Mental Health Awareness
It was a beautiful summer day in June 2017. The sun was shining and it was a perfect 75 degrees outside. I was three days into executing the supplement and anti-candida protocols my naturapathic doctor prescribed me based on the results of my tests. I was sleeping well, had a ton of energy, and was happy as I drove to work that morning… until I arrived at my desk. I suddenly felt light-headed and had a tingling sensation up the back of my neck. I had not eaten anything that morning after my workout because I planned on eating after I arrived at work. Thinking I was hungry, I forced myself to eat half of my breakfast even though I felt nauseous. During my first meeting about 30 minutes later, I couldn’t concentrate, felt light-headed, was shaking uncontrollably, couldn’t catch my breath and had an impending feeling I was trapped in the room. My face became very flushed and I couldn’t pull myself out of the feeling I was going to die. Was I having a heart attack? Did I need to eat more or was my blood sugar low?
My co-workers realized something was wrong and had me lie on the floor with my feet up and brought me a soda in case it was my blood sugar. However, after a few minutes of still not feeling well, we decided I needed to go to the Emergency Room. Several hours and tests later revealed nothing was physically wrong with me. My diagnose: Anxiety. I was having a series of panic attacks, worse than any panic attack I’d ever experienced. The ER doctor gave me a couple Xanax and sent me home ordering me to take some time off work to relax.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt as scared for my mental health as I did that day when I laid in the hospital bed with panic attack after panic attack washing over me like giant waves. I was drowning in claustrophia and helplessness. That was the wake-up call I needed to finally manage my stress better – physically, mentally and emotionally. After years of pushing myself in every way possible, I HAD to slow down or I didn’t know where I was going to end up. In a few weeks, it’ll be one year since that horrific day that’s burned into my memory. Fortunately, I’ve not had another panic episode like that since, though the last year has had its challenges. I’m learning to embrace and process those feelings as they come and to be more kind to myself.
Over the last several blog posts, I’ve shared my story with you along with the tools I use to manage my anxiety without medication. Many people choose to use medication, which is their choice. And while I was prescribed Lexapro after my episode last summer, I have since stopped taking it. I prefer to use natural solutions, which for me work better than medication but without the side effects. In fact, I us ed natural solutions to get over the horrible withdrawal symptoms I experienced getting off Lexapro.
While it has not been easy for me to tell you about my anxiety, I feel it’s important to talk about it not only to come to grips with it myself, but to let people know they’re not alone. I certainly feel alone sometimes. People think you can just snap out of it but that’s easier said than done. If I could, trust me I would. Millions of Americans deal with anxiety and panic disorders and so many are afraid to share their struggles because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses. May is Mental Health month. If you or someone you know struggles with anxiety or any other mental health challenge, here are some great resources for you to check out:
- Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/mentalhealthmonth
Next week, I will begin a new series of blog posts focused on one of the most important tools I’ve used for my mental health… food.
Have a beautiful week and remember to keep moving forward.