Anxiety is a word that is thrown around like crazy these days. It’s become popular and funny to say that you suffer from anxiety. While I personally don’t find this offensive, I do believe that it downplays how utterly heartbreaking anxiety can be to deal with.
Mental health illnesses can make you feel alone, insecure, exhausted and completely devastated. 40 million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety disorders. This makes them one of the most common mental health illnesses. I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life, but in June of 2018 I experienced one of the most heart-breaking bouts of anxiety that I have ever gone through.
To set the scene a bit; I was in a job that totally overworked me, saw no future doing anything that felt aligned with my purpose, had no goals that I was actively pursuing, and my health was quickly going downhill.
Because of these things I was left feeling totally spacey and unlike myself. One day, while I was at work, I felt a sudden rush of heat come over me. I started sweating and knew something was up. I’m only 26, so menopausal hot flashes should not be hitting ya’ girl already!
Within minutes I found myself in a full-blown panic attack. I ran to my car so that I could lay down and try to call my mom – she’s my life saver when anxiety strikes. Well, mom didn’t answer and that just made everything come over me 10x harder.
Now I’m in my car, crying my eyes out, feeling my body go completely numb and totally convinced that I’m dying. This is the end. This is what a heart attack feels like. I finally got ahold of a family member to tell them that I’m losing my mind. I’m going crazy and can’t control my mind or my body. I’m dying and need them to take me to a hospital – like now.
If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know exactly how this feels. Your mind has convinced your entire being that this is the end for you. And it feels so freaking real.
I wasn’t the same after this day. I was left feeling foggy, disconnected between mind and body and like I was living in a dream that I could not wake up from.
Nothing felt real. This wasn’t my life.
I was convinced that I was stuck like this forever. I was never going to feel “normal” ever again. I repeatedly told the people closest to me that I didn’t want to die, but I could not live my life like this every day. It wasn’t worth it. As dark as that sounds I know, now, that there are so many people out there who have felt the same way as I did.
How I Managed To Get Rid Of Anxiety
After countless visits to a psychiatrist and psychologist, I was beginning to feel hopeless. The meds weren’t kicking in fast enough and I didn’t know how to put the way I was feeling into words that were understandable enough to help me work out an action plan. No one was understanding what I was dealing with.
I eventually took a completely different approach and turned to a spiritual advisor. This was a game-changer.
Just as a disclosure – I don’t think that everyone with an anxiety disorder should turn to a spiritual advisor. This just worked for me in my situation as a desperate last attempt. I respect the spiritual beliefs of everyone and understand that this may seem completely woo-woo and unrealistic. My spiritual beliefs do not represent the beliefs of ShineSheets.
While working with this spiritual advisor, we came to the realization that I was completely ungrounded. That explains the flighty feelings that I consistently had, paired with the disconnection of mind and body.
I was so far from the path that I felt aligned with, that this panic attack and aftermath were the only ways to wake me up and get me back on track. I quickly built up a routine that would bring me back down to earth and help me ease the fogginess that I was experiencing every single day.
My Mindful Grounding Routine
I had to focus on things that made me feel connected to myself, my journey and the life that I was living. While my routine has changed since I originally started, I still incorporate nearly all the things that I was doing into my day. This keeps me grounded daily and gives me a foundation to turn back to when the flighty feelings start to return.
The first thing I did every morning was a guided meditation based around grounding. This gave me time to sit with myself, breathe and start my day off on the right foot. I highly recommend Insight Timer if you’re looking for a meditation app. They have so many guided meditations that are amazing!
Meditation has proven to decrease depression relapses by 12%. It’s a serious game changer and a perfectly safe way to get rid of anxiety for anyone with a mental health illness.
Once my mind was clear and still from my meditation, I would start my journal practice. Every day I would write down 10 things that I’m grateful for followed by 10 things that I love about myself.
When you’re in a bad place mentally, I firmly believe that gratitude alone is enough to make an impact on your journey towards recovery. Anxiety and depression can be caused by a lack mindset. Meaning that you are focusing more on what you don’t have instead of all that you do have.
When you build a gratitude practice, you can remind yourself daily of everything that you have in your life that you should be focusing on. Life is filled with so many good things, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re stuck in a cycle of comparison and lack.
Another very common thing that happens with anxiety, is insecurity. I was constantly questioning whether I was good enough, if I was doing things correctly, and if I was even worthy of living.
Writing down things that I love about myself gave me the confidence boost that I needed during this time. It was a way to remind myself that I am enough as I am.
During my mindfulness quest, I even made changes to my diet and water intake. I was more mindful and aware of what I was consuming. Goodbye daily doses of sugar and gluten, hello fruits and veggies!
Being more mindful and in the moment dramatically impacted the way that I was feeling mentally.
What I Learned
My anxiety could easily be explained as the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I instead choose to view it as a part of my life that has taught me more about myself than anything else ever has. It’s brought me a lot of pain and suffering but has also brought me a lot of clarity and peace of mind.
My anxiety taught me that it is okay to slow down. It is okay to take time for myself. It is okay to be selfish sometimes and make sure my cup is full before I fill that of those around me.
My brain fog was a way for my mind to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. It was trying to teach me to be mindful and notice how I’m feeling in that moment.
What You Need To Know
Anxiety sucks, don’t get me wrong. But there is always light in the darkness, it just has to be discovered.
If you push through and fight for yourself, you’ll be rewarded 10-fold by the lessons you’ll learn on the other side. You are worth the fight – every bit of it. Put yourself first, take this time to learn about who you are and don’t let your anxiety keep you down. It will not win because you will not let it!