Editor´s Note: This article is Part 2 of our Mental Health Awareness Week Series ( May 18th to May 24th 2020) in support of the Mental Health Foundation´s initiative. Fuerteventura Times is dedicated to spreading awareness related to mental health and eradicating perceived taboos and stereotypes associated with it by bringing forward personal stories of self-battles and victories as exemplary experiences for our readers, viewers, and listeners to learn from. Subscribe to our Consciousness newsletter to cut through the information noise and read what matters most.
When I am having a great day, things are going fine for weeks, months even, there is suddenly a plunge I feel in my chest. I recognize it. I know it too well by now. The mind you see is the most powerful weapon if it makes you, it can also destroy you. I gather my thoughts, running through my mind, what is it? Have I been stressed lately? Has something been bothering me? I meditate on it. And I realize a project at work that wasn’t going according to my plan, had me worried deep down somewhere at the back of my mind even if it wasn’t reflected in my outer demeanor. Hence the plunge.
I had my first anxiety attack when I was accidentally pushed from a crowded train when it was almost reaching the platform, and I fell. It took me a while to get over that fear it had instigated in me, every time I would venture out into a crowded place, I was scared; hence I avoided going to public places for months. But the only way to end the fear is to go through it. So I found myself in the middle of the most crowded street after months, thousands of people hustling, moving, shouting, a traffic jam on the other side of the road, me in the subway gasping for air. I could feel my heart rate double, I kept a hand on my chest, closed my eyes, trying to still myself, orient my mind to the very moment, cancel the noise on the outside and activate the calmness on the inside. It didn’t work for the first few minutes, and I could feel my heart pumping faster, but in the 10th minute, it worked. My heart rate was back to normal, I was breathing normally, and that tingling sense of discomfort in my chest was getting released. I opened my eyes, and I was fine. I then went ahead and took the next train.
Go Through it
That was the first time after months of having anxiety attacks that I retook a train. It cost me many months, sure, but I did it, and that feeling of relief that I felt that day is inexplicable. It felt like a huge burden has been lifted off my chest. I went about with my life after that, completely forgotten about the anxiety attacks I once had. I thought I had self-healed myself. Then it came back when I was stressed about that project at work. I analyzed my pattern, whenever my mind was wary, unsure, confirming the arresting feeling in my chest made a comeback. I tried the method of closing my eyes. Focusing on my breathing and centralizing myself like I did in the subway, didn’t work. I was panicking again. I went home and started vomiting. And just like that heaviness in the chest had gone, and I felt fine. I was confused, what was happening to me. How do I recognize my anxiety triggers? So I can stop them? And even if I have identified them, how do I know which calming techniques to use, as a similar one wasn’t helping in every situation. After that episode, I had forgotten entirely about my anxiety attacks for many years up to four years nothing happened. I was back to my jovial, carefree self, and I was so happy in my body, my mind was at peace, even when things were not that great at work they were just about okay.
Fast-forwarding a few months to today, when I have spent almost three months in confinement, I have had the same anxiety attacks three times already. But, I have learned my lesson now, the past years I have focused on creating a harmony through regular practice of meditation and yoga, trying to find a balance between my body and mind, of course, I haven’t aced it I am no guru, neither I intend to be, but all I do is so that engulfing feeling in my chest never returns. I have made progress. I had my appendicitis removed a year back which was causing me a lot of pain. And my digestive system suffered for many months after the operation, where I was feeling heavy after individual meals, and that same feeling came back. But as they say, time heals everything. The most ultimate truth I have ever learned. I started practicing Dhouti – a yogic technique for cleansing the stomach with water. It is useful when performed in the morning on an empty stomach. My life changed after that, as many times anxiety seeps in because of the acid that is built up in your stomach, with regular Dhouti practice, I erased the acid not forever but sure for the moment, and it worked. My quarantine was going fine, no recent anxiety attacks, until it happened again. I cried at nights with that heaviness in my chest that wouldn’t go. I wrote down all the triggers. And I started consciously keeping a safe distance even on social media from people whose energy was too much for me to handle. I continued my yoga and dhouti practice, focusing on my work, eating right, stilling my mind, talking to people who uplifted me, working on projects that fueled my inner child, and nurtured that ambitious woman in me. I started feeling better again.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed during a pandemic, or even when there wasn’t a pandemic, life is such.We have to fight for that balance, for that equilibrium. I can’t say I have mastered it, far from it, in fact, the anxiousness is something I have acknowledged, I have stopped crying about it but identifying it immediately, so I can start controlling my mind. Like I said earlier, your mind is a very powerful weapon,if you can guide it, you can conquer it. And here I am, taking each step at a time, nourishing my thoughts, removing the negative ones immediately, forming a routine that works for my body, surrounding myself with people who don’t tell me calm down, when I was having an anxiety attack but instead say,
“You can get through this.”
“I am proud of you. Good job.”
“Tell me what you need now.”
“Concentrate on your breathing. Stay in the present.”
“It’s not the place that is bothering you; it’s the thought.”
“What you are feeling is scary, but it is not dangerous.”
And just having a steadfast love for myself, after all that my mind goes through being kind to myself, being understanding and never going down the self-pity, angry or feeling miserable path. If I can control it, you can too.
Reach out to me if you are going through something similar. I am here for you to talk, if you need at anytime 🙂