses. There are so many worthwhile, pressing topics in mental health, but for some reason depression always happens to be the default. Maybe it's easiest to talk about because "everyone has felt sadness," or maybe it's prevalent enough that people can relate ("I had an aunt who had depression, but she did yoga and it went away").

Anyhow, as a person who has had the experience of dealing with recurring depression, there's not much to say about it anymore. I still haven't wrapped my head around everything there is to understand about it, but if I had, I probably would have won some psychiatry award by now. Lately, I've wanted to synthesize some of the thoughts I've had regarding depression and sadness in society that may be applicable to life in general. This is by no means a complete conclusion, but maybe it can help. Then again, I've been told I'm pretentious, so read at your own risk.

1) On Grieving:
There's often a stigma against being sad. "Toughen up" and "Don't cry" are common sayings, while encouragement to cry is almost nonexistent. It's important to let people be sad. It is not only a part of the grieving process, but also of the healing process. If sad feelings are repressed, they don't go away. They fester and manifest again in worse ways — violence, fear, anxiety.

Unfortunately, society likes "chill" people because they're easy to deal with. You have your own problems so why get involved with someone who is always dealing with more problems or celebrating things they're better at than you? As a result, people tend to shy away from negative emotion, doing whatever they can to try to appear happy. For some people this manifests itself in destructive tendencies like partying, rash life decisions, and complete abandon of responsibility. It seems like that's the bulk of the stigma against depression: you can't be sad because your problems make me sad and I don't want to be sad.

2) On Healing:
That has never been sufficient for me. Those temporary distractions don't last long, and the sadness doesn't go away. One thing I fixated on when I had depression is that I want to feel the full spectrum of human emotion. I can't pretend to always be happy when my life is dull. To understand the highest of highs, it's necessary to understand the lowest of lows.

When I have the capacity to, I try to solve a problem at its root. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one. If you push the sadness away, it's never going to be fully gone. But if you confront it head on, let it beat you down, and recover, then you will know how to beat it back.

With depression, I felt like it was burning me away from the inside out. When it was done, I found myself with no sense of identity. It's a terribly isolating experience to find that you don't know who you are. But after the identity crisis, I was in a place where I could reevaluate and build again.

There was a Hemingway quote I saw on Tumblr not too long ago that said, “Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” I think that's an admirable goal. Too often I have found myself drifting through life day by day and not remembering any of it. Depression stole that part of my life from me, so now when I am able to, I strive to live to my fullest capacity. I have a long way to go, and maybe I'll never reach it, but the best I can do is try. ◊

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Where's Prince Charming?

If there's any downside to seeing the pros and cons of both sides, it's that I can never make a decision. I'll cut straight to the chase — I've never been able to decide if I want to actively pursue a relationship or not. With great risk, there's great reward, and maybe I will meet my soulmate and skip off into the sunset in eternal bliss, but there's also the likelier scenario that my first relationship will be some bizarre mutual infatuation that fizzles out into a disappointing mess. That, quite frankly, is a bit off-putting, but I've never been able to fully commit myself to being an agoraphobic cat lady either.

The reason for that is that I don't want to miss Mr. Perfect when he comes around because of some stupid promise I made to myself when I was 18 to never date for the rest of my life. At the same time, it's a lot of effort to be thinking about who I could potentially spend the rest of my life with. Being back in Suburbia and having my mother chat her head off about who she wants me to marry (and the ridiculously racist stipulations that come with it) have led me to reexamine what I'm really doing in that relationship sphere of my life. Truthfully, I've been mired in indecision since as long as I've understood what a relationship really entailed.

I never dated in high school, due to the realistic thought that very few high school couples stay together after high school, so why waste my time. True, I should have taken the opportunity and enjoyed it while it lasted, but I hadn't reached that far in my grand scheme of introspection while I was still in high school. Thus, relationship issues (or lack thereof) are my one regret of high school.

High school sweethearts are great and all (really, congrats to them, I don't know how they do it), but more common are the lovely tales of, "I met my spouse in college, you might too!" And so, I entered college with a heart full of hope of meeting "the one" and left freshman year utterly disappointed that college boys are pretty much the same as high school boys. Truthfully, the age difference isn't great, so they are the same more or less, and I shouldn't have expected anything different. However, it does seem that they mature out around junior/senior year or grad school, except dating a GSI is not allowed, and I'm a little hesitant about swearing off dating until after college. But let's be real, who meets their one and only in their first two years of college?

