All written here is based on my very personal experience.
I knew this would be a current theme in this space of mine, and here i am back at it. Anxiety. It has been a rough couple of weeks (and that's why it took me so long to come here) where the mild anxiety i constant live in, escalated into panic attacks. I've been dealing with anxiety for many years now. I'm practically a pro. But.. it never gets easier. Manageable, never easier.
My perspective towards anxiety has changed, though. Which means i've at least learned something over the course of these years.
In the past, when this severe anxiety appeared it was because i needed to make some changes in my life, but i wasn't seen it. It was like someone tapping me in the shoulder saying: "You need to make some changes, girl. This is not ok." Changes always implicate some kind of pain. Growing always implicate some kind of pain. And that's when and how i changed my perspective. Therapy helped (a lot).
May would have been a need to break up with someone, a career change or a divorce. A change always triggered the anxiety in me, even if that change would mean an "improvement".
I'm a different stage in my life and a difficult phase on motherhood - dealing with a pre-teen. (oh please give me all the diapers change, breastfeeding and sleepless nights with a newborn if i can skip this teenager thing, please!) Suddenly, i find myself having these conversations about confidence, self-esteem, believing in yourself, being strong, fighting for your goals, don't mind what people say, never give up and so on.. I know how important our parents voice is at this age. My words can be his inner voice as an adult so i repeat it over and over again. "believe in yourself".
But this got me thinking.. i'm doing the talk, but am i doing the walk? Am i showing him by example what rules to live by? So i had to do some research and soul digging about how to change my perspective about obstacles and difficulties..
"If it's bad let it go, if it doesn't go, make it good." Something like that. Use you obstacles to make the way.
I collected some misconceptions (and what not to say to someone going through it) about anxiety:
- People think that anxious people are weak, fragile, without courage and incapable overall. - Nothing further from the truth. I am definitely courageous (by the right definition of courage)*, and capable, definitely not weak. What i am is extra sensitive. And that's fine by me. I sense it all: love, anger, sadness, joy, fear, compassion, injustice, i feel it all - at the same time, all the time. I wouldn't have it any other way. I never want to desensitize myself just to "fix" anxiety. Which brings me to the next:
- I don't medicate myself. It's my prerogative. My choice. My life. Please don't bomb me with what i should take and give me that "I don't understand you". Although understanding would be good, what i need is simple - be there. Support. Respect. Don't verbalize: "why go through so much therapy and work when with a pill this would just go away?" Again.. my choice. I still want to feel.
- Please don't bomb me either with : "you're healthy, you have a roof on top of your head, you have friends and a loving family. What are you anxious for?" well.. let me inform you, this is not a choice. Nobody wakes up in the morning saying: "today i'll give myself a panic attack. That's what i call a fun day". No. Don't make me feel bad, i already feel bad enough. I am so grateful for all i have but i don't control it.
- There are many others misconceptions but i'm pretty sure this is not the last time i write about it.
And finally a little secret to make the work through anxiety:
Accept it. It's you. Let your heart run free for a while (it never lasts long and it will pass), it's just you heart beating, as much as you think you will not be able to take the next breath, don't worry, you will. The air always reach your lungs. Just let it come and then.. let it go. And if you have to do it several times a day. So be it. It will pass. But please do the work:
- Exercise - find a passion - eat well - ask what needs to be changed (it can be just your perspective about a problem) - and practice gratitude.
Sharing our experiences always help to. You are not alone. You can start a conversation here. Would love to hear from you.
*Courage : Is the ability (often taken as a virtue) to act despite fear, and intimidation. It should be noted that courage does not mean the absence of fear, but action despite it.