One of my motivations to learn the practice of Mindfulness was the hope that it would help me manage my anxiety. I have a fear of social situations that lends to a nervous edge to every thought, often accompanied by panic attacks, gut-churning and general verbal diarrhoea to try and disguise this fear. It had gotten to a point where I would reject social invitations and just stay in my bedroom with my dog- as she tends not to judge or reply!
At its worst, this fear of being talked about or not being accepted had led me to medication, and lots of it. But after exhausting the NHS inventory of different types and doses, I found that although it numbed my anxious state it also numbed all my emotions, leaving me feeling nothing. This affected my relationships to a point where I’d prefer having panic attacks than being a numb zombie. Of course, everybody reacts differently to medication, but for me, it was not the solution.
Sadly, with the little amount of funding that goes into young adult mental health, there was a 6-month waiting list for counselling, unless I went private – which I could not afford. Feeling like I had exhausted every option & feeling lower than ever, I turned to Google. The most common thing popping up in my searches was ‘Mindfulness’. At first, I was unsure as it was not something I had heard much about before. My aunt bought me a book on how to be ‘mindful’ and I got reading and have never looked back.
Since I have discovered the Mindz app, I have found it a lot easier to exercise this method. The real-time mindfulness feedback allows me to refresh my memory on the technique. Of course, if I am in a situation where a panic attack may occur, I will stick with simple breathing or stopping and focusing on something near me to relax – as getting out a phone may look a bit strange. However, if I feel stressed or worried before bed this app is a lifesaver in aiding a good night’s sleep and emptying my busy mind.
The fear still comes to haunt me every now and then – but my relationship to it has changed. I now know how to deal with my reaction to social situations and feel prepared instead of feeling like everything is spiralling out of control – in turn affecting those around me.
My experience has taught me that there does not always need to be a solution to the problems we face, but that we can gather tools to aid us in dealing with them.