Friday, 30 December 2016

finding calm.

This is my third consecutive day of feeling overwhelmingly, profusely, immensely anxious. And I hate it... Within this feeling, however, is the desire to write and write and write. To share. To educate. To help other people also drowning in panic and everything. feeling. too. fucking. much. I'm going to try and work through this systematically (with the help of some tumblr images), addressing firstly:

What IT feels like...

Anxiety is almost entirely impossible to explain to a non-sufferer. I used to watch YouTube videos of people saying 'I have anxiety' and honestly, I just couldn't understand it. Feeling anxious is a human emotion. I feel anxious before a test, before results day, before a job interview, before a party etc. I had always assumed horrendous anxiety would only occur after a horrendous event, like death of a family member, car crash, or something equally traumatic. I was completely ignorant to what 'anxiety' felt like. 

Personally, my anxiety comes in waves. Before school broke up for Christmas, I had experienced several days of horrible anxiety during my lessons. And then it subsided. I was able to listen and participate in my classes once again, even go out with my friends without my brain and body going in to 'fight or flight' mode. I guess I was naive, thinking it had disappeared. 

Because anxiety cannot disappear. It must be addressed, it must be understood, and, above all, it must not be feared. 

1. Anxiety feels overwhelming. It usurps ever corner of your mind until all you can focus on is the tightness in your chest or your erratic breathing. 

2. Anxiety feels in-explainable. You can be sitting on your bed, watching a film, entirely comfortable and then it comes. Unannounced. 

3. Anxiety feels like your identity. This is known as depersonalisation. You can forget what it feel like to be free of this consuming anxiety, who you were before it attacked your mind. 

4. Anxiety feels like you are going to die. This is quite extreme, I know, but I have had moments where my heart was beating so fast, I honestly feared that I was having a fatal heart attack. Struggling to fit air in your tightening lungs is frightening. 

What IT actually is...

1. Anxiety is not permanent. Regardless of how long you have been feeling panicked, it is temporary. And you will get through it. 

2. Anxiety is not fatal. I read somewhere that anxiety is caused by a simple imbalance in the body from continuous stress. We are not always aware where this stress came from which is EXACTLY why we panic about panicking, causing our body to go in to fight or flight mode. 

3. Anxiety can be cured. Remember that fear is and EMOTION, not a medical condition. 

4. Anxiety is incredibly common. You are not alone.  

'Calm' is an elusive word when I feel anxious. Telling myself to 'relax, stay calm, find peace' is not a long term solution for anxiety. It's frustrating. I feel angry. I feel hopeless. IT feels unconquerable. 

But... it is just that. A feeling. (A very real feeling that affects your heart and breathing but a feeling all the same). 

For short term relief, say for perhaps when I am in a particularly anxious spell and my heart rate is proliferating, I listen to music. Very loudly. I look out of the window and focus my gaze on the birds. I write. I read. It is about distraction, engaging in ANYTHING but your racing heart or your constricting lungs. 

And yet anxiety cannot dissolve from short term relief. Not entirely. 

I like to keep a notebook in which I write down quotes that help me find calm and reassurances that what I'm feeling is O K A Y. I also create mind maps with 'anxiety' in the center and my symptoms in red, my feelings in blue. Most recently, I drew a diagram with all my fears, attempting to find the root of my anxiety (eg moving away from home, fear of getting ill, fear of missing out social events because of feeling ill). Verbalizing what scares you is frightening in itself but such an important step in overcoming your anxious period. 

In no way have I defeated anxiety. But I'm determined. And I will keep working on  the journey. This isn't going to define me. This isn't going to rule me. This isn't who I am. And this isn't how I will stay. 

'be safe in the knowledge that inside you, there is always peace. deep within you, there is always calm.'


(Please use the comments section to discuss how you tackle anxiety. Maybe you could help someone?)

A helpful app: Calm 

A brilliant book: Panicking about Panic [x]

Sunday, 18 December 2016

how far I'll go

I've been standing at the edge of the water
Long as I can remember
Never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water
No matter how hard I try

Every turn I take
Every trail I track
Every path I make
Every road leads back to the place I know
Where I cannot go
Where I long to be

See the light where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
No one knows how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know
If I go there's just no telling how far I'll go

So I saw 'Moana'  last Friday and left the cinema with a serene calmness that I hadn't felt in a long time.  Spoilers aside, this film addressed something so incredibly relevant and much needed (and  I have been drowning in the soundtrack 24/7). 

The above are the lyrics to the song 'How Far I'll Go' from the film, and I highly recommend you give it a listen. If you read my last post, you will know that I have been dealing with a patch of anxiety. A very fluctuating patch of anxiety. A couple of weeks ago, the only way I felt as though I could survive a lesson was by watching the birds flutter through the windows. I spoke to a few teachers, my mum and a doctor but honestly, it was only something that I could conquer. Yes, I took a tablet before school for a few days and still frequently use Bach's Rescue Remedy drops, and yet the monster needed to be addressed internally. 

The source of my anxiety stems from fear of the future. At least, that is the conclusion I've drawn from myself. I am frightened of leaving home, I am frightened of dying and I am frightened of this momentous change I will undergo. There are days when I am excited and talking about uni fills me with this drive and ambition. And yet there is the underlying fear of the unknown that haunts my conversations. Anxiety is never really as concrete as I'm thinking of the future, therefore I feel anxious. I wish it was. My heart sporadically decides when it wants to start ferocious dancing- which is exactly when I must distract myself. 


These last few weeks I have had amazing, hilarious days at school where I've like me again. I refuse to let fear dictate.  I refuse to stay in the shelter of my bed fearing an anxiety attack because 'fear does not stop death, it stops life.' 

And now, the title. Because the light where the sky meets the sea calls me, even though no one knows how far it goes. And I think that is beautiful. I want to learn to embrace the future rather than fear it, to dance in the waves unafraid of the danger that the sea bed may conceal. 

Because when I cross that line, there's no telling how far I'll go.