I have been living in a coma. Not the clinical type, but a heavy emotional miasma. Over the past few years, messages have been pouring through from partners, friends and family. However, I wasn’t registering them. They weren’t cohesive enough for me. Like the character in the TV series “Life On Mars”, the messages were a series of static jumble that I was unable to decode.

It is only after a complete psychological, physical and emotional collapse that I now have more clarity. What is so frightening about this state is that you are frozen by uncertainty and indecision, not knowing which way to turn, what decisions to make, if able to make a decision at all. You are not certain of who or what to believe.

I have always battled with high anxiety. I dealt with this through alcohol and drugs in varying degrees. Self-help courses, events, books, audiotapes, counseling, friends, never seemed to ease the distress. Low self-esteem mixed with a series of negative events, catapulted me into this self-induced “coma”. It was as if my mind had shut down. Eventually, so did my sanity. The rest is as clichéd as one could imagine: anxiety attacks fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol, finally leading to intervention by the various authorities. Not a world I would recommend. Death seemed imminent – one way or another.

As a result of these events I received support through the hospital’s outreach system, from a team of professionals, each one providing a different skill-set. Without these amazing people, the chances of moving forward were limited, at best.

It was through this process that I started to finally grasp the notion of just how damaging our negative beliefs are to us. These beliefs linger from distressing childhood experiences which we then carry into our adulthood. These beliefs are so strong that they hinder personal and professional growth, employment options, wealth, health and wellbeing and, of course, destroy important relationships. Oh boy, can they do that!

Part of coming out of my “coma”, has meant facing myself head-on. There is nowhere to run. It means taking responsibility to be in charge of my own problems, whether I created them or not. I read a great quote recently: “Once you have accepted your flaws, no one else can use them against you”. My flaws were born of insecurities and fear and hurt. But they ran my show. I was no longer “driving my own car”.

However, once I recognized that if you change your negative beliefs your actions will change and this in turn changes the outcome, I was finally starting to decode the static messages.

This behavior change has major ramifications on how you live your life and the level of contentment you experience throughout your life. If you are in a disheartened state, you can change your thoughts. But it’s not easy. Not at all. I am still in the infancy of this process. It takes constant practice and perseverance, but I am making progress and I am learning to “choose” to not remain in a negative state. There are countless ways of achieving this, but each person has to find their own way. No one-size-fits-all. There are many resources out there to assist and guide.

I can now feel myself getting back in the driver’s seat. I need to re-program my mind. I need to let me feel good about me and control the anxiety and destructive thoughts that have plagued me throughout such a long period of my life.

I call my negative thoughts “my shadowy travelers”. They are never far away, awaiting their chance to pounce. They lurk, ever menacing, but I am the one armed with the tools to control them. I trust that, eventually, they will get bored and leave because they are no longer getting any action! That is when I will know that I have control in the driver’s seat. I may even go onto auto-cruise for a while and finally take a holiday within the borders of a contented mind.

Static clearing. Clearer reception coming through.

Barry Cail