My mind has been my closest friend for many years. I have managed to reason away many ills and traumas; my mental will and strength have won me many battles. This same hard-earned confidence is what made it all the more difficult to come to terms with my mind being unable to save itself. As my doctor put it, “You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to suck it up and produce more insulin, so why do you expect different with matters of the brain?”

The picture above contains the words of step 1 of 12 from Alcoholics Anonymous. The first step involves more than just admitting that there is a problem. It means breaking through the denial that has kept the person locked in their misery. I’ve experienced this manner of denial outside the bounds of addiction. I’ve experienced this level of denial while attempting to be stronger than a plight that has rocked me for more than 2 years — Anxiety.

When you are exposed to sustained high levels of cortisol your body begins to fall apart. The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting, as we are designed to experience stress hormones in short bursts. Sustained high levels of stress lead you down the path of heart disease, anxiety & depression and memory and concentration impairment, trapping you in a never-ending cycle. You can combat all of this with exercise, meditation & gratitude most of the time, but if you’ve been in this cycle for long enough your body chemistry can change drastically, making it all seem pointless — making you feel helpless. This is where I was at the beginning of September. After gradually gaining 25KG regardless of diet and exercise and reaching a point where I couldn’t focus for more than an hour each day and experienced routine panic attacks, I felt the most alone and defeated in my life.

It took a string of bad luck — having to visit the chiropractor for 3rd time in 9 months, and needing stronger muscle relaxants — to have a chance encounter with my Doctor where I heard a piece of advice that started me on the path to acceptance, “It sounds like you’re doing everything right, but it's not wholistic care if you avoid modern medicine.”

My addiction is to control. Control over myself and my environment. I’ve learned and accepted this, and now I’ve begun the task of ridding myself of its prison — the inability to accept help. Today is my 12th day on anxiety medicine; I haven’t felt more like myself in years. I’m learning once more that life need not be an uphill climb, at least not one where you must carry extra weight.

Whatever you might be holding on to, whatever might be holding you down, let it go. Accept that you can be without it. Accept that it doesn’t define you.