from anxiety to mindfulness

The beginning…


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I have always spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about what other people think. At best I imagined people found me boring, dull, quiet and plain – hardly someone you would want to spend time with. Plane Jane? Yep, that was me to a tee.

Added in 2015: I now appreciate that we each have something different to offer. What if we were all outgoing extroverts (I know I’m stereotyping here, for the sake of simplicity) – who would do the listening, the thinking, the considering? I can now be proud of the fact that I’m quiet, because it means I can give those close to me the space to talk, and they in return know I’ll listen. And surely the world needs more of this? 

I spent a lot of energy trying to hide the fact that life could be terrifying, trying to put up a pretence of being “normal” while inside I was crying out for help. I felt like I was permanently on the verge of being “found out”. I survived for years by telling white lies to avoid situations I dreaded, or at best I’d stand counting down the seconds until I could leave.

I now know this to be classic avoidance behaviour, driven by the fear of situations that I couldn’t walk away from, but the knowledge didn’t make it any easier. I realised that what I really feared was fear itself, and countless self-help books explained that I needed to let the fear wash over me, but it was mindfulness that taught me how. 

I felt like I was living a permanent lie, weighed down by so much pretence. The mask was getting less convincing, and I didn’t have the energy to keep it up any longer. People have said that what I did next was brave, but I think I was just tired.

I needed people to know the real me. I knew I needed tons of support and to get that support I knew I had to come clean. So I posted about my anxiety on Facebook, to everyone, no exclusions.

The response was overwhelming. Friends, family, colleagues and people I barely knew were all offering their support. Some of the strongest support came from the most unlikely places, from people who it turned out were also fighting their own secret battles, people I would never have guessed.

I had one message that I’ll never forget. A message from a guy I’d been to school with, someone I hadn’t properly been in touch with since. He had been struggling with anxiety for years (him? the popular kid? surely not!), and he wondered if I’d tried mindfulness? I hadn’t, but I was willing to give anything a go. Next thing I know, a book arrives in the post.

To be continued…

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11 Responses to “The beginning…”

    • silverliningsproject

      I would recommend a slightly different book for beginners called “Mindfulness, a practical guide” by Prof Mark Williams. It comes with a CD and is an 8 week course, each session only lasts a few minutes so it’s relatively easy to fit in. I do it on the bus! I’m going to write a post about it, I can’t recommend it enough.

      Reply
      • sassypj45

        I really love your blog, thank you for following me. Believe it or not I get very happy when I see someone follow my blog. 🙂 I’m new to blogging, and writing but I really enjoy it. Thanks again,
        PJ -“Happiness is what we make it, we choose to be positive and happy, or not.”

      • awaitinganxiously

        I have been looking for a book to try (again) to incorporate mindfulness into my life as well. I am thankful that I stumbled upon this and will definitely be checking it out!
        Keep doing what you’re doing- sounds like you are on a great path

  1. positivethinking13

    Life is so much better if we focus on what we want instead of what society has taught us, which is to focus on what we don’t want. Our brains answer any question we ask…like a computer. We ask why am i fat and stupid and it will answer it. We should teach kids at a young age to ask GOOD QUESTIONS! Like How can I be happy right now? How can I make someone laugh? How did I get to be this amazing? Why don’t our brains do that?? WHY do we have to work to retrain them? LOL WHo knows…but we do so I try daily to come up with new and fun questions…like how can I incorporate bowling shoes into my wardrobe…:)

    Reply
  2. Nourishing the soul | SILVER LININGS PROJECT

    […] Telling everyone I was struggling – up until this point only a select few knew how bad my anxiety was, but being signed off prompted me to come clean. I knew I couldn’t keep covering up what was going on, and I didn’t want to keep telling white lies, or living a lie by pretending everything was ok. The result? It was amazing. Without exception everyone was supportive, and I have made closer friends as a result, I think honesty does that for you. I was also overwhelmed by people who told me that they struggle too, people who I envied for being so cool, calm and collected! […]

    Reply
  3. ivyon

    How could you ever be dull!! Just by looking at your profile photo I am smiling. 😉 And NO ONE is dull by default, we just choose people who are more interesting TO US. You go girl!

    Reply

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