I always knew that when I started my blog I would be extremely open about my mental illness. And not just some of it but all of it… general anxiety disorder (GAD), depression, panic attacks, and social anxiety disorder. This is something I’ve kept hidden for so long but I’m ready to tell my story. Warning; this is long and not the most glamours story. But it’s important to understand why mental illness is a big part of my life and how it lead me to a holistic life style.
Depression started for me at a very young age. My mother and father separated when I was 12 years old, naturally I didn’t take it well. I began to struggle that year. A couple of months later, my mom found me near our house almost dying from alcohol poisoning. She rushed me to the emergency room and from there I was subject to involuntary commitment in a mental hospital. The hospital was worried about my mental state. The county legally made me stay for three days then my mom added 4 more days. After being seen by a psychiatrist I was diagnosed with depression and finally discharged. Lets keep in mind this was all happening while I was in middle school! I was put on Zoloft that week. My mom wanted me to take the medication so I agreed with no hesitation. Everyone around me assumed I was better but deep inside I felt nothing. I felt no happiness, no excitement, and no sadness… just nothing. After a year of medication I chose that I’d rather feel some bad emotions than no emotions at all and I slowly weaned off. However, I kept the therapy going as I felt that was helping me the most. I had a couple of rough years but things seemed to mellow out.
In 2010 San Diego had an 7.2 earthquake and that’s the day my anxiety was triggered. I had my first full blown panic attack and it knocked me off my ass! I was scared, overwhelmed, and felt like I couldn’t breathe. At first I assumed I had an intense reaction to the earthquake but later that night I realized it was more than that. I couldn’t sleep and the more I tried to sleep the more I freaked myself out. I was on edge thinking about all the negative “what ifs”. It continued and I felt uneasy the next few days. I remember driving on the freeway when I passed a bridge and felt an intense feeling of anxiety. Everything around me started moving slowly, I felt pressure in my chest, and as though I couldn’t breathe. On top of all that my legs felt numb and I kept thinking that I was going to die. Those couple of minutes of panic attack felt like a lifetime. I pulled over and broke down crying. At the time I had no idea what panic attacks were and why they were happening. I just kept thinking something has to be very wrong with me. I went from never experiencing a panic attack to fearing that at any moment I could have one. I was scared to leave the house because the last thing I wanted was to have an attack in public. Sometime later I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist for help with my anxiety. I was immediately put on Trazodone for my sleep issues and Xanax for anxiety. Trazodone was too intense for me. The morning after taking trazodone I woke up in my bathrobe with half my body on the bed and had no idea how I got there. That first experience scared me so bad I never took trazodone again. Xanax was helpful but more to calm me during the aftermath of a panic attack, which meant there was a lesser chance of another attack. I started to feel better when I knew I had xanax on me. It became my security blanket. There would be times I didn’t have it on me and that alone could cause a panic attack. That’s how nervous I was about being in public with no medication. My anxiety came in “seasons”. At times I was fine and others I was a mess. It was a rough mental fight because the fear of having a panic attack ended up giving me panic attacks. It felt like an endless cycle. Eventually, I was well enough to get off all medication. But dealing with being diagnosed with depression at young age and then GAD years later I decided that I needed to look for answers elsewhere.
Reality is that there is many people out there dealing with a mental illness. We just don’t talk about it. People close to me knew about my battle while others had no idea. Majority of people never would have guessed I was someone struggling with anxiety, depression, or panic attacks. Some of us can hide it well while others can’t. This is why I’ve found the passion to talk more openly about mental illness as well as research more into natural remedies. I went so long with the fear of my anxiety getting worse and medication was giving me no hope. Although, anxiety is still a part of my life and I battle it every day, I’m kicking it’s ass most days! I’m in the best place of my life mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m blessed with an amazing husband who has been supportive and extremely understanding through out my learning phase. As some of you know it can feel very lonely and rough when you’re battling your own mind. When I first went through this I didn’t know anyone else who was suffering like me. The support and similar stories would have been helpful. So I hope I’m able to help others with my story. Thankfully, there are ways to help yourself other than prescription medication. I am proof of that. Again, I believe medication is necessary at times for some people, I was one of them. But there is nothing wrong with doing your own research for your mind and body. No one else knows you best but YOU. Let’s make the way we treat our body and mind top priority! I found my answer to fighting anxiety with a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and natural supplements. I did go through a crazy journey of health tests, blood work, holistic doctors, and of course research. I’ve learned some amazing tips and tricks that I’m ready to share away.
Now you all know my story. Let’s share this so we can get the awareness out there for mental health. And keep an eye out for my post about natural supplements that made me throw away the xanax for good.