Disclaimer: This blog post will be talking about my experience with panic and anxiety. This topic may be sensitive for some. Please take my advice/experience with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor first.
So… 2017 really kicked my ass in January. But I’m proud to say that by December 2017, I really turned it around.
The first week of January last year, I experienced my first, soul-crushing panic attack that was the catalyst to my debilitating anxiety disorder. I have been an anxiety sufferer my entire life, but it had finally reached it’s peak. I’ll spare you the details, but if you want the backstory, you can check it out here.
Finally, one year later – I’m not anxiety-free much like every other human, but I am so. much. freaking. better.
And that’s all I’ve honestly ever wanted. To feel better. It’s hard for me to believe how different I feel now. I forget how the small things seemed like the biggest challenges. It was hard at one point to leave my house at all, or to even sleep in my own bed (God bless my mother who let me bunk with her for a month).
I wanted to update you guys about where I am now in terms of Mental Resilience and Wellness, and to share a few goals I’ve set for my own self-care.
One topic I never really touched on throughout this process was medication. I have never talked about it not because I don’t believe in it, but because I just simply was not ready. Medication can be a very personal and private journey all on it’s own when it comes to mental health. But I really feel like I’m finally at a place where I can speak about my experience.
After several months of research, appointments, meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy, I was able to finally get to a place where I was able to semi-function. I was initially super-reluctant to any type of anti-anxiety drug – but the more I really researched and thought about it, the more open I was to trying it.
Actress Kristen Bell has a lovely quote about mental health that also made me think (she suffers from depression herself, and is also on a medication that helps her):
“In the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin. Ever. But for some reason, when someone needs a serotonin [reuptake] inhibitor, they’re immediately crazy.”
There is absolutely no shame in being on a medication for a mental illness. It took me a long time to put aside my pride and realize that this is what may be best for me. Coming from my own family history and personal life-long struggle with anxiety, magnesium supplements and sleep stories could really only do so much. For the last few months, I have been taking an anti-anxiety medication prescribed from my doctor – and it truly feels like the missing part of the puzzle (that is my brain). That being said, I think that everyone should consult their physician before going on any type of vitamin or prescription drug.
This is a very private part of my life that I still am unsure about making public, but I really want to help change the conversation around mental health. I don’t think medication is talked about enough. I never even realized how many people have been or are currently on it.
I don’t see medication as the end-all-be-all. I think that all the tools I use to take care of myself play a huge part in my mental resilience. It’s something that I have to work on each and every day. No part is more important than another.
Vitamins ares something I’ve put on the back burner for a few months, but I do want to improve this part of my self-care! It’s definitely something I have to do more research on, because before, the vitamins I was taking were strictly related to anxiety. I now want to try vitamins that are just for my overall health- and hey, if they help my hair and nails grow, I’m not complaining.
You know I can’t stop raving about these, but yes – Calm and Pacifica are my go – tos. I go into them more in-depth in my original Anxiety update, so please check that out if you haven’t. They are wonderful tools that really help me reset when I need it.
BUT HOW DO YA REALLY FEEL?
I honestly feel even better now than I did before January 2017. I came to the realization that even though these panic attacks began earlier last year, there was a lot of built-up anxiety before that which led up to #RachStaysIndoors2017. I’m so much more at peace with myself, my future and whatever life throws at me.
Some days are definitely easier than others, but when I start to feel anxious, I’m really able to manage it in a way I wouldn’t have been able to before. CBT just feels routine now. It’s a learning process everyday, but I am so grateful for each moment, even the bad ones.
Even though I experienced a lot of crappy moments in 2017, I’m so incredibly grateful for them. I find it a little ironic that the year where I probably felt the most miserable in my life was also one that I grew the most professionally.
With that being said, I just want to extend a big hug and thank you to all that have supported my journey. It’s certainly not over, and I’ll still be writing about my mental wellness and self-care (two things that I definitely shoved aside till 2017). It has been challenging but great, and your kind messages have meant so much to me. I’ve always believed that being vulnerable is a attribute of strength and not weakness, and ever since sharing this with you, I’ve felt stronger every day.