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The​ ​films​ ​‘Cloudy​ ​with​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​of​ ​Meatballs’,​ ​‘The​ Borrowers’,​ ​‘City​ ​of Ember’, ‘The​ ​Secret​ ​Garden’​ ​and​ ​several​ ​more​ ​are great​ films that​ ​many​ ​people like.​ ​I​ ​wonder​ ​how​ ​many​ ​other​ ​adults​ ​relate​ ​to​ ​their​ themes​ ​and​ ​core characters?.


High​ ​winds,​ ​heavy​ ​angry​ ​rain,​ ​tormented​ ​skies​ ​with​ ​thunder​ ​and​ ​lightning​ ​are also​ ​appreciated​ ​by​ ​many.​ ​I​ ​value​ ​their​ ​demanding ​confidence...SEE me!...FEEL​ ​me!….I​ ​relish​ ​giving​ ​myself​ ​over​ ​to​ ​their​ surround​ ​sound​ ​and feeling​ ​their strength.


Many​ ​people​ ​appreciate​ ​beautiful​ ​scents​ ​and​ ​scenic​ ​views,​ ​hobbies​ ​and pastimes​ ​like​ ​gardening​ ​or​ ​painting.​ ​I​ ​find​ ​myself​ ​wondering​ ​if ​​there​ ​are others...if​ ​there​ ​is​ ​anyone​ ​else……..who​ ​experiences​ ​the​ ​scent​ ​of​ ​a​ ​flower​ ​and finds​ ​their​ ​soul​ ​clinging​ ​to​ ​it​ ​for​ ​dear life…...anyone​ ​who​ ​looks​ ​at​ ​the​ ​rolling hills​ ​and​ ​patchwork​ ​of​ ​England's​ ​countryside​ ​and​ ​simultaneously​ ​absorbs​ ​its wonder​ ​and​ ​questions​ ​if​ ​it's​ ​real?


The​ ​conflicting​ ​themes​ ​of​ ​control​ ​and​ ​freedom,​ ​life​ ​in​ miniature​ ​and​ ​life amplified,​ ​feeling​ ​so​ ​in​ ​need​ ​of​ ​and​ ​touched​ ​by​ ​nature that​ ​everything​ ​else​ ​in the​ ​universe​ ​pales​ ​into​ ​insignificance….and​ ​the​ ​tumultuous​ torment​ ​of​ ​gusting winds​ ​and​ ​leaden​ ​skies​ ​heavy​ ​with​ ​rain,​ ​resonate​ ​with​ ​my​ ​emotions​ ​and appear​ ​often​ ​to​ ​me​ ​as​ ​exterior​ ​demonstrations​ ​of​ ​my​​inner​ ​conflicts.  


I​ ​believe​ ​I​ ​know​ ​myself​ ​really​ ​well​…​I​ ​believed​ ​I ​knew​ ​myself​ ​really​ ​well.​ ​I​ ​have spent​ ​years​ ​absorbing​ ​and​ ​understanding,​ ​growing​ ​and reflecting.​ ​Yet​ ​I​ ​learnt last​ ​year​ ​from​ ​my​ ​G.P.,​ ​something​ ​that​ ​blew​ ​my​ ​mind.​ ​I struggled​ ​to​ ​process what​ ​she​ ​said​ ​and​ ​life​ ​felt completely​ ​surreal​ ​in​ ​the​ ​time​ ​immediately​ ​following the​ ​appointment.​ ​I​ ​apparently​ ​hadn't​ ​been​ ​suffering​ ​mini​ strokes​ ​and​ ​it​ ​wasn't the​ ​temporo​ ​mandibular​ ​disorder​ ​in​ ​the​ ​right​ ​side​ ​of​ ​my​ ​face​ ​that​ ​was​ ​causing the​ ​shockingly​ ​painful​ ​bursts​ ​of​ ​pain​ ​that​ ​had​ ​been​ ​flashing​ ​up​ ​the​ ​back​ ​of​ ​my head​ ​for​ ​the​ ​past​ ​week…..it​ ​was​stress….and​ ​anxiety.


