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Spend Your Worries, Don’t Save Them

I’ve been going to therapy for 8 years. Ever since I was 27 and I had moved back home from being abroad, and then was dumped by my then on and off again boyfriend, and then experienced my first major episode of depression. I was in a dark place. The light eventually came. But it was dark. For a while.

I’ve seen different therapists throughout these past 8 years. But my most recent one- the woman who I hired in Dec 2020 in the thick of my COVID mental health state- recently told me that I suffered from chronic anxiety and that I should consider going on medication.

Medication?! But I studied positive psychology. And I meditate every day. And I do yoga. And did I mention that I run peer social and emotional support groups for my job? How could I possibly need medication?

Turns out I did. And it helped. As much as I work hard to de-stigmatize mental health for others, I still need to work on de-stigmatizing it for myself. Which meant being open to turning to tools outside of myself for help.

But that’s not really what this article is about. Medication is for some, not for all. Anxiety happens to all, but is only chronic for some.

I also recently spoke to a psychiatrist. Turns out antidepressants are much easier to obtain than you’d hope they would be, but perfecting the dosage and managing the symptoms is the niche work of a psychiatrist.

My psychiatrist said something that stuck with me so much that I decided to title this article after it: “Spend your worries, don’t save them.

Everyone has worries. Most of us had A LOT of them these past two years. Maybe too many to handle. And many of us- myself included- create these fictitious worry bank accounts. The more worries we collect during the day, the thicker our worry bank accounts become at night. Which can lead to worry wealth- which is not a kind of wealth you want to have. It’s the kind that for the most part you can ignore or distract yourself from during the day, but that can eat you alive at night.

Which is what happens to me. Almost every night. Pre-medication, like clockwork, I would wake up at 3am, and toss and turn from 3 until about 5am. Worrying. About work. About my relationships. About conversations that may or may have not happened. About future events that most likely will NOT happen. About finances. About failing. About being abandoned. About people being disappointed in me. About me being mad at people. About the world. About chores. About whether I’m normal or whether something is wrong with me. Usually by 5am I conclude that something is in fact wrong with me. And by 8am when I really need to wake up, I decide I’m normal again.

And then the day follows. And little worries collect- I need to call the landlord, the toilet is making that sound again. Or big worries- I really should freeze my eggs. But I stow them away in my worry bank account because I have work to do or people to go see. And then night comes again. And I go to bed. And my brain decides to log into that worry bank account to see how much worry money is sitting there.

So, yes, I am really good at saving my worries. But spending them...? I’ve thought a lot about what this could mean after my psychiatrist said this to me. I think spending worries means sharing them. With your journal. With your to-do list. With your spouse. With your friends. With your mom. With your CIRCLE. And this is exactly what my Collective members do with one another in CIRCLE- we share our most vulnerable and most real worries. And we listen to one another. Without judgment. Or without an agenda to problem solve. After all, sharing is caring. And listening is medicine.

Heck, I’m even “spending my worries” right now by writing this article and sharing it all with you. Now you know- that I’m a 35-year-old woman with insomnia, an anxiety disorder, antidepressants, and a list of worries, one of which includes freezing my eggs. I hope that made you laugh, even if it also made you feel uncomfortable.

The truth is worrying is something us humans are pretty good at. So is connecting with others. So what if we used our worries to connect with others? And this was the exact thought in mind when I designed the Collective experience.

If you are interested in joining a Collective to “spend” your worries and share them with others in CIRCLE, let’s chat over tea.

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