“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply”

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

It´s world mental health day. I didn´t realise until this afternoon. Coincidently I´d been reflecting during my morning walk to the sea, thinking about the last few years and my own journey with mental health struggles and recognising how far i´ve come in such a short time. There was a period when leaving the house or even my own room was a struggle. I´d feel crippled by the grip of anxiety that felt impossible to ever get away from, whilst simultaneously being suffocated by a darkness that made me feel so lost and hopeless, i couldn´t see any light. No hope. No point to anything. After some very dramatic and necessary life changes, i´m so grateful to say i´m well on the road to recovery. I´m able to work again. Feel hope again. Look towards the future. Manage the anxiety. Self care. Even now i still celebrate leaving the house as a small victory. Because it is. We are all so very brave. Yes it´s a process and yes, i believe we´re always in a process of healing, but today, just like every other day, i recommit to it over and over. Healing. One day at a time. Realising it takes commitment, honesty, vulnerability and self compassion. And that i haven´t got here alone. To those who have helped me along the way, you know who you are. Thank you. If you are deep in it, reading this and scoffing, thinking you´re so far from that point it´s almost insulting, i really hope you find courage to reach out to someone and get some help. That step is such a massive, vital and positive catalyst in your journey. You deserve to feel better. You deserve to receive support. You don´t have to know how you´re going to get there, but speaking to someone will enable you moving forwards. You don´t have to go through this alone. Wishing us all the courage to step forward to find the healing that works for us. 💗


Useful resources

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.

Mind has information, fact sheets, blogs and can forward you to more groups who can help. You can text them on 86463, call their information line on 0300 123 3393 or email info@mind.org.uk.

Rethink has information on anxiety here.

The Samaritans are contactable 24/7, 365 days a year. You can call them free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit a local branch.