In August I wrote a post sharing my experience with anxiety and almost two months later, I realized I never really checked in with you all to share some updates. If you follow on Instagram, I talk about it occasionally on my stories, but figured a another full post was warranted. Based on the response of my last post, anxiety is something that affects so many of us. Thousands, THOUSANDS of comments poured in from all of you all sharing your stories. I read each and every one of them and you all lifted me up and made me feel so much less alone. If you want to read these stories for yourself, look at the comments on this post and this post. I have always been so grateful for this community, but to stay I felt the love that day is an understatement. Being that it is mental health awareness week, I felt there was no better time to revisit this topic than now.
The biggest question I am guessing that many of you have is, well, are you better? And what I’ve learned about having anxiety is that there is no quick fix. Getting anxiety under control is a process. Part of it requires training your brain to think in a different way and/or learning how to cope with stress/worry/panic. Just when I think I’m better (meaning, I may have had a couple days in a row feeling “normal” and/or without anxious thoughts or feelings), there it is again.
The inconsistency of my anxious episodes is defeating. Just when I am think it’s gone, it’s back, and that is the most frustrating part for me. Yes, I am on medication and even decided to increase the dosage (I started on a VERY low dose). The reason I decided to go on medication was because I wanted to stabilize myself so that I could buy myself some time to figure out the root of my anxiety without constantly being anxious. Do I want to take medicine forever? No. Do I think it is suppressing my symptoms or just making them go away forever. I’m not really sure. I am in the process of educating myself on this so I can make the best decision for myself. And that’s what I’ve been finding. What works for some people, might not work for others and visa versa.
Using a combination of medication, breathing exercises, acupuncture, decreased caffeine, increased exercise, and occasional use of CDB oil, I am in a much better place than I was a few months ago. I haven’t had any full blown panic attacks, but have had occasional acute episodes of intense panicky feelings. I have been able to diffuse them with everything mentioned above, and now my efforts have shifted to: How did I get here in the first place? Was it my diet or my lifestyle or “mom worry” or job stress or traumatic events or a combination of all the above?
I’ve been doing a lot of research, listening to podcasts and reading wellness literature and part of me believes that my sudden onset of anxiety was caused by years of trying to do it all and shushing any feelings that I should have been paying attention to. As a 37 year old mom of 4 I’ve been a little busy. I’ve been busy having kids, raising kids, constantly multi-tasking, and running a business. I prided myself on being able to do all of these things without needing breaks besides that glorious glass of red that I treat myself to once my kids are in bed. In retrospect, I realize that random bouts of insomnia or that racing heart feeling that sometimes happened when I was sitting at a red light was actually my body trying to tell me something.
The combination of ignoring my thoughts and not giving myself that alone time to process my emotions, skimping out on key nutrients in my diet and possibly filling my body with foods that could be agitating my systems, not exercising enough…. all of these things that happen in the throes of motherhood can be a recipe for a breakdown.
What I’ve learned in my “research” (and I use this term lightly, because I am not a scientist or nutritionist or doctor, I’m just a girl who wants to feel like my old self), is that all of our systems are connected. Can our digestive system affect our nervous system? Apparently it can. I’ve also heard the school of thought that everything we need to make us feel better is already inside us. Right now I’m in a place where I am trying to take a hard look at my eating habits, my exercise habits, and my “think time” habits.
Also, hello, hormones. If you are anxious at certain times of the month, take note. It could be that surge of hormones making you feel out of whack. Which also affects your sleep cycle, which affects everything else as we all know…
Clearly I don’t have all of the answers, but I thought I would end this with some things that have helped me personally and also share things that some of you shared with me!
Things I’ve Done That Have Helped:
- talking to people (friends, family, and all of you!)
- talking to doctors (psychiatrist, and in the process of finding a therapist and/or integrative medical doctor)
- decreased caffeine
- magnesium supplements (I occasionally take the powder before bed)
- increased exercise (specifically more running and yoga)
- set bed time and awake time
- Podcasts: What Our Anxiety is Telling Us, Breakthrough Solutions of Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, How Food Affects our Mood
Things Readers Have Suggested to Try:
- Books: The Happiness Trap, Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts, The Female Brain, It’s My Ovaries Stupid, The Body Keeps the Score
- Meditation: Headspace and Calm are 2 apps that I use thanks to you guys!
- Rescue Remedy Drops
- EMDR or brain spotting treatments
- If music moves you, thank you Josh Groban for this song…..
Most of all, be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Talk about it.