Sometimes, as frustrating as it may be, you need to ebb in order to flow.
This past week, I slipped into old patterns, and ended up in my doctor’s office due to out of control anxiety. I was pretty sure that what I was experiencing was anxiety, but when you feel like you’re having a heart attack, it helps to have a professional tell you that you aren’t actually dying.
I am aware that these times are all part of a greater growth cycle. My logical mind knows that in the bigger picture, I have come a far way in knowing myself better and being able to manage this monster called anxiety. Does that make it any easier when the monster rears up its ugly head. Not in the least.
Every single time, I feel defeated, out of control and straight up scared. I think that my husband and daughter are mad at me for no reason at all. I interpret their body language as irritated and stand offish. I can’t accomplish what I want to at work and thus feel like I’m failing at all I’m trying to do.
Every single time, I feel defeated, out of control and straight up scared.
I cried every damn day for about 8 days straight. The anxiety manifested physically within my body causing a hell of a migraine, what I thought were heart palpitations, loss of appetite, upset tummy, and for the first time in many years, unexplained knee pain.
I also realized that this has been building up for months with minor instances of anxiety that I wrote off as “smaller anxiety attacks than I used to have”. Nope…they were just indicator waves warning me of the larger storm out on the horizon.
When I went to the doctor and they weighed me, I’d lost 8 pounds. If you know me, you know I don’t have much weight to spare. I’m a string bean. Always have been. My doctor explained the weight loss to me by saying, “It makes sense that you don’t want to eat. When you’re being chased by a tiger, your brain isn’t going to say, ok you should stop and eat now. It’s going to say RUN LIKE HELL!”
I had to take notice of the fact that I couldn’t remember the last time I practiced my daily meditation, that my exercise regime had become sporadic, that I was watching way too much TV and spending far too much time on social media. Also, I felt tired 100% of the time and so my caffeine intake had about doubled.
After an ECG, my doctor confirmed that my heart was healthy, I was not going to drop dead, and she and I came up with a protocol of a few different Chinese herbal formulas, neuro bathing magnesium before bed, cutting my coffee with half decaf, and bringing my meditation practice back into full swing.
A friend of mine said she had solved a slew of health issues, including a thyroid problem she was developing, by setting a timer for every two hours to remind herself to eat. I’ve adopted that as well and now have “Fuel Up!” reminders that pop up on my phone.
The ocean helps to wipe my slate clean
I went to the ocean and surfed. The conditions were difficult but it felt good to be out. The ocean helps to wipe my slate clean. Am I back to 100%? No. I still feel highly sensitive. There are tears in my eyes as I’m writing this. I still feel a bit defeated and like I’m sleep walking. But I also feel I’m at the end of the cycle and on the road to getting back to health…for this time.
I know I have to give myself a break, and I am. My doctor reminded me that this is partially a chemical issue that I do not have control over, and that is equal parts reassuring and frustrating at the same time. I’m filled with conflict. A walking oxymoron.
The other part of this struggle is habitual. I was looking at a surf book over the weekend called, “The Code”, by Shaun Tomson. Through 12 short stories, Shaun “offers the simple message – I Will – as a model to face life’s challenges and help you achieve your goals”. I only read the back of the book, but that line stood out to me.
Yesterday, someone made a very thoughtful comment on one of my social media posts about how when we wake up in the morning, and our head is immediately spinning with the things that we are worried about, most of those worries are based on past failures and/or old stories. Therefore, when we wake up and choose to focus on that, we are basing our future decision making on past failures and worries, which is just setting us up to experience the same patterns. That has stayed me as well.
I have decided to combine those two insights into developing a new morning ritual. When I wake up, and my head starts spinning, I have begun to immediately reframe all of the worries within my head into “I Will” statements.
“I will get work done. I will accomplish enough. I will meditate and exercise. I will feel more at ease. I will be successful today.” It’s simple, but it actually does make me feel better and helps me to set a healthy intention for my day.
Sometimes we have to go through internal conflict in order to get to that next higher place within ourselves.
By just having that insight, I feel like I’ve grown a bit through this rough patch. My therapist calls me a seeker, and it’s true. I can’t help but be grateful for these times when I’m struggling. I used to think that made me some sort of sadist, but it’s not so. It’s because I recognize the truth within all of this shit. That sometimes we have to go through internal conflict in order to get to that next higher place within ourselves.
I have never been one to stay in one situation for very long. Even my new Love Club art project, which has been extremely popular and is in demand, will bore me at some point and I won’t want to do it anymore. Sometimes I wish I could be one who was happy within a never-changing routine, but I know myself better than that.
That may mean that I have to ebb in order to flow, and that’s ok. It’s fucking hard, but it’s ok.
Can you think of a time that you have had to allow yourself a few steps back in order to move forward? In the comments, I’d love for you to share one of these experiences.
I am on target to offering a new series of Love Clubs in early October. If you’d like to get first dibs, sign up for the wait list by clicking here.
*The painting at top is from my Reclaimed Heart series. Diving Heart 8, 6”x6”, Paper and Acrylic on Canvas, $120. We must dive deep to see growth. To make this reminder your own, click here.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.