Dedicating this article to my dear Elisa and Lucile.
This sunday morning started perfectly with the new edition of Porter, delivered to my door. Got myself a nice cup of coffee, I was more than ready to jump through the fashion and beauty memos, photographs and articles. Hopping for a relaxing moment, until I was hit by page 250. The beauty memo to start the Spring season is about High Anxiety. I’ve read it all. Which I barely never do with fashion magazine articles.
–It really inspired me, as this topic is particularly meaningful to me. Today for the first time, I feel like sharing my personal experience and my long fight against CGAD: Chronic General Anxiety Disorder.
My story started a long time ago. I was 7 when I had my first panic attack. I wouldn’t know how to describe it better than they did in this article -using a quote from The New York Times: “It’s that pit-of-the-stomach feeling of impending doom… As thoughts spiral into the realm of unreality”.
Recent studies and figures have apparently shown an escalation of this disorder, leading experts to talk of pandemic. The global situation is worrying, that’s obvious. I feel like it is legitimate for anyone sensitive and or intelligent enough to be worried, stressed, anxious…
–As I said, I’ve been dealing with anxiety since childhood. Any bad news, stressful times, tiredness was able to take me away from reality. From one little bad though to a legs shaking sleepless night. At first it was insignifiant, fearing to have a bad mark at school, to not be good enough at equitation or dance and decided to quit, to loose friends…
However my anxiety got to its peak in my last year of high school. Basically the year of graduation, the one where you have to figure out what you will do in your life. Ironically, I was a pretty good student, I knew I’ll be a graduate -without doubt, and I also knew I’ll integrate a good Business School which I was really exited about. But this hasn’t helped me out. Anxiety is insidious, you deal with a part of yourself you don’t know.
At this time, my crisis became chronic. For months I had crisis every nights. It was a nightmare to sleep. Tiredness made it worst so the vicious circle took place. Funny enough anxiety runs in my family, both my parents were familiar with it. I was told I had two possibilities. First to be strong enough to acknowledge the problem and be in control. Second to ignore it, therefore it will get worst and dramatically affect my everyday life.
My anxiety did not have obvious symptoms that people around me would notice, only close friends and family knew of the situation. Once in the middle of a math class I have started shaking to a point where I was about to throw up and had to leave class. Obviously for people not knowing, I was then the new topic to make fun of during breaks. Blaming the incident on my monthly menstrual cycle, which was not the case. I was ashamed of looking weak…
I then realized this could not go on and I had to get my life back but most importantly myself back. It was not easy, it took me years. Anxiety is not like a type of flu that we can heal. However I have learnt with time to manage it, to be in control of my emotions. To not let it get the worst of me, it took time. Two long and painful years. The hardest part of mental illness is that you’re fighting against yourself. Others can help you to feel relief when they are around, but when they’re gone, you have to face yourself. With time it came clear to me that failure and loneliness were my biggest fears. I was seeing a psychologist for half a year, I use to take homeopatica tablets to be able to sleep and light antidepressant when it wasn’t enough. Breathing exercise really helped me to stay calm when I felt like I was having another episode. I then started yoga which helped me in so many ways. We don’t always realized but so many tensions are kept in our bodies, yoga really helped there. It has now became a hobby for many more reasons.
After battling anxiety for a little time, a more matured me came to the realization that there is always a moment or a fact in our life that triggered anxiety. Often because a situation took us by surprised and we were not ready or simply not able to handle it. My story was triggered by my parent s divorce. Back then divorce was uncommon, I was confused, wondered why my family, why me. Kids bullied me because I had divorced parents, it was seen as an handicap in my society. And it felt as so.
However we all are different, my story may have affected others in different ways but it affected me in this way. My story also made me the person that I am today, and this makes my story a happy one. I still have some crisis, maybe twice a year and never during the day. It will never go away 100% but you learn to handle it, once you are able to do so you feel strong, you feel yourself again.
For whoever with anxiety reading this, you are not the only one. It’s life. My yoga teacher always says:
‘Your thoughts cannot hit you unless you let them.’
Don’t hesitate to share your stories, I guaranty, it is a relief.
With all my love,