In the past few days, I have experienced yet another anxiety attack, transcended into panic attacks with invasive and dark thoughts, to the point I even called for help, something I never do.
Today, I come to tell you how I put a stop to anxiety and why I know that it will be much better and that you too, if you suffer from anxiety, can fight it differently than you are used to!
Before I explain how I now fight my anxiety, I need to tell you why I found myself having the worst panic attack of my life.
The people who follow me already probably think “easy, you’ve been caught up in everything that comes with a famous case”.
And in reality, this is not the cause, but one of the consequences of the problem that I have really identified since.
I owe a big thank you to Pierre-Alain De Garrigues for asking me a question that got me on the right track.
We had already discussed together my need to let go, not to take responsibility for the experience of others, the need to feed the positive and I was sorry to fall back.
And at the end of his kind responses to a message of deep distress, there was a question that changed everything: did I want to invest my energy in taking down some dickhead, or did I want to invest my energy in getting better?
I never asked myself this question for the simple reason that I never had the will to take someone down and it was a shock because I realized that all my anxious communication actually told the pursuit of this goal.
Yet it was never mine.
That is exactly why I am not a civil party in this case.
So why did I live for the opposite purpose during my anxiety attacks?
I wished with all my strength to have the answer, to find it, telling myself that it was necessarily somewhere in my already accomplished journey.
And then I was extremely lucky to have an intervention (really) from one of my mentors.
And he made me do an exercise that changed everything.
The person I hated and wanted to bring down was me.
It’s late afternoon, I get a text: “vocal, right now, I don’t care if you’re in crisis, if you trust me, it’s time to end your crisis and prevent the next”.
There are people in whom I have absolute confidence, they are counted on the fingers of the hand and it was the second to answer my distress, obviously, trembling and in tears, I made the big plunge and I called him.
“You’re going up, you’re going to be in front of a mirror, we’re going to do a simple exercise.
Are you there? Now you look yourself in the eye and tell yourself what you like about yourself and everything you hate, what you have to blame yourself for”.
In the midst of such a violent crisis, you suspect that the second list was much longer than the first.
I was not sure where I was going with this exercise, as I enumerated what was wrong with me, I felt my chest tighten harder and harder.
“Well, now the crucial question: from that list of the many reasons to blame yourself, what comes from you and what comes from relatives and accusations you recieved in the past?”
Ouch, that hurts.
I’m a bad mother.
I am arrogant.
I don’t communicate enough.
I communicate too much.
I never go out.
I’m spreading myself too thin.
I never finish anything.
I’m not good at anything.
I am unable to keep a space properly organized.
I’m still a child.
I am far too adult and serious.
I am a disappointment.
The list was long.
I owe it to one person and one only.
My foster mother.
“I’m going to tell you a sentence and you’re going to tell me if you agree: anxiety is your childhood calling for help.”
And this is the click.
What made me have this chronic crisis, what triggers me every damn time this case comes back a little too much in my life, it’s not this case, it’s the feeling of having already experienced the same situation and having repeated my mistakes.
It is the fact that I am always wronged unfairly.
I lived a relationship of control, psychological abuse, exploitation, a person who chooses when I must say yes and when I must say no, who pushed me to think poorly of others, to put pressure on others, to not care how people are and to take the pain of others on my shoulders.
You think I’m talking about the other dickhead?
No, I’m talking about my experience with child welfare.
And at the end of this experience, I was entitled to the same accusations: I communicated badly, it was my fault if a judge for children ruled on a continuity of placement with access and accommodation, it was my fault if my mother (peace be upon her) never managed for its own disorders had violent crises that affected me, if I had taken more pain for me, it would not be there, it is my fault if my foster family suffered from my placement, from me being neuroatypical, from my ingratitude before their white savior syndrome.
What pushed me into this whirlwind of anxiety-provoking, almost suicidal thoughts for almost 5 years was that I found myself reliving the same injustice, which I did not heal from because I was not even aware of how much it was killing me from the inside.
I hated myself, because I felt like I was repeating mistakes.
I felt like I was wrong.
And I did what I was taught to do when I’m wrong, take the pain of others.
And I took the anger of some victims, making their wish to see someone fall, my goal when it is not the conclusion I expect.
Because it made me disappear.
Because I was loathsome for diving back into the same pattern.
Putting an end to bis repetitas
After this great psychological slap, I had a deep surge of hope.
It’s like I just found a key and it unlocked my rib cage, dropping pounds off my shoulders, like I managed to high five my former self.
It will get better.
I’m gonna be okay.
I kept talking with my mentor for a while and learned something that finally convinced me that I was going to get better.
