Driving back to the UK from Germany alone aged 19, back in 1997, fraught with anxiety and panic, too scared to turn back and too scared to continue, I had a moment of clarity whilst sitting having a panic attack in a Belgian rest place at the side of the Autobahn.
There I was, racing heart, sweating, shaking, dizzy and feeling weak, when a small child walked past me with her Mum, looked at me and said, in her sweet German voice, "That man looks sad, Mama!"
I smiled at her and went to say "Es geht mir gut!" (I am fine), but her Mum yanked her away as if she had seen some sweating, shaking, pale murderous maniac!
It made me think. How many people look at me and think I am sad, ill or worse? Then I realized that my anxiety, which was high but not extreme, had increased. I noticed that panic had started to rear its ugly head and take me over physically.
When I got home, it was Christmas and on Christmas day we went to my Aunt's house. I had not wanted to go, firstly because my uncle is a seriously uncompassionate idiot and secondly because I felt so desperately anxious... but I went.
Met at the door by 'Uncle Idiot' as I arrived with my parents, he said "God, you look ill!" or words to that effect. Having been walking a knife edge for most of the morning, in two minds whether to go at all and having summoned up the courage to go, this moron deflated me and sent me into blind panic with a short sentence.
I left and spent Christmas day alone.
Sitting at my parent's house, ruminating over what had happened, I remembered what had happened two days before in Belgium and I realised just how powerful other people's comments can be... but why?
The power of suggestion is incredible, in its mildest form it can cause panic attacks in its most extreme form, it can cause much more powerful control over our bodies and minds.But then I got thinking... if other people can negatively influence my body and mind with suggestion... my own control over what I do could produce incredible changes! Now, nearly 20 years later, I am all too aware at just how powerful our actions can be in anxiety conditions.Back then on Christmas Day and on that Belgian motorway, those wandering thoughts were the seed of a notion that fuelled me to do what I do today... how grateful am I now to that little German girl? I am more grateful, than I can say.
Wherever you are (you are probably married with your own children by now)...
Danke für, was Sie diesen Tag auf der Autobahn sagten
Director - Linden Tree Education