Anxiety Would Not Defeat Me.
I absolutely believe we are more alike than we are different. We all have a story and your story may not be my story, but mine is just different in the details. It is through the sharing of our experiences that we can help others take note, take action and rise up beyond our struggles. It is my mission to help others coping with mental illness; specifically, anxiety.
I didn’t always have a name for the anxiety. In childhood I was called an over-reactor. I was sensitive, but no one else seemed to be, so I thought something must be wrong with me. I was the fifth of six kids and I craved attention. I tried so hard to get that attention by excelling in all areas of my life. My goal was to be perfect. At the time I had no idea that this was impossible, so I trudged on, beating myself up for not being good enough.
What I didn’t understand at the time was my sensitivity was not a conscious creation, but instead a mental health condition that was taking hold. The anxiety grew stronger as I struggled with the sudden death of both my father and my sister. The unprocessed grief sat inside my body and festered creating fears and limiting beliefs. There were many other incidents in my adolescence that my subconscious grabbed onto and held tight creating an uneasy and untrusting view of the world.
I was able to bury most of the anxiety symptoms from my family and friends, but when I had children it all changed. Right after I gave birth to my first child, I knew there was a shift. I felt flat and uninterested. I was diagnosed with post-partum anxiety, but instead of getting better with medication and therapy my anxiety began growing to outlandish proportions. Panic attacks were a daily occurrence, as were racing thoughts, OCD, the inability to socialize, interact or believe in myself. With each child, the symptoms became more intense. My mind no longer worked as it used to because now everything I experienced or thought was put through a filter in my brain that had me believe worst case scenarios and doomsday outcomes.
Not only was I dealing with the symptoms, but also the fierce determination to appear perfect on the outside to the rest of the world. I did not want anyone to know that I was dealing with a mental illness. I was a stubborn, all-knowing, self-proclaimed perfect person, but on the inside, I was hiding self-doubt, fear and feelings of being unworthy.
However, the anxiety that I wanted so badly to keep secret announced itself rather abruptly one day at work. I collapsed and was taken from the job I had held for fifteen years by being wheeled out on a stretcher. I had a nervous breakdown. It was here in the hospital that I truly saw my children and the fear on their faces. They were terrified and I knew then and there I needed to find an answer to overcome the anxiety hurdle and not allow this to affect my children, my husband or me any more than it already had.
Although I went back to work after the nervous breakdown, things there were never the same. Because of who I was, still trying to hold up the myth of perfection, I went back to work and never addressed the incident. But I couldn’t handle it anymore. I wanted to be home with my children. My company was very accommodating and gave me a part-time position. I was not happy and I began to get even more symptoms. Instead of listening to the signals from my body, I pushed on and ignored them. I began to become allergic to everything: food, perfume, laundry detergent, make-up, household products. I would even react in my own living room. I was diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) along with the anxiety. I became extremely underweight and could only eat a few different foods. The world was closing in and I had no idea how to stop it. There were a few times I thought for sure I was going to die and the fear of that compounded on top of everything else which left me in a fear state for every waking moment.
Finally, I had such a bad reaction I had to leave my job. I literally became a prisoner in my own home. There was no where I could go without having a reaction. For months I stayed in my room and wished for an answer.
The Road to Recovery
I believed my mission was to figure out how to get out of the seemingly endless sticky web of anxiety. Unfortunately, or fortunately- depending on how I viewed it, there was no easy way out. It was in my quest for healing that I learned there is not a one size fits all protocol to get well. I found my unique self was not buying what many were selling as healing opportunities. I would have reactions to the medications and even natural remedies. It was up to me to take full responsibility for my healing.
This is where it got good.
Because I got to know myself.
Not the lies that I had been telling myself for years.
Not the limiting beliefs or stories that were swirling in my head.
I got to know the real Lucie.
The perfectly imperfect person who was literally dying to be heard.
I adjusted my attitude from shame and hiding to openness and love. When I created the space for self-love and love for others, I became a force that nothing could permeate. This love was the force for healing.
In the past I had bought into the fact that I was wrong and broken, and therefore needed to be fixed. I identified myself as my diagnosis. But by living that way, nothing got better. My diagnosis of anxiety and MCS was not an identification label but instead a beautiful message from my body that I needed change.
A change in my beliefs.
A change in my self-care.
A change in my perspective.
I began to understand I was more powerful than I ever knew. I had the ability within to change what I could, accept what I could not and love myself no matter what. With this new view of life and myself I was able to heal very quickly. And today I help others see the beauty within which gives them the strong foundation to help themselves.
I had believed my mission was to get myself out of anxiety.
Today I know my mission was to love myself more than I feared my symptoms.
I love to help others see that anxiety can be viewed as a blessing…because as hard as it is to go through- the strength, wisdom and love found because of the struggle is life-changing.
I know now the final stage of healing is to help others. I love doing what I do. Witnessing the faces of those that begin to understand that the power to heal has been within them all along is priceless.
I hold workshops, classes and retreats to help empower those struggling with anxiety. These events can range from very small intimate retreats that give others safe space to explore root issues surrounding their anxieties to very large workshops and classes where women dive deep within their own self, with guidance from the group, to learn and grow in their own love for themselves. I am a certified Emotional Freedom Technique coach (tapping) and I use this and my background as a Functional Nutrition Coach to empower women to understand it is fully within them to heal and heal for good.
I also speak to groups; both adults and children about the ways we may have developed an anxiety condition and how we can learn to change those habits and behaviors that got us stuck. It is beautiful to witness a person who may have been struggling with anxiety, believing this was a condition they would always have to live with, learn that anxiety is not a beast to be conquered but a lesson to understand ourselves better.
I have also written a book titled Overreacting: a memoir of anxious proportions to help others heal their anxieties. It was also written because I wanted people who have loved ones dealing with anxiety to understand what it is like to live with anxiety. It was important for me to show the inside of the anxious mind for all to see- to remove the stigma of mental illness- and to openly talk about it, removing all shame. When we talk about it, it becomes less scary and we move into a place of connection and healing.
I truly believe aligning the body, mind and spirit with the vibration of love is the answer. We all have to be searching outside of ourselves for solutions and resolutions, but when we learn the healing ability was within all along, a beautiful reunion with the self occurs.
Visit Lucie Dickenson’s Website for more information: www.lovealwayslucie.com
Lucie’s Book: Overreacting: a memoir of anxious proportions
Lucie Dickenson’s FB Page Love Always Lucie: https://www.facebook.com/lovealwayslucie/
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some inspiration for these unprecedented times.