How Self-Love and Italy Cured Me from Anxiety Disorder

I suffered from anxiety disorder for seven long years. Being stuck in your mind, battling your own scary thoughts and trying to stay sane is a condition I wouldn’t even wish my worst enemy. It literally sucks the life force out of you and I remember looking like a fraction of who I really was. I was so fragile and I felt life was so overwhelming I didn’t even dare leave the house sometimes. I was literally stuck.

Anxiety Disorder

I knew there was one thing that would help me go beyond this zombie state I’d reached. I just knew it, but I couldn’t see it.

It was right in front of me, staring me in the tired face. It was me. It had always been me.

All the horror stories that my mind had come up with, all the reactions I’d had, all the fighting, all the desperation; it had all been me. Once I was able to step back and look beyond, I could heal myself.

In fact, it all started when I picked up the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. It said that everything started with self-love. And then I read I had to tell myself “I love you” in the mirror. I was willing to do whatever at that point. I’d been seeing a psychologist, I’d been on medication, I’d done a mindfulness course, acupuncture; you name it and I’d tried it.

So I was also willing to try this incredibly ridiculous thing: saying “I love you” to myself in the mirror.

It’s what’s changed my life.

It felt very weird at the beginning. It felt mechanic, it felt stupid, yes, it felt totally ridiculous. But I was so determined to turn things around for myself that I persevered. And I just kept staring myself into my deep, green eyes and I kept on saying:

“I love you, Sophie. I really love you.”

“I accept you just the way you are.”

“I love you, Sophie. I really love you.”

“You are a wonderful human being.”

“I love you, Sophie. I really love you.”

And then, one day I started having feelings for myself. I felt that loving feeling that you can have for a partner, a dear family member, a child; I started seeing myself. I started connecting with myself. I started loving myself.

And from that moment on I started feeling what I liked and what I didn’t like, I started listening to what I wanted, I started going out more, I felt I had more energy, I had more lust for life, I was having fun with my newfound love; myself.


So, what happened next?

I cheated on my boyfriend.

Not a good thing you might say. And no, it wasn’t. It was bad, and unnecessary. But what it did do was reconnect me with my feeling of joy which I had lost over the years of being in a relationship that was more draining than energising. Only I wasn’t aware of it. I was just living it, we were just pulling through and trying to make it happen or something. We didn’t know any better and had just settled for this mediocre misery that we were living in.

He was suffering from asthma; I was suffering from anxiety disorder. We were both a little overweight, out of energy, unfulfilled, scared and had no clue what we were doing. Oh and we weren’t having any sex.

Yet we were together, because that’s what you do as a couple who’s just moved in together, right? We had simply forgotten to enjoy our lives somewhere along the line.

But deep down I knew that this wasn’t the life that was meant for me. I knew there was so much more out there. I knew it was possible to be happy. I just didn’t know how.

I started exploring my happiness by drawing outside the lines, getting in touch with that aliveness feeling I’d been missing for so long. I was wrong, but it felt so good.

I started smoking again; a sign of freedom, rebellion and doing things my way. I didn’t care. I wanted to live life my way. After I told my boyfriend about the second time I kissed that colleague twice my age, he went berserk. Rightly so, but I was scared. Both by his reaction and by me being able to hurt him so much – again. And then I think I just decided there and then that it was over.

The interesting thing was that he actually admitted he understood why I had felt the need to cheat on him. He was so unhappy himself that he wasn’t able to make me happy (self-love, anyone?). He was scared of life and used every excuse, even his asthma, to not have to interact with it.

Avoidance causes stagnation. And stagnation causes death. And that’s what had happened. We had died. And there was no way anything could bring us back to life.

A week or two after breaking up I asked myself the vital question:

“What do you really want, Sophie?”



Had I not started loving myself, I’d never have been able to create the space to ask myself this question. Let alone really hear the answer. Or act on it.

And boy I did. I decided I wanted to go to Italy and so I planned for my departure a year later. Now nearly a decade further on I’m truly living la mia dolce vita. The life of my dreams. As a result of moving to Italy I even cured myself from anxiety disorder – and I’m so proud of this accomplishment. I am living life my way and I base it on my happiness and my happiness only. And it all started because I learnt to love myself.

Love & courage,


P.S: If my story resonated with you in any way at all and you feel stuck in a similar situation, please know that I’m here to help. I’m a life coach and I help women like you turn their lives from being unfulfilling to a life that is truly theirs; taking the leap to Italy and all! Feel free to plan a free discovery call to talk more about how I could help you learn to love yourself and create your very own dolce vita as well!

P.S. 2 I run a fab Facebook group called The YES Woman for women who are crazy about Italy, who are interested in self-development, who want to get the occasional confidence boost and are looking for a safe place for sharing and inspiration. We also get together in monthly meet ups in Florence. Please join here if this sounds like your tribe!

Flourish in Florence



/ Reply

Wow ! After my husband of 34 years left me, just when I retired, I took a teaching job in Italy. It was the best thing I ever did ! It’s been 4 years now and I feel so alive, I have so much self-confidence ! I’m ready to go back home to be closer to my children, but I will always come back to Italy for some holiday time !

/ Reply

Wow, what a powerful step! Sometimes out biggest crises are our biggest blessings.. Brava & in bocca al lupo!

/ Reply

I’ll be traveling to Rome and Tuscany for the third time next spring! I have friends there and I love Italy. I’d love to live there but I don’t know what I’d do there for work! I have a catering business here, and I’d like to start a blog on food and wine, and travel. I am successful now at what I do. But moving is a big step. When I’m there I always feel at home and all my Italian friends make me feel comfortable. I fell in love with an Italian man, he’s crazy about me, but he has a girlfriend and as much as he seems very disconnected from her he doesn’t seem to want to break it off. But I see him when I go back. That’s ok because I’m very independent and enjoy so many other things! And you never know I may meet someone else! Thanks for reading this…hope it’s not a waste of time! You are a lucky girl! Living the dream!

/ Reply

How exciting you’re coming back to Italy next Spring! Maybe one day you can call it your home and set up a catering business/food tour business here, who knows? There is always a possibility! Let me know if you’d be interested in getting some help in taking your own leap towards living your Italian dream; it’s what I do :) You can always schedule a free first call here if you’d like to connect! Have a great day! XO from Florence, Sophie

/ Reply

I’ve tried signing up for your newsletter, but your pop-up message is not coded properly, so it shows too low, not letting me type in my surname or hit “send.” If you could sign me up, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

/ Reply

Ciao Nancy, thanks you for this! I’ll try to fix it. In the mean time, feel free to sign up here and get your hands on the free guide Turn Your Dream into Reality and the bonus guide Moving to Italy – The Key Steps. Let me know what you think! Big hug from la bella Toscana, Sophie

/ Reply

Please send free guide about moving to Italy for a less stressful life.

Grazie tanti

/ Reply

Hey Bob, thanks for your comment! You can access the guide through this page. Welcome to the club! Ciao, ciao, Sophie

Leave a Reply to Karen Redelin Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *