A story on how I overcame my anxiety – written a good while ago, mustering up the courage to share
I had been working at my job for 6 months. I had been planning on leaving after a few more. In fact, I didn’t know how in the world I would even last a few more months. But then something happened. My job told me I either needed to commit or be fired. At first, I didn’t know how I felt. Excited? Annoyed? Angry? I had planned to leave anyway, but with a bit more money in my pocket. Also, I’ve been trying to do a lot of self work recently and feel I have made progress. Most things I’d been complaining about, I’ve been learning to make adjustments and work with. Finding peace and the right balance of control/flow at work, as well as finding more balance between family time and alone time. Just when I started to make progress everything was going to be up in the air.
The next morning I felt sad. I cried a little. I was very upset before work and on my way to work. I had to get it together to be able to ‘show up’. It was a miserable day. During my break, I tried to focus on some writing in order to clear my head. I came to the conclusion that this was all happening for a reason. It was a sign from the universe. I didn’t really want to keep working anyway, I’d been wanting more time to focus on art and more time in general. So here, a gift, more time. Also my plan had been to travel and randomly make money. I had some fear about this. So another gift. An opportunity to practice randomly making money here while in a good living situation. Then when I do leave I would have more confidence. You would think this new outlook should have made me feel great, but it didn’t. It helped enough so that I was able to keep it together at work. But as soon as I left work I cried on the drive home. I went straight to my room and cried some more. I was angry at myself, confused. I really did like my job. It was the best job I ever had. And recently I realized that I am basically happy. I do need more to be fulfilled. But I have a job where I’m respected and appreciated greatly. I love being near my family and spending time with them. They give me great support during this time that I am trying to do a lot of self work. Things are good, and there is room and opportunity to make them better. Why do I feel the need to leave? Why if things are good do I want to run off to nowhere? Is it not easier to work on writing and art when I have a home base opposed to living in my truck? Why do I always feel the need to go somewhere else? Why do I always have 1 foot out the door waiting to leave? What’s wrong with me? Of course this thought of ‘what’s wrong with me’ pretty much broke me down. I got it together enough to have dinner with the fam, but then I came back to my room and cried. Why was I so bothered? (*footnote)
For the first time ever, I exposed myself on facebook and reached out for support and advice from a group I’m a part of. They told me something was wrong with me. That made me angry. They told me in life you have to commit, it’s called foundation. They said 2 years is no big deal. It’s over in the blink of an eye. They told me life was long, 2 years was short.
My thoughts were – no one understands. No one gets me. Why don’t people see that I belong in the current, not trapped on an island. 2 years is short? Are you crazy? I could be dead in 2 years. I might not even live that long. 2 years passes by in the blink of an eye? Exactly. My life will just be over so quickly. Time slows down when you’re on the road. It speeds up when you continuously live the same life day in and day out. I need to hold on to the time I have.
The first person also asked me what I was afraid of? I told her the real fear was in not committing. The real fear was to focus on my art. To follow my own dreams. Staying would be easy. So the real question was ‘why am I upset about this? Why don’t I just leave and follow my heart? What was holding me back?’ (which is still a valid question I am trying to sort out)
I probably would have just left it at that, but then another person’s post came through. Someone I vaguely know. He said the same, ‘what are you afraid of?’ but then expanded further, ‘Now that the surface shit is outta the way, what are you really afraid of? Now that you’ve come this far, what are you really, really afraid of?’
For some reason, his post hit me differently.I thought on it more, but still resisted. I kept thinking, I’m not afraid – I just don’t want to be here. Like a mantra. I’m not afraid, I’m mad. I wanted to have more money when I left. More security. They’ve taken that from me. My plans are thwarted. But I kept coming back to his post. Get real, I told myself. What are you afraid of? I JUST DONT WANNA FUKING BE HERE! I kept yelling into the abyss of my mind. It was a back and forth cycle for a long time. But I was having such a strong emotional reaction, I wouldn’t give up. That kind of anger and defensiveness always means I am refusing to see the truth. So I pushed harder. My head started to hurt. Every time I tried to see past my resistance – I was blocked. There was a wall I couldn’t get through and my head would hurt more and more. The headache made me want to stop thinking, stop pushing, stop searching. But I wouldn’t give in. I was getting nowhere with this modality though, so I sought out a paper and pen.
Ok, I told myself. Just think surface. What is the issue? I don’t remember exactly how it all developed from here on out. But I began writing. In a question answer sort of way. Writing helped me fine tune my thoughts. It helped me get passed the barrier of ‘I DONT WANNA FUKING BE HERE’. It was like a channel, opening passages into a deeper part of myself. And then I remembered my reaction to the other people’s posts. ‘It’s just 2 years’ – and me thinking I could be dead in 2 years.
