My Wellness Journey Part 1

"Often it's the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self."
-Karen Salmansohn
Where to begin...

I've spent many nights contemplating what I want to say to the world, with the fear edging over my courage with its gooey and intimidating talons, urging me to stay silent. But I knew I would have to face my demons and skeletons, because that's what warriors do.

My journey with my mental health began twenty-five years ago. I was sixteen when my mom hauled me to the doctor's office and had him prescribe me Zoloft. I was experiencing a sad state. It's possible it was a mild form of depression. And she was fixing it with medication. No counseling. And absolutely no negotiating.

I don't blame her for that decision. It was what she knew and I was her daughter, navigating through a shattered heart and struggling to fully express the deep emotions I was feeling for the very first time. A little white pill was her answer for my problem. And as an obedient daughter, I religiously took that pill for several years.

But it didn't solve my inner turmoil.

I clearly remember the first time I experienced intense anxiety. I was young—nineteen—and living in Scarsdale, New York. My first time living away from my home state of Utah and no longer taking Zoloft. My friends and I had just entertained ourselves with a horror film. Not long after leaving the theater, we rolled into a 24 hour diner to fill our stomachs and laugh until our guts hurt.

But my fun was cut short. I curled up in a ball, huddled in the corner of the booth and did my best to not be a buzz kill. My chest was clenched, my stomach in knots, and I was at a complete loss of understanding my body's warning signs that something was not quite right.

With the episodes increasing and my fears keeping me up at night, I returned home to be tested by several doctors. A stress test was performed and they gave me another white pill for my heart, along with Zoloft, once again. Not even twenty and I was taking the same medications as my parents.

Years later I found out the truth. The episodes hadn't occurred often, but after being admitted to the hospital for Pulmonary Embolism, my dance with anxiety and now, panic attacks, became increasingly challenging. I was twenty-nine when my physician prescribed me Xanax and gave me the diagnosis of Panic Disorder.

And I was thirty when I quit taking the tiny, white pills that made me feel disconnected from everyone, including myself. 

From that day forward I vowed to control the panic attacks in the most natural ways that I could find. I researched various methods and as the vicious episodes reared their ugly heads, I learned to cope through the cycles and somehow manage them. Some times the attacks lasted a few minutes, dying off after several DEEP breaths. While others lasted for hours, but thankfully never fully materialized because of the steps I took to keep them at bay.

My methods aren't secrets, but they do take discipline.
  • Deep breaths... And I mean real, deep diaphragm breaths. We go through our days inhaling shallow breaths, rushing from one activity to the next. No wonder we are all stressed out and living on an anxiety high. I remind myself throughout the day to stop punishing myself. I deserve to enjoy those deep, satisfying breaths. And so do you.
  • Meditation... This goes right along with deep breaths, except it teaches you to empty your mind of all the concerns, anguish, and whatever else you have bouncing around in your skull. It's a daily practice for me now. A process I wish I had taken seriously back in high school when my health teacher taught it to me.
  • Go for a walk... this might seem counterproductive, considering your heart is already racing, but going outside in the fresh air and leaving the stresses behind for a moment can do wonders for your psyche. Even if you just stroll around your neighborhood. It's therapeutic. 
  • Music... Playing the piano is one of the most relaxing activities for me. Or listening to soft/happy/cheerful music and dancing around the house. Some friends of mine even enjoy heavy metal, head-banging music to ease their tensions. You do what works best for you.
  • Give up soda... This was a must for me. I was beginning to show signs of Fibromyalgia and experiencing heart palpitations. No matter what I did, this one method was the number one most important thing to check off my list. It has changed my life. Over six years since I washed my hands of that vice and the cravings are non-existent.
  • Find a natural remedy... The one that has worked best for me is Soothe Stress manufactured by VitalFuse. It has kept many panic attacks at bay. I've taken several other brands, but this is the one product that has remained consistent in keeping my stress manageable and my panic attacks smothered.    
You can find it here on my Amazon store, under HEALTH HEAVEN, if you're curious to know more.

Sadly, even with over a decade of research, religiously practicing my new found knowledge, and determined to not return to the zombie state of the little, white pill, it still was not enough.

But that tale is for another day.

What happens when none of my methods work? It isn't pretty. Raw emotion, vulnerability, and an experience seared into my mind forever. And suddenly that little, white pill sounds more appealing.

Stay tuned.

Part TWO -


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