OK so rewind to about a week ago when I totally lost my shit on IG live because I am simply beyond tired of always trying to act like everything is OK. REALITY CHECK - it AIN'T! After a week of three 12 hour long panic/anxiety episodes, I threw in the towel on trying to be perfect and please everyone in my life, and surrendered to the fact that I NEED TO ADDRESS THIS SHIT ASAP. And I wanted to address it with you guys because A) you rule and B) I was hoping that some of you had also had similar experiences and could lend advice on how to HEAL. AND DANGGGGG was I correct!
Before I get into it, here are a few things that I am officially DONE with that I suggest you also ditch for an instantly healthier mental state:
1. Doing things when I don't want to or don't feel like it. (JUST DON'T! DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN DO THAT? SAY NO??)
2. Bottling up emotions or hiding the ones that I don't think people don't want to deal with (GUESS WHAT? THEY DO! THEY LOVE YOU! DON'T HIDE YOUR TRUTH)
3. Always putting others feelings before my own - (THIS IS V APPROPRIATE AT TIMES, BUT NOT ALL THE TIME- PUT YOURSELF FIRST)
4. Don't live in fear - (THIS IS THE HARDEST ONE FOR ME AND IS ONGOING WORK)
I want to share a little of my story here with you, if you feel so inclined to listen, and then share with you ALL of the suggestions and feedback I got from Instagram because you guys are BRILLIANT and creative and innovative and smart AF - shall I go on?
OK SO. I did not always have panic attacks. I have always had anxiety but the panic attacks only started when I was in my early 20s. My anxiety, which started much earlier in life, was mainly social anxiety, which likely stemmed from being overweight and made fun of. I remember I was going out for dinner with my Dad one night, and I wanted to go to the Keg more than anything because steak was life back then. It looked super busy so my Dad pulled up front and said. "just go run in and see how long the wait is going to be so we can decide to wait or not." I was in (I believe) grade 8 or 9 at the time, and to me this task was unimaginable. I told him I could NOT do it. I was terrified. The thought of walking in there with people in the lobby staring at me asking the hostess a simple question gave me INSANE anxiety. We went back and forth for about 7 minutes. He tried to encourage me to go in and he said we could only eat steak there if I could work up the strength to do it. I couldn't. We drove away and did not eat at the Keg. This is just one of hundreds of examples, many of which surrounded me not being able to enter ANY public, people filled, establishment by myself. My friends would have to come outside to get me to walk into high school sport stadiums. If I was ever the first there for a lunch or dinner reservation I would wait outside and make a phone call as a diversion. If no one answered I would simply PRETEND to be on the phone because I felt so awkward and so uncomfortable just standing on the street in my own skin. I am happy and proud to say that I got over so much of that social anxiety via growing up. But that is the thing with anxiety, once you beat your symptoms that little fucker recreates itself in a whole new way. It turned more into a general anxiety, in which I would do anything to avoid any sort of conversation with strangers, as well as any problem, issue, or potential point of embarrassment. I would do crazy shit like eat food that had a fly in it because I didn't want to bother the server - speaking up for myself was generally out the question. I bet every one of my friends who is reading this right now I have forced call Telus, or my landlord, or the bank, because even dealing with confrontation on the phone overwhelmed me with anxiety. "Can you call and pretend to be me" is still a line I have to use today, although MUCH less frequently. I think a lot of my anxiety came from my lack of confidence, and as I have grown up and learned to love myself the anxiety has lessened. But then came the panic attacks.
The first one happened when I was on a flight home from Mexico with my boyfriend at the time. It was so scary to have a full blown attack, the first one at that, in the FUCKING SKY of all places. Since then I only had about a couple a year after that, but they are traumatizing, debilitating, and incredibly hard on my body. Nausea, vomiting (over 50 times an episode), spins, sweats, hallucinations, insomnia, hyperventilation - you name it. I once called an ambulance on myself in Minneapolis because I literally thought I was going to die from the panic. I had a point where I couldn't snap out of the panic for SIX DAYS. I couldn't leave my bed (slash shower because that is where I lay down in feudal when I am sick). Fast forward to last week and I am 3 attacks in - two being in Chicago - and one of those two being at a country music festival. God bless my girl Susan for helping me out of there and helping me barf out of the bike rickshaw all the way down lakeshore. I have finally accepted music festivals and big crowds when I am already anxious is big fat NONO. So is alcohol and caffeine. The worst is the panic you can create by panicking about having another panic attack. I think that is why my 1 turned into 3 the other week.
I am not sharing all this information with you in hopes of finding sympathy. 1/5 women our age suffer from crippling anxiety. When I finally decided to speak out on this I was in TEARS at the amount of love, messages and feedback that came to me when I reached out to you guys for help. I learned so much from you. And I just want to make sure EVERYONE has the information because we are all in this together. LET'S FIGURE IT OUT!
