What Does The Fox Say? ANXIETY
Let me share something personal. Something that happened to me about 13 years ago. It is an experience that while being quite traumatic, taught me a lot about empathy and about myself. It is a reality we hear more and more young people dealt with nowadays. Anxiety. When I was a teenager and into being a young adult, I thought that anxiety was only stress that was out of control. Something that could be fixed simply by breathing and relaxing. I would hear people talking about being powerless and overcome by anxiety and I couldn’t understand. To be honest, I really thought that suffering from anxiety was sign of weakness. In my head, I could hear myself telling them in a condescending manner: “Oh come on! Everyone has some level of anxiety. Take control of yourself. Snap out of it!”
I was in Paris out on a morning run. I was in my early 30’s I was just out of a relationship that wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t focused and my life was surely not where I wanted it to be. My run was taking me through the outside court of the museum Le Louvre and as I got around the Pyramid, out of nowhere, I felt like my feet were getting heavier and heavier. I got to a full stop and it was as if I was trapped. My feet couldn’t move. This horrendous sense of doom overtook me. Right there in Paris, I broke down and started to cry. I tried to take deep breaths and rationalize my way out. The closest visual description I can offer is in the Matrix when Neo takes the pill and after touching the mirror, the glass starts crawling all over him. He is freaking out.
I felt like doom was crawling all over me. I was sinking i a pit of nothingness and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I stumbled my way back to my friend’s place and couldn’t make any sense of this. I spent the day trying to calm myself and meditate but nothing was working. That sense of deep despair just kept getting bigger and bigger. That night I had a really powerful dream. That night I dreamed that I was fighting this endless army of monsters. I was the only alive on the field. Everybody had died except for me. I was fighting and fighting but it was pointless. The monsters kept pilling on top of me. I remember I was about to freak out when I heard this voice telling me: “Don’t worry. This is not the end. Stay put. Gather your strength. You will be alright.” As I heard that voice, my dream ended with a final shot – imaging the camera one a drone, right above where I was, being overtaken my monsters, rising up and showing an ocean of monsters, as far as the eye could see. The dream was so vivid and the memory today still so clear. I woke up the next morning with a certain sense of peace. Knowing exactly what to do. I didn’t want to take any medication. I wanted to face this and beat it.
For a week straight, I drank jugs of chamomile tea every day. I took long walks and meditated. I can’t remember details from that week other than it was not fun at all. Somewhere after 8 or 9 days, I am not sure, I woke with a surreal sense of clarity and power. I didn’t have all the big answers about my life but I knew I was going to be alright. I know I would never experience anxiety again. For 4 months after that morning, I had no desire whatsoever for alcohol or anything sexual. It wasn’t that I felt compelled to be on a regime like that, no not at all. I simply had absolutely no desire for them. The sense of clarity I had, after not giving to the anxiety and fighting my demons without medications, was so powerful.
Anxiety is real and scary. What I experienced wasn’t just out of control stress. It was despair, deep gloom and total gloom. Not one person’s anxiety is the same and I can’t say that what worked for me would work for anyone else. But I do believe that we have tools, other than medication, to not only deal with anxiety, but also to rise above it. I believe that there are tools are education, community, meditation and of course my mantra, Stop Breathe Relax Listen.