My experience with anxiety

This post was originally written in Norwegian and published on my old blog in early 2015. It’s about how I got anxiety and how I got into a holistic way of living. So much has happened since then, so it’s not at all up to date when it comes to how I’m feeling today. As you may know I’ve learned so much from this, and my anxiety is close to non-existing today. I wanted to translate this text into english and give you a chance to read it anyways, because I feel like you’ll get to know me better. And if you’re struggling with the same, you’ll know that you’re not at all alone. 

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Ever since I was little and up until high school I would faint and throw up whenever I saw blood. Every little thing about the inside of a human body scared me, and I would have the same reaction when I was told disgusting stories or watched my friends have their body pierced as well. Because I was so scared of the doctor’s office I would walk around with all kinds of different pains for the longest possible time, and then cry my eyes out when I finally realised I had to go there. I’ve also had panic attacks when having my blood drawn, and one time I even threw up in my doctor’s dustbin. This is blood phobia, and I honestly think it’s kind of normal to some extend. Even though it’s normal, it’s not a very pleasant experience. As I got older it all got better, and I wasn’t that sensitive to it anymore.

A few months after finishing high school, me and my best friend went backpacking in South East Asia. We went there twice, and it really was the best years of my life. The only weird thing is that at the end of our second trip I experienced my body doing things I didn’t understand. Out of the blue I would start to cold sweat, my heart would race and I nearly fainted without any given reason. I got so scared, and because I thought I was really sick I ended up going home a few weeks before I’d originally planned. At the airport in Bangkok I met this wonderful women from Canada, and she kept me company the whole time until I got on the plane to Norway. I’m so grateful that I met her, because I was a totall wreck. I’d even forgotten to put my shoes on, as I was so focused on not fainting or doing anything else that would be incredibly embarrassing. When I finally got on the plane I drugged myself with massive amounts of chocolate, and probably fell asleep because of a sugar shock. (hehe)

Everything got a little better when I got home to Norway and my family, and I didn’t give it as much thought. After a few months I moved to another city, rented a tiny apartment and started a one year course in medicine. As I thought me and my old friend blood phobia had grown apart, I went to my first class with the tightest jeans I could possibly find. I had been looking forward to this day for so long, but it turned out to be a really hard one and the beginning of a very challenging period. The 10-minute film with the name “a journey through the body” was shown, and I just made it out of the class room when I started sweating, trembling and almost fainting my ass off. A conserned stranger gave me a cold glass of water, and I spent the rest of the day incredibly nervous while I was trying to act as normal as possible. I was so reliefed when I got home that afternoon, as I got so tired from trying to act like nothing was wrong.

I went to school every day despite the fact that I always felt sick and had an crazy inner turmoil when I was there. Walking to school was a living hell, and I always gave myself a strict pep talk the whole way. I would always sit on the chair closest to the door during class, because I got really claustrophobic if I felt like I couldn’t get out of there. I could never wear tight clothes, and even my watch had to go because I felt so trapped when I had it on. I never laid my eyes on the power point’s my teacher was showing us, in case a picture that would make me feel even worse would pop up. After a while it all got really bad, and it came to a point where I couldn’t make it out of my apartment. The feeling I was used to getting at school suddenly appeared at work, on the bus, when I was grocery shopping. Everywhere. I sat inside my tiny tiny apartment for many days, didn’t go to school, couldn’t sleep and wasn’t able to have friends over. One of my closest friends tried visiting me one day, and even though she knew me like no others, I was shaking so bad and felt like I had to throw up the whole time. I was really sad as well because I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to continue the only study I really wanted to do at that point.

Besides my blood-phobia I’d also spent several years depriving myself of food, then binging. Exercising like a crazy person, loathing my body and carrying around a constant feeling of guilt. All signs of low self-confidence, in hindsight.

After sitting in my bed for about 3 days straight, I suddenly panicked. Thoughts that really scared me started popping up in my mind, and a few phone-calls and a lot of tears later I found myself in my doctors office. the same day I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder.

