Mind Over Matter

We are officially ONE week away from the third trimester.  Holy cow! Where in the heck did the time go? People tell you it goes by way too fast, but until you are experiencing it for yourself, it is hard to grasp on to that idea.  For the past few blogs,  I have tried to incorporate my humor into my blogs, and for good reason.  I like making others laugh and I hope that the majority of my blogs stay that way.  I also think that  I have to be vulnerable and share some personal feats throughout this that aren’t always as fun to talk about.

Most of my family and close friends know that I deal with anxiety.  I have in some form or another for many years.  I remember my first bout of anxiety came when I was just 12 years old.  How crazy, right? Why would a 12 year old feel anxious? Aren’t pre-teens and teenagers supposed to be care-free? I told my mom that my breathing didn’t seem right and asked if she could tell a difference.  She said no and told me that I needed to stop worrying about things I couldn’t control.  That didn’t help me much.  I wanted so desperately to feel like I could breathe without feeling like I was dying.  Until one day, my aunt called me up and told me that she too had dealt with anxiety at a point in her life.  She told me that the best thing you can do when you feel anxious is lay down in a quiet room and tell yourself that if it is not in your control.  She told me to pray and offer all of my fears up to God.  I tried that consistently over the next few weeks and I was feeling myself again.  Was I still the same worry wart that I had always been? Yes, but it was more manageable and didn’t rule my life.

Anxiety took a break from my life from that point up until I reached about 19 years old.  I had trouble finding a way to tell people how I really felt.  I was a “yes” person.  I wanted to do what everyone else wanted me to do.  On top of that, I was in my second year of college with no real decision on what I wanted to be when I was done with school.  I went back and forth between various majors in the healthcare field, but none of them really stuck.  Because of this, I was holding in stress and anxiety that would build until I reached a breaking point…..  I was working out with my cousin at her house and all of a sudden I felt dizzy, short of breath, and a racing heart. I was a healthy 19 year old with no health issues to my knowledge, but what I was experiencing was my first panic attack.  Now for anyone who has never experienced one, it literally feels like you are dying.  You are inside your own head and at that point it is really hard to let those feelings pass.  So instead of letting them pass, you try to fight them and over analyze why they are happening to you.  Hence why panic sets in.  So for the next 20 minutes I breathed deeply and laid on the kitchen floor with a cold towel on my head waiting for it to pass. Eventually it did, and I was off and running like nothing ever happened within the hour.

My next big battle with anxiety came when I was in full on wedding planning mode.  Now, it wasn’t for the reasons you may assume.  I knew I was marrying the right man and I knew that marriage is what I had always wanted since I was a little girl.  My belief is that it came on for various reasons during this time, but the biggest reason was the stress I was putting myself through.  I didn’t ask for much help and with all of that building up on myself, it eventually took a toll on me.  The second reason was that for the first time in my life, I was the least active that I had ever been.  John and I were enjoying the city living with good food, great drinks, and lack of sleep.  I knew that if I got back to working out and doing what I loved that I would feel better about myself.  See, the thing with anxiety is that it tries to put limits you.  My issue was that when my heart raced when I would walk upstairs, I thought that was a sign I was dying instead of a natural response to walking up a flight of stairs.  I found myself in the emergency room 3 times within a year for severe panic attacks.  I knew that this vicious cycle had to stop.

I was referred to a pyschologist by a family member and began working through my anxiety with her every 2 weeks for one hour at a time.  She told me at the beginning that this process will get worse before it gets better, and she was exactly right.  I was very diligent on going and making sure that I went for myself.  I began to tell family I was going to see a psychologist. Because anxiety is not something that people are open about, they really didn’t feel comfortable talking about it (not every one was this way, but the majority).  For the people who were open about it, it was comforting to know that more people deal with it than you think and I thank you for that.  I began to realize so much more about myself.  Why I do certain things, why I react in a certain way, what things make me shut down.  It was refreshing and enlightening.  I felt empowered every time I went because it was an hour talking about whatever I felt needed to be said.  That’s not to say that my anxiety went away completely, but it was definitely more manageable and not as scary.  After my wedding, I went full force back into working on my health.  I bought a Fitbit watch and some workout DVDs and went to work.  With every passing day I could feel my mind and my body getting back in sync.  It was amazing to see what I could do if I just told my mind to be quiet.

Anxiety has creeped up again throughout my pregnancy.  Let’s face it- when you are basically confined to a bed for 3 straight months feeling sick and exhausted, that takes a toll on your psyche.  I got pregnant when I was still working on my fitness journey, so I never got to my ideal weight I wanted to be at.  It was apparent that being at my heaviest and knowing I was going to have to gain more weight was going to be a struggle for me.  When I was out of the first trimester I began introducing things back into my life.  What I noticed was that anxiety was creeping back at the same time.  Symptoms showed up when I would leave my house, when I tried to exercise, and walking up our stairs in our home.  After a few weeks of trying to deal with these symptoms with little to no relief, I began to up my appointments with my psychologist and spoke to my doctor about medication options.  Now, with the worst behind me, I am beginning to feel empowered again.  I’m extremely excited about this next chapter in my life.  I have been feeding my body with healthy foods consistently (with the occasional days where I give in to my cravings), and trying to find my new purpose during this transitional period in my life.

My point in writing this is that maybe someone will get some comfort knowing that anxiety is something that is apart of a lot of people’s lives.  On the flip side, maybe this will give the person who has no idea what anxiety feels like a little eye-opening view.  People deal with anxiety in many different ways, and it is finding what works best for you that will empower you.  As my psychologist will tell me, anxiety never fully goes away, but you can have the tools to manage it and make it less scary.  I’m looking forward to continuing this healthy lifestyle post-pregnancy.  I want to begin to make fitness goals for myself because I know that when my body and mind are in-tune, I feel my best.  I have other goals I wish to accomplish including continuing and expanding my blog.  My goals are set high for 2017 and so is my continuous motivation and drive to become my best self.


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