I​ ​was​ ​SO​ ​embarrassed.​ ​Painfully​ ​embarrassed.​ ​I’d​ ​been​ ​coping!..I’d​ ​coped​ ​with SO​ ​much.​ ​Just​ ​when​ ​things​ ​Should​ ​have​ ​been​ ​getting​ ​better...how​ ​was​ ​I​ ​NOW experiencing​ ​physical​ ​pain​ ​!?…​ ​so​ ​bad​ ​that​ ​I​ ​had​ ​acupuncture​ ​right​ ​there​ ​and then​ ​and​ ​was​ ​prescribed​ ​codeine​ ​based​ ​painkillers/anti-inflammatory​ ​tablets. I​ ​walked​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​surgery​ ​shocked​ ​into​ ​numbness​ and​ ​already determined​ ​that​ ​‘I’​ ​wouldn't​ ​be​ ​needing​ ​‘painkillers!!’...​​to​ ​cope!.​ ​So​ ​the muscles​ ​across​ ​my shoulders​ ​stayed​ ​almost​ ​rigid​ ​with​ ​tension​ ​and​ ​my​ ​days were interrupted​ ​with​ ​painful​ ​spikes​ ​up​ ​into​ ​my​ ​head​ ​and​ ​the​ ​tablets​ ​were used​ ​once​ ​or​ ​twice​ ​and​ ​…….I​ ​cried.​ ​I​ ​hated​ ​myself.​ ​I hated​ ​my weakness​ ​and my​ ​body​ ​and​ ​the​ ​pain​ ​and​ ​the​ ​embarrassment.​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​‘the​ ​black’​ ​creeping​ ​nearer and​ ​it​ ​scared​ ​me.​ ​Years​ ​ago​ ​it​ ​had ​consumed​ ​me​ ​and​ ​I'd​ ​spent​ ​a​ ​year​ ​suffering from​ ​bulimia​ ​whilst​ ​I​ ​was​ ​grieving​ ​the​ ​death​ ​of​ ​my​ ​son.​ ​I​ ​didn't​ ​want​ ​to​ ​go back​ ​there.


I​ ​returned​ ​to​ ​the​ ​G.P.​ ​for​ ​the​ ​next​ ​acupuncture​ ​and​ ​I cried.​ ​I​ ​told​ ​her​ ​I​ ​hadn't taken​ ​the​ ​tablets​ ​and​ ​why​ ​and​ ​she​ ​explained​ ​why​ ​I​ ​needed them.​ ​I’d​ ​not understood​ ​before​ ​that​ ​my​ ​body​ ​was​ ​so​ ​exhausted​ ​and​ ​tense​ ​that​ ​it​ ​was​ ​rigid and​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​rest​ ​and​ ​heal.​ ​I​ ​took​ ​the painkillers,​ ​had​ ​the​ ​acupuncture​ ​and finally​ ​arranged​ ​to​ ​see​ ​a​ ​counsellor/therapist​ ​(not​ ​that​ I​ ​really​ ​needed​ ​to…..i was​ ​‘fine’)


"Few​ ​people​ ​today​ ​would​ ​dispute​ ​that​ ​chronic​ ​stress​ ​is​ a​ ​hallmark​ ​of​ ​our​ ​times or​ ​that​ ​anxiety​ ​has​ ​become​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​cultural​ ​condition​ ​of​ ​modernity,"​ ​​says Stossel. "We​ ​live,​ ​as​ ​has​ ​been​ ​said​ ​many​ ​times​ ​since​ the​ ​dawn​ ​of​ ​the​ ​atomic era, in​ ​an​ ​age​ ​of​ ​anxiety."​ ​But​ ​not​ ​everyone​ ​has​ ​a​​"normal"​ ​response​ ​to​ ​anxiety.


