Writing this makes me anxious. No, actually writing this makes me want to puke and then hide under my blankets for a week. Trying to explain anxiety to someone who doesn’t suffer from it always feels like you’re immediately going to be seen as coo-coo-banana-rama and deemed worthy of the loony bin. So while I’ve tried to find the courage to tell this story publicly since it’s happened, it’s now seven years later. The stigma that is attached to mental health makes it almost frighteningly shameful for someone to share. And for me, owning a business, I thought ‘gosh, what If my clients think I’m nuts?!’ And while all these things still run through my mind, I’ve decided to share this story. Because if someone can take comfort in the fact that they’re not alone and there is a way out of the darkness you’re enduring, I’ll take the risk. Because in some ways we all portray a facade of perfection, and that isn’t reality. So here I am, breaking down the facade and sharing a real piece of me, a piece of my darkness, in hopes these words help someone who need it.
While I truly remember it all starting with an antibiotic, I know anxiety manifested itself in other ways in my life prior to this incident. But this story starts with an antibiotic. Yep that’s right, an allergic reaction to an antibiotic sent me into a spiral of living every. single. day... thinking I was going to die of anaphylactic shock. Yep you read that right... no I never once in my life actually ever experienced anaphylaxis. I know what you’re thinking... coo coo... Writing this now 7 years later, I can clearly see how absurd this sounds. I mean goodness, while it was happening I was convinced I was nuts! But when you are in the depths of anxiety, you cannot rationalize yourself out of it- that is the power it has over you. Every alarm in my body telling me I was going to die. THAT is anxiety. A twisted reality, an unrealistic threat that your mind is convincing you is 100% real. THAT is anxiety.
Not only are all these thoughts running through your mind, but for those reading who have never experienced anxiety for themselves, let me explain to you that you can experience physiological symptoms. So while going through this, I wasn’t actually losing oxygen from my throat closing, but the panic attack was causing physical symptoms, one being a tightening of the throat. That wasn’t the only symptom I had experienced. But that was in part why I was convinced I was going to die of anaphylaxis.
I lived every single day unable to eat a meal without this alarm going off. I lived every single night up all night with this alarm going off. Exhaustion is an understatement. My mind, body and spirt were exhausted. I’d pray for what would feel like hours at night, pray for relief and to just be ok. Just imagine feeling like you were going to die every single day, CONVINCED of it. I didn’t choose this, I didn’t ask for it, and I definitely didn’t want it. You don’t choose anxiety, you don’t choose to feel or live like this. It just happens and it's a terrifying reality.
So let me tell you when someone says to me they’re living with anxiety, it truly hits me in the heart. If I could hug you and tell you I promise you can figure this monster out I would. In fact, if you are reading this, consider this a virtual hug and me telling you it will be OK. You just have to be brave enough to try something you haven’t. This is the only way to get a result you haven’t obtained yet. I know the thought of that is scary. You’re already living out of your comfort zone on the daily, so why add to it? I get it. But push through this fear. Because everything you want will be on the other side. At the worst my anxiety ever was I had to do what felt like the scariest thing I have ever done to get to a better place.
Let me segway into a brief explanation of 2 simple underlying causes of anxiety.
1) Emotional baggage. We all have it. I had baggage I didn’t even know I had. I had a happy childhood. My parents loved me. But there were things there that happened that I did not even know affected me! Anxiety and depression are physical outward symptoms of your inner emotional well being. Yes. Whether we realize or not we are holding some kind of unspoken traumas in our body and burning through our serotonin and causing physical reactions in our body. We store these emotional traumas inside of our hearts and minds instead of expressing them properly and we burn through our serotonin as our body's way to cope.
Lesson I learned: Therapy was life changing. There is a crazy stigma attached to therapy that needs to go somewhere with itself. Seriously. Emotional education should be in our school systems. But it’s not, and it’s up to us to seek help for ourselves. It may feel like it’s not working. It may feel too hard. But it will change your life.
2) Our serotonin production is compromised. Did you know 90% of our serotonin is created in our gut?! As in, the trillions of microorganisms in our intestines are 90% responsible for the production of neutransmitters in our brain, including gaba and serotonin. 70% of Americans have gut health that is compromised. The average American diet is pretty much a microbiome killer, not to mention over-sanitization, antibiotics, medications, toxins in our environment, etc.
Lesson I learned: Get my gut health in check. SSRI’s that are prescribed to treat depression and anxiety, alter brain receptors to slow the rate at which we metabolize the serotonin because we are burning through it too fast, helpful? Yes! But the difference with focusing on gut health- this will heal the body from the inside out to help it produce the serotonin we need in our brain. That is HUGE. There are so many changes we can make in our day to day living to help heal our gut. But the easiest way is getting an anti-fungal and probiotic in our system ASAP.
I personally love this probiotic system. It does come with a 60 day money back guarantee and it has been life altering for me and my friends. But if you are feeling too tight on funds, this is also a great place to start, and also has a 60 day money back guarantee. However, consistency is key.
I truly hope sharing my story with you helps you to feel not alone. Know you are not alone. And even when you feel crazy, know you’re not. Your body is just trying to tell you something, please listen. I truly hope it helps you to feel like you do have hope. I’ve been there and I promise there is a way out. Lots of hugs and love to you all.
”While you throw all of your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7