Welcome to Rose-Minded, a mental health blog and self-care brand supporting others through their journey. We love to encourage journaling, self-care, and sharing your story to promote healing and recovery. Continue reading below for more about the guest writer's journey through anxiety and how she overcame her mental illness to tell her story.
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would eventually get diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, I would probably have believed you. To be truthful, I’ve been dealing with anxiety since college. I had my first panic attack sitting in my dorm room my sophomore year. I remember it vividly.
I was sitting at my desk when I started to get this feeling of impending doom. I just remember sitting there, balling my eyes out, trying to catch my breath, talking to my friend on the phone about how I felt like I was the only one in the building and was terrified. I knew it made no sense and yet I couldn’t stop it. She eventually talked me down after about 5 minutes, but it felt like an hour. Later that night, I felt like I was hit by a truck. Physically and emotionally exhausted. By the next day, though, it was like it never happened.
My last panic attack came about 3 months ago, ironically after I started taking a low-dose SSRI medication (more to come on this later). This time I was driving when all of a sudden, I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. Both of my arms eventually began tingling while I picked up my speed to try to get home as fast as I could. Eventually I got home, pacing back and forth in my living room until the panic attack passed, and I collapsed from what felt like a 3-hour workout onto my couch.
So, when someone says they have experienced this before, I feel for them. I understand what it’s like to feel entirely and completely out of control. This is life with anxiety. You become overwhelmed by your emotions, fully knowing they are irrational with an inability to slow your thoughts down. Eventually they fully take over your life and you find yourself missing things you used to enjoy because you can’t get out of your own head or because you feel exhausted 24/7.
This is what I dealt with daily before my anxiety was managed with medication. The odd part about it was that while I felt a low level of anxiety throughout college, graduate school, residency training, and an extremely stressful job; the intensely high level anxiety did not start appearing until I started my new job which has been significantly lower in stress. That never made sense to me. The only way I can justify it is that I never allowed my mind to truly relax during those other years, rather I was always keeping it occupied by something else.
Regardless, I eventually found myself trying to create a better life, but my anxiety kept getting in the way. I tried getting on a regular exercise program but there would be days I would get home from work and just collapse on the couch. God forbid I had a high anxiety day because then I’d come home, pace back and forth, think about how I should be working out but couldn’t shake the feeling of nervousness, and eventually end up doing nothing but watching a mind numbing Netflix show all night. Eventually I decided to seek help.
Have you ever tried searching for a psychiatrist? It’s not a fun process. In fact, the only clinic I could find near me didn’t take my insurance at all and instead wanted to charge $150 a visit. They usually recommend 2 visits a week. If you thought I had anxiety before, add financial hardship on top of it and you’ve got a perfect storm.
Luckily, I was in an accountability group with a woman who was training to be a clinical psychologist. She led me to Talkspace, a talk therapy app that allows you to message a therapist that is matched to you whenever you want. Mine responded twice a day and was extremely helpful in managing my anxiety attacks. The best advice he gave me was related to my triggered attacks.
These attacks were always centered around my inability to control something. His advice to me was to make a list of everything I COULD control and read it whenever I felt this type of attack coming on. My little ‘control mantra’ as I began to call it, saved me many times from going into a full blown anxiety attack. This alone is the reason I will always be grateful to my therapist. Plus, the sessions cost me $150 for the entire month which was a bargain compared to the other rate.
Despite this huge success, I was still having other, non-triggered attacks and while therapy did help me, my anxiety was still debilitating at times. After consulting my friend again, I decided to seek medical help from my PCP (primary care physician). She started me on a low-dose SSRI which was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life.
Ask anyone who I talked to after the medication kicked in... I was ecstatic. My anxiety dropped so low that I didn’t feel anxious daily anymore. In fact, I still haven’t had an attack in 3 months. Plus, my energy levels shot way up. My rationalization here is that I wasn’t making 1000 decisions in my head before lunchtime about all the possibilities of the day. It was like the “you are glasses” moment on Grey’s Anatomy - THEY’RE LEAVES!
I finally felt control in my life. I started my workout program, which was much easier to maintain, and I started eating healthier. It was incredible. I kept telling my friends, why did I not seek help earlier?!
Well, I know the answer to that. The stigma. My family never talked about mental health. I only had one friend who had admitted she was taking medication for her mental health. It wasn’t until the accountability group that I realized there are way more of us out there suffering in silence. So, if you are reading this blog and you feel alone in your journey, remember this: you are not alone.
If you need someone to talk to, I am here for you. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, I am here for you. But please. PLEASE. Talk to a medical provider. They can help identify the best path for you and guide you towards a place you don’t even realize exists. Trust me when I say this...the grass IS greener on the other side.
And after you defeat the beast, share your story. Help others to the golden land that you’ve gotten to. We’re all in this life together, the least we could do is enjoy it.
Honest is a relatively new lifestyle blogger. Her blog ‘Honest Blonde Bombshell’ gives you the truth bombs you’ve been looking for. Whether that be in your mental health, fitness, nutrition, or relationships, she is here to bring you the truth behind it all.
To read more about her journey or to read how she manages her anxiety outside of medication, go to her website: http://honestblondebombshell.com and click under the wellness tab. Don’t forget to subscribe for any and all updates on the topic!
If you are more of a follow-along person, follow her on IG @honest_blonde_bombshell or on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/honestblondebombshell/. She looks forward to hearing from you!
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, see The Best Journal Prompts for Anxiety. These journal prompts are designed to aid in the relief and recovery of anxiety, and help you identify symptoms and triggers that may be harmful to your well-being.
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