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I bow down, I pray, I surrender.
Photo by Trish Pinto

In 2011, I developed a love for photography. My mentor, Ric Maniquis, told me to take at least 1 photograph every day to refine my art and to develop my own way of seeing things through the lens of the camera. And so I create a Multiply.com account (May multiply rest in virtual peace) to document my journey of growing as a fine art photographer. I entitled the album “Poco a poco, Dia a dia” in order to remind myself that small steps each day can bring much growth.

Today, I am writing my first blog entry with the same title as I take on, yet, another journey to healing and growth with anxiety and depression. I was unofficially diagnosed with anxiety in 2013 when I was manifesting symptoms what the doctors (who examined me) believed were anxiety attacks. I would suddenly have severe difficulty in breathing even if my body was at rest and there was no present allergens that could trigger an allergy. I checked out “normal” this the pulmonologist and cardiologist. But after going through a series of painful neurological tests, my attending neurologist said that I might have developed a psychogenic anxiety condition, which means my body was so used to stress that even when I am at rest, it will create the stress for me.

I turned to yoga and meditation (and a few glasses of wine and a couple of packs of cigarettes) to help me overcome the condition. After a year and a half, I felt that I have overcome the condition and the attacks were very few and far between. I did feel like I was in a much better place, both in my body and in my head. I was able to stay steady as I went through two major moves of the yoga studio I now owned and managed, a painful break-up, completing three major yoga teacher trainings, and conducting two foundational teacher trainings myself.

THEN THE PANDEMIC HAPPENED.

At first, I thought I had been coping well for the first few months. My love for plants and, of course, my fur babies have really been great distractions and coping methods. My partner was also with me and my family during the lockdown, which was a great source of support for me as well because we were both able to be there for each other through the uncertainty. But sometime September, when things were starting to open up for the economy, things started to take a turn towards anxiety attack avenue and I would start having episodes of anger and aggression. Even the smallest remark or post on social media would trigger an emotional breakdown or a bout of rage. This went on for six months, more or less.

When my partner and I moved in to a new apartment, the episodes/attacks started to get more frequent. He would be the usual target/recipient, and this made me feel so guilty after it happened because he has been nothing but understanding through it all. But I knew that he didn’t deserve to go through this.

AND SO… I’ve decided to get help. I just had my first session with a therapist last week — and although it wasn’t pretty, it was very helpful. I had some realizations on-the-spot while speaking with her that have opened a window of insight to how my childhood and experiences growing up have really affected me in adulthood.

There is so much to understand about myself, so much to heal. My therapist actually wondered why I was not treated back in 2013 when the anxiety started manifesting. And in the years that past where my anxiety was left untreated, all it did was hide and fester in my head.

I know that this process will take time. I’m in no rush. I am giving myself to take as much time as I need.

But I am grateful for gifting myself with this much love and generosity. I am giving myself the gift of healing, which I generously give to others.

Today, and every day from now on, I will choose myself first. And that is, I think, taking a baby step towards the right direction.

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Avatar Gelie Dela Pena

Author: Gelie Dela Pena

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