Shaking Hands With Anxiety
Why I’m grateful for being kicked in the arse by my unconsciousness and meeting my anxiety for the first time.
Who was that sobbing uncontrollably while my almost 5-year-old daughter hugged her and rubbed her back?
Was that me?
I heard my daughter say the words I had told her many times before, “You will be ok. Let’s take a deep breath together.”
Wow…what was happening. Where had the tough, independent, capable, confident chick I thought I was gone?
Who was this sorry excuse of a broken human left on the floor letting her child comfort her?
“Get your shit together!” I said to myself.
“Stop being a spoiled, whiny, helpless little princess and just get on with it.
You are an adult now, start acting like one.
People are relying on you.
Don’t keep them waiting.”
I could hear my phone beeping. A school lunchbox needed to be filled. My 2-year-old was on the verge of a meltdown and naked again. The clock ticked over to 8 am. I had been awake for four hours already.
I could no longer ignore life. I snapped out of the haze, wiped the tears and snot away from my face and got into some sort of gear. I apologised to my girls for my tears. Survival mode kicked in. The zombie I had been for the last 5 years showed up as I went into autopilot. I got through the day, only to repeat a similar day for the rest of the week, and week after week for a few more months.
During those months I found myself having more and more of what I later learned were panic attacks. I was properly kicked in the arse with a “burnout”, or maybe it would be better called a midlife crisis. Whatever the term, it took the form of an adult-sized tantrum (screaming, tears and incomprehensible speech all included) and the inability to function at work for a second longer.
How does that happen?
How could I have been suffering from anxiety and depression and not even realise?
What was wrong with me?
Weren’t these silly first world problems and I just needed to toughen up?
Who the f*#& was I to be so self-indulgent?
How could I let so many people down?
How have I managed to do this job for 20 years and not be discovered as incapable?
Am I being an ungrateful shit?
What was I going to do now?
Could I handle being a “stay at home mum”?
For almost 40 years I had been under the illusion that all my decisions had been 100% my own.
Little did I know the majority were being controlled subconsciously by my upbringing, society, my expectations and meaning of life. A meaning which I discovered established mostly by my 5-year-old self.
Not to mention attempting to quieten down the chaos of all the well-meaning voices of judgements and expectations on how to parent, work, eat, exercise, dress, drive, shop, take photos, breath, think, talk, text, wipe ya bum etc etc etc.
An endless list of self-help books, quests, podcasts, aha moments and a few group therapy sessions later I have even more unanswered questions. For the most part, I am ok with this. Questions are the answers is the mantra I’m adopting these days so I’ll keep asking them.
By asking myself the questions and looking inwards, I have learned more about myself in the last year than ever. I have shifted limiting beliefs, been transported back in time and into the future through hypnosis and meditation, shifted energy, learnt what chakras are, worked on my presence, volunteered, written drafts for kids books, started drawing, entered my forties and even wallpapered a couple of walls with the assistance of YouTube.
My favourite part so far has to be the very first time I played with my kids “in” the present moment. No head chatter of what happened that day, what needs to happen, what if something happens…nil. none. zilch.
BEST — THING — EVER!
Where’s this all leading to? I’m unsure. All I know for now is its a ride I never want to get off again. I will not go back to who I was before.
It’s ok not to have the answer to everything immediately.
It’s ok to breathe and be in the moment.
It’s ok not to do everything myself.
The world won’t stop if I pause for a moment.
My kids will be ok.
My partner will be ok.
I will be ok…. right?!
I have faith I will be. I haven’t moved to the more enlightened level of knowing I will be just yet. I feel like I have a few more layers to peel off before I get there. It’s a work in progress, “life” I believe its called!
Since I chose to shine a light on a path inward and take responsibility for my headspace, life is flowing easier. I have more energy. I no longer feel like I have something to prove to anyone, including myself. There are no boxes I need to be ticking off to say I am doing life right.
Who knows, maybe one day I will know exactly who I am. In the meantime, I’ll try my best to stay amused, keep learning, asking myself questions, taking deep breaths and living.