I couldn’t breathe or get up from the floor. My body felt like it was under a wall of cement, restricting me from accessing any ounce of power I had to pick myself up. Mentally, I kept trying to stop the tears from pouring, but physically I could not. My mother sat next to me, almost in tears herself, reassuring me that everything would be okay, but I didn’t know how to believe her. Sobbing, I asked her, “How do you know? How do you know I will be okay?!” In that moment, I was far from okay and the panic I felt was paralyzing. I wanted to die. My mother was right, though (she usually is). I was blind to it in that moment, but those feelings would eventually subside and everything really would be okay - until the next time my anxiety came crashing down on me. I didn’t know yet that I would find the necessary release and resolution to take control of my life. It’s possible for you, too.
Almost 11 years have passed since I had an anxiety attack so severe, but it took a lot of practice and growth to find the light at the end of a dark tunnel. My anxious tendencies still manifest in specific ways, and just like when I was 17, people never guess that “high functioning anxiety” is something I deal with. It equates to me being a perfectionist deep down to my core and, in turn, I am highly addicted to my work. It is a habit to close myself in my studio most days, listen to music, reflect, and create art until my entire body feels raw. While this may sound painful, it is actually my therapy - my release. Slowing down often feels like torture. I secretly obsess over scenarios that aren’t even necessarily real, causing a sick feeling in my stomach that one might only experience after riding an intense roller coaster. I twist and pull my hair, clench my jaw, and bite my nails. My body literally purges itself of negativity through uncontrollable vomiting. It probably seems irrational, but sometimes answering texts and phone calls incites a fight or flight response in my physiology, and my heart races when I meet some new people. I feel sorry for all the messages that go unanswered, but sometimes I Just. Can't. Do it - and most people just don’t know. How could they? It’s not like I make it obvious.
It feels strange to speak about this so openly, as I was always lead to believe that these are negative traits to have and that I need to “fix” myself. People constantly told me to be less sensitive. Past relationships pushed me to feel guilty about my feelings, extroverts imagined I must dislike them for my inward reflection, and high school peers believed I was simply stuck up. People often saw me as an extroverted being, but were thrown off when I chose to observe or stay within my own mind. I battled with myself for so long trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me based on society’s standards of what is normal and felt like I could never fit in. Instead of exploring and understanding this aspect of myself, I spent so much of my time trying to avoid it and be someone I am not. This action often resulted in physical illness, but I will save that story for another day.
Somewhere along my tumultuous and beautiful spiritual journey, I made the decision to go into my subconscious and face all the things I kept hidden for so long. It was comparable to ripping off a million band-aids stuck to the hairs on my arms and revealing wounds that never healed properly, or left behind nasty scars. Digging up repressed memories and emotions that I never faced was painful, but worth it to finally let them go.
In that time, I began to meditate and provide my mind, body, and soul with the love they needed. This included exercising consistently and eating healthy, nutritional foods. I stepped into my power and learned that I am an Empath, which explains why I am so impacted by people, and the world, around me. Energy is my first language and my intuition is my greatest strength. The day I faced my feelings head on, I began to utilize them constructively. Now, I am capable of helping others through my experiences and intense ability to FEEL their pain. If I kept hiding from myself, I would have never known these superpowers reside in me, or that my observant and sensitive nature is a product of these aspects of my soul. I no longer punish myself for the way I feel. Instead, I embrace who I truly am. I channel my energy into my art and observe emotions like messages. While I love being around the beautiful people in my life, I charge up by being alone, and that is okay. I fill my energy reserves by strengthening my imagination and creativity. Most importantly, I listen to SPIRIT, and I am fulfilled.
Throughout our lives, so many of us are told that in order to thrive we have to look and act a certain way. When we start to stray from those norms because they are unnatural, our peers label, or diagnose, us. Then, we float around feeling lost and out of control, but it DOESN’T have to be that way! We should never live in fear of ourselves or be shunned because we don’t stand up to society’s bullshit checklist for what makes a "normal" human. Who has the right to say we aren’t exactly how we are meant to be, anyway? Most of the time, what makes us look crazy to society, has the capacity to bring great value to the world – but we have to release ourselves from the constraints of what everyone else wants us to be, and be who WE want to be. We HAVE to breathe, trust, accept, and let go.
One day, society will encourage the exploration of individualism and shift its perspective on mental health. Until then, we are constant works in progress in fully expressing and accepting ourselves, and leading by example. Even though some days are far harder and darker than others, this is a part of who we are. Embracing our shadows allows us to grow. Learning not to fear these “taboo” feelings teaches us acceptance. When both sides of our being are met and respected equally, we will finally evolve and find peace.
If you know anyone who might benefit from reading this, please SHARE and comment letting me know your thoughts. Let’s bring the light of love and acceptance to everyone, and let people know they are never alone!