Everything you need, your courage, strength, compassion and love; everything you need is already within you.

3am. It’s dark, cold and oh so quiet. In a house which is so full of life all day long, this silence is deafening. It’s the silence that is my undoing every single evening. When the day is done, and everyone else is tucked up in bed, a living room that has no life in it never fails to send me spiralling into a dizzying panic. Left alone with my thoughts, there’s nothing to keep me upright.

The past day began and ended in panic attacks. They wrapped their tendrils around the hours in between, leaving me feeling frail and vulnerable. This season of heartbreak seems to have left me exposed. It’s ripped the bandages of a hundred old wounds, things I thought were long buried, if not fully healed.

There comes a point when you have to admit that you can’t go on anymore. When your way of coping is making the struggle harder than it is helping. That the panic attacks are a warning light, desperately trying to gain my attention, trying to show me that enough is enough. That what helped for a while, and was manageable, is no threatening to engulf you, to take over and destroy you.

One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that sometimes you have to fall so hard you break wide open. Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can see the truth. So here I am, awake in the twilight hours yet again, pulled from the short sleep I’ve managed by the tightening of another wave of panic. Sat on my sofa, in the lifeless living room, the soft hue of a lamp lighting the room, huddled under a blanket against the cold night air. Trying to make sense of the thoughts swirling around in my head.

The first step in rebuilding is to acknowledge what is wrong. To see that there is a problem, where you’ve been so insistent there was none and that everything was fine just the way it was and that you were still in control. Admitting that the control has gone, and that actually, you know, I don’t want to do this anymore.

Sometimes you have to stop fighting to win the battle. It’s so much harder to fight to keep this crutch alive, for it’s so all-consuming, taking every single breath to feed it, taking every single thought inside my head. The only way forward is to surrender. To give in and let it go.

Knowing that the rest of my life lives on the other side of this fear and anxiety that has become my normal. Let the tears wash away the mistakes of yesterday, for there is no way to turn back the hands of time. All I have is the here and now, the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day, in a few short hours the dawn will come, the house will wake and life will return.

A fresh day to start again. To take a few baby steps forward. To be proud of those, and forgiving of the times I stumble backwards. For even on the way up again, I will fall. Gentle reminders to myself that falling doesn’t make me weak, faltering doesn’t mean I’ve failed. My strength comes from getting back up each time, and trying again tomorrow. In believing that I can, and will, win this fight.

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