Ever since I was a young girl, I suffered from anxiety.
It wasn't until my youngest was born that I really realized how much it had ran my life.
When I was young, I would chew on everything. My hair, my sleeves, my nails, my pens and pencils. Anything that was nearby, I would chew it. Looking back now, I realized that I did it when I had the least amount of control over my environment. At school, at other people's houses, out in public. It was one way that I was able to self soothe, and keep me from falling over the edge. I dangled that edge for many years.
I avoided crowded places, new environments, social situations. Anywhere I wasn't able to predict the outcome, I would feel my heart start to race, my stomach would turn and I would begin to plan an escape. I would have conversations pre-planned in my head in case someone talked to me out of the blue. I would have an exit strategy in place for any social situation I encountered. Anxiety ruled my life, and I had no idea.
When my youngest was between six and ten months old, he barely slept. He would wake up multiple times in the night, and refused to sleep on me, near me or away from me. It was a nightmare. On top of that, any slight noise in the house would wake up my 3 year old daughter. My oldest was the only one who got any sleep during that time of our lives. I was a depressed, anxious, sleep deprived mess - to say the least.
I remember one day, pacing my bedroom. The kids were all crying, locked outside my bedroom door. I couldn't handle them. I could barely handle the thoughts in my head, let alone calm them down. I picked up the phone and called the mental health building. They got me on the phone with an intake worker immediately. She recognized that I was in the middle of a panic attack. I had no clue. This was the first time I had words to describe something that happened multiple times a week. She talked me through it and brought me back to my breath, long enough to be able to answer the questions she needed to get through to get me into their system. I finally felt relief when she said that I was able to see a post-partum counselor the following week. I hung up and sobbed into my pillow.
My first visit with the post-partum counselor, I had no idea what to expect. I was not expecting to be met by a welcoming woman with a buddha tattoo that took up her whole upper arm. She smiled at me and I almost broke down right there. I knew my Soul had directed me to her, even if I didn't have those exact words to describe the feeling of being exactly where I was meant to be. Over the next year, she helped bring vocabulary to what I was feeling. She was the first person to mention generational trauma, and assisted me in finding resources to help me navigate this process. Little did I know, but this was the beginning of my awakening. She gave me tools for the first time in my life on how to handle anxiety. She helped me understand that anxiety wasn't something that I developed after having babies, that it had always been there and the pressure of parenting three kids while my husband worked out of town for weeks at a time only exacerbated it. Most importantly, she ensured that I knew that it wasn't my fault.
Over the past 4 years, my anxiety has diminished significantly. It hasn't gone away completely, like I had hoped it would. I don't think it ever will. It is a part of me, just as it is a part of my journey. When my anxiety pops up, I now get curious instead of diving into that fear that is leading the anxiety. I've taken my experience in therapy and added onto it. Diving deeper into why anxiety shows up so strongly for me. I've begun to understand myself and the way I work on a much deeper level. Anxiety no longer controls my day to day life, but every once in a while I can feel it's claws trying to sink into me.
Anxiety was the door that needed to be cracked wide open for me to discover who I truly was. It was my wake up call, my first step into trusting myself and my intuition and it still is. I'm much more aware of my anxiety now, I know when it is creeping up and why. Bringing awareness to my emotions has allowed me to open up to compassion for myself, and others. Anxiety is a restrictive box that can feel suffocating at times. I remember those feelings vividly and I feel so much love for those who are still trapped within it. If you are in the box of anxiety, find your breath. Your breath is the key to breaking free. Your breath is your anchor to the present moment.
When you feel anxiety popping up, it is calling you to find the moment. It is showing you that you are not living in the present. When you find the present moment, nothing can occupy your energy. You ARE the moment. Nothing else can exist. Find your breath, find the moment and crack open the door to all that you are.