That said, what do I do in the meantime? If the first two years of college aren't worth it in terms of dating but I don't want to commit to being an agoraphobic cat lady, there aren't many options. But I think I have stumbled upon a solution that fits all my needs. I've decided that I'm staying single for one year, beginning on my birthday this year. That means that I can enjoy friendships with anyone and everyone I want, without feeling awkward about considering the next step. No one's going to question anything if I say that I'm swearing off relationships for a year due to a number of bad boyfriends (my roommates' not mine, but they don't have to know that). And if it is the right person, they'd be willing to stick around for a year to be a friend, first and foremost.

It's a win-win. I don't waste my time and energy, but it's not an irreversible decision. For once, it's a concrete decision, but it won't leave me feeling guilty a few years down the road for not leaping at every chance I had. Hopefully this decision will also give myself some time to mature undistractedly and think about what I really want, instead of having a new crush every week and feeling crushed with my pessimism that it wouldn't have worked out. As of now, I'm satisfied with this solution, and I really hope I stayed satisfied with it for a year, at least. ◊

Addendum: TL;DR The idea of dating is a lot of pressure and I want to spend my first few years of college making friends without worrying about the emotional weight of finding a significant other.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hobbies Are Valid

I've tried to write and revise this post multiple times, but something went wrong and I never finished. I don't know if it was the stress of finals and whatnot or if it was the idea of writing a formal series that fazed me (more on that later). Really, I think it comes down to me going off on tangents when I'm unable to focus on writing if I don't write in a single setting and instead revise a lot.

This post was originally meant to be about the stress of being in school (high school more so than college actually) and having so many constant pressures and expectations that there became no conceivable benefit to finishing an assignment early because there is always another one to do. Not long after coming up with idea, I saw the graphic on the right in a snapchat story, so I thought it could be something to discuss in a blog post.

From there, it became a wad of anxiety about how some people seem to be able to take time off and go to concerts and do fun things all the time and still be ok. To me it seems irresponsible, and to some degree it is if other areas are neglected, but everything will probably be ok in the end. Personally, I prefer stability over spontaneity, but I can't help but wonder how it could be to let loose every once in a while.

Then the post evolved into a rant about how interests are universally shamed. By that I mean like how no music genre is really appreciated by anyone outside of the genre. If you listen to pop you're basic, if you listen to indie you're a pretentious hipster, if you listen to EDM you're douchy, if you listen to classical you're boring, if you listen to metal you're weird, so on and so forth. If everything is criticized, might as well shamelessly enjoy what you like.

I tried to bring it back to my original intention of talking about the importance of taking breaks and enjoying hobbies. I enjoy my work and I like getting things done, but that's a surefire way to burn out quickly. When I have a few days of unrelenting productivity, it eventually fizzles out into a state where I can barely even take care of myself enough to eat or shower every day, and that's not somewhere I want to be. I'm inspired by people like Markiplier who are so genuinely happy to do what they do, and I want to be in a place in my life like that, but I also take lessons from Avicii, who recently retired from touring because it became all too much. It just goes to show no matter what dream job there is out there, people aren't meant to be all work and no play.

The bottom line is that everyone deserves to enjoy their life. Yes, it may be irresponsible if you are constantly "playing hard" and neglecting the "working hard," but if you're a workaholic, remember to breathe and take some time off, even if you enjoy your work. And if you have hobbies, it's ok to take time and enjoy them. If it takes you in a direction that you no longer enjoy, then stop. For me, that seems to be applicable in the direction of formal series like these Mental Health Month posts, or Food Fridays. You'll see a few more in the future, but they'll be scheduled. I don't know if I want to go back and revise the titles so they don't include "Food Friday #" in the title or keep them as is. Also, there's no hobby or interest out there that's judgement free. People will always make criticisms, but that shouldn't stop you from doing what you love. ◊

Monday, May 9, 2016

Thoughts on "Skinny-Shaming"

In continuation with the Mental Health Awareness Month series, here is another old draft addressing the topic of self esteem and body shaming, tackling the controversial issue of "Skinny Shaming" and body image/self esteem in general. I write but never finish a lot of posts in the middle of the night apparently (I did fill in the incomplete parts for this post), but I think it has to do with the fact that they're often on very weighty topics that I'm hesitant to publish. Mental Health Awareness Month gives me a great vehicle to open up about these things, despite the lighthearted nature of this blog.


