In my story, I have went through the five stages of anxiety. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Each stage holds it’s own level of importance and I have decided to dedicate a post to each individually over the next few weeks and months. Concluding with, Acceptance.
You can catch up on the Five Stages of Anxiety: Denial post –Here, Anger post –Here, Bargaining post –Here and the Depression post –Here .
In the beginning, the thought of ever being able to overcome anxiety at all felt like an impossible task, a massive cloudy haze. Towards the end of that journey all of the little lessons began to come together to create the bigger picture and I was able to see more clearly. Acceptance was always the key.
I learned that I had spent so much time and energy unwilling to accept this label. Fighting against becoming a statistic and battling within myself, with my pride because I would not allow myself to be stamped with limitations. I had spent all of this time and so much energy dodging this massive bear (so to speak) that I ran out of options anyway, at that point the limitations that I was facing had come from myself and not the label at all.
Spending all of my resources running from this bear, left me drained and beat down. I learned that true acceptance meant making the direct decision and conscious choice that I was going to take on this bear, even if I was exhausted from all of this running. I might have to give the fight of my life but I was going to tackle it. Acceptance meant educating myself and not just on articles like ‘what guidelines to follow’ or ‘the best therapists in my area’, I had to really understand the chemistry and the science behind anxiety and the brain. When you’re more educated you have a better idea of what you’re up against and it’s easier to plan a counter attack.
When I made the decision to accept that this was just going to be a part of my life, it immediately eased up. I realised that the cause of most of my anxiety had never been the fear of the act, it was the fear of the fear itself. The fear of the exposure, the fear of lack of control, the fear of judgement, the fear of vulnerability, the fear of shame. When I began to flip the script, change my perspective and remind myself that what anyone else thinks is never important enough to cripple myself over. Your pride is never as important as your peace of mind. Fear is only ever an illusion, mostly a secondary emotion with an alternative source. I gained back the control in my mind instead of letting it control me, simply by choosing to just own it.
I was no longer afraid to talk to people more openly about it, to tell people the true reason why I didn’t feel comfortable attending their party. Through that, I learned that talking it out is so freeing. I had to relearn how to live again, how to cross the front door again without having a panic attack. I never went anywhere without a paper ‘sick bag’ that doubled as a bag for hyperventilation in my handbag. I couldn’t enter a stand alone shop. I had to relearn how to go to the end of that shop, far from the exit, without having an anxiety attack. Shopping centres were a no go in the beginning they were just point blank off the table. I had to firstly relearn how to enter the main doors and on each visit after the initial one, I would move up a couple more shops each time until I walked the length of the centre. Now I go on my own like it’s NBD 🙂 . Choosing to not care if I happened to throw up in the middle of the centre and choosing to not care if I caused a scene from fainting, choosing to accept that I had anxiety and feel okay with that is what enabled me to make these changes and come that far.
The most important thing that I learned was that accepting that you suffer with anxiety doesn’t mean that you fill all of the stereotypes and doesn’t mean that you are weak. Thinking that it is something to hide from is only ever going to stifle you ever overcoming it and keep you going in a wicked circle, hating on yourself. It doesn’t have to be who you are it’s just something that you are going through, always remember to separate the two. Don’t let it define you.
*If you could relate to any stage in this sequence please let me know, thank you for following each piece*
Thanks for reading,