Anxiety, you are the worst. Like, what the heck are you and where did you come from?? That is how I still feel today about Anxiety after I’ve struggled with it for a little over 4 years. I’ve mentioned on social media that I have anxiety from time to time and I found that many of you wanted me to do a blog post on this topic.. so let’s go! Today, I am talking all about anxiety. From my first anxiety attack, what triggers my anxiety, and the things that help me manage it without the use of medication.
Growing up, I never struggled with anxiety. I mean, yes before a test or track meet I got anxious, but never anxiety. It wasn’t until after I had my first daughter that in hit me and when it did it hit hard.
My first anxiety attack was at my own bachelorette party. Sucks, right? A little something about me, I had Sutton before we got married and so my first big trip after having her was my bachelorette party in Miami, Florida. I get there and all is going well, but day 2 came around and I don’t know exactly what spurred it– motherly instincts, separation anxiety, a hangover… probably a nice combination of it all, but I had my first panic attack. I legit thought I was dying and I was never going to see my daughter again. I was so scared.
This was only the first experience. I got through it and made it home safely and from there anxiety became a part of my life and still is today. It used to haunt me, I was so scared of just the thought of having anxiety that I would trigger a panic attack. I realize how bizarre this sounds, but it’s true. The attacks became so bad that at one point I couldn’t breathe and once, I fainted because of it.
For the most part, my anxiety stems from fear. Since I was a kid I’ve always been a worrier, but parenthood/adulthood got the best of me. It’s like I am constantly in the state of “fight or flight” and it is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I fear dying mostly, which most people do I assume but, on a bad day these fatalistic thoughts can consume me. What if I die and my kids grow up without me as their mother? What if my kids die, I wouldn’t be able to go on… what if my husband dies, I couldn’t do this without him and I’d never find a man I love as much as him. I dream up terrible, fatalistic scenarios in my head constantly when my anxiety is really bad and it’s straight up awful. I am also terrified of flying which triggers my anxiety as well; however, that particular anxiety is kind of in it’s own category and we can cover that another time.
So how did I get better? After about my fourth anxiety attack I went to go see a medical professional (a psychiatrist) to get help. I went to one that not only prescribed me medicine, but he did a very good job about walking me through what I was experiencing and better understanding, from a textbook standpoint, my anxiety. I expressed to him my desire to not just take medicine to kick the anxiety so he prescribed me some anti-anxiety meds to take only “as needed”. This helped me for quite sometime. I found myself probably taking the meds 1-2 times per month and the rest of the month feeling okay. However, this only lasted for about a year like this. I thought I had hit rock bottom before, but I had an anxiety attack series last October that rocked my world. I was so upset because I thought I had made such progress but something took over me, again, and I was in such a bad state that I was having to take my medicine every 6 hours for about a week just to keep it at bay. Yes, it was that bad. This is when I knew things had to change.
It’s been a long journey to get where I am today and I am sure I will continue to have my ups and downs. But if you are in the place where I was before, just know you can get better. You just have to do a lot of self care to do so, in my opinion. Everyone is different and there are so many different forms of anxiety, but I will share with you what worked for me. I am no medical expert, nor do I claim to be but I want to share my journey to good mental health with you so that you know you are not alone and so that maybe a little bit of what has worked for me may help you if you, too, struggle with anxiety disorder.
First off, the most important thing you can do is stop and face the fact that you have anxiety. Once you do that, it’s time to start doing a little self care here. Self care does not consist of sipping on wine and taking a pill. I found that this method is only helpful for that night but the next day your anxiety is back and sometimes even worse. You need to dig deeper than that. As a mom, I realized I was taking care of everyone but kinda forgot to take care of me in the mix. So I stopped and started to take care of myself, too. It’s made me feel SO much better and honestly, it’s made me a better mom, too.
