Four years ago I was sat in a doctors surgery having a blood test and talking about why I was having severe symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety. Why did I feel out of control, scared of myself? Why did the doctor have to hold my arm to the table in order to keep it steady enough to take blood? My arm was shaking uncontrollably. Why could I not control that? Why did my neck freeze up sometimes with an excruciating sharp pain?
I told him of my depressive thoughts, my panic attacks, I told him how I had completely lost it.
He referred me for CBT sessions. I met the therapist, she was nice. I told her lots of things. She told me one thing, just one thing:
“I think you already have the answer inside you. You're a strong woman, I think you can do this yourself.”
Hearing a stranger, someone who didn't know me, say those words deeply affected me. Deep within me there was a little voice that frequently screamed “you are not like this, this is not you, you are better than this”. Her words found this little voice and answered it. I am forever grateful to her insight, her ability to see through my crazy, to see past all the barriers I'd put up, the stories I'd told myself and to place the control firmly back in my hands.
Yes, I was currently out of control but I knew this wasn't me. So who was I? And how was I going to become that person?
These questions were much too big to be answered right then but I vowed that if I was going to deal with this, then I was going to do it myself. That sounds brave but in reality I was at my wit's end. I could do CBT sessions but in all honesty, I wanted more than that. I didn't want to learn how to deal with situations, how to cope with anxiety. I wanted to stop. Listen to my body. Understand what on earth was going on, why it was going on and rebuild my life in a way that felt true to me.
It's hard to explain and I have great appreciation for the many ways in which one can deal with mental health issues but for me, going this route gave me a sense of control, a sense of purpose.
These days my anxiety is very, very low. I have not had a panic attack in 3 years. I am cycling, running 5k's. I'm currently training for a London to Paris ride in September. I eat a plant-based diet and have never felt healthier.
I have created Plant-based and Positive to share what I have learnt and am still learning, in the hope that it might help others to find their way to better health and fitness of both body and mind.