I was doing a presentation of a new product today at work. A few years ago I heard a phrase from Dr Claire Weekes that was life changing for me and I used it today and I wanted to share it with you guys:
I was speaking and demonstrating to about 10 people. And felt anxiety kicking in… not the pre-public speaking normal anxiety, it was that anxiety that makes your vision go blurry and you feel dizzy and it tightens your throat. That anxiety that makes you feel like your legs are wobbly and you’re going to faint, the anxiety symptoms that trigger a panic attack. And there I was in front of 10 people feeling all of that WHILE talking and explaining a whole new technical product. In 5 seconds a huge amount of things went through my mind: that I would faint in front of everyone, that I would have a brain fog and forget everything, that I wouldn’t be able to speak and my brain started to feel a bit confused and there I was – A panic attack was starting to kick in! Then I that phrase from Claire Weeks came back to my mind “a panic attack it’s just an ‘electric wave’ travelling through your nerves, don’t let an electric wave ruin your life”. Suddenly my brain switched from having that horrible fear from observing that it actually felt like if an electric wave was travelling through my body. And I just let it flow, I don’t need to panic, it’s just a wave pulsing through my over-sensitive nervous system. I decided that if my body wanted to feel dizzy “I’d let it be, I’d keep talking”… if my legs wanted to shake, I’d let it shake! I was going to keep talking!
All of that reasoning happened in a space of a minute or less.
I kept speaking and accepting all my bodily sensations and I thought to myself: “yeah body, you deal with it, my mind is busy now, I won’t let an electric wave ruin this important moment”.
I kept talking while observing that wave going through my body and suddenly all those panic thoughts went away! When I realised I was in the end of the presentation answering questions and totally forgot that just a few minutes ago I was starting to have a panic attack and I had just overcome it! I felt strong! I felt like giving myself a hug in celebration! Today, I won!
And this picture below I took last week on a real human body exposition I went to (Body Vitals).
This is what the nervous system looks like. I thought the visual could be useful for a better understanding of what your nervous system looks like, and anxiety/panic attacks are nothing more than an over-sensitive nervous system that is always looking for any different bodily sensations to put you in a state of panic. Every person experiences weird bodily sensations once in a while. The difference is that they don’t have an over-sensitive nervous system, so that doesn’t trigger anxiety/panic attacks for them. For us (people who deal with anxiety), if we learn to let the waves go through and accept the bodily sensations, we can desensitise the nervous system back to a normal level over time. Its a journey that needs practice, and we sure have setbacks, but anxiety is not bigger than us and doesn’t have to control our lives. I’ve learnt that acceptance and observation and confrontation are the key.
Another day, another lion.
I found out last week that I never knew what it felt like to have your brain releasing endorphins during workout. I have always exercised (on and off) and it was always a very rational decision, cause I knew it would help with my general health and mind. So I did it like that, kinda forcing me. I never felt that “good feeling” while or after exercising, all I felt was just that I was proud of myself for doing it and in my mind THAT was the good feeling people were talking about when they said exercising liberated endorphins!
THEN, last week I went to the gym for the first time after I started on anti-depressant. I was going constantly before I started the meds, but I had a lot of changes in the last couple of months (new job, moved to a new city etc..) so I hadn’t found my new gym yet.
Anyway, 10,15 minutes into Cardio it was just the same as always, boring, I was hating it but forcing myself to do it. (LOL). Then about 20 minutes into it I started feeling this AMAZING feeling! Like if I could actually feel my body releasing stress and anxiety and they were leaving my body and my body was just becoming lighter and lighter and I started LOVING the feeling of exercising! I had never ever EVER felt that before! when I went home I was feeling so energized, light and happy! I texted my therapist straight away and asked what’s that! what’s happening!?
She said that this good feeling I got was actually the NORMAL for people to feel. I had never felt it because obviously my brain was in lack of balance of the chemicals of well being (as I mentioned before, she said I’ve been depressed probably since childhood and never knew it) so I never knew what it felt like. So, now that it has been about 4 months since I started taking the anti-depressant, my brain is starting to get the chemical balance and felt safe enough to release endorphins and cortisol while I exercised and this is a great great sign that the treatment is working! I just really want to keep exercising now!
