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Personal Growth
|personal story

Why My Anxiety Led Me To Chinese Medicine

I'd to think that I could have been the type of person who knows nothing about anxiety. I practice yoga. I have a pretty solid spiritual practice. I have faith in something bigger than me. Why, then, do I worry that the ground is about to crumble beneath me?

When I look at my life right now I can’t help but feel grateful. It’s better than it’s ever been. I have an incredible, loving and supportive partner who will become my husband in eight months, a solid freelance income, a great family, the truest friends a girl could have, creative projects that inspire me, a new loft by the beach and my health. What do I have to worry about, right?

That’s the funny thing. It seems that when everything is good, I suffer the most. I worry about everything, from the morning traffic to where my life will be in five years. Worry is my constant companion.

I wasn’t always this way. I was once a complete free spirit. I didn’t feel alive unless I was acting a bit reckless and pushing the envelope. Then, at 25, came my first full-blown anxiety attack.

The start of my struggle with anxiety

I was on vacation in Chicago with the man I was seeing at the time. We were eating lunch in a very fancy room at the Peninsula hotel. Life was good. It was seemingly very good. But something felt off.

I wanted the universe to tell me that everything was going to work out the way I hoped. I wanted reassurance. I wanted to know that all my hard work would pay off. I wanted concrete answers. I was tired of letting the wind take me wherever it pleased.

I sat there quietly eating my wedge salad, mulling over my thoughts when suddenly the grandiose room began to feel as if it was shrinking. I felt as if I was on fire. I began to see spots and felt incredibly dizzy. I felt hyper aware of everything, the way the china clanked as people set it down, the way my palms began to sweat, the way my boyfriend looked at me with concern, the way my hands began to tremble. I felt exposed. I felt unsure. I felt unsafe.

Life suddenly became so overwhelming. I was flooded with fear. Fear about everything and nothing. I felt fragile. I felt like every decision I made from that point forward was life and death. I felt like I was balancing on a tightrope with only blackness beneath me.

That was five years ago, and since then my issues with anxiety have come and gone. I’ll go through periods where I feel nothing but trust in the universe. I feel connected. I feel full of faith. I feel like I’m flowing with everything around me. I don’t feel any anxious flutters. It’s pure bliss. I live for those moments.

Then that sneaky little bastard will find his way to me again and wrap his cloak around my neck, and I become afraid of everything. Every single decision feels huge. I feel like I want to stay in bed and hide. Those periods are rough.

Finding something that worked for me

Recently, I decided to give Chinese medicine a try after reading the following description: “Chinese medicine recognizes that powerful interplay between the body and emotions; the two are, in fact, inseparable. When we become emotionally upset, our internal environment also becomes disrupted, leading to the physical symptoms of anxiety. When we are physically compromised, our emotions can be greatly affected.”

I mean, I have already tried the Western route to no avail: antidepressants, Xanax, propanol. While these momentarily fix the situation, they don't really treat the causes. I know on a deeper level that my anxiety flares up when I'm spiritually imbalanced.

When I’m not putting my wellbeing first.

When I'm overwhelmed.

When I'm not being honest with myself.

When I’m pretending to be “fine”.

When I'm not in a healthy state of mind.

When I'm not connected to something bigger than me.

When I don’t feel connected to my purpose.

I’ve been doing acupuncture and taking Chinese herbs for the last three weeks and I’ve already started to see little changes. Where will this lead me? I don’t know yet, but I'm hopeful that maybe—just maybe—I’ve found the key.

Kate McClafferty author page.
Kate McClafferty

Kate McClafferty is a writer, blogger, host, travel lover and adventure seeker living in Marina Del Rey, CA with her fiancée Brian. In 2011, after years of working as a writer and television host, she started her popular blog 365 til 30, where she turned her cants into cans and her dreams into plans.

365 til 30 is represented by United Talent Agency and is being shopped as a scripted TV show, reality show and memoir.