You know the feeling….
Heart squeezed tightly
Suffocation. That is the word that perfectly sums up anxiety. It is like an elephant sitting on your chest, the mind running rampant with unbelievable statements…”I am unsafe” or “I am going to die”.
I was 22 years old when I became acutely aware of my anxiety. I was just your average early adult. Partying on weekends. Studying during the week. Until one night changed me. April 2012 my drink was spiked. I remember being handed a cup from which I took a sip. Something was off. I tried it again and decided to get a second opinion. The person which I took it to, smelt it and threw it out exclaiming “What the hell are you drinking that for?” thinking nothing of it I joined my friends on the dance floor. I was having fun and everything was fine. Next minute, I awoke in a hospital.
My memory was fuzzy and I was confused. What happened?! And why am I here? Hearing the stories told from the night before had me shaken. Jumping out of cars, running through traffic, screaming at my mum and pulling my hair out. What was even scarier is that I had no recollection of any of it. I was left with a frightened mother, a concerned father and very worried friends.
This experience unscrewed the tightly bound lid on all my repressed emotions.
Anxiety screamed the loudest. Panic attacks set in and I developed a deep fear of leaving the house. Of being around people. Of any and all social situations.
My mind had vehemently decided that everyone was a threat.
Looking back, I guess in some way I always knew I was an anxious person. Days off school, making excuses with friends, leaving functions early. Preferring the solitude and quiet that my own space provided to me.
This intense experience however had brought up feelings of extreme vulnerability and inescapable hurt. It provided me with the opportunity to dive deep inside of myself and begin the journey to self- actualisation. Living a life of isolation, disconnection and full to the brim of anxiety is no way to live at all. I began the tumultuous albeit rewarding journey of turning inward. My inner self was screaming for attention, for affection, for love. And I was the only one who could give it to her.
I started with learning anything and everything I could. I read books, I listened to audio tapes, podcasts, YouTube clips. I sought out a mentor. I spoke to people about what worked for them and what didn’t. I started journaling, mediating, praying. I began to take inventory of my life, where I was at and the people in it. I created a vision for myself and for my life.
Four years on and the journey is still continuing.
Do I believe I will ever be anxiety free? No
However, as my self-awareness grows and insights into my behaviour heightened, I learn many valuable lessons that show me my own strength. Through these reflections, I have identified my triggers, limited my exposure to them and better managed my emotional state. This has allowed me the freedom to welcome myself home. To learn to love and accept all parts of myself. Even anxiety. Whenever we deny, squash down or try and supress our feelings and emotions, they only intensify.
Our feelings demand to be heard, demand to be listened to and felt. Only once we breathe into them, accept them and treat them like an old friend with curiosity, love and kindness can we then begin the process of letting go, of shifting our energy.
Instead of disassociation, of running away and avoiding. I make a choice. I stand in my own power and I confidently and loudly say; “This is who I am”.
I choose to feel into my feelings without feeding into story.
I choose to listen to my body when she talks to me.
I choose to nourish my soul with positivity, love and care.
I choose to nurture my mind with kindness and compassion.
Because at the end of the day, life comes down to our decisions.
Joyful or sad.
Connected or disconnected.
Empowered or disempowered.
I wake up every single day with renewed energy and reaffirm to myself that I am love. That I wholeheartedly accept who I am while working on unearthing the woman I am destined to be. My essence. I remind myself of the commitment I made to love, honour and respect myself all the days of my life. My intention is to be the best possible self I can be at each moment of every day.
It all starts with a choice.