It’s exciting to get to know a side of life you never knew existed!
(by the way, I actually hurt my back at the gym last week, I think I got a bit too excited and did a bit more than I should hahaha So I’m treating my back and once it’s ok I’ll get back to the gym and be more careful with the weight lifting part).
Another step on the journey through depression that I wanted to share with you guys.
P.s.: Almost every day I get notifications that people are following my blog and this warms my heart to know there’s people out there that want to hear my story and hopefully my experience can help or inspire someone to fight for themselves, doesn’t matter in what stage of depression you are. I was in a very very deep one, and it has been a long journey to get out of the mud I was buried in, but it’s so worth it! Please get yourself on the journey if you haven’t started yet… A lot of days you won’t feel any difference, but keep walking! there IS light in the end of the tunnel!
Hugs people 🙂
“Some days it’s only a couple of inches. It’s a pain in the a**, but you still make it to work, the grocery store. Sure, maybe you skip the gym or your friend’s birthday party, but it IS still snowing and who knows how bad it might get tonight. Probably better to just head home.
Your friend notices, but probably just thinks you are flaky now, or kind of an a**hole.
Some days it snows a foot. You spend an hour shovelling out your driveway and are late to work. Your back and hands hurt from shovelling. You leave early because it’s really coming down out there. Your boss notices.
Some days it snows four feet. You shovel all morning but your street never gets ploughed.
You are not making it to work, or anywhere else for that matter. You are so sore and tired you just get back in the bed. By the time you wake up, all your shovelling has filled back in with snow. Looks like your phone rang; people are wondering where you are.
You don’t feel like calling them back, too tired from all the shovelling. Plus they don’t get this much snow at their house so they don’t understand why you’re still stuck at home. They just think you’re lazy or weak, although they rarely come out and say it.
Some weeks it’s a full-blown blizzard. When you open your door, it’s to a wall of snow. The power flickers, then goes out. It’s too cold to sit in the living room anymore, so you get back into bed with all your clothes on. The stove and microwave won’t work so you eat a cold Pop Tart and call that dinner. You haven’t taken a shower in three days, but how could you at this point? You’re too cold to do anything except sleep.
Sometimes people get snowed in for the winter. The cold seeps in. No communication in or out. The food runs out. What can you even do, tunnel out of a forty foot snow bank with your hands? How far away is help? Can you even get there in a blizzard? If you do, can they even help you at this point? Maybe it’s death to stay here, but it’s death to go out there too.
The thing is, when it snows all the time, you get worn all the way down. You get tired of being cold. You get tired of hurting all the time from shovelling, but if you don’t shovel on the light days, it builds up to something unmanageable on the heavy days. You resent the hell out of the snow, but it doesn’t care, it’s just a blind chemistry, an act of nature. It carries on regardless, unconcerned and unaware if it buries you or the whole world.
Also, the snow builds up in other areas, places you can’t shovel, sometimes places you can’t even see. Maybe it’s on the roof. Maybe it’s on the mountain behind the house. Sometimes, there’s an avalanche that blows the house right off its foundation and takes you with it. A veritable Act of God, nothing can be done. The neighbours say it’s a shame and they can’t understand it; he was doing so well with his shovelling.”
(Someone sent me this text, I don’t know who’s the Author, but thought it was an amazing description..”
She was too young to feel anguish, but she did.
As just a 5 year old girl, she would get up everyday, very tired and wondering how long it would take for school to be over. She would feel so wearied out that her first thought getting up in the morning was “I am going to sleep the whole afternoon after school”, but she never did, she couldn’t sleep in the afternoon even if she tried hard. She didn’t have many friends, she onlyhad the neighbour’s girl, and another girl that studied in the same class as her. Though she had two siblings, they studied in the opposite time of the day so after school she spent a lot of time alone.
