I’ve alluded here to the fact that I suffer from anxiety from time to time, but I’ve never really been brave enough to let it all out. It feels like my little dark secret and I think I am a bit ashamed of it. Recently I’ve learned that a few people I know deal with it as well and I thought…why not just talk about it! Why keep it a little secret? Of course talking about it in a public way gives me a bit of anxiety, but here goes!
I would have liked to think that I would be the type of person who wouldn’t know a thing about anxiety. I practice yoga. I have a pretty solid spiritual practice. I have faith in something bigger than me. I don’t call it God but I know there is something at work behind the scenes. Why then, do worry that the ground is about to crumble beneath me?
It comes when I least expect it too, suddenly strangling me out of nowhere and leaving me gasping for air.
It feels as if I have a dark and heavy cloak around my neck. It robs me of joy. It robs me of the moment. It takes the fun out of the unknown factor of life and you know what?
I am so fucking sick of it.
When I look at my life right now I can’t help but feel grateful. It’s better than it’s ever been. I have an incredible loving and supportive partner who will become my husband in eight months, a solid freelance income, a great family, the truest friends a girl could have, creative projects that inspire me, a new loft by the beach and I am healthy.
What the hell do I have to worry about, right?
But that’s the funny thing. It seems that when everything is too good to be true, I suffer the most.
So much to lose.
My anxiety-ridden mind turns all those lovely, happy and amazing things into…what if my freelance income stops being so good? What would I do about all my bills? What if I can’t be the wife I hope to be to Brian? What if the wedding doesn’t come together? What if my creative projects never come to fruition? What a mind crushing disappointment that would be. Will I just be a fit model forever? When will my real career start? What if? What if? What if?
I worry about everything. From the morning traffic to where my life will be in five years. Worry is my constant companion.
I wasn’t always this way. I was once a complete free spirit. I didn’t feel alive unless I was acting a bit reckless and pushing the envelope.
My first full-blown anxiety attack came at twenty-five. Up until then life had always been pretty sweet to me. I believed that “life was a daring adventure or nothing at all”. I lived and breathed that motto. That motto was made for me. But suddenly the very phrase that I lived my life by scared the living shit out of me.
It stopped working for me.
I was on vacation in Chicago, with the man I was seeing at the time. We were eating lunch in a very fancy room at the Peninsula hotel. Life was good. It was seemingly very good. But something felt off. Something below the surface felt as if it was cracking.
I wanted the universe to tell me that everything was going to work out the way I hoped. I wanted reassurance. I wanted to know everything would be ok in the end. I wanted to know my life would shake out the way I hoped. I wanted to know that all my hard work would pay off. I wanted concrete answers. I was tired of letting the wind take me wherever it pleased.
Was my life where it was supposed to be? Was being with him the right choice? Was becoming his wife and moving to St. Thomas at twenty-five a catastrophic mistake?
I sat there quietly eating my wedge salad, mulling over my thoughts when suddenly the grandiose room began to feel as if it was shrinking. I felt as if I was on fire. I began to see spots and felt incredibly dizzy. I felt hyper aware of everything, the way the china clanked as people set it down, the way my palms began to sweat, the way my boyfriend looked at me with concern, the way my hands began to tremble. I felt exposed. I felt unsure. I felt unsafe. Life suddenly became so overwhelming. I was flooded with fear. Fear about everything and nothing. I felt fragile against the world. I felt like every decision I made from that point forward was life and death. I felt like I was balancing on a tightrope with only blackness beneath me.
My boyfriend grabbed my hand with concern and asked, “Are you ok?”
I couldn’t even put into words what was happening to me. I had never experienced fear before. All I could do was excuse myself from the table. I left him sitting there with his fork in his hand, in shock.
I took the elevator to our floor, scurried down the hallway, walked in our room, passed the unmade bed, went to the bathroom, laid down on the cold marble floor and began to sob.
Strangely enough the bathroom floor was the most comfortable place to be in that moment. It seemed safe, confined and cold. I grabbed the phone next to the toilet (these are so strange, huh?) and called Brooke, my best-friend, my other.
I sobbed through the whole story.
And I stayed in that bathroom for a few hours.
That was five years ago.
Since then, my issues with anxiety have come and gone. I’ll go through periods where I feel nothing but trust in the universe. I feel connected. I feel full of faith. I feel like I’m flowing with everything around me. I don’t feel any anxious flutters. It’s pure bliss. I live for those moments.
Then that sneaky little bastard will find his way to me again and wrap his heavy dark cloak around my neck and I become afraid of everything. Every single decision feels huge. I feel like I want to stay in bed and hide. Those periods are rough.
Recently, I decided to give Chinese medicine a try after reading..
“Chinese medicine recognizes that powerful interplay between the body and emotions; the two are, in fact, inseparable. When we become emotionally upset, our internal environment also becomes disrupted, leading to the physical symptoms of anxiety. When we are physically compromised, our emotions can be greatly affected.”
I mean, I have already tried the western route to no avail; anti-depressants, Xanax, propanol, and while it does momentarily fix the situation it doesn’t really FIX the situation, if you know what I mean.
I know on a deeper level that my anxiety flares up when I am spiritually imbalanced.
When I’m blocked.
When I’m not putting my wellbeing first.
When I am overwhelmed.
When I am not being honest with myself.
When I’m pretending to be “fine”.
When I am not in a healthy state of mind.
When I am not connected to something bigger than me.
When I don’t feel connected to my purpose.
My acupuncturist literally said to me…your energy is blocked.
I’ve been doing acupuncture and taking Chinese herbs for the last three weeks and I’ve already started to see little changes.
Where will this lead me? I don’t know yet, but I am hopeful that maybe just maybe I’ve found a key to unlocking myself from my relationship with the dark, heavy cloak.