Hey there! Sunday is here. Time to refocus, regroup, and prepare for the week ahead. For my Intention this week I pulled Truth, so here’s a little truth coming at ya…..
I have been wanting to post about anxiety for a while now. For the longest time I did not understand anxiety or the struggles that were associated with it. Any time I listened to people talk about it I was very insensitive. I would think the often incorrect assumptions and thoughts of, “Oh, just get over it,” or “Everyone has felt that way, buck up.” But, then the strangest thing happened…I was diagnosed with anxiety myself.
This is something I haven’t really talked to many people about at all. And often times, I felt weak for admitting it or attributing characteristics of myself to this “stigma” or “label.” I was originally “diagnosed” with anxiety in 2010, and I use the term diagnosed loosely here because of the circumstances in which I had the initial conversation. And…I definitely don’t want to diminish or undermine anyone who may suffer from chronic bouts with anxiety.
It all began with stress. My very first “adult” job led to sleepless nights, fatigue, and very poor health. I felt jaded. I felt gypped. I was under so much stress and didn’t use appropriate outlets to relieve myself of those feelings. I went to my amazing doctor and complained of symptoms of weight gain, migraines, upset stomach and insomnia. I complained that I wasn’t able to relax, and I had these moments of total confusion. I would be in the midst of a very routine, mundane task and I would start to sweat, my breathing would spike, and I would forget where I was or who I was talking to. This led to momentary lapses in sight (black spots), dry heaving, and flushes (hives). It was this last sentiment that led him to diagnose me with anxiety. I took medication for one year and just overall didn’t feel like myself (long story short….).
Now having this label, I felt uber self-conscious ALL of the TIME. “Am I acting weird?” “Why did I say that?” “I should have said…..” “I wonder if they like me….” I was having these and more debilitating internal conversations. My migraines continued. I started taking Topamax on top of Amitriptyline. I was in a complete fog CONSTANTLY. I would be mid-conversation with people and all of a sudden…stop….stutter…say “Uhhhh” and I felt like a burnout. I would break out in sweats. Hives. My mouth would run dry. My eyes would water because inside I KNEW what I was trying to say and I couldn’t spit it out. I felt so out of place. Conversations with new people were either easy or super forced and uncomfortable. When they were easy, once it became too “real” I would pull away or pull back and feel really inferior. I felt there HAD to be a better way to deal with these emotions, feelings, and internal battles.
I went back to my doctor in 2012 20 pounds heavier and feeling really isolated. Then, my doctor gave me some of the best advice anyone could have given me at the time: “Quit your job.” I remember calling home to talk to my mom (bless her soul) about this doctor visit and she was in complete agreement. My dad, however, thought my doctor was a quack and told me to find a new one. Quitting my job was something I had been wanting to do and I KNEW it would relieve me of stress and a myriad of other feelings, worries, and health issues…I was just waiting for someone else to tell me. From that point on I decided to follow my intuition more often. I also resigned myself to have the best year at my job yet and leave on good terms.
I quit a year later in 2013, I quit taking amitriptyline, started going to yoga more frequently, and signed up for a work away trip that summer. But, I still would have random panic attacks that could be triggered very easily. I still was overthinking, over analyzing, and feeling burdened by these intense feelings. They weren’t as often, but they still affected my life.
In 2014 I decided that ANY medications I was taking at the time were not serving me completely. I was taking these “maintenance” drugs that were still not enabling me to live the life I felt I COULD be living. I’ve been without these medicines since the summer of 2014.
After kicking prescriptions, I feel like I’ve slowly been able to find more natural approaches in dealing with my anxious feelings. I was feeling out of control in social situations when on them, so I feel like I’m slowly getting back to myself being off of them. Of course, there are still days I battle with a panic attack. I am much better at determining when I feel one coming on and identifying my triggers. I still often feel awkward in large groups or in major social situations. But, forgiving myself of these “feelings” has been a major component.
Some things I have done to curb my attacks have been pretty simple lifestyle changes that work really well with me. Here are a few things I’ve implemented in order to release stress, tension, and the triggers to my attacks that have worked to my advantage.
- I decided meditation was something I could really use to keep myself calm and focused. Breathwork has also been a huge release of tension that builds up in my body. Both of these things focus on the breath and the intention behind it. I would get SO worked up that I would have trouble breathing and then my heart would race because I couldn’t catch my breath. Meditation offers you a few minutes to completely focus on your breath, where to place it, and how to manage the thoughts swirling around in your head.
- Coffee is something I don’t drink daily. I usually reserve it for the weekends or special occasions. Coffee INSTANTLY heightens my thoughts, actions, and my heart rate. Keeping my breath steady really helps in keeping these attacks away. I like to also think that is why I don’t like running….actually, it’s just an excuse. I just hate it. I’ll take dancing or yoga any day. Something that also brings an emotional release.
- Breaking larges tasks down into smaller tasks helps me to not feel overwhelmed which will then trigger an attack. I consider myself a go-getter, but I often take on a lot at once and then feel like I am buried in so much responsibility. Actually WRITING OUT what I want to do first, next, then, and last has really helped me keep my focus and stave off attacks.
- I started introducing Stress Relief and Chamomile teas, Valerian Root, and Aromatherapy oils into my life about a year ago. All of these things play upon pleasurable senses, I feel in control, and I feel like I am pampering myself when I use them. Relaxation is key.
- Accepting that I don’t ALWAYS need to be chipper or “perfect” in social situations is something I continually work on. I have always loved having a lot of friends and always being on the go with them, but I would often feel really out of place, awkward, or anxious when I would say and do different things. Believe me, I still have times where I so badly want to go out but have anxiety about it and choose to stay home. I would just rather not put myself in a situation that is going to exacerbate the feelings and wind up in the bathroom trying to overcome an attack. I also think I used alcohol A LOT to ease these feelings and feel more comfortable which would then lead to a HORRIBLE day following of wondering why I did and said the things I did and said. It was a viscous cycle, and I try to avoid it as much as possible now.
I will continually be working on controlling my feelings of anxiety, and I must admit I’m not always good at it. I feel that having someone you can really talk to helps a lot. I am lucky I have someone who understands I may not always be handling myself in the best way, but they continue to love me anyway.
These intention cards also help me feel connected to what’s happening in my life and how I can look at situations from a different perspective. This week I pulled TRUTH. Appropriate for the conversation I shared today 🙂 Cheers to sharing and accepting true feelings.
Hope you have an amazing week, and see you back here later this week!