How My Anxiety Shapes Me

December is always a time of reflection and looking back at the year that was—well at least for me.

2019 was the year my life was turned upside down. The year started in a chaotic blur with lots of painful questions and I also cried more this year than I possibly have in my life ever. While my friends found their calling and were thriving in it, I was still aimlessly wandering and looking for a job that would fit me. I gently and carefully planning out my future, my life. See, I am a perfectionist. I’m the kind of person who thinks things through and pins every detail down to a tee before I can begin my work with it. It took me a year to decide to finally take a leap and face my fear. I don’t want to tell in details right now, but there I played the game of life. I gave it a shot. I did all my best yet I failed. Yes, I freaking failed! Not once, but twice. All in my head was, “wow, you’re sucha failure,” I was lost. I used to be so sad, so broken, because I thought it was easier to be that way than to face my demons and fight. But it takes a certain kind of courage to finally acknowledge that in the game of life, losing is never an option. Winning is never a possibility. The thing called winner’s curse is evident when you play. The Winner’s Curse has been a theory in economy, relying on the thought of a Pyrrhic victory where you win and lose at the same time. This means that in a game, a winner loses too because he has won by losing or paying more than it is required.

Nobody gets out of here unscathed anyway. We are all armed with our battle scars.

For three lonely years, I couldn’t find a place where I truly belong. It gave me anxiety and I was overwhelmed by constant feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. Honestly, I never understand what anxiety or panic attack is until I finally went thru panic attack itself. The first time it happened when I was on the bus. I got a tunnel vision and I started crying and having an intense feeling of ‘I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die’ with the terrifying feeling of losing control of my mind like I was going crazy. And since then I would get random panic attacks. Like during our scuba diving trip. It happened under water and I almost died. I really I thought I was gonna die. We were around 10 or 11 meters in and I was looking at some corals then all of a sudden I could feel my heart beat is pounding. I can’t explain it. My vision just blurred and everything turned upside down and I started panicking and I held on to my dive master. It’s no fun.

I have the problem with control. I always want to be in control. Most of my anxiety was coming from this place of I don’t have control. I’ve realised that when you think about it, we don’t have control over so many things around us. There are some things we can control, the choices that we make, the thoughts that we act upon, yes, but most of the things we don’t have control of. The sense of control is false. There’s no sense of control in anything other than believing in yourself and that you have a choice. Also, self-awareness and consciousness. All of my anxiety is anchored in the fact that I always think that I’m not enough. I was afraid to make a mistakes. I was afraid I’d fall short to my own expectations. I don’t want to disappoint my family. I don’t want to disappoint myself. More than that, I used to always confused to origin, meaning, morality and destiny. I didn’t know what my purpose was, I didn’t know what gives life meaning, I didn’t know . . . I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know why I was living.

I was in a very dark place, drowning, about to give up, when I suddenly see a hand breaking through the dark waters to pull me up. It was like that for me. I realised that if I want to fix things, I need to deal my mental, spiritual turmoil that I have to address. I shouldn’t need to run away from it but to embrace it, rather.

This maybe sounds so Christian and you might cringe at this but really what I learned spiritually and what God taught me through His words and through prayers and made me realised was God loves us so much that He created us. He created you. He loves you so much, but somewhere in the middle we messed up and from that mess He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and proficiate that righteousness towards us. So that when we followed him, when we love him and accept him as our Lord saviour that righteousness is imputed upon us and we get seem at the end of this incredibly tough life then. I also reminded that first of all, I got intrinsic value and secondly of all, now I know my purpose and where I go afterwards. So this is so much better. My anxiety is all of suddenly being alleviated. But that doesn’t mean it will always be good. I have seasons of, even during this time that I have great relationship with God, I have seasons of just complete failure and by failure I mean, I’m not praying or reading my Bible and I’m going through my same or even worst depiction of anxiety. I want to emphasize that this is just purely representative of my personal experiences and points of view. If you are seeking support and/or advice, I highly encourage you to contact a professional. Seek a therapist. Especially, if you feel like there’s something wrong with you. Listen to what your body’s telling you.

For people out there who go through the anxiety, here are the things that could help you to deal with it:

•Acknowledge that you’re going through panic attacks and anxiety

•Talk to someone about it

Talk to someone about it like to your best friend, to your mom, to your parents, love ones, or to doctor. Because when you feel like you have someone you can confide in and where you can share this burden with, it makes a little bit feel better. I’m not saying for you to be dependent on that person, but it’s really important for you to have a support group that will understand and love you every time you have this anxiety attack—you have at least one person or one relationship that you can look upon and say, “It’s alright. At least, somebody knows and understands what I’m going through.”

•Don’t expect everyone will understand

It’s hard to explain it to people because most of them think that A+B=C but it’s not always the case.

If you haven’t dealt with depression or anxiety please have compassion to the other human being because you yourself is human being. Be kind.

