The bitch herself, anxiety.
Discovering you have some form of mental health disorder is never as simple as finding out you have a physical problem. Physical complications tend to manifest quickly, you notice pain or discomfort and you go into diagnosis mode. For me, learning about my own anxiety has been a JOURNEY. The beginning of it wrought with some shitty moments.
I can trace my anxiety all the way back to even childhood. Going to the doctor’s and having to have blood work or a shot, and my body instantly went into panic…loss of color, vomiting, passing out…and not one time in the 80’s or early 90’s did any medical professional say, hey, that’s not normal and here’s what we may be able to do to fix it. Nope, here comes Nick, reads here, have garbage can handy, check.
This manifested itself throughout my entire school age years, into college, and part of my adult life before I even understood even a little what the hell could be going on. I can remember back in time to my Nonnie having panic attacks and blowing into a paper bag as she hyperventilated. She was even a nurse, and nothing about mental health at the time. It wasn’t until I was close to 30 that I began to learn what anxiety and panic attacks were. I can remember my first panic attack…sitting on my kitchen floor, heart feeling like it was going to burst out of my chest, having complete lack of feeling in my extremities, having cold chills….truly sensing like I was going to die right there. I didn’t tell many people about this, I didn’t even know how to describe it at the time without sounding insane.
Having a job and working with anxiety was absolutely brutal. Alarm clocks started my day off immediately with anxiety. I’d either wake up 2 minutes before, or wake up terrified from it no matter what the sound was. The stress of work lead to horrible stomach pains that I can actually attribute directly to work. I believe they were stress ulcers I know this because the day I put my two week notice in, it never happened again. Anything unplanned that would happen…think forced overtime or the boss calling a meeting… would send my brain into a tailspin. I finally got to a point where I was in a position where I was forced to choose between staying at a job I felt was actively killing me or going. I chose to go knowing anything had to be better than feeling that way.
That was 2013…it wasn’t really until 2016 that I REALLY took my mental health seriously. Again, I didn’t really have a choice. I had completely lost myself. My anxiety lead to pill addiction to try and “cure” the feeling of dread of having any sort of anxiety or panic. Here are a few of the things I’ve done over the last few years to work to fight back against my anxiety, which is EXACTLY what it is, a fight.
I started going to a counselor. If you’ve never been…I can not speak highly enough of finding the right person to speak to about shit in your head…shit that tends to be way more common than we think. Check your insurance immediately and see if it’s offered, do it once a month if you can, even once every 6 months would be good…even if you don’t have insurance, invest in yourself. Having a neutral person to go to for those self doubt thoughts, the things that confuse you, scary you, worry you, bother you….is completely invaluable.
I’ve been on an SSRI (Anti-depressant/anxiety), Paxil, since 2016. This can be a dive into a whole ‘nother post about my distrust in the pharmaceutical industry. I’ll just say that, if I miss my daily pill more than twice, I get complete brain fog, dizziness, heart burn, brain zaps, exhaustion and random outbursts. The full withdrawal effects of Paxil are similar in nature to that of heroin withdrawal. I now consider myself a socially accepted drug addict. When things we’re REALLY bad at the start, I was also taking Xanax for bad panic attacks. I’m trying like hell to get away from using Big Pharma pills.
Meditation. Ugh, this one was REALLY difficult to admit to mostly because my Mom preached it haha. Frankly I thought it was all a bunch of garbage. Any time I tried to close my eyes, things seemed to get worse, so meditation felt like a waste of time. There are so many great apps out there for meditation that just help guide you. I think I’ve only meditated a few times without a guide. Meditation can happen in many places, I’ve done it while fishing, done it while driving. Part of it is simply being THERE, not being anywhere else in your head. It’s amazing when you actually FEEL it work though. You almost feel “high” and you finish feeling full of energy. Or if you’re looking for the opposite effect, it truly helps put me to sleep. This video always helped me with sleep immensely. It’s called Yoga Nidra…props to my former business partner Dan for telling me about this.
Booooks….check em out. Read books. Read personal development books. Read books about anxiety, I recommend DARE: A New Way to End Anxiety. Read books that take you away from your mind. Read real books. Read on your phone or tablet. Read non-fiction. Read fiction. DO NOT read shit that GIVES you anxiety. Just read, every single day. I read before bed every night and it helps me fall asleep also.
Cannabis. Pot. Weed. The devil’s lettuce. The Electric Lettuce. It’s become legalized in New York State now. We can talk freely and openly about it. I could write an entire book on my experience with cannabis. I’ll keep it short though. DARE worked on me. I didn’t even try pot until I was 30 years old. I truly believed the notion that potheads amounted to nothing. And it’s truly further from the truth. I use it very much for anxiety/depression, but with all the information out there on sites like leafly.com to educate yourself on the benefits of cannabis, there are dozens of ways it can help…not just smoking it…if you’re on the bandwagon still that it’s a “gateway drug”, I’d highly recommend researching some of the 8000 strains and see the ways each one of them is used differently. If you’re looking for 100% legal relief though, check out quality CBD products. We have a local company that I’ve become an affiliate marketer for, Utica Hemp Company. If you head over to their website, shop.uticahempco.com and put the code 3zerocreative in at checkout, you’ll get 10% off your purchase every time! If you’re unsure what to get, hit me up and I’ll help guide you with your purchase.
Guys, here’s the deal though, anxiety is very real, it’s very common, and it’s becoming much more talked about now than it ever was. It’s not something to be embarrassed of. Many people take anxiety they don’t know they have and channel it into alcohol, drugs (the bad kind), sex, gambling, eating, working out, skydiving, and any other number of great and not so great ways of relieving stress. Being able to recognize anxiety and fighting back against it every day is really the key to getting it under control. I’ve accepted it’s just part of me, I know when it’s overwhelming now, I know how to avoid the truly awful panic attacks…but that took a lot of time and practice. Hopefully you guys do whatever you can to take your mental health more seriously.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk on one of the few things I’ve unfortunately had the pleasure of becoming an expert on.