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 🙂