Watering your garden

29 January 2019 | Columns

Elizabeth Joseph

We are only in the first month of a brand new year and I don’t know if I am the only one having anxiety when I think about what might or might not happen this year.

Talking about anxiety, I honestly never thought it was a real thing until I experienced it in 2018. Anxiety is your body's natural response to stress. It's a feeling of fear or apprehension about what's to come. The first day of school, going for a job interview or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous.

I did not know that I would ever experience anxiety attacks or feel a strong sense of fear for the unknown until it happened. I was in the same predicament that I often frowned upon.

I won’t lie, it has to be one of the scariest things anyone could ever go through.

Imagine sitting in your room, moderately happy and all of a sudden you start thinking about everything, then nothing, and then you find yourself gasping, trying to breathe because the fear of what might or might not happen for you, suffocates you.

It is literally a feeling you wouldn’t understand unless you have been there yourself.

I trusted a family member and explained that I think I might suffer from anxiety, she laughed and asked: “What? What is anxiety even?”

It then hit me that we are not educated enough; be it about anxiety or mental illness or anything else that places you in a box of being weird. We don’t know as much as we think we do.

Comments like, “anxiety is a white person thing”, makes me think how we, as such a well-informed generation, have been living. It’s 2019 and we still believe that no one except white people experience this?

I don’t have fear of social settings and so forth. I am just completely terrified of failure, the unknown and relationships. Relationships of any kind for that matter, because I am just afraid they won’t last and that I would have to make peace with not having this person around anymore.

These are all inevitable things that everyone has a way of dealing with, not just me. I go into my room and allow myself to sit and overthink for hours, until I have to pick myself up out of this dark place, and that is honestly the hardest thing.

I have always craved and admired the peace that some people have in the quiet of their rooms and when they are alone. I am only starting to teach myself that my silence is everything and that I need it sometimes.

I hate being on my own because that creates more room for overthinking and worrying about the next ten years, when I really just want to say “c'est la vie” and savour every moment now.

I hope I am making some sort of sense. Don’t worry, it gets lighter.

My greatest wish is for all of these fears to one day disappear. I know that might be a little farfetched, but there’s hope. I want you to set goals, even though you are afraid of the outcome, or you have doubts. Push yourself.

Allow yourself to become comfortable being alone. Breathe. That is one of the biggest ways for you to get through an attack - breathing and realising you are okay, even if you feel like you can’t seem to do anything and you are trapped in that state. And the last thing, talk to someone.

I sat for two hours in a car with a good friend of mine, and he talked me through his struggle with anxiety and what he did to overcome it; and I can honestly say that I have never felt more calm and at ease. I felt like someone understood and that is the least you can do for yourself. Shout out to you, ‘Baewatch’.

I always say “Be good to yourself, and others” at the end of each column. I do this because I know that there are other people going through the same, if not worse situations than myself.

I want you to be good to yourself. I know it can be frustrating, because sometimes the body and mind are not the best of friends, but try. And remember to be good to others.

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