Writing this post has been more emotional than I ever expected. Thinking back to when my anxiety first began and how hopeless, lonely and scared I felt makes me feel so many emotions for 12 year old me. It has been such a struggle and a very long road, but it made me the strong AF person I am today and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Let’s dive right in to where it all began shall we?
I had my first panic attack the night before I got my period for the first time. THANKS HORMONES. I remember being at a restaurant with my family and running to the bathroom because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, throw up or go to the hospital. Experiencing anxiety for the first time, especially at such a young age, is terrifying. My symptoms were slow to start and many of my friends labeled me as a hypochondriac or being sensitive or dramatic (which I am all of the above), but what I didn’t realize was that I had a mental illness and that having anxiety was normal and could easily be managed.
Things got worse when high school came around and my anxiety began to center around being alone, driving in the car. I remember being so nervous to drive to my boyfriends house who lived less than one mile away from my house. Seems so silly right? But the fear and constant thoughts of having a panic attack while I was driving, alone, and stuck in the car drove me insane. I once had to have my mom come pick me up 5 minutes away from our house when I was on my way to cheer a basketball game. I had to miss the game and spent an hour crying the parking lot SO frustrated that I was having these feelings of terror for absolutely no reason at all.
A few terrible panic attacks later, I realized I couldn’t live my life like this any longer. My neighbor owns her own Acupuncture & Holistic Wellness center so I began seeing her for treatments and I also saw a therapist. Did this help? Absolutely. Did I still have frequent panic attacks? Yep. During a very common trip to the urgent care (I basically always thought I was dying) the nurse looked at me and told me I should try taking anti-depressants for my anxiety. The thought terrified me. Needing to take a pill every day forever. How would it make me feel? Would I lose my personality and emotion? What would my friends think when I told them I was on anti-depressants? I felt alone and scared, but I also knew deep down that it is what I needed to do.
I started taking 10 mg of Prozac at age 16 and luckily, had no side effects and slowly my panic attacks became less intense and less frequent. I went through a few years having basically no anxiety at all, and then a few years ago it crept back up again. The medication has made it manageable, but I still deal with it every single day. I’m not ashamed of the medication I take because it saved my life. I have had to deal with tons of people telling me that I don’t need medication for anxiety, that essential oils and mediation and whateverthefuck will cure me. And that’s fine they can believe that, but I know I tried everything I could not to be on medication and that every persons experience with mental illness is SO different and we need to be accepting of that. I hope that with sharing my experience I can help you with your journey and I encourage you to explore your options with natural remedies, but also don’t be scared to get the help you need.
Since I have been dealing with this for over 15 years now, I have a pretty long list of things that have helped me ease my anxiety other than medication. I’m no expert, but I can tell you that all of these things have truly helped me and might help you too.
- CBD– This has been a serious game changer for my day to day general anxiety. I have a whole blog post on CBD linked here. I love Sunday Scaries gummies because 1. They taste good so I never forget to take them and 2. They are great to supplement on top of the tincture if you need a little extra. My code is “brocc” for a discount!
- Exercise- It’s kind of a given, but the days that I move my body and get a little sweat in I have significantly less anxiety. It helps me focus on my body, breathing and mindfulness throughout the day, plus the endorphins released during exercise help reduce stress.
- Diet- Say it ain’t so!!! When I drink less alcohol and eat cleaner, I definitely notice a HUGE difference with my mood. It is a hard balance because a few glasses of wine later my anxiety has disappeared, but I think we all know how terrible hangover anxiety can be. It is all about balance with this!
- Acupuncture & Cupping- This gets pricey so I don’t go as often as I would like, but getting acupuncture and cupping has helped tremendously with my anxiety overall. Call and see if your insurance will cover treatments – most do but unfortunately anxiety isn’t a good enough reason for most doctors to refer you (cue eye roll) so try to get in with muscle or joint pain and then reveal the real problems once you get in 😉
- Meditation- I struggle with this but even trying it out for a few minutes each morning really helps me tune into my breath and calming energy for the day. Try the app Headspace for beginners – it’s the best!
- Weighted Blanket- Falling asleep can be tricky when you are an anxious person. Your mind might be racing or your heart pounding from the stress of your day (hi, it’s me). I found that a weighted blanket helps me fall asleep fast and stay asleep through the whole night. I have both the regular 15 lb weighted blanket with the faux fur duvet (so cute) and the cooling blanket for summer time – click here to shop Gravity Blankets.
- Lavender- I spray my lavender spray on literally everything. All over my bed, pillows, clothes, you name it. I get mine from the local farmer’s market but if you mix a few drops of Lavender essential oil with some water in a spray bottle you are good to go!
- Ashwagandha & Adpatogens- Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen is shown to help your body better adapt to stress. Adaptogens are dervived from plants and unlike humans and animals, they cannot move when they are exposed to stress so they must adapt (thus adaptogens). I take ashwagandha daily in capsule form and I love Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Elixirs for a daily dose of a variety of helpful adaptogens (reishi is great for anxiety as well!)- code is “brocc” for a discount!
- Magnesium- There has been a lot of research done on the reduction of anxiety with magnesium intake. When I’m feeling extra anxious, I sip on Natural Vitality – a calcium and magnesium supplement that you mix in water. It has been super helpful for me. I mix it up and put it in a wine glass to trick myself into thinking I’m drinking a glass of cab lol – linking on Amazon here!
Hope this helped! Let me know your tips for managing anxiety – we’re all in this together.