Tried and True.
I have decided to post a blog that I hope will become a resource for you all on this site. These are tried and true methods I have used to help me on my road to recovery. They are powerful practices that helped me when I could barely stand. I will first tell you the story of my mental collapse, and then my path to where I am today as well as give you information on products I used that helped and any free resources I can come up with.
Well, my story in a nutshell goes like this. I've always had anxiety. There were signs of it from a very early age. You see, my father had it as well as his father before him and as well as my mother. For the most part I skirted by not really being too horribly affected by it until after my mother passed away. Still, I was able to maintain. In fact, I was pretty outgoing. I made friends easily, I did stand up comedy, I did karaoke, never met a stranger. I would drive to big cities and not blink an eye for the most part. And then I met a man named Lee. You see, at first Lee was wonderful to me. He seemed so unlike the other jerks I had dated, but it would turn out that Lee would be one of the worst men for my mental health.
I always felt like Lee was putting me down, and never really felt like I could be myself because of his mockery. I remember multiple times telling my best friend, “I wish I could talk to him like I do you. I feel like there is a whole side of me he doesn't know.” I was very unhappy, but didn't want to admit it. I loved this man, or so I thought. What if this was my last chance for happiness? (See what I said there? What If. Anyone with anxiety knows those words well.) Soon, I began to resent him for “keeping me down” not realizing that it was totally within my power to escape. It caused me to be mean to him, and in return he started to change as well. He stopped coming around as much, stopped calling as much, and took up an “emotional affair” with an old high school friend of his. He tried to ghost out of my life. It got to the point where I had to lay down an ultimatum, we either get past this and move on or we end this. He refused to make the choice, so I had to. We ended it.
He talked a lot of bull about how we'd still be friends and to call him if I needed him. Needless to say that was just one of many lies I would find out he told me during our knowing each other. A month after out break up and a month of no contact brought us to my birthday. My sister and I were driving around and we saw his car parked at a local business. I felt like I had been punched in the throat. I had texted him to ask if he wanted some of his stuff back that he had left at my house, to which he had ignored completely. So, I took the opportunity to return some of his stuff. I went back to my house, grabbed the things, and returned only to sadly find he was now in the car. I knocked on his window to give him the items and the person I met inside was not the person I thought I had loved all that time. He treated me like he didn't even know me and was even quite accusatory about the nature of me even being in the area. (Even though I LIVE in the area.). That was the last time I saw him and other than a well intentioned email I sent a month ago, the last contact I had with him. My breakdown happened 5 days later.
It started with having a panic attack in a restaurant. I used to love going out to lunch with friends, but the entire time I was with Lee, he never wanted to go do things for fear of being seen by people he didn't like. Little did I know, this behavior would rub off on me. I went home after that, thinking that was the worst one I had ever had, little did I know what I had waiting. The break officially started at work the following day. I work alone at night, so anytime there is anything wrong, it is me who has to fix it. I remember coming in and being so annoyed because I was so tired for one. Then the co-worker who was there before me was just so messy. They left paper everywhere, they were never done with all their paperwork no matter what time I got there, they would leave the kitchen area and laundry area mess and it just drove me NUTS! Plus, I knew that the girl in breakfast that would be in the following morning was one who had made it her personal agenda to be horrible to me the entirety of my working life there. Then the phone calls started. I had a problem guest who wanted to call me every six minutes to complain about something. The night went on and more irritating things happened. Six o'clock hit and of course, without fail, the breakfast girl came in and was hell on wheels. I was trying to finish all the laundry that had been left on me on top of trying to help the huge influx of guests who kept needing me at the front. I remember a man walking up to the front and I walked around the corner and just about hit the ground. My head felt like it weighed a thousand pounds, my vision slid and I felt the need to pass out. My heart pounded out of my chest and my throat was clenched tight, a symptom I'd never had before. I remember calling my sister and crying hysterically as I tried to figure out what was wrong with me, and still guest were piling up at my desk. But, I couldn't calm down. I kept thinking about how the breakfast girl was going to chew me out if she had to come up there and help someone and that just pushed me farther into a hole. Finally, my relief came and I was able to go home. I went and got my sister and just asked her to sit with me a while.
