I know I always kid around on the blog a lot saying “it gives me a maj. panic attack” or “#OCD”… but it’s actually no joke.
I suffer from moderate to severe anxiety (depending on the day), & it’s been a constant struggle for as long as I can remember. With this big trip around the corner (a huge trigger for me), I figured now is as good a time as any to share my story.
I am a pretty personal person, so this post is definitely out of the norm for me, but I feel it’s necessary. I think writing post will be helpful to me, but more importantly, I want anyone else out there suffering to know that they are not alone.
Forewarning: this isn’t gonna be one of my typical “fun” posts w/ tons of pretty pictures, cause in all honesty– this isn’t a pretty or fun topic. It didn’t seem appropriate to try to dress it up as something it’s not. It’s my truth, my story, & my reality. Plain & simple.
If you’re down to stick around and read it- awesome! I appreciate it. If not, no hard feelings- come back tomorrow cause I have a great DIY project I can’t wait to share.
Considering I come from a long line of anxiety and/or depression sufferers, I basically had anxiety before I was born. I am not going to go into much detail about this because it’s not my place to share their stories. I don’t blame or point fingers AT ALL, but I do think it’s important to point out that these type of issues can most definitely be passed on.
My first memory of anxiety started when I moved from Nashville to California at the age of 6. It started with me being severely nervous about sleeping in my bed. I would insist/cry/scream/beg to sleep on the couch in my parents room every.single.night. My parents, thinking it was a stage, let that go on for a while. Eventually, it had to come to an end & I didn’t do well with that.
They decided to take me to a therapist. That therapist insisted they lock me in my room from the outside w/ a tape recorder. The tape recorder wasn’t for me, it was for my parents. He wanted to see how many times they came in when I cried. It took about 20 minutes & they couldn’t bear it anymore. We never went back to that kook again & they laid off therapy… for a hot minute.
I finally started to agree to sleep in my bed, under one condition: my Dad did NOT leave the living room/stop watching TV till I was way past sleeping. If it turned off to soon, I was in tears. He then learned all about “sleep timers” & things were working out great. Eventually he got me my very own miniature TV. It was the size of a handheld radio, had long antennas, & only got the Spanish channels. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.
At this point, I was sleeping in my bed, but I had developed severe separation anxiety. I could barely make it to school. So, we found a new doctor- a psychiatrist. She was great, but being that her job was to prescribe, she immediately put me on a low dose of Lexapro. For the most part, this dosage got me through middle school, although I did miss out on a lot of fun sleepovers. If I did go, my parents always had to pick me up after a sobbing phone call that I was dying. This was always embarrassing, so I just stopped going altogether.
Then I entered highschool & decided I wanted to get off pills altogether. Bad idea. My anxiety didn’t neccesarily get worse, but I also started to get the depression bug. I was dealing with mean girls, fight with friends, & a volatile relationship with my then boyfriend. I took all of this really hard– crying was a daily (if not more) ritual. Everyone was worried, so I got back on on pills. It helped tremendously & I finally started to get a grip on things. Got my grades up, graduated with honors, & got accepted to a good school. Things were lookin’ up, for the time being.
Then it was time for me to go to college & the anxiety was back. I remember the day I got dropped off at school like it was yesterday. I cried, sobbed, begged for them take me home, cried some more, & was left there. I spent a whole week crying in bed, not meeting anyone, & not looking forward to classes starting. I wanted to make friends, but I just didn’t want to get adapted into this new life. I wanted to go home. I was still in a volatile relationship with the same boyfriend & I had severe anxiety he would cheat on me if I wasn’t home. Shocker- he did, but I was so insecure/weak I stayed with him… which just made my anxiety 100x worse always worrying when he would cheat next (which… he did, many times).
I blamed it all on college, naturally. I suffered big time, but eventually I made some great friends, & decided I was going to get through the next 4 years (although I will say, I went home nearly every weekend!). It’s a shame really, anxiety kinda ruined that whole “college experience” for me.
Towards the end of college, the volatile relationship was fizzling out (praise!!) & I was spending a lot more time in Long Beach… which is something I really wish I did sooner. I was having a ton of fun, was nearly anxiety free, & made some amazing lifelong friends who were so supportive and understanding of all my lil’ “idiosyncrasies”.
Then I graduated, & the time finally came for me to move home. I was sad college was over, & nervous about the new phase in my life, but I was excited to be back near my Mom aka my comfort zone. I got a good out-of-college job in a real office, moved in with some old friends from highschool, & at this point- I was stable. I was still on a concoction of pills, but I was cool w/ it since I was feeling good. Which brings me to…
Heads up: when I say present, I am referring to the past couple years as well as now.
