When it comes to anxiety, everyone is effected by it differently. But we all have one thing in common:
“It ruins our life.”
This was actually one of my first posts. However its taken me this long to put it together. I’ve had to stop a few times because my hands would get sweaty, my heart would start beating faster and this uneasy feeling would come over me. I felt like anxiety was right around the corner waiting for any reason to invite itself into my head. And you see, thats what it all is…IN YOUR HEAD. I’ve always heard the word “anxiety” being thrown around in sentences like “omg my house is so messy its giving me anxiety” or “my hair doesn’t look good I’m about to have a panic attack.” I always thought okay anxiety is just a form of expressing yourself when you’re annoyed or just a little overwhelmed. I had no clue the severity of it until it took over my life. And whats worse, it attacked me without a warning. It was like “Hey my name is Mr. Anxiety, you’ve lived without me for 23 years and now I am here to consume every part of you.”
I was so confused when it all started happening. I didn’t know how to explain what was going on with me. The few people I opened up about it looked at me like I was crazy and made me feel weirder than I already did in my own skin. I felt so alone and wondered if anyone else out there felt the way I did. I saw people smiling and going about their days and thought why the hell do they not feel the way I do?! Do they see in how much pain and discomfort I’m in?! Why does everyone around me look so normal?!
I want my story to reassure you, “YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE.”
I understand what it’s like to stop living and start surviving.
Where and when it started:
January 2016. It was a brand new year and already started off so hectic! I had a lot going on. I lost my grandpa. I signed up to take a real estate class. I got engaged and was officially moving in with Michael. I then lost my uncle. Few weeks later our beautiful house we were moving into got invaded by mold. We had to move..again. But its life right? Things happen. Anyway school was something I got really excited about! I was eager to learn and become a successful Real Estate Agent. I thought “hmmm I’d love to dress up in sexy business attire, walk around million dollar mansions and get fat commission checks.” So when the teacher started talking about math and taxes I was caught of guard. Wait what? You’re telling me I need to know this kind of shit? LOL. I’m not just going to walk around showing off bedrooms and bathrooms? But I didn’t let that stop me…so I continued with my education. It was a random day in February, the teacher was lecturing the class like he always does and all of a sudden his voice became more and more faint. I started seeing white circles everywhere, my heart was pounding as if it were about to come out of my chest and I just felt so uneasy. I literally wanted to crawl out of my own skin. I couldn’t tell wtf was going on with me! I saw a water bottle and quickly started chugging it (the water wasn’t even mine, it was the girls next to me.) I looked over at her and remember saying “I need to step out.” I literally left EVERYTHING! My purse, my books, my coffee..I just grabbed my keys and phone and ran outside! I tried to catch my breath but I couldn’t! It was like my lungs were giving up on me. My entire body was trembling and a guy nearby said “Miss are you okay? Do you need help?” I couldn’t even answer him. My mouth would open but nothing was coming out! He helped me to my car and I slammed the door. I blasted the AC and started driving. I knew I had to get home to Michael. I barely made it out of the parking lot and as I came to the first stop light I saw all the cars around me…in that moment I knew I was incapable of driving. This intense wave of fear came over me. I turned around in oncoming traffic, cars honking at me and pulled back into the school parking lot. I grabbed my phone and called Mike. Thank God he answered! I started to spit some words out but the feeling of not being able to breath stopped me from talking. He would just repeat himself “Liana Liana whats going on?” I managed to say “if you don’t come here now Im calling 911.” He rushed over immediately, put me in his car, and we drove to the hospital. I remember sitting in the waiting room thinking “have I gone crazy?” What the f*ck just came over me?! I was left so deeply shaken. I held onto Michael for dear life. Praying and hoping that whatever just happened wouldn’t happen again. The hospital ran a million tests on me and hooked me up to an IV. They took my blood and the results came back alarming. The doctor says “We are concerned. You might have a blood clot thats blocking passage to your heart.” I started crying and thinking “omg these are my last days. Im going to die.” They told me I needed an immidiate CT scan. I’ve never gotten one before and was totally not aware of the weird iodine liquid that gets injected into your blood stream to give them an accurate reading. I was terrified!!! Not only this iodine made my entire body feel like my insides were on fire but the lady tells me I need to hold my breath for a few seconds while she takes the photos. She’s telling me to HOLD MY BREATH?! I’ve just experienced what it was like not being able to breath. Now she wants me to willingly stop breathing!? Then all of a sudden my body was slowly sliding into this big round metal machine and I can’t explain to you guys how scared I was. I was scared of the results, I was scared of feeling the way I did a couple hours ago, I was scared of this iodine that was in my blood….I was praying to God like Ive never prayed before. So fast forward…my results came back completely normal. I was 100% healthy. You would think I would be happy right? Well, I wasn’t. In fact I was beyond frustrated! They are telling me I’m fine and healthy but I didn’t feel that way after what happened to me earlier! I asked for answers but they just said “oh you must of had a panic attack.” I left the hospital feeling helpless and lost. Panic attack? What did I panic from? Makes no sense.
