I had my first anxiety attack when I was 15 years old. It felt like a wave of instability had swept me away and I had nothing to hold on to. I was at my parents' home, in my room at night, thinking of everything I had going on in my life at the time: I was going to school, I had to keep up with homework, exams, etc, I taught 6 dance classes per week as well as having to choreograph them after school, I didn't have a car so I had to stay on top of bus schedules if I wanted to accomplish all that I had set out to do, and I had a boyfriend, all of which left very little room for family and friends. All of my upcoming events kept swirling into growing spirals in my head, overlapping one another to such an extent that I felt like I had no control, time or energy to give each of these aspects of my life the attention they deserved.
My parents had raised me to be very independent from a young age. They taught me to give 100% to whatever I choose to do because ultimately, anything less is just not worth it to me or my contribution to life. At this point I felt like I was at 40% in everything I was doing, with no ground to stand on. I began to cry. I cried and cried and cried and just allowed this overwhelming emotion to sweep me away. This lasted about three hours as my sister and parents sat with me and tried desperately to figure out how to help.
My Dad is a very practical man who doesn't give in to emotion, he's my perfect example of stability. He very plainly stated that I need to eject my emotions and get everything down on paper so that it doesn't have to replay over and over in my mind. So I did. I wrote down everything that I had going on, everything I had to do in the next day, week and month and exactly how I was going to do it. This was my first step into finding my balance.
I visually had my life laid out in front of me and for the first time I looked at it and instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt proud. I'm the type of person that grabs at opportunity, even if it may be too much to handle I take it on anyway. For the first time I looked at my life on this piece of paper and said to myself, congrats Alissa, you've done so well! By having it out in front of me I statistically assigned importance to each of my life aspects and in a little over a week, everything gained a steady and healthy rhythm and all I had to do was keep up.
From that day, I became a list person. That's my balance. When I can see everything I need to do on a physical piece of paper outside of myself, I don't have to carry the load on my shoulders or in my head. So when I'm applying myself to one aspect of my life, I don't need to keep reminding myself of what I have to do next, I know that when I'm done, that piece of paper will tell me. This way I can happily give 100% to whatever I may be doing.
Now and then I still get mild anxiety attacks when I feel I have no control of the flow in some of the aspects of my life, another thing that helps me in these situations is meditation. Just sitting with my eyes closed or looking out onto the sea or mountains and practicing acceptance. There is a lot in our lives that we cannot control and acceptance is the first step in moving forward.
With Love, Acceptance and Compassion, Alissa.