" We know the world only through the window of our mind. When our mind is noisy, the world is as well. And when our mind is peaceful, the world is, too. Knowing our minds is just as important as trying to change the world" - Haemin Sunim
For 18 months I've been writing these pieces on anxiety in my head, sentences whirling round and round, turning into paragraphs.
Constantly questioning myself, Should I write this? Should I not? Repeatedly toying with the idea over a long time, then pen came to paper as I found myself in one of my worst 'chapters' of anxiety to date this spring.
I should never of felt 'shame' about having a (longer than I liked chapter) inner battle with anxiety - but for some obscure reason, we, as humans, try to de-humanize ourselves by feeling shame along side the emotion of anxiousness or sadness.
A few weeks ago, I had enough and got to 'THAT POINT' where I couldn't deal with the chest pains of sadness any longer, so said to myself I'm just going to straight up talk about it. Those who know me, know I am usually quite an 'upbeat' person, so admitting I was feeling seriously anxious about my future was quite a hard thing for me to do.
When some one asked me "how are you" the usual response is to say 'I'm fine thanks!" or "I'm good and you?"
I knew I wasn't 'fine' or 'good' so decided to answer this daily question with the truth - "I'm struggling with anxiety at the moment, but I know the cause and am working on it".
The reactions from people varied.
Some just responded with "oh"and awkwardly changed the subject whilst apologising for my 'sadness', others offered support and encouragement, but most of all - the response I got was "me too."
I was pretty taken back at the amount of friends who all had had experiences of struggling with anxiety, loneliness or just a general feelings of sadness - but never spoken about it. It was far more common than I once thought, and everyone had different journeys with it.
On a sunny Tuesday, my body decided it was going to erupt all of its bottled up emotions with my parents over lunch. I think they got quite a shock at my volcano - style - eruption of tears, flapping and high pitched voice - but I could not believe the relief I felt just from saying how I felt and not holding it all in anymore. It was out. It was as if this suitcase of negativity I was holding inside my chest flew open releasing all the anxiety inside. I was now an empty suitcase - ready to pack with new, positive, exciting thoughts and things.
It is a dangerous thing to bottle in emotions and not talk about them.
Doctors and scientists have proved it can make you physically ill, and even poison your organs leaving you really sick. When a nurse explained it to me, it all made sense really. She explained very clearly - saying how when you bury it inside, the emotion has no where to go - so then it gets forced into different parts of the body and poisons it.
I've had personal experience of this - chest pains for starters is a 'physical pain'- of when the 'emotion' of anxiety or sadness is present. I know when anxiety has got inside me because of these chest pains I will physically feel.
There are also emotions like stress which have been proven by doctors can cause heart problems and thats not even a theory - its fact.
Our bodies are so incredible and fascinating - the fact the human body, when heightened with sadness it can't contain it, so it releases the sadness from the body via tears blows my mind!
And when the body is full of so much joy, it can't contain it either - so it is released via uncontrollable noise - laughter.
Its the biggest feeling of peace and relief being able to just be REAL all day, everyday, that I felt the need to encourage others that 'its ok to not be ok'!
Don't ever feel shame for feeling low, or allow anyone to de-humanise you - life throws curve balls at us all the time, and its human instinct to go through different periods of happiness / sadness / anger / peace. Talk to friend you love and trust, who loves and trusts you back. Talking about it is the first big step to freedom. I really believe, that 'a problem shared is a problem halved.' I don't know what I would of done without my 'crumpets of courage' and my friends who were my solid rocks right by me when times were hard.
Book recommendations I found not only amazing but super helpful:
Happy - Finding Joy in every day and letting go of Perfect
(This is a beautiful interactive / creative book with interviews of a lot of peoples experiences and what helped them, it helped me think positively throughout negative situations.)
- By Fearne Cotton
Everyday Mindfulness - A daily devotional
( This is a great book if you are interested in being more mindful, thoughtful and present. It has 365 different quotes, mindfulness techniques and practices, one to read each day - only a sentence each day)
The things you can see only when you slow down: How to be calm in a busy World
- By Haemin Sunim
(I can't get enough of this book - its beautifully illustrated and Haemin Sunim is such such a humble yet wise writer. He gives a calming reminder of the strength and joy that comes from just slowing down a bit.)
Youtube / Ted Talks / Podcasts:
Brene Brown - incredible Ted talks and youtube videos on vulnerability and finding your true identity. She has a very 'real' manner in how she talks, and makes you laugh too. She has several books also I would highly recommend!
The connection - A youtube documentary where scientists and doctors show the connection between the mind and body - truly fascinating.