Little did I know, I was in for the longest most miserable months of my life.
Months from hell
Someone who hasn’t experienced a panic attack before or doesn’t suffer with anxiety, won’t understand what its like for those who live with it on a daily basis. Im assuming if you’re reading this post its most likely because you’re a victim of this disorder. You know what? I don’t even want to call it a “disorder” because that word makes it seem like you were born with it and you need to live with it. But thats not true. You can HEAL FROM IT. I did. I might have lost the battle to anxiety for months and months but in the end I won the war. Like I said it hit me out of nowhere. I always woke up excited to start the day! I would run errands, go shopping, get my nails done, drive down to Miami to see my friends and than all of a sudden I had to isolate myself. I was afraid of everyone and everything! I was living in fear. I feared that at any given moment I’d get that same attack I got when I was in class. I remember sitting at home trying to research about anxiety and the more I read the worse it got. I would start to feel a certain way again. I’d get light headed and freak out because I knew that meant I was getting closer to losing all control of my mind and body. When that “feeling” came over me I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to run, hide, cry, scream, pull my hair, crawl out out of my own skin. Michael would say “stay strong.” I appreciated his optimism but it would annoy the shit out of me! Staying strong isn’t even an option when all you’re trying to do is focus on not dying. Im not even being dramatic because thats what it feels like, it feels like you’re dying! You can’t f*cking breath! (speaking for me at least) but I’d get this really heavy pain in my chest and when I tried to grasp for air I felt like I wasn’t getting enough. I don’t even know how to explain it to someone who doesn’t know the feeling of not having enough air…But try to imagine this: You’re in the ocean and waves start crashing on top of you one at a time knocking you off your feet and into the water. You are stretching your legs as far down as possible to find the ground beneath you and as soon as your toes touch the sand a wave hits you again. You’re back in the water getting tossed around like a piece of garbage. Finally your head pops up and you have hope that you’ll catch your breath and have strength to pull yourself out. As soon as you open your mouth to give yourself a big inhale a wave knocks you down once again. This goes on for a while and soon enough you start accepting it. You realize all that matters is getting a little bit of air here and there just enough to survive. That’s what anxiety does to you. It breaks you down. Makes you feel like everything around you is falling apart and then it decides to leave you alone for a little, giving you a break. You get this sense of hope that maybe just maybe you are back to normal. Back to the person you were before anxiety imbedded itself into your soul. It’s such a mind f*ck! There were times when I didn’t want to get out of bed because I was so scared to face the day. I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere! I wouldn’t let Mike leave the house. He constantly needed to be near me so I knew I had help incase a panic attack decided to interrupt my day. I made him do everything with me! Grocery shop, nail salons, appointments, traveling! I mean everything! It was getting so ridiculous. The only time I felt safe was when I would go to sleep but that didn’t last long because one night I woke up with hot flashes, sweat coming out of every pore, I felt a pulse in my fingers and toes, my head was getting foggy and I looked outside and thought “what if my anxiety gets so bad and I can’t control myself from jumping off the balcony?” The fact that I was letting these thoughts cross my mind meant I needed help. I was slowly losing my mind, I was alive, but I wasn’t living.
