Happy Halloween! In the spirits, I was reminiscing of past Halloweens. While doing so, something had dawned on me. It’s been nearly 6 years that I’ve been medication free. You see, I suffered anxiety disorder, mostly related with that I had post traumatic stress disorder. My PTSD had caused me to have insomnia at a very young age, and I refused to go to sleep until I saw it getting lighter outside. It caused me to have social issues, I was afraid to handle anything on my own. I felt like I needed to stand behind someone, while they took the reigns. It left me feeling handicap in my own life. I had to control every single detail of my life, and if I didn’t, my anxiety would consume me. I would go through denial, I wouldn’t deal with it. Then, a trigger would occur. It could be a movie, or a situation that would force me to reflect, and then before I know it, my internal insides were spinning like the Tasmania devil. However, if you looked directly at me, I showed no emotion, and didn’t appear like anything was wrong. I changed all of my college courses to online classes, and often slept in the day (which was the only time I would fall into REM sleep), then would stay awake all night doing homework and working on the business I was building. At this point, I was on medication for over 2 years. I was put on Clonazepam at around 15 years old, which I took until I was 19 nearly 20 years old.
I didn’t know any better. I was a kid, and I was just listening to the professionals around me tell me this was the right solution to get a better control over my anxiety issue. They said this would help me learn to deal with my anxiety, and be able to “function”. However, all it really did was put a mask over the problem, and give me some sort of false solution that forced me to rely on something else to make me feel “okay”. 2 years into the medication, I would dream of the day where I didn’t have to take any medication and I would feel normal again. I thought of what that would be like. I feared of the day my insurance would cut off, or something drastic would happen to the world and everyone on these medications would fall to their knees, because functioning off of it felt like daggers to your mind, body and soul. I don’t know what’s worse, anxiety or being dependent on something to make you “okay”. This all being said, am I regretful that I was put on medication? Not necessarily, because in the end, challenging my anxiety had taught me a lot about learning to control it. Maybe I would of learned off of it, but it’s been my journey, and I’ve learned to be happy with how I’ve gotten to where I am today. I went from someone who was afraid to handle any normal life situation, to someone who really isn’t afraid of anything (except for spiders).
I went cold turkey. I read about it, but I didn’t think anything of it. I just went off my medication one day, I spilled it down the drain. I said to myself, I will not take a single tablet again. Cold turkey is no joke, and not something to take with a grain of salt. I went through a severe depression, and I resorted to locking myself in my bedroom for days. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to speak to anybody, and I genuinely was concerned for my well being. I was only a kid when I was put on medication, and I had to learn still as a late teen how to function off of it, face my anxiety, and deal with my body having withdrawals all at the same time. Talk about a haunting experience. I couldn’t tell what was reality, or what I was feeling because of what I chose to do. I was blaming myself for allowing myself get that low. I was afraid that every single day would feel like that. I hit the lowest of the low, and I ended up going to a doctor. I told them I wanted to get off of my medication, but I needed help. Although they advised me to stay on it, I refused. I began the process to wean off of my medication slowly, and remain off of everything. I started going to a therapist which I chose wisely, and while weaning off, we can began the process. I told her that I wanted to get off of medication, but begin to deal with anxiety issues, and any underlining problems that would creep up again in the future.
Therapy was one of the best decisions I ever made. Again, I chose wisely. I picked a therapist that listened to my wishes regarding therapy, what I wanted in the end and she gave me the right homework that would force me to challenge myself. We began to break down every detail, from my social life, my family life, the way of thinking, diet, habits and more. I began to realize, that my anxiety had a lot to do with me. I had dealt with trauma, but I hadn’t ever faced it. I had bad habits and diet issues that fed my anxiety as if it was some sort of rabid animal, and I was just giving it the right fuel. That was my turning point. I began to think of the areas that I needed to challenge, I had to learn something important. Balance. Everything in life has balance. The ying and the yang. The good and the bad. You are not going to have a good day, every single day. That’s just not how life works, but it’s appreciating those hard days and take them on as lessons. Lessons to teach you how strong you are to deal with life circumstances, and also how to be grateful for the better days.
