I love the way you do that right Thurr, right Thurr-sday..
I’ve been thinking…
I’ve never sought professional help in regards to my anxiety, despite everyone’s suggestions to do so.. My anxiety came on quite quickly and was associated with experiencing a lot of change, mentally and physically and locationally (I make up words) in a short period of time.. It happened at a time when I felt I was at my strongest mentally.. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me, why I was broken, why I was all of a sudden irrational and had no control over my thoughts.. Why was I crazy?
I was determined to overcome my situation myself because mentally “I’m stronger than that”. I’m not a big believer in doctors anyway and only go when I feel it’s truly necessary. I never felt it truly necessary with my Anxiety so..I didn’t and still haven’t sought professional ‘help’. I found if I was asking myself.. “am I that sick?” or questioning whether I should go seek medical help or not.. I’m probably ok.. if something was really wrong, I’d know and definitely wouldn’t be thinking so much about it.
With that said, I did consult doctor google a lot (funny how I’ll consult the internet but not an actual person who has been somewhat trained..), trying to find other people experiencing the same thing and how they ‘cured’ themselves.. Unfortunately, these ‘cured’ posts seem to be very limited. A lot of the posts are all experiences and no cures.
One day, R and I were working through one of my melt downs and we decided maybe I need to feel adrenalin in it’s true environment, other than when my lizard brain (amygdala) decides to switch on for no reason. So we googled something to do with curing anxiety with skydiving or something the like. We found a link, to a massive post by a gentlemen who suffered from severe panic attacks and anxiety along with severe hypochondria to the point he was terrified to leave the home. Unfortunately, after a very, very long time trawling the internet and every anxiety forum I can find, I have been unable to find this post again.. If he so happens to read this, or you find it, please let me know so I can link to it and give credit where it’s due.
He started out his post saying that it seems once people overcome their anxiety they are so over the moon or that it’s such an intense process they forget about all the people out there still suffering and fail to post their recovery stories.
He overcame his issues medication free. He set himself little goals to the point of just reaching the lamp post outside his house and then increasing it to the next one when he thought he was ready.. then to the point of going to the supermarket, which was a massive deal. I really wish I could find the post again.
I have not recovered completely from my anxiety but I am a 100% on the road to recovery and want to share with all you sufferers out there, my success story..
Here are the key pointers I found helped me tremendously, but please keep in mind this all takes time. I spent a lot of time looking for quick fixes and that’s how I accumulated these points. I only wish there were more posts out there like this for me. Seriously, it doesn’t happen overnight and I had to work real hard at it.. and still am:
- Become a Scientist. One thing I found that really helped me was understanding the science behind what was happening to me. From chemical reactions, to what my lizard brain was and how it worked.
- Google No More! A big step for me was putting a stop to googling every little twinge or pain I felt. Yes, it can help in knowing but I had to filter through so many other things, that were usually terrifying, it just sent me off into another panic attack. Refrain from Google Doctor, I found he did more harm than good.. If I did google anything, it was things like Overcoming Anxiety, Anxiety Cure etc.
- Talk: Finding a support network. I have R, and he has been fantastic. Whenever I was having irrational thoughts I would vocalize what was running through my mind. Not only did I get embarrassed from some of my thoughts, but he helped talk me through them and how they were irrational, or unnecessary.
- There’s Nothing Wrong With You: The one thing that I really got out of the article I mentioned before, was that there is nothing wrong with me. The word ‘disorder’ sounds like there is something wrong with you. He said to look at it as a Phobia. Because essentially, that is what’s going on.. fear.
- What’s my Phobia/s??: The next thing is finding out where this fear or phobia is coming from and what it is. Mine was a fear of the unknown and not being in control. It took a lot of self reflecting and time to figure that out. If you can narrow down what you fear the most then look at it as curing a phobia, for some reason, it seems much easier.
- Conquer Phobia/s!!: I took my first step by going to the doctors and getting a blood test for Coeliac. Not only did I go to the doctors and get a blood test but I did it on my own! Yes, I had a panic attack for about an hour before hand, but I did it, and it was the best feeling ever! I have read around that you can’t cure anxiety by putting someone in the situation that causes their anxiety. I disagree.. to an extent. I think that if the person is consciously putting themselves in that situation to face their fear then yes, it can work.. but if some arsehole is putting them in that situation and they’re not prepared.. that’s a really shit thing to do.
- Don’t Pull Yourself Down: I can’t tell you how many times I have said “I’m Crazy”.. especially when I’m justifying my irrational thought process to a friend.. like calling yourself crazy is any better? Seriously though, the key thing I found is being positive.. and not calling myself crazy. You pull yourself down, and you’re letting that lizard brain back in control. Compliment yourself. “Gee you did well in that situation” R and I Hi-5 whenever I tell him of a situation I overcame. Give yourself credit.
