For years, I battled depression. I don’t use the word battle lightly. There were times when I holed myself away from the world, months I spent in bed, and times when I came down to a single reason not to just kill myself and be done. To be honest, I’m not sure my awareness of my downward cycles will ever totally go away, but that awareness allows me to balance myself and take counteraction when needed.
In 2004, I attended Auburn University. One of their campus psychologists introduced me to meditation after I had such bad testing anxiety I had a meltdown, mid-hallway after class. At that time, it was difficult for me to calm my mind, even for just 30 seconds. Today, that meditation base is one of the keys to my energy work on every level. Some days I spend hours in a variety of meditations. Getting to that point, was one minute at a time over a decade.
As I sloughed away layer after layer of possible causes of my depression (external-dietary, hormonal, environmental and internal-memories, mindset, beliefs). After 11 years of exhaustive work, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Under it all, helping fuel this smoldering fire, it lay a hidden poison.
Looking back, it makes sense. I was nervous as a child, trying to take care of everyone around me, and as a teenager, I was driven, motivated, and awkward. I was tested for autism, four times as a young adult. I’ve always found it difficult to trust new people, bond with new friends, and nurture relationships. Things that should have been simple like running in the grocery store, left me trembling – sometimes in a total meltdown.
I’ve always had trouble in large crowds. My family knows that a circus is the fastest way to drive me to a panic attack. I’ve gotten better over the years, at least to some degree.
Looking back, anxiety is clearly marked. Social anxiety nearly drove me to being a shut-in. It’s said that a lot of empaths have a similar problem of being overwhelmed in large groups or hospitals.
Put me on a stage, and I’m golden. Put me in a sea of chairs where I might have to actually network, and I’m drowning.
It took years before I was able to recognize, in a particular moment, that I was panicking. Once I knew the signs of panicking, I was finally able to bring my awareness to my anxiety, knowing in the moment what was happening in my body. Meditation, prayer, and gratitude are “easy” in moments of peace. Learning to drop back into the moment in a panic may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I was in labor with my daughter for 9 days!)
Everyday Medicine in Energy Medicine:
Recently I was reading a book on energy medicine. One of the sections discussed causes of specific weight issues. The content was first, listing several things, including hormone issues causing women to hold weight in the thighs and calves, and drinking to cause a hard (beer) belly. I turned the page to look at the diagram. I’m not apple shaped and I don’t have a spare tire. I complained several times to one trainer that I’d start to loose weight and look worse because I’d loose weight everywhere, except a low belly pooch. I’ve even looked into a tummy tuck to tighten that strange area that refused to budge.
I matched the picture and then flipped back to match it to the section I’d just read. #3 Nervous Stomach/Anxiety. Ding ding ding!
As I’ve listened more and more to my body, I knew when I got really anxious (like panic level), I felt constriction (chest pressure, uncomfortable skin, tears squeezing toward my eye balls).
When I stepped back and listened to the everyday, I realized how constricted my stomach stays. My doctor tried me on a super low dose of Xanax and my chief complaint was I couldn’t stay out of the bathroom. My poor bladder must have finally gotten to relax.
I lay in bed at night sometimes breathing deeply, feeling and releasing, because I can feel how tight my stomach is.
I hear many people complain about overeating. I mean, occasionally I’ll have too many starburst jellybeans in one sitting. My problem tends to be under-eating. I have a lot of food allergies, and sometimes I’ll go in to the kitchen only to leave feeling “it’s just too hard to eat”. As I dug into my experience with anxiety, I also started to notice, when I’m in stressful situations, I stop eating. Because of the tension in my abdomen, I not only don’t feel hungry, but thinking about food or groceries makes my stress level go further up, which just perpetuates the issue.
What’s To Be Done?
My practice has become to check in with my body at least once daily, and especially if I’m anxious. To work on actively, consciously relaxing my abdomen when it is tensed and gripped up. Breathing always helps, as I focus on releasing the tension.
I haven’t had any fast fix here, but I have developed a strong awareness of the issue. Yoga always helps. The combination of breath, and relaxing movement, I think is the key there.
In our home, I have created systems as well. Because of the difficulty from my food allergies, I try to have lunches, snacks, or leftovers premade to limit bad choices, like food I’m allergic to, or simply not eating. My system includes daily chores for each of us, so no part of the house gets overwhelmingly out-of-control.
I’m hosting a webinar on Feng Shui and Healing- for not only the physical body, but the spirtual, and emotional as well. You can sign up here for more information, and a recording if you can’t attend live.