What it basically means is that you have severe inner turmoil, you’re concerned about everything, startle easily, cold hands, dry mouth, and even shivers and muscle tension almost all the time. I want to compare the feeling with the feeling of being really scared. Like, the feeling you get before you’re about to do something you’re dreading. Go to the dentist, jump out of a helicopter, talk in front of a billion people. It feels like something horrible is about to happen any minute, all the time, you just don’t know what. It’s a weird feeling, especially because of the physical symptoms that follows. I got some pills I was meant to take when I felt like I was getting a panic attack, and a referral to a psychologist and cognitive therapy. I swallowed one pill and went to the psychologist twice, when I got to the conclusion that it just didn’t feel right to me.

And that’s when I first started reading about natural medicine and other alternative ways of healing. I spent hours and hours reading about it online, and felt so drown to a holistic way of living. Whole living foods (fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains etc.), yoga, detoxing, meditation, plant-medicine, funny and positive people, time on my own and long runs is just a few examples of what I added to my everyday life. It all felt so right to me, and I honestly got happier and happier every day. That school year ended up being an amazing experience.

Now I can’t remember the last time I had a real panic attack, and I’m so much calmer as a person. My anxiety has it’s up’s and down’s, but I find that the bad times are less often and shorter. Now I feel so much more safe as well, as I know what to do when they’re showing up. The funny thing is that beside lowering my anxiety, I’ve become a so much happier as a person. I feel like I know what makes me happy, I’ve gained so much more self-respect, and I experience a wonderful feeling of happiness so many times a day. I know it’s cliché, but I honestly don’t know where I would have been right now if it wasn’t for this. It’s become such a huge part of my life.

This lifestyle has also brought me so many new friends from all over the world, a even closer relationship with my family, much better self-esteem and totally different goals in life. People often tell me that I’m brave to be so open about this, since apparently I’m supposed to be embarrassed. I’m so grateful for my anxiety, as it’s brought so much love and happiness into my life.

And, I just wanted to close of by saying that even thought I’ve chosen to go the natural route, that doesn’t mean I don’t respect people who want’s to do it differently. If you’re taking medicine or going to a psychologist, and that works, then I’m so so so incredibly happy for you! We’re all different, and that’s amazing!

Anne-Line Erlandsen

Anne-Line Erlandsen 24 y/o. Holistic health coach currently based in Norway.

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  1. Reply

    Agnes

    17/04/2017

    Nice post! It was super interesting to read and I would like t read another post about your goals, if you whant to share

    • Reply

      Anne-Line

      17/04/2017

      Thank you so much, Agnes! Would love to do that :-)

  2. Reply

    Melissa

    18/09/2017

    Hey.
    What do you do when you are feeling anxious or when you feel you are about to have an anxiety atack?
    Didn’t the psychologist help?
    I feel pretty much related and I was wondering if you could share what natural approach do you have besides yoga,meditation and healthy eating. That is something you keep on doing on a daily basis but what if you are still trying to cope with anxiety and still have some atacks ?

    thanks :)

    • Reply

      Anne-Line Erlandsen

      19/09/2017

      Hi love!
      I totally get what you’re saying, and I’m working on a video on this subject :-)
      The psychologist didn’t help for me, but I didn’t really give it a huge go either. I just felt like there was another way that would fit me better. Having a health coach helped me a lot tho! Her name is Sarah Anne Stewart.
      I remember when I still had attacks I would go for a run every time I felt anxious (if I could). I also tried to focus on my breath. Other then that I always had a bottle of water with me, and just holding it while being anxious helped for some reason. Water is very grounding, and also holding onto it would give me something to put my focus on. Positive affirmations was a huge thing for me! Saying “I can do this” and “I’m perfect just the way I am” calms me down to this day.
      Other than that give it time, and be so so so kind to yourself. Talk about how you’re feeling, don’t be ashamed, be grateful for everything it’s teaching you and do your best!
      Sending you so much love <3

  3. Reply

    Melissa

    25/09/2017

    Thanks for answering so soon. I’m working on that – positive affirmations. It took me a while to figure out that positive thinking can work because negative thinking worked, so why not try the opposite :P

    I would really like to talk with a health coach, I’ll try to find one around here.
    Thanks!
    kiss*

    • Reply

      Anne-Line Erlandsen

      25/09/2017

      Haha that’s so true! Negative thinking really does work! Hope you find someone that resonates with you <3 xx

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