In 2013, I was diagnosed with a nice little package of four anxiety disorders as well as a few chronic pain issues. It was a difficult few years fighting and advocating for myself to get on the right meds with the right doctors. You can read more about my mental health journey here
My first goal in sharing this is so people who are suffering may feel a little less alone. My secondary goal in sharing this is that for those who have great mental health that they will be able to look past those with illness and see the person, not the disease. That they won’t look at it as a personality flaw, a spiritual problem, an excuse, or weakness but as a medical problem that needs treatment and a person who deserves to be loved.
Anxiety is something that so many people deal with. Some it may just be a short term thing, others it hits them like a ton of bricks and they are stuck in the endless cycle that has no relief. Personally I can say it’s the worst feeling in the world. I can only describe it as racing thoughts, the body going into flight or fight mode, an intense feeling that something bad is going to happen right away, a panic attack that feels like a heart attack, and sometimes vomiting. When attempting to go on with the day, the fears and worries are always on the back burner and are a major distraction.
I couldn’t do it all without the support of this man! Xoxo
The second worst part of anxiety is the stigma. We can all hold hands and pretend it doesn’t exist but it truly does especially in some church or cultural circles or among the ignorant. It makes it difficult to open up to people about the experience because many people see it as a weakness or something that can be fixed by a good attitude, the book The Secret, and some prayer. For me I can admit I do struggle with guilt that I am not better yet or healed. These stigmas can lead to a lot of hurt and can often lead to people breaking your confidentiality because they don’t see the problem as the medical issue but a piece of gossip.
I have learned a few things over these five years and still have so much left to learn. Many things I’ve learned about myself and there was a few things I learned about the people in my life. I’ve learned that 98% of the things I worry about haven’t happened, I’ve learned to deal with the anxiety as it creeps in instead of waiting till I’m having a panic attack, I’ve learned to be very guarded who I talk to about it because I don’t want to be someone’s piece of gossip, I’ve learned that some people won’t understand and that’s okay. The best lesson I’ve learned is the people who truly love me have stuck around the last 5 years and have loved me through it and the few people who didn’t understand faded away even though it was extremely painful to see people I love exit my life.
Pretty accurate! Love these girls!
I am so lucky to have these beautiful women in my life!
I have also learned a few practical things as well. Here are a few things that helped me, they may not work for you. It took me many years just to develop the few coping skills I do have. Example: I tried meditation many times, so does not work for me… drives me nuuuuutttsss!
1) See a doctor: if you feel like your mental health is affecting your job, home life, and relationships, it’s probably time to see a doctor. That doesn’t automatically mean you have to go onto medication, your doctor may be able to refer you to another service. For me I had to find the right doctor before I was comfortable trying medications again.
2) Tap into your spiritual side: mental illness is not a spiritual problem *lets say it again together*, MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A SPIRITUAL PROBLEM. However for me my faith is super important to help me when I feel like my life is out of control. It is also good preventive medicine for me as well. We all have our different ways to be spiritual, some meditate, some find it in nature, some find it by connecting with their bodies through exercise and yoga, while others trust in some form of higher power.
3) I am not defined by my diagnosis’s: I’ve never shared what I’ve been diagnosed with on any form of social media because it doesn’t define me nor do I want others to define me as so. So here they are:
– Chronic Depressive Disorder
– Generalized Anxiety With Panic Disorder
– Social Anxiety with Agoraphobia
– Mild OCD
None of these things define me. I am the same wife, mother, friend, and human, I just have those things I have to manage in my life. Like any illness it comes with flux and flows.
4) Find Your Tribe, Love them Hard: I am so lucky to have the women and family in my life that I do. I am pretty hardcore loyal to those I love *ride or die babe*. Im lucky to have a group of girlfriends who I’ve known for ten years back when I was “normal” who loved me through this whole journey. I can sadly say in the last five years I have let go of 3 friendships. Women I cared so much about that basically slowly faded. As a text book people pleaser, those were some of the hardest times for me. Luckily the wise words of my BFF to say “screw them” that is there own problem. I am not saying to not apologize if you did something wrong but do everything you can do and then stand in the comfort of that. Sometimes friendship seasons end and that makes room for new ones to begin.
5) Be open to alternative therapies: I personally don’t love anti depressants. I know they work like a charm for so many people but for me they just make me feel weird. I’ve tried acupuncture and massage which has both helped in a huge way! One of the best, easy and cost effective way to bring some Zen into my life is essential oils especially now that I’m pregnant. I enjoy lavender oil in the evening and citrus or peppermint when I am experiencing morning sickness.
I was lucky to be gifted this beautiful necklace from Eupterrae . Im seriously in love and wear it all the time. It is extremely well made and holds the scent extremely well. Also you don’t need to worry about the chain breaking on this one! My favorite part is I can wear it out in public and take a quick sniff when I need it instead of keeping a bottle in my purse. Follow the link to their page to see all of their beautiful and stylish pieces.
It is always difficult to share these intimate details of my life but it’s my hope that my honesty may help those who feel stuck will have the courage to reach out. I really encourage any reader that if you have any physical or psychological hinderance, talk to your doctor! The sooner interventions are started the better it will be!
Thanks again for reading friends!
Very nice blog. I’d be curious to know about diet (foods/water), supplementation, and if you have tried emotional release (dealing with past memories and trauma), Keep up the great work.
Thank you Steven! Yes I was lucky enough to see Dr. Colbert in the states who specializes in holistic meds! It’s crazy how much diet effects the mood
Thanks for sharing your story, Gwen. I think many people can totally relate, and hearing your own tale helps them with theirs. That, and meditation is not for everybody. Also, glad you like the necklace 🙂
Thank you Charlene for your kind words and beautiful necklace