To start things off, heres an awkward photo from my 21st where I am blatantly freaking out my dad might burst into tears whilst giving a speech I repedlty suggested he did not. He promised he wouldn't cry and I still wasn't convinced. Mum is all over her emotional stability, she loves a speech so the smug look is because she knew she was about to own it. WE LOVE YOU PAPA BEAR <3
To the REAL point. I wrote about my anxiety on my personal Instagram then published this exact blog post on a past blog about a year ago whilst living in London. I wanted to share it with Nourished Pantry for 2 reasons, 1 - we don't all have our shit together even if instagram makes it look like it & 2 - to help even one person see that it's ok to not be ok.
Anxiety is something I struggled to understand until a few years ago when I hit my rock bottom. I could not always speak up about how I was truely feeling, sharing my struggles was daunting and I preferred not share that I was a total mess on the inside. I tended to bottle everything up until it became unbearable. I get myself into a real state of total exhaustion, frustration, and become an emotional wreck. I am more than aware the anxiety is creeping back to cause some commotion, yet every time I choose to ignore it.
When I look back at significant events throughout my life, especially my childhood, I now realise it was anxiety that was the underlying issue in the way my mind worked and how I felt. Something I vividly remember was being beside myself about going away for a weekend with my family. I was sick to my stomach that we would get into a car accident and die or our car might drive off the cliff and no one would ever find us. Sounds a bit exteme right? I was Seven! How does a 7 year old brain even think of something so extreme. I cried, screamed and couldn't sleep the nights leading up to leaving. I tried convincing my parents I wasn't going and pleaded to stay with my grandparents or aunty and uncle at home. I never mentioned the fact I thought we were all going to crash and die, because even at 7 I knew that was loony. To cut a long story short, my parents put me in the car and away we went. I felt sick to my stomach the whole trip. We never crashed, we didn't even come close to the edge of the cliffs and once we arrived, I thought I was so stupid for thinking something so silly would happen and that my feelings were erratic (some of you probably would say they were, but that is how my mind worked - not sorry about it).
I should mention, I was never an unhappy child. I was was an easy going kid, my health was great and I was always positive and bubbly. I lived in a stable, happy home with both parents and my younger brother. We always had plenty of fresh food in our cupboards, the latest toys and clothing. We weren't spoilt or bratty and were always taught gratitude, strong work ethic and to be respectful individuals. I had an open, loving and extremely close relationship with my parents. In my mind there was absolutely no reason I should be anxious about a single thing. I didn't I even know what anxiety was until I was in my late teens. I just thought to myself, "ugh Jayne, don't be so ridiculous" or "your crazy for thinking that." And because of this, I always feared speaking to anyone about the way I was truely feeling.
I think there is a stereotype that anyone with a mental health issue has to of come from a broken, abusive homes or have been through something hideously traumatic. For young children and teenagers it really needs to end so they don't turn into anxious and depressed riddled adults filled with self doubt, low self-esteem reliant on prescription medications.
Throughout school (even to this day) I continuously second guess myself and struggle with my worthiness. I have a nack to overthink almost every situation and I am forever putting to much pressure on myself. I feel like I am not good enough, I could be prettier and that I am un-loveable. I often think of myself as a burden to family and friends, and when my anxiety is at its peak I push people who care away. I know the above isn't true, but in times of attack - I can't understand any difference.
A few nights ago, I spent the day feeling uneasy, anxious and found myself overthinking everything. This is all part of a cycle I seem to frequently find myself in. I am sure this is heavily relatable with many people I know. I had that gut wrenching feeling all day - the one where you loose every inch of your appetite, you can't sit still and have little or no energy to move. You find yourself pacing around doing pointless chores and then that over whelming feeling your about to loose all control hits you. At 5pm I was exhausted half asleep on the couch. My cousin asked if I was ok, and I replied "yep, probably just the heat - i'll be fine." One word I was not was fine - my mind was running at 500 m/ph with no intention to slow down. At 1am I was restless in bed, I couldn't put my phone down and I was wide awake. My mind was still racing with thoughts so I thought I'd write down what I was feeling because it's helped in the past.
I don't know why, but I decided to post what I wrote to Instagram:
"Anxiety is isolation in a world that is filled with anxious ridden people. I'm learningthe hard way you can never runaway from it, you won't be able to hide from it and you certainly cannot control its impeccable timing. The people you love most may never understand it. You will loose friends and push away the people who love you most. You will miss birthdays and celebrations, lunches and brunches. You will drown in unworthiness and regret. You will be defeated by exhaustion. You will battle with yourself. You will have countless sleepless nights. You will cry, laugh and scream, sometimes all at once. But you will never give up. You must ride through."
This is the picture I posted of me sipping on probably the best smoothie I have ever had. It was also the morning that one of the worst periods of anxiety I have been through began. I wanted to cry and scream and curl into a ball of sorrow so badly but I spent the day out touristing around with my family, not that people would have noticed - because I was "fine."
After posting the picture I had a number of friends and family reach out that they too often had feelings of anxiety and didn't know what to do. Honestly, I was not shocked because I know anxiety affects everyone in one way or another. For some, it might visit you once and never return, for others it will stick around for a few months, maybe even years and for some it will make itself at home and never leave.
