It’s May 10, 2018, and the weather is perfect. Aside from getting a speeding ticket on the way to a conference held by my coach, I am feeling pretty good. The morning is filled with hands on learning, connections with inspiring people and I have taken pages of notes on the things that I hope to accomplish in my business. The clock hits noon and it’s time to gather for lunch. The display of food is stunning and I can’t wait to share a meal with a friend who I hadn’t met IRL before today. She is the kind of woman that the minute you connect in person it’s like you’ve known her for years. I take the first bite of my grilled chicken salad and suddenly the world begins to close in. My heart is racing. I feel like I could faint or throw up. I really just want to curl up under the table and wait for this tortuous feeling to pass. I think I might be dying. I also don’t want to humiliate myself or admit that something is wrong with me. Admit that I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. The good news is that just as quickly as it came on it left, but the feeling of fear about whether another attack was around the corner was my constant companion throughout the rest of the day.
I know that I am not the only one that has lived with anxiety. Today there are more than 40 million adults & 4.4 million children in the US who suffer from anxiety and it’s the most common “mental illness” in the country. It’s such a catastrophic problem that even my Rabbi was talking about it during his sermon for Yom Kippur. Anxiety feels terrible and when you begin to experience the physical and emotional sensations it is only natural that you would do (or take) ANYTHING to feel better FAST. Most people who feel anxious end up in the ER or their primary care doctor because the process of anxiety (especially panic attacks) can mimic a serious health condition. Once you have realized you are generally healthy and told that it’s likely stress or anxiety, you’ll probably be sent off with a prescription (or a few of them) to manage the debilitating symptoms.
What the doctor’s don’t tell you is that medications can be hard to stop, some can make it impossible for therapy to work (Ativan, Zanex, Valium, etc..), some are more addictive than opiates, they have unpleasant side effects, AND they are NOT addressing the root cause of WHY you (or your child) are feeling anxious OR teaching you the coping tools you need so that you NEVER have to suffer with anxiety again.
As a Mental Health Integrative Medicine Practitioner and Certified Anxiety Treatment Professional I look at anxiety differently and believe in getting to the real root cause before starting a medication.
As an anxiety sufferer myself I also know how intense the desire is to feel better and I have so much compassion for what you are going through. The racing heart, nausea, not being able to fall asleep, waking up in panic for no reason, headaches, etc. Anxiety (aka the fight/flight response) is a part of human consciousness and it’s NOT going anywhere. It is so important to change your relationship with the feelings AND also dig a little deeper about what the root cause might be so you can start to address them.
As a mom I want my children to have all the tools they need to cope with stress so when life gets hard they will know how to handle it without resorting to self-harming behaviors. I believe that the best way to teach them is to be a role model.
If you are considering starting anti-anxiety medication I want to invite you to try these 10 steps before filling that prescription. I know you want to feel better. I know you have shit to do and a family to take care of. I know this sucks. I have been in your shoes and I promise you there is hope, it just takes a little bit of digging and time. You are stronger than you know and when you are on the other side you will look back and feel amazed at what you overcame. When you feel better and you will hear another mom complaining about their anxiety you will be able to give them the steps you took to get your life…and your joy back.
Anxiety is simple and complex at the same time and there is no one size fits all approach to managing it. If you are currently taking a medication for anxiety please know that I would never judge your choice and I hope that it gives you some relief. You are doing what is best for your family and you totally have my love and support. These suggestions will still be helpful and an important foundation for if/when you ever feel ready to stop them.
# 1: Rule Out a Physical Condition with both traditional AND alternative medicine
#2 Talk to a professional so they can help you shift your cognitive patterns
#3 Give Up or Reduce Alcohol, Caffeine, Nicotine (including vaping)
#4 Move Your Body More and Get up with the Sun
#5 Reduce Your Time on Social Media and Increase Your Time in Nature
#6 Assess the Stress of the People Closest to You..You might be picking up stress from them
#7 Ask yourself, “Am I fulfilling my life purpose?” If the answer is “NO” or “I’m not sure” then explore Human Design for answers.
#8 Help Someone Else with their problems or volunteer somewhere
#9 Balance Your Minerals & Blood Sugar
#10 Love Yourself More with a Mindfulness Practice
I am sure you have questions about each of these so I will be going LIVE on my Facebook page to dive deeper into each suggestion. Make sure you friend request or follow me and click to see first in your feed so that you don’t miss anything.
If you take every one of these steps and you are still struggling there are still more things we can do. Learn EFT and somatic therapies, balance your hormones, heal your gut, start biohacking the body, doing a detox, and more. There are always more places we can look AND more coping tools that you can learn in order to become anxiety-proof. We are never going to get rid of anxiety but it’s 100% possible to thrive in spite of it.
I am so happy to report that I no longer suffer from panic or paralyzing anxiety. I have followed the steps above, taken many supplements, did detoxes and balanced my gut and hormones… and it worked. There is nothing more empowering that taking action to support your health. You can do this!
Authors Note: If you are currently taking prescription medications for depression or anxiety never discontinue use without working with a physician.