When I was twenty three I got married and moved from the only home I had ever known on the east coast all the way across the country to Vancouver Island. I also suffered my first panic attack shortly after that. I thought I had a heart attack and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where they declared me physically fine, said it was just a panic attack and sent me home. I had no idea at that time that anxiety and the associated panic attacks were going to lead me on a painful and wonderful journey of discovery. At one point in my late twenties these attacks were so bad that I could not leave the house on my own. My own territory, my home, was a safe place where I could control the environment and who entered it. Just going across the parking lot to get lunch at work was a walk of extreme discomfort. At work I was fine, at home I was fine, or was I? I had trouble breathing, got frequent chest pains, headaches, suffered from severe stomach issues and the list goes on. Living in a constant state of fear is hard on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Living in a constant state of anxiety is like being slowly buried alive and not being able to do anything about it, you are frozen with fear.
I did not get my drivers liscence until I was in my thirties and still deal with panic attacks when I have to drive somewhere that I am not familiar with, though the severity of them has lessened over time. I have to tell you that I have driven across most of Canada now, woohoo! I would like to be able to tell you that there was one magic thing that fixed it all but there was not. It was a whole bunch of little things learned and ways of being that were incorporated into my life in small increments that helped. I also had help from professionals and non professionals. I also encourage anyone with any type of problem to reach out for help. Apparently some would consider this to be a form of mental illness, though I do not label myself in that way. From what I have seen over the years everyone suffers from some form of mental illness even if it is just an grossly overblown sense of self importance. Just take a look at the Trump disaster that is going on with our neighbours to the south. Do you think he is displaying any level of sane thought or action, or the country as a whole is thinking with their right mind? We are seeing only a small part of the picture. The anxiety and panic attacks are only a small part of you, though they can take over your life. I think as a society we are too caught up in labels. Every one has felt fear, anxiety and panic at some point in their lives. For some of us the dance with them lasts longer and for others the dance only ends with their death. Please reach out to people and keep reaching out until you find someone that you can relate to. I have worked extremely hard to get to the point I am at today, so I understand the struggles people face. Their struggles might not be exactly the same, but if we focus on the differences there will never be any understanding of the other. I won’t lie it will not be easy. Nothing worth having ever is. You are worth it so fight, dig, cry, scream, but do the work. You. Are. Worth. It.
I did not expect to write this post and quite frankly I am not all that comfortable doing it, but once again the universe compels me to speak. Okay universe I will go with this, but know I am not happy about it. This makes me vulnerable and I know based on previous experiences that I will be judged by some people and loved by others for my honesty and candor. I have no control over how others will react to this. I want you to know that most of these panic attacks and severe anxiety episodes have taken place in private. I still have them happen in public and this is when I say slightly inappropriate things or my behaviour seems a bit off. I laughed so hard at a funeral that I had to get up and leave, people thought I was sobbing in grief and I was almost peeing my pants with laughter! Yup, I’m a giggle at a funeral. Sometimes I look away from you when I am speaking to collect myself and so you do not see the pain or anxiety. Most of you don’t notice. People who know me socially, may be surprised by this post. Those who know me on an intimate level have seen me struggle, overcome, struggle again and grow and grow and glow. Little typo there but I’m going to keep the glow, I like it. It fits.
What do you think when you hear the words mental illness? It sends shivers up my spine let me tell ya. I want nothing to do with that. I had a friend who was a psychologist and I had a chat with him one day. I told him that I thought I might be crazy and gave him a few examples of why I thought this. He told me nope you are just human and the secret is that the really crazy ones would never even question their sanity, they are the serial killers, the Hitler’s of the world and the ones with no thought of anyone or anything but themselves. God, I loved that man and miss him still. Thanks John for helping me realize my humanity was showing and heal myself. I loved his down to earth perspective on life and am grateful for the short time I got to spend with him.
So our societal and medical systems love labels but labels don’t take into account that we are so much more than just that and capable of so much more than we ever thought possible. I think that what I am supposed to remind you of today is that you are so much more. You are so much more than your fears, insecurities, doubts and struggles. You are also enough, more than enough and much more lovable than you believe. Your ability to heal is also far greater than you have been led to believe. You are uncomfortable and fearful for a reason. Get help and discover the reason. There is always an underlying reason. Do not be afraid of uncovering what lies underneath. I know it is extremely difficult and I would hold your hand through it if I could. The truth of it all will set you free from the prison that anxiety has you caged in. Today I will leave you with a poem that I wrote a few years ago about a crystal called sodalite. I had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to write the poem down so I could go back to sleep. The stone wanted to speak. This dark blue stone is related to your voice, throat chakra and speaking your truth. My wish for each of you is that you are always provided with the help you need and you live your truth with love and compassion. I also hope you find your voice and use it to help others. Much love to all of you.
Cold, blue, stone of truth
Release the bonds of silence
That fear has wrapped
Around my soul
The truth inside me is released
With quiet strength
I find my voice
In the middle of my thoughts and feelings
My hearts sings with freedom
Arms raised to the night
I dance with my tears
Under a cold, blue, sky
Reach out and hug someone