I used to suffer from an anxiety disorder. The keyword in this sentence though is suffer. You see suffering is a consequence of struggle and I mindfully choose not to struggle with my anxiety disorder.

I still “have” a number of anxiety disorders but I now see them from a different perspective. I no longer fuse with them or let them define me but I see them for what they are – a consequence of behaviour.

There are still days when the struggle is harder than some and I get hooked, and every day poses new challenges for exposure therapy.

The thoughts are quick to try defeat me.. is this because the less attention I pay them the harder they try? Who knows, I think the answer is irrelevant anyway because the only choice is defusion.

Will I ever be “cured”? again the answer is irrelevant because again the only choice is defusion. You see we can’t choose what thoughts or sensations our body experiences but we can always choose how we respond.

Once we begin to realise we are not our thoughts and sensations we can put some space between them and our true selves and see them for what they are – thoughts (words and pictures) and sensations.

We are so quick to define our conceptualised self based on our negative traits we sometimes forget to look at things with a larger perspective. I have always been socially anxious. I’m hopeless at sports. I’m no good at anything. I’ve never liked driving far.

But are these statements true or are they self-fulfilling prophecies designed to keep us stuck forever? I’m sure there have been occasions where we have had a great time at a social event. Once upon a time we may have been okay at some sport. Everyone is good at something – cooking, writing, driving.. no-one can possibly be bad at every single thing.

If we can step back from labels and a diagnosis we can see the only truth – we are human and share many common thoughts and sensations with our fellow human beings.

I’m not saying there won’t be days you don’t get hooked just as I do. But the sooner we can stop living under the shadow of a diagnosis or a label the more we can experience a rich and meaningful life.

There are days it will be easy and days it will be hard but how do you want to live your life?

For every step we take out from the shadow is an opportunity to experience all the wonders of the world without a our hands obscuring the experiences that await us.