This guest blog post was written by Brittany S. in California.
I have always been a very outgoing confident bubbly person and no one would have ever known that I have struggled with anxiety since I was a child. I am an only child and was very close with my parents, especially my Mom.
My mother experienced an array of health issues when I was young. First, it was tumors in her uterus that caused massive bleeding and that caused her to get a hysterectomy. After the surgery, her doctor put her on hormone replacement therapy which made her quite sick and caused an array of scary symptoms. After a couple years on HRT, she developed breast cancer and had to have another surgery to remove part of her breast and lymph nodes along with chemo and radiation. I remember praying that she wouldn’t die.
Because of my mother’s experiences, I had grown to learn that it was terrifying to be a woman. I felt that anything could happen to my body and that thought was overwhelming! Fourth grade is when my stomach issues began and after going to see doctor after doctor who administered test after test, they couldn’t find anything wrong. My stomach would mainly hurt at school and soon, I associated being away from home with pain and uncertainty. I wanted to be home all the time because I was afraid of getting sick and feeling uncomfortable. This continued all the way until middle school.
Middle school and high school were pretty normal for me – I didn’t have any stomach issues and I was a pretty normal kid, I was involved in dance and band and I had lots of friends. I had never got into drugs because in my words “I never want to be in a situation where I don’t have complete control.”
When I turned 18, I got into a relationship with a guy who was a few years older. He liked to drink and party and I figured I could fix him and change him. We all know how that goes. To make a long story short, the relationship turned very verbally and mentally abusive and it happened so slowly that I didn’t even realize I was in an abusive relationship. I started having these short episodes of terror where I thought I was dying. My heart would race, my stomach would cramp and my mind wouldn’t stop churning out fearful thoughts. I was sure I had developed a heart condition or brain cancer. I never wanted to leave home. It got to the point where even if I went to check my mailbox at the end of the street, I was suddenly struck with these episodes of terror. They were debilitating. That’s when I got online and started doing my research. After searching and searching, I came across a website called panicend.com and after hours of reading, I had figured it out.
That uneasiness and fear was called anxiety and those bouts of extreme terror I was experiencing were called panic attacks. I was shocked. I stared putting it all together and it made sense.
It was on panicend.com where I was recommended a book called “Hope and Help for your Nerves” by Dr Claire Weekes. That book saved my life. I knew exactly what was wrong with me and I now knew how to fix it. I was determined to do it on my own and that’s exactly what I did.
I left my boyfriend and moved out of town and started a new life. It took months of exposure and practice and rest, but I beat the anxiety. I had a new job, a place of my own. I was the the happiest I had ever been. The rest of my 20’s were fantastic. I don’t remember having any anxiety at all, apart from the norm.
When I turned 29 I met my husband. We were married in three months. I was so happy. I had found my person! We had a fun wedding that I planned all by myself while my husband was traveling for work and it was a very exciting time.
A few months later I had a huge health scare. I wont go into detail with it but it rocked me down to my core and I developed the panic attacks and anxiety all over again. This time, far worse than the first time a few years back. This anxiety absolutely took over my life. I couldn’t do anything. I went back and read my Claire Weekes book and it gave me some comfort but every day had become so difficult to get through. I had developed so many new fears and I was just frozen. How could anyone feel this horrible ? There was no relief. My mind would not stop worrying about worrying. I was trapped. I felt like I was dying in a prison of fear. I did what I did the first time – I went online. I started researching holistic remedies for anxiety and panic. I wasn’t about to go on medication, which is what most doctors want to give people- Anxiety is NOT an illness.
For me, it was a condition brought on by a traumatic experience that was kept alive because of my conditioned thought patterns and beliefs. I had a disorder – and I knew deep down somehow I could fix it.
During this time of learning how to fix myself, I developed my passion for holistic health. It became my goal to be as healthy as possible and get my body and mind back into balance. I couldn’t understand why doctors prescribed antidepressants like candy to people with anxiety without finding the root and addressing the core of the issue. That’s what the pharmaceutical industry does – they make band-aids for people. The pills suppress the symptoms and nothing more. That wasn’t the route I was going to take. Now, there are times when medication came come in handy – some people might need something to calm them down enough so that they can begin to do the work to heal and that is ok.
The answer I have found is that everyone is different. Each individual has to find the solution that works for them. The truth is most people who suffer with severe anxiety disorders are so terrified and perplexed that they don’t even know where to start. So, they go see their doctor and take an SSRI because it’s all they think they can do.
For me, the key to overcoming debilitating panic has been a combination of cognitive behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, a few incredible books, a whole foods diet rich in organic veggies and fruits, proper supplementation, balancing my hormones, yoga, meditation, exercise, getting out in nature as much as possible and also sharing my story with others. It takes a ton of patience and a lot of kindness and understanding towards yourself. It takes getting out of that victim mentality and adopting a warrior mentality. I am still learning more every day. The hardest part of going through this was having to be completely and brutally honest with myself at all times. I am working on developing deeper self love and acceptance.
I am so grateful for this website because it will be an incredible resource for people going through the terrifying experience of anxiety. What we need is to create a positive community of people who want to help one another. I know it makes a world of difference to know that a massive amount of people go though this and none of us are alone. Below are the books that have made the biggest difference in my life and have helped me to overcome the worst of my anxiety and panic.
1. Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Claire Weekes (Literally the most beautifully written, easy to understand, sympathetic book about anxiety out there- I call this the anxiety bible)
2. At Last a Life by Paul David (A wonderfully and sincerely honest account of how Paul healed himself from debilitating anxiety- this book is GOLDEN)
3. The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook (DO the work!)
4. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (DO the work!)
5. Medical Medium by Anthony William (A magical book on healing with foods- this is the best book I’ve ever found about food, healing and spirituality all in one)
6. The “Anxiety Guy” on YouTube. Dennis has an incredible podcast/YouTube channel which is CBT-based. He’s incredible and has been a huge help in my journey.
Would you like to share your journey of healing from depression, anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar or other mental health challenge without using medication? Please e-mail us at HolisticHP at gmail.com.