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How I found my way through anxiety

It was the most difficult year of my life when I found meditation (and Headspace).

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I had a job that I greatly disliked. I'd taken it because I thought it could be a really great opportunity, but it became apparent shortly after I started that it was not a good fit for me. I stayed with the job, but my heart wasn't in it. I felt stuck in my personal and professional life when, on top of everything, I was diagnosed with a medical condition. Luckily, the condition was treatable - but it would require ultimately five months of treatment, major surgery, and six weeks of recovery. That definitely shifted my perspective from "just getting by" as an already anxious person to totally panicked.

Now I felt constant anxiety. If I wasn't worried about my health and how my treatment would impact my life, I was feeling frustrated with my social life or boxed in at work. I couldn't stop thinking negative thoughts, even when it seemed like I should be able to be happy because things were ultimately "not as bad" as my anxious brain perceived them to be. My mind was racing all the time. It was exhausting; I seemed to be stuck in a self-defeating cycle. A downward spiral. I needed something to change, yet everything seemed too big for me to change.

I thought meditation might help me. It certainly couldn't hurt, and I'd known some friends who liked it and seemed centered...calm...grounded. All things I wanted to be. Maybe I could use meditation to shift my perspective. I tried meditating to online videos, and it wasn't too long after that I found Headspace and started the Anxiety series. The audio tracks and videos made me feel like I was doing something to fight my anxiety and make peace with the things I was going through. Even if I wasn't able to turn down the negative soundtrack in my head - even if I still felt stuck and hopeless - just listening to the audio cues to do so made me feel as though someday, I might be able to. It gave me hope at a time when I really needed it.

And, slowly, it helped. I was able to identify the moment that I started believing in the things my anxiety was telling me. I still fell down the rabbit hole of anxiety more often than not, but at least I was aware of it. In the moments that I was able to avoid getting worked up over my worries, I felt a glimmer of hope that it was possible to be free of my anxiety.

Since then, I've developed a regular meditation practice and become more comfortable confronting the anxious soundtrack in my mind. I'm still an anxious person, and I still get caught in in stress, worries, and anxious thoughts from time to time. Yet on the whole, I am often able to tune out the anxiety, be more objective and, ultimately, worry less about the little stuff. Better yet, I've quit my job, I have a thriving freelance career and I'm healthy again.

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