Anxiety is an insidious emotion. Its roots lie deep, yet trip wires are barely under the surface of the psyche. Temporary peace can be found in a lot of places if we can just refocus the building energy. The trick is to turn it to something other than self-loathing. The hard thing is that once panic attacks or acute anxiety get rolling it’s like bathing a cat — you’ve got try to act calm, hold on tight, and get it over fast all while trying to keep flying claws away from your face.

Personally, I’ve accepted that Depression and Anxiety are aspects of myself that I have to work on like any other challenge. Both conditions tend to pop up at highly stressful times and interfere with my energy and the ability to focus & engage with others without my mind fogging over.

With anxiety, the mere fact that it’s so easily triggered makes me worry about The Alien popping out in public. Ironically, just a stray thought about it happening can launch me into an attack. It’s like walking around with plastic explosives in your pocket.

Creative pursuits tend to help. I relax by playing music (bass guitar & drums), writing, drawing, working with my hands. Pursuits like those slowly release the emotional spring. They redirect poisonous thoughts that knock down my self-esteem. For me, the creative process is similar to meditation and can be easier for people that find it hard to quiet a racing mind.

An NFL football player on my favorite team, the Chargers, is tackle Joe Barksdale. He just “came out” a few days ago as someone that struggles with depression & anxiety. It was heartening to hear that Joe also plays music to help him deal with anxiety and depression, too. He also loves birds & imagines flying to help him relax, & that is something else we have in common.

When I read Joe’s story, I realized that if a 6′ 4″ NFL player at one of the toughest positions in football can admit he has these demons, so can I. We need more voices out there showing us we’re not alone in this daily battle.

Joe Barksdale demonstrates that you can still have the career of your dreams despite anxiety & depression. The demons may always bump around in our head, but it’s possible to acknowledge them & send them to their room without letting the little bastards win.