Tracing my journey with anxiety

10 November 2022
Gaurav Mahajan Written by Gaurav Mahajan
Gaurav Mahajan

Gaurav Mahajan

Gaurav is a fitness junkie, word weaver and copywriter, and a meditation practitioner.

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It all started in 2019. As a writer desperate to expand my horizons and trying to find validation beyond the confines of my office, I began to take freelancing seriously. And it paid well too. My posts were repeatedly trending on LinkedIn. People I had always admired on that platform started to notice me; they even created a group alongside me. I was at an all-time high. And once I obtained my Content Marketing certification, I finally got the attention of the Goose, the ultimate writer I wanted to work with. 

For the test, he gave me a task to write 900 words about a topic. He asked me for an outline, and I delivered it in 5 minutes. He pointed out my mistakes, and I wasn’t worried; I was learning something new. He then gave me some time to submit my write-up. 

Little did I know that the waiting would start to unravel me. 

The waiting that led to the un-revelation

One week passed. There was no answer. Feeling uneasy, I reached out to my LinkedIn peers. They suggested that I take a deep breath and listen to a Guru’s musings. And so, I did. She talked about how the mind should be in your control, and your mind reacts to the situations that make it bad, not you. All I had to do was dissociate myself and be normal. 

Inspired by this lecture, I started to visualize. 

But it didn’t help. I’ve never been able to stick to a schedule for long, and it started to show. Two weeks passed; I wasn’t getting any answer. I was getting more desperate. It was as if someone was twisting the skin around my ears. I wasn’t in pain, but it was getting uncomfortable. 

That’s when the ringing began. 

And I chalked it up to the 12-hours I spent hooked to my headphones. 

My father said it was meant to be, son, lamenting how many times he had told me not to use those earphones. 

But something was weird. It wasn’t just the ear ringing. It was the neck, too, that started to get tight. My nights were not relaxed; I spent most nights compressing my palms at the back of my head to decompress and relax. 

But it was not helping. And the ringing started to get worse. 

It was then I got the message from the Goose – the writer I had admired for so long – that I didn’t get the project. 

The ringing got worse.

Finding solace in the noise

As my sleep got worse, so did my mood. The ringing never stopped. But then I found something. The noisy traffic suppressed it. And that’s when I fell in love with not staying in the office anymore. 

Every day, I went to work, hoping that my auto would take its time reaching home. The bustle of the moving cars made me forget about everything. “Sound overlapping,” I was told. It allowed my mind to focus on the outside rather than aggravating the high-pitched sound my ears were constantly making. I was happy, not realizing the lousy imprint my search for solace had on my write-ups. 

In the office, I doubted every word that I wrote. “You can’t explain something in shorter sentences.” – was the feedback that ranged in my head all day. Whenever I typed one sentence, I removed it instantly. The inner rhythmic style of my writing, which I’ve always been proud of, was missing. 

And my content was continuously missing the point. It’s as if I could see my inner doubts materialize on the screen. 

But that was not the worst of it. 

Realizing the underlying cause of ringing

After suffering from the perpetual high-pitched sound for a month, my father and I went to an ear specialist. “Tinnitus” was my hope. There was “Hope” because if it was tinnitus, it could be managed with medication – as per the limited knowledge I could get from the internet. 

But it was not the case. After an audiogram test and a close examination of my waxy ears – oh yeah, they were dirty – the doctor surmised that there was nothing physically wrong with me. 

And that’s when I realized that my anxiety had taken hold of me. 

But I wouldn’t do anything about it until the beginning of 2020.

Using working out as a way to quiet the overthinking

Gaurav Mahajan

Finally, 2020 came. Being a fat kid my whole life, I wanted to do something to turn everything around. So, in February 2020, I gave myself over to the gym gods. I started grinding; the pain was enormous. I never felt good during the initial sessions of sweat and dry heaving. 

However, there was an upside. As I went into my office, sat in front of my PC, and caressed my aching arms, I couldn’t overthink anymore. I was in too much pain to focus on overthinking. 

And my writing drastically improved. I was back in my groove again, writing as much as I wanted. My write-ups became precise. I was paying close attention to others to not think about the pain, and it was all well.

Then, the lockdown happened.

The return of the ringing

After the gym got closed down, I got closed off too. Although I tried to indulge myself with home workouts, neighbors started to complain. That’s when I began to push myself more into work. I only wanted to write and write better. But then the ringing came back.

