I spent my entire morning crying and pleading to my mom to cancel my trip. I didn’t want to go. Maybe my body knew what was in store for it and sent my entire body rebelling against it.
When I boarded my flight, I watched The Lobster and alternated between extreme chill to panic and despair. I think I ate an entire bag of popcorn, and downed two complimentary cups of red wine. I watched some other films, held a baby, and listened to the feisty old lady next to me talk about getting her groove back on her vacation in Bali. The plane ride was rough and the landing felt like crashing. The plane was even retired after our flight, which is a testimony to how tumultuous the ride was.
But after the landing came the joy, my best friend in Korea was waiting at the airport for me. She helped me carry my bags, took me to my Airbnb, and even brought me dinner. However after she left me at my Airbnb, I freaked out. The building was easily accessible and the store downstairs was open so late that the drunken late night visitors sounds bled into my floor; the booms of their voices left me even more afraid and nervous. Not to mention, the feeling of being alone with my own mind was more frighting than anything I could imagine. I wish I could say that these feelings went away, but they didn’t.
I spent my trip alternating between joy, despair, and panic. I met some great people and had great experiences, but sometimes the good experiences were clouded with fear and anxiety too. The only thing I could feel when I thought slightly far ahead was panic.
Upon my return home, I started to feel incredibly ill. I had insomnia, stomach aches, and my anxiety was reaching a new high. I was lost. I had tried meditation before, but this time I couldn’t even concentrate long enough to find my calming point. My health was getting worse, as I began to suffer from stomach ulcers, severe acne, headaches, random fits of crying and hyperventilating, panic, and an impeding sense of doom. I was at the lowest point I’ve ever truly felt in my life. I started to think of all the other things that could go wrong in my life and I began to trap myself in my own fear. I would stay awake for days and even forget to eat meals.
Realizing how unhealthy and unhappy this was making me, I knew I had to make a change. Searching for something to hold onto, I realized that I had to hold onto myself. I realized that by searching for external things to make me feel happy or calm, I was only making it harder for my locus of control to internalize. I was throwing myself into all of these things, but I had nothing to give because I wasn’t giving myself anything.
Although I liked to think of myself as this healthy person with all the answers, I had none. Then, I started listening to my body. I started feeding it things that felt good, and reading things that helped me escape my fears. I started living in the now. Now, I am not suggesting that anxiety disorder can be healed through these methods. I am only talking about things that helped me through a difficult time. I read Eckhart Tolle books, and one thing that stood out to me was the notion of the pain body. As he mentioned in The Power of Now, I felt like I was constantly allowing my pain body to control my life rather than distancing myself from it. I would get some horrible idea of sickness in my head and spend all day fearing it, rather than living in the current moment.
Once I started to recognize how I was feeding my own fear and anxiety, I stopped feeding it. Instead I fed my soul, I lost myself in books and nourished my body with foods to fuel it. I stopped thinking of the bad things that could happen and looked at all the good things in my life. I used positive thinking to clear my mind of all the negative things in it and I started meditating again.
Every day is not always rainbows and butterflies, and sometimes I still give into stress and fear. However, I feel like by nourishing myself and my soul and exercising, I am calm and happy. I am living in the moment, rather than paralyzed by fears.
Tyia Burnett is a writer, activist, and lover of the Earth and its people. She has studied politics, film, and anthropology. She enjoys spreading happiness to others, as well as sharing her own experiences in hopes on helping others.
Instagram – @Tyiaburnett
Twitter – @Tyiacb