Six weeks ago I vowed that I would write about my journey with anxiety and depression and how I was healing from it.
Now here we are, six weeks later. Overall the last four or five months have been kind of brutal for me. I was a roller coaster of emotions for awhile and didn’t tell anybody. Then I hit rock bottom and couldn’t get myself back up. That is when, and why, I asked for help.
As mentioned in the previous posts, I wanted to get help because I felt “broken”. Asking myself multiple times in a week why I didn’t feel like “Erin” anymore. Why couldn’t I leave the house without having a panic attack? Why couldn’t I go to the grocery story without feeling overwhelmed? Why was I so physically sick? Why couldn’t I eat? Why?
To be honest I still don’t know the full reason behind why it got so bad. I have some ideas but truly don’t know why or how it got as horrible as it did.
However, I am SO GLAD, HAPPY, JOYFUL, and ECSTATIC that I am 99% better.
Asking for real help and reaching out to people was one of the best things I could have ever done. It shed light on it to those who needed to know more, who needed to feel supported and that they weren’t alone, who wanted to help me, and who opened up the conversation to help get rid of the stigma.
Now, we still have a 3,000 mile cross country move to make so I’ll let you know how I am doing after that, haha!
BUT, I wanted to give some practical tips on what actually helped ease the anxious thoughts, depressed feelings, and panic attacks. I hope they encourage and help whoever is reading this!
**Now remember. I am NOT a doctor or professional counselor, I am just giving words and advice from my own personal experience. If you feel like you need help or have thoughts of suicide, please reach out to someone. A friend, family member, a doctor, or a professional counselor/therapist.**
Here are 15 ways that helped me to overcome and manage the anxiety.
- Opening up to people closest around me and asking for help
- I was afraid that people around me would just brush it off and just says things like, “Well just don’t worry about it!” or half encouraging remarks like, “You’ll be okay”.
- BY THE WAY. Saying “Just don’t worry about it” is one of the worst things you can say to a person who is mentally hurting.
- Going to a Doctor and admitting all of the things that were going on, how I was feeling and what we could do about it
- This is where it got really real for me. I had never talked to an actual Doctor about it. I was nervous they would just say “here are some meds, take them and you’ll be fine.” I wanted someone to hear me out and explain things to me. Thankfully I found a doctor who was able to do that and explain the ways of coping with this.
- Taking a Daily Medication
- Now I know this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. It may scare some people with the different side effects. Everyone is different and everyone’s body will react differently. I personally have had a good experience so far. I am currently on a low dose Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). Basically it helps the production of serotonin in my body, which is the “happy feeling” hormone. This medication is NOT addictive.
- There are some instant pills, like Xanax, which calm you down almost immediately. These types of substances are in the benzodiazepine family of medicines. From what my doctor told me, these types of medications can be/are addictive.
- Going to Therapy
- Guys, this honestly might be #1 on my list of things that have helped. Being able to talk to a professional who has dealt with anxiety and is working to help others was a game changer. My therapist really helped me to see things from a different perspective, gave me logical and practical tips to manage and overcome the anxiety, and helped to remind me of who I am and what I want in life. I honestly think everyone should see a therapist, haha!
- Breathing Techniques
- I was taught a 4 count breathing method to help offset the thoughts I was having. You breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breath out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds. Repeat as many times as necessary to help your mind and body feel more calm.
- Okay, many people, including professionals, told me to really try this out. I was skeptical at first. But the reason for meditation is to help clear your mind and to shut off all of the thoughts that enable you to spiral. It helps you focus on just being there for a moment. It definitely takes a lot of practice and time but I am finding that it is helping.
- For about 5 or 6 weeks I wasn’t able to eat much. In the morning food made me nauseous or smelled bad. Nothing was appetizing and I didn’t want to cook. But I was so tired all of the time (from not eating much) that I would feel dizzy or lightheaded and try and eat something really quick. It didn’t really help much because if I was past the point of just a little hungry I would have an anxiety attack. It was a really odd loop.
