Anxiety. How can one word have such huge crushing effects on me. It slit open my stomach and slipped inside one day in late January. It stretched out lazily like a cat, its claws reaching up towards my throat but from the inside, making me feel simultaneously sick and full and uncomfortable. Its back feet kneaded my stomach like bread while its furry arms reached up and made my throat tight and dry.
Anxiety makes you want to hide, makes you want to curl up as small as possible so all the bad things in the world can’t find you. Unfortunately the thing that you are trying to hide from is already inside you, whispering to you, inescapable.
I went and sat in the sun. Then I moved indoors and sat in the dark. It remained inside my head, a dark spot in the sunlight and a harsh spotlight in the darkness. My face lies in my hands, my hand moves down and holds my neck trying to free it, my fingers twitch and I want to reach down my throat and scrape it out.
I wander up and down the house, I try different rooms, it is everywhere. I want to escape it so badly. I suddenly understand why people drink, why they do whatever they can to numb this awful feeling. If someone offered me something to take it away I would struggle not to accept it right now. Logical reasoning is eaten alive by the cat in my belly, as I grow more and more desperate, as I wander the rooms of my house like a trapped bird in a glass house.
I try to drag my mind back to the present, to the moment. I tell myself that I can continue to panic or I can choose to face it head on. I can choose. I repeat this over and over. This is my body, this is my choice. I can’t escape it so, instead, I mentally challenge the cat to do its worst.
I have always found that the best way to deal with something is to actually deal with it. I need to stop trying to escape it. I need to coax the cat out.
So I try all the different methods I know. I breathe deeply, in through my nose and out through my mouth. I picture myself breathing in clean cool air and breathing out hot anxious air. My breathing is still too fast, my head clears slightly but throat is still clenched tightly.
I envy the people that can quiet their mind enough to meditate, that’s not me. I wish it was, I have tried and tried, but there is no one solution for anxious feelings, we all need to discover the way that works for us. I need something more active, something to keep my brain from lingering on the cat in my belly.
I open up YouTube and I type in ‘Tapping Anxiety’. This has worked for me in the past and I need that relief now. The video ‘Anxiety – Tapping with Brad Yates’ pops up in the search results and I click on it. Its premise is so simple, you repeat what Brad says while tapping on parts of your body. So simple yet so effective, don’t ask me how but, as I follow along with Brad in the 9 minute long video, I find myself sitting up straighter. The cat doesn’t like this and tries to pull my shoulders back into a hunch. But I’m not paying attention to the cat anymore, I’m tapping. My breathing grows deeper and slower. The cat slowly retracts one hairy arm from my throat, then the other. With every tap it starts to shrink a little bit more. When the video ends it is no more than a hairball in my stomach. I am wondering if I can spit it out when I touch my face and realise it is wet. The remains of the cat seep out through my eyes and pour down my face. I am exhausted from the fight but I am victorious at last. I lie down and let my weary body cry out the last of the fur.
Today my anxiety was a cat. However some days it’s a dragon and some days it’s a mouse. Every anxiety battle is different, don’t ever feel bad because someone elses method doesn’t work for you. You are fighting your own battle, you need your own tools. If you havn’t found the right tool yet then keep looking, keep trying. My psychologist visits have been my best armour so far, never be afraid to ask for help. You don’t need to go into battle alone, build your army and slay your dragon.
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