In 2014 I was crippled with severe anxiety and mild depression.
Some may see that as a surprise as I am commonly referred to as “happy, bubbly, perky”. That’s the thing, though, anxiety and depression don’t limit who they burden.
First, a little back story.
I grew up a worrier.
A little girl, 6 years old, worrying and fretting. I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, been considered, like I said, happy and bubbly, and quite funny…but on the inside, I was often filling my head with self-doubt, negative talk, and fear.
My senior year of college it all came crashing down.
Here is a brief list of things/feelings/symptoms that happened throughout that year:
- tremor episodes
- dizzy spells
- panic attacks
- feelings of giving up and worthlessness
- brain fog
- wondering where the closest hospital was
- internal pain
- random outbreaks of emotions
- seclusion from my friends
- missing important events in others lives
I share my struggle so that those of you out there, and I know you are out there, can know:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
There were times, in the midst of my panic attacks, I felt like I was in a hole in the ground, desperately grasping for the surface, but the sand continued to poor in on top of me: alone, hurt, and helpless.
But the beauty is, there was always that light pouring down on me from above the hole. The light that I was doing everything I could to reach. And finally, one day, after many, many days, I did.
The doctor’s office continually looked at me like I was crazy, literally crazy. When I told them about the pain under my ribcage, my racing heart, and the tremors I couldn’t seem to stop, they acted like I was the plague, like my anxiety and depression were contagious. They wrote me a prescription for Xanax. One that I filled, but one that I never took.
Today, I have for you, some of the tactics I’ve used to conquer my anxiety and depression.
1. Therapy Journal
I’m a writer by talent, gift, and education, so words mean everything to me. A therapy journal allowed me to express all the feelings I was feeling; get them onto the paper, out of my head, and release them. My journal entries also often turned into prayers. I’d read them over and over as tears poured down my face. Sometimes I felt so silly writing it all down, and sometimes they didn’t even make sense (or were barely legible) but the release I experienced after getting things off my chest was immense. My journals also now serve as a reminder to me how strong I am and how far I’ve come. Here’s an excerpt that I’d like to share with you:
I feel like I’m caught in a weight bearing tunnel with no hope of escape.It’s 5’0 clock on a Sunday morning, a morning I was hoping to catch up on some sleep, and instead, I laid in bed unable to shut off the constant stream of worries floating in my mind. When am I going to crank out this Capstone paper? Why do I always feel sick? The house needs cleaned. I hate my job. Does Justin really still care about me? Where’s God? …I’m exhausted. Exhausted mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. I just want to lay in bed, sleep, and wish I’d wake up and everything would be peachy keen all over again. …I know He [God] doesn’t give up on me, but I want to be fixed now. I’m in over my head and drowning more every second”
I share that with you, again, so that those of you who feel you are alone can know that you are not. I’m not seeking pity or praise or ” awwwhhh, bless her heart”…I want others to know that what they’re going through is real and they can make it out of the “weight bearing tunnel” alive.
2. Healing the Gut
This is my number one, physical/scientific tip. Heal your gut. Your gut is a deep, underlying root to your mental state.
There is this amazing concept called “The Gut Brain Axis“. Essentially that means that when your gut is out of whack, so is your “brain”. After realizing some of my worst anxiety moments came after consuming eggs, I started the rabbit hole of internet research. That is when I found the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. I started my healing protocol a few weeks later. I believe this healing had a major impact on my anxiety and depression. This is one of the reasons I’m so very passionate about nutrition and the capability it has to change lives. The profound difference healing my gut made in my life is also a reason that digestion is my specialty in my Nutritional Therapy practice.
It seemed the more bone broth I drank and the less sugar and food sensitivities I consumed, the better I became. I also learned how to identify whether a food was irritating my body based on my emotions and anxiety.
When the doctor wrote me a prescription for Xanax I had no idea what it was but I didn’t feel good about it. I filled the prescription and later learned about the side-effects of Xanax and that addiction was a possibility. I’d already been switching my personal care products and lifestyle to a more natural, holistic approach so I sought out an all-natural alternative to Xanax. That’s when Kim, my boss at HealthSmart Teays Valley, introduced me to Anxiocalm.
Please don’t be confused that Anxiocalm is a direct replacement for Xanax. Xanax can be incredibly beneficial for those that absolutely need it but I chose to make a personal decision to find something else.
Anxiocalm worked for me beautifully when I’d feel a panic attack coming on. I used it consistently for at least 6 months or so and each time it helped me through. I’ve also suggested it to many,many others who have seen success with it. Anxiocalm should not be used as a quick fix, it’s more like a crutch to help you through the overall healing process.
Yoga. Sweet, sweet yoga.
It’s incredibly difficult to explain how yoga makes me feel. And I know its an age-old suggestion for depression and anxiety, but it’s so, so true.
There is no way I could articulate the way yoga has impacted my life, but as I continue to go through teacher training, I know God sent me to that first yoga class to help change me and aid in my healing.
Yoga, even if only practicing breath and asana, is a game changer. Do yourself a favor and find a class near you. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
5. My Faith
Praise the good Lord that He is always, always faithful.
Some will tell you to “Just give it to God” or “You’re a Christian, you need to find your Joy in God”…but to a person with anxiety and depression, that only makes you feel worse. As a Christian it made me feel like I’d failed God, too.
My faith reminded me, even in the moments of loneliness and despair, that the mere mention of Jesus’ name was enough to remember that He would never leave me or forsake me. That, one day, this pain and suffering would be for my good and His glory.
That the struggle would be worth it. That this world was not my Home.
My faith gave me something to stand on and be grounded in. Even when, like in the excerpt of my journal entry above, I questioned where He was, I knew deep down that He’d always be there.
My faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior continues to be the reason I am able to conquer any struggle to this day. Especially when an acute day filled with anxiety and depression comes to rear its ugly head.
Praise be to God, that even on the nights when I’d gone back and forth in my head if this life was worth living another day, that I sit here able to share a story of strength, perseverance, and grace with you because I remembered that this life was one lived for Him, and not my own.
I hope this blog post resonates with you and gives you some tips on how to start the journey of overcoming anxiety and depression.
Always remember that you are not alone.
Reach out to someone around you, reach up in prayer, and/or reach for your journal.
Please know that you are an overcomer and there are Great, Great, glorious plans for your life.
Also, please remember that anxiety and depression are serious and that you may need professional help to aid your in your healing journey. Reach out to these professionals as they could be key to your recovery. There are also amazing programs like Celebrate Recovery that will aid you in finding the light at the top of the tunnel. The point is, you do not, and should not, have to battle alone.
If you find yourself in need of immediate help, please call 1-800-273-8255.
As always, I thank each of you for reading. This wasn’t the easiest blog to write, but wow, it feels good to share my struggle and hopefully instill hope and love into each of you.
You can do this. You got this. Go forth and conquer <3
In love and health,
For Additional Reading, I also have a blog for “5 Daily Practices to Help Conquer the Seasonal Blues“
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Disclaimer: None of this information is intended to diagnose or treat any type of illness or disease. Always consult with your physician before making any decisions regarding your health.
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