for as long as i can remember, i’ve had this reoccurring nightmare. it took me quite a while to grasp and form into a picture that made sense. it is me – without a form – just an awareness – running on a sphere like object, also formless – at first i am just running along – but as it progresses, the realization that i am unable to get off starts to set in – and with that, fear – and the sphere is rolling faster – and i am running faster – under threat of disappearing under – and the more i think about it, the longer away the “end” feels like – until the end as a concept, has stretched so incredibly far that it ceases to exist – and the swelling panic of there being no end to this torture is so overwhelming that i freeze – and everything freezes – and if i’ve made it this far in the nightmare, i wake up.
that paralyzing fear, i now understand – is my anxiety.
anxiety is this large rolling sphere that once you get on, you can’t seem to get off. stuck on that train of thought, on whatever you belief in to be real – fear and panic sets in. your heart beats faster, so much so that you can feel your heart pulsing in your chest and the blood rushing through your veins. you get nervous, uncomfortable – your senses are heightened. you are overstimulated. dizzy. light pierces through your eyes like you are a tiny bug on a gigantic operating table with all the lights on you. you heat up so much that you get cold. you hear every little sound, amplified a hundred times until there is so much pressure within you that it all goes silent. all the senses. and you freeze.
it is often paralyzing.
anxiety is finding yourself stuck running, staring into the depths of infinity. it is believing in the worst and seeing absolutely no hope of another possible outcome and therefore no end towards the panic you are feeling. no exit. just the same thoughts increasing in pressure as they play on loop. looping over and over again. loop. because you’ve been through it so often your panic muscles know exactly what to do. loop. and the familiarity of all that fear puts you in that moment of most heightened anxiety within a split second of impact. loop. because anxiety is not really about the situation in front of you, but about anxiety itself. loop. and there’s no coming back because there’s no way out. loop. no exit. just the same thoughts increasing in pressure as they play on. loop.
you frantically search for a way out as you spin in circles around yourself. a safe space. a space that is not “this”, whatever “this” is.
anxiety is irrational fears made rational by the mind – taking control over your every being – in the absence of a safe space. and this lack of safe space can be caused by a multitude of experiences which lead to emotions of broken trust and lack of safety. some schools of thought belief the behavioral pattern of anxiety stems from trauma incurred in the formative years of childhood. if a caregiver did not consistently or sufficiently meet your needs for love, affection, approval, care, touch or worse, abused you. and if you find yourself a child, teen or adult – in a situation without someone to go to whom you trust – someone who understands what you’re going through and knows how to be there for you – you freeze. you freeze yourself in, and the world out.
you freeze while you desperately look for the exit. a door for you to open to find sanity waiting with open arms. a door that you have forgotten how to find. because you’re distracted and pulled in all kinds of directions by all your senses. the exit, that is breath.
close your eyes. feel that blood rushing. acknowledge your heart beating fast. breathe. deep inhale. with a slow exhale – ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen. what are you afraid of? breathe. answer those questions, walk down that path. look your fear in the eye and then move past it. breathe…into the space beyond fear. see that there is more. visualize that space. feel it. hold it in your heart. breathe. acknowledge your thoughts. your fears. recognise them as your creation. embrace yourself. your trauma. everything that has lead you up to this point. do not resist it. breathe. know that your trauma is not your fault. acknowledge your pain. let it go. forgive yourself for what you judge yourself for. forgive the reactions. the emotions, panic, irrationality, frustration, anger, violence to come out of the anxiety. forgive yourself. breathe. you are not your trauma. you are the you beneath it all. remind yourself of who you are.
you are love. you are light. you are peace. you are tranquility. you are the sound of the ocean and the breeze blowing through the sky. you are the sunrise and the sunset. the moon, the stars and the galaxy. you are whole. breathe. let go of everything that you cling onto. let go of the defense mechanisms you built over many long years to protect yourself. all the fear. all the paranoia. you are safe. you are alright. breathe. feel your heartbeat stabilize. the pressure start to fade. reality coming back. you are calm. now you can reassess the situation.
don’t stop breathing.
always remember to breathe. it is the exit door that exists within us that no one can take away. breathe into it. breathe through it.
one breath at a time.
i willfully use my anxiety to heal myself. every episode an opportunity to strengthen the muscles of acceptance and inner peace.
i visualize my anxiety washing away like grains of sand on the beach with each passing wave.
the waves have washed away my nightmare too.