It's 2 AM and I can't sleep so I might as well rant about what's on my mind to get it all out of my system. I can't sleep because anxiety due to this topic and other things throughout the week has caused me to have some form of a panic attack. It's a controversial topic and I'm clearly not in the most rational mood right now but I'm throwing in my two cents anyway about:


I'd like to start with some definitions. To me, "shaming" encompasses the microaggressions and judgements that have no effect outside of self-esteem. For example, "Ew, she's too fat to be wearing those shorts," or "Ugh, is she anorexic, look at those bones." While they are hurtful to say the least, there is a distinction between "shaming" and "discrimination." There is an issue of whether skinny-shaming is equivalent to fat-shaming when "fat-shaming" is often more severe, and can result in serious problems like being untreated at doctors' offices and being less likely to get a job; in my opinion, those effects fall under "discrimination" rather than "shaming." There is very rarely, if any, skinny-discrimination, whereas fat-discrimination is a huge problem in industry.

Yes it's true that I will likely never understand neither fat-shaming nor fat-discrimination, because I never have been overweight. I cannot comment on how it feels to have those comments from that direction of the weight spectrum to be hurled my way, but I can tell you how it feels to deal with skinny-shaming. Keep in mind, I believe that as much as I don't understand the effects of fat-shaming, neither would someone on the opposite end of the spectrum understand the effects of skinny-shaming.

The problem with how skinny-shaming is perceived is that it's a sweeping blow on an individual level, but "shaming" is considered a societal phenomenon. I agree that fat-shaming is a pervasive and especially insidious attack on women's self esteem, and I agree that skinny-shaming does not exist on a societal level. The problem is when the attacks become personal. A subliminal message in an ad that says "you're too big" is a problem, but when your friend comments on how you're too fat or bony, it hurts a lot more than an unrealistic, photoshopped magazine cover. So before you say, "Boohoo, you're skinny, your life must be so difficult. Have you ever been unable to find your size in a store? Does that make life too difficult?" no, I agree that that is not an issue for me. But again, there's a distinction in my mind between "shaming" and "discrimination." And yes, fat personal attacks occur at a far more frequent rate than skinny personal attacks, but that doesn't change the fact that they do happen, and when they do, they're still damaging.

"You're too thin! Are you anorexic?" "You're just a bag of bones! Go eat a burger." I've heard all these and more. It's not related to institutional skinny-shaming because that doesn't exist, but these comments still hurt. And that's what I mean by skinny-shaming. You can be just as much of a jerk by commenting on how someone is too small as much as commenting on how someone is too big. It's personal, it's mean, and it shouldn't be happening.

And just as fat-shaming encourages or even causes eating disorders such as anxiety and bulimia, so does skinny-shaming. In an attempt to prove that I wasn't a bag of bones, throughout middle school and high school, I gorged on cakes, cookies, cupcakes, junk food, fast food, and everything else. I hated it. I loved to swim and I had a high metabolism, so I never gained weight. Despite my best efforts to prove that I wasn't anorexic, I still received microaggressions on how thin I was. Prior to this, I didn't have a scale at home and I didn't care. I ate what I wanted if I felt comfortable, and weight was no concern. The only thing that mattered was if it felt good. It wasn't until later when my issues with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks hit in full swing that I realized I had a problem, where I was binge-eating to fill the emptiness, or even just the time. I ate so much I wanted to throw up, but I didn't because I didn't want anyone to say I was bulimic.

Mayo Clinic defines the following as symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder, or BED:
  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Eating even when you're full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you're uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
I've crossed out the ones that I haven't experienced, and as you can see, it's only the last one, and even then I don't know the accuracy of that judgement. I know self-diagnosis is not reliable in the least, but I am 90% sure I have had BED, even if I've recovered to some degree now. (Actually, that's a lie. Just the other day, when I was rejected for an editor position, I bought and ate a whole cake. And it didn't make me any happier. It just made me hate myself more.)

I'm so frustrated that people confuse societal problems with personal attacks, and use the excuse that something doesn't exist on a societal level to excuse their rude behavior on a personal level. This goes for sexism, classism, racism, ablism, and much more. It is hard to distinguish between what is a societal critique and what is a personal attack, which makes this topic even more difficult to discuss, but in general if one or a few specific people are singled out, it's not okay. Example: "White people can't dance lol," generally isn't offensive, because it's not referring to a specific person, but "Becky looks so stupid when she's trying to dance, must be because she's white," is a personal attack, especially if you're laughing at a person, not with a person. No one person specifically should feel bad for an arbitrary characteristic that they can't change, regardless of if they're in the majority or minority. Life is difficult enough as it is, and I'm so tired of people being mean. All in all, just be nice. Please. ◊

Friday, May 6, 2016

Self Care in the Dead of the Semester

At first I wasn't sure what to title this with — #obsessed, Food Friday, or MDIP. It's a bit of everything, so we'll see how it goes, but it may be for the best to do a plain, uncategorized post. The context of this shopping trip is Dead Week, the week before finals, when Berkeley students have nothing and everything to do all at once. For me, this meant meetings and events and projects to attend to, and my stress levels were through the roof. Worse yet, the stress left me with little attention to pay towards self care. Suddenly, on Wednesday, I found myself heaped upon my bed, utterly burnt out and wasting away, feeling icky both mentally and physically (I hadn't showered for three days, it's gross, I know). This was too far. I pulled myself up with an emphatic, "Ugh." It was time to do something about this mess, both me and my room.

