When I was recently asked to write an article for Planet Neurodivergent; on the bright side of life with anxiety, my initial reaction was – bright side? What bright side? How can there possibly be any bright side to undergoing panic attacks in any given situation, being paralysed by anxiety, feeling so bleak in the darkness that you cannot imagine that it will ever be any different, that you will never see life as vibrant in technicolour every again?
Then the whispers started;
“think what you have discovered, how far you have come, all that you have learnt on your journey”
From a diagnosis of chronic depression, severe anxiety and a side serve of PTSD I have learnt the true meaning of mindfulness and whilst I am far from perfect in living mindfully 24/7 I have learnt to accept my neurodivergence and not be ashamed of them. For me this acceptance has propelled me forward into enjoyment of life again, whilst also reducing the grip that anxiety and depression can have so that I am not experiencing symptoms every day. There is an abundance of research that shows how mindfulness supports our brains to become more integrated, this helps make our everyday thoughts, activities, mind-sets and sensitivities more balanced and well rounded.
“I practice gratitude daily by journaling, thanking people,complimenting random strangers and a gratitude jar.”
If I am having a bad day and cannot summon the light I will open my jar and read through some of the gratitude’s I have put in there, this opens up my brain to the sunshine. Each and every morning as I traipse down the stairs with my faithful poodle and rag doll I give thanks for my home and for having a space where I feel secure and safe. (I manifested the purchase of my home by sleeping with the sales brochure under my pillow for 3 months!).
Finding at least one thing each and every day to be grateful for has a profound effect on mental health and the way in which you view your world. There is so much joy to be found in nature, walking for an hour whilst being mindful of your surrounds, you will wonder at the beauty of the colours and textures mother nature has woven into the landscape. In time this focus on the positive will become second nature to you.
Empathy is the capacity to comprehend and feel what another is experiencing, to be able to place oneself in that position, to deeply feel compassion and concern for others.
I see this empathy as one of my core strengths, particularly in my role as a Naturopath and being able to successfully assist my clients that have presented with anxiety.
“Studies show that those with anxiety have increased emotional awareness and social sensitivity.”
It takes courage and persistence to live with an anxiety disorder, we are constantly trying our best to function, to get out and connect with friends even when our heart is pounding so hard if feels as if it may jump out. The self-control and strength to constantly resisting the “what if’s” the fear of a public panic attack and what others may think of you.
We all need to practice self-love, it’s not a cliché, we need to treat ourselves with the compassion and empathy that we give to others. To not berate ourselves for the spiralling thoughts, the self-doubt, the sweaty palms, the racing heart.
“Have faith in yourself, list your strengths, trust your gut and NEVER let anyone tell you “it’s all in your head”.
You are beautiful, you are strong, you have so much courage.