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Anxiety In Wonderland: The Looking Glass

A look into Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression through the eyes of artist Katia Oloy.

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Through The Looking Glass

Katia Oloy

In 2013 I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I immediately began to attend the prescribed workshops for anxiety and after completing two series, I began to feel like I had the ability to recognize and started to manage my anxiety.

Accurate Reflections

Katia Oloy

The most important part of living with (and thriving despite) anxiety and depression is taking the time to get an accurate reflection of where I was. Once I found a great therapist to work with, I was able to share my thoughts, worries, and perceptions I had of myself in a safe space, and ask for the tools to manage the terrifying thoughts and behavioral patterns I had developed.

Diving In

Katia Oloy

Sadness, rage, and fear were emotions that were as unfamiliar as they were terrifying. I would often suppress, ignore, and worse: hate these human experiences, hiding them deep down in subconscious waters.

Part of the process of therapy was taking a dive into uncomfortable spaces to get to know these parts of my self so that I could understand and eventually accept them. Doing this began to scale down the severity of the panic attacks and helped me learn to accept myself.

Looking, Staring, Watching

Katia Oloy

One of the most challenging and rewarding things I have learned in therapy was developing mindfulness around my anxiety and depression. Instead of being reactive by becoming distraught, I would practice recognizing the moments of panic, fear, or self-doubt, and label it for what it was, "judging," "worry," "panic," or "urgent."

Keyholes

Katia Oloy

Although reaching for happiness, or, as I call it, "green space," was frustrating, elusive, and often felt just barely out of reach... I finally the support of my therapist, friends, and family I needed to illuminate that happiness. I was no longer grasping in the dark. I was determined.

I Wish I Hadn't Cried So Much

Katia Oloy

In November 2016 the waters crept up, and nearly swallowed me whole. On Election Night, I submitted myself to the hospital after acting out hanging myself.

I Never Stopped to Reason

Katia Oloy

Having gone through what I did... I know people don't wish to kill themselves because they want to give up.

The noise, torture, hopelessness... The fear. To keep listening. To suffer another moment alone with yourself... To hurt for another moment more. Any way out of that pain seems reasonable.

Until you stop to reason with yourself. And listen to a little voice, deep down inside, that is terrified of that option. It's in there. Perhaps it's small, weak, and hardly heard over the chaos and noise of the pain... But its there.

Would Someone Please Help Me?

Katia Oloy

I reached out that night to a friend and my therapist, shaken, terrified of what I had just done, asking for advice. "How do I know when I need to go to the hospital?" The answer was "You should go now," followed by strong suggestions to get an Uber.

I refused: I couldn't sit alone in the house for another minute more waiting for someone to get me, I would drive myself to the hospital.

Running in Place to Stay Still

Katia Oloy

In the hospital there is no where to hide from yourself.

My husband joked, "I knew you wanted a vacation, but I'm sure this isn't what you meant!"

He was right: I needed a vacation from my triggers and stressors. The three days of a 51-50 hold gave me the space, without distractions like Facebook, television, and my job, to take a good look at myself in the mirror and examine what went wrong, and what I needed.

I spent several calls with my therapist on the phone while I was there, talking it out, bouncing ideas off of her, and sharing my progress.

A World of My Own

Katia Oloy

My life is my world. And it's my responsibility to grow my green space, protect it, and maintain it.

Leaving the hospital, I realized: I cannot neglect my work in therapy for any reason, I needed to maintain boundaries for my "me-time", and decided it was time to accept that I have a condition for life.

Today, I explain anxiety and depression as "Emotional Diabetes," something that turn my life upside-down if I do not monitor where I am at, or neglect my needs.

Go

Katia Oloy

Lastly, I've learned to let myself be happy.

My therapist asked me, "If the Queen (anxiety/depression) lived on one side of the mirror with Alice, and I lived on the other side, and I, having moved through the Looking Glass, what would Alice tell me?"

And I replied with this drawing above.

"Go."

Live.

Advice From a Caterpillar

Katia Oloy

Here is a resource that got me through moments of panic, overwhelming sadness, and obsessive suicidal thoughts.

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

http://www.crisistextline.org/how-it-works/

Be brilliant.

Thank you.

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