For people who don’t have chronic anxiety, it’s hard to describe what life feels like for those who do. This is what it feels like for me.
Sometimes it feels like my body isn’t under my control. In fact, it feels like my body’s controlling me, which sets off a domino effect that can lead to a panic attack.
Sometimes it feels like there’s a force field of anxiety that surrounds me wherever I go, and everything is filtered through this extremely sensitive force field. I’ve gotten used to numbing myself from this anxiety field.
Anxiety makes me feel like an infinitesimally small being in an infinitely big universe, which often leads to existential angst.
Anxiety started early in childhood for me, the result of a chaotic upbringing. When life is chaotic at an early age, the lack of security and stability can create an overwhelming sense of the meaninglessness of it all. I think anxiety is a reaction to the meaninglessness.
The Buddha called this kind of thing suffering, and I’ve been helped a lot by Buddhist practices and teachings. I’ve also been transformed by Carl Jung’s theories on Individuation.
By persistently walking the path of self-improvement, I’ve learned that there is meaning in suffering, because it’s one of the ways in which we can awaken from the dream/delusion.
I always get emotional when I think about how far I’ve come. It’s a mixture of appreciation, gratitude, relief, some regret and sorrow, and yes, pride and determination.
Life looks very different without the shield of anxiety getting in the way. Colors and details are sharper. I feel more at home in my body. Sometimes the anxiety comes back, but now I’m able to treat it as a friend.
image credit: Wikimedia