RESET: Anxiety Attacks and an Intermittent Fast

A voice deep inside of me has been screaming, she is DONE with what has been. Old dialogues about what and whom have wronged me, of how I have wronged others and made mistakes and held myself to shame that belongs buried– no more pain! I want a reset button, I want to begin again!

And one day I took this feeling to my body and I decided to start fasting. What better way to begin again than emptying the body and rebuilding the way you nourish?

Only a portion of fasting is a body game, most of it is mental, but guess what? I gave up food for 20 hours straight and did not miss it in between.

I drink my water, I drink my herbal tea, I move around my home staying busy because I have more energy and my mind is running clear and high.

What else can I learn from this shifting game, playing chicken with my appetite, challenging my will power, testing my inner resolve and strength?

A clear and high mind while lovely is also susceptible to intense bouts of anxiety. This makes sense to me when you consider that anxiety is a thinking disease. What’s even more alarming is that the most potent of the attacks would come after a full-blown epiphany, one that put me in this chair to tap these keys and record my ideas, to share what it is to survive our contemporary wilderness in ancient ways.

Today I want to explore this concept of RESET, to propose that starving and thriving are sometimes one and the same, and to speculate that anxiety attacks, though hideous and strange are useful for navigating the end of a cycle of trauma and the beginning of a new start.

photo of person standing on cliff edge
Photo by Tom Verdoot on

Reset, Defined 

Interestingly, the definition of what it means to reset an electronic device, “cause (a binary device) to enter the state representing the numeral 0” is far more helpful for this thought exploration than the standard definition.

To enter a state representing ZERO. Zero in the tarot is represented by the fool card, the card of new beginnings, the initiation of an entirely new cycle.

Zero itself is a fascinating subject in that it in some ways exists outside of numerical progression. One cannot multiply or divide zero without it absorbing whatever attempts to modify it. Zero itself is a cycle.

The word “resembling” also struck me, the idea that we cannot actually reach zero, we can only ever represent it. We cannot have a pure and perfect beginning, we can only take what has been and reconfigure it to shift directions.

alone man person sadness
Photo by Pixabay on

Enter Madame Anxiety

Anxiety comes in when I am feeling alright, when I’m not feeling alright, when I’ve had coffee and when I haven’t. She does not visit by rule, she visits when she pleases. She is the byproduct of thinking and self-preservation. She has been my constant companion since the first time I was asked to take to the task of walking down a set of stairs.

Anxiety does not appreciate my successes or my victories, she does not suddenly silence herself because I have done well, in fact sometimes that is when she starts to yell. If you rise you have farther to fall! If you try you can fail from effort! Is there anything worse! We cannot fail! We ARE a failure!

And so she spirals, unhelpfully, until we are crippled by the simple task of walking down a set of stairs.

How is she relevant to the RESET? Starving her brings her out of her shell. Now we stand face to face, she cannot silence me with food and distraction. We engage in a game of SHAME. Without a shameful behavior present what arguments can be made for us feeling unworthy? The banter of unworthiness is mind-clutter, a way of diverting my attention from some fundamental truths. Finally, we can start to get to the bottom of why she is so fucking scared all the time and listen to her grievances.

Photo by Kelly Lacy on

I zoom out and I listen to Madame Anxiety spill her version of reality–if you have anxiety you will know what this next part is like: Remember that time in 10th grade history class when you said something so stupid it makes you blush 20 years later? Remember that time that someone said they didn’t want to talk and you could not stop talking, isn’t that what your mom does to you? You resent her for it, they probably resent you. Everyone must hate you. You will probably always be like this. I know… she’s mean!

I can hear what she says and look at those memories and think: I did not know then what I know now. Not everything is about me and not everyone will hold me to things as harshly as I hold myself to them. I am allowed to be flawed. This is the work of inner-child healing and I have done ALOT of this work and it is not enough anymore, it’s time for something different.

Another important thing to consider is that anxiety has been with me since the womb. My parents represent extreme cases of a broad spectrum of anxieties and anxious disorder that guarantees that I was eating it through the ambilocal cord. Anxiety for me is physiological. As prevalent as a limb. She is not going away.

Reset brings us back to zero, it is a decision we make when we understand that whatever else we were doing is no longer working for us. What is no longer working? The idea that I can exist without her. I must reset with her in mind. I must hear her voice and choose my own way.

Years ago, I remember hearing something about not allowing our issues to drive the car and I have always kept that in mind. I succeeded in making our lady anxiety a backseat driver at best. Losing my patience, I would concede and she would determine our direction without ever touching the wheel directly. My intention this time is to give her a character, to name her Madame and laugh instead of getting sucked into her melodrama.

I imagine our lady of anxiety as an eccentric widow, a retired actress projecting her failures onto me. She fits, she works and she will always be preferable to the demon sitting behind me with their hands around my throat.

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