My very first experience with anxiety went like this- I was in 5th grade sitting in class while my teacher was reading us a book. The book was good, until it started talking about someone having a brain surgery. All of the sudden my body went numb, I was remembering when I got my tonsils out a year ago and started to feel like I was being “put under” with anesthesia. Next I couldn’t hear, it sounded like my teacher was far far away even though I was in the front row. When everything went black and I couldn’t see anymore, I stood up, and said “I don’t feel very good”. The next thing I remember is being taken out in a wheelchair and into a doctors office. They diagnosed me with anxiety and panic attacks, wrote prescription for medication, and that was that. From that moment on medical things became a huge anxiety trigger for me. For a while I couldn’t even watch a show that had a hospital scene without having a panic attack. As time went on my anxiety decreased and I only experienced panic attacks and passing out maybe once a year, if that! My anxiety was manageable and I grew up being being able to function and live a relatively normal life! I even went to college to become a Physical Therapist Assistant because my medical triggers weren’t really triggers anymore!
Then October of 2016 happened. I had been working for a year and a half as a PTA and every few months we had to do a weekend shift at the local hospital. I was very uncomfortable with working at a hospital but I was able to manage it and get through the day, until one day I didn’t. I was with a patient with a very severe illness and my body went into having a panic attack/shock which led to me passing out on the floor outside of the patients room. When I pass out when I have a panic attack the only thing I am able to do is talk. It’s pretty terrifying.
A week after that horrible experience it happened at work in my normal setting! I called my mom hysterical while I was laying on the bathroom floor at work. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. I was about to pass out and was so scared passing out and being by myself. My mom was able to come and get me and take me to my doctors office. I had never felt anxiety quite like that before and didn’t even know if I would be able to get out of the car and cried the whole way. From that moment on a severe anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and agoraphobia developed and I know it was going to be a hard and long journey. It got so debilitating I couldn’t leave my house. I had to take 2 weeks off of work and then adjust my schedule and was miserable every single day. I couldn’t go anywhere by myself. I was taking my “rescue” medicine almost daily. I was anxious 24/7 and had frequent panic attacks. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I thought I was never going to feel like myself again and didn’t think I would ever be able to function. But guess what? Neither of those things were true.
My healing journey “officially” began on January 1st when I started counseling. Counseling changed my entire life. After 3 months, I began to see big improvements with the things I was able to do as well as decreased anxiety. This made me very hopeful but I continued to struggle daily. I wanted to be able to do things that would help myself on the days I didn’t have therapy so I started doing yoga, meditation, using essential oils, and reading self help books! At this point I was able to go back to work part time and attend/drive myself to and from therapy. Every day was different- I had some really good days, some normal days, some hard days, and some more good days! I had to make adjustments in my life and do things differently, but for the most part I was now functioning. The things I learned from therapy and the self care practice I was doing daily was significantly improving my quality of life- in fact- they gave me my life back. January 1st of 2018 I was able to discontinue going to counseling, I had “graduated”! I was so proud of myself and the huge progress I had made that year. It might have taken A LOT longer to get to that point than I thought, but I was a completely different person and each month just got better and better and better and less anxious.
It’s been almost 2 years since that horrible, debilitating, life altering day. I no longer struggle with daily anxiety and my panic attacks are less and less frequent. I am managing my mental illness SO well and I’m not terrified of it anymore. I no longer let it control or define me. I HAVE anxiety but I am NOT anxiety. I am able to do things I NEVER would have imagined 2 years ago. I’m in such a good place right now and have learned so much in the last 2 years. It was the most difficult trial of my life, but I am better for it. It brought me down a path of immense healing that has blessed my life in so many ways. I am a huge anxiety & mental health advocate and am very very passionate about healing your mind, body, and your spirit!
Mental illness is tough, but so are you.
Thank you Bailey for opening up and sharing about your experience!
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