For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and a panic disorder. This is something that is very hard for me to think about, let alone put into words. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s something that’s out of my control. I think if you want to truly grow from a situation you have to be honest with yourself; being vulnerable is hard. That’s why I chose to write this post about my journey, because if I can’t be honest with myself then who am I really honest with?
I remember when I was 8 years old, I was laying in my parents’ bed watching TV and my heart started pounding out of my chest. I was laying down! I felt it start in my stomach, and then work it’s way up my entire body. My mom took my pulse and it was extremely high. I laid on the floor with a cold towel on my head, but I just couldn’t seem to calm down. Luckily, it passed quickly.
We later went to a doctor and they ran a few tests on my heart. ♥️ They couldn’t find anything. They couldn’t find anything, because what I was experiencing was a panic attack. I had no idea what a panic attack was then, and definitely had never heard of anxiety. I wouldn’t know what ANY of this meant until much later in my life.
Fast forward to my teen years— (cringe)
To say my anxiety ruled my life would be a lie. There were times I feel great, and was a fully functioning human being. But when the anxiety and panic hits, I’m a different person. I’m not as outgoing, and I keep to myself much more simply out of fear. So as I grew older, and these things kept happening, I knew something wasn’t right. I went to many different doctors, counselors, and therapists, and was put on countless medications. Most of the medications gave me crazy side effects, and I didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what to do, and no one around me really got what I was going through.
The truth is, no one fully understands anxiety unless they themselves also go through it. It’s hard to understand that anxiety is NOT only mental; it can be physical as well.
I have more fears now as an adult than I ever imagined possible as a child, so it was only inevitable that my anxiety got worse as I got older. Two years ago this fall, I woke up to what felt like a gunshot. I woke up and I immediately felt like I couldn’t breathe. Panic set in and I start to pace. I paced because I needed to remind myself that I WAS breathing—this is just a panic attack! I was moving, and as long as I was moving I knew I was alive. (As I write all of this, all I think of is how dramatic, someone needs to smack this chick!) But couldn’t make it stop. I can tell myself all day to just calm down and relax, but my body does not respond. This went on continually for FIVE days! For five days, I would cry and shake uncontrollably. I couldn’t keep food down, and I slept very little. I was not only spiraling out of control, but I was also scaring everyone else around me. On the fifth day, I told my Mom that I needed to go the ER.
Once we got to the ER, I don’t remember much of what happened. I’m not good in hospital situations when I’m healthy, yet alone when I actually need medical attention. I seem to just block it all out. They gave me an IV and some Ativan, and for the first time in almost a week I stopped shaking. I felt like I could breathe normally again. It was finally over!
The panic attacks may have stopped, but this was just the beginning of the battle. I knew that I needed help! This could happen again, and I wanted to make sure that it never got back to this point. So I went to see yet another doctor, and started on another few medications. I still felt like a zombie, so we switched up my medicine a few times. With little result, I eventually weened myself off completely. This is where I’m currently at, and am using other remedies to ease my anxiety that I will link below.
**These are what I personally use, and what I have found to benefit ME the most. Everything is not going to work for everyone**
- Light therapy mask —- it’s like laying on the beach in the warm sun! PLUS it helps with acne, dark spots, and other skin ailments. Link here–Neutrogena
- CBD Oil—- with less than .03% of THC, CBD oil is now legal everywhere in the US. And no, this doesn’t get you high. CBD oil is non psychoactive, and is made by extracting CBD (cannabinol) from the cannabis, and mixing it with a carrier oil. While this doesn’t make my anxiety “go away” it does help me calm down, and relax easily. Link here–Sunshine House (this is where I purchased)
- Prolonged periods of steady exercise—-this is my least favorite way to deal with my anxiety, but it does help. Just go out and walk!! It doesn’t have to be strenuous activity to help ease your mind.
- Cat cuddles— these two boys do more for my mental health than they will ever know! Nothing beats their cuddles!
As for now, I’m still in limbo about what my next steps should be, but I’m not giving up! I’m finally starting to understand why I am the way I am, and how I feel. I mentioned in a previous post, that we are thinking of extending our family. In order for me to have a healthy pregnancy, I can’t be on ANY of my medications— not even my allergy medicine! It’s a very hard decision. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, but something I need to come to on my own terms. What I’ve learned is it’s not so much about what triggers it, but how I react to the panic. Things are always going to trigger me, and some situations are out of my control. It’s all about how I respond to it.
If you ever think that you’re alone with how you feel, or that you can’t talk about what is going on with you, I encourage you to seek professional help. Mental health is important not only to yourself, but also everyone else around you. I worry constantly about Blake, and if she will also struggle with my anxiety, or if she herself will have it. No one deserves to go through that. Mental health has such a negative connotation in our society today, but there is nothing wrong with having mental health issues. You’re human after all! You should never feel ashamed for having to work at something to better yourself. If you’re in a dark place, you’re not alone. Be courageous enough to speak up and ask for help. Do it for yourself.