I knew something had to change. It took 5 long miserable months to finally accept the fact that I wasn’t OK. I needed help. I was drained physically, emotionally and mentally. I was reading articles from people who were struggling with the same thing I was. I tried doing things that others said worked for them. “Try using essential oils, drink all these organic things, sign up for yoga, download a meditation app, go see a therapist, keep a notebook that tracks what you do and figure out what triggers your anxiety…” I was desperate for answers and recovery. I was so frustrated and just wanted my old self back. All those things I tried might have helped on SOME level but God is the one who truly healed me. I was at church one day (which btw was always a struggle to get too because I couldn’t last 30 minutes without feeling panicky and light headed.) They handed out these pamphlets to everyone before the service started. I randomly opened it up and the page I landed on said “calm my anxious heart.” I literally had to rub my eyes and make sure I as reading it correctly. I couldn’t believe that God was showing me a way out! It was a life group for women who suffered from anxiety! Like I mentioned in a previous post I HATE doing group activities and being around strangers. I knew this life group might be a place where everyone sits in a circle and goes around sharing feelings. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I showed up and it was the best decision I made. I shamelessly shared my struggles with all the 3 girls there because I knew they would get it. (yes it was a small life group, which made it so much easier.) But thats besides the point. I left each meeting with so much confidence and hope for the future. The discomfort I was feeling wasn’t my life coming to an end but rather a rearrangement for a new beginning. Anxiety picked the wrong person to mess with…it wanted to control and destroy me, but instead it led me into a profound, mindful, appreciative, and meaningful life. I got so much closer in my relationship with God. I quickly went from an extrovert to an introvert. I started telling everyone I was busy just to avoid going out publicly.. I actually WAS busy but not in a way most people would understand. I was in my own head. Constantly trying to focus on my breathing, silencing my negative thoughts, going to see my life coach, going to get support from my life group, flipping the pages of the Bible looking for quotes regarding anxiety, going to church every Sunday. This was my type of “busy.” I was connecting more with my spirituality. I had no room for negativity or bad energy.
Why Anxiety Chose Me
This world has a way of making you feel worthless at times, makes you feel like you are not good enough, or you’re not meeting certain standards ….you start to feel so damn small. So to compensate for how little we feel we start to take action. For example I lived life wayyyyy to fast. It was all these different changes at the blink of an eye. Blink! Im living in California, Blink! Im in Miami working at a club. Blink! I met Michael, got engaged, started school again. BLINK BLINK BLINK got pregnant, planning a wedding, moving from Miami to Jupiter, had two close family members die. I mean it was one thing after the next! And thats what took a toll on me. I was told that there are 5 major causes of stress. And those are “death of a loved one, having a baby, a move, marriage, and loss of a job .” I was dealing with 4 out of those 5 things!!!! No shit I was going to have all my emotions come spilling out! The slightest tweak in a persons life can shake them. Change is not easy no matter it being good or bad. If you just keep going and going and going you are bound to crash. Let your mind & body rest for a while. You will catch up, the world will not stop spinning for you, but you will catch up. So take a rest! Somewhere along the lines I lost all control. My brain couldn’t catch up to everything that was going on and my body responded with the fight and flight response. My thoughts started to deteriorate me. I wasn’t educated on the topic of “anxiety” so I allowed this feeling of helplessness continue until I accepted the fact that I needed help.
My Rode To Recovery
I went from fearful to fearless! It required time and persistence but I started challenging and going against anxiety. Before I wouldn’t dare go to the mall alone. But in order for me to get my power back I knew I had to force myself to do things I was uncomfortable with. But how bizarre is that?!?!?! I use to love going to the mall for hours!! Walking around, peaking my head into each store, wasting time by people watching or eating at all the places in the food court. But now, it was all different. Say I had to go to Nordstrom and Sephora but they were on opposite sides of each other… I would park my car near Nordstrom first, run in, get what I needed, then go back to my car and drive over to the parking lot on the other side where it was closer to Sephora. It seems like so much work right? But those were my baby steps. Not only was I taking it day by day but I was taking it moment by moment. It was the only way I was able to get myself through the day. I was learning what it was like to do the things I use to do with such ease. I bought a book called “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. I swear I took this book everywhere with me! It gave me some sort of comfort. At the end of each chapter there’s a little poem reassuring you that you’re okay. Then she says keep telling yourself “all is well in my world.” I would be at at the nail salon sitting in the chair repeating over and over “all is well in my world.” People probably thought I was crazy but again, that was me doing the things I needed to do to get myself through the day! I remember I had to fly from LA to Sacramento alone and I kid you not, I held onto that book and read it without skipping a single word. The flight attendant comes over and tells me I needed to get off the plane. We’ve already landed and everyone was gone…. I didn’t notice because thats how deep into the book I was.
