Okay, it’s time to talk about something that many people (including myself) are plagued with, but may be too ashamed to discuss—the bloody hell that is anxiety.
I could write a book on the subject and still fail to adequately express the hell that is living with anxiety and panic attacks. In short, it totally sucks—being trapped in thoughts, emotions and physical sensations from which there is seemingly no escape.
But I can say from personal experience that there is a light at the end of the tunnel—despite what this crappy roller-coaster of emotion wants you to think.
What sucks about anxiety and panic attacks is that they come for you when you least expect it—when enjoying a relaxing evening reading a book, perusing the internet or watching your favorite TV program.
Then—just like that—you get a pinch in the chest. Labored breathing. Cold sweats. Feeling faint. The overwhelming feeling of “Holy sh*t, I’m about to f*cking die.”
I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone. Sitting for what feels like an eternity, wondering if this is the real thing, or if it’s just your mind playing tricks on you.
“Do I go to the hospital? I’ve gone to the hospital twice before, and they didn’t find anything. But I don’t know, it feels a little different this time. (I think?) Maybe I should go to the E.R. just to be safe. F*ck, but I don’t want to sit in the E.R. for hours if it’s really nothing. What should I do?”
This is me in a nutshell, during a panic attack. To say the physical sensations one feels during this time are absolutely terrifying is like describing a monsoon as a “light drizzle.” It’s a crazy thing though—when I’m not plagued with these feelings of dread and utter despair, I’d say I’m a relatively level-headed person (for the most part). But when these feelings come up—Ho. Lee. Sh*t. I feel like a freaking nutcase. In these moments, I am totally convinced that I need a hospital immediately—this is the end, and I am going to die.
My yoga and meditation practice—along with my progress toward living a more simplified life—have helped, there’s no doubt about that. Years passed, and I didn’t have a single episode. But I don’t know if it’s raging hormones, the re-emergence of clutter in the house, or the fact that I’ve been a little lax in my yoga and meditation practice (probably a combo of all three), something has changed in the past couple of months to cause these episodes to rear their ugly heads and come back at me at full force.
Ugh. Damn you, anxiety.
During these episodes, it takes every fiber of my being to not go absolutely bonkers. It takes everything in me to convince myself that I am not, in fact, dying. It takes every ounce of energy that I can muster to not give up.
But—as overwhelming as these episodes can be—I will not succumb to these feelings, because I know that I’ve overcome them before, and I will do it again. I will show this jerk of an emotion that I am bigger than it, and I will come back at it with a vengeance. I will do more yoga and meditation than I can fit in a day. I will continue to move toward living a life of simplicity and remove anything in my life that no longer serves me—whether it be excessive clutter, toxic relationships or bad habits.
I will eat right, exercise and fill my life with love. I will fill my world with supportive and caring people that have my best interests at heart and keep anyone in my life that treats me like a piece of gum on the bottom of their shoe—whether it’s a friend, acquaintance or family member—at a safe distance, because I believe whole-heartedly that, as Tony Gaskins once said, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”
I will live the best way I know how, because I love myself enough to do so.
If there is anything that I’ve learned in this life, nothing is worth your sanity. Do things in life that are good for your soul and your well-being. Recognize and hold close the people in your life that love you for you, and let go of the ones who don’t.
Do yoga. Meditate. Get rid of any excess crap and clutter in your life. Whatever it is, do things that represent the best version of your authentic self, and live your life the best way you know how—because you love yourself enough to do so.
These past few months have been a staunch reminder that the best way for me to live this life in order to be at peace and keep my anxiety at bay is to live it simply. To take care of my body and mind. To surround myself with loving and supportive people. To help others. To show compassion. To break out of my introverted shell. To express loving kindness to the best of my abilities.
In this life, I will be the best version of my authentic self that I can possibly be—and I will once again see the light at the end of the tunnel and show this bloody hell that is anxiety who’s boss.
Author: Franchesca Stoyer
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Porsche Brosseau