I remember my first anxiety attack like I remember the birth of my first child. I won’t go through all the details because to be honest, it will give me anxiety. I will tell you that the weeks that followed were the darkest, most painful weeks of my life. I was 23 years old and the weight of the world was crushing me. No one understood because no one had experienced the cycle of anxiety. If you’ve experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. After the first anxiety or panic attack, you are so scared of experiencing another one that you live in a perpetual state of panic. That fun time lasted for a few months and then all was well and life went on. That was anxiety brought on by stress.
A few years later, during a messy divorce, my old enemy called anxiety reared its ugly head again, this time for just a few weeks. I don’t think anyone even knew except for two of my closest friends. That’s how I wanted it. Why would I want anyone else to know that I was obviously weak, crazy, and unstable? That was anxiety brought on by divorce.
Four years ago, I started feeling very strange. It started with chronic fatigue and headaches. I felt like I had the flu that would not go away, and it didn’t! Not after visits to every doctor and specialist imaginable. My eyes started to give me trouble, annoying and painful trouble. And then the anxiety came back. This anxiety would happen if I got overheated or if the lights were too bright. These panic attacks would come if the noises were too loud or if I had to concentrate for too long. This was anxiety brought on by Lyme disease.
I have learned something important about anxiety. It doesn’t matter what brings on your anxiety. It stinks! It’s worse than physical pain and unless you have personally experienced it there is no way to fathom what it feels like. This is not a “real” statistic, but based on the people I’ve met since being open about my Lyme anxiety, I estimate that about 40% of us are dealing with anxiety on some level. I have learned that there is no shame in anxiety. I am by no means an expert. I am not a doctor, or a health professional of any kind. I do know that there are a few things that have helped me cope along the way.
- Own it. When you have the confidence to say to someone “My anxiety is really high today, so I don’t think I am going to be up for that,” you have taken the power of the anxiety away. The more you try to keep it in and hide it, the more pressure you are putting on yourself. STOP IT!
- Almost every time I find myself getting extremely anxious, it is because I am holding my breath.
- Physically relax. When you notice that you aren’t breathing, you will probably also notice that your shoulders are up around your ears. Force them down! Unscrunch your forehead. Relax! There are so many therapeutic grade essential oils that can help your body enter into a more relaxed state. I love to diffuse Lavender, Frankincense, Peace and Calming® or my absolute favorite, Valor®. If I leave the house, chances are there is either Valor® on my wrists, behind my ears and in my diffuser necklace!
- Watch what you’re putting into your body. My most notable panic attacks came after too many cups of coffee. Caffeine will make a bad situation worse, so if you are having trouble getting up in the morning, try warm water or tea with lemon essential oil in it. I also put peppermint on my wrists and inhale.
- Look up. Get your eyes up where they belong. The one who hung the stars and created the earth holds you in the palm of His hands. He knows the number of hairs on your head. I know it’s hard. When you are in the midst of a storm, and anxiety IS a storm, it’s important that you run towards your helper and not away from Him. Remember, no matter what, it always ends. I know a three minute panic attack feels like a life time, but it will eventually end. Look for the rainbow…. Big storms lead to big rainbows!
I would like to challenge anyone who suffers from anxiety on any level, whatever the cause. Please don’t try to hide it. You are not alone and maybe if we start talking about it, we can help one another be overcomers. There is a song by Casting Crowns called “Broken Together”. The lyrics say “maybe you and I were never meant to be complete, could we just be broken together”. Sometimes the best thing we can do is let someone know they aren’t alone. Please leave me a comment below and tell me what works for you!
If you would like more information about the essential oils I mentioned, please contact me on Face Book at Oil Time with EJ, or at www.youngliving.org/erinjones3.