One day eight years ago, three days before my 36th birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The moment I got the diagnosis, I couldn't help but say, "I'm so unlucky!"
I rode home from the hospital on my electric bike for more than 40 minutes, and my tears kept flowing down like a flood, and I couldn't stop them. I never like to cry, but I released all my complaints, grievances, and sadness at once.
After that, I went through surgery and chemotherapy six times. I didn't shed a single tear as I went through the complicated steps. After chemotherapy, my body became so weak that I had to stop and rest when I was out of breath, even after walking ten steps. When I did some exercise, I would sweat profusely.
In the following six months, I took western medicine as prescribed by the doctor, carried out endocrine therapy, and strengthened my diet. I also insisted on taking herbal soup every day, and my weak body gradually improved.
Although my body improved, and my physique gradually strengthened. However, chemotherapy and endocrine treatment caused me to lose my menstrual cycle and develop menopausal symptoms. At this time, anxiety came back to haunt me, and I could not get rid of it.
I was in a state of struggling with negative emotions all day long, and I was physically and mentally exhausted. I consulted many psychology books and learned that not only did I have anxiety, but I also suffered from an anxiety disorder.
Unlike normal anxiety, anxiety disorders exhibit more significant anxiety, last longer, and are even accompanied by panic attacks. Anxiety may persist for months after the stressful conditions caused by anxiety disorders that have disappeared. Anxiety disorders may even lead to phobias that can interfere with everyday life.
My type of anxiety disorder is a specific phobia, an intense fear of a particular thing or situation. I think I have an intense fear of "death." Because I feel so close to death, I imagine losing my life if I am not careful.
One of my most memorable anxiety attacks was the day after chemotherapy was over.
That day, it was raining outside, and I was getting restless. I was reading a book in which an expert talked about the warning signs of cancer, and that sign was a hard, palpable knot on the skin. I suddenly remembered that I also had a hard knot under the skin of my right upper arm. I got nervous, and my anxiety intensified and expanded.
When I went to bed at night, I tossed and turned and couldn't sleep. The fear and anxiety ran out again, and my mind kept associating warning signs of cancer. I couldn't stop thinking about these things either.
There were multiple unexplained aches and pains throughout my body. My body kept shaking. Cold sweat flowed constantly. By midnight, I was still awake. I couldn't stand it, so I got dressed and got up, went to the living room, and planned to stay up all night.
I put on my headphones, listened to music, and trotted back and forth in the living room. Until 2 a.m., my legs couldn't move, and my eyes couldn't open, so I crawled into bed in a daze and slept until dawn.
I was often tormented by fear, nervousness, anxiety, and other negative emotions during that time. But the desire to live was so strong that I desperately wanted to live.
"I want to live." At this moment, I had a firm voice inside me saying this to myself. It is not easy to live and to live well. But there was an unnamed force inside me that guided me to seek change and to save myself.
I went to the library with a hunger to check out books on psychology, anxiety relief, and other topics. I followed the books and learned many methods and strategies to relieve negative emotions and apply them in my life. If it worked for me, I continued to use it. If it doesn't work or is useless, give up decisively.
The book says that one of the most effective ways to relieve anxiety is aerobic exercise. I choose my favorite aerobic exercise and can stick to it, which is walking. I did what the book tells me to do, and I kept exercising every day for more than an hour, with a heart rate of 140 beats per minute.
In addition, I signed up for a yoga class. I started practicing with easy-to-learn movements, allowing my body to relax and slowly experience a moment of inner peace. After exercising gradually for a while, I increased my endurance. I relieved the symptoms of fear and anxiety, which significantly reduced the frequency of negative emotions.
Many people's anxiety stems from fear, and so do I. We all have only two kinds of fears: fear of death and fear of not being loved. And the only way to solve it is to face up to the fear.
After a year of recovery, I firmly dismissed the idea of going through a medical retirement. I chose to go back to my original workplace.
Before I started working, I developed a recovery plan. It covered all aspects of diet, exercise, medical checkups, herbal regimen, endocrine therapy, Mindfulness, stress reduction, and emotional regulation. After following the plan strictly for eight years, my body became stronger and stronger, and my heart became more peaceful.
In 2017, I met Mindfulness. I systematically studied the classic course on mindfulness meditation. I practice it consistently for 10 minutes every day and learn how to use it. When there are strong negative emotions such as fear and anxiety, I create some opportunities to be alone and use Mindfulness to soothe the inner turmoil and hurt.
I practice Mindfulness consistently and apply it to my daily life. Whenever and wherever I am, I will pause for a moment to let my mind settle in the present moment and feel the beauty of life.
I will stop and observe the form and color of the purple violet flowers on the roadside. When I smell the scent of osmanthus, I will close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and smell the sweet fragrance of the flowers through my nose. When I wait for the bus, and the road sweeper drives past me, I will observe how it works and how it sucks the leaves and confetti into its "stomach."
Mindfulness has made me calmer. It has made me more willing to try new ideas and new ways of living. I try to let go of judgments, accept myself, allow myself to be imperfect, and allow everything to happen.
I tried to turn my hurt into a gift, accept all the good and bad parts, and let the bad parts heal me. I try to stop looking outward for security and focus on my inner self, allowing the power to return and connect with my true self.
I have found my inner self, and I am becoming more comfortable, happy, and strong. And I have the energy to embrace anxiety and face death.
While doing my job diligently, I also colorfully arrange my spare time. I joined a study group that meets once every half month. I study psychology with like-minded friends and make progress together.
I also joined a psychodrama growth group, where we all use artistic expression together to leave behind overly rational thinking. At the same time, we talk about what support we need and what support we can give to others in the play.
I have also built a community and made a group of good friends. I read psychological books aloud once a week to people and get their support. The process of self-help was full of hardships and difficulties. But while death forced me out of my anxiety disorder, it also made me stronger inside.