How I’m Overcoming the Fear of “What Ifs” as Someone With Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD

Lists, Questions and Mental Emails 

For me, most mornings consist of waking up worrying about what the day will bring. From overthinking decisions I made in the past or ones I must make in the present to a long list of “what ifs” plaguing my ability to access any type of relaxation and peace, I can’t seem to calm my thoughts. Sometimes the lists are jumbled into a blurry cloud of anxiety, while other times it’s neatly packed into a beautiful written email sent promptly as my eyes open into the inbox of my conscious mind. The email looks something like this:

To: Nina

From: Anxiety and Depression Hub

Title: Today’s Worries and Tomorrow Troubles: Some Questions  

  • What if everything goes wrong today?
  • What if you have a panic attack again?
  • What if you never experience romantic love and affection?
  • Oh! What if you’re not even good enough to get a stable job or make any money?
  • What if you aren’t trying hard enough?
  • What if you get rejected today? 
  • What if no one cares? 

Although I’m aware of the limitation of these questions and often challenge their validity and how much damage they cause, I can’t seem to unsubscribe from the daily toll they have on how I start my days.

Self-Care to Manage “What Ifs” 

Challenging Triggering Thoughts

Self-awareness is one of the main tools I use to combat the fears, concerns, discomfort, and overwhelm that my morning anxiety and depression bring. Aware of the struggle I’m having with the “what ifs”and worries that trigger my mental health, I’m learning to prioritize my needs and ask myself reflective questions to manage and balance my sea of thoughts. Five check-in questions I ask myself often are:

  1. What do these questions tell me about my worries?
  2. How can I answer these questions to flip the fear I feel about the unknown? 
  3. What emotions do these questions trigger?
  4. What about these questions are true? 
  5. Who can help me talk through the concerns and worries I’m experiencing? 

While I challenge my limiting beliefs, triggers, and fears with guided and reflective check-in questions, I’m also learning to put myself first. Instead of wondering what my future will bring, I try my best to bring my current thoughts and fears to the present moment. What is in my control right now? What can I do to alleviate the anxiety and hopelessness I feel? 

A Powerful Affirmation :“I am” 

Along with the guided questions that help me manage my mental health is an affirmation that is simple, yet powerful. The words “I am” help me to center my thoughts from seeking validation outward to navigating what peace looks like for me inward. Despite the constant nagging and taunting of my anxious and overwhelming mental lists, I focus on myself as I am without any labels, responsibilities, duties, or tasks. I’m me, a person with intrinsic value and worth. It’s okay to take a break and put myself first. 

Although my fear of the unknown masked as “what if” questions continue to greet me early in the morning, I can find refuge in knowing I can go to my self-care tools to fight back and be more mindful about the thoughts I encourage. 

Reminder moving forward: I affirm and welcome peaceful thoughts every morning when I wake up. I will begin each day with gratitude and intention.      

Follow Up Question

What self-care method is helpful for you when you are having a tough day with your mental health?  

Nina is a Latina from Brooklyn, NY who struggles with depression and anxiety.  She finds refuge and healing through her writing since she graduated from college in 2016.  Nina writes to spread awareness and hope to those who struggle with their mental health silently. She also strives to motivate and encourage self-acceptance.  She enjoys creating creative and uplifting content on her blog SparklyWarTanks.com where she shares her experiences, notes, poems, quotes, and articles

You can find her on her websiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

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