Every day she would walk to the window of her simple but big and strong house, and get introspective, there was this aching inside her chest that she didn’t know what it was, neither why she had it, but it would always come with the sun set time, after a while she developed this fear of the end of the day, because she knew that ache would come back, and she didn’t know how to change or fight it. One day she was so sad because of how that feeling made her captive, she walked to the bedroom and jumped the little fence to get into the cot where she still slept, she sat there by herself and the tears started pouring down, why this pain would not go away?
Her mama found her in the cot crying, she didn’t stop crying, she didn’t care that her mama was seeing her that way, she didn’t ask why. Mama observed her for a few minutes and said: “you’re feeling anguish”. She was a very simple woman, she loved her children but she didn’t know how to help them, she hadn’t had much help from her parents either. But in that moment, that statement brought a name for that pain. Anguish. Nothing was done about it. The way it was, it stayed. That little girl would have to find answers by herself… and she already knew it.
At the age of 33 I found out that I have been battling against depression since I was a little girl. I didn’t know it for most of the time up to here, as this was just what life was like for me since I remember. I wasn’t aware that it was depression.
Learning about yourself frees your spirit in a way I never could imagine.
Now a lot of things make sense, and it warms my heart to think I can close my eyes, look at that little girl, and in my mind just give her a long big hug and say “keep going little warrior, everything is going to be alright”.
In my last therapy session my therapist had given me an exercise to think about and write on a paper how my life had been up to now in relation to being present in the present or if I thought I lived too much in the past or future. I thought it was VERY interesting because this was a thing I *always* (since my early 20’s) wanted to address and talk about in a therapy session.
Anyway: I finally told her that something that had always bothered me was that throughout my life all these years (I’m 33 now) I had always been bothered by the fact that my mind always seemed to be in the future. Either long term future or just “what am I going to do in 10 min time?” And I mentioned it to her, that a LOT of times I have found myself trying to concentrate on the present because even when I was doing something I really liked, it was almost as if I couldn’t enjoy it completely because I still then I would be thinking “what’s my next task?” “Where am I going in 1 hour when I finish here?”, what’s next? “what is next”?.
When I said it to her I was expecting her to say how this was bad and how I had to try and concentrate in the present. (Which is also right) but no, she said the opposite, she said “hey, this was a very good thing and this is probably why you are still here and you got through all you did”, my mind went blank for a few seconds with her response.
Well, I have talked to her a lot about all the emotional abuse I had to face my whole life, and when I thought I would be free from it a few years ago, I actually found myself trapped in a even more hurtful situation for years again (and that was when I had my greatest breakdown ever, from what I am still recovering, hence I am doing therapy, where I found out I have been dealing with depression for longer than I thought).
When she said that I didn’t know what to think a first, my first reaction wast to think “how can this be good?”.
Then she explained to me that “me” being this way was actually a result of my brain taking care of myself, helping me cope with life. All along my mind was automatically keeping my mind so busy that I wouldn’t be “in the present” that was SO hurtful and this way I had a way to keep going and achieve things I wouldn’t have if I stopped in the cold freezing present back then. She said my mind used of that tool to keep me safe and now it was time learn no live in the present, because I am not in that place anymore. I have tears rolling down my face as I write this, because I feel I finally reached that time, the time I can live in the present. It took so many courageous moves in moments where I felt I had no ground, but even when I was paralysed in my years, I gathered the strength to move myself out of that whole world of abuse and fear. And I finally feel I can live in the present. Actually my exercise this week is to try reminding myself to be in the present as much as possible, and it has been a great exercise to remind myself to be the present and not fear it. I still have so much to learn but now I can look myself in the mirror and love who I see.
This discovery made me love myself even more, I found out that all those years I was taking care of myself and didn’t even know. I am amazed. The human mind is something wonderfully made.
I would like to encourage you to find in yourself ways you have been protecting yourself and you didn’t even realise. Maybe this will help you to walk another step towards learning to love yourself.
Hugs people! Welcome new followers! ❤