When I was 10 years old, I used to whip around the cul-de-sac on my pink and white scooter. It wasn’t a sleek Razor like you see kids maneuver on today. No, it had bicycle tires, a brake control on the handle bar, and pegs over the back tire to scoot around on with friends. I used to love to jump on my scooter, early in the morning, and bomb the steepest driveways on my block just to feel the rush of wind blow through my hair. I remember one day riding on that scooter and instead of delighting in the freedom it brought me, my mind was fixated on a bump I had found behind one of my ears. I was a bit fearful to share that I had found this bump with my Mami as I was thinking to myself, “what if it’s cancer?”
Looking back, I’m sure it was an inflamed lymph node, but at 10 years old, I was afraid of illness. That is the first memory I can remember when I began to ponder death and my own mortality.
Since then, I’ve been a bit of a hypochondriac. Do you remember when the bird flu was the trending topic and Brad Pitt released a sensational narrated documentary, circa 2006, that had me completely convinced a pandemic was upon us? Scary! How about the swine flu, SARS, and ebola? Yup, all of those viruses scared me as well.
Even since I’ve started this blog in 2009, I’ve worried myself about our industrial food system, household products, and everything in between that’s been linked to cancer. A lot of these subject matters are great to know about because they can create positive changes in our lifestyle; however, I was fearful.
How It All Began
At 35 years old, I knew there was fear in my life but I didn’t dwell on it. Like most woman in their mid-thirties, my life was busy. I was homeschooling, running this blog, teaching night classes, trying to keep up with a home and homestead, as well as being a wife and mother.
In the midst of all of my doing, I didn’t realize how much I was doing!
What I realize now is that I wasn’t enjoying my life – I was just trying to keep up with it. Gardening had lost its therapeutic value to me, homeschool became a source of stress that just needed to get done, I was losing my temper with those that I love most, and sadly, I didn’t have time for real life relationships.
Physically, I thought I was healthy and keeping up just fine, until Gabe came home with a box full of toys. Gabe lost his job and it was then that I just couldn’t. After several years of burning the candle on both ends, stresses of having been caught in a failing economy, and finally, a husband without a job, my body started to scream for rest.
I had my first panic attack a few months after Gabe lost his job. I now understand that these high stresses in my life accompanied by too much caffeine and lack of rest was the source of my panic attacks; however, it was this new unknown to me that kindled the beginning of an anxiety disorder.
I was already a person prone to fear, and after experiencing what seemed to be a heart attack, that fear manifested itself into a vicious cycle of anxiety. I was no longer dealing with physical stress, but a battle in my mind.
Here’s the thing, a battle in the mind will allow you no rest and the anxiety will continue.
At this point, my anxiety was about my anxiety. In that place, I started to develop physical symptoms. My nervous system was shot and I just couldn’t comprehend what was happening to me. I started to believe that I must have some sort of awful disease and in that place I could no longer plan for the future or rejoice in all the good things that God had given me because my concern was to just make it through the day.
All that I could see, and what I was now fearing the most, is that my children were going to grow up without a mother.
I spent my days dwelling on what was wrong with me. My mind questioned every pain that sparked through my body and since my chest felt so heavy, I literally walked around all day thinking about and monitoring my breath.
Inhale, exhale, inhale, inhale, exhale, “why can’t I take a deep breath?”
I started to question if this was a heart issue, a lung issue or even cancer.
What I learned the hard way is that googling your symptoms is never a good idea.
Let me repeat that – Googling your symptoms is never a good idea!
That alone magnified my fear that some awful terminal illness was upon me. This fear led to more panic attacks.
I felt doomed.
As a believer, this was a hard place to be in. This was the perfect scenario for the enemy to start speaking lies. I started to question my faith, including my belief in Jesus.
If I believed that Jesus died for my sins and that my eternal hope was in Him, why was I so scared of death?
Soon, all I could think about was my own mortality and why I feared death. It became more difficult to look at my own children because I continued to fear that they would grow up without me.
A Slow Recovery
That was me in the trenches of anxiety: in the onset.
Through the years, I’ve had ups and downs as I wrote about in this post. Good times and bad but what has kept me going has been my faith in Jesus to persevere.
Remember that enemy that likes to speak lies? The enemy that wants to tell you that you’re doomed, you don’t really have faith, you just think about yourself, you’re not a good mother, wife, or friend?
He’s a liar.
My perseverance to be well and of sound mind kept me on my knees, in prayer, and in His Word. I meet with my God daily.
I’m still quite embarrassed to share how many trips to the ER I took over the years and how many doctor visits I’ve had. Each with a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and a prescription for anti-depressants.
Praise God, I have an amazingly supportive husband who walked with me through this journey. He encouraged and empowered me to see that I didn’t need drugs to overcome my anxiety and that with God’s help, we could get through this naturally.
Unfortunately, in our area we don’t have many options for holistic, functional, or integrative doctors. Besides, at the time we were going through financial hardship: the cost for the few integrative doctors in my area was much too high for my family.
Instead of anti-depressants, I logged countless hours in research through book and internet resources and put together a supplement plan for myself. I am so happy to say that after finding an integrative professional to work with me earlier this year, they were quite impressed with the supplement plan I put together for myself. I was very happy to hear that.
As I mentioned in the first post of the Anxiety series, I still run into rough days, but my mind is much clearer now and I’m able to get through the rough days more quickly. In the place that I’m at now, I’m happy to call myself anxiety free as I no longer fear the unknown.
I know who my God is and trust Him with everything that I am. If I start to fear, I step outside and look up. This reminds me that my Hope is in Him and in that state of mind, death has lost its grip on me. I’m not afraid of death.
I know that many people that read this post will want to know what supplements I took to start recovering. I am going to tell you. I promise; however, this has been a journey for me. A 3 year journey that is still not over. The one thing I want you to take to heart is that the root of anxiety is in fear. Until you reach into the depths of your soul to discuss with a loved one or counselor what that fear is, taking supplements, as natural as they may be, is masking the root of the problem.
With that being said, hormonal imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, can escalate our feelings and make us dwell on things we otherwise wouldn’t have.
So with that in mind, I truly pray that this series will help you reach out to someone and talk about what the root of your anxiety is. Pray to God, get in his Word, and meditate on it day and night.
Believe. Trust. He loves you. He died for you.
Please remember I am not a medical doctor so I will just relay what has helped me.
I will get into supplements in a later post but for those that need some immediate relief, what has given me the greatest relief has been taking magnesium daily. 400mg. Either magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. I started by taking Natural Calm (citrate) and I’m now taking Doctor’s Best (glycinate). I will get into more detail with magnesium and other supplements that have helped me in a later post in this series.
*Update, I now make my own homemade magnesium oil that bypasses my digestive system altogether. It’s a simple oil that’s made by boiling 1/2 cup of filtered water. Once it comes to boil, turn the heat off and add 1/2 cup of Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes. I let that cool down, place in a glass spray bottle, and spray myself 20-30 pumps per day. 10-15 in the morning and 10-15 right before bed. I spray myself on the legs, arms, and stomach. A recipe post will come soon!
So, this is my testimony: this is my journey. Imperfect progress.