My psychiatrist had mentioned to me that yoga and/or any type of meditative practice tends to really help with anxiety. I am fortunate enough to have a lifelong friend of mine who is an extremely talented yoga instructor, massage therapist, healer… you name it. I called her immediately and booked a private session with her. She said we were going to start doing a type of yoga that I’d probably never even heard of and that was nothing like your traditional yoga classes called Pranayama Yoga, which focuses on breath work. I have found this to be the most helpful with my anxiety and to this day I still practice pranayama yoga at least once a week. If you try this, you have to stick with it. Do it at least once a week and dedicate yourself to the practice and I promise you’ll see results.
Other than Pranayama yoga, I’d say the most important change that I made was to start eating clean and stop drinking so much alcohol. I am a big believer in the whole concept that your gut-health is connected to your mental-health. I can speak from many experiences and experiments I’ve done with myself that when your body is clean, your mind is much more clear. I mentioned before that I had hit rock bottom last October and when I wanted to turn my life around I decided to do a round of whole30 to just detox and reset my body and mind. I used to go to a glass of wine to help relax me at night and while it does help while your drinking that glass of wine, the anxiety just comes right back up when you wake up tomorrow. It’s just a pacifier, a temporary fix. I still drink my wine today, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t during the weeknights when it’s not necessary. I save it for weekends and special occasions. I also find that when I eat a lot of sugar it gets my anxiety going, so I try to avoid sugar for the most part, too. If you are struggling with anxiety and have never completed a round of Whole30, I recommend you looking into it and seeing if you think it might be something that could help you.
Another thing that really helped me, which this totally isn’t for everyone, is a book that I read called Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss. It isn’t for the close minded type, but I found the story not only captivating, but Dr. Weiss’s perspectives opened my mind up in new ways that made my a better person and helped me with my anxiety quite a bit.
Other little things that I do when I am feeling anxious:
- Read a book at night. It’s a great healthy distraction and get’s you away from screens. It helps take my mind to another place, rather than staying in anxious mode. Follow my GoodReads account to see what I’m reading and what I’ve read in the past and loved.
- Take a hot bubble bath. I literally take a hot bath every single night to just calm me after my day and help me relax before bedtime. Warm water provides your entire body with a level of relaxation that can be incredibly beneficial for reducing some of the anxiety symptoms.
- Go on a walk. Sometimes, when I get into anxious mode the best way of breaking that cycle is giving my brain a healthy distraction and I find that being outdoors and walking it off helps so much.
- Narayan Balm. I tend to carry a lot of the stress in my shoulders and chest. I rub (or ask my hubby to rub) this narayan balm on my shoulders and chest. It feels so good and helps calm me down. I keep this in my purse when I fly I love it so much!
- Do something your passionate about. The link between creativity and better mental and physical health is well established by research. Creating helps make people happier and less anxious. I used to just do this blog for fun but in the midst of my big life turn around moment I told myself… I love doing this, I am good at it. Let’s do this better and really do it right. This blog has been so healing for me and has made me such a happier, healthier person.
I am proud to say that even though I carry anti-anxiety medicine in my purse “just in case”, that I haven’t taken a pill in 9 months. Not even when I fly, which is huge for me. You guys, I am so proud of myself. If you have anxiety, I feel for you. I get it. It really sucks and it is straight up scary! But take a stand against it and do what it takes to get better. Don’t just hide from it and pacify it hoping that it will just go away. I tried this and it doesn’t just go away. So gear up, practice on how you are going to battle it the next time it comes along. It won’t stand a chance against your new, stronger sense of self.
Everyone is different and you’ll have to work at it to find what works for you. And please note that even though I found my way out of taking medicine and found natural remedies that I am not against taking medicine if you need it. If you are in really bad shape, I encourage you to at least talk to a medical professional about your problems to find a path that works for you.
Thanks for reading this post. It wasn’t the easiest one for me to type but I am glad I can put it out into the world in hopes that it might help at least one person not feel alone when they have anxiety. Don’t feel like you are the only one because I can assure you that you are NOT ALONE.
Please comment below if you want me to elaborate on anything I discussed in this post. I am an open book and am happy to share anything with you.