I am not an anxious person by nature but for several months I suffered from anxiety due to massive changes in my life. Does it mean that I am totally cured now? No, it doesn’t. It means that I have control over it now and not vice-versa anymore, which is definitely encouraging.
At one point it got so bad I would have a panic attack at the supermarket, I would start crying for no reason, or I would walk into the office and try to hide from everything and everybody having less contact as possible with the other people. It was affecting me mentally and physically.
I couldn’t sleep anymore, I would spend all my free time after work staring at the ceiling in my flat crying; when it was very bad, I would call sick at work and spend 2/3 days in bed in the dark without eating and not talking to anybody.
I couldn’t function anymore and at one point I really thought that the situation was going to kill me as it was turning badly into depression.
The people around me could see that something wasn’t right but they couldn’t understand and I wasn’t able to explain.
After few months I moved back to London and the change of background helped at first as my brain was busy thinking of finding a flat and a job…..but after a while, the anxiety came back starting hitting me physically.
So how did I start having control over it?
- Understanding the source of the anxiety
It took me a while to realise it because it was too painful to see. My family. My family was the source of it.
My parents have been so busy to hate each other and argue and lie to themselves, me and the others for 40 years that they wouldn’t even SEE ME. Of course, they fed me and paid for my education but that was pretty much it.
My father hasn’t been exactly a family man, is a pathological liar, aggressive verbally and physically, a narcissist and an emotional vampire.
My mum lived in her own fantasy of a perfect family totally unable to see the reality. Mentally speaking, she built a different world in her brain trying to convince herself that everything was good forcing me to behave in a certain way to make her happy and believe the same.
When finally after 40 years she decided to get separated, she started to rely on me for everything…even the basic things like how to ask for a credit card, open a bank account and so on….sometimes I would even receive 8 calls a day at work for stupid things….she would never ask how I was or if I needed anything, taking all my energy and my time.
For 1 year she confused my name with my father’s name, and still now, she is not able to SEE ME, it is like I am not a living person to her but just a rubbish bin where she can throw in all her problems.
She still confuses my reactions with my father’s.
On top of that, I was, and I am, fighting with allergies that doctors are struggling to recognise and cure.
Well, it became pretty clear to me that it was time to make decisions.
I haven’t had any contact with my dad in years now and the same thing has happened with my mum recently. I feel much better, I am able to breathe and I don’t feel constantly under pressure anymore.
Do I miss them? No, I don’t. I miss the concept of a mum and of a dad but I don’t miss THEM, at least not anymore.
- Asking for help: Therapy
Those decisions were pretty hard on me as they left me dealing with a massive sense of guilt. I couldn’t cope with it myself and so I have decided to ask for help and seeking a THERAPIST.
By the time I was ready for professional therapy I was already in the UK. The NHS system doesn’t take you on unless you are suicidal, which I wasn’t, and the private psychologists are more worry about making sure they can get money off you every week than your mental health.
After weeks of research, I found an Italian service online focused on mental health (I am Italian) where I found a very nice psychiatrist, a Professor in a very famous University in Milan, that took me on with flexibility and honesty.
The therapy sessions we are having are on skype, twice a month, I pay with PayPal.
You won’t believe how much these sessions are helping me. I don’t feel guilty anymore, I don’t dream about my parents anymore, I have got plans for my future that do not evolve them at all, I live my life doing what’s the best for me without worrying about what they are going to think about it and I am not scared at all thinking about not seeing them anymore.
- Getting a routine
One of the problems of anxiety is that you don’t have control over it so one of the best you can do is to think about a routine that could help you to “re-compose yourself” when you feel overwhelmed and you need to relax. It could be anything.
For me it was, waking up at the same time, having breakfast at the same time eating the same things every day. Going for a walk at the same park at the same time every day, having a shower, dinner, reading time at the same time every day and having my chamomile before going to bed at the same time.
- Natural remedies
Even getting a routine sometimes wasn’t enough and I would spend the whole night awake as my brain wasn’t able to switch off and I would have tachycardia as well for hours.
One of the things that a GP or doctor is going to try to do when they see you have got anxiety, is giving you medications. I have always refused medical treatments as I knew that for me it was going to be useless but, instead, I have used natural remedies like Bach flowers, thorn tree and chamomile.
I go running 2/3 times a week or whenever I feel I need it.
Sometimes I run like everything bad is coming out me, so fast and so desperate that when I finished I don’t have any blockage in me anymore, sometimes it is just a nice and light exercise but either way it helps quite a lot in releasing tension and worries.
And it is helping me to get my muscles back as well as my allergies make me lose weight every 2/3 months and I was becoming too skinny for my size and age.
***I have been on a journey in the last 15 months and I learnt few things about myself that otherwise, I wouldn’t have discovered.
I am human. We are not machines, we all have our limits. I have learnt what my limits are and I have learnt to ask for help when I am not able to deal with something myself.
I am a rock. I am totally able to help myself, to be for myself a father and a mother, to treat myself with respect and love and make the best decisions to protect me.
I am conscious. I am finally awake. I finally understood that heart, body, mind and soul need to be aligned in order for a human being to function properly. I take care of all these aspects now, not only 1 or 2.
I take my time. I don’t rush anymore. Everything happens at the right time. Body, mind, soul and heart take very long time to heal. I take my time and I enjoy myself seeing the changes and the progress I am making.
Do I consider myself cured?
No, I don’t. I know very well that few months of therapy, running, a routine and natural remedies don’t do miracles. I have decided to embrace a journey conscious that It was going to be long and bumpy but I am happy with the results and I am willing to do anything it takes to continue it.
By the way. I haven’t had a panic attack in 4 months :).
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