How I beat anxiety.•
Posted on June 14 2019
I sat in the bathtub with the hot water running over my head,
my mouth was dry, my heart raced and I couldn't stop my body from shaking. Every single night, just as I was trying to go to sleep, the same thing would happen over and over again. It started with thoughts that were jumbled, thoughts that I couldn't make sense of or rationalize... that then turned to ugly thoughts, which would set off my racing heart. Then, like clock work, my brain went into overdrive and every night, the same thought - what if tonight is the night... what if I don't wake up tomorrow? I don't want to die. What if I lose control and I have a fit. What if I die and I don't get to see tomorrow, I have so much I still want to do. Then the shakes would kick in. The ONLY way I could calm myself down was by getting in the bathtub and sitting under the water. It would take about 20 minutes to stop shaking and settle my mind and by the time the attack was over I was so exhausted I would climb into bed and fall straight asleep.
My anxiety attacks got so bad that I was in hospital twice and finally reached breaking point when I couldn't eat for two days straight. I can still see the night vividly when my mind became strong enough to say 'stop! I've had enough.' As I sat at the kitchen bench, I realised this was taking over my life. I stumbled over to my Mum, and at 9 o'clock at night asked her if she would take me to get a muffin from the service station. It was the only thing that I could think of that didn't make me feel instantly ill. I forced half of that muffin in, knowing that I had to do it to change my situation.
To stop the jumbled thoughts I somehow found enough clarity to decide that I should write down my thoughts in the same way they appeared in my mind. I grabbed my sketch pad, coloured pens and biro's and wrote... Some nights it would be technicolor, some nights I wrote in a vortex and sometimes I wrote random words messed up all over the page. I wrote what I saw in my mind and it was a mess. Writing helped remove the confusion, mess and jumble - it allowed me to make sense of what I was thinking. I did this every night for about three weeks. Until recently, I still had that sketch pad. I would reflect sometimes when I felt I needed to and then when I no longer needed it, I threw it away.
There are a few things that I feel contributed to my anxiety attacks starting up:
1) The pressure and hostility I felt between my parents, growing up.
2) Witnessing a co-worker having an epileptic fit at work
3) A 'trip' from taking a party drug once (blog on this to come...)
4) Being sexually assaulted and needing a termination from it
Writing saved me from the horrible grip of anxiety attacks. I advise ANYONE experiencing anxiety in any form to write. Anxiety comes from irrational thoughts that you can't make sense of and manifest into physical reactions. The BEST way to remove the power anxiety has over you, is to make it rational by removing it from your thoughts and putting it on paper... YES - paper, not your phone notes, you need to put pen to paper! The second thing that I did to help me kick anxiety's arse was I imagined it had a physical form and I was able to remove it from my mind. I pictured it as a little figurine, like a doll and I would picture myself pulling it out of my imagination and throwing it away. Each time it would pop back in my head, I would imagine myself grabbing it and throwing it away again.
I still have moments when anxiety tries to show it's ugly face, when I'm the passenger in a car being driven around a steep or curvy road, when I'm on a bumpy plane ride, when I'm being rushed or dealing with a group of drunk people, the commonality with them all - I get anxiety when I'm not in control. Knowing what causes anxiety for me, helps me to beat it. I now know the signs that it is creeping in and I know what I have to do to remove it. I take a deep breath, I recognise it and take it's power away... then I throw it away!
Maybe the tips that have helped me, will help you, or someone else - so please share this... it may change someone's life.
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