I Feel Alive Again
It’s a typical morning given my current circumstances. I am taking my morning walk, something I had started doing 4 months prior as part of therapy to get me out of the house and to start to learn to manage my anxiety. It is winter and the air is cold against my face. The weather forecast had predicted sun but with heavy cloud cover, it is barely light. I am trying to keep my breath consistent as my heart beat increases and I start to sweat. My brain often associates this with panic and causes my anxiety to spike and even worse to have a panic attack. I am walking further than I usually do, I am pushing myself more and accepting and allowing the anxiety rather than struggling with it. It’s a concept that took me a while to come to terms with but it has finally resonated with me and allowed me to continue making progress with my recovery.
Anxiety and panic have been at the forefront of my mind for some time again now as the depression has faded into the background slightly. The depression isn’t gone, it still comes and goes but as long as I stick to my routine of eating right, sleeping right, some exercise and putting in place all the others things I have learnt during therapy I can keep myself in a more or less mentally stable place. My life is still limited, however, those limitations are slowly being lifted.
As I am walking, putting one foot in front of the other, my mind is wandering as per usual and every so often it stumbles upon a place I would rather it not visit and I notice my mind being drawn in. I ask myself “is this helpful?’“ usually, the answer is “no” and rather than dwell any further I realise I haven’t been present. This prompts me to put my focus elsewhere, what can I see? what can I smell? what can I hear? what can I feel? and in these moments I notice something. I feel alive again.
I notice I can actually feel the cold air against my skin, I can feel the air moving through my mouth, down my windpipe and into my lungs. I can feel my lungs expand and contract. I can feel the ground beneath my feet and the clothes against my skin. I can hear the wind moving past my ears and the rustling leaves from the trees. I can hear the birds chirping and the cars in the distance. There isn’t much I can smell, I can only describe it as being fresh. I can see the trees moving in the wind. I can see the birds flying in the sky. I can see a lake in the distance and the water moving with the wind. I can see houses and buildings and a church. I can see my warm breath rising up in front of my face and I can see glimpses of the sun desperately trying to show itself through the thick dark cloud coverage and in these moments a smile breaks out across my face. I feel a warm sensation throughout my body. I haven’t felt this way in such a long time. This is what it is to feel alive.
In the following days, I started to notice this feeling more and more. I allowed myself more time to be mindful and then allowed this feeling to continue to grow inside me.
This may be strange to some or an everyday experience to most but let me take you back to a time not so long ago in my deep dark pits of depression. The place any person would fear to go and for good reason.
Depression quite literally sucked the life out of me. It took from me everything I had ever loved or enjoyed. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t wash, or cook or clean or even eat. The simplest of tasks became monumental hurdles that 95% of the time I couldn’t climb over and even if I did, there was no satisfaction. I was only met with another level of exhaustion that I didn’t think was humanly possible.
I didn’t feel alive during this time of my life. I was merely existing and quite honestly I didn’t even want to exist.
There were brief moments I felt something and they weren’t healthy options. The nicotine rush from a cigarette. The buzz and short-lived amount of ‘happiness’ that came from Alcohol. The highs from the recreational drugs of my choice. Lastly, the amazing taste and good memories attached to my favourites foods which I binged.
Day to day I didn’t feel alive and these helped me to feel something. In each scenario, the good was always followed by the bad. The buzz and happiness of being drunk were followed by the hangovers and vomiting. The highs of the drugs were met with a comedown and the inability to sleep. The nicotine rush left me with a horrid taste in my mouth and throat and smelling of smoke. Binge eating my favourites foods were met with stomachache and nausea. The combination of all of them was eating away at my wallet and both my mental and physical health.
Each one of these coping mechanisms, at different times, became a problem, usually swapping one with another, and required their own attention to overcome and put them all behind me for good to move towards better mental and physical health.
The place where you are right now doesn’t have to define you. There is always a way out. Cutting these poor coping mechanisms out didn’t majorly solve anything and it wasn’t easy to put each one of them behind me but it put me on a path to get effective help. I am unsure if my coping mechanisms were classed as addictions but either way, an addiction can be an incredibly difficult thing to overcome by yourself so if you are struggling please reach out for professional help.
I don’t regret any of them much like I don’t regret anything in my life but I am glad to move past them and be where I am today and moving towards the place I want to be.
For me, since then it has been working weekly with an amazing private therapist to understand anxiety, panic, depression, the mind and so much more. Making significant small changes to my life to start to feel better and then learning to live with anxiety and in doing so, I feel alive again.