I have some extra time this morning as I find myself home with a terrible cold/virus, so I thought I would reflect and share with the world what is helping me manage my anxiety and depression.
As with everything in life, I wish I could say that there is one magic pill to manage and eliminate your anxiety and depression, but that’s just not true. It’s hard work. I have found that this is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever worked to manage, but it’s worth all of the time and effort. So, what am I doing? Lots of things.
– Renewing my mind: I have spent a lot of time reading the Bible and also listening to a variety of spiritual podcasts that have truly helped me “reset” my mind. I’m really trying to retrain my mind to think differently and I think this is the perfect opportunity to retrain my mind to focus on the Lord and his messages. My favorite podcasts are from Joel Osteen and Susie Larson. Both are very engaging and encouraging. My favorite podcast (I have listened to it multiple times) is “The blessing and the burden” from Joel. If you’re walking through a valley, I encourage you to take a listen. I think it will help change your perspective on any situation you’re going through.
– Exercise: I started running on my own after reading an article from Alisha Perkins, who shared that she too suffers with anxiety. I felt connected to her story as she experienced anxiety around her first child’s first birthday, much like I did. So, I thought, if this helps her I’m going to give it a try. It does really help! The first runs were super tough physically, which was exactly what I needed. It took away the emotional pain if only for 30 minutes.
I really started to enjoy running and decided to join the running group, “Moms on the Run.” I encourage any mom out there who is looking for a great workout and wants to connect with mom’s from their area to join. It’s been a very rewarding experience.
– Food: When I was trying all of the different medications that weren’t working, I completely stopped eating healthy and almost stopped eating all together. I weighed around 110 pounds at my lowest weight. I didn’t feel healthy, but I just couldn’t get myself to eat. I had a nervous stomach all of the time.
Slowly, I’ve been able to start eating healthy again. Three balanced meals with two snacks a day. I almost always have some sort of sweet, usually dark chocolate. I’m working on limiting sugar, but we all have to have a little treat now and then, right? Another important thing to add here is WATER. After I met my DNP she shared that in order to metabolize anti-depressants correctly you need to have 60 ounces of water a day. I was drinking less than 10 ounces two months ago. I’m working up to the 60, but I have been drinking around 40 ounces a day for sure (more on running days) and drinking kombucha a few times a week as well. Kombucha is filled with probiotics, which means it helps with “gut health.” Research has confirmed that a “healthy gut” has a direct link to mental health, so I thought it can’t hurt to help get my “gut” back to a healthy state.
– Sleep: I can’t stress enough how important sleep is. When I was taking the prescriptions that gave me side effects, one was insomnia. It was absolutely horrible. I wasn’t able to sleep for more than an hour and a half at a time. I would wake up drenched with sweat from my anxiety and I would be scared. I wouldn’t know what to do, or how I would get through the day. Some days I would be up for 20 hours straight. I was never able to relax and rejuvenate my body.
This was the first thing my DNP worked on. She gave me a very low dose of an anti-depressant that is known to help with sleep and it did. Thank goodness. Once I was able to start sleeping even six hours straight I saw a huge difference.
– Therapy: I was going to therapy twice a week for six weeks. It was a large time commitment and it wasn’t easy making this work with a full-time schedule at work, but luckily I had the support of all the people I needed. My therapist also gave me “homework” which helped me develop certain tools to manage my anxiety. One that has been super helpful that I recommend to people is the book, “The Worry Trap.” It’s an easy to read book with lots of techniques and exercises.
– Medication: After doing the genetic testing, my DNP recommended a few different medications that my body is able to metabolize. Matt was with me during this appointment and together we decided to proceed with Cymbalta. I’m excited to report that I have had little to no side effects and I can tell a difference while taking it. I highly recommend anyone who is out there and having adverse reactions to anti-depressants to find a provider who will perform genetic testing. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like the name of my DNP.
– Fun! I know this might sound sort of odd, but on my darkest days, I was afraid to go anywhere. I was afraid to leave the house, as I didn’t know how I would feel, or what would happen. I started to force myself to get out there and have some fun. We took a trip down to the Tulip Fest in Iowa, went to the Zac Brown Band concert, took a girls trip to Grandview Lodge for a spa day, and a trip down to Lanesboro. It was scary at first, but it is getting easier and easier every day.
So, I know that this post got long, but this is what it has taken for me to start feeling better. A few weeks ago I shared that I feel abut 60 percent recovered. I would say that now I feel closer to 70 percent recovered, but there are still hard days and I’m OK with that. I’m going to keep on working and knowing that I’m not striving for perfection, but progress. This is new for me. I usually am always looking for perfection, but I’m trying to be easier on myself and acknowledge the small victories.
I hope this helps inspire someone today who may be walking a similar path. I’m currently working on a new web project. It will be a wellness site for woman, where you’ll be able to find more helpful tips to live a healthy lifestyle.
Three items I’m grateful for:
– A full night’s sleep.
– Chocolate chip cookies from Starbucks
– Runs with my new running group