This Bitch I Call Anxiety: Recovery Isn't Just For Addicts

This is the final part to my story. It's not where it ends though, its where it starts. The new Jenna, the anxiety free Jenna, the Jenna who faces her fears and no longer has panic attacks.

Me with anxiety at its highest. Miserable.
You can see the stress in my eyes.
This is me today, happy and healthy.
 In recovery for anxiety but managing it well. 
It has been six months to the day, that I had my last panic attack and this is how I began my recovery and what I did to manage my anxiety.

In May, I was still having panic attacks, was still on FMLA and was still afraid of life but I was seeing my therapist once a week and we came up with a self help plan. Basically, I needed to feel in control of my life and we came up with creating a daily agenda for self help.

The list looks like this:

Everyday I check each thing off the list. I am still committed to this plan today, and adjust my daily duties as needed but this is my list today to stay on track with taking care of me. I am able to miss a day now, though, and not freak out. I have taken back control so I am capable of missing a check or not being OCD about each day having each single thing checked off. 

As you can see I take a Vitamin D3 pill daily. I actually had to force my doctors to draw blood and run tests to see if I was low on vitamins. I literally brought my mom to the doctors to threaten them. I mean in their defense I had been there so many times they thought i was making something else up. But I need this test as being low on your vitamins can effect anxiety. I was lower than low on VD3. I ended up having to take a 51,000 unit pill once a week for 12 weeks. Now, I take a 1000 Unit pill daily for the next six months to keep my VD3 where it should be. (I highly recommend being tested as when your system is out of whack, your mind can be too.) 

Along with my vitamin and self help list, I do things such as:
  • Relaxation yoga at home 3-4 times a week
  • Drink a shit ton of water (about a gallon a day)
  • Meditate 5-7 times a week using the amazing app Breethe
  • Cut back on the caffeine and only drink one cup a day in the morning unless decaf
  • Walk for 30 minutes a day even in the cold ass weather
  • Take time for ME.

All of these things have not only helped my anxiety but my stress level, my lactose intolerance and even my IC. IC is interstitial cystitis. I am also sleeping better and not up all night with my mind racing. It is amazing how caring for yourself can make a huge impact on your life. 

I have also cut out the drama and eliminated stress by re-evaluating the people I spend time with, the phone calls I pick up and I have learned a very important lesson. I SAY NO. If I don't want to do something, I SAY NO. If I start to get anxiety or can't handle something I am doing, seeing or hearing, I SAY NO. I walk the fuck away. I exit the conversation. A few months ago when Sergio and I would argue, I would start to get overwhelmed and would say "NO, I am done, I don't even care if I lose this fight, not having a panic attack is more important." And it worked, no panic attack. 

I stopped living for everyone else and starting living for ME. If I am not happy, if I am having a panic attack everyday, what good will this do me? None. So I made a commitment to myself that I had to put myself first even if that means learning to shut up. Yea, thats right, Jenna had to learn when to give in and just accept shutting up because managing my anxiety is more important than being right, than winning an argument. Don't get me wrong I will still go off, but I just know now when to stop. And this is whats best for me and my anxiety. I am a caring person so putting myself first was hard, really hard, but for once I was the most important thing.  

I, also, used to get a stress pain in my chest and that's when I knew I had to meditate or calm down. I used to have my heart pounding so hard, my chest and head would get hot and I would freak out thinking I am dying but now its gone. I used to google everything all the time and see the worst of the worst and let me tell you, having the strength to stop doing that has helped dramatically! 

I would google why my toe hurts and see that it must be cancer or that my heart is pounding so i must be having a heart attack or my favorite, when I first started my Vitamin D3, I cried for hours because I thought if I took it, I would have a back reaction and then die. Seriously! But do you noticed that these are things I USED to do? 

Anxiety can be managed, without medication, in six months to a year but you have to put in the work. You have to make a lifestyle change. My therapist always reminds me that the old Jenna is gone, and the new Jenna is better. 

You know I kinda blame my science teacher from high school. Mr. Kalan. He would end every sentence with... "And then you die". And legit, thats how my anxiety thinks.

I control my anxiety a lot more now. My last panic attack was on June 12th, when Sergio went out of state for work for a week. Basically, my anxiety was telling me I cannot live with out my husband so lets fucking PANIC! His ego was boosted that day. But that's fine, I like having him around. :)

There are still things I want to get better at like eating healthier and committing to a workout everyday, even just 30 minutes, on top of my walks. I have fears I still want to accomplish like driving over bridges I used to and riding on elevators. My New Year's resolutions for 2018 involve these. I know I will get through this and that I will conquer my fears so I can start conquering bigger ones, like knowing that I will not die over everything. Although, in my defense I don't think about death everyday anymore and I can joke about it and not have a panic attack. 

I am not anxiety free. I have a ways to go to be where I want to be. Where I am now is a better place than I was in in April, May, June, even September. It feels good to be in this place I am in and knowing that I did this myself and for myself. I did this without medication, without all the doctors and I had people doubt me. People who knocked me when I was down. Family who would tell me to "just get over it and stop being dramatic". Friends who I lost along the way and I even left a job I called home for five years. 

But why linger on the negatives when I am in recovery for anxiety? I have a new job that I love. I surround myself with amazing people, even if they are all big balls of anxiety and depression, too. I have a better relationship with myself and my husband and my family. I never thought I would be in a good place with my mom and stepdad but I am now. And I am happier and healthier and I don't regret anything. I am a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason" and I think my anxiety happened because I needed a wake up call. I need a lifestyle change, an attitude change and I needed to get rid of the toxins that I was surrounding myself with. 

Don't feel sorry for me. My story is what made me the amazing, strong, confident, talented, friendly, happy, loving, intelligent woman I am today. (I could brag about myself all day but I won't) My story is out there now and I can't take it back. My story will help others. It already has. And that means I did what I set out to do. I conquered my anxiety and I taught another person how to conquer theirs or at least gave them hope.   
Me, happy, healthy and giving a shit about myself!                         
If I have learned anything its that every single person on this earth has some kind of anxiety at some point in their life. Most people have it worse than me and some don't have it as bad. Some may not even realize that their symptoms are anxiety. But I learned to manage mine and I learned that there are worse things in life that being scared of a bridge. 
Though this series is over I will continue to post my experiences, tips, fears, phobias and plenty of post inspired by my anxiety so keep up!

Signed Opinionated Fashionista 


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