I'm quite open about my journey with anxiety and panic attacks spurring my journey to yoga. I tend to gloss over the "gory details" though.
the darkness that looms everywhere
the self loathing, self harm and abusive self criticism.
the traumas and hauntings from childhood abuse manifested as haunting memory
the developing agoraphobia, avoidance of elevators, escalators, large spaces, small spaces, leading to…
…the inability to leave the house or room, preferring the dark misery and safety of a familiar space.
the hypochondria and paranoia at the slightest ailment that had me returning to the doctor relentlessly demanding every kind of scans and test.
the beta-blocker medication and intervention
the obsessive weighing, starving, exercising, purging misery of an eating disorder.
the drinking to numb the pain and denial.
the running away that's been so prevalent in my life (20 schools. 46 jobs. Various countries.)
And now? Now I feel lucky to appreciate surviving. It sounds dramatic, but I realise it was dramatic and instead of hiding it away in shame, I feel the value of owning my story, and using it to help others.
For years I didn't have a panic attack, I felt free – clean – for 10 years. Then the death of two friends this summer triggered a return of anxiety with a vengeance. I shut down and became vacant. Scared. A nervous wreck. I understand now that breakdown – loosing the light or drive or ability to feel hopeful – took me back to those years. Like being trapped in a prison of my own mind and misery. It frightened me and I didn´t know how to cope.
All my techniques were out the window. Breath. Visualisation. Centring. Gone.
I feel so lucky I had support from my wonderful husband and my parents and close friends, and I'm so grateful for that.
With time, and with gentle steps, I started being able to leave the house again, each time feeling the anxiety decrease. And so, my confidence increased. To venture further from home.
The real test was my return to Bergen this August. Up until the day before I wasn't sure I could get on that plane. But a meeting with a friend gave me so much strength (thanks Bianco) that I bluffed my way into doing it. Luckily all was well. And since then there´s been no panic attacks. I'm grateful. But not assuming or taking for granted that its ever far away. Instead I accept that this might be something I work on. forever perhaps.
This anxiety and hypochondria and fearing the feeling of losing control unbearable to be with at times, but I work on it. I'm always in a process of healing. Aren't we all?
The impending feeling of doom in a spin of panic or anxiety is difficult to convey. Once the overwhelming feeling of “i´m dying” subsides, the feeling that "I'm crazy" creeps in and ignites fear. But then I meet others who are moving through a similar journey and realise that there is tremendous strength in vulnerability.
My sensitivity was something I used to be ashamed of, but now I embrace it. It´s powerful and enables me to read and sense and feel more.
I chose to teach because I wanted to share some techniques that others might use to help themselves feel better.
I hope that by teaching I might inspire and reassure others who are struggling that they can empower themselves.
At the same time I'm ever the student. Exploring, learning, surviving.
We should take pride in ourselves for making it this far.
To anyone suffering, you can feel better and find ways to manage this illness.
You deserve to feel better and to be supported compassionately. Don't be afraid to keep seeking ways to feel better.
With love x
UPDATE > 11.10.16
Anxiety UK offers information via their website and via their text service on 07537 416 905 and infoline on 08444 775 774.
RECOVR - an organisation to help young black adults connect to black therapists and councellors
No More Panic has a helpline on 0844 967 4848 (10am-10pm every day) and a youth helpline (specifically for 13-20-year-olds, 4-6pm Mon-Fri) on 01753 840393.