Let’s talk about ANXIETY

Anxiety is something I have struggled with long before my diagnosis of MS. I was lucky to have a mom who noticed the symptoms and could see I was suffering even when I was as young as fourteen. My anxiety began to manifest when I as in middle school in the form of hypochondria. I was ALWAYS afraid of getting sick. I’m talking no sharing food/drinks, constantly washing hands, sanitizing my toys, and barricading myself in my room when one of siblings got sick. Growing up, my bedroom was the guest bedroom (I was the lucky kid who got the queen sized bed in her room, but that also came with cost of giving up my room when extended family from out of town came to visit). I can remember just crying with fear every time I knew someone else would be sleeping in my room because HOW in god’s green earth was I going to GET RID OF ALL THOSE GERMS!?!

I saw a doctor and we talked about what I was experiencing and I was put on an anxiety medication and things got a lot better for a while! Unfortunately when I was in high school I experienced abuse from an older boy and almost lost myself to his dark influence and hurtful behavior. Luckily, (again!) I have some pretty rad parents who devoted their lives to making sure I got away from him and found a place where I was happy and safe (as happy as kid can be when going through that kind of abuse at the ripe young age of fifteen) and have since been getting the mental health treatment I needed.

About a year ago my anxiety got much, much worse than it ever had been. I had recently moved back to Minnesota from Chicago and was not adjusting well. My (then) boyfriend (now) husband and I decided it was time for me to start seeking regular mental health treatment again. I was diagnosed with PTSD from sexual and emotional trauma, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Attack disorder. I have been working with a wonderful psychiatrist who has helped me find meds that work for me and is helping me find techniques to deal with my frequent panic attacks.

Then November came…and along with it my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. My anxiety has gone through the roof. It’s almost like the diagnosis snapped me back to being a child again. I have started feeling that familiar and horrible overwhelming feeling of being afraid of everything that could make me sick. Ironic isn’t it? The hypochondriac child gets sick as an adult with something you can’t get better from?

How does your anxiety manifest itself? Since my diagnosis I have been experiencing a whirlwind of emotions but anxiety and fear are definitely in the forefront. At first I was having severe panic attacks on almost a daily basis (I am now down to one or two a week- THANK YOU MEDITATION and Xanax for during the worst of the attacks). I’ve noticed that my anxiety manifests in nausea, vomiting, scratching, Insomnia, rapid obsessive thoughts, racing heart, flushing, shortness of breath, sudden feelings of intense doom aaaaand cue panic attack…

What do you guys do to help with your anxiety? Besides seeking help from a medical  professional ( we need to take our mental health just as seriously as our physical health and that means there is NO SHAME in going to a mental health provider. You wouldn’t be ashamed to go to the doctor if you got pneumonia? Right!?!)

I am currently seeing my psychiatrist for medication management and a phycologist specializing in helping those diagnosed with chronic or terminal illness. Both of these people have helped me TREMENDOUSLY in understanding and accepting my anxiety and how to get control of it rather than letting it control me. I still have a lot of work to go though.

My go to home remedies for when I am having a challenging day are:

  • Walks with my dog (seriously I swear he can tell when I am having a rough day)
  • Meditation and Mindfullness exercises
  • Drinking calming Herbal Tea
  • Use of calming essential oils like Lavender
  • Taking a nap (sometimes when I am over fatigued my anxiety takes that as a chance to rear her ugly head)
  • Cleaning and organizing my house (I have no idea why it helps but it does)
  • Listening to music. It can be calming music or just my favorite uplifting playlist.
  • Writing this blog! It’s actually one of the big reason I started this blog. I have always loved a creative resource!

So people…give it to me! I want to hear what you find empowering, comforting and helpful when anxiety gets the best of you!

-A