So… I got laid off from the job, which although sad, was a blessing disguise cause I ended started my own company w/ my best friend. I had also met an amazing guy who treats me like a queen & also fully gets my “”idiosyncrasies” (I prefer that word to anxiety FYI). BUT– for some reason or another, the anxiety was back & this time around it was crippling.
I have a few phobias that have always stuck with me: being away from home, throwing up, death (me dying/ my dog dying/ family dying/ etc.), & hypochondria (you name it, I was convinced I had at one point or another). These phobias were controlling every aspect of my life & I couldn’t function.
One day I called a talk therapist I found on line (great Yelp reviews) & left her a pretty desperate/rambling message. She called me immediately & squeezed me in the following day. We talked about everything (i.e. the whole story I just shared w/ you guys), and she felt really strongly about me trying to get off meds and opt for other alternatives to get my anxiety under control.
This scared the shit out of me. Get off my meds? What?! At this point I have been on them for 10+ years & I had no idea who I would be off of them. I definitely thought about it, but ruled it out as soon as I left her office. Nope, no way, can’t do it, too risky.
Shorty after I started seeing her, a weird thing happened- I became emotionless. Completely deprived of all happiness & sadness. The therapist recommended I really go talk to my Psychiatrist about my meds. Although apprehensive, I made an appointment. She actually agreed with my talk therapist, it was time to ween off the meds. I had reached a point she referred to as “leveling” out. I guess it happens a lot when you’re on too high of a dose of anti-anxiety/depression medicine. So… we started to slowly drop my dosage.
At this same time, my therapist recommended I see an acupuncturist to help with transition, this was a game & life changer. If you have anxiety, please please please give acupuncture a try. It has been the best help thus far.
The weening off the pills continued and continued… & I am now down to 5mg of Lexapro a day (I was at 40mg!!). Best of all, I didn’t turn into a basket case, psycho, or cry baby. For the most part, it’s been quite easy & very rewarding.
Which brings me to the real current day, like right now. My anxiety is back, but with good reason. I am going on a big trip abroad (Sweden) w/ my boyfriend for 10 days in August & I am pretty much freaking out. This time around, I have opted not to up my meds. Instead I have started doing some hypnotherapy & EFT, it’s too soon to tell if they are working, but I am optimistic about it! I am also looking into energy healing, but haven’t yet set an appointment, if anyones tried it- LMK how it worked for you!
Since I am not a psychic & the future is another “trigger” of mine, this will be the shortest section of all (I am sure at this point you’re happy about that!).
Basically, I plan to take things day by day, continue to go to hypnotherapy, continue my acupuncture, & always look for new things to try to remedy my anxiety.
I have accepted the fact that this is most likely something I will deal with for the rest of my life, & I am okay with that. I’ve made it this far… so I am pretty sure I can get through the struggles that I will surely face. Plus, I have an epic support system always by my side (love you all!!).
Currently, I am working on separating my thoughts from reality & just getting on that plane to Sweden. It’s going to be a trip of a lifetime & I am not going to let anxiety steal anymore damn memories/experiences from me!!!!
Other things I’ve Tried (+ how they worked for me!):
+ Books: I love reading so this has proved helpful to me, some of my favorites include- My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel, EFT & Tapping for Beginners, Mindful Meditation, & I Thought It Was Just me (but it isn’t) by Brene Brown.
+ Chinese Herbs: These were given to me by my acupuncturist & when I remember to take them, they do help to take the edge off. If you opt to see an acupuncturist (which I again, highly reccomend) be sure to ask them about Chinese herbs.
+ Natural Calm: aka “the anti-stress” drink. It’s a powder & when I am feeling nervous, I mix some in with my water and it pretty much immediately helps soothe my nerves. I love this stuff, but it sometimes makes me sleepy so I only drink it before bed.
+ Flower Remedies: Red Chestnut for over-worrying of others, White Chestnut for unwanted thoughts, Mustard for gloom/sadness, Rock Rose for alleviating fears, & Rescue Remedy for general anxiety (I also use Rescue Remedy for Pets when Bitzy travels- works wonders!).
So… that’s it. The novel has ended & if you got through that all- props to you & thanks for reading! I hope my anxiety rant shed some light on the condition as a whole & will prove helpful to any one else going through similar troubles. Also, if you have anything to share about your anxiety story and/or anything you’ve tried- please please please comment below & let me know :). I’d love to hear from you.
The struggle is real, but if you put in the work, you can get through it. I promise.
[ all quotes pulled from Scott Stossel’s “My Age of Anxiety” ]