Here is a list of ways to cope (from you! And often word for word) without medication:
I want to just start with this message I got because it helped me make SO much sense of my panic. Like THIS GIRL IS BRILLIANT OK. I am keeping this blurb in my notes section for when I start to panic.
1. She said: the quickest fix and overall most important thing that you have to do is to completely accept the horrible feelings and sensations AS they're happening. Listen to your body and really hear it.. it is trying to communicate something important to you, whether or not you think that it's approach is rational. What your body is trying to do is actually help you. Although it may hurt you and make you feel fearful and uncomfortable, it's a cycle. If you give into the tornado it gets stronger.. listen to the tornado, step back and acknowledge out loud and keep saying in your mind over and over that you hear yourself, that you see yourself, and that you respect and appreciate the warning from your body. Verbally tell yourself that there is no danger, that you are safe and thank your body for trying to warn you, just be sure to let it know that the panic is unnecessary and that you want your control back. The less fearful you are of your fear and panic, the less control it has over you and the less it happens/quicker you recover. Eventually this will build up and your body won't have irrational reactions in the same way that you're feeling now.
2. Grounding yourself to calm down - I LOVE THIS ONE because if you lose your noodle when you have a panic attack like me, this is very helpful:
54321 technique to ground yourself - name 5 things you can see in the room, name 4 things you can feel, name 3 things you can hear, name two things you can smell, name 1 good thing about yourself.
4. Untethered Soul Audiobook
5. follow @yogagirl, @mindful613
6. stay hydrated - this is a trigger for some people which I found very interesting because it is directly related to alcohol and caffeine intake..
7. Stay distracted and do activities that help you RELAX only
8. Exercise and healthy lifestyle
10. Essential oil in diffuser
11. Rhythmic breathing - focus on stomach moving up and down
13. Ashwangandha to help balance hormones
14. The Calm App - meditation
15. Tea - holy basil tulsi tea and magnesium calm
16. back rubs - also personally recommend those light tickle ones (hehe)
17. Essential oil - Valor, Doterra rollerball (Peace, Cheer, Console, Lavender), Vetiver, Frankincense - roll on wrists or back of neck to relax
18. A good therapist - see a therapist to get to root and face your fears
19. Exposure therapy - accept the anxiety when it comes and reset it by doing things to prove to yourself you are not in danger. For example: checking the mail or listening to voicemails or returning a call - anything that you avoid that makes you uncomfortable.
20. Cognitive behavioural therapy - cbt4panic.org - screenshot the important pages on your phone and make an album to have as reminders that you can quickly look at when you start to feel anxious
21. healing crystals - (I have only one, but I swear by it for helping with my anxiety and nightmares)
22. Books: Forest Bathing, Genius Foods by Max Lugavere
23. Shower/bath, hot water in general - I lay on the shower floor for hours and let the water run on my body to relax it
24. Acupuncture (I really want to try this asap)
25. Chinese herbs - Magnolia bark and Pinella
26. The "serenity prayer"
27. Look for 10 red items around you and count them to calm and focus the mind
28. Deep breathing - as long as your exhale is longer than your inhale - (smart)
29. CBD oil (this was a popular answer)
30. Say bye to refined sugar
31. Reiki level 1 - in French it's called the shower! How fitting :)
32. Zoo therapy - CUDDLE ANIMALS or foster a pup or borrow a friends!
33. Listen to your body - sleep, isolate yourself, call someone
34. Talk out loud - I AM OK, THIS WILL PASS
35. Go off the pill
36. Listen to a podcast or motivational speaker
37. Rescue remedy - available on amazon
38. The 3's - sit in a space where it is just you and ask yourself out loud to name 3 things you can see, 3 you can touch, and 3 you can hear. Do this over 3 times.
39. Sudarshan Kriya Meditation sequence - learn this!
40. Ditch booze and caffeine
41. Medical marijuana
42. Feudal position on the floor or child's pose
43. Think of things and people you love
44. Tell your loved one what you need and let them be there for you - for example if you need to be held, rubbed, left alone etc.
45. Try to understand your triggers - drama, confrontation, relationships, alcohol, stress, and move forward. Make a list of all your stresses
46. Take a break from social media or just use LESS social platforms daily
47. Supplements - "Chill Pills" all natural
48. Have an ANCHOR. A person in your life you can always go to when you feel this way.
49. Singing - this is actually a Mikaela technique, it helps to calm the hyperventilating and open up the airways
50. Rocking your body in bed - another Mikaela technique, I know it is weird but the motion of rocking can distract you.
Please remember, there is NOTHING wrong with going on daily medication! I am just trying out some natural options first. Who wants to work through this list with me? I am always here to chat!
THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.