After a thorough shower and complete restoration of my desk to a functional work space, I made plans. Captain America: Civil War was coming out on Thursday, and I needed a face mask. Emma, who's also a big Marvel fan, had expressed that she wanted to see the movie at the first chance possible, but we had only made tentative plans. "This is self-care," I told myself. "I can't work on my project due Friday if I'm not relaxed," I rationalized. It was going to happen, no matter what. And it did. Thursday morning, after checking off a slew of to-dos and popping my laundry into the machine, we headed off to Bay Street (or as I like to call it, Bae Street). The movie wasn't until 7pm, so we had four hours to shop and eat. I traded in five old Lush pots for a new face mask, my regular, Love Lettuce, and picked up a sample of the Sacred Truth face mask (to refresh and brighten), which I've never tried before. I also bought a solid shampoo bar, the Montalbano, which will be easier for transportation when I'm traveling this summer. It smells like lemons and I can't stop sniffing it (I've always had a weakness for citrus scents). I grabbed a catalog on the way out too, and it smells just like the Lush shop.

After Lush, we browsed around in Forever 21, finding nothing of interest. We meandered up the street to Aerie, which was having a 5 for $15 undies sale. You can never have too much underwear. I spent too long being indecisive, so with an hour left, we finally ended up in H&M. I picked up a $10 pair of jeans and some loose grey trousers (on sale for $5). I also found a $35 cardigan on sale for $15, so I bought it. You can never have too many cardigans.

With half an hour left, we needed to get food before seeing the movie. Moving upstairs, Emma suggested Fuddruckers. I had never eaten there before, but I trusted her judgement, so in we went. They had an interesting assortment of burgers, including elk and buffalo burgers. I decided to play it safe, with a grilled chicken, which was absolutely amazing. The portions were huge, so it was a good value, and the meat was perfectly tender. With ten minutes left to the movie, we inhaled the food in record time and sprinted to the theatre. It was packed, but luckily a pair of guys realized they were in the wrong theater, and we got their seats. The movie was amazing, but I won't talk about it to avoid any spoilers. By now, it was almost ten, and the sky was pitch black. This was probably the latest I've been off campus independently, but we were right on time for the bus, which took us straight back to campus.

It was an exhausting adventure, but completely worth it. Self care is a necessary part of life, and sometimes I forget that because I'm so preoccupied with work. I need to remember that it's ok to not be working on a project, and to go out and have fun and forget about responsibilities. Very few, if any, people are designed to be 100% productive 100% of the time, no matter what kind of workaholic they may be. And self care doesn't have to be anything extravagant, like a two week tropical vacation. It's spending time with friends, shopping, watching a movie, sniffing lemons. ◊

Monday, May 2, 2016

How I Manage My Anxiety (Panic Attacks)

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to publish this old draft about anxiety and panic attacks. I wrote a few posts last year for mental health awareness, but it wasn't anything official. This year, I'm hoping to do a five post series, one on each Monday of May, to focus on a few mental health related topics: anxiety, self esteem, stress, depression, and recovery. Mental health can be frustrating, uneasy, even scary to talk about, but the more exposure there is, the easier it is to open discussion for those who need it, which is why I want to share my experience.


It's almost midnight and I can't sleep because there are things I need to do, which in turn causes anxiety, which of course builds up to panic attacks. I don't have generalized anxiety disorder, but I do get panic attacks, so it's a bit of the opposite for me. Stress makes me worry about having a panic attack, which in turn causes anxiety, and the cycle continues from there.

However, as this is the case, it's a little easier for me to recognize when I'm worried about a panic attack and stop it before it happens. There are always those neurotypical internet lists that say, "Think Positive!" or "Relax," and "Stop Negative Thoughts," (seriously, what do you think a panic attack is) or complicated acronyms like "AWARE" (no one is going to remember what those stand for when they're about to panic). What I do want to remember is grounding. It's different for everyone but essentially, grounding is use of sensory stimulus to help a person regain control of their thoughts.

I realize that this is yet another "internet list," so before I begin, I'd like to say: in my experience, this is what I do, and sometimes it doesn't even work for me. It depends on the state of mind and if I can remember to do any of these things. These usually help stop anxiety before it becomes a panic attack; when it does get really bad I can't think straight and will definitely not remember to use them. In that case it's best to just let it ride out. The thing about a panic attack is that it is a panic attack, you can't control it any more than you can control a heart attack really.

