Stress led me down a dark path with my anxiety...

“Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present” – Bil Keane 


Hello beautiful people, 


I’m feeling blessed to be given this wonderful opportunity to share with you all my story of self – awareness ; learning to not allow Anxiety, Depression and Stress to stop me from moving forward in daily life. 


On too many occasions in my life have I lost to the three demons (Stress, Anxiety and Depression). Here are a few of the pinnacle moments it’s changed my world in so many ways I could have ever imagined. My story began in May 2016 when I discovered a lump in my breast whilst on holiday in Majorca celebrating my husband’s birthday.
Immediately my heart sank, my mind blacked out and it began to go to dark places.

At the time anxiety was definitely there lurking in the back of my mind.

Anxiety Story of Rachel Hughes, how to cope with anxiety.

This was just the beginning of the nightmare to come. Fast forward to a month after having the necessary tests done; I finally got the all clear from the doctors.  At the time signs of my anxiety seemed to be somewhat under control when I was then hit with the biggest betrayal from my family which ultimately left me leaving my family. It felt like my world had ended, all my core values deep rooted in me since I was a child just disintegrated right in front of me. This was the time in my life that I’ve never felt so lost, alone and anxious. These feelings to this day never ever really go away instead they linger in the back of my mind and comes to visit me every now and then. I’ve named it my dark passenger. 


Things as you can imagine like a story goes only got worse, the feelings I wanted to so badly repress lead to severe consequences for my body. With the accumulation of stress at work only made my anxiety worse. The littlest of things would overwhelm me, making me lose all sight of rational thinking. My mind would be going a hundred miles per hour triggering me to just be reactive all the time constantly thinking “I must reply back to this email now” and if I saw an instant message from the team it would set me off into panic mode my immediate thought would be “I must respond now”. 


Sadly, this constant fight flight response from stress led me down a dark path with my anxiety severely affecting my health at this point. Before I knew it my body was giving me the warning signs which I refused to acknowledge or listen to which lead to having an gastroscopy after countless visits to the hospital to be diagnosed with gastritis; a condition I will have to manage for the rest of my life. If I refuse to make a significant change it would lead to a burnt oesophagus and a hole in my stomach caused by increased levels of cortisol – stress and bottling up emotions. 


It’s taken me a long time to finally admit I need to get this under control and not let it control me any longer.  Having said so, the pinnacle moment came after three months in my new job when was made redundant due to COVID.

The immense feeling of shame, failure, loss of hope and direction and dread all kicked in at once. It was at that point my anxiety was beyond control. The immediate reaction of bottling emotion led to gastritis symptoms becoming worse triggering off more frequent panic attacks. 


The moment of healing really took its course over the three months during lockdown, where I had time to reflect back on all the pain I’d bottled up. In a way it was me attempting to make sense of all that had happened striving to find a way to get back on track and to snap myself out of this vicious cycle and restoring inner peace.


My main supporter and rock during these difficult times was my mother in-law who was my gateway to mindfulness. She taught me the teachings and how it’s all about finding that inner peace by applying techniques learnt and incorporating it in daily life. It is challenging at times to revert back to old habits. This all takes time and effort and isn’t an easy fix, it takes an immense amount of effort trying to retrain your brain to stop listening to all the voices in your head. 


It is all about changing your perspective and your belief system.


Mindfulness has taught me to find that inner peace, to be more in-tune with my body and mind, be more aware of my triggers by listening to my body to be more self-aware.


I’ve learnt that Mindfulness is all about the way of life, tearing down the walls that cage us in, ripping apart the behaviours that tie us down into the pits of darkness. 


In many ways it’s taught me to be in tune with my body and able to listen to it when it’s calling out , setting free my emotions rather than bottling them up. 


Most importantly learning to be in the here and now - being present in the moment is key.

After all it’s all about the journey not the destination!


Rachel 

 

A note from SHOWUP: if you're feeling down or have a friend who's struggling with anxiety Care Packages are a really lovely way to spread some love. Shop accessories here and browse anxiety related Posi-Cards here.


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