For as long as I can remember I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. I remember being five years old sitting on our stairs rocking back and forth because I was so afraid that something in the garage was going to catch fire and make the house explode. This continued on through elementary school, and I would have episodes where I would cry uncontrollably at night because I didn’t want to go to school the next day. I remember flashes of those nights in my mind, and I remember that there was nothing specific that made me so fearful. I was just consumed with worry. Even as a young eight year old, I knew this wasn’t normal, so I begin to make up lies to tell my parents why I was afraid. I said that there was a boy being mean to me in computer class (which there wasn’t), and I begin to tell so many lies to myself that my fears piled up and got tangled with one another to the point of overwhelm.
My parents took me to a therapist in 5th grade, and I don’t remember much, but I do remember he helped me. One thing that came out in my therapy sessions that year was that I was my harshest critic. I would get so mad at myself if I got even one answer wrong on a test, or if my teacher had to reprimand me for something minor like not standing straight in line while walking through the hallway. I pushed and pushed myself to be the best at everything and to never fail at anything. I never showed myself grace and I always wanted to preform better.
I knew all these fears and worries and anxieties and thoughts weren’t normal, but I always thought that I was just crazy and needed to push through those debilitating thoughts. They continued to plague me. As a young mom, I would wake up several times a night and make sure the baby was breathing and that no blankets were covering his face. (Now, I do realize that this might be considered somewhat normal for a new mom…;) When I would have to go to a social event where I didn’t know people, I wouldn’t be able to eat and I would run through several scenarios in my head where people would decide I was an airhead and flaky and dumb and wouldn’t like me.
I remember specifically one night this summer, I awoke in the middle of the night in a panic. We had purchased an inflatable pool with a filter recently, and I was terrified (and sure) that I left the filter on and that it was going to catch fire and burn down the house, and since the boys’ bedroom is closest to the backyard, they would die first and I would have to live without them. So at 3:00 a.m., I went outside and checked the filter and electrical cord for the pool. Then I came in and checked all the burners on the stove because I thought, “Did I really turn them off after making dinner? I don’t think so.”
I finally I decided to get help.
That was six months ago. It took me THREE whole months to work through the anxiety of making the phone call to schedule an appointment, but I did it. I have been on a low dose of medication that helps take the edge off my anxiety attacks, and I also go to talk therapy to work on coping strategies for living with anxiety. I can’t tell you how free I feel! Naming my condition and having someone hear what I’m saying and not making me feel crazy, but wanting to help me has been amazing. I’m learning that my anxiety most likely will always be a part of me, but I CAN be in control of it, instead of it controlling me. I can acknowledge that voice that stirs up my anxious heart, but I can say, “okay voice, I hear you, but we are going to work through this. Here is what is real…”
I love choosing natural routes when I can (essential oils, etc.), and there are several oil blends that I diffuse in my home and put on my wrists that really help me when I am experiencing anxious thoughts. But sometimes medication is helpful, which in my case it has been. While I learn coping mechanisms from my therapist, my medicine helps me remain in control. I encourage you if you struggle with anxiety, depression, panic, whatever- don’t be ashamed or feel like you’re just crazy and need to get over it. Seek help whether its through talking to someone, medication, or lavender oil.
I am on a journey towards healing and towards wholeness, and I am so excited.