Meeting My Anxiety

Jodi Redelinghuys
3 min readApr 27, 2021

So, yesterday I had one of the most intense anxiety attacks I’ve had in a very long time.

This was also the first time I have been aware of actually having one, which is what made it even more so overwhelming. I gave a title to a feeling that I had felt so many times before.

There wasn’t one single cause, it was a cocktail of emotions that ended up completely submerging me. And I couldn’t combat the wave with tequila because I was driving, this left me extremely heightened and feeling like I could not come down.

Honestly, I am glad that this happened because it revealed that I had been using really unhealthy coping mechanisms to mute a part of myself that I needed to listen to. Whether it was alcohol, weed, cigarettes or whatever I could find, I just greyed out that feeling.

But, I needed to hear myself before I could better understand myself, before I could heal.

Funnily enough, at first I thought the big U was just testing me… 2 exes, 3 old flames and the new one all in one room. And seeing them all within 20 minutes. Like, seriously bro?

And all of these relationships had somehow resurfaced in the last couple of weeks, so emotions were f-r-e-s-h. And yes, I know, letting mans affect the vibes is so 2020, but it was more the weight of all of those feels hitting me all at once. This was paired with some acquaintance run-ins, school friend and internet friend links that were so fucking awkward. I felt like my social brain was buffering. Fokol fibre signal and I had no data as a back-up.

Add a side of low ventilation, loud music and not wanting to leave because I was so happy my friend was having such a good time.

I tried getting air, I tried changing my scenery, I tried dancing it off, I even spoke it out with a lovely stranger (and guardian angel). But the only thing that helped was listening to myself and getting the fuck out of there.

It took me a really long time to grasp how much of my life had been affected by anxiety, I had become so accustomed to sucking it up and painting on a face.

I believe this could be a side-effect of my personality; and people have expectations of my energy. But also of working in the hospitality industry since 14, where I was literally trained to put accommodating others’ needs before my own. A whole performance act where each customer gets a personalised and unconditional version of me to make their experience special.

I didn’t realise how much of this ‘talent’ of mine had run into my personal life.

It became so easy for me to act like I was fine and harder and harder for me to ask for help.

I researched anxiety and had many conversations around it, but just assumed I was looking for excuses for dwelling in my emotions and causing myself to overthink. I just told myself to be stronger, to try harder, to do better. I never allowed myself the space to accept that I was struggling with my over-active brain and it’s all-consuming thoughts.

It’s weird though, because I really feel that as I am now, I am the most self-aware and conscious-minded that I have ever been. And I thought that this would slowly ease my anxiety, but on the contrary, it has been highlighted more and more. It’s like the more control I have over the majority of my emotions and behaviour, the more the outliers seem to spin out of control. Or rather, the more obvious these parts become.

I know I needed to feel as trapped as I did last night to feel as determined as I do today to find a way forward where I do not feel that helpless again.

I love myself, in my entirety. And I owe it to myself to learn what I need, find my voice in communicating that, and find my space in accommodating that.

The road ahead is long and sloped, but, this was a big step forward and I wanted to acknowledge that.

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