“I am starting to love my life the way it is” – Dominika’s story


Dominika reflects on her journey with anxiety disorder and stress-induced health issues. She notes that Rethink Mental Illness’ Advice and Information Service and a talking therapy gave her the tools to appreciate life more.

I’m in my late 20s and have been suffering from generalised anxiety disorder for the last eight years. I had anxious episodes when I was younger, but only started seeing how disruptive it was when I started university at 18 years old in the UK. I was born in Poland and chose to study abroad to learn English.

I wish I had someone like me at university, to tell me what to do when I got stressed and tense. Looking back on it, I needed healthy stress coping strategies, like learning how to release stored emotions instead of suppressing them. I could have asked for help earlier.

I was working part-time whilst studying, and wasn’t giving myself any breaks. Meditation or yoga wasn’t working for me either. At some point, my body had had enough, and I started experiencing psychosomatic disorder and health issues from stress.

I experienced heart palpitations, vertigo and strong physical reactions, such as nausea and like the world was spinning. I wasn’t socialising or going out often when other students were enjoying themselves, as I didn’t want to feel bad physically. However, I pushed through university as hard as I could. I felt like I couldn’t fail university and graduated three years later.

  • What helped me with my anxiety was to simply accept how I feel.

When I was learning about my anxiety, I read a lot of books and online resources, one of them being the factsheet about anxiety on the Rethink website. I found this to be so informative, reassuring, and full of practical tips and knowledge. As internet is full of misinformation, it is important to get help from reliable sources of information like this one, so I highly recommend reading it.

After years of researching, what helped me with my anxiety was to simply accept how I feel. I was trying my best to push negative feelings away, remove my thoughts, distract myself. I tried everything to change every single negative internal voice into positive affirmation, but it wasn’t working for me. I felt too overwhelmed after pushing them away.

I found emotional freedom technique therapy (EFT) particularly helpful. EFT combines talking therapy and somatic practice; tapping meridian points on your body whilst talking about how you feel and how you want to feel. It is a blend of accepting and acknowledging your emotions with words of affirmations.

  • These challenging situations are lessons that you have an opportunity to learn from.

After years of physical and mental health problems, I decided to help others and became a psychologist and hypnotherapist myself. I have the urge to shout about the power of the mind; how people can regulate their own nervous system by themselves for free, whilst waiting for a referral or professional help. It is important to get help and support yourself when you feel like you need to. There is no shame in asking for help, so please if you feel your mood or mental state is becoming disruptive.

I accept anxiety as a part of my life now. Anxiety is there to keep me alive - it is a natural reaction of the body to a threat. It is okay to feel anything you feel. When I accepted myself for the way I was, I reduced these negative emotions. It was almost as if they wanted to be seen and acknowledged, before going away on their own.

I am starting to love my life the way it is, with all its challenges and ups and downs. I had the tendency to only appreciate the good times, waiting for them and feeling sad when nothing good was happening.

But the truth is, good is happening always. In big and small things: the fact that you have a device to read this on, that you had food today, have clothes on your body, that you saw beautiful sunshine today. All of this is worth appreciating. These challenging situations are lessons that you have an opportunity to learn from. It’ll help you to get stronger and appreciate the good times so much more.

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