The last ten months of my life have been a struggle I never thought I’d have to go through. I’m finally sharing my story of anxiety and depression to let others know they are NOT alone. It is OKAY to not be okay. It is OKAY to seek help.
My mantra right now is, “Every situation is not a crisis” …. because if I let my self think that my entire body shuts down and anxiety takes over. My face goes numb, it starts to twitch uncontrollably, I feel like I can’t swallow, and I have a hard time catching my breath. It is an awful thing to experience.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m generally a happy go lucky person who is always positive. Often times people call me the energize bunny. I’m the person that would get up before 6, go for a run, make fun meals with my kids, play with my kids, never need a nap, and get everything done that I needed to. But when a bit of depression set in and anxiety took over, I was no where near the person I’ve always been. I had zero energy. I didn’t want to run or work out, I took naps every day, and I’m sad to say this, but I didn’t even have the energy to play with my kids. I struggled HARD with this. I mean, I’m happy, I’m NOT supposed to have these feelings, sadness, and attacks. I kept telling myself, “I’m fine. It will go away. This is just a phase; it’ll pass.” You guys, it did NOT pass.
I started having tingling head aches out of no where a few weeks before my first anxiety attack. My first anxiety attack happened the same night I had my first ever migraine. That was a terrible night. My head hurt so bad I couldn’t open my eyes, I felt like I was going to throw up, my whole left arm went completely numb, my heart wouldn’t stop racing, my face went numb and it started to twitch uncontrollably. I’m thankful for the family and support I have because I don’t know what I would have done that night otherwise. My body was obviously telling me I couldn’t handle what was happening in my life.
I had a few more massive panic attacks and a couple migraines the following weeks. These attacks also affected my mood, which is when depression set in. At first I was so angry, which in turn made everything worst. Angry that I couldn’t control my body. I was angry I couldn’t control my emotions. (There’s that word again, control!) I tried to hide it. I was scared to leave the house. I didn’t want my face to start twitching uncontrollably or to not be able to catch my breath while in public. I didn’t go to mom group for a while because I was worried they’d notice. I didn’t call my friends. I tried to keep it hidden. Why? Because I was ashamed. I was ashamed that I was feeling the way I was feeling. I was ashamed that I couldn’t control it. Y’all, you can’t make yourself feel something different. Your feelings are there. Until you deal with them, it won’t change.
I tried every natural thing I could before going on medication. I increased my yoga sessions, I continued to push myself to run even when I didn’t feel like it, I quit drinking coffee (any caffeine for that matter), I took a natural supplement for stress and anxiety, and started seeing a therapist. While all of that was great, it wasn’t working. When my panic attacks started happening twice a day with continued zero interest in my every day life events, both my husband and my best friend (who’s a nurse!) finally convinced me to go to my doctor. It took awhile to find the medication I needed and it took awhile for me to really understand that it wasn’t my fault. This was chemical and because of the stress I was going through my serotonin levels weren’t good.
So often times people think they don’t need help, or they fear asking for help. PLEASE if you are experiencing anxiety or depression please seek help. Talk to a close friend or family member. Meet with your pastor. Go see your doctor. Visit a therapist. I finally did all of these things. I’ve been working with my doctor to find some medication to help me through this stage of my life. I’ve prayed with my pastor. I’ve started seeing a therapist to help talk through the root causes of my anxiety. My closest family members and friends have been a major support for me in this. My wonderful husband has been amazing through this new stage of mine. Having a support system in this is such a blessing.
Anxiety is real. Depression is real. You cannot function right when you have either one. It is not something you can control. It can happen to ANYONE! I never thought in a million years my happy, positive self would experience it. I had the hardest time dealing with it. BUT I sought help. Please don’t be afraid to seek help.
I’ve read that anxiety doesn’t come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. I have a serious need for controlling things in my life that I’m realizing stems from my personal experiences during my childhood. For personal reasons I don’t wish to share right now, it made everything harder for me to handle, which in turn caused major anxiety. I couldn’t control the future.
Control … such a nasty word. I never thought much about that word. I know .. I know I have no control in this life. God has a plan for me already set. It is His plan. But for some reason I struggle with trying to control it.
Even though I’m on medication I have had a few panic attacks where my face twitches or goes numb, or my heart races. But, they are no where close to what I’ve described. Being on the medication allows me to work through an attack when they occur. Below I’ve listed a few things below that help me when I start to feel anxious. If you suffer from anxiety or depression please try these and reach out to a friend or professional.
- Breathing deeply – count to 4 while inhaling, hold for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat as much as needed.
- Name objects around you. For example, on the way home with my kids in the car I had a terrible attack where I couldn’t use my right arm because it was twitching so much so that it would jerk the wheel. I named every object I passed along with what color they were. This allowed my brain to focus on something else and get us home safely.
- I recite the Lord’s prayer. Find something you know by heart and say it.
- Do some yoga stretching.
- Go for a walk or a run.
- Find something lavender scented. It’s a calming scent; I have lavender candles, essential oils, and shampoo.
- Drink calming tea throughout the day; lavender chamomile is my current favorite.
- Find a positive affirmation you can say. Two I’m using right now: “You Choose” and “Everything is not a crisis”
- Don’t drink caffeine. I have found a wonderful company, Four Sigmatic, that uses mushrooms in their coffee. It only has 50 mg of caffeine, so if I do want a cup of coffee I have a small cup of that. I also make sure that I don’t drink caffeine when something important is coming up.
- Figure out your triggers. This one took me a little while, but once I finally did, I could prepare myself essentially. Now sometimes panic attacks can just happen out the blue with zero reasoning, but knowing your triggers can help.
- Talk to someone who will listen. This was pivotal to my journey. My best friend and my therapist got me through so much.
- Depression is hard. If you can make yourself do one normal thing each day I found that helped me a little. Now that being said, that didn’t help me until I started taking medication. There were days where I just wanted to stay in bed and literally do nothing. However, I had little kiddos I had to be there for. Just remember that it’s okay to not be okay. The important part is that if you continue to not be okay to seek help.