As far as I’m concerned, anxiety is one the worst sensations known to man.
The other day I had a wave of anxious feeling overwhelm me in the space of my heart. It came out of nowhere and I had no idea what the root cause was… but that didn’t matter. What did matter was this horrendous emotion trying to take over my whole body and mind, a sensation I can only describe as a gripping at my soul.
The recognition was instant; heart pounding, breath short, foreboding of dread arising… making a cup of tea in the kitchen, I held my hands over my chest, closing my eyes and trying to breathe. When this didn’t work I sat on the floor, trying to ground myself and only partly doing so.
It was an intense reminder for me. Last year, I was in a constant state of anxiety during a harsh recovery period. To be in a place of contentment and have this emotion wash over me was a complete shock to the system. Flashbacks came of feeling like this for days on end. At any moment I knew I was on the verge of freaking out completely and becoming frantic as I teetered on the edge. Yet another part of me knew I could overcome it… And that was the side I chose to listen to.
I realised as much as it was encompassing me, it only had as much power as I gave to it, so I didn’t allow myself to succumb to getting wrapped up in the panic. Instead, I accepted that I was having an anxiety attack, reminded myself this would pass and began to try and help myself get through until then.
Luckily a dear friend was near and gave me a breathing exercise to do when he noticed I couldn’t seem to breathe normally. Inhale, hold for 5 seconds, exhale… This calmed my nerves enough to let myself get a cup of tea (the solution for majority of things) and a seat. I rolled around exasperated for a while, still trying to catch my breath and find a comfortable spot. Nothing worked. I was restless. We put some soothing Icaros on (medicinal music) and I rolled a cigarette (not the answer but definitely a coping mechanism). My hands were shaking and my mind running in circles.
After trying a few more methods to deal with the emotions coming up, such as essential oils and sound bowls, I surrendered completely and lay my head down on the bench, curled up in a ball ready to ride it out. It was here I went into a deep meditative state as I remembered to only acknowledge what I was feeling yet not interact with it. I stepped outside of my body and mind and looked upon myself from an outside perspective. From here I could explore the pit in my stomach, the ache in my heart and the noise in my mind with curiosity, allowing it to just be. This was simply a process I had to go through to learn something. Eventually I sat up and meditated on it like that, then gave voice to what was going on. It lasted a good few hours before the feeling of torment started to lift up, which it did gradually, in waves of coming and going.
The liberation as I realised everything was absolutely fine made me both laugh and cry in relief. I was grateful to be alive and well. I was grateful to be reminded of the dire feelings that keep us vulnerable. I was grateful for these chances to grow and the realisations that we can change any experience into something valuable no matter how dark it may seem at the time. I was grateful for the reminder that people around the world share such feelings every day and I sent each and every one of them strength to get through it.
Be patient with yourself – allow yourself to sit with whatever you are feeling. Take your time. We are here to experience human emotions in all their fullness. On the opposite end of some of the hardest challenges are rewards greater than you could ever imagine…
~ May you rise above your emotions in observance so they no longer define you ~