So this is a tricky post to write because it’s putting myself in the potential target of judgement, but there is a calling for me to share with you my journey through walking hand in hand with anxiety.

To give you a bit of a background, I’m one of those women who, on the surface, to most people I seem pretty ‘normal’. I’m a fairly high achiever. I’ve had a marriage and a divorce, I’ve been blessed, I’ve suffered, and on the outside, I’ve probably looked like I was coping pretty well with my life.

A few months back I came to a point where my mind ‘crashed’.  It literally gave up sleeping and it seemed like my whole existence was falling around me and I couldn’t see myself in the mirror from all the dust from the falling rubble. The tears only added to the confusion, creating mud on my face that seemed so thick I could no longer see clearly.  For several months preceding the ‘crash’, all my energy was going into burying the fact that I felt increasingly incompetent, my memory was failing me on a daily basis and I was exhausted unconsciously covering up that I wasn’t coping with the heavy cloak of shame and “I’m doing fine!”.

The crash came after a week of really not sleeping much at all, maybe 2-4 hours a night and even then, not in one solid block.  Work had seemed really stressful and my body at this age is going through the ‘transition’ many women are familiar with.  I ended up having to take time off work in order to crawl my way back to clarity.  Even though these last 3 months haven’t been easy, I’m grateful for the crash as it has bought an urgency to my body and my soul to get back inside it.

Anxiety for me has been a companion that to be honest, I have never acknowledged until now.  I hadn’t understood that my default busyness was the running away from the feeling of panic that arose with a barrage of my own voice screaming at me; get a grip, hurry up, you’re not doing it properly, she thinks you’re an idiot, he thinks you’re ugly, no one really likes you, you’re not good enough, someone is going to expose you, you said the wrong thing, one day you’ll be exposed for the failure you are.

Horrible isn’t it.

Writing these words down, I still need to breathe deeply so their grip doesn’t seep back into my body.

These last three months, I have been focusing on going inside. Using mindfulness meditation, getting my hands in the soil and even picking up the brush again to express my internal creative soul.

Meditation has been a wonderful tool to get back into my body as it holds memories that need to be cleared with a gentle hug of compassion.  Going into stillness on a regular basis has bought me back to my ‘self’. It has helped me hold myself with a gentle smile as I witness my thoughts as ‘things’ outside of my soul or my spirit.  These thoughts are opportunities to observe my meaning making and understand that my spirit has freewill to choose how I respond to the thoughts. The thoughts are not ‘me’.

My new response is, “Hi, thanks for dropping in but I no longer need you. Bye!” 

With daily meditation practice, even starting with 10mins a day, it has begun to transform the energy in my body, allowing the compassion to emerge more consciously and giving me the energetic space to express my spirit.  While anxiety may still be my companion in life, I honour the ‘crash’ it has brought me to raise awareness and wisdom in the choices I make.

choose to be gentle with myself.

I choose not to listen to my inner critic.

I choose to look after the health of my body.

I choose to take one step at a time and trust.

I choose to be clear with my boundaries.

I am present to the bravery it takes to step forward, be gentle, be compassionate and share with other women my journey. Hopefully this helps others find their stillness and reconnection.

One blessing that has been with me on this journey is being part of Women’s Wellbeing Association Committee. I had stepped up to a calling to be part of WWA and its been an amazing blessing of sisters who are present, allowing and supportive.  If you’re considering a path of contribution where you can make a tangible difference in the lives of women and yourself, consider how you may bring your heart to the Sisterhood.  When women hold each other in gentle support, great resilience and wisdom arrises and I feel their support has been essential on this journey. We are not alone. Find out more about being part of this amazing group of women here.

As in our Share Circles, opening vulnerably can make a huge contribution to the lives of others.  There is power and support in witnessing shared experiences, breaking down the suffering we feel with being alone and unheard.  Please share your stories in the comments below or come along to one of our monthly Share Circles.  Life is meant to be shared.  

With compassion,

Julie Hauritz

Circles Coordinator