Shaquille from Arian Wanderer joins us to share her story about how she adopted a holistic lifestyle to overcome depression and anxiety. A soulful, inspirational woman who wants to destroy the invisible boundaries that prevent her from living by her own rules. Arian Wanderer was created to provide women with wisdom, empowerment, community, and advice surrounding topics such as lifestyle, self-help, holism, and manifestation.
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath
Anxiety disorder is one of the hardest things I ever had to confront. Living with anxiety has caused many sleepless nights, many panic attacks, and crushed dreams. I want to share my story with you and how I learned to cope with my illness.
Initial Onset of Anxiety
Fourth grade was when I first experienced bullying. I was shocked that it happened because I am from a small town and all of my classmates and I practically grew up together. Hormones began to soar and kids were beginning to dabble in things that they shouldn’t. I grew up without cable so I didn’t grow up as fast and still played with video games, dolls, toys, and made mud pies. Either way, I was the odd girl out and soon developed depression and anxiety due to excessive bullying.
Soon enough, I no longer had any friends and became isolated. My grades plummeted, I began to binge eat, and my nails were numb (still are to this very day). My heart would race and my head would hurt when I went to school. I remember wondering, what would trigger them this time? What’s wrong with me? Why they hate me? What did I do? What did they gain from treating me this way? The long list of questions suddenly turned into negative beliefs about myself.
Sadly, I was bullied from the 4th grade up until the day I graduated from high school. I got a 3 course meal of depression and for dessert, I got an anxiety disorder.
How It Affected Me
I hated myself, figured I was scum and wanted to harm myself or remove myself from the face of the Earth entirely. I did not take care of my body either and slowly began to have delusions that gave me that “doom impending” feeling.
The shame and stigma of black women and mental illness always stopped me from talking about my feelings. Besides, we were dirt poor and my grandmother always kept a brave face even though I knew she struggled with depression too. I figured my depression was the least of her worries and that there was no use in whining because I believed that the world gave no handouts to those that whined.
Going to College with Anxiety
I finally went to college and the number of stressors that would set off my anxiety quickly grew. I had friends that would literally cry because their GPA dropped from a 3.9 to a 3.8 when I was cruising with a C average. Although I knew a C average was not bad, I began to wonder what would they think of me if I told them my GPA? I also absorbed their emotions because I was an empath too.
I remember having panic attacks about negative bank account balances, filling out the FAFSA, making my own doctor’s appointments for the first time, and dealing with insecurity induced panic attacks. I remember being able to sweat through an entire shirt within minutes, checking out of reality, shaking, and literally feeling so lightheaded that I might faint.
There is nothing fun about having anxiety while having unrealistic delusions (delusions forged from hell). Thoughts of getting kicked out of school for no reason, getting arrested for no reason, getting called and yelled at by my grandmother for no reason, you name it. Well, there is always a reason, but the reason never matched the doomsday outcome.
How I Began to Cope
As I matured, I began to change negative thought patterns that I gained from my parents, gotten rid of most of my silly, but very real to me delusions, and focused on what would trigger my anxiety.
The major life changes I had to reduce panic attacks and uplift my spirits included
- simply remove myself from stressors
- for the things I could not change, I would train my brain to be as positive as possible, no matter how cheesy it would sound at the time.
- Social media use was down to 1 hour a day.
- In the morning I would ground myself by going to the cafe to drink a cup of tea and make a point to do nothing but be at peace.
- I made excuses to not see my friends so I could recharge
- And created my own space. I was even able to get my own dorm room the last two years of college.
Space was key for me because I understood that I cannot always be strong. I am okay with not always having a brave face. I don’t have to be upfront and center. Removing myself from the rest of the world doesn’t make me feel guilty anymore because I need the time and space. I learned to validate my feels no matter how much society says we are supposed to fake and pretend we’re okay because sometimes we aren’t.
How a Holistic Lifestyle Changed My Prognosis
Now as an adult, I make sure I am more intentional with my time and combat my anxiety and depression with a holistic lifestyle. In short, a holistic lifestyle encompasses the definition of holism
- the belief that we are in fact a system
- if a part of the system is broken
- then the system as a whole can no longer function.
So I take the time to focus on areas in my life that I want to improve such as my health, my mindset, relationships (not the romantic kind – that is on the back burner), and way of life or sometimes I look at the wholeself as the mind, body, and soul.
I take care of my body by eating healthy and exercising. I am not that strict about what I eat though because it isn’t that serious. So what if I crave a fat juicy burger? It won’t stop me from going to a good burger joint to indulge, but I do make a point to increase my vegetable intake and drink more water.
I take care of my mind by retraining it to stop dealing negative beliefs to me on a daily basis. This is the hardest part of my journey because it is easy to continue bad habits. I have to remind myself that I am worthy of the greatest possibilities. Whenever I am confronted with the things I cannot control, it is still a working progress, but remaining as positive as possible and having faith in the Universe helps me get out of a panicked state.
When I panic nowadays, I have to tell myself, “Hey remember that time when you [insert situation] and did not die? You can do that again because you are a badass”. I literally have to walk myself through the situation (like holding a kid’s hand and showing them that there is nothing under the bed).
I take care of my soul by listening to my intuition. I am also a firm believer in that saying, “cleanliness is godliness.” There is nothing worse than living in a filthy, low vibe environment while battling depression and anxiety. When I was in grade school dealing with my demons, my room was always disgusting and dark, and it was not helping my situation. My goal is to live within love and light. The way I lived was void of light and obviously, I did not love myself either because I clearly deserved better than that.
The easiest way to encompass a holistic lifestyle is to
- Write down a list of things you want to change when it comes to certain facets of your life.
- Then choose one from each category so you don’t put too much on your plate at once.
- Once you begin to do those things on autopilot, then add on more lifestyle changes.
Living holistically is like the snowball effect on depression and anxiety instead of credit card debt. As you better facets of your life and move towards happiness, that happiness compounds.
You Have to Be Ruthless
I believe anxiety is forged from fear so I operate by doing everything that is composed of love and light. Nourishing my body with healthy foods, keeping a clean space, removing myself from stressors, reading self care books, and keeping myself busy with things that light me up is what keeps me going. Living a holistic lifestyle means paying attention to not only myself, but taking care of others and the planet too.
Anxiety is a $&@$?, but it is not what defines me and it can’t define you either. Anxiety is ruthless so you have to be just as ruthless. I once believed that I didn’t have a choice. I thought I was going to always live in fear, but my adopted lifestyle works. I hope my story has inspired you to create a lifestyle or regimen that aids your journey with anxiety.
As always live with intent and within the truth.
With love and light, Shaquille
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