Everything in life requires a faith. It requires faith for me to believe that the person I’m buying from will not put an acid on my milk tea. It requires faith for me to believe that the Grab driver is a good person and that he will drive me home safely. When you understand that you’re not in control of a lot of things and when there’s a sense of vulnerability and you feel afraid and negative thoughts starts to hit you like a tidal wave, just let them. Learn to live with them; I remind myself that I served a God who is sovereign above all and who’s in control and who’s always doing things and allowing things for my good even though I don’t might understand it. Like, anxiety is very painful and very debilitating feeling to have and sometimes I ask God why He gives it to me and why He allows me to go through this, but I understand that this is for my own good because all of a sudden I have these all new insights that I would never thought of if I didn’t have a really bad anxiety and I would never have this self-development, self-awareness and ask myself a deeper questions. It also help me to forgive myself especially when I think that I’m not enough. It cut me at the core like what’s my truth? And the truth is I made of love. So, it’s a quite blessing. Christ offered me this amazing gift of life. Not just life after death but to actually have life even while in this earth. I really prayed that you get to also experience that in your personal relationship with God. Because honestly nothing else is matter. Everything else you’re looking for right now is fleeting. But you, your life it’s valuable because God created us as eternal beings. After this life, we get to experience life with Him when we actually accept Him as our Lord saviour. So that’s how I got through my anxiety. With also the help of my family, my friends and my therapist. But of course there’s no guarantee that you won’t have anxiety anymore. Because I still have anxiety. There were always those nights where my mind went to war with my heart—the fight between what I knew, what I felt, and what I had to do. Sometimes the hardest decisions are made under the moon. Though it took devastatingly too long, in the end, I realised I was enough. And I have a lasting hope that I doesn’t have to depend on my current situations or seasons of anxiety and depression.

Practical Ways In Dealing With Anxiety:

•I take organic supplements

•Listen to those voices and interpret them. You need to understand yourself more.

•I do journaling

Writing about how your day went and your memories and experience will help you to your anxiety.

•Breathing exercise

•Do grounding method

I learned this from Nate Punzalan. When you feel like you have lost all control of your surroundings, connect to your five senses.

Find 5 things you can see
Find 4 things you can touch
Find 3 things you can hear
Find 2 things you can smell
Find 1 thing you can taste

Anxiety, depression, mood disorder are maybe paralleled to imposter syndrome. Because we’re all work so we feels like everyone else is doing well—it’s because we don’t talk about them and we don’t actually understand the struggle of everyone’s going through to their own mind and we don’t know what they’re going through. Being vulnerable and taking off that mask is okay. Being true to yourself is much easier. Have a self-care, self-awareness and practice non-self judging. We’re all human and perfection is unattainable. It’s okay to fail. You can try again anyway. Be kind to yourself.

I was about to give up, when a blessing made its way and opened a lot of doors for me. Suddenly, I got found my place where I belong, where I learn and flourish, where I can actually contribute my skills. I am learning, healing, and growing in every way and for that I am so grateful. I have hopes for a brighter future. With baby steps, I will chase my dreams and learn to love myself a little more. If you’re reading this, thank you for being here and I hope we all get to where we wanna be in 2020.

But I also praise God because even though He lets me to go through anxiety, it also gives me a chance to be really a child like with God again. Telling Him like, “Lord, I cannot function. I can’t even think. My body shivering and I feel like I’m about to die but I know that you’re my father and that you love me, I’m gonna trust you through this,” and God never fails. He comforts me but even there’s a time I don’t feel His comfort and He let me to go through in painful and difficult time, I understand. You know what, this is one of those things we need to deal with because this is a broken world and that’s give me hope. When I have this anxiety I do pep talk to myself. It’s okay. It’s okay to have this panic attack. Go look like a crazy person and cry because that’s it. That’s really it. Everything that you’re fearing is all just in your head. It’s just in your head. And when you do embarrass yourself and look like a fool because you’re having a panic attack or anxiety and maybe you’re gonna scream or cry—that’s the worst thing can happen but it’s alright. What I often feel after giving myself a pep talk and practicing breathing I actually starts relaxing. I hope that it just help you.

And hey, never be ashamed of your scars okay?They’re proof that you’re a survivor, that you’ve loved deeply. Lived boldly. Dared greatly. They’re reminders that failures and wounds are simply part of your story now. Because despite it all, you are far more resilient than you can imagine. So we might as well take risks! Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game—and I promise you’ll surprise yourself.

Just like what the great philosopher said, “if you are playing the game without wounds, you are not playing the game, you are watching the game. If you are playing the game with wounds, you are not playing the game, you are mastering the game.”

Please know that I’m so proud of you. Thank you. Thank you that you’re still breathing. Thank you for choosing to live for one more day. You may not know it but there are people who are thankful because you’re still here. Just know that you can always ask for help. It’s okay to be weak. It is okay to show weakness. You may not have the help that you need from someone that you’re expecting to but there’s someone out there who’s willing to help you. He or she could be a psychiatrist, a pet, a complete stranger . . . or it’s you to yourself. Just keep holding on. Time will come and everything will gets better. You are enough and you are love.

I hope this help you and I hope I made sense.

Have a great day.

–Kim