If you have never heard this name, you should probably follow her.
She is a former columnist, now an author, speaker, infoprener, oriented in the personal development based on science and rather in the empowerment of women even if her content can apply to anyone.
And most importantly, she is an atypical woman, diagnosed with anxiety and attention deficit disorder.
And that, I did not know despite the contents that I had been able to discover until then.
She lived 20 years with anxiety attacks that far exceeded mine, before we even put words on what caused them.
And she spent the years following her diagnosis looking for methods to prevent her anxiety attacks.
This is the basis of his book “the 5 second rule”.
I was directed to two of her contents, which I will summarize in two sentences that have radically changed my state of mind over the past two days:
– be honest with yourself: if right now you feel bad, it’s because an invasive thought has managed to do the worst, moving you away from your core values and you have to take the time to listen to why, you have to isolate the cause, not treat the consequence.
– anxiety is your younger self that calls for your help; when you feel that your neck is tying up, you have to take a break and ask yourself why my neck was tying up like that in my childhood?
The first sentence is by Mel Robbins and it made me think long and hard.
Since I plunged back into this old trauma of control over my life, I have completely strayed from my core values.
Learning, sharing, including.
These are the three pillars that organized my pedagogy, as a teacher at home and at university.
These are the three pillars that organized my desire to write.
These are the three pillars that organized my way of working in the company I founded.
And these three vital pillars have not been part of my life for almost 5 years.
I am beside my shoes, but also and especially of myself.
“Anxiety is a separation from oneself”, it’s a complementary phrase to the one about childhood and it comes from Doctor Russell Kennedy, neuropsy, specialized in the treatment of anxiety.
Listening to an episode of the Mel Robbins podcast, I understood, besides why she has a podcast that has seduced the whole world, how anxiety really works and it has nothing to do with what I was told.
Anxiety is not a flood of invasive thoughts that come from nowhere and bite us all at once.
This part is actually already part of the consequence.
TW mentions of serious injury and blood (we have metaphors that we can, highlight the passage below to read anyway)
Wanting to change the way we think at that moment is like wanting to change how we bleed out after being hit by a car.
It’s clearly more effective to look before crossing than to risk death and stick a 1 cm² dressing on a ruined femoral artery.
In short, all this to say that I decided to treat the source of anxiety.
I started by saying out loud that no, I am not responsible for what I was accused of during my childhood, because I was a child and I had legal officials who were supposed to be responsible.
I continued by pushing myself to face reality: the person who told me that I absolutely had to take the trouble of others and help carry their burdens is exactly the one who threw me out so as not to endure neither the responsibility for the suffering she had inflicted on me, nor the fact that I was atypical, Going so far as to fire a shrink to prevent my initial ASD/ADD diag.
And I finished by telling myself that it was time for me to be me, not a substitute for others, not just a shadow, me, this person who firmly believes that we can change the world a little, every day, simplifying learning to make it accessible to as many people as possible, writing things that make you think and nourish the positive, creating lots of things with my hands.
My office will never be “well organized” and I don’t care, it’s organized for me.
And I find myself there, too bad if I’m the only one, we don’t care it’s not your office.
I want to firmly put my feet back in my trio of fundamental values and above all, I want to remember that the next time I feel caught in the throat, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, we breathe, we think about what could have grieved the child, Before the body is told only if it is going wrong, then it must send invasive thoughts.
And I’m turning the page on everything else.
I breathe, it’s neither my fault nor my responsibility.
My responsibility is to embody myself, to be me, to take care of myself, to make me a huge high five in the mirror every time I give a new class and a student who has been told “you suck, you’ll never make it” realizes that it’s bullshit and that of course it will, the question is to identify how.
I refuse to let anyone erase 20 years of conceiving for others, teaching for and with others, and I refuse even more than what “anyone” can be me.
So I decided to take a few days off.
Out of the projects I used to be too busy to take care of myself, I took Mel Robbins’ micro-training “Take control” and chose a project to hold for a month to get back in touch with my life, my core values and my being.
And I will never again let anything interfere with my right to live according to my principles.
So I will soon find you with content a little different, much more in my image.
Thank you to all the people who were there for me during this atrocious weekend, it was the last time I fell so low, I have everything in place to make sure.
If we didn’t tell you today: you are great, you can do it, at your own pace, I love you, I believe in you, I am proud of you and you should be too!
Want to dig deeper for yourself?
The episode of Mel Robbins’ podcast with Doctor Russell Kennedy : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdM596wLz00
Mel Robbins mini program “Take Control” : https://www.melrobbins.com/takecontrol