I won't outline every other attack, but I will sum it up by saying that the above mentioned experience was my experience for about a month. I went to my GP doctor, I went to the ER, everyone wanted to put me on medication. The ER actually tried to commit me! I remember crying to my sister during one of the attacks. “I don't want to take medication that will forever change my brain chemistry. I don't want to take medicine forever. There has to be another way.” And come to find out, yes...there is another way.
CBT is the most successful way to combat anxiety. However, it takes a while, because anxiety is a learned behavior often established when we are children, that takes a consciousness effort on our parts to re-write. It will feel like you are going against the very fiber of your being. But, it is worth it. I am not a doctor, so I don't really have the authority to tell you what to do or how you should live your life. All I can tell you is what I believe and what has worked for me.
I believe in recent studies that are finding that the hormonal imbalances that people blame anxiety and panic disorder on are actually caused by the anxiety in the first place, not the other way around. I believe in seeing a counselor because whether you want to admit it or not, talking about it is the first step towards getting it under control. I believe that our food is destroying our health, especially our mental health. I believe in music and its ability to heal the brain. I believe in exercise and its ability to train our bodies to handle the stress response better. I believe in meditation and yoga, I believe it saved me life. And I believe it can help save yours too. So, without any further ado, here are my tried and trues.
You have to WANT something to work. I decided that I did not want to be held down by this oppressive disorder anymore. When you make up your mind to fight back, you are ready. That's not saying that you won't have your set backs, you will, but they will become easier and easier to manage because you want them to be. Getting a counselor is a wonderful first step. I was hooked up with a low income counselor through my local Catholic church. Consult your local parrish for assistance. OR ask your general practice doctor.
The first thing that gave me any sense of relief was exercise. My sister would join me and we would walk in our local park for hours. Even though I felt like I could not breathe, even though I thought I would die if I got off the couch, I walked and you know what...I made it. I didn't die, I didn't pass out. And slowly, I started to feel better. It became that my walks were the only thing that gave me a small break from the near constant terror I was living in. Everyday get up and do something to get your blood pumping in a positive way. This will actually train your body to handle the stress response better. I have found that if I am slipping to a panic attack...and I mean a bad one, one you know is going to be a heart pounding doozy, if I break out running in place and keep repeating in my mind, No, that I can stop my attack in its tracks. I then call my support person, my sister, and she talks to me as I calm down. The way I see it is a panic attack is your body's fight or flight response responding. Either choice requires movement.
Yoga and Meditation-
Yoga is absolutely wonderful. Not only does it increase flexibility but the breathing techniques it teaches helps you learn how to catch your breath during an attack. If you can catch your breath you can calm your heartbeat and you won't feel the pain in your chest anymore. It also will take away any light headed feelings you have. You can pick up a beginner's level DVD at your local store in the sports section. I got mine at Wal-Mart for about ten bucks.
Meditation...I can't stress it enough...if I contribute just one thing to being the ultimate reason I am doing so well now it would be meditation, and I cannot talk about meditation without mentioning a man named Jason Stephenson. Jason is the creator of relaxmeonline.com which is a powerful resource for you to become familiar with. He sells his music and such there, but he is also a wonderful human being who uploads many guided meditations and music via his youtube channel for people to use for free. It was this video:
that gave me the first real sense of peace and comfort since my breakdown had occurred. I kept with Jason and kept doing his guided meditations for anxiety and to calm down. I found this one:
which had an amazing impact for me. It could successfully keep me from going into a panic attack by calming me down, even in the midst of it. I can't tell you how many days I stood in my workplace, sobbing as I repeated his affirmations. You know the old saying, fake it until you make it? Well, it's true. I remember when I first found this video, I would play it on repeat at work and just zone out, if I got too far from it, I would start to panic again, but I was able to make it just long enough to get what I needed to do done, and then I could come right back to this video again. This video changed my life.
