My Journey with Anxiety – How I Embraced Living With It

Every person suffering from anxiety has different symptoms and coping mechanisms. The author too had her own set. Here is how she overcame her anxiety.

Every person suffering from anxiety has different symptoms and coping mechanisms. The author too had her own set. Here is how she overcame her anxiety.

When something happens, something bad, we often try to pinpoint the exact moment of its arrival.

But some things come in silence, slowly and inconspicuously. They stay in silence, grow in silence and suddenly surface like a beast that’s bigger than us.

That’s how anxiety came to me, silently and in disguise.

It came crawling…

In retrospect, I may always have had the seed of anxiety in me. However, my indifference to most things surrounding me during my late teens to my early twenties probably kept it in check. I always considered myself as someone with depth and little vanity, but life has a funny way of showing us a mirror. And the reflection is not always pretty. It turns out I wasn’t as deep as I thought and had in me an ingrained sense of vanity associated with my physical appearance.

Ahh… to be a hypocrite at last. A woeful realisation.

As fate would have it, a part of my physical appearance started altering for the worse and I didn’t or couldn’t process it well. My insecurities concerning my physical appearance overtook my reasons for a good portion of my time. Add to this, the people around me and the ‘overwhelming’ concern did little to help my insecurities which slowly opened the door to my anxiety.

In pieces until full

Anxiety comes in different forms and the symptoms are different for everyone. For me, it came in pieces. The first piece of that puzzle was the recurrence of an eerie sensation of chills going down my spine. I would get that when I was nervous, but it became more regular, even when nothing warranted it. My heartbeat was perpetually high. At my worst, I went months with the sound of my raised heartbeat in my ears. It was only much later that I realised the connection.

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The panic attacks started soon after. It suddenly happened one day over an otherwise normal nag from a superior who meant no harm to be clear. Some simple feedbacks sent me into an emotional breakdown which I somehow managed to keep a secret from my loved ones. Many of them will probably find out reading this right about now.

 No rest for the wicked

That’s how I felt for months- exhausted. After my first panic episode, my insomnia completely unleashed its terror in my life. I was having troubles sleeping before too, but after this, I just couldn’t sleep at all.

Every time I closed my eyes, my body would jerk itself involuntarily and snap me right out of my sleep daze. I would lie awake every night hoping to catch some sleep and it would never come, or maybe it did without me knowing for moments. But I never felt like I slept.

I dreaded the nights because I knew I would be the only awake, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the sun to rise. And because I couldn’t sleep, I ran, every morning, hoping to exhaust myself to the point of passing out. Apologies for sounding like Edward Norton’s insomniac character from Fight Club, but it happened that way.

And the journey continued downhill from there, really fast. Every part of my body felt like was giving up. I stopped getting goose bumps which was the most unusual visceral experience I have ever witnessed. And every time I noticed one more anomaly, my panic would start setting in harder and harder.

How I overcame

Honestly, so far, I have only learnt to control it and live with it with the fear that maybe it’s lurking in the corner. But that’s just my fear talking. The journey of my recovery seemed very long but here it is in brief.

Acceptance and information

The first right thing I did on my path to recovery was accepting that something was not going right with me. Once I accepted that, it became easier to recognise and characterise what I was going through.

I read constantly.

So, initially I read as much as I could about my symptoms and what I was going through might be. Once I had that figured out, then I read about the things that can help me overcome them.

Talk to people

I bottled up my emotions until I started bursting at the seams. Don’t do what I did. Find a support system and let them know what you are going through. I told my loved ones much later than I should have. But knowing I had shoulders to cry on healed a lot inside me.

If you know someone who is going through a bad phase, be there for them. They will appreciate it and you will never regret it.

Rebuild the self-image

What I realised was since my vanity was the trigger (and because my self-image was destroyed in my head,) I had to start rebuilding a new one; a more realistic image of myself. An image built on kindness and one that allowed flaws.

Letting go of my toxic self-image and accepting my flaws and the fact that I’ll never be anyone’s or even my version of ‘perfect’ was truly liberating. But I understood one thing, I didn’t need to be perfect to be loved. People who loved me continued to love me with all my imperfections.

A way of catharsis

For me, writing was my mode of catharsis. I wrote all my feelings down. All the bad thoughts I had, I wrote them and viscerally got rid of them, like I expunged them out of my system. Writing down my feelings helped me map my thoughts and understand my own pattern of thinking which gave me a deeper understanding of myself.

Also, I wrote down all the things I was thankful for, things that matter and things that are real. I carried that piece of paper with me to read it whenever I lost my sense of reality. It helped me ground myself and my thoughts from spiralling out of control. Remember your thoughts are only thoughts, they are not your reality.

Breathing exercises & soothing music

I did all kinds of breathing exercises to calm my body down as it was constantly and crazily burning calories. I don’t know how far it helped but I continued no matter what. I found out through research that Delta Monaural beats can help in relaxation and induce sleep. So, I listened to that a lot. I would plug it in my ears and close my eyes.

The music, the breathing and meditation helped in relaxation. And the cumulative effects of them have been profound on me over a period of time.

Don’t give up

This is the biggest reason why I learnt how to control my debilitating anxiety. I tried everyday and I failed everyday. But I also forgave myself everyday and then tried again the next day because I was only a human being and Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Some days were more difficult than the others and some days I almost gave up. But I found in a ‘care a damn’ attitude that helped me through it. So, every time I wanted to give up, I thought what’s the worse that can happen if I tried one more time, I can’t fail more than I already have.

I approached it like I had nothing to lose and only everything to gain and it paid off eventually.

If you are struggling with something, know that it will get better and if you have made it this far, you can make it all the way.

Continue fighting

Continue to fight the good fight for you owe it yourself for your present and future, and you owe it to everyone who loves you. They are all rooting for you.

We are all rooting for you because you are a bloody survivor.

(Important Note/Disclaimer: I would like to emphasise that this is not medical advice, only the story of my journey to recovery. I never sought any professional help because that was not my path, I knew that for myself and proceeded forward. Kindly get in touch with a professional if you feel the need for it. Do what you need and must do to be and feel better.)

Picture Credits: Pexels

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