What You Didn't Know About Anxiety And How To Heal It
If you have anxiety or have had any experience with anxiety you will know first hand the detrimental effects it can have on your emotional wellbeing and mental health. In most cases there is a trigger and you can experience heightened levels of fear and panic often leading to an anxiety attack or panic attack.
When I became a Mum at the age of 32 I had some counseling to help me understand and deal with the complicated dynamics between my Mum and I. What soon unravelled was that I had been experiencing anxiety attacks - from as early as 8 years old. I didn’t even recognise them to be anxiety attacks because they had been a part of my life for so long I had somehow ‘normalised’ the experience.
My heart would race, I’d come out in a rash, my breathing would become extremely laboured (I had asthma which didn’t help) I’d be shaking and have such an overwhelming sensation in my stomach that I thought I was going to be sick. Looking back now I would describe it as pure fear, ‘deer in headlights’ and at all costs I had to hide myself away or conform and fit in with whoever or whatever was causing me to feel that way - or I’d rebel, get angry and self-sabotage, usually playing straight into my opponents hands.
It wasn’t until years later after I’d finished my degree in Creative Expressive Therapies at Derby University that I started to get a better hold on my anxiety attacks. There were triggers that I was still trying to understand - usually around confrontation - but they became fewer and fewer and I started to relax a little more and found that I could be myself around people without the fear of judgement or rejection or confrontation.
I was presented with a few challenges along the way that forced my anxiety to rear its ugly head and I’d regress to someone I didn’t recognise - probably the scared 8 year old from when it all started. But then I had a breakthrough and started to see it differently. First I had to do some work around forgiveness - I had to forgive myself as much as I did anyone else because I was angry about not being able to overcome it and be myself. Once I’d done that I started to associate with my anxiety in a completely different way. These are the stages I went through:
The first thing I did was I made friends with it. It was like the most unpopular kid on the playground who no-one wanted to mix with or be friends with. It could look like a monster if it needed to scare people away or it could look like a terrified vulnerable little girl who doesn’t have any other resources to use other than rejection, anger, guilt, shame and blame.
After I’d made friends with it and had ‘characterised’ it in my mind’s eye, I started to talk to it. It didn’t really respond very well to start with. Spat back answers and accused me of all sorts. Maybe I had that coming. After all I’m the creator and I created it because I couldn’t cope with or carry all of the things my anxiety was made of - it was comprised of the rejected parts of myself. All it knew was darkness, hopelessness and sorrow.
I listened and talked as much as I could to my anxiety. I went back to different points in my life where I had an anxiety attack and tried to ‘reframe’ them with the encouragement I was so greatly lacking back then. I would tell my past self - all is not lost, you are loved, you can do this, you are beautiful just as you are and so on.
I introduced my anxiety to other parts of me - other creations if you like that had been nourished by love, acceptance, hope and trust. I did this through metaphor by drawing this all out and meditating afterwards to hold the space to do the inner work needed. My anxiety didn’t seem interested - a defense mechanism I thought, but this was about to change.
I intuitively knew I had to strengthen the healthy part of me, find my truth and my voice. So I wrote out affirmations to help me, used oracle cards, journaled, drew and played music. I created stories, delved into metaphor, wrote quotes and messages to myself and anything else I felt drawn to, in order to express myself and my soul’s wisdom. I found my soul, my higher self and the divine and made the necessary space within my psyche for it to live and prosper. I also created the physical space on a daily basis (time to reflect, use the cards etc) to channel from this place.
I realised that my anxiety’s main reason for flaring up was because I (it) didn’t feel safe and I didn’t trust myself or anyone else - I assumed I would get hurt in some way and feared that the accusations I faced growing up were true. Now that my soul connection was strong - strong enough to hold my trust in place and have faith in myself…it became stronger than my ego, which was linked to my anxiety. So I was able to talk the ego down, feel less anxious and try to work collaboratively with it.
I can still feel anxious and I still have triggers but they don’t spin me into a spiral of fear and panic that I can’t escape from! The key message here is…if you feel negatively about your anxiety. If you’re cross about it holding you back and stopping you doing things, then you’re just feeding it more of the same - the ingredients that you used when it was first created. This isn’t about blame. Yes you’re the creator but you did what you needed to, to survive the situation you were in. Remember that it is a part of you - you are not a part of it. By default you have the higher percentage when it comes to power.
Try to break down the barriers, even if it feels painful. Try to understand why and how your anxiety presents itself and what it might be historically linked to. Muster up the greatest, biggest, fattest dollop of compassion and love for yourself that you can give. Feed yourself love not fear but be present and hear your fears. They’re only powerful when ignored or left in the dark - show them your light.
If you’d like some 1:1 support to help you do this, I offer expressive soul healing™ coaching that is particularly effective in healing anxiety, amongst other things. As your coach I facilitate the uniquely creative and expressive process to help you to create the space your soul needs to address your anxiety in a non-challenging way that is different and refreshing approach, helping you to strengthen the healthier aspects of your psyche as part of the process. You can book in for a free over the phone consultation to have a chat to see if I can help you.
Like with anything it’s a work in progress, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Know that even anxiety can be healed, at least to the point where it doesn’t take over your life. It’s your healing journey, no-one else’s but with the right ingredients you can cook up a recipe for the soul that is deliciously full of the nutrients and nourishment that your soul needs.