The past few months have been the definition of a true roller coaster ride. A very crazy, emotionally challenging ride. I’m not sure if I will ever be ready to share the details but the main reason as to why I decided to do a blog post on this was because of you guys. If you reached out last week when I shared why I was offline for a while then I hope this helps you in any way. Here’s a bit more on this journey of mine.
I first identified I had anxiety early 2020. What caused this is what I’ll keep quiet for now but when these emotions would make an appearance, they really shook me. I would feel sick to my stomach, my heart would race a mile a minute, my hands would feel sweaty but I’d be freezing cold and shaking at the same time. I felt gittery and couldn’t sit still. It would keep me up at night too from time to time and I didn’t know what the heck this was that I was experiencing. I just knew that after certain situations, here came this ball of emotions I didn’t know how to handle.
First things first, identifying the problem. What is it that’s making you feel this way? Why is it making you feel this way? If it’s not serving you in any way or if it’s disturbing your inner peace, is it worth it? No one else can make the decision for you. Not even the best of therapists.
I was at a local bookstore one day and as I’m browsing the isles, I stopped at the self help section. I came across this book, Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Fear by Gregory L. PhD Jantz, Ann McMurray and as I skimmed the first few pages, it was as if it was talking to me personally and all those feelings and emotions that would come over me and I didn’t have a name for all of a sudden did. There it was in big letters: ANXIETY. I don’t think I had ever read a book quicker than that in my life. Every page helped understand myself so much better and I could at least now put a name to all that I’d been feeling. There’s so many books on anxiety and worry out there but this one was a great tool for me. Totally get it if you can.
The first time I had a panic attack, I yet again didn’t even know was a panic attack. I was actually stuck at Big Bear Lake mountain on my way down on a busy Sunday evening. I was rushing to get home due to family that I bypassed putting gas in the car. I didn’t know there would be traffic on the way down so I braved the road with half a tank and the heater on high because it had snowed earlier that day. As I sat there behind tons of cars, heater on blast and my sleeping toddler in the back seat I couldn’t help but stare at the gas meter. All these thoughts instantly came in to my mind. ‘What if I run out of gas?’ ‘ What if I get stranded mid mountain?’ ‘ I don’t know this area, how will I keep my daughter safe? Warm?’ ‘How far will we need to walk to the nearest gas station?’ and to top it off, the phone reception was horrible. My outbound calls were not going through fully or would end after seconds of someone picking up. Tears just started running down my face. My heart was racing and I was just freaking out. If you’re a parent, you know there is no worse feeling on earth than feeling like you cannot protect or keep you child/children safe. It’s a horrible feeling.
Panic attacks still look a lot like that for me now. They usually go hand in hand with anxiety and can mainly show up due to stress or traumatic experiences. The psychiatrist told me, “Don’t forget to breathe.” It sounded so silly and quite confusing at first because I am breathing or else I wouldn’t be alive, right? But it’s how you breathe. Deep breath in and release. I tend to close my eyes for a moment as I do this because now I can recognize when it’s about to happen.
The breaking point:
Around March of 2020, I went for doctor check up, and let me just say my PCP is amazing; we have such a great connection. I had told her briefly of some of my emotional symptoms and experiences. It was then when she said for the first time, I should get evaluated and gave me the psychiatrist line. I dismissed it so quick. I remember thinking to myself, I’m not crazy and I don’t need to get evaluated or medicated. So I left that appointment, thinking what I always have, I can handle anything.
At some point your body will start speaking to you. Your mind will scream and will tell you that you’re reaching a breaking point. That you need to stop. Step away, seek help, speak up, something. I wasn’t raised to believe in emotions. I’ve said this many times before on social media, to friends and family. Growing up everything was black and white: here’s the problem, here’s how to fix it. No in between, no room for feelings, just fix it and move on. For so long I lived my life sweeping feelings under the rug and pretending I was ok, or that I was “strong” enough to handle anything the world threw at me. Until I reached my breaking point this year.
I don’t think life is supposed to be hard or complicated. We have this really stupid tendency to do that to ourselves- perhaps without even realizing it, but gosh it’s awful that we do that to ourselves. We also are not meant to put up with BS. I know, I know it’s easier said than done depending on the situation but I think because we care so deeply we do. We will put ourselves to the test over and over again. I had known for months now that I had anxiety, experienced panic attacks, had insomnia… my body had been speaking to me for years and I just ignored it until the breaking point. Until I found myself crying all the time, not wanting to get out off bed, not eating, and super reactive to anything and everything.