Panic​ ​comes​ ​in​ ​many​ ​forms.​ ​It​ ​can​ ​vary​ ​from​ ​a​ gnawing​ ​unease​ ​in​ ​the​ ​belly​ ​to believing​ ​you​ ​are​ ​having​ ​a​ ​heart​ ​attack​ ​and​ ​will​ ​be dead​ ​within​ ​seconds​ ​whilst you're​ ​facing​ ​you’re​ ​greatest​ ​fear.​ ​My​ ​personal​ ​norm​ ​is​ a​ ​shifting​ ​unease​ ​that moves​ ​to​ ​a​ ​persistent​ ​negative​ ​voice​ ​and​ ​gathers​ momentum​ ​as​ ​it​ ​feeds​ ​on​ ​my low​ ​self​ ​esteem,​ ​my​ ​fears​ ​and​ ​the​ ​challenges​ ​I'm facing. Physically,​ ​I​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​feel tight​ ​chested,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​lump​ ​in​ ​the​ ​centre,​ ​slightly​ ​light​ ​headed​ ​and​ ​on​ ​the​​verge of​ ​tears.​ ​My​ ​joints​ tend to​ ​all​ ​sing​ ​out​ ​their​ ​aches as​ ​if​ ​a​ ​conductor​ ​is​ ​bringing them​ ​all​ ​in​ ​to​ ​tune​ ​up​ ​and​ ​I​ ​can​ ​go​ ​cold​ ​and​ ​hypersensitive.​ ​That’s​ ​hard enough to​ ​cope​ ​with​ ​in​ ​the​ ​relative​ ​safety​ ​of​ ​my​ ​home​ ​but​ if​ ​I’m​ ​away​ ​from​ ​home​ ​it's really​ ​a​ ​tough​ ​challenge.​ ​Walking​ ​home​ ​fast, hugging​ ​the​ ​walls​ ​and​ ​jumping constantly​ ​as​ ​I'm​ ​so​ ​tense​ ​is​ ​quite​ ​normal​ ​in​ ​my​ ​life.

There​ ​have​ ​been​ ​times​ ​where​ ​I've​ ​stood​ ​in​ ​a​ ​quiet​ ​place​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​steady​ ​my breathing​ ​and​ ​"hold​ ​on"​ ​to​ ​the​ ​ground,​ ​to​ ​root​ ​myself​ to​ ​the​ ​physical​ ​earth using​ ​my​ ​senses,​ ​while​ ​my​ ​body​ ​feels​ ​heavy​ ​and​ ​yet​ oddly​ ​detached​ ​from​ ​my mind.​ ​Anxiety​ ​manifests​ ​itself differently​ ​for​ ​people​ ​and​ ​I'm​ ​aware​ ​that​ ​we​ ​all experience​ ​that​ ​parallel​ ​universe​ ​place differently.

There​ ​are​ ​times​ ​when​ ​I've​ ​actually​ ​believed​ ​I​ ​was​ going​ ​to​ ​explode...or implode...that’s​ ​scary.​ ​Times​ ​when​ ​every​ ​fibre​ ​of​me​ hurts​ ​and​ ​I've​ ​considered terrible​ ​alternatives​ ​to​ ​living​ ​with​ ​that​ ​intensity​ ​of​ ​sensitivity​ ​and​ ​despair. I have​ ​and​ ​still​ ​do,​ ​struggle​ ​with​ ​a​ ​severe dislike​ ​of​ ​myself​ ​whilst​ ​desperately trying​ ​to​ ​love​ ​myself​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​questioned​ ​my​ ​sanity….and​ ​I've scared​ ​myself. People…..ex-partners,​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​strangers​ ​whom​ ​I've​ ​had interactions​ ​with,​ ​say​ ​I'm​ ​unique,​ ​have​ ​fascinating​ insights,​ ​that​ ​I'm articulate, deep​ ​and​ ​observant.​ ​Ex​ ​partners​ ​particularly​ ​have​ ​delighted​ ​in​ ​my​ ​quirks​ ​and alternative​ ​ways​ ​of​ ​doing​ ​things ...until​ ​the novelty​ ​wears​ ​off​ ​and​ ​they​ ​have​ ​an affair​ ​and/or​ ​leave... mostly​ ​both. I've​ ​lost​ ​count​ ​of​ ​how​ ​many​ ​times​ ​I've​ ​said…'I​ ​can't​ do​ ​this​ ​anymore’ Its​ ​exhausting​ ​to​ ​live​ ​like​ ​this.​ ​If​ ​i​ ​have​ ​a​ ​bad​ ​episode​ ​i​ ​feel​ ​like​ ​I've​ ​run​ ​a marathon​ ​barefoot​ ​and​ ​naked​ ​and​ ​then​ ​been​ ​a​ ​punch bag​ for​ ​a​ ​heavyweight boxer.​ ​And​ ​each​ ​time​ ​I've​ ​been​ ​pushing​ ​myself​ ​to​ ​keep​ going,​ ​chin​ ​up…..can't appear​ ​to​ ​be​ ​not​ ​coping.​ ​But it​ ​isn't​ ​sustainable.​ ​I​ ​crash​ ​and​ ​i​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​have verbal​ ​bursts​ ​where​ ​i​ ​hurt​ ​people​ ​close​ ​to​ ​me​ ​because​ I'm​ ​aware​ ​that​ ​I'm​ ​failing and​can't​ ​bear​ ​it​ ​and​ ​I'm​ ​scared​ ​and​ ​angry​ ​and​ ​so​ ​so​ ​tired.​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​that’s depression.​ ​I​ ​got​ ​told​ ​once​ ​i​ ​have​ ​reactive​ ​depression.​ I​ ​still​ don't​ ​fully understand​ ​that?

