My journey from anxiety to serenity

Sufferers of anxiety disorder often let their disease get the best of them, but Pauline McKinnon dealt with her demons decisively

Half a lifetime has passed since one muggy summer’s day when I experienced my first panic attack. The following eight years found me withdrawing from existence out of fear of further panic attacks—and so I became a classic agoraphobic—or closer to the language of today, a victim of anxiety disorder. Most of that time I was plagued with feelings of insecurity and intense fear. Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, sensations of unreality, fear of loss of control... were my constant companions. Sleep brought no respite and each waking moment presented me with a minefield of frightening thoughts and soul-destroying obstacles to negotiate—either physically or emotionally.

For those eight years I retreated and succumbed to my fate. I also tried very hard through many ways, to overcome it. But for all my trying, the beast still pursued me. I felt alone and afraid. And then, after all those years of torture, miraculously, the light of day dawned. By chance, I came to learn that my trying very hard was a substantial part of the problem. At that time it was demonstrated to me that the secret to healing an emotional disease nestles within oneself. The power of creating order from disorder is within our own hands. But we need to be shown the way to achieve this.

Anxiety is universal

Anxiety as an emotional reaction is universal. Everyone experiences some anxiety. It is a natural, protective defence and can help us live. We need anxiety if for no other reason than to cross a busy road!

Some people though, due to sensitivity and personal conditioning, become overwhelmed by anxiety. Basically, anxious people have learned to disregard their true feelings, allowing themselves to be swept along through life while expending great energy and generating much nervous tension by ‘pretending everything is OK.’  This is a ripe situation for stress.

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This was first published in the August 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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