Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The loneliness of anxiety and the healing presence of acceptance

 This time last year I was battling both SAD(Seasonal Affective Disorder) and anxiety It was a very, very intense season for me in many areas of my life and I felt overwhelmed; like I was losing grip of my sense of peace. Anxiety is tough, because, it's basically the anticipation of an outcome that has not materialized but feels so real and present. The body's response to this can be pretty intense; laboured breathing or hyperventilation, racing thoughts, digestive issues, heart racing, high blood pressure, fear, dread, crying, dizziness, tight muscles, headache; the list goes on and on. The physical and emotional symptoms suck, but also, the sense of powerlessness is so demoralizing.

Having anxiety can be so lonely. It sometimes made me feel isolated from those that seemed to be coping so much better with life and their challenges than me. When my thoughts were racing, it was hard to articulate how jumbled and irrational they were without feeling foolish or worrying that I was sounding crazy. I also didn't want people to feel like I was looking to them to fix me. I didn't need a litany of go-to's or solutions. I really just needed acceptance and people's kind and unconditional presence.

Just telling people I wasn't doing well, was actually quite cathartic. Saying it out loud kind of loosened its grip and made it seem a bit smaller than it was. People's genuine and compassionate responses to my honest admission was very comforting. Sometimes people would ask, "can I help you in any way?". This felt ok too, because they weren't dictating to me how they thought I should go about exploring my healing; they just wanted to care for me well. The underlying message that I caught from those that responded compassionately to my anxiety was this: "no matter how good or bad you are, we love you and accept you." Being accepted for who I was, without the expectation of needing to perform my way out of it, was totally liberating.

I also had to accept myself unconditionally. For me, it first meant I had to really listen carefully to the messages I was speaking to myself on a regular basis that were demanding, demoralizing and plain judgmental and unfair......there were lots...... I was surprised how many. No wonder I was so anxious. I was bullying myself!  Also, accepting that I had anxiety and that I didn't have control over all the outcomes in my life was very calming and healing. When I was compassionate and kind to myself in the midst of the anxiety, I found it decreased.

I know for lots of people, Christmas time is a season of noise, stress, anxiety and even pain. I do  observe heightened anxiety this time of year. I feel for those of you that are wrestling with it. I pray you will find a way to breath, to accept who you are in this moment and lean into the love and care of others. Remember that you are not alone and that you are loved.   YOU ARE LOVED

                      God bless you all and may you have a peaceful and Merry Christmas!