I’ve had two weeks without a panic attack, binge or meltdown for the first time in months. Able to breathe freely, laugh openly, and walk lightly, minus the gnawing knots of anxiety.
But, I feel a bit of a cheat. As it’s taken me flying to the other side of the world to bring about this change.
Yes, that little voice sneered, it’s easy to feel anxiety free on holiday, when the sun is bathing you in Vitamin D, the only decisions you need to make are what to choose from the menu, and the only people you come in contact with are there to lift your day and ease your woes.
But, whilst I know this isn’t real life, I have vowed to take those feelings back with me to my day to day and explore just what freed me up for those two weeks.
People. You can’t live a life alone, nor do I want to, but what made my time away so much easier was not knowing anyone around me, and that freeing feeling that, unless I chose to, I’d never see any of them again. This instantly removed the burden of having to please all, worry what Maggie was thinking, or whether I’d failed Barney’s expectations.
Without those racing thoughts round my head, I was lighter, able to see what was in front of me without that nagging voice. I was living in the moment!
Anyone with anxiety will have heard countless times ‘try to centre yourself in the now’. Easier said than done. But, thousands of miles away, without that critical voice, I was able to enjoy the new surroundings, absorb the smells, sounds and sights around me. Achieve that ‘mindfulness’ I’ve been desperately forcing for months.
And that’s the point. I’ve been forcing myself. ‘Stop over thinking, don’t cry, look at the ground you’re walking on, breathe.’ A constant mental scolding each time I ‘failed’ to achieve that zen state, or control my racing heart-beat.
So, the challenge now is how to take that carefree holiday feeling and replicate it on home turf. With the long-awaited promise of sustained treatment from the NHS on the horizon, I might just be able to figure out how.
Here’s hoping this fresh perspective lasts longer than my tan.