It never fails.
I feel my chest tightening up, my breathing quicken and the panic set in. My husband leans in, wanting to fix it, says, “what’s wrong?”
I don’t have the words. I just say,” anxiety,” meekly. In his desire to fix things, he’ll say…”from what?”
This is where I run out of words.
Anxiety isn’t just a feeling, it’s a state of being, and it isn’t always from a particular cause. In fact, it might be triggered BY something, but it may not be in fact ABOUT something. Most of the time, I just have to ride out my anxiety and later reflect on what triggered my response.
Anxiety has roots deep down in you. They could be from experiences in your youth, environmental or simply genetics. In any of these cases, working with your doctor to rule out any medical conditions is important.
For me, my anxiety started as a child and amped up through the seasons of my life. I had dealt with abuse growing up and my mom was a single mom early on. I remember sitting at the window at a young age and being fearful that my mom had died in a car crash because it was later than usual. I feared peer rejection most of my life. I struggled with coping in highly stressful situations. I still border on panic attacks at new restaurants.
Interestingly enough, because I had had abuse growing up – my most stressful situations were times of the least amount of stress. I would subconsciously create stress to feel better. It instilled chaos in our daily lives until one day I broke. I took myself to urgent care and got medicated.
Over the next year, I was medicated and did relatively well this way. The problem was…I was gaining weight. As my moods stabilized, my awareness of my weight increased. I was miserable in the fact that I had gained over 15-20 pounds.
I knew it was my medication, but I didn’t want to live in anxiety. So…I started experimenting. I created a process which I followed to completely get off my meds (*note* check with your doctor before).
- Add exercise. This helps increase “feel-good” endorphins, interrupts “looped thoughts” and creates “nanny neurons” that quiet brain activity.
- Add supplements. What’s the difference between medication and supplements? I always think going with more natural methods is preferred. Medication is needed sometimes, don’t get me wrong, but I was able to wean myself off (again follow doctor’s orders) by utilizing supplements. These are called adaptogens and help the body deal with stress.
- Add nutrition. Sugar and caffeine in the body can significantly increase anxiety. Personally, I drink coffee and eat sugar in moderation. That said, when I eat too much, I feel the impact in my stress load.
Anxiety is a very real condition that goes beyond “stress”, the way we treat our body daily can prevent us from having to utilizing medication. That said, sometimes it is distinctly needed. Its OK to medicate, but understand it isn’t always needed the rest of your life. With your doctor, you can increase the above methods to help yourself become more resilient in day to day situations.
Do I still struggle with anxiety? YES! Is it all consuming? NO!