Below are 7 things I can do have helped immensely**, when I remember to include them in my everyday life.
**DISCLAIMER - I am not a medical advisor - this is purely what works for me. You should speak to a doctor, naturopath or councillor if your anxiety is an issue or feel you need help.
1. Ensuring I am eating well. Whole food, fresh fruit and vegetables - pretty much anything I know will nourish my body. Creating meals or baking during an anxiety attack or stressful time has always been a huge reliever for me. I encourage myself to get in the kitchen when I'm feeling anxious because I know 99% of the time it will calm me down quickly.
2. Going for long walks, stretching or a sweaty gym session. Walking is my top pick, putting my headphones in and listening to anything; sad, upbeat, top 40, drum and bass just whatever I feel like at the time. I enjoy the fact I can spend some time in the sun and get my daily dose of vitamin D. My therapist suggested whenever I felt anxious or panicked to get outside as soon as possible and go for a walk. At work, I would just head down the street, or over to the carpark for 10 minutes.
3. Routine. This is huge for me, I need routine! I think the change in my routine since moving to London is one trigger for my anxiety at the moment. In Perth, my routine was great. I woke naturally around 5-5:30am every morning. During the week I would go to the gym til 7am, head home and get ready to be at work around 8am. I finished at 4pm and most days I would get out for a 30 minute walk before making dinner and be in bed and asleep before 9pm. On the weekends I liked to prep for the week, do my shopping, catch up with friends and visit cafes. I also would often spend my mornings cleaning the house and making something special for breakfast. Sounds like a dream? I still had anxiety but the routine allowed me to self manage my attacks.
4. Talking to someone. I call my mum - sorry mum. I FaceTime her mostly, it is challenging now with the time difference but she has a way of calming me down. We often don't even talk about anxiety.
5. I found natural medicine to ease my anxiety. Most chemists will have something, homeopathic stores or even calming tea from a grocer. There are some fantastic herbs naturopaths can prescribe too.
6. Pamper myself. Not just during panic attacks or when I'm anxious either. I love a relaxing bath with calming/relaxing oils and face mask at home, making or going out for my favourite meal, painting my nails or taking time out to read a book or magazine.
7. All in all, listen to your body. It's so important and something I am still learning every day. If your to tired to do leg day, skip it. If you can't mentally get out of bed for work - take the day off. Know your limits and don't push yourself.
I found minimising and eliminating the following to help too:
Eliminate Caffine Im talking all coffee and you decafe, green tea (matcha), caffeinated energy drinks and even chocolate can trigger anxiety - check your pre workouts and supplements, especially for green tea!
Minimise over extending yourself. Learn to say "no" without feeling guilty.
Nourish your body with GOOD stuff!! Eliminate the nasty stuff from your diet - avoid processed foods, refined sugar and unhealthy meal options (fast-food lovers I'm talking to you). Nourish yourself with loads of fresh food and nutrient dense meal - try not to skip meals.
Minimise the pressure you put on yourself to be a certain person. I am hands down a huge culprit of putting 100x more pressure on myself than I need to.
I should take my own advise on this one too - Try your absolute best not to over analyse things - the text you sent, the way you thought you spoke or looked at someone or how you could of done something better or how you said "no" to something you really didn't want to do - In the grand scheme of things - it's not worth stressing over.
Phone, TV or computer use in the evening - minimise it. Read a book, take a bath, draw - anything to "switch" off and ensure you get some sleep.
But the above isn't always enough. There are many unpredictable triggers out of our control such as:
Stress at work, changes within our job.
Pregnancy and giving birth.
Family issues or relationship problems.
Major emotional shock following a stressful or traumatic event.
Verbal, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or trauma.
Death or loss of a loved one.
And if you find with all of this, your not coping my main advice is seek professional help. Go see a doctor or qualified professional. They can then refer you for subsidised help or assist you in finding the right help for you. If your not satisfied, research naturopaths and physiologists - whatever you feel most comfortable with. It can be really overwhelming difficult process at first but your health is so important, especially your mental health.
I am so blessed and grateful to have a wonderful group of friends, a supportive family and the confidence somewhere inside me to share this with you because it hasn't come easy.
Lastly, I chose a long time ago to treat my health issues naturally. I refused to rely on prescription medicine to mask whatever is going on (although there are times and places prescription medication is 100% vital). I listen to my body, supplement with natural herbs and maintain a nourishing and healthy lifestyle of fresh food, exercise and self love the best I can. I am still learning, I have high highs and low lows. It's not easy and it takes time but it is so rewarding in the end.I am grateful to also have the most amazing naturopath who has given me some wonderfully amazing (life changing if I am truely honest) herbs - I took a liquid herbal concoction three times a day, along with some other supplements whilst my anxiety was high for about 6 months - it did wonders and I no longer take it!
My friends, family and anyone struggling with anxiety, depression or any health issues - you got this, stay positive, talk when you need to, seek help if you can and find something that works for you!
All my love, Jayne
P.S - all of the images (except probably the one where I am eating cake) are times where I have been suffering from anxiety - I am smiling, I am happy, but something that I can never forget from these times is the anxiety I was suffering. Anxiety does not and won't ever define who I am. You should never allow it to define you either.