It was an early morning—swim team was supposed to start. Rushing around getting three kids out the door, a rush took over me. It was a heat that started at my head and moved down into my body. I couldn't breathe. I felt nauseated. I closed myself in the bathroom, not knowing what was happening to me. My heart was beating too fast, then not beating at all. It felt as if flames were engulfing my still body.
My daughter called my husband to help. He took me to the ER. My blood pressure was dangerously high. My heart's rhythm was uneven and confused. I felt like a hundred-pound blanket was suffocating me.
Three hours later, I was released with instructions to go to a cardiologist—more tests, more doctors, and what felt like gallons of blood sucked from my veins. Then came more diagnoses, another ER visit. There was a week when I couldn't get out of bed. And through all this, no answers that made a difference.
In the end, it was I who told me the truth. I finally sat still and listened to myself. I finally let myself express the truth that had been lurking for years. It had finally caught up with me. I was suffering from intense anxiety.
I stopped seeing doctors. I read articles and books. I changed my diet. I reassessed my life.
I knew I couldn't continue like this. Something had to change. There are countless varieties and experiences of anxiety. Some people have lived with anxiety since childhood; others experience it first as adults.
On my personal journey, I learned that anxiety has a root. If that root is discovered, anxiety can be controlled—and possibly healed.
Discovering the root of my anxiety happened after I went through this four-step process:
1. Sit quietly and connect with your anxiety. Describe it in words.
- What does it feel like?
- What symptoms do you experience?
- What triggers it?
- Who triggers it?
2. Look at what you've written. Circle or highlight the words that jump out at you or trigger you.
There will be words that evoke a feeling in you. Pick the four most prevalent and powerful words from the highlighted.
3. Write out your earliest, strongest memories associated with these words.
Don't edit your thoughts. Bring out all the feelings and emotions. This is a very important step.
4. Read back through what you have just written and look for common themes in the memories.
There will typically be one main theme. When you identify this theme, you will have found the root of this specific anxiety.
What next? Healing.
Healing starts with understanding your anxiety's origin. Usually, anxiety is trying to teach us something we need to learn or overcome. It can be a lesson we are meant to learn.
Healing can come from facing our past, conscious understanding, EFT, mantras, meditation, and personal exploration with a therapist or coach.
Now that you understand the root of your anxiety you can choose where to go next. I wish you the best on this journey and believe in your ability to understand, face, and heal your anxiety.
For me, discovering the root to my anxiety transformed my life and helped to set me on a path that no longer feels constricting but instead feels absolutely free.