1) Candles –– My favorite grounding technique by far is using candles. I don't mean lighting candles to help with mood or to ponder their metaphorical significance. A large jar candle is quite heavy, and I use that weight to help "center" myself again. It's a simple object to focus on, and when I'm holding it, I am aware of the weight, the cold glass, and the scent. Nine times out of ten, I'd say a candle works well to prevent a panic attack.

2) Familiar stimulus –– Other grounding techniques can involve taste, touch, and sound. As it is unhealthy to binge eat to combat anxiety, as I have done in the past, I suggest chewing gum as an alternative, or drinking water. I have a rough, wire grounding bracelet that I would wear as well, and I'd run my finger over it to focus on the texture. Sound is tricky, because listening to music doesn't always help with anxiety. A specific motivational playlist can be good, but sometimes, silence and a break from all the noise might be necessary. Bottom line is, find something that ties a particular thought ("It's all going to be okay") to a particular sensory stimulus, and carry that stimulus with you so you can be reminded of the thought.

3) Breathing time –– Candles and other stimuli aren't always available, such as when I'm in class or out and about. Another thing with anxiety is that I often get short of breath because I freeze up and "forget" to breathe. Setting aside 20 seconds to 2 minutes to do nothing but breathe is a good way reset once you are aware of your anxiety. I have a friend who gets annoyed when this happens because the short, quick intake of breath sounds to her like I'm about to sneeze, and when the sneeze doesn't happen, it feels incomplete. That said, this isn't the best in public, but for a quick fix, this works quite well.

4) Hug a pet –– This doesn't work for me anymore in college, but when Larrycat was still around, hugging him and petting his fur was another grounding method that worked well. This one is fairly self explanatory. Pets are great in general, and also for anxiety.

5) Writing/outlet –– This is usually post assignment or sometimes post panic attack. Writing or any intensive creative activity is something you want to set aside time for, or else forcing yourself to write while you're anxious and frustrated can sometimes make it worse. Nevertheless, it works for me to write when I'm anxious to drain out the anxious thoughts onto a screen, so I can see them in front of me for what they are, rather than endlessly echoing about in my head. I'd say that's a good deal of what this blog is for: catharsis and unloading.

6) Art/doodling –– I notice that I have a lot of nervous energy when I'm anxious, so to use that energy productively, I channel it through ink. Similar to the point above, art and doodling are an outlet for me to express my feelings or distract from anxious thoughts. You don't have to be an artist; a lot of the time, I draw simple flowers, as many of them as I can, filling up the margins.

7) Stay hydrated –– I mentioned this before, but since I'm just thinking this up as I go, I want to reemphasize drinking water. I'm usually more irritable and tired when I'm dehydrated, which is bad for anxiety, so water is good for necessary body functions as well as grounding through the feel of the water.

8) Have a motto –– Again, this relates to a previous point, but having a catchphrase that you can tell yourself helps as a reminder that anxiety is a state of mind, not forever. Usually I use "Everything will be okay," which I write on my hand, my arm, my notebooks, pretty much everywhere. It's easy to remember, and it's a reminder I tell myself when I'm anxious so I know that I've been through this and I've will be fine eventually.

9) Distractions –– Anxiety tends to run on a positive feedback loop, that is, it produces more of itself. To cut out the loop, distractions such as playing online games (2048 is a good one because it's fairly simple with neutral colors) or watching a TV show can help temporarily clear out the anxiety. This one is better for when you don't have an immediate deadline, otherwise missing the deadline can bring about more anxiety. Music is also a great distraction if you don't have as much time. I have a go-to album that always calms me down instantly, and having just five minutes to soak in a song can make all the difference in preventing a panic attack.

10) Tell a friend –– This one is situational. Sometimes my anxiety tells me that I am being a nuisance to my friends and that they all hate me (an irrational thought, but it still gets in the way). When that isn't the case, I find it helpful to let a friend know that I'm feeling anxious. Keep in mind that these are friends who are well aware of my situation, and I've prepped them ahead of time when I'm not anxious with a list of what to tell me when I am anxious. This is especially helpful because when I can't remember the things I need to do to prevent a panic attack, I can ask them and they'll go down the list and ask me if I've had water or that I should put on music or take deep breaths.

Again, these are what work for me. Methods that other people have recommended to me, like yoga and adult coloring books, don't work for me, so it is possible that what I mentioned won't work for you. Also worth noting, I am not a counselor or doctor, these are all based on my own experience, and hopefully they are helpful ideas for dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. ◊