How I Healed from Anxiety

About Celeste

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Battling alcoholism for 20 years, Celeste was stuck in a vicious cycle, unable to see a way out. She likens addiction to being on a hamster wheel, feeling exhausted but unable and too afraid to stop; where the safer option is to continue running.
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My Triggers

I share my understanding of anxiety from personal experience. It may or may not be the same for you, we are all unique. I hope it provides a different perspective which may help you decode your anxiety. Never hesitate to reach out for professional help if needed.

Anxiety snuck up on me 1.5 years into sobriety. My senses were waking up after a sufficient period of detox. My body finally felt safe enough to feel. For 20+ years, alcohol was my amour and shield, suddenly I was naked on the battlefield.

What is Anxiety? Is it just feeling overly nervous and worried? Those who have experienced anxiety, you know it’s much more than that. For me, it was moments of irrational crippling fear and terror.

My first trigger was a dizzy spell. I spiraled into a state of irrational panic that led me to visit a heart specialist! (Haha what irony, my whole journey has been an initiation into mastering the way of the heart) It is hard to explain what I was so afraid of. I needed to know that I was okay, I wanted answers and reassurance.

My triggers were mostly physical symptoms, once feeling the roof of my mouth with my tongue sparked off another bout of anxiety. An irrational fear of bumps always got to me.

Each time I got triggered, it could last days or weeks. When possible, I would see a doctor to find a reassuring answer. Otherwise, I’d have to wait for the fear to taper off. The worst one lasted 2 months.

What does Anxiety look like?

This picture was taken at the time I had my longest bout of anxiety, I was at my fittest and even survived boxing camp! I was able to mask it and got what I needed to do done. In some way work and exercise provided a distraction. At night the anixety would intensify, I remember many random google searches in the middle of the night and I coped by distracting myself with hours of random mindless shows.

I confided in a few friends but nobody had experience that could help, much less provide suggestions on what could be causing it. The only suggestion was to consider seeing a doctor for medication. (Which I would only consider as a last resort)

It’s important to remember that anxiety and depression does not have a face. It is easy to put on a mask in front of others. This serves as a reminder that it doesn’t hurt to be kind. We never truly know what someone is dealing with.

A Panic Attack – Alone and Overseas 😲

The intensity of fear started to build at dinner in my hotel. It came out of nowhere. I paid and ran back to my room. Thankfully I had tools and applied a BodyTalk tapping technique whist desperately repeating the Serenity prayer. It took about 10 minutes to calm myself down and breathe. I immediately changed my flight to leave the next morning.

This was how bad it got. The panic that sets in is irrational and terrifying. I did not feel safe.

Disassociation and Returning to the Body


I have very little memory of my childhood and my teenage years. I never knew why until I discovered Dr. Gabor Mate’s work and started to understand trauma and stored emotions through the work of Dr. Gabor Mate. I completed 7 months (out of a year-long) of Gabor Mate’s Compassionate Inquiry Professional Training and benefited much from it.

Disassociating was my coping strategy. I don’t have many memories because I ‘checked out’ from a young age.

My dad did his best to provide for us, he was never physically violent and caring in his ways, but he was unable to regulate his emotions, this meant I grew up with a lot of explosive outbursts and loud shouting. I was a sensitive child who picked up on my parents’ emotions. As a young teen, I used to blast loud music in my room to drown out his voice.

Because of his explosive temper, over time, my mother gave up arguing back and ‘shut down’ emotionally. It upsets me when she doesn’t listen to me, I have to remind myself that she can’t because that has been her coping strategy.

When I discovered alcohol, it was like my magic button. For someone who disassociates, alcohol was the perfect companion. I started to drink regularly at the age of 17.

By 19, I was starting to use it actively as a tool to check out of life. Over time, I became a black-out drunk.

So pretty much from childhood till the time I got sober at 37, my memories are fuzzy.

When I got sober and became present in my body, this was terrifying because it felt alien. That was one cause of my anxiety and why my triggers were random physical symptoms. I was coming home to a body I barely lived in for 37 years.

Stored Emotions from Early Childhood

Another reason for my anxiety? I was releasing the stored emotion of terror that I felt in my early years. While I don’t have the memories, my body remembers the fear, the terror. To a small child, how terrifying it would have been to be regularly around loud outbursts of rage that erupted without warning.

Another important lesson I learned was that I did not always need to understand with my mind or know what exactly happened. It is more important to feel these stored emotions to release them.

This could be one reason why after years of traditional talk therapy, some people feel that they are not neccesarily getting results.

“Kids Won’t Remember” But The Body Does!

Sorry folks, I hate to break it to you. You may think a young child will not remember you and your spouse fighting in the next room. They may not necessarily understand or remember, but I promise you their body does, especially if this happens regularly.

The body even remembers birth trauma. If not for personally experiencing it, I would find it difficult to believe.

From a Compassionate Inquiry Training practice session
My partner guided me into the body and I immediately felt a wave of anxiety. Tingling sensations appeared on my cheeks and the top half of my head felt like it was inside a bowl. My head started to instinctively move in a circular motion, the lights felt bright even though my eyes were closed and I was dizzy.

Our practice session was too short for the whole experience to be completed.

I sat in meditation after and my inner knowing told me it was a birth trauma. The next day I asked my mother and learnt that I had to be pulled out with forceps which left marks on my cheeks from where they were pulling me! This was another mind-blowing moment in my healing journey.

Decoding and Healing Anxiety

I am fascinated by what I am constantly discovering for myself. It surprises me how little society truly understands mental health and illness. I wish someone had shared this with me, it would have made those 1-2 years of anxiety more bearable.

I am not saying do not see a doctor, do not take medication. Everyone has their own unique path and healing journey. I simply share one perspective. You have to decide what is best and right for you.

Understanding, accepting and having empathy and compassion that my parents are not emotionally mature was a large part of my healing. I had to work through peeling the resentment onion which I will share more in another post.

What you resist, persists

I’ve learnt difficult emotions are not permanent. The more you resist them, the louder they become. The only way out is through feeling them. If you are at the beginning of your journey and don’t have the capacity to hold space for yourself to do so, I highly recommend professional support to hold space for you to be with these emotions and feel your way through them. It doesn’t happen all at once, it is a process that you commit to.

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