The rode to recovery was not an easy one! I had many good days and many discouraging ones to follow…My brain was a web of negative “WHAT IF’S.” It was like “WHAT IF I go here and I get a panic attack, WHAT IF I get a panic attack and nobody is around to help, WHAT IF nobody knows how to help me? WHAT IF I fall asleep and don’t wake up? WHAT IF I start driving and I get into an accident because I got so light headed?” Those thoughts were debilitating me! I tried so hard to constantly detour my thinking! I started saying out loud “SO WHAT??!” “SO WHAT I get a horrible panic attack? Its only temporary. SO WHAT I start getting foggy headed and sweaty?! I can just sit down and breath. As long as I feel myself sitting, being present in that moment and my heart is beating then that means IM OKAY!!! Im going to be okay! The times my anxiety got bad I would just allow myself to sit with those feelings. I would hold my fists tight and repeat to myself “all is well in my world, I am okay, this is going to pass.” And guess what? That discomfort would eventually go away! It didn’t matter who was around because everyone has too much shit going on to notice me sitting down and being human. I don’t think anyone would look over and say “look at that girl, she’s so weird for breathing.”
Have Faith. You Will Get Through This.
Its perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared or anxious. Having those feelings doesn’t make you a negative person, it makes you human. Life can be too much sometimes. You’re suffocating from all the obligations, responsibilities, and expectations. We all have this thing called the “Fight or Flight” response. Its a good thing because it allows us to protect ourselves when we are in danger, however, its a bad thing when correlated with anxiety. Like how do you get rid of the fight or flight response when you are actually NOT IN DANGER?! Well, identify what exactly you’re afraid of? Remember when I talked about turning my “What If’s” into “So Whats?” Try doing that. Often times we automatically assume the worse case scenario will happen. Remember a thought is JUST A THOUGHT. Just tell yourself this is an anxious and untrue thought that my body and mood are reacting to. Im going to let it go. Also, I want you to bring awareness to shutting off your “chatterbox.” Let me explain better. Think of your head as a garden. You want to water and nurture the plants so they grow strong and healthy. The second you let that garden go, it becomes messy and has weeds everywhere. You need to go back and pick all those weeds out in order to have a clean garden again. Thats how your brain works! The more attention you give to those unwanted weeds the faster they will grow. You need to maintain positive, important, and healthy thoughts. When you start noticing your brain steering towards negativity start pulling the “weeds” out one by one. Turning off that chatterbox. As soon as an unwelcoming thought comes through your brain SHUSH IT. Im not joking, I literally mean SHUSH IT out loud. By me bringing up this example I can assure you, you will be so much more aware of your thoughts now. Give yourself attention. Close your eyes. Tell yourself you are safe. Your thoughts are powerful but they can’t harm you. This feeling will go away. You got this. In this moment you have everything you need. Be grateful for the day, be grateful for the moment because it means you are alive and you ARE WELL. Take pride in your small victories!
Let me not stress myself out thinking about what will happen tomorrow.
Let my worried mind understand that the same God’s helpful hand took care of me yesterday, is taking care of me today And will take care of me no matter what happens in the days to come.
I should put side anxious thoughts and be at peace
For I believe He will either shield me from harm or He will give me strength to carry the weight.
Along with the essential oils and soothing music you will need to have faith. Have faith that God will walk with you through your most toughest, darkest times. There’s this verse from the Bible:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
He is telling you “do not be afraid!” For He gives you peace. Trust the Lord when He talks to you. Just like He led me into the life group. I would have never wanted to go but I put my trust in Him and I gained my freedom back! You will too!