Whether or not you suffer from anxiety, I’m sure that almost everyone has experienced that fight-or-flight sensation of an adrenaline rush. It starts as a flurry of butterflies in the stomach, rapidly spreading to your head and infiltrating your thought process. Panic can set in. It’s in that moment you must make a choice which will either further your journey in life or make you miss your connection altogether.
I’m sure every anxiety sufferer will be used to living their life constantly on the edge of this sensation. From a more rational perspective, this nervous response can seem completely unwarranted, but when you’re trapped in the moment, it feels like one wrong move could end the world.
It’s funny how we use the word “suffer” when talking about anxiety. For the most part, that’s what it is. It can absolutely cripple you. But as someone who is on a steady path to recovery, I’ve learnt to embrace my fears and worries. Recovery is beautiful in so many ways, but the best thing about it, I’ve discovered, is that it clears your mind and makes you realise how your thought patterns don’t always reflect reality. Problems that once seemed to consume you can be looked at objectively, assessed, and ideally, overcome. It doesn’t always mean finding solutions, but rather ways of bending the problems to your will. It’s like standing up to your brain. You learn that it’s okay to turn around to that negative committee in your head and say, “hey, you’re not more powerful than I am. I gave you life and one of these days, I will kill you. So, you’d better shape up and do as I say, because I’m coming to get you!”. Embrace this, and it becomes easier to usurp power from the voices and command them, rather than them commanding you.
By playing this game that is recovery, I’ve levelled up and acquired the power of control. It’s a great power to have when defeating the boss. Whenever I feel anxious, and like I’m not good enough, I can now turn the situation on its head and say to myself, “what do I need to do to use this to my advantage?”. When I worry I’m not making enough progress with university work, or in my singing or piano, I thrive on this anxious need to be better and work harder, because I know I am capable of more. When things go wrong, I no longer wallow with my negativity and blame myself. I think, “what do I need to do to make sure I don’t lose out here? What do I need to do to gain experience from the situation?”. In small doses, which I have learnt to control myself, the anxiety of perfectionism can be healthy. I’ve made such great improvements in all areas of my life just by using my anxiety as a weapon with which to fight, rather than a monster from which to flee.
I realise it’s all very well for me to say “this is what I did and it really helped, so you should do it too!”, but in reality, recovery doesn’t work that way. Everyone goes through it at their own pace, and everyone has different coping mechanisms. But this is mine. And I really hope that I can help someone by putting it out there.
You are not your illness. You are your personality, your spirit. You are powerful and with perseverance, you are the master of your own mind. You are you. And in the immortal words of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, “you’re your problem, but you’re also your solution.”