Breaking the fear
Anxiety has traveled with me most of my life. I was sensitive as a child and not made for this world. I was overwhelmed with everything in it, that I panicked and let fear create a path for me. It was hard for me to take in all the world all the time. I often receded to my room with a book or listened to music.
I never really felt that I fitted in. I constantly felt I had to change myself into someone else to fit in and to please people around me. I was aware that I was “too sensitive” and was also told that I was, so I changed. I changed into someone tougher – pretended I could manage everything in my life. I gave 100% of me to everybody else instead of giving 100% of me to myself. I gave away my power, my physical and mental resources. If everybody else were fine and happy then I didn´t care if I was left behind in a million pieces.
That’s when the anxiety attacks started. I got more and more confused about my path in life. I did what I thought was expected of me. I did what looked good on paper. I moved further and further away from the path of my soul. I stopped writing stories and poetry and took a business degree instead. Countless of jobs. I would quit and start a new job because I was never happy with what I was doing. never happy with where I was. And the grass is always greener on the other side, right? Looking back now, I know I was trying to escape the reality of the path I had placed myself on. A new job meant a new start and a sign of hope for me – even if it meant starting a job I had no interest in. I felt drained all the time. I got depressed.
And my anxiety followed me. Increasing and decreasing in size depending on where in life I was. I worked hard and every time I made a mistake I would tell myself that I was stupid and no good and that I deserved no better than to stay in a job I hated. That this was life. And that writing stories and poetry was a waste of time and only for the really brave to do. What I was writing was no good anyway. So instead of finding the way into my soul and my path I looked for rescue elsewhere.
I waited for someone to come and rescue me. A man. If I could only find the right man I could relax then, settle down, have children and start what I thought was the meaning of my life. I met men. I had boyfriends and dated. Always falling in love head over heels. Making drama where there was no drama. I would put the men in my life up on a pedestal and got so disappointed when I found out that they did not possess the values that I so wrongfully had imagined they would have. So, I left them or they left me. I ran away seeking better shores only to find out that men are only human beings as well and none of them could rescue me the way I wanted them to. They did not make me happy. And I never truly found it – happiness.
I drifted further away. I felt I didn’t belong. Always pleasing, felling angry when I felt that I got nothing in return. Always stressed. I was lonely even with people around me. I didn’t live my life – I just survived.
Then my father died. For the following few years I shut down my emotions. I was sad and I cried. But I locked it all in. I managed my life and didn’t deal with my emotions – I moved on with an emotional baggage so heavy it kept dragging me down. I thought about starting a new path in my life. Reintroducing to my heart my childhood dreams of becoming a writer. But then anxiety would kick in and my fear kept telling me that I did not have the skills of becoming a writer. That people would laugh at me and my ideas. I would be better and safer to stick to the path I was already on. It was better to be in a crowd where I was unrecognizable to myself – where I was lost. Better to drown with the rest of them than to rescue myself.
And then it happened. I drowned. I broke down and my anxiety took me below the surface. It locked me in constant fear for two months. Beneath the surface, it was dark. There was no light. With the darkness came a million thoughts that would drive me insane. No rational thinking just irrational fear. It dragged me further and further down until I hit the bottom.
While I had been sinking to the bottom I had fought for my survival but the wrong hands had reached out to me. They let me fall even deeper and turned away when I got too difficult to rescue. I was lost. I felt nothing except fear. For a second I gave up. There was no hope – no light.
With the help of my family I reached out for help again and this time the right hands dragged me slowly but surely out of the water. I battled my anxiety every day for almost 6 months. It got a little bit easier every day. I found ways to help myself. Mindfulness, yoga, reading, writing, positive thinking and eventually starting up this blog. Finding the safety within myself that I had been looking for all my life.
It is a spiritual path – working with myself will never stop. It’s not easy to turn the 39 years I have spent self-doubting and degrading myself into something positive. It is a scary process but so rewarding and uplifting when you find out that you can do whatever you like and give a shit about what other people think of you. Because their opinions are useless if you are true to yourself.
If you have been reading this far I assume that maybe and just maybe parts of my life story are like yours. Maybe you have just been dragged out of the water, maybe you are below the surface or maybe you have realized that the self-doubt must stop and you simply MUST start a new path in your life.
I can only give you the advice that I gave myself when I was helping myself back to the surface and when I came to realize that I needed to change my life now:
Have faith in yourself even when you don’t. I know that sounds strange but it worked for me. I kept telling myself that I could get through this – that I could survive this as well even when my anxiety told me that I couldn’t. That I would come out on the other side wiser and stronger and with a life purpose. I held on to every little hope that something or someone bigger and stronger than this world was supporting me. I was very selective about the people I chose to be around (I still am) – I would only hang with the people who I knew would truly support me and who were not afraid of what I was going through. I only did things that would make me happy. I still prioritize to do things that make me happy. If I want to watch Modern Family all weekend then that’s what I do or if I want to go to yoga on a Sunday morning I do that.
And please (and this is very important) HAVE RESPECT FOR YOURSELF! You are equally important as everybody else on this planet and you DO make a difference in this world. Have respect for your dreams as well – they could be a new door to a more meaningful life.
Say at least 10 positive things about yourself every day and say them out loud.
And whichever way you decide to nurse yourself back to health – don’t rush – take your time.
Sometimes, I still feel the aftershock of my breakdown but I know so much more about myself and my anxiety today that whenever I get fearful thoughts I always tell myself – they are only thoughts and they cannot hurt you if you don’t believe in them. I know my anxiety is overly trying to protect me and I keep telling it that it’s ok to let me go.
Being happy is hard work. But I would rather work hard at being happy than staying below the surface in the dark.
Keep the faith in yourself and stay strong!