I’ll never forget – it was late 2007 and I was sitting in a meeting at my very corporate America job. The meeting was with our Human Resources department to go over our benefits, health insurance, 401k plans, etc. It was afternoon and I had just come from lunch.
As I was sitting in the meeting, she was talking about hospital visits and all of a sudden I started to see myself in the hospital because of my cocaine use as if it were scenes from the movie of my life flashing before me. It was a vivid look at what I thought could be my future if I didn’t slow down.
I had been partying pretty heavily then and I knew deep down that all of the drugs and booze couldn’t be good for me. But I couldn’t stop myself from falling further down the Alice-In-Wonderland rabbit hole I was trapped inside. It seemed like cocaine benders and massive amounts of coffee patron and redbull vodka was the only way to get through the devastating demise of a four-year relationship that I had been faced with earlier that year.
I began worrying about what my parents would think if they ever knew how much I was using or what a loser I felt like I had become. What would happen if everyone found out that I was selfishly sneaking around with bags cocaine in my bra all the time?
The crazies in my mind had created an all out warzone in my head and I went into a full-blown panic right there in the meeting.
It first started out with my heartbeat as I noticed it started to race as if I had just done a massive line of super high grade coke. Next, my right arm started tingling like I had just woken up from a deep sleep where it had been underneath me and was starting to go numb from lack of circulation.
The lights started to bother my eyes and my breathing got really shallow. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew something was wrong.
Thoughts entered my mind that maybe I was having a heart attack or a stroke – or could it be that, maybe, I was dying?
I couldn’t catch my breath fast enough and the pit of my stomach felt like I was on a never-ending roller coaster drop.
I remember thinking, “Oh my God, I have to get out of this conference room. My life is ending. This is it.”
The following pieces of that afternoon are a bit blurry to me, but I remember leaving the meeting in a fiery rush to get back to my office. I tried to make it go away, but all of the feelings and sensations I just described only got worse.
I humbly and frantically went into my boss’ office and told her I needed to get to the doctor immediately. That something was terrifyingly wrong. She could see the panic on my pale face. It looked like I had seen a ghost. And in a way, I had.
She grabbed her keys and took me to the nearest emergency walk-in. I explained all my symptoms and they took me back for testing, screening and blood work. They thought maybe my thyroid was out of balance.
I started to calm down knowing that at least I wasn’t going to die anymore. The test results came back and it was concluded that I had suffered from a severe panic attack.
That day I was diagnosed with Anxiety/Panic Disorder.
Little did I know – this would be the first of many of these attacks. Each time it would happen, it would traumatize me and make me feel like my world was crumbling down. I took medicine for it as needed, but no matter how quickly it worked, there were always those moments where I had to be a stand for myself.
I would have to remind myself that it wouldn’t last forever. This pain and anxiety – it would pass.
But the most important thing I always went to was my breath. I would tell myself, “Just breathe Carly.” As I would inhale like I was taking my last breath and exhale like it would push all the evil out me, little by little calmness would come over me.
I’ve always known how important breathing is, but we tend to take it for granted. It’s just this automatic process that happens behind the scenes, but yet it is literally the thing that keeps us alive.
Once I was hit with anxiety and panic disorder, coming back to my breath was really one of my only saving graces. I then started learning about it when my yoga journey began and I realized that the only way I could get through a challenging class was to concentrate on breathing.
Breath became a metaphor for life. “You can breath your way through anything,” I would tell myself.
I became fascinated with breathwork even more so after taking a workshop about using pranayama breathing for meditation this past year. Then I went to a Tony Robbins even where Wim Hof, the Iceman who is known for over 26 World Records for crazy feats and maintaining his body temperature through them, taught us that our breath literally has the ability to fight disease if we learn how to use it correctly.
It was clear to me that breath has been an anthem throughout my adult life and was sometimes the only thing I felt like I had to hold on to. Which is why I’ve teamed up with a Breathwork Master to bring it to you.
If you struggle with anxiety, depression, low energy or are living in recovery from alcohol or drugs like I am, learning how to use your breath to calm your mind, manage emotions and alleviate stress is such an essential tool to have in your back pocket. It has been life changing for me.
I’m doing a one-day workshop in Santa Monica, CA on January 21st with my dear friend, Jesse Gros, a Breathwork Teacher, Life Coach and Author of Your Wild and Precious Life.
I invite you to join us for a transformative day of breathing, meditation and sacred connection in a very intimate setting. Come learn how to Calm Your Inner Crazy using your breath – a resource that readily available to you. Find all the details HERE.
When you own your breath, nothing can steal your peace.