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Several years ago, I thought I had a severe and chronic anxiety disorder that had persisted and grown exponentially worse since early childhood.
In those days, I genuinely believed that the only viable option to ease my crippling pain was pharmaceutical drugs, more specifically sertraline (Zoloft), lorazepam and gabapentin.
At age 20, I had every physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist and alternative healer I visited tell me universally that they had no idea what was “wrong with me,” and they all chalked up my debilitating physical, mental and emotional pain to an anxiety disorder.
Each health professional said they would do what they could to help me, but ultimately, I walked away from all of them with absolutely no answers regarding what was really going on inside me.
As a result, I felt truly helpless and broken beyond repair.
After a year or so of numbing myself on heavy medication, I decided to radically shift my healing approach to one that was more natural and gentle on the body. I went from a regular, daily cocktail of three anti-anxiety prescriptions to no drugs at all and threw myself into pursuing a more holistic path.
I started by changing my diet (about one-hundred times over). Raw, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, Blood Type O—you name the eating regimen, and chances are I tried it.
Next, I looked at other core areas of my life like physical fitness/exercise, spiritual practice, relationships and career happiness, and I tried to optimize my life in all of these areas.
I experimented with different activities like yoga and power walking. I practiced meditation, positive affirmations and prayer. The negative relationships in my life, I let go of, and I sought out new friends who both uplifted and inspired me.
Finally, I took major leaps when it came to my career, going back to school to study holistic nutrition and moving to New York City without a job or a place to live in order to follow my deep desire of working in the burgeoning health and wellness industry there.
Over time, I loved the new life I had created for myself as it truly felt good and was an authentic expression of me.
I took personal responsibility for my health and wellbeing and made all of the positive changes I thought possible in order to lead a life that was more consistently calm and comfortable.
However, after years on the holistic path, working to better myself and my life experience, I still felt deeply vulnerable and completely out of control when it came to the bodily symptoms that plagued me daily: severe shaking, spontaneous sweats, muscle tension, queasy stomachs, hot/cold sensations, heart palpitations, etc.
It was at this time—when I genuinely thought I had exhausted all of my options and met the end of the road—that I started to read books and listen to teachers who talked about people that were highly sensitive, empaths and sensitive psychics. For the first time in my life, I came face to face with a complete explanation of who I was and how I experienced the world, one that completely resonated and made sense of my painful and uncomfortable past.
A couple of years ago, there was hardly any information on things like highly sensitive people and empathy, so I considered myself extraordinarily lucky at the time to have stumbled upon this information when I so desperately needed it.
I let these ideas of being highly sensitive and empathic marinate for a few months.
“What if I never actually had anxiety? What if this whole time I’ve been highly sensitive to external energy from other people, environments and outer circumstances and that was what caused my physical pain and discomfort? What if there was nothing ever wrong with me?”
Today, I identify myself as someone who is highly energy sensitive and am 100 percent confident that has been the root cause behind my overwhelming bodily symptoms since I was a young child.
For anyone who currently struggles with “crippling” anxiety, ADD/ADHD, panic disorder or a similar mental health issue, this article is specifically written for you.
I want to clarify that there are most certainly cases of anxiety, ADD/ADHD and panic disorder in the world today.
However, I also want to suggest to those who feel as I did that a mental health diagnosis doesn’t fully describe who you are and how you experience life in your body, you may very well be a highly energy sensitive person, living inside of a body that is extremely responsive to outside energy of all kinds.
If you find this to be the case for you, I want to leave you with the following message that has been the biggest comfort and take away for me throughout this whole journey so far: No matter who you are or what your experience of the world is, there is nothing wrong with you and everything right with you.
As a highly energy sensitive individual, you have an extraordinary gift, one that means you feel the full spectrum of human emotion and sensation inside your body in order to deeply understand, heal and uplift the world around you.
When you discover how to create consistent physical ease in your own body, you can then explode this massive power of yours to help guide humanity forward to higher levels of consciousness, courage and compassion for all.
Author: Hadley Gustin
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: jay_defehr at Flickr