- Passing the buck: I recently found that I was blaming things for triggering my panic attacks. It went from smells, to gluten, to a certain person I was unsure about, to the air conditioning, to heat, to ear infection, to sugar, to meat, to dairy, back to ear infections.. the list is endless. Don’t pass the buck. The sooner I realised, it wasn’t anyone or anything causing the panic and anxiety other than myself, it became a whole lot easier to handle.
- You are in Control: Although it certainly feels like I’m not, essentially, I am completely in control with what goes on up in that noggin’ of mine. It’s time I acted like it. I am the boss.
- Don’t fight it: The more I fight my panic attacks, the worse they are. It took me a while to just accept that they were happening.. but when I did, they were over a whole lot quicker. I also do this thing where I count to 5 and for those 5 seconds I let the panic completely consume me.. then after those 5 seconds I put my bossy boots back on and the panic is gone. Accept you get anxious.. don’t try to hide it. The more you fight that bad boy, the harder he fights back.. It’s almost like mr Lizard Brain thrives on conflict and negativity.. probably because he does..
- Find Your Safe Zone: Everyone who suffers has their safety net, their safe zone. Their way of overcoming or working through their attack. Whenever I get a really bad attack I hoola hoop. There is something about the circular movement that I find really soothing. I also jump in the shower and imagine I’m washing all the panic and anxiety away. Works wonders for me. Some people have mantras or sayings.. Mine is ‘Keep it Real’. Whenever I feel like I’m starting to lose control and I’m getting all worked up about something.. I say to myself “Eliza, is shit even that real?” “Is it that real, Eliza?” sometimes my lizard brain will chime in and be all like “YES, YES IT IS SO, SO REAL!” then I say, “Come on, Keep it real babe, keep it real” [I sign my posts off with “keep it real” but that’s for different reasons.]
- LIVE!: I cannot stress enough how important it is to Live and be active!. One day, I made the conscious decision to not let my panic attacks stop me from living my life anymore because I was miserable. I stopped doing things, for fear of having anxiety in public.. so instead I sat around all day waiting for anxiety to happen. I started getting out and doing things.. It was literally as little as taking my dog for a walk down the street and back.. no panic attack, as I got more adventurous the happier I was.. but then I had a panic attack at a new friends house when we were over there for dinner.. I was so embarrassed, but it was a doozy. I had to get up and pace for a half hour. Eventually I asked him for something to spin because I didn’t have a hoop, and he whipped out a Fire Stick. We didn’t light it but it certainly did the trick.. They even left me alone in the backyard twirling this stick until I was all good. I am now okay with having an attack in public.. You will find that most people will be very sympathetic and as accommodating as possible. Live your life how you want to live it. Don’t waste time waiting for anxiety to pass.. It will pass, the happier and more energetic you are.. that’s what I found anyway.
- Exercise & Be Healthy!: Keeping active probably deserves it’s own little point. When you have anxiety or a panic attack, you begin to release a certain type of adrenalin that shuts off your digestive system and sends all your blood to your legs ready to fight or flight (I said you had to become a scientist haha). If you don’t then get rid of this adrenalin by going for a run or doing some yoga or getting your muscles moving it isn’t very healthy. I have found, the more active I am, the less anxiety I feel. When you exercise you release endorphins that make you feel awesome.. and who doesn’t want to feel awesome? Also eating healthier, helps your body, obviously, but it also makes you feel way more energetic, less boggy, happier. Anxiety can make you feel real shitty but I find good, healthy food definitely counteracts that.
Here are a couple of ways I keep my anxiety in check:
- Regular exercise.. Running, walking, sit ups.. I don’t do anything major, just enough to get my heart rate up for a while.
- Yoga – I do yoga for the poses. They increase flexibility and tone you up.
- Meditation – For me, this is not identifying with the thoughts that I have.. accepting I’m having these thoughts, but not letting them emotionally effect me. Others call it Mindfulness. I like to imagine I am a mountain, and my thoughts are just clouds passing by. I’ve had people say “So you’re Emotionless then?” In a way, yes. But only to the thoughts that are not needed. We have a mental thought train that runs constantly.. Some of my thoughts, are completely ridiculous and unnecessary.. so I don’t let them effect me.
- Getting outside – Helps big time. Or even just opening up all the windows and all the blinds so that the house is Light and not Dark.
- Expressing myself creatively – Be it, music, painting, drawing, writing etc.
There are some key points I found really helped me in getting on the high road to anxiety free life. I feel I need to say I am in no way professionally, or medically trained. I just want people to know that you will overcome it, I am overcoming it. It is possible.
I hope this helps someone, and I’d love to read your success stories, if you’re happy to share.
If you have one, post it in an anxiety forum or something.. there really aren’t many ‘success’ posts or ‘how people did it’ posts out there. Even do it anonymously.. but it really does help to share.. I reckon.
Keep it real,