Coping with Anxiety

I have a confession to make…

bike riding made me cry!

Two weeks ago I scored a second hand bike for the princely sum of $50, and have been itching to take it for a spin since. Finally I had an entire day to myself, and with the sun shining I was ready to take the blue beast out for a test drive. After sending a rather hilarious helmet selfie to my partner so he could bask in the glory of my ginormous head, I threw a leg over and was ready to roll. I didn’t make to the end of the driveway before a mini-panic attack set in. All sweaty and shaky I sat on my bike convincing myself that being scared of going for a ride was absolutely crazy, nothing was going to happen, and I LOVED the last bike ride I went on – so clearly there was nothing to worry about.

I couldn’t shake this horrible, panicky feeling and rushed myself back into the safety and comfort of my house. And I cried. I cried a lot. Blubbering, red-faced, can’t catch your breath, ugly crying. Eventually I calmed down and decided to have another go at some yoga , since I have been thoroughly enjoying learning the basics I was certain it would cheer me up. Nope. Cue messy crying on my yoga mat while my cats looked on – oblivious. Then I just lay there, letting myself cry, feeling the tears roll down the sides of my face into my hair. “Maybe I just need I good cry” I told myself.

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Coping with anxiety & overwhelm is nothing new to me, although sometimes it can creep up and strike out of the blue. This time the panic almost got the better of me, until I realised I had two choices :

1 – Let my emotions swallow me whole and lie around in a mess of self-loathing and tears.
2 – Get up, get moving, get my endorphins flowing and open my eyes to appreciate the world around me.

It was an easy choice.


It was beautiful, sunny, midwinter day outside and there was no chance I was going to miss it, so I picked myself up, washed my face and set out for a walk.
I didn’t know where I was going.
I didn’t know how long I was going for.
All I knew was that I was going.
Going, to put one foot in front of the other until I could hold my head up and smile.

Off I went. Music in my ears, feet pounding along the pavement, and the sun at my back. For a long while I choked on my tears, thankful for the dinner plate size sunglasses I decided to wear. Still I walked on, letting my emotions come and go, watching the ducks glide across the water beside me, laughing at the dog who chased his stick into the freezing lake….wait…did I just LAUGH?…OUT LOUD?! Things were maybe, just maybe starting to looking up.

A little further on I felt compelled to sit on the very edge of the lake. So there I sat. The sun glittered across the water as I turned smooth pebbles over and over in my hands…then something crazy happened! I kicked off my running shoes and my socks and went for a stroll in the freezing edge of the lake. It was bliss! Sure, I got a few odd looks from passers-by, and my toes were swiftly turning into icicles but still I splashed through the crystal clear water. Eventually I had to leave my sunny spot on the beach to head on home, this time noticing the smiles of the people on the trail, catching flashes of colour as tiny birds flitted along ahead.

With achingly cold fingers and toes I stepped into a steaming hot shower to warm my bones and wash away any remaining negative feelings. I soaked and scrubbed, letting the water relax my muscles, watching it wind away down the the drain with a big, dopey smile on my face. In a few short hours I’d gone from blubbering, shaky, panicing mess, to the big grinning, silly giggling, big kid that I am. 

If you asked me this morning why I was crying my eyes out I could have given a thousand reasons why, crappy job, money woes, stress, health, family issues,….and probably not even one reason to be happy.  This afternoon I could give you a thousand reason to smile, silly dogs, sunshine, ducks, my amazing family, my loving partner, our crazy cats, a good job…..yeah there’s still maybe a few things that aren’t so great – but the good far outweighs the not-so-good!

I shook that funk myself, not by getting frustrated or beating myself up about it – but by being able to accept that I wasn’t ‘feeling it’ today. I let myself cry, I let myself feel the way I needed to feel, then I got up and did something to bring the smile back to my dial. 27years in my own mind have taught me that the tough times are not the times to put pressure on, or to do those things that you love…but maybe aren’t so great at. A split second of panic on a bike taught me to let go of the bullshit and focus on creating my own happiness!

 

Next time you have a crappy day, or are feeling a little blue – pluck up the courage to put one foot in front of the other, remember to breathe, and ALWAYS focus on the good shit.

 

4 Comments

  1. June 24, 2014    

    Thanks for sharing your journey. Amazing to read that you can experience a wave of “panic” but overcame by enjoying to small stuff.

    • June 27, 2014    

      Thanks Erin 🙂 sometimes all you need is a gentle nudge in the right direction x

  2. April 22, 2015    

    Thanks for sharing this. This is a really eloquantly told story of how I feel from time to time. I deal with it the same way too. Stay strong, look to nature and keep moving. 🙂 There is always a bright side, sometimes you just have to look for it.

    • April 24, 2015    

      Thanks Laura, glad it resonated with you!
      You’re absolutely right, and sometimes the hardest par tis actually convincing yourself to really SEE the bright side 🙂

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