This is part 2 in a 4-part series. To read part 1, click here. To read part 2, click here. To read part 3, click here.
My heart was racing, face was flushed, the feelings of shame washed over me again. I raced from my desk to the bathroom, glad that it was just around the corner and that I didn't run into anyone on my way. My eyes were filled with tears as I collapsed on the bathroom floor, trying to stifle my cries so no one could hear me.
This used to be a daily occurrence for me. I thought life would always be like that too. And that made living almost unbearable at times. Especially in the midst of my panic attacks. It made no sense, considering I had a beautiful son, loving husband, and a pretty good job. But then, anxiety rarely makes sense.
One day a friend shared a poster she'd made for her mom. It had what she called "grounding exercises" on it. They were short, simple tasks that could help to center you when all those scary feelings started to close in. I wasn't sure if it would work, but I liked that she'd done it in rainbow colors, and I knew I needed some kind of help, so I figured I might as well try it. After all, what did I have to lose by trying it?
I printed the photo of her grounding sheet out and hung it on my cubicle wall, down low where no one would pay much attention to it (since I was still in a deep state of shame at the time) and where it was right in my line of site as I sat at my desk. Then, when my supervisor at the time started in on me, belittling me in front of coworkers, micromanaging me and treating me like I was the dumbest human being on the planet, I would look over and try some of those exercises. "Name something that is red." My strawberries. "How many doors can you see?" Two - the CFO's door and the maintenance closet door. "Take a deep breath." One, two, three, four (in), one, two, three, four (out).
These exercises weren't always perfectly effective, but they did help. They took some of the pressure off, finally. And they gave me hope that maybe there really were things I could do to stop feeling this way so often. They also showed me that I wasn't the only one experiencing this darkness, because several others had commented on her post as well.
Since then, with my friend's permission, I've shared that photo in mom groups, anxiety groups, motherless daughter groups, and the response is always overwhelming. That gave me a community that I truly felt a part of. Others were having panic attacks and needing these grounding exercises just as much as me. Maybe more sometimes. I was no longer alone. That made me feel safer, and also made me want to fight through the anxiety even more. Could I help others the way she'd helped me? That was the beginning of this journey.
I've recreated her poster in printable form, and added some extra exercises in there as well. If you think the Grounding Guide could help you too, you can grab it right here. Please remember that you are not alone either, and that your life is worth fighting for. Sending you all my love today!
Btw, if you'd like to be a part of a community that understands what you are going through, please join the Working Moms Struggling with Anxiety group on Facebook. We have support, inspirational quotes, and live trainings to help learn strategies to cope with anxiety in a healthy way. There is hope for a future with more peace.
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