Anxiety is something I’ve had since my teens. I remember worrying a lot in my childhood but exploring my anxiety during therapy revealed that being bullied in my first two years of high school coincide with the first times I experienced anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety is something people don’t always understand, it’s not like a cut or a bruise, you can’t see it when it’s happening. A little bit of anxiety is totally natural, experiencing symptoms regularly or having them interfere with your daily life is not. There’s the stress, the insomnia, the all consuming and paralyzing fear, the physical symptoms, heart racing, shortness of breath, feeling a 50-storey building sitting on your chest, the overwhelming intensity, the depression (anxiety can often trigger bouts of depression) and panic attacks. In my case there has been all of the above and in the early days, much of it came out in anger.
I tend to think that due to the “fix it quick” society we exist in, it can be a longer road than necessary. Rather than look for the root and explore the anxiety, we’re often quick to “cure” with prescription drugs which only suppress the symptoms.
My decision to get to know my anxiety came after the worst therapy session I’ve ever had, ever. Around the time of launching my business, the excitement and stress of everything left me unable to sleep. Sometimes my mind doesn’t like to shut off no matter the amount of deep breathing or meditation I do. Sleep is something I need lots of so not being able to sleep can literally wreak havoc with my mental and physical health.
Looking for a holistic path, I was referred to Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto. We didn’t get any further than the initial consultation. In 90 minutes the therapist had opened every can of worms, every traumatizing situation I’d ever been through. Not only did we explore my traumas, we opened up what I know of my mother’s traumas, my grandmother’s traumas and my great grandmother’s traumas. There was no consideration to holding space, no awareness of the energy each conversation brought up. No checking in, or asking if I were ok. It felt so invasive and it left me far more anxious and traumatized than I’d been in a very, very long time.
In situations where one person has authority over another, it’s easy for them to go too far. It’s easy for us to forget that we have patient rights and it’s easy for us to forget that we have the right to say no and create boundaries. We’ve been taught to trust the doctors and all of the other authoritative members of society, even if every fibre of our being screams no.
I answered her questions. I answered all of them. At the end she diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder, social anxiety and praised me for being high functioning and having incorporated holistic ways of healing. She told me nothing I didn’t already know. She then went on to offer a long list of prescription drugs including zanax and prozac and that was it.
I left feeling like I’d been in an energetic boxing match and had my ass handed to me. I felt emotionally battered. I felt raw, open, exposed, vulnerable and violated. I also felt incredibly anxious. Once I got home I remember curling into the fetal position on the sofa and staying there.
It took me months to feel even somewhat like myself again. Yet being an Integrative Health Coach I saw an opportunity to get to know my disorder. I wondered how things would change if the anxiety became my friend.
As always, I returned to my basic building blocks, I made sure I was eating properly (balanced, nutrient dense foods), I incorporated meditation and began to work out again (which I believe has had a great hand in my recovery). I also began journaling and talking about my experience.
Two major shifts happened. While watching a Tony Robbins documentary, I was triggered by a woman declaring that she was enough and will always be enough. In that moment I was taken back to moments in my childhood where I had made agreements that I wasn’t enough. Gaining this kind of awareness allowed me to experience a massive shift. I had seen where many of my actions came from, I was clear on my behaviour and I was able to set the intention to change it. Having increased my understanding, I was then able to focus on the negative voice in my head. You know that voice that tells you the worst of everything? That voice. I began to understand that while it exists, it isn’t who I am and I can choose not to act from that ego based, fear driven place. This insight has shifted everything because now when it comes up, I can tell it “thank you and f@#k off” and that’s an epically powerful thing!
The second of my monumental shifts came when I became a Reiki Practitioner. I’m still looking for the words to express how much learning to practice Reiki has done for me. Somehow I have been able to step outside of the anxiety, the fear and the ego, and witness it rather than become victim to it.
To those with anxiety I say this: The fact that you’re here means you’re doing great. Even on the days you can’t get out of bed or leave the house, you’re doing great. You are loved, you have a place in this universe and YOU are in charge of your healing journey. You are not your anxiety and you are not your fear. Anxiety is a coping mechanism and it served a purpose once, give thanks for that.
There are a few things that have helped me along the way:
- Listening to yourself and honour your truth, even when no one else gets it.
- Stepping up the self care, in whatever that looks like for you.
For me it means crying whenever I need to cry, asking for help when I need it, getting outside, talking, moving my body in ways I find fun. I connect to the magic of the universe through meditation, Reiki and prayer. Seek holistic ways to heal. There are many out there.
- Go into the energy when you feel safe to do so. Meditate and explore the fear or the anxiety, ask it questions. Questions like “what is your purpose?”, “why did you come to me?”, or “are you helping or hindering me”. You can thank it and tell it you don’t need it any more.
- Having a safe space to do the work is essential. Find your safe space to explore the energy that comes up for you. Sit with it. Know that you are safe. If you need assistance, find a practitioner to help you, there’s zero shame in that.
I hope this helps. I hope if anything at all you know you’re not alone. My journey has been a long one and while I still have moments of fear and anxiety, I am better equipped to work through it.
Reiki has been a wonderful help. I would suggest working with a therapist who specializes with anxiety and then use Reiki in conjunction with your therapy. To connect with me to discuss your healing journey and how I may possibly assist you, click here.
A great book I’ve been reading about fear and creativity is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a brilliantly written book about stepping outside of the comfort zone. It’s funny and honest and reminds us that we’re capable of anything we choose.
Sending so much love to you, being on your healing journey is what counts, not where you are on it.
Oodles of love,