I felt like I wanted to die.
In my head, at this moment, two weeks ago, a part of me was wishing for death.
Someone very dear to me has lived with deep anxiety for much of the past decade. He has also spent much of the past several years abusing drugs and living in a variety of rehab programs. But as I felt my whole body/mind/spirit breaking into unfamiliar pieces under anxiety’s crushing blow, I suddenly got it… why he has turned to drugs, why he has contemplated (and perhaps attempted) suicide, why some days are a massive feat of endurance for him. I understood, to some small degree, just how horrifyingly debilitating anxiety can be. Anxiety is real and raw and ravaging. And I will never again jokingly use the phrase “nervous breakdown” because now I’ve experienced a taste of what it actually feels like. And it’s no joke.
But. But here is what I also know now.
There is no darkness too deep, no fear too profound, no soul too shattered for love to reach.
I felt that love…
- When my husband came home for lunch every day to be with me and gave me more massages (oxytocin tames stress hormones) than I can count as I endured the darkest moments.
- When my friend Mangala in India told me, “I have been including you when I visualise family and friends I send light to during my light meditation – and you look radiant like an angel whenever I visualise you! I thought that was encouraging.”
- When my six-year-old daughter flung her body in front of me with her arms spread apart and said, “I’ll be your shield.”
- When a dear friend told me she would be doing a fast for me.
- When a friend who has struggled with anxiety for most of her life met me at the park with a heart full of understanding and an ear without judgment.
- When seventeen-year-old Lynette told me, “I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I just wanted to tell you about the profound influence you have had on my life. . . . I am still in high school and you have literally influenced my entire mentality. You are an amazing woman and I strive to one day become the mother I know you are. Thank you for opening my eyes to the beautiful power and grace we as women possess. You have instilled in me a great love and desire to learn more and to be more.”
- When I received unexpected cards in the mail with words of encouragement from my sister.
- When I received phone calls, flowers, and visitors bearing food and friendship.
- When I wrapped my arms around each one of my children and rubbed their backs, saying, “I love you. I’m so grateful for you. I’m so proud of you.” It brings me to tears even now to remember how my love for them and their love for me and our physical and verbal expressions of that love would almost instantly send merciful waves of calm through my anxiety-ravaged soul, briefly muting the panic. As my body/mind/spirit basked in the glow of the power of our love for each other and my eyes filled with tears, I would find myself even feeling grateful for the terrible opposition that made the power of that love so pronounced and clear.
- When I pondered, in awe, the reality that I had people all over the world cheering for me, praying for me, sending love to me, and believing in my ability to overcome the challenge I was facing. So many who struggle with anxiety struggle alone. But I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support I received. There were so many emails, messages, and comments that brought me to tears. And when I was crying those grateful tears, the tension would release and I would feel peace momentarily, and each of those merciful moments gave me hope that I would, in fact, find myself again.
And I have.
Except I’ll never be the same. The self who emerged from the crucible of that affliction is a different person than the one who entered it.
And I think, just maybe, all the while she thought she was breaking, my self was actually giving birth to someone far more compassionate, far more humble, far more capable of reaching out in love.
And I think it was all worth it. And maybe even beautiful.
I have so much more I want to share with you, so much more I have learned, but this world-wearied mama has made a resolution to get more sleep.
Other blogposts that have been rolling around in my head and will hopefully spill onto the keyboard and blog before too long…
- Telling you about the dream I had a few days before I plummeted into anxiety. My dead brother came to give me a message in a bizarre (disturbing) symbolic way.
- Sharing what I learned about overcoming anxiety nutritionally and naturally.