Alongside​ ​the​ ​anxiety​ ​and​ ​stress,​ ​low​ ​self​ ​esteem​ ​and​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​confidence ...I have​ ​claustrophobia​ ​and​ ​apparently​ ​a​ ​form​ ​of​ ​vertigo.​ ​In the​ ​main​ ​I​ ​can manage​ ​the​ ​latter​ ​two​ ​but​ ​a​ ​necessary​ ​trip​ ​to​ ​London​ or​ ​a​ ​tunnel​ ​can​ ​be​ ​a massive​ ​challenge​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​Over​ ​the​ ​years​ ​I've​ ​developed​ ​my​ ​own​ ​coping mechanisms​ ​and​ ​let​ ​very​ ​few​ ​people​ ​know.​ ​I'd​ ​rather​ ​absorb​ ​the​ ​pain​ ​and​ ​fear and​ ​exhaustion​ ​and appear​ ​OK​ ​to​ ​the​ ​outside​ ​world.​ ​Sometimes​ ​I​ ​can't​ ​contain it​ ​and​ ​it's​ ​quite​soul​ ​crunching​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​panic​ ​attack​ ​and​ ​be​ ​heavily breathing and​ ​in​ ​snotty​ ​floods​ ​of​ ​tears​ ​whilst​ ​everyone​ ​around​ ​you​is​ ​happily​ ​performing the​ ​everyday​ ​task​ ​of​ ​commuting.  

So​ ​is​ ​there​ ​a​ ​happy​ ​ending​ ​to​ ​all​ ​this?​ ​Not​ ​yet...but​ ​by​ ​simply​ ​sharing​ ​this much​ ​about​ ​me​ ​I​ ​may​ ​touch​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​has​ ​experienced​ ​something​ ​similar and​ ​if​ ​that​ ​helps​ ​at​ ​all​ ​then​ ​I'm​ ​a​ ​step​ ​further​ ​along​ ​on​ ​that​ ​path​ ​towards​ ​‘the happy’. “People​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​world​ ​plough​ ​the​ internet​ ​every​ ​day​ ​searching​ ​for mirrors​ ​to​ ​their​ ​own​ ​pain,​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​evidence​ ​that​ ​people​ ​have​ ​overcome​ ​dire mental​ ​discomfort.​ ​An​ ​echo”.​ ​I'm​ ​getting​ ​to​ ​know​ ​ME.​ 

I​ ​hope​ ​I​ ​have​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​time to​ ​because​ I​ ​think​ ​I'm​ ​quite​ ​an​ ​interesting person…

…A letter from the heart.

This very heartfelt and personal account of the effects of living and coping with anxiety was written by a very dear client of ours who has kindly has allowed us to share it with you in the hope that others experiencing similar thoughts and feelings will recognise them and know that they are not alone.

Anxiety & Depression: A Personal Account

This article was prepared by Joanna Paczkowska, Integrative Counsellor and Psychotherapist - September 2017