I am now at that age where it is easy to compare myself to a car no longer under warranty - regular check- ups and maintenance are now required to ensure that the joints and alignment are in good shape; allowing me to go about my daily tasks. I hurt my back last February and since then have been seeing a physiotherapist AND massage therapist to help me out. Three months later, while I am feeling much better, I am not springing back as quickly as I used to. On the plus side, it did give an additional option in terms of outings along with the grocery store and pharmacy, a luxury during the Ontario stay at home orders (isn’t that depressing or what).
So last Friday night, my physiotherapist and I ended up talking about how to cope with anxiety while he was on a mission to loosen up my upper back joints through the infliction of pain. I have suffered anxiety, to varying degrees, all of my life - it is one of our family genetic heirlooms. That conversation made me realise that I have been mostly a hacker in this domain - a series of trials and errors, including going to counselling on various occasions. This has allowed me to live much better with this "friend" who tends to come into your body unannounced, does not take off his shoes and always makes a mess of things.
As I reflect on my life, I think for me, the best description of anxiety is that of a robber. It has robbed me from certain experiences, but mostly it has robbed me from being fully present. It casts an opaque veil on your mind which makes you not fully present, for yourself and often for those you are with.
While my unwanted friend tends to come visit less often of late, I struggle to articulate why. I think it has been a mix of prayer & meditation, counselling; healing through art and other means. I have come to realise just recently that two dimensions have been key for me - living increasingly in line with my true purpose and letting go of this urge (or need for) control. And, perhaps most importantly, giving myself a break.
As I learn to let go, I found that my art is evolving in beautiful ways, it is becoming more harmonious, richer and that makes me so incredibly happy. Recently, I have been painting over a number of old paintings I made through the years. It is actually quite therapeutic, shedding the old and bringing in the new. It is actually quite therapeutic, shedding the old and bringing in the new. This is the case with my latest painting Riding the Wave. It used to be called Reflection and it was my attempt to replicate a painting I had seen in a hotel. Its new title, Riding the Wave, was inspired by a conversation I had with my son Loic about life and the different journeys people take. I find that it suits the new version so well - its flow and colours are inspiring hope and movements.
May is mental awareness month. As it comes to an end, my wish for all of us is that we keep the conversation alive and remove the myths and the shame around mental health. We are all going to be better for it.
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