A for Anxiety
A couple of weeks ago I shared on Instagram that the wheels had well and truly fallen off. I was feeling anxious, depleted, lacking motivation and all kinds of emotional. If you didn’t catch it or you've always wondered what I look like when I cry, here it is.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks quietly trying to make sense of what this lingering feeling means. Because, that’s what we do in the personal development space; we can’t just let feelings exist without rigorous curiosity. And the more I talk to women around me I’m discovering I’m not alone. I can reflect on it now because I feel like I'm coming out the other side. I try to remain cognisant that everything I’m putting out into the world is being filtered through the lens of whatever personal shit I’m going through at the time, but that's just how I roll.
This is my truth and I share it with you wholeheartedly and unfiltered. Anxiety happens to be a part of it. I had Anxiety before the Kardashians made it mainstream, I just never knew I had it and I certainly didn't have a name for it; I just assumed everything frustrated the hell out of me. They don't really teach you about mental health in school.
The dichotomy of trying to honour radical self-acceptance in a world that generates so much revenue from change can be anxiety-inducing. I remind myself that I hold down an incredibly demanding day job; increasingly so; whilst juggling my health coaching studies, coaching two bad-ass clients and maintaining a social life. Despite looking like I have it all together (do I, you guys?) from the outside, at times, I'm really just throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks.
My symptoms haven’t really eased; I’m breathless, dizzy, irritable, bloated, I have heart palpitations, and this persistent hormonal acne and clenched jaw is a daily reminder of what’s going on internally. I feel a lingering sense of impending doom and an uncharacteristic inability to concentrate at work or recall information. Basically, from the waist up it’s a shit-storm. In the past two weeks I’ve seen my doctor twice, an ear clinic because I thought I had vertigo, an osteopath, acupuncturist and finally this week, a breathing specialist after my doctor suggested I was hyperventilating; which turned out to be accurate and apparently a common cause and effect of anxiety.
As much as I’d like to I can’t ignore it, repress it, or distort it into another form--I can’t and won’t. I’d never try and rob someone of the pain that’s meant for them so I won’t do it for myself. I know that riding this latest wave will bring me to a new learning and understanding of myself. I know that something is out of alignment somewhere and it's part of my journey to find the root cause, get liberated, and choose again. We get to do that, over and over. That's the game of life.
I’ve learnt that if we feel anxiety when things are seemingly going well, it’s a cue that we’re stretching to a new level of normal (thank you Caty Pasternak for dropping that truth-bomb right when I needed it.) In essence, we’ve all just come here to learn who we are and with learning and growing comes growing pains. When you honour the pain you create a container for the growth.
I acknowledge that it’s been a year of expansion and it hasn’t all been meditating in a bath full of tea leaves to whale music (what my friend Matthew assumes I do to readjust). If you've read my previous blogs you'll be familiar with my journey and my musings on life and love.
I’m learning to say ‘no’ to things to make room for the bigger ‘yes’ burning away inside. In a heavily and carefully scripted, selected and filtered world I’m unabashedly owning who I am because, my friends, authenticity prevails every damn time. I choose to walk a path of integrity so I may give others permission to do the same. I'm grateful that I'm seen and received in that quest. I’d rather hear, “you’re a great coach/writer” a hundred times over than “you’re beautiful”. Perfection is out; authenticity is in. People want to look up to people who fuck things up every now and then and come unstuck. How refreshing!
In my experience, though, the best way out is through. I choose not to take medication (full respect to those who do), so here are 10 things I can recommend when anxiety hits:
Hold space for yourself. Leave work early. Lie on your floor and stare at the ceiling until you get hungry or your flatmates come home and ask you what you're doing in that position.
Acknowledge that you feel shitty and it’s okay. Ask yourself is this emotion mine or is it somebody else’s? Ask yourself what you might be pretending not to know.
Answer your phone. Even if it's Vodafone, tell them that you're not feeling the goods. Talk to your friends, your boyfriend. Invest in a coach (hi, I'm one) to talk it out.
Be selfish. Spend your weekend doing what you want with who you want. As women we can feel selfish if we say no or cancel plans, but we don’t need to do more to be more. Implement a ‘no plans on Sunday’ policy and stick to it.
Get out in nature. Beach walks are the best. Watch a sunrise or a sunset. Hug a tree. Swim in the ocean. Nature has so many answers if you’re prepared to listen.
Get your sweat on. Run, twerk, hot yoga, sex--whatever you can get, get it. I promised my Mum I'd try to swear less on my blog but FUCK I love yoga.
Meditate, consistently, for at least 10 minutes daily. Anxiety can't exist when you're fully present.
Self-love the shit out of yourself. Eat nourishing food; drink plenty of water. Get your nails done. Watch Girls season 4.
Lay off the stimulants - alcohol, sugar coffee. I made a conscious decision to stop drinking alcohol for a while almost 2 months ago, and have weaned myself off coffee (I have decaf instead). The sugar is a work in progress.
Stay in your own lane. Don't worry about what other people are up to and what they think of you. Take a break from social media and mainstream news that doesn't lift you.
Choose wisely what nourishes you on a soul level. After all, you are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the food you eat, the people you spend your time with and the conversations you engage in. Upgrade your habits. Quit talking down to yourself and languishing in the ‘not enoughness’ you’ve become so good at. Face off with whatever might be causing you anxiety. Don't run or hide. Wherever you go - there you are, so commit to showing up, finding the root cause and liberating yourself. If you don't like something, smile, nod and choose again. Live a life on your own terms. Quit people-pleasing and comparing. Go easy on yourself. Forget about your weaknesses and double-down on what you're good at. Outsource the weaknesses. Take the pressure off if you're not where you feel like you should be.
I want people to start talking about their mental health the same way they talk about their physical health. I want people to be innercising for Rhythm and Vines. I want people to know that there are avenues other than numbing out with alcohol, donuts or medication. I want people to use up their sick leave to restore mental harmony. I want people to stop using social media as a highlight reel and use it for embodying rawness and authenticity. I want there to be any answer other than good when someone asks you how you are. I want women to stop wearing their busyness as a badge of honour and create space for downtime. I want there to be as many facilities dedicated to finding happiness as there are for changing one’s appearance. I want kids to be taught how to honour and process their emotions in school. I want people to approach love by wondering what they can bring into the relationship and not what they can get from it.
I woke up this morning feeling so much better. Earlier this week I decided not to go through with something that I'm super passionate about doing but just not ready for. Last night I had a ridiculously good coaching session with one of my clients. Witnessing her breakthroughs on each call over the past couple of months truly feeds my soul. I then had a couple of super fun opportunities offered to me - one was writing and one in the fitness community (slightly laughable). It just goes to show what happens when you allow, process and create space. After all, your life proceeds out of your intentions for it. What if each of your lows were really just lessons?
If this post resonates with you, or you know someone who could benefit from reading it please hit the share button below. It's by normalising the conversation that we remove the stigma around mental illness.
Lots of love,