Coping, No Doping
Written By: Elle Bee
I was diagnosed with anxiety in December 2014. The signs had always been there. I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed numerous times for what seemed like no apparent reason. There were times where I would be getting out of the shower and would have to sit and repeat my name, birth date, favorite color, and address because my breathing was so heavy I swore something bad was about to happen to me. But it never did. There were days where I would wake up and have to say out loud what I was doing in a soft voice. I'd be walking through the house going, 'Now we're going to have breakfast. Breakfast is good. You like breakfast. Then you can take your vitamins. Then you'll shower. Showers are good'. What pushed me to see a doctor was the day I was with a co-worker who was visiting a client. I was standing but couldn't be still. My breathing was getting heavy, or at least I thought it was. I could hear my heart beating. I felt like I was fighting to get outside to fresh air, yet couldn't move. When I finally made it outside, I took the deepest breath and felt, chaos. I was 100% certain something bad was coming. My coworker gave me one look and was able to tell me exactly what was wrong. I couldn't believe that in all my seasons of watching ER, Grey's Anatomy, and House I'd missed that diagnosis.
My doctor told me flat out, straight in both my eyes, 'You have anxiety. I can prescribe you...' *insert needle scratch* I stopped listening. You know that part where you tell the medical professional, whose advice you need, what you're not going to do? Because you heard what was said, and still believe, 'Not I.’ What’s that called? Oh yeah, denial! Can you believe my doctor went on to tell me my blood pressure was a little high, and that I was fat?! Well, he didn't exactly say the F word, but you know how they do.
Needless to say, I was prescribed something to help me relax and sleep at night. I took the meds for about a month. I was feeling better and was sleeping at night. Nothing seemed to bother me. I realized my carefree attitude was all due to this medicine. I didn't like the fact that I was growing dependent on a pill to give me a euphoric high. Something had to change and fast.
I figured if I had been dealing with anxiety then surely I can find ways to cope. So I started running. That became my therapy. I’m constantly after the feeling after finishing a run. Whether it be 1 mile or 6. Just seeing myself accomplish that makes me want to do more. So my workouts became consistent. I also began changing my eating habits by incorporating more fruits and vegetables, water, and rest. I went back to the doctor about 2 months later and was told my blood pressure was down, my heartbeat was strong, and I looked rested. That was the last time I used meds for anxiety.
After more self-research, I was able to identify triggers. A few things are sudden changes, not finishing a to-do list, disorganization, and Sunday nights. I tend to do better when I have some type of routine. Like with Sundays, I meal prep, lay out work clothes, and pack my gym bag. I try to have all of this completed by 7 pm to give me time to relax. I also found that painting my nails helps. I think it's the pop of color and the fact that my hands look so neat.
I will say the absolute worst thing to say to me, in the midst of an anxiety rant, is to 'calm down.' That's like telling an exploding bottle of soda to put the cap on. IT! WON'T! WORK! One tip is to give me some space. Be there, but give me space. Empathize, even. And don't you dare expect me to blow it off. It's not that simple. Be mindful, anxiety is that uninvited person to the party who assumes their invitation just got lost in the mail and they show up anyway.
If you're one of those who struggles with anxiety, I encourage you to find your niche. Everything I do is what works for me. Remember anxiety is highly common, and you're not the only one. Also, there will be some people who judge. Why? Because that's what people do. But, when you become so engulfed in your own world of self-care, you won't have time to worry about what other people are saying.
LaQuita is a blogger who writes under the name, Elle. She began to blog after looking for an outlet from the everyday stresses of her job as a social worker. She continues to blog about her personal experiences in life and love. More of Elle’s work can be found at ellearrbee.wordpress.com. You may also find her on Twitter challenging the leaders of today’s world, and speaking her mind to the masses, while quoting the works of Jay Z or Jeezy.