Two weeks before I finally decided to get evaluated I had been struggling so much. I was crying myself to sleep and would wake up crying. I would dread getting up for work. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t anything really. I just wanted to lay in bed and sleep and cry. My daughter Leya was the unfortunate little soul who would get the shit end some times and I feel terrible just thinking back on those moments. I was so snappy all the time and one time she finally said to me, “Why are you so angry all the time?” That was the first brief eye opener. I would quickly apologize and explain that it wasn’t her I was upset or mad at, I was just “going through something.”
My cat unknowingly saved me:
The day I called the psychiatry line was because I had a scheduled appointment with my doctor to talk about giving me a referral to the third party therapy center I was going to in the past. Weeks before that breaking point, I knew that it was time to go back to therapy so thankfully I was in a good enough head space then to make an appointment with my doctor. That Thursday morning, I was clocked in for work, crying in between calls when the phone rang and I was just a mess. She said many things to me but one of the things was, you sound like you are going through some severe depression and that I had to stop neglecting the psychiatrist. She didn’t even ask this time, she just transferred me to the appointment center to set a time for the evaluation.
After that call that Thursday, I just couldn’t control my emotions so I told my supervisor I had to leave for the day. I went straight to bed.
It was my cats excessively loud scratches (or at least it seemed that way) on the litter box that woke me up. I hadn’t gotten out for anything much less to get her sand for her litter box. I love my cat and I felt so bad for doing that to her, so more forcefully than willingly, I got up, put my UGG’s on, and got out for the first time in days. She literally got me out of bed.
Dealing with it all:
It’s sad to think I have friends that have unfortunately gone through similar things, but helpful in the sense that they know what to say because they’ve been there. One of my good friends told me, no matter how much you feel like you want to be alone, DON’T. Do not do that to yourself. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression say something, please! Feeling like that is bad enough, so please don’t feel like you have to go through it alone. Before I did, I would think, well no one cares or I don’t want to be a Debby downer. SCRATCH THAT OUT OF YOUR HEAD because you are not. Someone cares. I care.
I mentioned two things I realized on stories last week. One, stop fighting against the current and just submit to it. Your feelings are valid, so stop pretending like they are not or they’re not there. Acknowledging them takes bravery, lots of bravery and we all have it in us, even if it doesn’tseem that way at the moment. Two, if we don’t help ourselves, no one will. Read that again. No one will ever fight for you better than you. It starts and ends with you always, and you’re worth it. No matter what you may be thinking of yourself at that moment. You are so worth the effort.
My evaluation came back with high percentages of depression, anxiety and panic. So, immediately after getting evaluated I was referred to a therapist which is the one I am seeing now every two weeks. I have insurance through Kaiser, so everything is filtering from them at the moment and I’m very happy with how it’s going. Ever since that evaluation, I journal every day. Sometimes I write pages of my feelings and others just words of what I feel, but letting it out somewhere on a daily basis makes me feel lighter. Sometimes I journal 2-3 times a day because some days are and will be harder than others. I highly recommend that you try it. Go get a cute notebook that you will gravitate towards and just let it out.
Getting evaluated by a psychiatrist doesn’t mean you’re crazy or that you will get medicated. So if you are thinking that like I was, SCRATCH THAT OUT TOO. The questions can get really deep but be honest with yourself and answer from the heart because remember that your mental stability is on the line here. Speaking with a therapist felt like getting undressed in front a stranger for so long before I agreed to seeing one. I couldn’t grasp the idea of telling a stranger my problems, but that was actually the key to it all. This person will be completely unbiased, and for that reason alone, they can see things from the outside in. With time of course the relationship will build, but more so on behaviors and tendencies which is a good thing because they’ll be able to point out things you probably don’t even realize. So yes, highly recommend you get a therapist.
Meditating can help so much with calming the mind. I have tried Head Space briefly in the past but this is something I haven’t fully gotten down. My mind races all day every day so this is actually a challenge for me but I want to get better at it. Only way to be better is to be consistent. Insight Timer I hear is also a great one.
Do it for YOU:
Have you ever stopped and thought of your worth? What does that look like to you? To me, it means taking care of myself so much internally that I will be able to give the best I have to offer. It means being able to see myself as someone who is enough, who matters, who is worthy. That all starts with me and in this case you too.
Small clinics tend to have options for therapists as well. Family Health Centers of San Diego clinics are great!
Meditating apps: Head Space and Insight Timer.
Xo, Guadalupe ♡