Climbing out of quicksand


Drawing representation of anxiety.

Imagine yourself walking in a rainforest. It’s bright; the sun is shining. As you walk, you notice some people and animals around you, each on their own walk, just like you. Then, all of a sudden, you trip and fall into a pit of quicksand. This catches you completely by surprise, because you think the rainforest is beautiful, and it makes no sense that there would be a pit of quicksand somewhere in it. You struggle to get out, but the more you struggle, the deeper you sink into the big glob.  

Anxiety attacks are like falling into a pit of quicksand in a seemingly serene rainforest. Most of the time, I feel totally happy and relaxed, but when I have an anxiety attack, it’s almost as if I’ve fallen into a deep pit I can’t possibly get out of, no matter how much I try.

Last spring, I dealt with numerous severe anxiety attacks, so I decided to take a blood test to see if something was wrong. When I received the results, the doctors told me my stress and anxiety levels were off the charts, and that I needed to make some significant changes to my life.

At the time, I was dedicated to volleyball; I would condition and practice everyday for at least two hours. My life pretty much revolved around volleyball. After my bloodwork, however, I was told that some of the exercise and sports I participated in would need to be cut out, due to it taking a toll on my health. I was devastated, to say the least. Volleyball was my life, and I was so upset to have to cut back on the sport I loved. Not only did I have to cut out time I spent on the court, but I also had to change the food I ate. The doctors told me I had to be gluten free, which basically means I can’t eat anything with wheat in it, including bread, macaroni, cookies and other things I loved.

At first, making the changes was really hard. I started getting less playing time because my coaches weren’t happy that I wasn’t practicing at the level I used to.  I was also getting dizzy and tired out easily because I didn’t have enough carb intake because of my gluten-free diet. I started to get so worried about what I couldn’t do anymore, I felt like I was unintentionally causing myself to have even worse anxiety and stress.

After a while, my anxiety wasn’t getting any better, so I decided to quit volleyball all together. It was a tough decision, but it was all I could think to do. As soon as I quit, I was instantly calmer and happier. Although I missed the sport a lot, I was much more content, and my anxiety levels were much lower than they had ever been.
It’s been a year since I’ve changed how I eat and since I quit volleyball. I can honestly say I’m much happier than I was a year ago. I don’t experience anxiety attacks as often anymore, which has made my life much more simplistic. Although my anxiety attacks come back sometimes, I often find myself walking in the rainforest rather than falling into quicksand.