Do You Ever Feel Like Anxiety Means You Can’t Even Contemplate Feeling or Doing Better?

Trigger warning: While Catherine’s story is inspirational, the horrors she is bravely facing even when it’s so tempting to look the other way are heartbreaking even to read about. I’m including links about the mother and baby home abuses and Tuam babies rather than detailing them here.

I hear ye.

When my Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was in a particularly bad phase, I was put on beta blockers aged 22. Back then, I was still clueless about all the things I could do myself to regulate (aka feel better). When I look back now, I remember how hopeless and helpless I felt so much of the time.

I hope this post helps you feel better both in terms of resourcing yourself right now, regulating and feeling better and, longer term, thinking bigger. Connecting with a greater purpose.

Anxiety can make a person feel alone but you’re NOT

Hearing Catherine Corless talk about her own anxiety struck a chord and I hope that sharing some of her story will encourage you to do everything you can to feel better yourself, knowing there IS life on the other side.

Catherine Corless, is, by any measure, a phenomenal woman. You may have seen or read interviews with her about her seemingly (but of course she’s human) efforts to bring a little peace and justice to the Tuam babies

The term ‘mother and baby home’ sounds cosy and sweet but if you’re not familiar with the brutal history of them in Ireland, you can read more HERE

I don’t want to go into too much detail here because it is SO gut wrenching and brutal but Catherine Corless has used her voice and energy to, in the words of her husband (who told Ryan Tubridy on Friday’s Late Late Show that he was terrified they’d lose their house or worse) to take on the Church and State.

While she’s already done so much, they’re dragging their heels and 796 candles were lit at the start of the show with the names of the babies (up to the age of three) whose remains are STILL IN THE SEWAGE AT TUAM

RTE lit and named (thanks to her work) 796 candles in honour of each of the babies

She told Ryan, ‘They need to be taken out [OF THE SEWAGE] before they disintegrate entirely.’

For anyone, taking on such powerful institutions, well, it reminds me of Sara Paretsky’s heroic detective VI Warshawski But she’s fictional.

That Catherine has done it with her history of anxiety and mental health issues is incredible

She told Ryan that at one point, the anxiety she felt was so debilitating, she put her hand on the hot stove. It eventually healed and she understands that it – like self harm so often is – was an effort to externalise the inner pain she was so exhausted by.

‘I was desperate to get better,’ she said. ‘To be better than I was. To get rid of this awfulness that I was feeling inside. I was trying everything.’

And that included ECT treatment as well as medication.

After all this, to take a course on history and be so tenacious feels Marvel Universe worthy to me.

A couple of yoga poses to help you come into your body without hurting yourself

If you ever feel that your emotions are too big for your body, these poses – while NOT a substitute for medical advice – can be really helpful as they bring us out of our heads and very much into our bodies. Both burn off excess stress hormones in the larger muscles in the legs and mimic the act of running by using these muscles so honour the stress response without actually fighting or fleeing in 2021.

Chair pose is wonderful for panic attacks:

And Warrior II is a similarly dynamic pose as well as having the additional postural feedback (aka Power Pose) benefits.

What do you feel strongly about?

So much is coming up for healing. In so many areas. All of this – climate anxiety, social injustices, misogyny, racism and more – can be incredibly anxiety provoking.

You might want to grab your journal or a piece of paper and let yourself write or doodle around the world issues that contribute to your anxiety and/or that you feel most strongly about.

I’m not suggesting you put any kind of pressure on yourself to change the world or anything BUT it can be incredibly empowering to do SOMETHING.

What teeny tiny step can you take – maybe donating time or money, having a conversation or something else – to help make the world an even slightly better place?

If you were to imagine yourself fearless and successfully improving this situation, what do you notice about yourself in your imagination?

Who are you with?

How are you standing?

What are you wearing?

What are you telling yourself?

What are you listening to (other people / podcasts etc)?

What other sounds help empower you?

How are you FEELING as you imagine this?

What’s the strongest emotion?

Any physical sensations?

Any smells or tastes?

Make vivid notes and / or doodles to help yourself to ground your imaginings and potentially refer back and make actual moves in that direction.

What helps you most when you’re feeling anxious?

Personally, I have befriended my anxiety symptoms to the extent that a) I know how to calm my whole system quickly and effectively and b) feeling anxious helps me consider my plans and put in as many extra supports as possible.

I also use this blog to help myself process some of what’s going on in the world as well as connecting with people (in real life as well as online) who care about similar things.

I hope this post helps you remember to do the things that help YOU. I also hope that Catherine Corless’s story might inspire you to move beyond the limitations of anxiety and to connect with whatever brings YOU more purpose, meaning and joy

Please feel free to share this post on your social media etc so others who may want feel lost in anxiety can read it.

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With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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