Hey all! I was hoping that this post would be a super positive, upbeat fun update, but in reality, it is not all rainbows and sunshine.
My son and I with our new puppy who I am training to be an Emotional Support Dog.
For the most part, I have been doing really well on my meds! For those who don't know, I started an SSRI medication to help with my severe anxiety and depression. I am still working with my doctors to find the right dosage but I can feel positive changes every day. For example, when I am in a depressive state, my brain feels really foggy and heavy at times and with the medication, it feels a lot lighter. My anxiety also feels "lighter" and I had not had a panic attack since starting the pills. I can feel more bursts of happiness come through. I am taking it day by day and hoping that as we find the right dose for me, it will get even better.
There was a little hiccup though. A couple weeks ago, I ran out of pills and my doctor could not get me in for a few days. This doctor requires that I meet with them to assess how I am doing with dosages and everything before they will refill my prescription. I thought I would be okay for a few days so I did not really worry about it at the time, but that was a big mistake. After a day or two, I could feel myself slipping. I had this overwhelming sense of dread and panic that would come in waves. I was off work for a few days and had dropped my kids off at school and then went to Target (which is usually my happy place), was walking around grabbing the things I needed when all of the sudden in the middle of the pet aisle, I had a full blown panic attack. There was no trigger to this specific attack, I just all the sudden couldn't breathe, my chest was tight, my palms were sweaty and I immediately just ran out to my car. When I got there, I texted my husband and Katie (my best friend who helps run this page) and they were able to help calm me down by talking me through it. I also called my mom and she offered a listening ear and some tangible ways to help such as coming to get the kids after school, making dinner, etc. When I got home, I started some of my coping mechanisms like burning a candle, listening to some calming music and doing a meditation, drinking some calming tea, and doing a coloring page. I was able to get in with my doctor and get a prescription filled quickly so I could get back on my meds and added a reminder in my calendar app to hopefully prevent this from happening again.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have people you can turn to when you are struggling, both in extreme times like what happened to me above, but also in just the mundane everyday hard times. We need to be able to talk about it. Getting it out and having that support is critical, whether it is a close friend, family member, counselor, etc. we have to have "our people." Find people who will sit with you, cry with you, and be with you through it. You don't need people who will say "it's okay" or "don't worry" - find the ones who will say "I'm here for you", "I love you", "Remember how much you love the ocean? Try to think about the ocean right now. The feeling of the sand on your toes, the smell of the salt water."
Another important piece is knowing what brings you peace - find your happiness and calming triggers. Knowing what helps in those moments can be a game changer. If you can get in the habit of doing those things when can you feel the spiral beginning, that alone can help so much. Also, tell your people those things!! That been HUGE for me. When my husband asked me how he can help when I am in the midst of a "spiral", I told him some of my calming practices and now he is able to say "hey, I can tell you are having a hard time right now, do you need some alone time do a meditation?" and that can make all the difference. I found these two infrographs that I think are really helpful, one for someone who going through this too and one for people who support us.
If you have anxiety and panic attacks, I would love to hear what helps you when you are having a hard time. I also want to encourage you to find your people and your happiness triggers if you have not. Also, Also - take the meds if you need them. They truly help SO much and there is ZERO shame in it. Find what helps you and don't let anyone stop you.
I love you all. I am so glad you are here. Don't ever forget, We Got You. -Kristen