I read a quote online that really resonated with what I have been experiencing. “I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.” Anxiety is a very strange thing, and can manifest itself in different ways. It’s very important to learn to listen to your body, and your body’s cues. On Thursday of last week I ended up in the emergency room. Since then, I have learned a lot about self care, listening to bodily cues, and anxiety.
Long story short, I had been getting headaches all week long but thought nothing of it. Then, I had a switch in my blood pressure medication. In addition to that, there was that huge argument I had. Add that to the post Harvey stress and basic day to day worries and I was a mess. I won’t get into the all the details today, but my anxiety caused my blood pressure to rise to a dangerous level. I got it sorted out in the hospital, and followed up with my family doctor who put me on antidepressants.
Things I’ve learned when it comes to anxiety:
- Listen to your body’s cues. If something is off, you need to find out why. For me, a signal that my anxiety is up is headaches. I get a cold compress and do breathing exercises to help alleviate the tension.
- There is no shame in medicine. Sometimes, it helps level out your mental state, and that is okay. All that matters is if you’re mentally sound and feeling stable. Once you feel miserable, it’s much harder to climb out of that hole.
- Don’t get complacent and think you are cured and just stop taking the medicine. That needs to be discussed with your doctor. Most doctors are instructed to stay away from medication unless it is absolutely needed. I had a long talk with the ER doctor about substance abuse and the newest protocol is to find other ways of treatment and to use medicine as a last resort. Having said that, if you are prescribed medication, you should take it. It really is okay.
- Eat regular meals at regular times during the day and drink lots of water. This will be different for everyone, but it is so important to not skip meals. Also, make sure you are getting proper nutrition because I learned that sugar and caffeine are huge stimulants.
- Get plenty of rest. This may sound cliche but it is really important. Before my panic attack, I would crash at like 2AM and wake up at 7. And then I would nap. Now, I go to sleep at 9PM and wake up at 7. I need that much sleep to start feeling good.
- Work out. I’m sure by now a lot of this sounds like generic health advice and if I was reading this a week ago, I’d have rolled my eyes, too. But having said that, exercise is instrumental in balancing your anxiety and emotions. The way my sister described it really brought home this point: your anxiety is a ball of energy that will build up over time. If you work out, you are burning off that energy before it has a chance to snowball into a panic attack.
- Reach out. I don’t know where I would be today if it weren’t for my family and friends. Words can not describe how much better you’ll feel if you have a support network, so don’t be afraid to reach out and say “hey I’m struggling right now.”
- Anxiety can be debilitating. It can be so much more than a rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms, or staring off into space, “blanking out.” Mental health should not be taken lightly. You are not weak if you struggle with mental health issues. Everyone has their own trials and tribulations in life. It’s okay if this struggle is part of your life. Really.
Now, I gotta give it to my family and friends for helping me out during this time:
When I was headed to the ER on Thursday, I messaged my friend Stacie because we had a meeting planned that afternoon (she’s one of our girl scout troop leaders) Stacie offered to pick up my daughter from school and to be my walking buddy. We are making efforts to walk/work out together a few times a week and that support is just incredible.
The family member who I got into an argument with last week reached out and we had a long discussion about what transpired. We both learned a lot about communication and are working together. Nothing beats the bonds that is family.
Rapunzel was like the sun in my life during all of this. She’s got her own stuff going on and she was willing to drop everything and come to the hospital, go get my daughter from school, and host me on Friday when I just needed a break. Her door was always open. Aside from being my very best friend in the whole wide world, she knows a lot about medications and helped me navigate my new prescriptions.
My daughter. She is magic, y’all. She can come home from a day at school and give me a big hug and I know that everything is right in my world. She is so silly and sweet and kind. She is very compassionate and listens well. I don’t know how I got lucky enough to have her in my life, but she makes the world a better place because she is in it.
Of course, it goes without saying that my husband is just all around amazing. He has been so patient and kind while watching me learn how to live a better life. He even eats the vegetables without complaint. I know I just made a whole blog about how fantastic he is, but truly, I would be very sad without him. He is the calm in my storms and my rock that keeps me grounded. I love him dearly and sometimes, I feel like shouting that for the whole world to hear! Instead, I’ll just brag on my blog.
Thanks for sticking with me on this journey, guys. I should be riding tomorrow, weather permitting! Can’t wait to get back on that bike!
Remember to be kind to yourself and if you or someone close to you is in serious distress or simply needs to talk to someone, please call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741.