If you cut a pesky tree at the stump, you can bet it'll grow again. Pull it out by the roots and problem solved.
I had my first panic attack four months before my wedding whilst I was shopping for shoes at David Jones. I remember it clearly as I was so overwhelmed by the horror and spontaneity of it all (the panic attacks not the wedding!) that I ended up in the 'sick bay' of the store then in hospital that night. I didn't know what the panic attach was or where it came from. I was uneducated about it all (and embarrassed) that I didn't seek help. But I learned how to avoid another panic attack by no longer shopping on my own.
I moved past the experience, was married and then moved away. Not long after, I experienced multiple attacks, and chronic anxiety. I was blissfully in love, so this took me by complete surprise and I could not understand why I was feeling so rotten. Nevertheless I left no stone unturned and ended up with MRI tests, hypnotherapy, yoga, massages... I clung on to any type of 'fix' to feel better. I never bothered exploring my feelings and put it down to stress leading up to a wedding and a a big change in my life. Soon after I 'recovered' as around that time we relocated closer to my parents home.
Three years later I had my first child, a beautiful girl. I experience three months of sleepless, and I mean sleepless nights. Not because my daughter was difficult, but the anxiety and panic frayed my nerves to the point of absolute fear and kept me awake twenty-four hours. No one noticed this, as I became a great actor. Once again I just lived with it, without any exploration of self, or understanding of what was happening, until the darkness lifted and I became used to having a child and well I 'recovered' again.
Child number two, and I was in a slightly better place, so I was optimistic about Child number three. Boy, was I wrong and I came crashing down. It was the most difficult time in my life but thank God, it lead me to the right way with full recovery.
Remember that tree? I hear many people say, 'when I leave my job... when I lose weight... when we move house I'll get better,' and it hits me in a certain place. I used to continuously cut my tree at the stump too.
I recently came across a woman who had been in my class at high school 25 years ago. We had barely spoken back then - she was part of a high achieving, 'ideal' group of girls. Now we were two 'normal' mums chatting away. We came to talk about the school years I opened up to her and confessed at how 'different' I felt in school, being one of few girls in the grade of Lebanese background; how I felt that I stood out – big hair, foreign food, and general family life and wished at that age, to be an Aussie, like herself, as it looked so easy and 'normal’ to me.
She seemed genuinely shocked and confessed her own insecurities, how 'different' she had felt in school amongst her friends, and how she yearned to be like 'us' because we looked happy, confident and pretty… with our exotic features and food.
I walked away thinking...it is such a shame that I wasted my years at school, suffering - not accepting of my 'difference' and wishing myself any other way. Never did I realise my full potential whilst I had olives in my lunchbox. It also showed me that we suffer the same way, regardless of background. It doesn't end in school, does it?
The most common thread I hear, when it comes to chatting to sufferers of anxiety and depression, is how ‘different’ they feel, that there is something wrong with them and they wish they could be like everyone else. Growing up feeling that difference in a sense of cultural divide is a huge driving force of those illnesses, and sets the tone of helplessness.
Until we are ok with ourselves regardless of what is happening with us or what our background, we will continue to be our own enemy. Is it any wonder that we have an anxiety epidemic?