What Helps My Anxiety?
It has been over a decade since a psychiatrist looked at me and said to my pre-teen self "You are living with chronic anxiety."
I remember leaving the doctors office and saying to myself: 'chronic' by definition means that it is long lasting and difficult to eradicate.
So, I knew this feeling wasn't going away.
I was 12.
My mom had cancer. My little brother was a year old and we already knew he had a few special needs. I was also a totally average girl starting middle school. This was back when anxiety wasn't an excuse. This was when English papers were due and Spanish exams meant speaking in front of 25 classmates. I was outgoing, I was the happy-go-lucky cheerleader with a ton of friends on the outside. But I was also the insecure 12 year old, with hidden family struggles, that suffered from chronic anxiety.
I will never forget my incredibly intimidating Advanced English teacher answered the phone attached to the wall one day (usually this meant the office was calling and someone had an early dismissal), she hung the phone up and walked to my desk. The room was quiet, everyone was eager to know what the office had to say, and my English teacher stood at my desk and said, "Kelsey, you're going to have to ride the bus today because no-one is able to pick you up."
This was the same day I got home and my mom and step-dad told me my mom was really sick and would be starting treatment soon.
Eighth grade ended. I was so excited to start high school with all my friends. I planned to run cross-country and to try out for cheerleading. My special needs brother was about to turn 4. My mom had just had her second life-threatening surgery and this is when my parents told me we were moving to a new house in a new school district.
A new school, with new friends, and hidden chronic anxiety.
This is when I started taking medicine for my anxiety.
Every game I cheered at, I threw up. My parents thought it may be a gluten intolerance, but I knew it was nerves. My whole team knew I had this issue, right before a game, or prior to a pep rally, I ran to the bathroom. Away games were always worse. I said I had allergies to cover up my anxiety for 3 years.
I was really good at pretending things were normal, I would laugh and carry on.
The more I hid my issues, the harder it got.
I graduated a year and a half early from high school due to my anxiety.
This is when anxiety became a blanket statement in society. People began using it as a cop out. "This gives me anxiety", "that gave me anxiety", "he or she gave me anxiety."
It became cool.
Everyone took Xanax. Everyone smoked weed.
This is the same time my mom had flat-lined on a table during surgery for the second time. This is when I met my older sister for the first time in my life and found out I was an aunt to a little girl, my mom had given her daughter up for adoption prior to me and my aunt had messaged her to tell her my mom was dying. This is also when my little brother started walking with a walker and chewing his own food, he was 8.
I was in college, living an unhealthy lifestyle in the same town I grew up in. My anxiety was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I swallowed my entire bottle of Xanax before church one morning and that's when we decided I needed to leave my home town.
I moved 4 hours south to a small little beach town for a marketing job at a locally owned gym and my whole life flipped upside down.
I had always been intrigued by yoga, but didn't get serious about my practice until my move. Yoga saved me as a person. I remember saying to myself, "I can not believe that stretching and bending makes me feel THIS good."
I ate healthier.
I was so confident in myself and so happy to be ME, finally.
Shortly after this, I met Tyler and I got pregnant with Riley.
This was what God had planned for me and I couldn't be anymore thrilled.
We were moving to a new town 2 hours away from our small beach town. I was pregnant (hellooooo hormones) and if you think high school was hard because of the comparison trap...just wait until motherhood. HELLO COMPETITIVE MAMAS.
College savings accounts? Buying houses? School districts? Private school? Diaper brands? Formula fed or Breast fed? Who's baby shower is more "Pinterest"? Will you do time out? Screen time?
And holy shit- everyone has an opinion.
I had pretty much practiced yoga up until Riley's due date. My pregnancy wasn't easy, but it wasn't awful either and she was the easiest freaking baby I could have ever asked for.
She slept through the night, she went where we went, she never cried.
But, I was a basket case. My postpartum anxiety was so bad. I passed out 4 times in our little apartment those first few weeks and I remember I never wanted to get out of the bath tub. I was an anxious mess and had to stay busy or I would freak out.
Imagine standing with your child in a mall at Christmas time. Now imagine your kid is missing in the mall at Christmas. That feeling of panic is what I felt all. the. time. For no apparent reason.
I was happily a stay at home mom. My husband was home all the time and his job is really flexible. My child slept through the night and was always happy.
But, I couldn't even check on R at night because I was petrified I would walk in and she wouldn't be breathing.
Anxiety wasn't foreign to me.
I knew what it was.
and I refused medicine.
So, I went back to my roots and found what usually helped me:
-yoga. every single day. some days just 20 minutes of laying with my legs up the wall and some days 3 hours of sweating until the studio asked me to go home.
-eating healthy and drinking water. (duh.)
-creating a relaxing environment. sometimes if I just clean the house, light a few candles, put the baby to bed, and drink hot tea...everything starts to feel better.
-running. alot of people hate it - but if I run with a podcast on and have no destination, I come back feeling so much better.
-holy basil and ashwagandha
-tight hugs. if I am stressed and don't feel right, Tyler knows to hug me really tight. It almost always helps.
-Natural Vitality before bed. (magnesium supplements!)