Right now, in this moment, I want to cry. As I’m writing this, I am dealing with a tightness in my chest. I feel a heaviness over my body as if I can’t get in a good breath of air, leaving me feeling a bit uneasy.
Suffocating is one of my greatest fears. And whenever I feel this level of anxiety, it usually effects my breath more than any other part of my body. It used to be my heart. It would race and pound and I would believe that I was literally dying. But now, it’s my breath. The feeling of uneasiness weighs down on my chest like a ton of bricks and clamps me around squeezing me like an anaconda.
It’s the worst feeling in the world. And one that can easily cause panic in the mind – making you fearful that at any minute you could stop breathing, that somehow your air is going to be cut off or that your body is going to forget how to take in another breath. But does it really happen? No. But this is how powerful the mind can be.
I’m not sure why I’m having this sort of “relapse” – I guess you could call it. It’s not really a full blown panic attack because I’ve grown to learn the symptoms of what panic feels like, and whenever I start to feel them I can usually talk myself out of it using the techniques I have learned over time. I’ve become good at living a “normal” life.
But what is a “normal” life really? Does normal mean you do not struggle? That you never experience setbacks? Or that you get it right everything? If that’s the case, I don’t think any human being would be qualified as “normal.” Because we all struggle in some form and we all experience setbacks from time to time.
I’ve been able to succeed in working my way around these kinds of moments or overcoming them altogether. My irrational fears are pretty much gone, so I don’t struggle anymore with those as often as I did, but I guess if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you’re never completely healed. I’d like to think you could be, because I know that God can deliver you from all things if He chooses to and is the ultimate Healer, but I think if you have it, you will always have it in some form – whether mild or more severe. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing too, and most of you who do suffer from it would respond with an “are you kidding me?” But hear me out.
While I absolutely hate having this struggle, it’s almost like a necessary stage of growth, as well as a reminder to humble myself. That I am not perfect. That I will have weak moments. That I will experience setbacks no matter how strong I think I’ve become. But I think if we didn’t humble ourselves from time to time during our setbacks, we would always feel angry that we aren’t getting it right or that we are failures because of it. I also have realized that the good part about having this “thorn in my side” as some may call it, is that I would never have been able to relate to and encourage so many others who struggle with mental illnesses.
Good can come out of every bad thing. Remember that.
But leading to my point, I don’t enjoy this feeling or this momentary setback, but it doesn’t mean that everything I worked so hard for is now meaningless. It does not mean that I am now considered a failure. And it definitely does not mean that I am back at square one – because I have come so far, I have learned so much, and you can’t just unlearn those things simply because of a few bad moments. Sure you may still struggle, but you will overcome. It is just temporary discomfort and it will pass.
And maybe it’s not an mental illness that you are struggling with that is causing you a setback. Maybe it is some other kind of hardship. Again, it will pass. You will find a way to survive past it. Because that is how we are built at our core – to find a way to survive and keep moving forward. Just like my fear of suffocation, my body will not just stop breathing, it will continue to gasp for air because it is built to do so in order to survive. And so will you.
Setbacks are sometimes required to happen so that we can grow even stronger or reach even further than before. Setbacks allow for us to re-evaluate, to try a different path, to learn from our mistakes, or to push ourselves past a comfort zone we may have allowed ourselves to remain stagnant in. So it’s ok to experience them. In fact, rejoice that you have because it means you are still trying and have not simply given up and that is SUCCESS right there!
Another thing I know I’ve written on it before but thought I would mention again is the phrase, “whatever you resist, will persist.” If you continue to resist the hardship you are feeling or the uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing, then it’s going to continue on bothering you, getting more powerful and having more control over you. But if you just simply accept it, accept that “ok, things took a weird turn, but it’ll pass,” then it will pass much more quickly and you will feel more at peace and more confident that you can face it.
I know it’s easier said than done. Trust me, when you are in the middle of an anxiety episode, I know the last thing on your mind is trying to accept that what you are feeling is ok. Of course you are going to want it to go away as soon as possible because it’s uncomfotable! Duh! But just trust me, just talk to your body, your mind, your breath, whatever it is that is bringing you discomfort – telling that you are there for it. That it will pass. The discomfort will pass. That this period of hardship will pass. That the anxiety will pass or the worry will pass. It is just temporary.
Be ok with the discomfort. Trust that you are much stronger than you believe yourself to be. Trust that your body knows how to survive. Trust that you will continue on breathing. Trust that you will make it through another day.
It’ll be ok. I promise.
So don’t beat yourself up. Don’t think that all your hard work means nothing now that you’ve experienced this setback. As Confucius says, “our greatest glory is not in never failing, but rising every time we fall.” Keep rising. Keep practicing to be strong. Keep believing that it will pass. It takes time and sometimes failure or setbacks to eventually heal and grow.
Setbacks mean you want to get well. Or that you want to better your life. Or that you want to pursue your dreams. Or that you want to change a bad habit. It does not mean you have failed. Please remember this when you feel disheartened. You will move forward, just give it some time. Growth never happens over night and we will never experience good days all the time.
I’m going to go rest now. I’m going to accept that maybe I’m stressed or overworking myself or maybe it’s just simply coincidental that I am having these feelings. But either way, I’m going to grant my body and mind the rest it needs. And most importantly, I’m not going to judge it. I’m not going to feel bad about feeling weak. I’m going to just let it be. We all have bad days, bad weeks, even bad months. But who cares. We will keep moving forward.
The Self Love Daily Challenge:
Accept that setbacks are going to happen, but it does not mean that you are a failure or that you will never move forward again. Change your perspective on it. Accept what is happening, rather than resisting it, and trust that it will pass. In the meantime, nourish your body or mind with what it needs, so that you can move forward when you’re ready.
P.S don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @The.Self.Love.Challenge !