My Anxiety = My worst Demon & my greatest Teacher
Updated: Apr 26
How I view my anxiety has transformed over time – initially it was the worst thing that ever happened to me – a burden to heavy to carry – when anxiety and panic attacks hit me it felt like the end – like ‘I cannot not live with this – I want this to be over – I want this to go away’ – knowing that it will not go away, that it is something I will carry around with me for the rest of my life made it even worse.
And I still feel that anxiety is something that will never leave me – that once you´ve had it, it is with you. What can change (and has changed for me) is the attitude towards it – how I view it – how I deal with it when it arises, when the subtle first signs arise – how I deal with it when it hits me full force.
It has become my guide, my teacher, my warning signal – my anxiety is the logical reaction of my organism to some dysfunctional outer circumstances – the logical reaction of my system to unhealthy situations in my life.
I have days where I feel grateful for my anxiety – as it has taught me to take better care of myself. It has taught me that I can not just push through life – go through it with force – always fighting and forcing – that I need to slow down, give myself brakes.
My anxiety and my panic attacks got me to question what the meaning of life is – what is really important in life? They have shown me that my lifetime is limited, that I can not go through life without caring about anything. It is important to find meaning – a sense of purpose.
In the face of anxiety and panic attacks all the unimportant stuff drops away – all the things that I thought were important, turned out to not mean anything. Like what does it matter if you have tons of clothes, shoes, money, etc? Whatever materialistic possessions you own, whatever career ladder you have climbed – it doesn’t mean anything in the face of anxiety and panic attacks. They will not get you out of your anxiety or your panic attack.
Having anxiety is like carrying around a shallow bowl of water. You have to be careful at all times to not spill the water – you have to move around carefully – go through life a little more carefully. If you move to quickly, abruptly, the water will spill – the anxiety will take over – you have to take a step back to fill up the bowl of water again – you have to take a break to recover from your anxiety/panic attack.
From time to time this still happens – I sometimes feel it goes in cycles – there are phases in my life where I don’t even think about my anxiety and then there are phases where I feel I haven’t learned anything since day one – since my panic attacks and anxiety first appeared. Where I´m so deep in it that I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – where the burden becomes to heavy to carry again – where I don’t feel strong enough – where I feel that the demon is stronger, more powerful.
It helps to have supportive people around; it also helps to know that I have made it this far already – that so far, I have always come out the other end again. And yet, it still surprises me when I do get out the other end again, when I recover from a panic/anxiety attack and ‘return to my regular life’.
I have made a lot of changes to my life over the last years since my first panic attack in 2013. Most of the changes kind of sneaked into my life – what proved to be good for me once seemed to grow bigger over time – without me having to force anything – it just happened naturally. More healthy habits formed and let the unhealthier ones fade out.
Overall the pace of my life has become a lot slower – my life has become more meaningful – a lot of unnecessary bullshit has dropped away – my lifestyle choices have become more healthy – I´m nourishing my body and mind by eating healthy and regularly, by sleeping enough (a big one for me; lack of sleep is one of the biggest triggers for my anxiety), by practicing yoga and meditation which allowed me to develop a better feeling for myself and my needs.
Sometimes I question whether my anxiety is restricting me – as so much of my ‘old life’ has
dropped away – I wonder whether my life would be different – ‘better’ – if I was still ‘able’ to live it like I did before – drinking, taking drugs, going out, not sleeping enough. But then I smile at myself and ask – ‘Do I really would want to go back to that life?’ – a life that revolved around suppressing any deeper yearnings, that felt like I was without a purpose, where the only meaning I found was in external stimulants.
My anxiety and panic attacks got me to question my whole life – they forced me to look at my life-decisions again – they forced me to make deep and permanent changes to my life. I am not looking outside anymore when I am making a life-decision – I am not guided by society´s rules anymore – I am guided by what feels good and right to me. This is the biggest present that my anxiety has given me: I have become the most important person in my own life.
Have you ever experienced anxiety? Are you living with anxiety and/or panic attacks?
You are not alone. You will have to live with it, but you can become friends with it.
Feel free to share your story, feel free to reach out to me.
Why and how my panic attacks started, and my anxiety developed? When I am ready to share this – you will be able to read it on my blog.