Overcoming Anxiety and Finding Yourself
I was always a very anxiety-filled person. I was an anxious child, who became an anxious teenager, who became an anxious adult. I was brought up in a family where anxiety and panic attacks were considered normal, since almost everybody suffered from them.
I grew up taking tranquillizers almost every single day. I was given these pills at such a young age that I didn’t even have a chance to think about taking them.
I didn’t tell many people about my problem, I desperately wanted to fit in and be like everybody else, who all seemed so happy and peaceful in my eyes. In school I was the only one who was crippled by the teacher asking a question or by oral exams – I didn’t understand why I was the only one feeling this way.
My anxiety was severe at certain points in my life and mild at others. I somehow reached a point in my life though when I found myself in bed, unable to get up, crippled by anxiety and panic. After a couple of weeks of struggling, crying and thinking about dying, I decided to do something with myself.
I wanted to live, and I wanted to live peacefully, and I was willing to work for it.
I started researching the web, reading different Zen blogs, and I did find a lot of inspiring people. I remember one article that particularly stood out to me; it said that no matter what you feel, it is always your choice how you react. It was the first time I felt that I actually had some kind of control.
What I understood back then was the basis of my recovery: I needed to accept my feelings, not try to repress them.
I started meditating on a daily basis, sometimes hours at a time. It was such a wonderful experience to finally accept myself with all my feelings. Anxiety was still with me, but I learned to sit with it, accept it, welcome it, and react to it the way I wanted to.
The panic attacks were gone quickly, since I taught myself not to react to my thoughts with panic. Anxiety was still a frequent visitor, but by being present with it and embracing it, it slowly became less and less strong, because I was not bothered by it at all anymore.
I let go of my desperate need to eliminate all my negative emotions and chose to accept them instead. I knew that they didn’t have the power to control me; I learned to see them for what they were: just feelings and thoughts.
Coming off of the tranquillizers was a challenge. One of the hardest ones I ever had to face, but I had confidence in myself. I knew that whatever thoughts and feelings might arise, I will always be in control of my reactions to them.
While my body was going through withdrawal, it was hard for me to make a difference between fantasy and reality. I was very disturbed by my thoughts, because they felt more like reality than ever, but I never once relapsed, because beneath all the madness in my head, I had faith in myself somewhere deep inside.
Once my brain adjusted to life without the pills, I felt better than ever. I had proven to myself that whatever I felt inside or thought, nothing could ever control my actions.
My brain still tended to overthink, that is just how I was made, so I decided to channel this overthinking quality, which created so many horrible realities in my mind, into something beautiful.
I always loved to write, and I was fascinated with fantasy authors who could create wonderfully magical worlds. I envied them and thought that living with a mind like that must be amazing. I never realized that my mind was capable of the same thing.
I’m writing my first fantasy novel right now, and words cannot explain how wonderful of an experience it has been for me. I love the world I created with all its inhabitants, and my negative thoughts completely disappeared, since I use the overthinking quality of my brain to create my fantasy world.
I get so many messages and comments saying that I’m brave for sharing my experiences with the world. I don’t think I am brave. I’m simply having a human experience, just like anybody else.
I’m not ashamed of what I went through, because I don’t identify with it. So many people experience the same, and that fact transforms this experience from personal to universal.
No one should ever be ashamed of their experience, since whatever it might be – you are never alone with it. There are thousands of others out there in this vast world feeling the same way you are feeling. Once we realize that, we stop being outsiders.
I realized many things on this journey that I am so thankful for. I learned so much that I would have not been able to learn without this experience. If you feel like an outsider, here are some things you should consider:
- By trying to repress your feelings and resisting your experiences, you only make them stronger. Accept them, embrace them, sit with them, they are there to teach you.
- The life you desperately want to live does not lie outside of you. By embracing your differences you will see that you are already there.
- Whatever you’re going through, you are never ever alone.
Today, I embrace this big human family we are all a part of, and I know that I am no different than anyone else in it. I went from thinking I’m the most horrible person on this planet, who can’t do anything, to helping others with all my heart and doing all the things I thought I could never do.
Outsider is a name we give to our own selves. No one can make you believe that you are one without you believing it yourself first. Once you stop viewing yourself as one, you will see how much you actually fit into this big, beautiful family we call humanity.
Melinda Csikos is a writer who became her own spiritual teacher when going through a dark time. She shares her realizations on her website themiracleforest.com/ in hopes of helping others get through their own dark times. She is a loving wife, animal lover, fantasy nerd, and kindness enthusiast.