Recovering from anxiety
Posted by
13th May 2014

It's the second day of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and we're sharing SANE supporter Craig Michael Loftus' latest blog on his journey to mental health recovery. Once in the grip of crippling anxiety, Craig now lives a fulfilling life and explains how he now reacts whenever he starts to feel anxious.

I'm someone who used to be crippled with anxiety. Certain circumstances in my life had conditioned me this way. I was full of fear. I was living a life settling for less and nowhere near living to my fullest potential.

After a severe mental breakdown, I decided to get help. Not only did I want to reach a point where I felt okay and was happy enough to just get by and keep my head down and hope for the best; I decided I wanted to fully recover, dispel the myths created from old conditioning, and never let feelings of anxiety dominate my life ever again!

A lot of the old conditioning derived from people not treating me right. I was scared of confrontation. I was very insecure. I was a damaged individual.

What I have recognised through my recovery is the part I have to play in my life. I recognise the freedom I have; the ability to choose. So when it comes to abusive people, people not treating me right, I recognise my part in all of this and I don't accept anyone trying to make me feel bad about myself. I faced my fear of confrontation. I faced my fear of rejection. I respect myself enough to walk away from any situation. Far from playing the blame game or developing a victim mentality, I move on. It doesn't serve me to remain in a cycle of being hurt and angry, and letting events from 2 years ago, 7 years ago, even 20 years ago still batter me today. If I let that happen, I'd be wasting the precious time I have today, I'd be missing out on living the beautiful life that I do, and it would have an extremely damaging effect on myself and those around me.

In general, when I start feeling anxious, I look at the reason why. I go straight to the painful feelings. What's happening? What can I do? What's my part in all of this? What action can I take? What can I confront? Is it serving me well to be so anxious? No it isn't! So I catch myself as early as possible, rationalise, and kill the damaging stories; I eradicate the negative internal monologue. I try to remain mindful of my purpose, and the things I want to achieve in life.

I used to have fears of being alone, and what others thought of me. I confronted those insecurities.

I recently travelled to Italy by myself. I relished the solitude. I didn't feel lacking or inadequate. I didn't feel isolated. At times is was a very pleasant social experience. I went to busy places and spoke to some really nice people. Again, I confronted fears: social anxieties.

When I was alone I had moments of clarity, my thinking was very positive. I felt bliss and contentment often. I had, and still have, very strong feelings of immense gratitude.

I recall when I was still in a very dark place. I'd started to get help. I began to confront my problems, but I was still very scared. It felt like I had a huge mountain to climb, and a mammoth task to get well. I remember seeing such a beautiful image of the Italian coastline. I thought to myself, when I get through all of this, I am going to go there. And I did go there. It was a hugely special moment when I reached Positano beach.

No matter what circumstances happen to you, it doesn't have to stop you living a wonderful life.

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