And there, that was it. Ever since Dad died I’ve had this feeling of imminent death. That I’m dying. Soon. Now. There’s no time to waste. Why work? I’m dying. It’s been this great overwhelming feeling that everything has to happen now. Travel, exploration, art. There is no time. That’s been the real mantra of my life for the past 5 years. ‘There’s no time’. It has driven me crazy, brought on minor panic attacks, been the source of my anxiety. Every time I have any little thing, a pain, an ache, stomach problem, a skin spot – it’s cancer. I’m dying. I can’t work. Why work? I’m dying. Of course these are all more quiet thoughts. I’ve been well aware of them, but the louder thoughts tell me I’m not dying. Tell me I don’t have cancer. (I was never a hypochondriac before my Dad died).
The truth is, I’ve been waiting to die my entire life. I’ve always thought I was going to die young. Around 50 or 60 maybe. I’ve never really had any hopes or dreams. Goals. I’ve never really seen any future for myself.
My sister and mother believe that this belief started because I was always compared to my Uncle. It was weird for me as a kid because I didn’t really know him. They always said I was like him though. That I had his genes. And I never understood it. I wanted to know him. I always felt misunderstood or not understood even at a young age. I thought, maybe this Uncle would be the one person who would understand me. The one family member I could relate to. He died when I was 13. I met him a handful of times. But never got to know him. He had pancreatitis and died of pancreatic cancer. I used to live in fear of getting pancreatitis. Not just because of him, but also because my Dad had it and every time my stomach hurt they would test my blood sugar. It was like my parents were afraid I had it and therefor the fear leaked into me. Then at 19, I did develop pancreatitis. Solidifying the fear and solidifying my connection to my Uncle. I became convinced that I would die young and die of pancreatic cancer.
Then Dad died. Dad told me once that he would die young. He said all the men in his family died young, so he would too. And then he did. He was right. I have also believed my whole life that I will die young, so it must be true just like it was true for Dad.
I even spoke of this thing, this feeling of pressure that everything has to happen now. I told my friends way back shortly after Dad died. They said I’ve been that way my whole life. And they’re right. But it grew in great intensity when he died. I developed pretty strong anxiety after his death, having never experienced anxiety before. I didn’t even know what it was for the longest time until I started talking about this huge pounding in my heart like it was going to explode out of my chest. My friend said, “oh that’s anxiety, try this adavain”. I ended up having to quit my job because the anxiety was so bad. Then I continued to managem it only by not having responsibilities, obligations, or commitments. So no pressure and plenty of time.
When Dad died, I felt like a part of him came into me. Like a part of his spirit entered my body. Attached to my spirit. And it felt like a negative thing. I pretty much felt like that right away. And have continued to carry it around. I don’t know if I even believe in this sort of thing and so it didn’t make much since, but I did feel that way, and have continued to feel it. I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent, but another thing, in conjunction with this, after Dad died, I moved into a room in Mom’s house. It was a room Dad used to lie down in when he felt bad. He would typically lay up there for an hour or 2 resting.
I’ve never been much for fear. At least not in the safety of a house. I’m not one to get afraid at night or afraid of being alone in a house. But after moving into this room, I became terrified at night. I couldn’t sleep. Every single noise was a person breaking into the house wanting to kill me and my mom. Every night I would be in a panic state of fear until 4 or 5 in the morning when I would finally pass out from over exhaustion. I didn’t understand it. It was so unusual for me. It lasted for 2 months. Then finally I decided maybe it was because this room was at the front of the house where there were more noises, perhaps if I slept in a room in the back of the house it would be quieter.
I moved into my Dad’s office. The room he would spend time in when he felt great. There was an immediate change. No more fear and I slept great every night. How strange. Then I went out of the country for awhile. When I came back and again went to sleep in the bedroom where my dad had rested, the fear came back. A petrifying fear. I had been living in the rainforest, in a building with no locks, hitchhiking across a foreign country, hiking alone in the middle of nowhere, all with little to no fear. Now here I am in a locked up house, in a relatively safe area, with a knife by my side, and my bedroom door locked and my fear is out of control.
Then it kind of hit me. Maybe this is connected to Dad. Maybe he left behind an imprint that I’m picking up on. Maybe he laid in this bed terrified himself. Terrified of dying. Of leaving Mom. Of not having enough time. And all those feelings were leaking into me as I lay quietly in the dark in the bedroom. I tried saging the room to get rid of the energy. But it didn’t work. Maybe I didn’t do it right, I don’t know. I just moved back into the happy office space and things were fine.
So, getting back on track, Dad’s been dead 5 years. This whole time I’ve known there is something in his death that I haven’t dealt with. When I’ve met a few empathic/spiritual/connected people they’ve told me I have issues around my father. I knew in my soul they were right, but had absolutely no idea as to what it was. I guess I didn’t try hard to figure it out either. I’ve been off, sad (obviously), not quite myself, like a part of me is missing and a part of me is added. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. My good and very insightful friend, mentioned a couple times, ‘yea, well, you’ve been messed up since yr dad died’.
