It wasn’t until I found myself laying on my living room floor, unable to breathe, hands cramping up, face tingling, and heart racing that I realized I had some serious health issue. Later that evening in the emergency room, the doctor told me he knew what was happening. I was having an anxiety attack. “I see this all the time,” he said. “You’ll be just fine. It’s just anxiety” he reassured me before recommending I take a few tests and follow up with my family doctor to be sure. At that moment, I burst into tears. I was happy I wasn’t dying but dumbfounded that something that sounded as commonplace as anxiety could have caused all of these sensations.
I found myself having trouble breathing, feeling tingly, cramped up, and panicky laying on the floor several times a week for a while. I was stressed and unhappy due to various factors in my life at the time. But I had no idea how “just anxiety” could affect everything. I knew this was no way to live and that I needed help. I talked to my doctor, naturopath and a counsellor. They all had something to offer to set me up at the start of my recovery.
Over time, I was able to make it through a whole day without crying or having a big anxiety attack, such as the one that sent me to the hospital.
Through some of my own research into how to overcome anxiety, I found tips and tricks from spiritual teachers. Some worked and some fell short. I also found a yoga teacher on Youtube that did wonders to help me. But it wasn’t until I worked consistently for a year with a life coach that I saw the most significant improvements. I could finally make it through a day of work without crying. I could exercise regularly again and go for sushi with friends without feeling overwhelmed and needing to leave for some air and a walk around the block. I also learned how to see the anxiety coming so I could stop it before it started.
Now, I can happily say I no longer have anxiety attacks. I live worry-free knowing I won’t find myself on transit or in the office balling my eyes out for seemingly no reason. And even if I do, I have the tools to work through those emotions and to work myself out of a downward spiral. I still have anxiety and stress – as most people do. But having the tools and knowing where to turn to for help has changed my life.
I would never wish an anxiety disorder on anyone. However, I wouldn’t go back and change the fact that I suffered from an anxiety disorder. I learned so much about myself and my abilities. I also learned the importance of feeling your feelings and learning how to manage them healthily – versus my old ways of pushing my feelings down deeper and deeper. They always have a way of coming back out at the worst times when you push them down deep.
If you‘re experiencing anxiety, stress or any other feelings that are affecting your life negatively, know that you have support. You just have to reach out and start somewhere.