Meditation – isn’t that rather something for spiritualists or Buddhist monks? No! Because meditation can be learned by anyone and is also suitable for beginners. Regular meditation has proven to be extraordinarily successful, especially for mental illnesses.
Learn in the following experience report Meditation against Anxiety and Depression from Manuel, how he could learn the meditation and how he could defeat his anxiety disorder including panic attacks and his depressions, which occurred as a result of a burnout.
Afterwards we have summarized the most important questions about meditation (learning) for you. So it is worthwhile for you to read on.
How Manuel defeated his fears and depressions thanks to meditation.
Who I am
Hello, my name is Manuel. In my experience report I would like to tell you how meditation helped me to overcome my fears, panic attacks and depression after a long time of suffering.
Me and meditation – that was not love at first sight. In the beginning I often stood in my way, but even more my wrong ideas about meditation. I would also like to tell you about such hurdles (and how I could overcome them).
I have always been very ambitious and perfectionist – even as a small child – by nature. That this is not always advantageous, I had to learn later – in the most painful way.
I used to be good at sports and had no problems at school and even later in my studies. My good degree also made it easy for me to get a well-paid job. But good pay didn’t mean that the job did me any good. After three stressful years (mainly due to the stress I had put on myself by making excessive demands on myself) I ended up in burnout.
My burnout with depression, anxiety and panic attacks
I always thought burnout wasn’t so bad. You have “a little overworked”, take a few weeks or at most 2-3 months break and then you can go on. Maybe there are actually these easier forms of burnout, but with me it was different. My burnout was accompanied by severe to moderate depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
In my depressive phase nothing worked at all anymore, I had no desire to do anything. It was even so bad that I didn’t want to get up anymore. For weeks I lay almost only in bed, darkened, shutters down and wanted to know nothing more about the world and other people (including friends and family). I had no more appetite, I neglected myself, my body and my apartment. At that time I was more a zombie than a human being.
What the standard therapy brought me
This was followed by several weeks in the psychiatric department, where I was given psychotropic drugs (sedative diazepam). Unfortunately there was also no way around antidepressants. (Herbal mood enhancers, such as St. John’s wort, had unfortunately not been strong enough at that time.) However, it took months until an antidepressant was found, which I tolerated and which also showed effect and could at least alleviate my depression.
My anxiety and panic attacks after the burnout proved to be much more difficult to treat. Panic attacks are really terrible. You get scared to death, your pulse races and you feel like you can’t breathe. Your knees, your legs and sometimes your whole body starts to tremble. If you’re unlucky, it takes up to half an hour, which seems like an eternity to you.
Against the panic attacks I was prescribed Tavor (a drug against anxiety), which is a relatively effective anxiety-relieving sedative, which unfortunately has the disadvantage of becoming addictive if taken over a longer period of time. So this was not a long-term solution either, especially as the causes of panic attacks are not addressed in any way.
My first encounter with meditation – and why it didn’t work out yet
I was advised by a doctor, Dr. Kersten, to take a course in mindfulness training (including mindfulness meditation), an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course, which I had been treated specifically for my exhaustion. This was definitely a step in the right direction. I was motivated and attended the course regularly. Everything went well in the course and I was able to do the different exercises (body scan, sitting meditation) etc. very well. I have to say that at this time – especially due to the medication and partly also due to psychotherapy – I had been somewhat stabilised in the meantime. In my bad early days, meditation would have been unthinkable.
My problem was: I could not do the exercises at home. Something had stopped me, something had blocked me, maybe it was my subconscious that was resisting. But I didn’t know what it was then. Today I know that the mindfulness meditation had simply not been the right or suitable one for me. Because meditation is not the same as meditation, even though there are of course many similarities between different types of meditation.
In addition, I had the wrong ideas and expectations about myself and meditation mentioned above. I had thought, I absolutely had to achieve a thought-free and relaxed state during meditation, which (in retrospect) was complete nonsense.
And so I had finished the mindfulness course, but without a regular daily practice. Of course this was a pity, because in the course with guidance by the teacher and the other practitioners, the meditation and mindfulness exercises had strangely done me good, I had felt comfortable in the context of the course and with the other course participants.
At home I hadn’t been able to do that, but I wasn’t aware that it wasn’t bad at all. But that’s the difference: it’s very important that you discover meditation on your own and don’t need any guidance or motivation from others.
I probably don’t need to mention that after the end of the course meditation didn’t play a role in my life anymore. So I went further into therapy, took my medications well-behaved; it went reasonably well, but there was no real improvement.