I’m 27. I have a good job. I’m happily engaged. I’m generally happy in life. So, why start a blog? Why now?
I needed an outlet – a way to express my anxious feelings and thoughts that have plagued me my entire life. And also, I’ve worked so hard to find resources, mantras and holistic practices that have allowed me to overcome my anxiety … So, I’m here to share what I’ve learned in hopes that it can be useful and meaningful to others.
Basically, I’m here to say that you are not alone. Here’s my story.
I was born a worrywart. Growing up, I used to describe what I now know as anxiety as “that weird feeling” to my mom. I begged her to leave big holiday parties because, “Mom, I have that weird feeling in my stomach. I just feel weird.”
Let me clarify that I’m a firm believer that some level of anxiety is good. I was a straight-A student throughout school, I like to think I’m reliable and a pretty hard-worker, and I truly believe my anxiety has a lot to do with those positive traits. But there was a point when I felt it started to hinder my ability to simply live my life.
I suffered my first panic attack during my freshman year of college while driving my roommates to the annual Florida vs. Georgia football game in Jacksonville (Go Gators!). In the middle of the night, at the top of a bridge, my hands and feet went numb and I feared I would crash my car with all of my closest friends inside of it. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what to do. Really-and I’m sure others can relate-I thought I was dying. Needless to say, I pulled over and asked my friend to drive the rest of the way. I eventually got over “whatever it was” that happened to me that night. Well, until the following semester …
Cue my Italian class presentation. I was nervous, but I was always nervous before public speaking. Mid-presentation, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My faced turned bright red, I had hive-like red splotches covering my chest and neck, my hands and feet went numb and I thought I was going to puke. I ran out of the classroom and never came back. WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME?
Well, before I had the knowledge to seek professional help, I thought I was sick. I stayed in bed and couldn’t eat or drink much for days (and if you know me, you know there’s something wrong when I’m not eating!). Thoughts such as, “my life is over!” and “do I need to drop out of college?” were going through my mind constantly. I knew I couldn’t live like that, so I sought professional help through the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. That’s where I learned about anxiety and panic attacks, and that I had been suffering from both my entire life … and I had no clue.
I wanted to learn more, so I started going to therapy once a week, and shortly after was prescribed a low dose of an anti-depressant (known as a SSRI – more on that in a separate post). It took months, but I was finally starting to feel “normal” again.
Since then, I’ve done my best to attend therapy regularly, and have been on and off medication. There have been many ups and many downs, many adventure-filled days and many anxiety-filled days; and to this day, I still cannot drive over a bridge … yes, panic attacks are truly that traumatizing.
In 2015, I started working for a vitamins and supplements company and really started to learn and invest in holistic health. I’ve recently hired a personal trainer (love ya, Rachel!) and have also chatted with a nutritionist to learn how to overcome my mental illnesses in a healthy, sustainable way: through food, relationships, movement, mindfulness and yes, medication.
While I continue to soak up knowledge and try new things, I plan to share the resources-books, blogs, professionals, exercise, supplements and more-that have worked best for me so far.
I hope you’ll join me while I continue this journey to physical and emotional self-care, and to making a positive difference, even if it’s small.
Please note that I am not a mental health professional. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.