And this time, it was not alone. 

The entire team was there. From self-doubt to self-loathing to all the insecurities working out helped me quell came back. It got so bad that when I suffered a bout of writer’s block, I started to cry. It’s as if writing validated my existence (which it still does).

I plunged myself into gaming – just to feel good.

And then the world unlocked. Gyms opened up again. I then remembered the pain that stopped me from overthinking. I was planning to utilize my obsession to lose a lot of weight.

Weight loss reduced my anxiety

Within the first 2 months, I shredded around 10 kg. My rest periods shortened (they became close to nothing), and within the next 6 months, I removed 35 kg more.

I had transformed myself from a bubbly person ridden with anxiety to a muscular individual who still thought I was too fat. 

Yes, body dysmorphia set in.  

And the ringing was suppressed. However, the overthinking aggravated. I realized that my writing had stagnated in pursuit of a better physique. No one was giving feedback on my write-ups. During that time, I got a couple of freelance writing gigs, and I got good reviews, but I was not helped. 

I wasn’t feeling much pain anymore. However, it resulted in my spending way too many hours in the gym. It was one place I felt better. But it was not good for my career. I was not focusing in the office, and repeatedly writing the same content made life miserable, further adding to my anxiety. That’s when I found the Gita and started focusing on the positives. 

Using the Bhagavad Gita to dissociate

I added the Bhagawad Gita to my Spotify playlist. It talked about dissociation. Having always been a spiritual person, this time, I listened. It told me not to think way too deeply about work. I took that approach with my LinkedIn profile and restructured it to attract freelance clients. Because I wanted to write but didn’t want to do so in my office again. 

And then, I got my first blockchain write-up requirement. Having never written anything about the crypto space before, I decided to give it a shot. I researched a bit and weaved all the words. I finally got a reply and then a message about another write-up. 

I was finally getting paid to write for a space I had never written for before. And soon, the write-ups started to diversify, and I delivered on all of them. I started making more money than I did at the office. 

Soon, the people I’ve been freelancing for gave me a full-time position. Nothing was changing, and I could still write and get paid accordingly. 

So, I did something I had longed to do for a while. I resigned from the office I’d been working for nearly 4 years and accepted a new journey. 

But the head was still tight, and the newfound reality started to dawn on me. But this time, I was ready to accept my situation.

Talking to a therapist

Despite the changes in my life, I realized I couldn’t just ignore the random bouts of anxiety I continued to have. I had to find a way to control them. Thankfully, remote therapy was a thing, and right after giving my resignation, I started taking therapy. 

It opened up all the wounds I have felt. But I didn’t stop. I am a talker; I always have something to say. So I talked about everything from my conscious doubts about my words now and then to my desire to become a better writer. 

That’s when I was given the talk about meditation and journaling. 

Meditation and journaling

I’ve never been able to sit still. However, this time, I decided to give in and listen to what my therapist had to say. Here is what I did:

  1. Meditating right after waking: I had never had a morning ritual other than downing 1 liter of water to freshen myself and prepare for the workouts. This time, I started meditating. I put on my earphones and chose a meditative session to align myself for the day. My mind still found it hard to stay still at the start, and there were distractions. But I found a way to focus on breathing to calm myself down.
  2. Sleep meditation right before bed: I had never applied sleep hygiene to my life. Always on my PC, either gaming or cooking up new ideas to write, I had always gone to bed with the after-effects of the blue screen deeply seared into me. However, sleep meditation saved me. It allowed me to let go of all the day’s stress (at least I tried to). I started going to bed a bit better and getting better sleep. 
  3. Journaling: Journaling was one thing that started to get me results. Every day, I decided to write down my aspirations. I listed them in a diary and started to read them aloud every day. It contained my aspirations, problem statements & solutions, and the things I am thankful for. 

All these have continued to help me. 

However, the struggle is ongoing because of a lack of consistency.

My struggles continue…

It is not every day that I get to enter words in my journal, and it is not every day that I get to realign my mind. It sometimes wonders. However, now and then, I give myself time to collect myself and start to focus. And then I feel good. 

Gaurav Mahajan's journey with anxiety

The ringing sometimes comes back, and sometimes, the doubts take over. But I persevere; I have the tools to move forward for now.

Dealing with anxiety is a journey. You’ll stumble, and at times, you’ll fall. But in the end, you’re going to get there. I know this because I am near it.

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