Diet was another big lesson for me. I went through a lot of different diet issues, whether it was eating too much or not eating enough. Not eating healthy food, and resorting to easy solutions. I didn’t even know how to cook until I was older, which was embarrassing but it wasn’t a priority in my mind. This was such a huge factor, because what you are putting into your body is vital. I chose to begin researching more into healthy diets, and habits. My therapist and I sat down and created a meal plan, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. Then, I began putting them into action. I started learning how to cook, I started getting more passionate into what I could make, and how I could cook the exact same dishes that I would buy a meal out, but sometimes even better. Pinterest was incredible for this, because I saved boards of all sorts of different foods I wanted to try out (Click here to follow my Pinterest). This is where balance is also super important! Just because you are eating healthy, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself into the guilty pleasures. Have your days that you enjoy your treats, the fast food, whatever it is. Just make sure you have, balance. Make sure you’re putting more good into your body, than bad. And I cannot stress this enough, be careful with how much caffeine you are intaking. I used to have a major issue with this, and would drink far too much caffeine daily. I cut down my caffeine intake to 1 coffee a day, and maybe a soda as a treat at some point. However, no caffeine and weary of sugar intake past 6pm at night unless it was a weekend.
Exercise was another lesson. I am still working on this, just because I have a lack of time however I learned this a little earlier on. Exercise really helped me feel in control of my body. Whether it was doing yoga, pilates, home work outs, working out in a gym, swimming or going for long treks. I totally support going for long walks around sunrise or sunset, that literally changed a lot for me. Even when I was dealing with one of the most stressful situations of my life a year ago, I would go on 3 hour treks (with my kids bare in mind), I would play music and feel the air. In these moments, do me a favor. Close your eyes. Listen, and feel everything. Focus on your breathing. You will slowly feel something take over you, a calming feeling. It sort of feels like a natural high. That is you learning how to control your anxiety. Those days, I couldn’t tell you how hard it was to get myself out of the house. It was hard to get me to go on those walks, but I would bribe myself with something like getting a nice drink. A playlist to listen to. I would bring my camera, and want to take nice photographs. Do something that’s going to force yourself to get out of the house, and get into nature. Nature is the best cure.
Creating goals, and working on my dreams. This was super important. You are a warrior, and so brave. Think of everything you want out of life, and go for it. Think of everything that your anxiety has held you back from, and challenge it. Grab a piece of paper, and write down your goals. Write two different kinds of lists, a long term goals and short term. The long term goals come first, what you want in your future, envision what you want your life to look like. Then the short term goals are little steps that you can take that will get your future vision to become reality. Every day, take a step. Whether they are little steps or big steps, just that you are heading into the direction that you feel progressive. You have to do this at the pace that you feel comfortable, and again, it’s all about balance. Don’t over do it (which I tend to do) and burn yourself out, go at a gradual pace that you feel most comfortable at. Life isn’t stopping you, you are stopping you. You can’t allow anxiety to force you to go into your shell like a hermit (I did this too), but you’re not a hermit, you’re a warrior.
Music is like the soundtrack to your life. Music affects you more than you could actually imagine. Think of how a song can bring out your emotions, make you think of your past, make you cry, make you laugh, make you excited. Music is also a therapeutic method to bring your anxiety down. I created all sorts of playlists on Spotify (Click here to follow my Spotify), to trigger whatever emotions I wanted to bring out. Whether they were upbeat to get me ambitious about the day, or mellow to bring down the anxiety I was feeling. If you are interested in listening to a playlist I have made, this is a previous calming playlist I made called Waves, this was to positively calm any waves of anxiety. Explosions in the Sky was always the band that felt the most therapeutic to me.
I am a beautiful human being, I am smart, I am strong, and I have control of my anxiety. Repeat that yourself. What you are telling yourself is very important in the process, because if you begin to convince yourself that you are in control, you will build your confidence in doing so. Be kind to others, and be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. You can do this.
The spa treatment at home. This was the very first method I learned at a younger age, it was the only way I could calm myself on the days that felt the hardest. I would make a bath, put a face mask on (guys can do this too), light a candle, listen to calming music and bring my heart rate down. I would focus totally on positive thoughts, dreams, goals, while simultaneously focus on my breathing.
Be considerate of substances. Just like medication, any substances controlled or not will affect your body. I don’t smoke cigarettes or smoke weed, it’s never been my thing. I don’t drink often at all, but if I do, I drink lightly. Its very rare that I over indulge, I usually have it under control and know my limits. Whether you want to quit completely, or just learn balance. Always be considerate of the substances you are taking in, and how they can affect your body. I will always suggest others to detox for 30 days and see exactly what changes they are feeling.
Think of the areas that give you the most anxiety, and write down solutions. Research ideas, talk to friends who suffer anxiety too. Try. You have to try different methods that will help you face those situations. I want you to challenge your anxiety. When you begin to feel like your anxiety is taking over, put new methods into action. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or write me a message. I am always available to help others.
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