It was a warm August day, I was barely 21 working in a coffee shop when I suddenly started to feel like I couldn’t breathe. My chest began to feel really tight, I was gasping for air and rushed to find a chair to sit down. I couldn’t catch my breath or formulate a sentence. One of the guys I worked with thought I was having a heart attack and called 911. I was rushed in an ambulance and remember sitting in the ER with my hands and legs folded up worrying for what the dr. might say when they come in the room. Was I dying? What’s happening to me? The physician had sandy blonde hair that looked blonder than it actually was against the stark white walls and the blaring fluorescent bright lights.
She said, “have you taken any drugs”?
I remember being caught off guard.
“Um, what? No”, I said.
“Have you in the past 30 days?”
“No”, I said again a little sterner this time.
“Well, it sounds like you are experiencing a panic attack, she said. Here are a few prescriptions I want you to try.” Xanax to take as needed and Wellbutrin, both of which came with a laundry list of additional side effects. No questions about WHY. Why was I having an anxiety attack, what was the root cause? What were some other alternative options?
And just like that, she sent me on my way and that was the beginning of the most numbing year to date. I became the Guinee pig for every new medication that was available at the time. I felt like a zombie most days. Tired, uninterested, lack of connection to myself, my art, my music. Everything just felt like it was in slow motion. I guess this is my life now, I thought. Who have I become?
Until one morning more than a decade later, I opened my eyes wide and thought there has to be another way!
That was the day I started down the holistic path. I was being asked big heavy questions about my family, past partnerships, behavioral patterning, limiting beliefs. It was like light bulbs were going off like fireworks in my head. Finally, I was starting to see the roots of my looping and debilitating anxiety. Through Energy Healing, chakra settings, deep listening and meditation, I was finally walking myself back to ME again. The me that I had left behind and thought I would never find again.
The thing that continues to be lost time and time again is not asking the WHY of the problem so that there can be a proper solution. I was speaking with a dear friend recently and she told me she had spent years with anxiety but had never put two and two together that, that was what she was actually experiencing. The out of body fight-or-flight response, the excessive irrational worrying, sweaty palms, racing thoughts, problems sleeping and turning off her brain. But still never identified that what she was actually experiencing was anxiety.
Problem number two.
How can you solve a problem when you can’t even recognize that it’s a problem?
The million-dollar question.
My opinion is that we don’t normalize it. We don’t create safe enough places to talk about it. Instead, we turn a blind eye or devalue a person by saying things like, “Well, you’re just too sensitive.”, “You seem a little overly emotional, are you ok?”, “you’re being a bit dramatic.”
How can a human feel safe if that is what they are being told and taught? To numb it out, toughen up, chill out, stop being so emotional.
One of the best forms of inner guidance we have is through our 5 senses. We have to lean into those in order to survive, make good decisions, trust what we are feeling. The more we hide and bottle up, the more out of touch we are within ourselves.
Next time you are feeling overanxious, I challenge you to sit down, take a deep breath and ask yourself, WHY and lean all the way in, as far as you can, to the really, really, uncomfortable places and trust what you hear.