9" x 12" acrylic on canvas panel
Through meditation, I've learned to make depression useful. I create writing and art from the portion of the soul that lingers in the twilight realms where light is dim and darkness reigns. Over time, I came to understand the bulk of my depression is tied to seasonal shifts, the adjustment to Daylight Savings Time twice a year and the lingering chronic pain I suffer with from Lyme Disease. Therefore, I know such states are temporary. I can deal with them.
Anxiety, however, is a different story. There is no channeling a panic attack. They strike without warning, silent as snakes, slithering into the present moment with fangs of adrenaline. The heart pounds. The ears ring. An internal earthquake begins. All you can do is try to hold on while the tremors ruin the facade of calm you so carefully try to maintain. Suddenly, other people are made aware of the exposed fissure crack of your previous traumas, the irrational fear lingering just beneath the surface.
For years, I used to introduce myself to people as an "artsy neurotic mess" for this reason. I knew eventually my anxiety would get the better of me and others would learn I am not "normal." In fact, I would use my brokenness as a shield to shy away from new experiences and avoid calling people out on their bullshit when they'd hurt me: "I'm a nut job anyway. I deserve this treatment. It's pointless to hope for anything better."
This thought was the underlying sentiment behind all of my dysfunction, which produced a glorious pile of mental 2x4s I would beat myself with on a daily basis. Instead of allowing me to look into the core of the trauma, my mind further victimized me by saying I deserved further abuse because I'm not tough enough or worthy enough to walk through life unscathed.
The only way I've conquered panic attacks is to stare the core trauma right in the face. Yes, it happened. Yes, it was horrible. But it doesn't mean this will be a repeat event in my life unless I continue to cling to it. Abusers love broken people who are still maimed by their experiences. That's why some of us will go from one abusive relationship to another in a continual pattern: Human predators feed on the festering wounds of survivor's guilt and residual fear we hold inside.
Each moment we live is a fresh start, a new opportunity. I create negative circumstances for myself when I add the belief that others can't be trusted, failure is always a given, and I will spend the rest of my life being hurt. Instead, I embrace my anxiety by asking what it's trying to teach me. If I find the correlation between my past trauma and my current trigger, I can calmly deduce whether this fear is valid or irrational. It is my way of lighting a candle in the dark halls of the subconscious mind. And in this way, I heal and expunge the ghosts of past experiences.
It is my hope that you are able a light candle of your own today.
As always, Light & Love on your path.