Reconnect with Yourself to Manage Anxiety: Corey-Jo's Story
One of the things that has been helping me manage my own anxiety is having people in my life who I can turn to for guidance. People who have been through it and come out the other side. Corey-Jo has been one of those people for me. She is one of the kindest women I know, with a ton of patience and gentle soul, and has helped me navigate a more spiritual aspect of healing. She helped me learn that I needed to reconnect with myself would help me get through hard times. I was so honoured when she agreed to share her own personal story with anxiety - she is such a special person, and I believe she will help so many people. I hope her story below brings you some comfort and inspiration, as it did for me.
When I was younger, I had this idea in my head that when I was 25 (the number was arbitrary… why 25?!? I really didn’t even know!) that my life would just come together in glorious fashion and be perfect. I believed that by this age, I would have it all figured out and that life would really begin. I had reason to buy into this…I was on the right track; by 25 I was crossing off all kinds of “shoulds” off of my life list (*should = those things we believe will make us happy and successful because someone or society tells us it will). I was working with one of the top companies in the oil and gas industry, was engaged to be married to a guy who turned all the girl’s heads, who gave me a rock that was the envy of all my girlfriends. We had the house, the cars, the careers. Slam dunk success story, right?
While all of this was unfolding in my 25th year, I felt stuck. Trapped. Disconnected. Ironically, 25 was one of the most stressful and anxious years of my life. For most of that year as I adjusted to a new job, a new city, becoming a wife (and realizing shortly thereafter that I had made a huge mistake in doing so), I was riddled with anxiety.
I was emotionally drained and exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping. I was barely eating. I couldn’t focus. I was scared to answer the phone, worried that someone would want or need something from me at a time where I had nothing to give. All of my energy went into keeping up appearances and focusing on the next thing that would make me and the “us” I belonged to, happy. A nicer, faster car, a bigger house, designer clothes, trips…the list went on and on and meanwhile the void inside just got deeper and deeper. At a time where my anxiety was the worst, I would have panic attacks getting into elevators (they mirrored the trapped feeling that was buried deep inside of me), I couldn’t sit through an hour long meeting without having to use the washroom at least three times (the anxiety manifested as symptoms similar to interstitial cystitis/ frequent need to urinate) and cutting my long, shoulder length hair into a extremely short pixie cut so as to feel like I could breathe (anything around my neck during this time made me feel like I was suffocating).
Every day I woke up feeling nervous, unsure and worried. My natural sunny disposition was fading away, day-by-day. The relationship with my husband was hardly that of two people in love; it was void of deep conversation and loving interaction that I craved. He felt like a stranger. I was scared to talk about the way I felt to my friends and family because I didn’t want to be judged. Everyone was so proud of the life I had created. Impressed even. I was too proud to admit that I was struggling, partly because I felt like sharing my truth and admitting my challenges made me ungrateful. From the outside looking in, everyone wanted what I had, didn’t they? How would anyone understand that this life was making me miserable.
My doctor gave me a prescription for Ativan. But I would get anxious about taking it and it made me drowsy and numb so I worried that it would (more noticeably than my day-to-day coping strategies) effect my performance at work. I knew that the medication would be effective for me once and awhile to sleep, but I knew that it wasn’t a long term solution.
I could have easily turned to other methods of escape but thankfully because I craved quiet, alone time I started using yoga as my escape. I would go in the morning and after work and sometimes twice in a day on the weekends. This time on my mat became infinite time where I reclaimed my calm. I felt relief. I began using breathing techniques from class at the office and when I had to be in elevators and slowly, things began to improve. I would take myself on roadtrips to the mountains and just sit in the forest, breathing in nature. I took lots of long baths and learned to meditate.
In my quiet solitude, I would ask the Universe for guidance. Through my practice, I found the courage to ask for help and sure enough, insight and answers began to appear. When I began to reconnect within, I started to get clear messages about why this anxiety was showing up and what steps to take to move beyond it. I knew what my higher self was trying to tell me- that I had become disconnected from myself. The anxiety showed up as an alert and opportunity to change direction. I had been busy avoiding myself for years, trying so hard to be what everyone expected/ wanted me to be. I gave my power away so often and to so many things and people that I literally began to fall away from my own light. I was misaligned, trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.
Not long after these moments of reconnecting with myself, I knew that something had to change. Divorce papers were filed, the dream house was sold and I began to recreate my life, on my own terms. I am still building and piecing my dreams together but through my practice and acts of self-love I was able to reconnect with my heart and my light and finally start to see, feel and live a life that fits. Now, when/ if anxiety shows up in my world, I know this is my high self sending me a message; I am being given an opportunity to re-evaluate things and to choose differently, if I need to. When I look at anxiety from this perspective, the fear fell away and I began to just be present with it, without judgement and be thankful for the wisdom showing up within myself.
So, I guess on some level, I was intuitively on to something about my life at 25; it was definitely a life-changing year. Instead of things coming together in alignment with the “shoulds”, I was given the opportunity to let the “shoulds” fall away and begin living authentically. Once I learned to trust myself and accept that this big, beautiful power of the Universe is truly on our side and is our Divine ally, I began to really live. Although very differently than I had imagined, things definitely came together quite gloriously and perfectly after all.
I know that so many of us live with anxiety and so when Brittney from Flopsylife mentioned she would be doing a weekly feature focused spreading awareness, I couldn’t wait to get involved. By sharing my experience, I hope to let others out there who are suffering from anxiety know that they aren’t alone. That there are others out there who, without judgement, just understand. I hope through sharing the methods of managing and overcoming anxiety that I used, I can help lead others to alternative methods that might also work for them.