- Now, I am focusing on making sure I am satisfied after each meal, eating when I am hungry, eating more protein and healthy fat filled breakfasts, and not eating as many sugary items or processed food.
- Mental Word Mantra’s
- Another big thing that helped was having phrases I would say to myself when I started to feel anxious. They are listed below:
- “I am calm, I am in control of my thoughts and emotions. There is no danger in front of me, and I just doing (activity). It’s okay.”
- “I embrace this anxiety. If something bad happens that’s okay. This is just a fleeting feeling, it will not overtake me.”
- “Let go of this thought or emotion. Breathe, and let go”
- “Be still and know that I am God” This is one where I say it slowly. I say the full sentence and then start taking away one word at a time. It really helps to put my focus on the presence of God.
- Riding the Wave of Anxiety
- You hear this a lot in anxiety recovery. To “ride the wave of panic”. It doesn’t make sense if you’ve never had a panic attack or general anxiety but it makes sense to those of us who do. It’s definitely an uncomfortable feeling, but when you try to fight or ignore the anxiety it only makes it worse. Embrace it, ride that wave, and then walk away with victory.
- Every time I was out in public and feeling like a panic attack was coming, I reminded myself that I am in control and that I needed to ride the wave. If you run away it only makes the fear of that place or situation stronger.
- Okay, this is a no brainer. I mean it’s scientifically proven that exercising increases your endorphins and you feel much happier after a heart pumping workout. I am still making this apart of my weekly routine.
- Writing and Journaling
- Okay, this is an obvious one. You guys have read all of my thoughts on anxiety the last six weeks. But especially for me, when I write I feel as though the words I put down on paper (or computer) are out of my head as soon as they are left in ink. It helps to alleviate racing thoughts and put some calming ones into your brain.
- One of the biggest things I have learned through anxiety is this. When you keep the spiraling thoughts inside of you it only makes the anxiety stronger; when you let it out (verbally or on paper) you are taking back some of the power from anxiety. Let it out!
- Being around people
- I am an extroverted person. So, the more I keep myself isolated the worse the anxiety is. It was super important for me to get back out there and hang out with people, go to dinner with friends and just get out of the house!
- Sometimes this seems like a daunting task for people who struggle with social anxiety. If you don’t face it, you will not be able to overcome it.
- Yoga Therapy
- This is a super cool one! It kind of joins together meditation and therapy and yoga. I have a friend who is working to get certified as a yoga therapist and needed some volunteers! She had asked me to be on of her case studies and I was more than willing to accept! She went through a lot of different breathing techniques, poses, and even gave me a personalized restorative yoga session!
- If you’ve never tried restorative yoga, you need to go try it ASAP. So relaxing and nice.
- Prayer and Time in the Word
- I know this isn’t everybody’s thing but Faith is very important to me. And I am not going to shy away from that. I definitely cried out in prayer and screamed “why are you letting this happen to me? Please just take it away!” and those sorts of thoughts. However, I stopped asking why and started to be thankful that I was going through it.
- I start each morning and finish each night reading the bible and going through my Jesus Calling devotional. Allowing the Lord to refocus my mind on Him and not on the crazy emotions and worries I have.
- Last one. Accepting the Anxiety and Knowing that its not permanent!
- After I realized that I am just an anxious person by nature, it took some of the scariness away from it. Everyone has anxiety at some point in their lives. Whether its situational, seasonal or everyday, its a normal feeling to have. Realizing that I really am in control of my emotions and I have the ability to work through this and remember I was put on earth for a purpose, kept me going.
Alright, I hope those 15 tips helped you! I could give some more but then i’d just be rambling on forever.
If you know someone who is going through something similar, would you send this to them? Or if you are going through this yourself, please try some of the coping techniques mentioned above.
I know how hard it is to get out of that anxious state of mind. It does take some time but when you are on the other side of it, healed, you will thank yourself a thousand times that you reached out for help!
Thank you for reading this and following along in this journey of healing from anxiety. I appreciate it more than you know.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7 NIV
Thanks for reading,
~Erin, The Short Wife