For the past 5 years – THERE IS NO TIME has been my mantra. And I very slowly came to realize also the source of my anxiety. My focus was on ‘how do I create more time to get rid of the anxiety’ opposed to ‘why do I feel there isn’t enough time?” That’s where I went wrong.
So it came to light. I feel death is imminent. That’s why there is no time.
All these feelings I’ve been having for the past 5 years are not new. It’s how I’ve felt my whole life. But when Dad died they intensified greatly. And whether part of his spirit or his emotional imprint latched itself onto me or me being empathic I just absorbed some of his energy, or just simply his death amplified thoughts and feelings I already had, an affirmation. It happened. The how and the why are mostly irrelevant.
So, it’s actually amazing. This realization has set me free. I wouldn’t think it would be so easy as to see the truth and let it go. But it was. It wasn’t easy to see what had a hold of me. It took a lot of painful work digging deep into my subconscious. But once I had a hold of the thought that had been shaping my life, once I held it in my hands and looked at, it was very easy to just let go.
I feel like I’m going to die soon pretty much only because other people have died. That makes entirely no since. I feel there is no time because I think I’m about to die. But if I’m not about to die, then I have plenty of time. So there is no reason to panic. Everything has changed. I don’t see my job as a burden stealing time away from me. (keep in mind I do like my job)
It’s funny in a way. Everything is different now. Everything has changed, and yet it’s all still the same. My time is still precious. I still feel it is important to invest in myself and my dreams. So to use my time wisely when not at work to pursue art as my occupation. I still don’t want to work for someone else in the future. I still don’t buy into the retirement thing. When my job is up, I still have the idea to be self sustaining. I still want to just freely travel the world. But now, all the anxiety is gone. The pressure and weight have been lifted. I feel light. Life is no longer bearing down on me. I’m grateful.
That is a good ending to my story. But I’d still like to add a couple things. I’ve been trying to find the root of these issues for the past 5 years. As I said before, the friend on facebook said ‘what are you afraid of? Ok now the surface shit is out of the way, what are you really afraid of? Ok now dig really deep, what are you truly really, really afraid of?”
I’ve done lots of meditation in the past. Trying to find the root of all my underlying issues. Of course the ‘no time’ came up, and in conjunction with that the feeling that I want to do my own thing, create my art, have that be my occupation. So it seemed like a simple answer really. I feel anxiety and anger because I want to spend my time pursuing my dreams. That all seems quite logical. And it’s what I went with. Also, another connected issue I have and have had my whole life, but that has grown stronger – is control. I don’t care to control you. But I am furious when you try to control me. This is connected to time. You controlling me is typically taking my time. And my time is sacred. I guess it all came down to time. I accepted all these answers as the root of my problem. But it was only the trunk. None of these answers relieved my stress or anxiety. None of these answers made me feel better, and so they were not the right answer.
There have only really been a few instances in my life where I feel I have found a strong underlying belief that has a negative hold on me. When I have discovered these things they have disappeared. Just knowing the belief and looking it straight in the face and seeing it for the falcity it is, is freeing. I instantly feel lighter, I feel like a heavy energetic part of me evaporates and is lifted away. Never to return. I don’t change. I am who I am. But the negative emotion attached to the behavior is gone. If that makes any sense. Many times I think I find a reason for different emotions, pains, and behaviors, but they do not have the same freeing and lightning of my energy, and I end up facing the same problem again. In these instances I do not believe I’ve found the real cause. Just a byprduct of the cause. The funniest part to me is that when I do come to terms with the underlying belief causing the discomfort, it is something I have known and thought all along, yet been unaware of at the same time. Like this example with my anxiety. Everyday I thought about the fact that I was gonna die soon, but I never really realized how strongly I believed it and how strongly it was affecting me. I think the answer is always looking us right in the face, we just have to open our eyes.
(*footnote – I have now come to the point in my life where I’m ready to move on, leave my job, and set sail into the unknown (something I do quite frequently). My commitment became null and void shortly after making it because of changes in my employers life. I have continued to stay on though. This is pretty amazing to me. I am not a person to stay in one place or work one job for long periods of time. While I started thinking “what’s wrong with me?” and that helped me find the cause of my anxiety, the truth is nothing is wrong with me. At least for now, I believe I am to follow my heart and roam freely. But going through this process was healing, and my anxiety is still gone. The pressure and weight still lifted. Making the commitment was a huge part of my healing, but not part of my actual life path, which is why, I believe, the commitment was abolished shortly after making it. Maybe it was a test or lesson of sorts. A hurdle for me to cross in order to grow. Now, when I set sail, I’m not creating more time or freedom, there is no pressure or need, or feeling of going crazy. It is just simply me following my hearts desire. Having faith in my path. So like I said before, everything is the same, and yet completely different)