Anxiety has been a part of my life since I can remember. I've always been an anxious person, I get nervous easily, and in turn my body shuts down. I get emotional and my mind goes to places that aren't realistic. Two years ago, my anxiety came on full force when I got into a bad car accident, driving home for a weekend that should have been full of fun with family and friends. I will spare the details, but I wore a neck brace for a month, and was extremely lucky to not get hurt any more than minor scratches, a concussion, the brace and physical therapy for a year.
I went back to work as much as I could after the accident. I feel that diving in head first is always how I like to conquer my fears, kind of like how Nike always says, "just do it." Well, that's what I do. Despite my pain, I worked as much as I could, went to my doctors' appointments and dreaded dealing with insurance. My doctor prescribed me pain medication, and Valium for the anxiety. I began to take the Valium daily, and refill when needed. At the time, I didn't realize that I was masking my anxiety with pills. I was simply trying to get through the day, one day at a time. To be honest, when I took them I felt great. No more stress about what was to come, how I would feel the next day etc. I had anxiety when I was in the car, but I thought that would eventually subside.
Weaning Myself from Prescription Medication
Months of taking the Valium I started trying to take less of the pills. I got migraines, and started feeling like I only wanted to take that medication since it's pretty tough on my body. I weened off the Valium, and then it hit me full force. I started to have anxiety in all aspects of my life, both personal and professional. My car anxiety skyrocketed, I felt more pressure at work to be "normal" yet everything gave me unbearable anxiety. I saw my doctor again, asking for any help with what medication or natural treatment I could be using to manage my anxiety and eventually, since it was so bad, I tried taking an anti-anxiety medication in place of the Valium.
My last encounter with anti-anxiety medication was the first day I took the new medication. I was at work, and I had a panic attack. The worst part about having a panic attack, besides the attack itself, is someone not believing or understanding what you are going through. At the time, I had a boss that I didn't mesh with. She was always so stressed out and took it out on me, when I was trying to be calm and find my way through the pain I was going through all while maintaining my career. When I told her I had to leave work, I got backlash from her. She didn't understand or believe that I was having a bad reaction to new medication. I left, went home and my boyfriend was able to calm me down on the phone. It took about 3 days to feel my normal, anxious self again. This time, I was willing to embrace this part of me, and look for natural ways to cope.
Four Holistic Practices That Help Manage My Anxiety
There is no "cure" for anxiety, but I have a few different ways of coping.
- I started to mediate daily. Taking even one minute out of my day to focus on my body has helped me dig deeper and find the quiet place in my mind where anxiety subsides. I use the guided meditation app Headspace.
- I take a walk everyday. It could be walking the dog, walking to the mall, wherever it is, I find that walking and getting moving is like a personal therapy session. It's quiet and I am able to process things in my mind, all while enjoying what is hopefully beautiful weather.
- I confide in people in my life that I trust. I have found that being open and honest with my friends, boyfriend, and even my Instagram followers has helped tremendously. When you are able to make a personal connection and relate to someone, that is everything. At work, I had felt like no one understood what I was going through, which made what I was going through so much worse. I since left that job, by the way.
- Lastly, I've tried a range of supplements, from CBD, to natural herbs and Chinese herbal medicine. I'll dive into my experience with Chinese Medicine in my next post, which you can read here!