AFFIRMATIONS AND BINAURAL BEATS-
One of the issues with anxiety is our brains have been wired to think a certain way, and that way is counterproductive to helping us lead happy lives. I was beginning to realize the negative thoughts I was having thanks to meditation and personal reflection. I knew that I would have to make huge strides in my thinking consciously to change things, but a little unconscious help couldn't hurt. Again, using the free videos uploaded by Jason, I made a free playlist on my youtube account that I would listen to every night as I was going to sleep. I did my best to follow along, but didn't worry about if I dozed off because I knew that my subconscious would get the message. Here is an example playlist. This was the first list I used when I was at my worst:
I tailored my playlist to address the issues I was having with myself. Self confidence and self worth issues, money issues, and just being grateful and finding the good in life were exceptionally hard for me, so they are present in this playlist. Maybe those aren't a part of your issues, make the list work for you.
I also found out about binaural beats. Essentially binaural beats have the ability to affect our brains through different frequencies and can actually help your brain be able to process things much more calmly. It really is an amazing, ancient art that is finding its place in the medical world today. Here is a wonderful article for you to read more thoroughly about binaural beats:
And here is the sister site to the wonderful Jason Stephenson Meditation and Affirmations youtube channel. I get all my beats here:
MAGNESIUM, MASSAGE, & DIET-
They always say you are what you eat...and they're right. Even if you are eating healthy, you may notice that you're still not feeling as good as you'd think. It's because you are missing something very important: magnesium. Our agriculture industry has strip mined our lands and because of that we are all incredibly deficient in magnesium that we used to get through eating leafy greens planted in magnesium rich soils. Go ahead and check out google, you'll see that magnesium has the nick name of being the “original chill pill.” What I did is I went and bought a magnesium oil spray. I liked that it was topical and that it also helped pain as I had a lot of muscle pain from being tensed up so bad with anxiety. You can also take a magnesium supplement but DO NOT take it with calcium. For some reason they sell a three part vitamin with magnesium, calcium, and something else in it and it is the dumbest thing on the market. Calcium and magnesium should be taken as far apart from each other as possible because they cancel each other out. Take one as part of your morning routine and the other as part of your night routine. I got my spray at my local healthfood store for about $13.
I also added magnesium soaks into my life in the form of Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt. They have a wonderful blend that is for soothing and relaxing. It cost me about $5 at my local Wal-mart. It's great for your skin and another way to get magnesium in.
I also replaced my body wash with a foaming epsom salt body wash by Dr. Teals. I can be super tense and on the verge of a panic attack when I hop in the shower and use this stuff it calms me right down and helps alleviate the muscle tension. I love this because sometimes I really just don't feel like sitting in the bath. It cost me about $5 at my local Wal-Mart.
Massage is something you need in your life. Seriously, even if you can only do it once a month, do it. Having someone massage your body for 30 minutes will of course help your muscles that are tensed up due to the anxiety. BUT, as an added bonus the human to human contact like that will release oxcytocin, the natural combatant to cortisol in your body. Because we live in the society we do, we don't get as much actual human touch as we need to be well balanced people. Massage is a great way to safely remedy that in a controlled interaction. Check with your healthcare provider, especially if they are covering treatment for your anxiety disorder. Many of them will cover these sessions as a part of your therapy.
EARTHING AND REIKI-
This is where it becomes a personal thing for me. I chose to become a Reiki practitioner because I personally believe that we are all energy beings and that we have the ability to heal our bodies ourselves. Reiki has helped me learn to channel all my excess energy from anxiety and release it. Click here for more information about Reiki:
Earthing is another one of those practices like Reiki that I will let you decided how you feel about it. Click here for more information about Earthing:
These are some of the biggest changes I have made in my life. It is because of the things I have listed that I am now able to talk to people again, drive, go outside, and am becoming a better me. I went from choking nearly every time I ate and having a constant closed throat to eating foods I had been avoiding for a year. I still challenge myself daily as you can see in my previous post, Running Towards the Battle. I hope this has helped someone, feel free to ask me any questions. I love you guys, and I want you to know that you are not in this alone. Never let this make you feel like a burden, never let this make you feel incomplete, never let this make you feel damaged and unworthy. You are worthy. You are loved. You can beat this.
Love and Light,