In 1989, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For a year, I slept 20-22 hours per day, and very gradually, through a lot of simultaneous self-care and pushing myself, went into remission--mostly. But even now, 26 years later, I have to be very careful.
A few years later, I got an additional diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My fatigue and anxiety, when combined, can cause me to literally panic when I get too tired. I worry about relapse; I worry about collapse. And that can be a vicious circle.
I noticed both my anxiety and my fatigue rising in my first Bikram class about a month ago. I was hot; I was pushing myself to my limits. I didn't know if I'd be able to make it through that class, but I decided that I only had two goals: to keep breathing and to stay in the room. I managed both.
Over the following weeks, as I got more comfortable with the class routine and expectations, my anxiety didn't trigger as much. I gave myself permission to sit out a set of a posture if I got light-headed. (This often happens to me in Camel or in Triangle; I think it has to do with my low blood pressure.)
And then I figured out something new. If I stayed in Camel and kept breathing, the light-headedness would subside. I didn't pass out or throw up. I just noticed the light-headedness and breathed through it.
It worked in Triangle, too. Lunging to the side, my arms stretching away from each other as hard as possible, I was uncomfortable. I felt dizzy. I noticed it and kept breathing. I made it through.
Sometimes noticing means taking action, but sometimes it just means...noticing. Detaching a bit and observing. Playing with the edge, as Brook likes to say. I'm getting better at noticing with a calm mind, dismissing my anxiety and telling it to come back later. This is a very good thing, and I look forward to applying it to other areas where my anxiety can paralyze me.