“‘What should I do?’ I asked myself,” Do you have another two years of misery like this? Or should you really welcome the panic? “I block or remove it. I really decided to let go of the desire to fight and fight. I finally learned how to live with it and use it as a support for my meditation and awareness. I really welcomed you. What started happening was that the panic was interrupted in awareness. I was panicking at the surface level, but I noticed and held it underneath. This is because the important first step in breaking the cycle of anxiety is awareness. ~ Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
I have been suffering from anxiety and depression for at least 15 years. I can’t remember when I couldn’t remember. They both killed me most, but I learned that living with them is far more fortunate in bringing salvation than fighting them.
Fortunately, I didn’t act on suicidal ideation, but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t have it. It doesn’t mean to make a plan, but the general idea sneaked up on me and for a while it was consuming everything. Also, I’m at a stage where I don’t mind if I die.
Alcohol turned into crutches, and strangely, beer may have saved my life. One day, I was seriously planning to finish everything, but after quitting my job, I passed through a tavern and got drunk. I have reached a stage where I can’t do bad things to myself, and my drunkenness led to my wife who told me I needed urgent help.
Trying to pinpoint exactly why you started to feel anxious or depressed is like trying to pick up mercury with a fork. It is equally impossible to pinpoint exactly at what age I started suffering. I think I’ve been worried since I was little.
In many respects, I have a blessed upbringing. I had loving parents. We weren’t a wealthy family, but we didn’t have a hard time. There was always enough food and I felt warm, dressed and cherished.
However, things weren’t perfect because my dad worked a lot away from home. He did it to feed his family, us. I’m proud of him and never resented. But it left a hole in the house and put a lot of extra responsibility on my mother, and maybe I have a separation problem as a result.
My parents had high standards of behavior. I now recognize that this made me me today. They gave me a strong principle. I am grateful for it.
However, meeting the expectations of my mother and father has not always been easy. I remember being stressed about this quite often and afraid of being yelled at. Sadly I find it a bit silly to say that compared to what some kids have to endure, but I’m trying to explain my anxiety later in life ..
Bullying has also been an unwelcome companion throughout my childhood. Mockery, slander, and physical abuse all left an indelible mark. I clearly remember the resentment of being drowned in the spit of another, older, larger, stronger child.
The main focus of my torturer was that I was “ugly”, “no one fancy me”, and “never find a girlfriend”. I managed to disprove all three as an adult. Well, I may be “ugly”, but frankly, as a man with a happy marriage, I don’t know if it’s that important unless my wife believes in me.
But what is important is the scar left by this provocation. I have never really regained confidence after them. I don’t know if I can do it, but it causes me to suffer myself and lead to anxious and depressed thoughts.
Maybe it was bullying that really nourished my depression and anxiety. As an adult, I am also a victim of domineering and abusive behaviour, and when faced with such an onslaught, I am vulnerable. I also have a very keen idea of justice and don’t enjoy seeing it compromised.
Nevertheless, I have never felt that I can certainly put my finger on bullying as a cause of poor mental health from time to time. Without the ability to do that, I believe that anxiety and depression are destined to be a lifelong companion. It may sound like a loser, but my reality isn’t as pessimistic as its last sentence suggests, and the reason for this is definitely something I can point out.
The GP treated me with depression for years and didn’t mention anxiety. The day after her escapism, which was intoxicated by suicidal ideation, her wife sent me to the A & E department of a local hospital. So finally, the doctor listened carefully, made the first tentative diagnosis of anxiety leading to depression, and suggested that I could do it along with taking medications to help with true recovery.
Of all the advice Medic gave me, the most helpful suggestion to restore my health was to meditate. I have rejected meditation as “Hokaspocas” in the past, laughing and pouring contempt. Something in me responded positively to the proposal of the day, and I am forever grateful for it.
The hospital gave me a list of places where you can find useful tools for meditation, among other things. Apps, recordings, videos. I decided that I had nothing to lose and I had everything to gain, so I started following their guidance.
Within a few days I burned out the resources the doctor gave me. This was enough to convince me that it was really useful. I was still anxious and depressed, but when I was meditating, I was able to experience the true relief of not using alcohol for the first time in a few years.
Not knowing where else to find guided meditation, something was triggered in the brain, and the idea that “I am convinced that Buddhism has something to do with meditation” emerged. When I visited YouTube and typed “Buddhist meditation”, I got a huge number of results. So I started my real journey by practicing mindfulness.
Meditation did not miraculously cure my anxiety and depression. As I said, I still live with them. But it provided a sparkle of light that I was convinced that I could better learn to deal with and give quality to my life that I had been lacking for years.
I can’t say exactly how meditation changed things for me. I know it has. I read that the brain is plastic. That it can develop and change over time. The idea that activities like meditation help develop new, healthier neural pathways makes sense to me. It’s as if the change happened unknowingly. What I know is that as a result of regular meditation, I am more calm and able to cope with the crisis better than before.
As I practiced my daily meditation, I began to explore more Buddhist philosophy. They worked for me and it is very possible to get the same benefits from other philosophical teachings, religious or not. One of the ideas I came up with was the concept of getting along with them rather than fighting negative emotions.
This sounds counter-intuitive. Of course, when you feel uncomfortable, such as anxiety or depression, you want to get away from it. But this only strengthens the emotions and does nothing to relieve them.
Perhaps that is why people are trapped in a cycle of denial. They fight it further because they fight discomfort and thereby enhance it. A vicious circle that goes round and round.
Instead, it somehow softens it by accepting the emotion, leaving it as it is, and recognizing that the emotion is not essentially wrong, but just a sensation.
The first time I heard about this process was Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, which I quoted above. He often talks about how revelatory his panic attack was, so it proved to me with my anxiety and depression.
It was this fascinating and charismatic Nepalese Buddhist who made me crazy about meditation. I especially remember the moment I found his video “Guided Meditation on Body, Space and Consciousness by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche” on YouTube. With his gentle and humorous approach, I could almost feel his arms hugging me when he led me into the process. I’ve been meditating every day for the past four years, but when I feel I need to go back to the basics, I’ll return to this video.
The belief that somehow anxiety or depression rises and leaves me is not what I have. But they didn’t scare me anymore and I learned to deal with them. If they go packing their bags, I want them to be “good ridiculous”, but they no longer dominate me. I live with them and they do not prevent me from enjoying a positive presence.
There are a wealth of resources available online to talk about this novel concept and provide guided meditation. Some are religious or spiritual, but many are purely secular. It’s an idea that anyone can use in their favorite format.
Some of these simple practices have changed my life. I’m more happy than I’ve ever remembered, and I would like to see this change as evidence that anyone who suffers in the same way can regain happiness. You’ll lie if you say it’s not hard, or it’s not harder than others, but it’s worth it.
As a result of these improvements, I was able to develop an alcohol habit more than three years ago. This also helps my mental health. Again, I feel better not to take it, but I’m not saying that Teetotalism is the elixir of health. Many find beer and glass of wine to really make them feel good, and if this is you, choose it.
This article is not normative. Wellness recipes vary from person to person, so I don’t think anyone can offer them. Also, I don’t think two people will find that one works and the other works exactly the same. If the text above provided hope and nothing else, it would have been worth writing.