What a difference a month makes. I’ve been keeping a little secret from you, my dear readers. It’s not that I didn’t want to share, but rather I didn’t know how. The last month has been a trying time for me, one filled with feelings I struggled to name.
You see, I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. And most of the time, I know what triggers it — a math exam, a long flight, a doctor’s appointment. Most of the time, my anxiety seems rational…at least to me. But for the last month, it was anything but. It consumed both my waking and sleeping hours, to the point where there weren’t many hours that I actually slept. I felt like a shell of the person I once was. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t eat. And the slightest thought would send me into tears. My anxiety was completely irrational…even to me.
My mind played tricks on me day and night. My head told my body that something was physically wrong with me. The funny thing about anxiety (is any part of it funny?), is that your mind can actually torture your body — if you let it. And I did.
Late night phone calls, texts, and Skype calls with friends and family helped. But it was only temporary. As soon as I was on my own again, the what-ifs started. No amount of meditation would make them stop. No amount of telling myself they were irrational quieted them. Come morning, I was groggy, and by nightfall I was wide awake. This pattern seemed like it was never going to end. And then, just like flicking a switch, it did. It stopped. Without any further action on my part, my mind gave up. Maybe it got tired. Maybe it thought the battle wasn’t worth it anymore. But nevertheless, it stopped. It quieted. And it went back to doing what the mind normally does — it wandered. It wandered onto better and more pleasant things.
If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety issues, perhaps you can relate to this. If you haven’t, you are lucky. The last month was probably the hardest month I’ve had in a while. Being unable to combat a demon is frightening. Having people not understand what you’re going through is even more terrifying. But the scariest part of the whole experience was how much influence your mind can have over your body. How anxiety can completely envelop your whole life. I had never experienced anything so severe — and I learned that I need to focus more on quieting my mind through meditation.
Over the weekend, I found myself sitting on the beach. As I watched the water, felt the breeze on my skin, and zoned out with the sound of each crashing wave, I saw this beam of light come though the overcast sky. To me, it was not only beautiful, but symbolic. Just as I had started to physically and mentally feel better, this ray of light emerged — almost as if to say this too shall pass. From that moment on, I decided I wouldn’t let anything dim that light.
Why do I tell you all this? Because we all have things that upset us, make us anxious, or keep us up at night. Some of us are better at keeping these feelings in check than others. For the last month I’ve felt as though my brain has had too many tabs open, but unwinding seemed impossible. I found my ten minutes of meditation each night before bed more akin to torture than relaxation. And just when it felt like these feelings would plague me forever, they stopped. I’m not sure why. And I’m not sure how.
For now, I am enjoying feeling like myself again, getting back to a regular sleeping pattern, and easing into a meditation routine. After the experience of the last month, feeling like myself is not something I will ever take for granted.