If you recognize my title, it’s likely that you have read or at least heard of the book from Lucinda Bassett called, From Panic to Power. If not, and you are someone who has anxiety or knows someone who does (and most of us do given the statistics), this IS a MUST read! It was a life and game changer for me, that’s for sure. Well, that and a combination of a few other things, but the book really set things in motion. And, yes, like many, I am indeed an anxiety/panic sufferer, though I am not sure that I care for the terminology of ‘sufferer’. It insinuates weakness in my mind, and if you have been down the road that I speak of, you are anything BUT weak. Trust me, even though it may not seem that way at the time. The fact of the matter is that I believe just the opposite. I think many of us who have been diagnosed with such afflictions are very strong individuals simply because of how in tune we are with ourselves, others and the world around us–maybe even to a fault?–not to mention all that we endure during such episodes of anxiousness. ‘To make it through the other side’ is nothing less than miraculous, and unless you have been there, you cannot speak to it. We all know the adage about not judging others without having been in their shoes, and I can tell you first-hand that those are good words to live by. It is so very, very true.
Ironically, I didn’t learn that I had anxiety until I went in to get my four impacted wisdom teeth extracted under general anaesthetic (what an experience that was!). But, I shall spare you the gory details about my surgery and the dry sockets afterward (sheer agony!) and stick to the topic at hand. In my pre-surgery consultation with the oral specialist, I was asked about existing health conditions and my mom spoke up about these ‘episodes’ that I had been having wherein I experienced all kinds of physical symptoms from difficulty breathing to chest pain to numbness and tingling in my extremities, so much so that I became almost temporarily paralyzed at times. “Well, that sounds like anxiety to me,” he announced matter-of-factly and then on he went to record and discuss a few other things, without incident. ‘Hmmm…,’ I thought, ‘at least there is a name for it.’ And that was that. No kidding! From that day forward after a follow-up visit with my doctor, I was given some pamphlets and information and learned that I was ‘living with anxiety’. Not really the cure I was hoping for. Nor was it nearly enough to get me on the road to recovery, but not all general practitioners are experts in everything, are they?! At least she didn’t push medications. For that I am grateful, and I say that not because I am against meds (they can be extremely helpful for some in balancing out chemistry), only that I vehemently feel that a person requires more than just a pill to deal with all that anxiety throws one’s way. For me, an interrogative look at my whole life’s regime was required, and in retrospect, that is what ‘saved’ me. In other words, I ended up doing an overhaul on: what I was doing (to myself mostly), how I was living, my thinking, as well as my exercise, food and sleep patterns. Indeed my 20’s was a huge learning curve. A much needed one.
To get better and live ‘normally’ (whatever that is?!), I uncovered every stone possible. No word of a lie. I did things I never thought that I would end up doing, as I vowed to learn everything that I could about what was happening to me, and I was beyond determined that I was going to ‘happen’ upon it, rather than IT ‘happening’ upon me. You know what I mean? I was NOT going to let this ‘thing’ dictate my life, which as my anxiety turned to full-out panic at times, was becoming debilitating to say the least. ‘Oh no! Not me! No way, Jose!’ And, you know what, with that kind of determination (told you that we anxiety-ridden people are strong), I actually think that I have ‘figured it out’. It may have taken years, and it is still a work in progress along with the occasional relapse (though very rare), but I can honestly say that I have come out of the darkness and into the light. I am not ‘cured’ as I don’t think you ever can be, but my life is no longer run by it and it hasn’t been for years. I am as ‘well’ as the person standing next to me in the grocery store line. And, here’s the absolute crazy part–I wouldn’t change an ounce of what happened!!! Not. One. Single. Ounce. You know why? Because I am the person that I am today because of it and even crazier maybe, I think my anxious tendencies have truly been one of my life’s gifts. Here’s my truth in a nutshell: I am a born worrier who just happens to be extra sensitive to energies around me, and while that can be overwhelming if I let it, and at times I obviously have, it can also work in my favour. And, that’s what I have done–I have learned how to get my tendencies to work ‘for’ me and not ‘against’ me.
So, what’s the trick, you might ask? While I am not sure what combination of things is best, as everyone will be different, I will gladly share some of the ideas that were key for me. First and foremost, get informed for yourself. While helpful to seek professional advice (and you should), you are the only one who knows what’s right for you. Listen to that inner voice. It knows. Secondly, enlist support–friends, family, a group–I went to all, even though I was embarrassed at first by attending the latter, it was a huge help and I highly encourage it. Like-minded people are your best resource. Afterall, they’ve been there and done it. Thirdly, exercise regularly (mania is NOT required) and eliminate alcohol and caffeine for awhile anyway, especially if experiencing ‘episodes’. To this day, I still practice yoga, which was recommended to me by my ‘group’ leader. It has helped me tremendously. It is the one work-out session that I am most faithful to (fifteen years now) and just so you know, I am NOT an exercise fiend. I just realize its benefits on my overall health. And, in case you are wondering, I do have the occasional drink and my morning cup of java. I am just cautious not to overdo either. Fourthly, look seriously at your eating and sleeping habits. Both are extremely important and yes, changes are usually necessary. Don’t underestimate the value each holds on your well-being. You only have one body. It will take care of you, if you take care of it. And, yes, I still enjoy chocolate–just in limited portions. Well, mostly:-). And lastly, but above all, believe in yourself and your power to overcome anything you put your mind to. Anything! You wouldn’t be here otherwise. Watch that negative self-talk that creeps in so easily and focus on the positive. Who best to pick up on energy than people like you and me, right?! Just be sure to choose the right energies. Oh, and if you are looking for another good read, try Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. During one of my famous panic episodes on a major roadway during rush hour traffic (of course, right?), I literally pulled over to the side of the road and decided to just ‘let it come’, so that I could get on with my day. For the first time ever, I chose not to fight it (feel the fear) and it worked! It passed, I recovered and on I went to work. LIFE-CHANGING MOMENT!!!! because of Ms. Jeffers’ book.
While each you and I are on our own journeys, please know that you are not ALONE ever. You are worthy. You are able. You are powerful. Don’t ever forget it or think otherwise. It serves no purpose. I know;-). Choose power over panic and choose it every single time. It works. Sooner or later, it works. I am proof.