My Experience: How I got here and what I learnt along the way

Let me take you back to 2003 when I had my first panic attack. I was living in Hong Kong at the time, and the trigger was a combination of energy drinks and coffee. From that moment, anxiety ruled my life for the next 20 years. It took various forms and affected every aspect of my life. I tried countless methods to cope with it, but along the way, I discovered some valuable insights that I want to share with you.

First and foremost, opening up and being honest about my anxiety made a significant difference. For a long time, I kept it all to myself, afraid of showing any weakness. However, when I started talking to others, I found understanding, support, and a sense of relief. It turns out, many people have their own struggles with anxiety and depression, and knowing that I wasn’t alone was a breakthrough.

Consistency played a crucial role in my journey. I realized that anxiety and depression are primarily physiological, which means that techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, exercise, and diet can make a difference. One crucial aspect that often gets overlooked however is that it’s a culmination of built-up pressure over time. It could stem from childhood trauma, teenage bullying, or overwhelming work environments. Regardless of the cause, the important thing to understand is that it’s not something you can treat overnight. As Bessel Van Der Volk highlighted in her book “The Body Keeps the Score,” healing takes time.

Sometimes people make the mistake of expecting a quick fix. They might find temporary relief from a 15-minute meditation session during an anxious moment and assume they’re cured. But that’s not the case. What’s needed is consistency and integration. If a particular technique works for you, like meditation or breathing exercises, it’s essential to incorporate it into your daily life on a regular basis. Otherwise, your body will revert to its usual patterns, and the benefits will fade away.

Embracing the phrase “If you want to change, you have to change” became my mantra. It’s not about temporary solutions but about making a commitment to yourself for the long term. What works for you needs to become a part of who you are, not just something you do occasionally.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea that working hard and taking a two-week break can completely reset your body is far from accurate. True change takes time. Although I wasn’t a heavy drinker, I did have periods where I abstained from alcohol to allow my body to heal. I noticed some changes within the first week or two, but it was after 3-4 months of sobriety that I truly experienced a remarkable transformation in my well-being and overall health.

The same principle applied when I decided to step away from my stressful finance job after enduring 26 years of burning the candle at both ends. I had pushed my body to its limits, and I felt broken. Determined to make a change, I packed up and left, regardless of the cost, trusting that life would work itself out. It took a full two years before I started to feel a renewed sense of energy, vitality, and inner rejuvenation. Two years.

It was during this time that I realized the extent to which work stress, the constant pressure, shouting, yelling, and never-ending deadlines had taken a toll on my body. I had piled an immense amount of stress upon myself over all those years. This realization highlighted the profound truth that change takes time—it’s a journey rather than an instant fix.

Understanding this fundamental concept is crucial. It allows us to approach our personal transformations with patience and a long-term perspective. Whether it’s healing from work-related stress, addressing unhealthy habits, or seeking overall well-being, we must acknowledge that change is a gradual process.

Nowadays, I find myself happier and more in control. I may not be as adventurous as before, but I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the people I’ve met along the way. Life is an experience to be savored, and by embracing openness, consistency, and patience, you can navigate the challenges of anxiety and find your own path to peace and contentment. Remember, you’re not alone, and there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow.