the steps I take to overcome panic attacks in social settings

the steps I take to overcome panic attacks in social settings

Panic attacks: traumatizing.

Panic attacks in front of others: the bane of my existence.

I spent the better part my early 20s doing anything and everything to avoid having a panic attack – to avoid my fire-truck-red face, the obvious hives crawling up my chest and neck, the super-sweaty palms, and the shortness of breath. It is all-consuming. It is exhausting.

Therapy, a healthy lifestyle and a solid support system all help, but you can throw most of that out the window once panic sets in. To all my fellow panic-attack survivors, ya feel me?

When I felt a panic attack building up, I used to try doodling on the nearest piece of paper I could find, drinking water every few seconds, writing positive affirmations down, breathing techniques … Literally, I would try anything I could to distract myself from actually having a panic attack; specifically, I’d try to avoid having them in a social setting. I didn’t ever want to put myself or others in that uncomfortable situation.

Unfortunately, the tactics I used when trying to avoid an attack never really worked for me. Eventually, I realized that I just had to let them happen sometimes.

So, through some lengthy trial-and-error (this included carrying lavender essential oil with me … yes, really) and implementing tips from my therapist, I have learned how to get through and overcome the traumatizing event of a panic attack.

  1. Expressing myself: For me, this means literally getting one word out of my mouth. Talking gets me out of my head and into a conversation. The second I begin to express what I’m feeling is the second I start to pull myself out of the attack and come back to reality. Words save me.
  2. Owning it: I used to be embarrassed to own my issues, but that changed one day in college … I’ll never forget a guest speaker in one of my classes started off her presentation with, “Hi. I have extreme stomach issues and can get a bout of diarrhea at any given moment. If I run out of the lecture hall, I promise I’m OK and will be back shortly. Alright … now onto the lesson!” Yes, I’m 100 percent serious that this actually happened. We all giggled a little bit, but honestly, the rest of her presentation was SO. GOOD. I’m convinced that owning her irregular bodily functions helped her to relax and get through her lecture successfully. I took note from her, and now if I ever feel a panic attack coming on (or God forbid I have one) in front of others, I simply tell someone. “Hey, I’m feeling some anxiety coming on. Bear with me for a few minutes.” I’ve never (not once!) had anyone be anything but supportive once I’ve said those words. It always helps.
  3. Finding comfort: Pretty sure panic attacks are the most uncomfortable thing ever. You’re basically having an out-of-body experience that you’ll do anything to stop. I’m pretty sure that’s why anxiety-ridden people tend to stick to their comfort zones (or at least why I do) – to avoid those inevitably uncomfortable moments. When I’m nervous about an upcoming event or a certain situation, I bring some form of comfort with me. Usually, that’s having a bottle of water to sip on if I feel short of breath or bringing a notepad and pen just in case I need to keep my mind busy.
  4. Remind myself that I’ll be OK: Once you suffer a panic attack and learn what the heck it is, you at least know not to think the worst. Even during a panic attack, I remind myself that I will be OK. I just have to get through the next few moments and everything will be OK.

Living life with anxiety and panic disorder is always two steps forward, one step back. I usually label a panic attack as that “one step back,” knowing that I learn and grow from each of them. A setback does not erase all the progress I’ve made in my mental health journey.

While I haven’t discovered a way to ensure I’ll never have an attack again, I have learned how to deal with them and how to not allow them to feel bigger than me.

Do you suffer from anxiety and/or panic attacks? How do you work through them? I’d love to learn from you!

xoxo,

Lisa

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.

5 natural ways to ensure a good night’s sleep

If you read my last blog post, you know I’m a morning person … suggesting that I’m most likely not a night owl. Well, I’m here to confirm with all of you that I am not, in fact, a night owl – not even close. If I’m awake past 10:30-11 p.m., it’s either my best friend’s wedding or something is terribly wrong.

As much as I love the early morning, I love sleep even more. In my opinion, a good night’s sleep (along with a solid sweat and some chocolate) can cure almost anything, including an anxious mind.

I’ll never understand those who say, “you can sleep when you’re dead!” Like, NO. STOP. I need sleep; you need sleep; we ALL need sleep!

Really though, sleep is so important for our physical and mental health. Research shows that depriving your body of the sleep it needs is just as harmful as not exercising and can even be as harmful as drunk driving.[1]

While I’m a self-proclaimed “good sleeper” most of the time, I do struggle some nights. Having anxiety, there are evenings when I just can’t turn my mind off – my racing thoughts make it difficult to fall and sometimes stay asleep. I’ve tried many things on these sleepless nights, and have found a five holistic methods that help me to get at least 6 hours, if not 7-8!

  1. STOP THE EMAILS: These days, iPhones make it nearly impossible to simply stop working once the clock strikes 5 p.m. Being Type-A and all, it’s hard for me to ignore that little red number indicating unread messages on the email app. I used to answer emails until I fell asleep pretty much, but have recently set a boundary to not check my emails after 6:30PM on weeknights. If my boss needs me for anything urgent, he knows he can text or call.
  2. Wind (and wine) down: I’m a go-go-go kind of person, so it’s crucial for me to actually put effort into winding down. Sounds ironic, I know, but I have my ways! Reading, journaling, or yes, even a glass of wine (or two), all help me to unwind and to calm my mind. I recently discovered Dry Farm Wines, which are organic, gluten-free and sugar-free wines. If you enjoy wine, I highly recommend trying some out!IMG_0007.jpg
  3. Take magnesium: This is a relatively new discovery for me. I take magnesium about 30-45 minutes before bed and it helps tremendously. Studies show that maintaining healthy magnesium levels can lead to deeper, more sound sleep.[2] Also, magnesium deficiency has been associated with higher levels of stress and anxiety[3], so this is an amazing supplement to take for most of us. As you know, I work for a supplement company, so I take this one.
  4. Essential oils: Ah, I love essential oils. I use them to clean, to simply freshen up the house and to relax in the evenings. Lavender essential oil is known for its calming effect, making it a natural sleep aid.[4] I rub a lavender and clary sage oil on my chest at night, and also diffuse lavender by the bed – even my pup loves it!
  5. Guided meditation: I’m not the best meditator, but I recently discovered the app Insight Timer and its guided meditations are so good! This is my “if all else fails” trick, and it usually works.

Of course, not every night is the same. Some evenings, I pass out on the couch watching The Bachelor (don’t judge – it’s my guilty pleasure!) and don’t need to do any of these things. Some evenings, I need to take all of these steps in order to get a good snooze.

I cannot emphasize enough how important a good night’s sleep is to mental health. If I’m running on empty, my anxiety spikes significantly – so, I do my best to avoid sleepless nights.

And honestly, what’s better than snuggling into bed after a long day? (Oh, if anyone is wondering, my fiancé, 65-lb dog and I all share a queen-sized bed.)

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Do you have trouble sleeping? If so, what steps do you take to make sure you get your rest?

xoxo,

Lisa

[1] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-29363/is-sleep-more-important-than-nutrition-exercise-mindfulness.html

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201805/what-you-need-know-about-magnesium-and-your-sleep

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/well/mind/does-magnesium-help-you-sleep.html

[4] https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/essential-oils-for-sleep#research

my anxiety-beating morning routine

I love mornings.

I love breakfast (breakfast food is my fav). I love sunrise, and the colors it paints the sky. I love the quiet. I love a fresh start. Seriously, I just love everything about the morning time.

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As my mom would say, I’m an “old soul.” I’ve never been the type to sleep in until noon – not even when I was a teenager. There’s something about me (and maybe I get it from my parents?) that thrives in the early hours of the day and always has.

With that said, my mornings are sacred to me. They set the tone for the rest of my day, and they play huge role in how I’m feeling mentally.

It’s taken awhile, but I’ve got my anxiety-beating morning routine down. Here’s a look into it, which starts between 5:45-6AM on (most) weekdays:

  1. Get outside: As you probably know by now, I have a dog named Charlie (he’s the cutest ever … And no, I’m not biased). The first thing I do is take him for a 20-minute walk. I do not bring my phone with me on our morning stroll; I make it a priority to take in my surroundings, say hi to my fellow early-bird neighbors and have some quality time with my fluffy guy.
  2. Get moving: I’m a morning-workout person. I used to have a gym membership, but my fiancé and I agreed that transforming our single-car garage into an at-home gym was worth every penny. We purchased a bench and dumbbells off of Amazon, found a full barbell and bumper-plate set through the app OfferUp, and then stocked up on things like med balls, resistance bands and kettlebells in various ways. BEST DECISION EVER. Before I get into the heart of my workout, I use a foam roller for at least 5 minutes and follow that up with an 8-10 minute yoga sequence. This gets me warm, and also mentally prepares me to get the most out of my 30-45 minute workout. Shout out to my amazing trainer and friend, Rachel Agranove, for the personalized workouts that I LOVEIMG_0644
  3. Eat breakfast: My favorite meal of the day! Most of the time, I make my go-to green smoothie: almond milk, protein, spinach, half a banana, chia seeds, maca powder and almond or cashew butter. As I wrote about in-detail here, this smoothie has all the ingredients and low-sugar content to be a filling, mood-balancing meal. If I’m not in the mood for a smoothie, I have two eggs over arugula and avocado, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice on top. SO. GOOD.
  4. Take my medication + supplements: Once I have food in me, I take my medication and daily natural supplements. More info on exactly what I take here. My top priorities are to take my SSRI and probiotic. I try to never go a day without those two supplements!
  5. Get ready: Since I’m sweaty from exercise, I shower (of course) and then get ready for work while listening to upbeat, feel-good tunes on Spotify. I’m on a Maren Morris kick right now – currently, my favorite song of hers is Second Wind. Highly recommend!
  6. Set my intention for the day: I’m usually moving pretty fast through the getting-ready stage, so I make sure to stop and set my intention for the day before heading out the door for work. It can be as simple as telling myself, “you’ve got this!” or it can be a few minutes of jotting down 2-3 things I’m grateful for.

After all that, it’s finally time for me to seize the workday (my AM alarm is even labeled “carpe diem”)!

Do I always follow this routine step-by-step? No. There are mornings where my body needs more sleep, and I allow it. There are mornings where I want to write while sipping a cup of coffee before anything else (what I’m currently doing). And there are weekend mornings, which are for sleeping in + brunch, obviously.

If I’m ever feeling “off” or feel high anxiety coming on, I make sure to start the day with this routine and it almost always nips it in the bud and makes me feel good.

What morning routine or habit(s) do you follow to make sure that you’re in the right mindset for the day ahead?

xoxo,

Lisa

the positive impact of therapy

the positive impact of therapy

Ah, yet another vulnerable, not-so-easy-to-talk-about topic: therapy. It’s crazy to actually type this out, but it’s 2018 and there’s still a stigma around going to therapy (ugh *eye roll*).

I wish I could say that “therapy isn’t for everyone” but honestly, I don’t believe that – I’m a firm believer that every single person can benefit from therapy. While therapy is a proven method for changing harmful thinking, relational and behavioral patterns[1], it can also help to make good lives great.

Therapy can mean something different for everyone: seeking professional guidance, writing your thoughts out, going for a hike/walk (preferably in a place like Colorado, in the image seen above), meditating, or simply talking to a friend. And while all of those things are beneficial for mental health, the most valuable form of therapy for me (and what I’m going to expand on) is regularly talking to a professional.

It was in my first therapy session that I finally figured out what anxiety was, and that experiencing a panic attack didn’t mean I was dying. It was in my first therapy session that I started to find answers to all the questions I had about myself growing up. It was in my first therapy session, at 19 years old, that I felt hopeful and more confident about my future. And to this day, regular therapy sessions positively impact my life.

Therapy is a journey – a journey that takes hard work, patience and time – so, here’s a little bit about mine.

my first therapy session

Ha, this one was a doozy. I had recently suffered my first panic attack and visited the UF Counseling & Wellness Center to make an appointment with a therapist (college-student perk: it was FREE!). I sat down at my appointment the following day, and the therapist started with, “so, tell me why you’re here.”

My mind raced to a million different places to try and begin my story – I didn’t know where to start. I was overwhelmed, and I eventually started to cry and blubbered something like, “I don’t know what’s happening to me, or what’s going to happen to me.” Just getting that much out made me feel better. I don’t remember much else about my first session, but I do remember feeling exhausted, yet relieved, afterward. A weight had been lifted from my tight chest.

making therapy part of my routine, with the right therapist

I thought one or two sessions, along with taking a newly prescribed medication, would do the trick. So, I didn’t make a follow-up appointment after my first couple. A few weeks went by and I realized I needed to continue to express myself to a professional. I needed to continue to heal. I needed and wanted to continue to learn.

In order to do so, though, I wanted to make sure I was consistently seeing a professional that understood me and challenged me. So, I started to do some research online and visited two other therapists before finding THE ONE (it’s really just like dating, I swear!). Her name was Jocelyn, and she had a calming effect on me. She made me feel safe, but also challenged me to get better with every appointment. I would say it took about 3 months of going consistently to see and to feel noticeable results. After seeing Jocelyn for over a year, I had made immense progress.

Since then, I’ve moved and had to endure the process of finding the right therapist for me again, and again. It takes patience each time – you have to put in some work! – but it’s always worth it.

that time when I thought I didn’t need therapy anymore

After years of regularly attending therapy, I felt like I was in my prime mental state – I had made serious progress with my anxiety and panic, and thought I could figure out everything from there on my own. So, along with the reason of saving a little money every month, I decided to stop going to therapy.

Three months or so went by, and the regular stressors of life (work, family, finances, etc.) had taken their toll. I had been bottling all of my anxiety inside and suffered my first panic attack in years. Unfortunately, this panic attack was at work in front of my colleagues. Needless to say, I was traumatized. It was then that I realized the positive difference therapy made for me, and that I needed to continue to invest in it.

recognizing the positive impact therapy has on me

Currently, I do my best to attend therapy biweekly for 60 minutes. If I miss an appointment, I make sure to take the initiative to schedule another one. I have a wonderful relationship with my current therapist, and I truly believe that is key to seeing success!

To me, therapy is a never-ending learning experience about myself. It’s an hour every other week (or once a month, depending on my schedule) to help me understand and make sense of why I feel what I feel, why I react the way I react, and simply, why I am the woman I have become.

And trust me, that’s not always easy.

I’m a work in progress, but therapy has taught me and continues to teach me to love and accept myself. I feel strongly that with a little dedication and time, it can do the same for anyone who is willing to give it a try.

xoxo,

Lisa

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-therapy/201403/8-more-reasons-go-therapy

anxiety medication + natural supplements: why I take both

anxiety medication + natural supplements: why I take both

This is a really tough topic to discuss openly, so bear with me on this one.

Yes, I work for a natural product company. Yes, I take vitamins and supplements. Yes, I believe in healing holistically … And YES, I also take a prescribed antidepressant (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)) every morning for my anxiety and panic. And I’m 100% OK with it.

I wasn’t always OK with it, though. I was hesitant to even try medication. When I started, I only told a couple of people who were close to me. I didn’t even tell my sisters initially. I was embarrassed. I was scared.

I had this idea in my head that taking medication would change who I was, and honestly, that was my biggest fear. I liked myself – anxiety and all.

Unfortunately, I was at a point where I couldn’t get out of bed without having or fearing a panic attack. I had gone to therapy; I had done yoga; I had meditated. And guess what? I was still an absolute mess. So, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist and was prescribed a low dose of an antidepressant.

I remember her saying something along the lines of, “Diabetics take insulin because their bodies need it, right? So, what makes taking an SSRI different for someone like you who needs the serotonin?” (SSRI’s block the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, making more serotonin available.[1])

I had never thought of it that way. So, I gave it a go.

My first week taking the SSRI was an adjustment. It gave me a little bit more energy, which I immediately associated with anxiety. So, I thought it was having the opposite effect on me that it was supposed to – UGH. I was lucky to have a very close friend who could relate to my situation, so she talked me through it. Eventually, after maybe 5-7 days, that feeling went away and I started to feel relief. I started to feel like ME again.

The doctor told me it would take 4-6 weeks for the SSRI to build up and really be effective, and she was right. About a month in, I was thriving. Let me elaborate: I was still me, I still had a tinge of anxiety, but I wasn’t having panic attacks. The SSRI gave me what my therapist called a “ceiling.” I could get anxious, but my body would stop itself before getting too far – too far as in an anxiety or panic attack. THANK GOODNESS.

Since then, I’ve upped my dosage, brought it back down, weaned off of my medication temporarily, and also got back on it. Currently, I take it every morning after breakfast.

I can honestly say that my medication has improved the quality of my life, and I am grateful for it every day.

But, taking an antidepressant wasn’t the cure to my anxiety – I needed more.

Of course, diet and exercise (blog coming soon on that!) along with other healthy habits have a lot to do with mental health – and yes, I do exercise regularly and eat balanced meals. But, after I started working for a supplement company, I learned that certain vitamins and minerals could help with levels of stress and anxiety.

So, here’s what I take daily in addition to my medication:

  1. Probiotics: Along with helping digestion, there is emerging support that probiotics can help boost mood and protect the body against the negative effects of stress.[2] SIGN ME UP! This one is my personal fav.
  2. Adaptogens, like Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used for centuries for its therapeutic qualities. It has been clinically studied for its impact on the stress hormone, cortisol, and its ability to support a healthy response to stress.[3] I don’t necessarily take Ashwagandha every morning, but I do take it when I’m feeling a little extra stressed out … And it helps!
  3. B-Complex: You’ve probably heard that B-12 can boost your mood and energy levels, which is amazing! Well, B-complex vitamins can also be helpful when it comes to keeping your mood lifted and stabilized.[4]

This blend of natural supplements doesn’t erase my anxiety completely (heck, it’ll always be part of who I am!), but I always feel noticeably better and more balanced when I’m consistently taking them alongside my medication. I plan to continue to test and learn about the natural supplements that can help with my mental health.

While anxiety medication, such as an SSRI, doesn’t work for everyone, I’ve found it to be super beneficial for me. I am grateful every day for giving it a chance, and have learned to never be ashamed of doing something for myself.

xoxo,

Lisa

*Please note that since I work for a vitamins and supplements company, I do have easy access to the vitamins listed above.

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/ssris/art-20044825

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201809/can-probiotics-help-reduce-anxiety

[3] https://thethirty.byrdie.com/vitamins-for-anxiety/slide9

[4] https://thethirty.byrdie.com/vitamins-for-anxiety/slide6

food & anxiety: let’s taco ‘bout it

Because how could I be the writer of a blog without talking about food? Answer: I can’t.

Food and I go way, way back. We’ve had our ups and our downs. We’ve been best friends and we’ve been enemies. You could even consider us “frenemies” at one point.

But seriously, food plays a huge role in my mental health – it makes me happy! I’ve always been a foodie. Chocolate chip cookies are hands-down my favorite thing to eat. I love to cook and I love to eat, and I always have (pretty sure I could finish an entire box of Velveeta mac and cheese at the age of 5 – right, mom?).

But using food to help with my anxiety and panic is something I’ve just recently learned about and have started to implement, and let me tell you – it’s a GAME. CHANGER.

Let’s start by recapping all of the “diets” I’ve tried in the last decade or so:

  1. The antifungal diet (is that still a thing?)
  2. That lemon-cayenne-water drink diet thing
  3. Juicing (the epitome of “hangry”)
  4. Paleo
  5. IIFYM
  6. Whole30 (#neveragain)
  7. Calorie-obsessing
  8. Vegetarianism (I lasted like … 3 months)
  9. Keto (I lasted like … 3 hours)

I’m sure there’s more, but it doesn’t matter because all these diets did to me was make me harder on myself, more anxious and more depressed than I’ve ever felt. And honestly, I didn’t notice that until about a year and a half ago … I was tracking calories with an app and I was over my daily allowance by 100 or so, so I forced myself to go for a walk late at night to break even. My now-fiancé was clearly over it at that point and he said to me,

“Can you PLEASE stop tracking every calorie you consume? It’s all you talk about. It’s all WE talk about. There’s more to life than that.”

He was right. If I hit my “goals” for the day, I was happy and told him about it the second I got home from work. If I “failed” by eating too much, he received negative text messages throughout the day and had to deal with my miserable self in the evenings. Also, when I brought it up to my coworkers the following day, even they agreed that I hadn’t been fun to be around for a few weeks. EEK.

It consumed me. I was no fun. I was miserable. I was anxious. Something needed to change, clearly.

Around that time, I had heard of holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque through my friends at mindbodygreen, and her blood-sugar balancing way of eating. She had recently launched her first book, Body Love. I didn’t know where to turn or who to talk to next, so I bought it … and what I’ve learned from Body Love has changed my life.

I won’t spoil the book for you (I highly recommend you read it!), but here’s what I learned in a nutshell:

  1. Stop counting calories – it’s all about blood sugar.

And also, calorie-counting sucks. Am I right?

2. Eat three, complete meals a day (what Kelly has labeled “Fab Four” meals) to elongate your blood sugar curve.

The book elaborates on Kelly’s Fab Four formula for every meal: a mix of protein, healthy fats, fiber and greens. Each of the four components has a job:

Protein increases muscle tone and signals to your brain that you’re full.

Fat increases satiety, slows digestion and curbs cravings.

Fiber helps your gut detoxify and slows the absorption of glucose.

Greens fight inflammation and provide key antioxidants and vitamins.[i]

3. Sugar (carbs, basically) can really affect your mood and level of anxiety.

Excess sugar intake contributes to blood sugar spikes and imbalances. When your blood sugar is out of whack, it throws off your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is responsible for releasing your stress hormone, cortisol. Basically, if you’re constantly throwing off your hormones with sugar, you’ll never really calm down and can further perpetuate the feelings of anxiety. [ii]

Um, LIGHTBULB!

The way I had been eating (or not eating, for that matter) and snacking for years was increasing my anxiety levels. Who knew? Well, now I did.

While I don’t follow any super strict diet or meal plan now, I do make it a point to begin every day with a Fab Four smoothie (you can find some recipes here). They keep me full, but most importantly, they make me feel good – balanced, actually.

Fab Four Smoothie

My meals are not perfect and that is never my goal. If I can add in a side salad with avocado to hit a Fab Four balance at lunch or dinner, I do. I still love pancakes at Sunday brunch and eat cookies whenever I can get my hands on them. Because truthfully, they make me happy. And why take that away?

I no longer count calories or follow a specific diet, and hope to never do so again. Instead, I use what I learned from Body Love to guide what I eat, and to help balance my blood sugar, my stress hormones and ultimately, how I’m feeling.

While every person is different and every body responds to different things, this approach has helped me a ton with my physical and emotional health. I’m hopeful that it can help others, too!

xoxo,

Lisa

[i] https://www.delish.com/food/a58321/jennifer-garner-fab-four-diet-plan/

[ii] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-sugar-might-be-at-the-root-of-your-anxiety

adventures & anxiety by lisa: my story

adventures & anxiety by lisa: my story

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.

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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.

what now?

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.

xoxo,

Lisa

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.