Surviving Tough Times Without Anxiety Medication
The other day I was on a phone call with a potential coaching client.
She was so sweet asking me how I was doing after the sudden death of my uncle and friend's son, as well as my grandmother in the hospital, and other personal things that happened two weeks ago.
Believe me, that weekend was one of the most emotional weekends of my life. SO much happened in 48 hours that I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry and scream. My sensitivity was sky-high. But I didn't freak out.
Yes, I was sad. I was angry. I felt so bad for everyone else who was hurting. However, I felt the emotions and did the best I could to not let them take over like they have in the past.
She then asked me with a serious and curious tone,
"Shayna, how did you get through all of that without medication?"
Wow. At first, I responded with, "I don't know." But the crazy thing is, I hadn't even thought about taking anything besides Ibuprofen twice for a headache. Eight or so years ago, I would've popped my daily Prozac and probably grabbed an Ativan or other pill to help me calm down and/or sleep.
I wouldn't have wanted to feel such intense emotions all at once. I would have wanted to escape them.
By her asking me that, it helped to acknowledge how far I have come with my own anxiety over the past ten years. I actually had a moment to appreciate myself for ALL of the amazing work I have done to be able to feel my emotions and for the tools I have found to help heal. It also reassured my mission and passion to help other women with their anxiety and emotions.
I thought I would share what I did that helped me get through without spiraling backwards into severe anxiety and depression.
1. Talked on the phone with friends. I texted some friends seeing if they could talk. Since my family was going through so much, I needed others who weren't involved so I could cry and talk it all out. My friends were incredibly caring and let me release my emotions so I didn't hold onto it all. It felt amazing to release it a bit and have my friends lift me up with their encouraging words and strength. They were so genuine and admitted they didn't have the words to fix it all, but just being there was enough. I am grateful they have been there for me through so much.
2. Kept on eating healthy food.
My appetite is the first thing to go when I am extra emotional. But I knew I had to keep up my strength to get through all of the services in one weekend and be there for others. I have also been going through some complex health issues and food is essential in me staying balanced and energized. I made myself eat every meal and tried to keep it as a simple and healthy as possible. Whether I cooked scrambled eggs or ordered salmon and veggies, I tried to incorporate some balance. I also made sure to take my B-complex and omega-3 supplements, which are beneficial for moods and energy.
3. Wrote about it.
I shared a bit of my emotions on social media with words and a photo. Some people probably wondered why I would write about such personal feelings but I wanted to share that I still go through things myself. I'm not perfect. I also think it's super important to bring awareness to mental health since it is not talked about often. I wanted to share that it's okay to be sad and go through emotions because things happen in life. There are always ups and downs personally and in the world. The support I received was truly amazing. People are so caring and want to help you when you just ask for it. I also journaled when I could.
4. Checked in with family and friends.
I tried to be there for my family while planning my uncle's services. We pulled out old photos and I helped my sister write the eulogy. It helped us to bring up good memories and make my parents laugh. I visited my grandmother and held her hand as much as possible. (I even practiced a little Reiki on her since she was experiencing a lot of pain.) I checked in on my cousins and friend just to say I was here if they needed anything. It helped to put my own emotions aside and be there for others when they needed it most.
5. Deep breaths.
I will be honest in saying my anxiety was sky-high when I found all of this sad news out. But I continued to take deep belly breaths and keep my shoulders back and down. I knew in order to stay a little sane, my breath would get me through. Whenever I felt tears welling up and sadness in my chest, I would breathe. I would breathe when I was around others and they were feeling upset.
6. Hugged others.
Believe it or not, I was not really a touchy person growing up. I was never someone who would go hug another person. (I've been told it's the German in me?) But over the years I have realized how much hugging and personal touch is key to any type of physical and emotional healing. I hugged family and friends. I actually maybe even squeezed a little too tight at times but I wanted to show them I know what they are going through isn't easy, but they are loved.
So thank you to that woman for asking me that important question. It validated that I have come further than I EVER thought possible.
If you told me I would be 30 and not on any medication for anxiety or depression, I'm not sure I would have believed you. I'm not saying medication is bad. I am just saying there are others way to cope and it's possible to not have to be on it forever. I may need it in the future, but for now I feel I have amazing family, friends and tools to help me through. (That photo is me holding my final prescription of Prozac before I got rid of it a few years ago.)
Let me know if you want to chat about your anxiety and emotions. I am here for you. I know what it's like. I also know how to help when you're (kinda) ready.
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