Seven years ago, Kirsten Johnson was working as a Data Analyst for a start-up in San Francisco. Suffering from a range of anxiety disorders, she found herself increasingly self-medicating with alcohol.
“I kept drinking more, and there was more anxiety. And the alcohol made the anxiety go away, but then sometimes the anxiety would come back even more. It was almost like a mountain of anxiety was being built underneath me…
One day I looked in the mirror and it was as if the flame of my spirit was flickering. I saw this hollow shell, and I didn’t recognise myself, and I was terrified.”
Desperate for her anxiety attacks to stop, and no longer wanting to use alcohol to hide, Kirsten craved tools that would give her lasting results – to completely change the way she experienced life, including the way she related to her thinking and emotions.
Her quest led her around the world and across Asia to Bali, Thailand, India, and Nepal. She sought out gurus and teachers, and studied yogic breathing techniques, transcendental meditation, relaxation techniques, Vipassana, Reiki, Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Buddhism.
And finally, she found her way.
“That’s what I wanted with my emotions – I wanted to control all my emotions, on demand, to be one way, and it was drunk. I wanted to be a little bit numb all the time. And then I get sober, and I’m like, ‘oh, this is what life is, this is the richness of life’.”
We filmed this interview on the very day of Kirsten’s 7-year soberversary. Hers is a story of finding answers and channeling her experiences into a powerful way to help others. Join us as we talk anxiety, handling emotions in a healthy way, and how to finally be comfortable in our own skin…
“I have never loved harder… That’s what’s on the other side of the fear, that’s what’s on the other side of the grief, the loneliness and feeling all those emotions – I get to feel love now like I have never felt it in my entire life… and it’s me – it’s my heart – being healed…”
* P.S. I only noticed our matching striped shirts after we’d recorded – just another beautiful act of synchronicity. 😉 *
Resources mentioned in this interview:
Kirsten Johnson is an author and CTI certified life coach. She coaches clients through overcoming anxiety and fear, and towards living their dream life. Kirsten is also the creator of Digital Anxiety Pill, a 5-week online course designed to help people in early sobriety overcome anxiety while also learning how to manage intense emotions. Her experience is that with a little instruction, a few techniques, and some practice, our brains can radically change, allowing us to shed our anxiety and have a richer experience of life.