31 Days And Counting: Continuing My Fight With Anxiety

As a child, I had a dream. Every time I looked up at the really tall buildings in Vancouver, I imagined myself swinging from one to another, making my way through the city as its awe-struck citizens looked up at me--they feel safe with me around. I wanted to be Spider-Man. And I still do. He's spectacular, he's sensational, and he's amazing. But he wasn't always that way.

For the past month, I've taken on a challenge to better myself. I did this through working out, eating healthy, and making positive changes in my life. I have my reasons for kicking this whole new way of life off, and I want to share my story.

I've dealt with anxiety and depression for many years now, and earlier this year, I wrote about how I started to get ahead of it. Well, as I said then, it's a lifelong fight for me, and unfortunately, my problems got back up after getting knocked down. I was back to checking windows multiple times before bed, washing my hands a dozen times before breakfast, and dealing with the severe difficulty of shopping for groceries. These things aren't supposed to be hard, but once again, they were for me. And I felt terrible.

On top of that, I was disappointed with the shape I was in. I wasn't happy with my body or appearance any more. This resulted in me only going further down this hole, one where I was jealous of pretty much every guy who wasn't me for one reason or another. Frankly, it sucked. As much as I could feign it, I wasn't the confident person that so many knew me as. This was a dramatic drop from where I was in February. I needed to make some changes, and I needed to make them fast.

At the start of August, I was pretty depressed. I met with a friend, who I hung out with for a bit before we decided to play some tennis. I hadn't been on the court in years, but my passion for it held strong--I still remember falling in love with the sport through Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64. We warmed up with some volleys and moved on to a couple games. Man, did we suck, playing with vaguely remembered rules. But I was rejuvenated: my melancholy turned into exuberance. Right there, I decided to pull out my phone, smile, and take a selfie. 

It was a complete coincidence that it was August 1. I didn't plan to do this month of betterment for more than five minutes before snapping that picture and posting it to Instagram. I'm glad I thought of it, though. It was an amazing month full of taking in knowledge, working hard, and feeling good. And I was able to do it in most part because I posted those selfies. That daily routine kept me accountable for actually exercising every day and staying on track--if I didn't post one, people would know I quit and failed; I wasn't about to do that.

Motivation doesn't come easy. It's often so hard to build and utilize it for something positive, and it's not something you can always ask advice for--everyone's different. My motivation was simple: I want to be the best person I can be. So many relationships, opportunities, and experiences have been lost because I didn't focus on my mental health. On top of that, motivation came in the form of all the comments I received along the way. Friends telling me they started exercising because of my challenge was likely the best, but even the simple "Keep it up!" was enough to get me psyched for my run that day.

For me, there's nothing better for my mental health than a combination of exercise and medication. Back in February, I felt like I was keeping a steady pace ahead of my problems. Now, I look back, and I can barely see them. It's true that I still have a few things I need to work out, but I know I can get past these issues--this confidence is likely what surprises me most. This new-found credence in myself has seeped into the rest of my life, too. I'm not ashamed of my appearance any more. I'm not afraid of nonexistent dangers created by myself. I'm not losing my fight for better mental health. And I feel like I can do anything.

I'm also not quite Spider-Man yet. The past month was tough, and it's going to continue that way. I'll still look up at buildings and fantasize about swinging from them, but every day, I'll feel more like I can make that a reality. It's fair to say that August was only the launching point. Because I'm just getting started.