Honey

On falling leaves and letting go

Each week the Honey newsletter includes a column from women and LGBTQ folks in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write. We’re always looking for more stories from you. Click here to learn more about how to get published.

By LaTasha Toney

One of my favorite things about autumn is watching leaves fall from trees. It is as if the leaves know that it is time for a change. The leaves suddenly fall off the trees and fall slowly to the ground. It is an interesting sight to see.

Most trees in the Northern Hemisphere have leaves to fall off during the autumn season. The changes in the temperatures and reduction in the length of days signal to the leaves that it’s time to let go. There is an inward process within the leaves that leads to a visual change that we see.

Fall time is a great opportunity to do some introspection and make some changes. Change is something that is not always easy for me.

The falling leaves of autumn have taken on a new meaning for me because last fall I experienced my first panic attack.

I had a panic attack because I do not like conflict. I allowed some things that were bothering me to build up on the inside. And when I was faced with a situation that caught me off guard, I went into a panic mode. I felt like I was physically trapped in a room and had to get out.

According to John Hopkins Institute, if you have repeated and unexpected panic attacks, you have a panic disorder. My experience was a one-time situation. I do not have a panic disorder, but I am an individual who lives with anxiety which when uncontrolled, can lead to moments of panic attacks. My one experience with a panic attack taught me that I did not want to experience that ever again.

My moment of panic was a time for me to reflect on what needed to fall off in my own life and make room for some new things to grow. Some leaves that had to fall off my own life tree were fear of conflict, self-neglect, bitterness and lack of appreciation. In place of these leaves, I had to make room for some new things to grow. I am learning to make room to speak up for myself, cherish myself more, hold on to what brings my joy and practice gratitude.

One reason that I held things in was because I wanted to avoid conflict with people. Instead of holding things in, when I have an issue, I have learned to be direct with people and not post something on social media thinking that they’d get the hint or use sarcasm in an attempt to express my pain indirectly. I have learned to be assertive with others. I had to get a therapist to help me with this and still work with one now. I highly recommend therapy. Psychology Today is a great place to go to locate a therapist.

Another thing that my panic has taught me is to take care of my needs. This involves me doing things for myself and allowing others to help me too. I want to fix myself breakfast instead of drinking a cup of coffee and running out the door. I also want to allow others to support me as well.

Lastly, I am reminded to hold on to what gives me joy. When my life feels out of balance, I find myself backing away from things that have been working because I want to be perfect. I plan to engage more with my morning motivational group, spend time in nature, make time for those who are important to me and even holding babies - that brings me joy.

Where there is joy, gratitude is not too far behind. I want to take time to reflect on the people in my life and let them know how much I appreciate them. As I look over my life, it’s pretty good, and I want to capture more of this with my writing and my words. So, I’ll be journaling.

While experiencing that panic attack was very difficult, there was another side to the panic. I am grateful for the lessons that I have learned, improvements that I’ve made and look forward to experiencing even more.

And now when I see the leaves falling from the trees, I am reminded of the beauty of letting go and the importance of being willing to make room for a new approach. If you have found yourself experiencing panic attacks, know that your leaves of panic can fall off too.

LaTasha Toney is a blogger and podcaster. You can check out her blog at www.itstashascorner.com where you can also access her recent podcast episodes. She writes and talks about faith, mental health and personal development.

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