I AM NOT ALONE!
Just reading these words aloud to myself almost makes me cry… These words motivate and comfort me in a way, that makes me want to keep on fighting this fight against my negative thoughts. Since we started sharing stories about my anxiety on our Instagram account, I have received so many lovely messages and tips and tricks from a lot of you. You have made me aware of the fact, that so many of you are going through something similar to what I am dealing with. Please do not misunderstand me, but the best thing for me having received your messages hasn’t been the tips or tricks (Not saying, that they haven’t been!), it has been the messages from you, that has made me aware that some of you feel the same way, and that it is okay to feel the way I do, and that I AM NOT ALONE! Please! Never stop sharing your thoughts and love – It has made me so much stronger, and I hope that if you are going through something similar, that you will speak up about it. It has given me so much strength to open up about my thoughts.
I am not sure if I am writing this to help myself or help other people going through the same … But this is my story:
A few years ago I was with 10 of my best friends in Budapest, Hungary, for an annual holiday which included lots of sunshine, drinks and not much sleep. In the same period as this holiday, I had been under enormous pressure at work and I hadn’t had time to take enough care of my body. After 4 days of drinking and partying with my friends, my body couldn’t handle any more stress. Due to dehydration, not enough sleep, and no nutritious food, my body started to fall apart. Instead of going back to my hotel, get some rest and eat a good meal, I pushed my body even further. I started hyperventilating, couldn’t catch my breath, my muscles spasmed because they didn’t get any oxygen, and I passed out. Actually, I kept passing out, was unconscious several times. I had no control over my body… At last, an ambulance took me to the hospital and doctors took care of me and calmed me down.?
The following months after the incident I struggled with negative and depressive thoughts.
When I entered a room or a location that reminded me about the environment, where I had the anxiety attack in Budapest, I started to sweat, my heart would beat faster, I would lose my breath and feel noxious. This led to the fact, that I would start to avoid different locations, happenings, events etc. because I was afraid of the possibility, that I would MAYBE get another , accident. I quickly realized that this was not a sustainable way for me to live, and I decided to ask for help from a therapist, who taught me a breathing exercise, that calmed me down. The method is referred to as the “Square breathing technique” and has helped me out so many times! If you try to visualize it, you can see squares in everything: windows, walk paths, plants, patterns etc. I just had to focus on the squares I saw around me. I have tried to illustrate it below . I have used the square breathing technique for several months now. But last month, when Karoline and I were traveling through Thailand, I had an episode where the square breathing technique failed to “save me”.
My mind started spinning…
We were travelling from Krabi to Koh Jum and we went to a harbour, where we had to wait for a ferry to take us to Koh Jum. My mind started spinning… It was spinning because of the uncertainty of how long we had to wait for the ferry, how long the ferry ride would be, and what kind of condition the ferry was in. If you have travelled around Southeast Asia before, you know that transportation here isn’t what we are used to in Europe. Nevertheless, these questions wouldn’t have bartered me before my experience in Budapest. I have always been very spontaneous and easy going. However, I suddenly started getting stomach cramps as well. Then I started freaking out because my head started spinning even more, but this time about the toilet facilities! And instead of relaxing and sitting down, I started to walk around in circles and hyperventilating. Apparently, I had stressed myself too much with all of the walking around and my negative thoughts, so the breathing technique didn’t work for me. I felt lightheaded, and I felt like I was going to pass out – exactly as in Budapest. I freaked out and said to Karoline that we had to get out of the harbour immediately. I just had to get to a “safe” space. In under 5 minutes, I had booked a room at a nearby hotel, grabbed a cab and checked into our room. Karoline gave me comfort and hugs and tried to talk me down and then I fell asleep for 5 hours. I had completely exhausted my body. The next day we tried again: Returned to the same harbour and waited 1-2 hours for the ferry to arrive. As soon as I entered the harbour I started getting the same negative thoughts. But this time I didn’t want to be “defeated” by my own mind, so I did everything I could to change my focus to something else. It worked, and as soon as I was on the boat everything was okay. I won this round!
It is so important for me to share my story with you,
to make you aware of the fact, that if you are experiencing similar thoughts or episodes, that you are not alone! To suffer from anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. So many people are going through the exact same as I am! This is very comforting for me to know because sometimes it feels like I am suffering from a disease that is inside my head, and I feel like I am going through it on my own and no-one can help me control my own thoughts.
What I feel, when I am experiencing anxiety:
- High puls
- Stomach ache and pressure on my chest
- Being noxious
- Tension in muscles
These are a few of the methods I use to help me with anxiety:
When I get an anxiety “attack”:
- Square breathing technique
- Touch something around you, like a wall, a chair, a person or basically anything, that can make you distinguish between a feeling that is real and a feeling that is inside your head. So I am using my senses to clarify what is real and what is made-up in my head.
When I start to get negative thoughts:
Excercise: release some endorphins in the brain.
- Meditation, or at least learning to meditate
I think I have to accept that I have to live with anxiety,
which of course is a horrible thought, but the acceptance gives me the strength to keep on going and try to deal with my situation in the best way possible. Thank you so much for taking your time to take a look inside my head. I appreciate all the thoughts and lovely messages that you guys have been sending me – it all helps more than you could ever imagine! And remember if you are feeling like me, tell yourself I AM NOT ALONE!