Sorry, not sorry. I checked out for a few months. Social media was the last thing on my agenda for the past few months while I’ve been taking care of myself.
While 2018 has been filled with personal growth, it has also come with challenges and confusion, which is typical, right? Personal growth is and can be uncomfortable. This past year I’ve been letting go of the ‘old me’ while finding and embracing the ‘new me’, which has been wonderful, scary and so out of my comfort zone.
Anxiety also came with all of this. Now, you may be saying, “Kara, you’ve stated that you have had anxiety all of your life.”, well, right, but I thought it had gone once and for all while embracing my life’s past and story, but that hairy, ugly monster reared it’s ugly head again and worse than I could ever imagine. Have you ever envisioned your monster? I have, and it started as a young girl with a nightmare when I was about 5 years old. I remember waking up in middle of the night to find that hairy, blue monster with the big nose from Sesame Street (Herry Monster) floating above me. I got out of bed and grabbed a handful of water from the bathroom and threw it on him so he would disappear. It worked! And I went back to bed on wet sheets. But I was relieved. But he is still my Hairy Monster named Anxiety.
I’ve had anxiety and panic attacks in the past, but nothing like what I’ve experienced the past several months. First, in October with a near breakdown, came panic attacks that woke me up from a solid sleep at 4am with depersonalization and what felt like an alternate reality. Not just once but several nights to the point where I called into Mental Health at Kaiser and Thank GOD! I was seen by my physiatrist right away the morning I called, and I was entered the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). I say Thank God because truly it was a lifesaver. I was taken off work for a week and attended classes that week for group therapy and coping skills. TOTAL.LIFESAVER! Such a great intervention on Kaiser’s behalf for my wellbeing. I went back to work with a couple of new tools on the road to recovery.
In November, I went to the Younique Foundation retreat, another great blessing! This gave me so many more new coping skills, and a community of 20 other women who have survived childhood sexual abuse. At first, the thought of that was so scary and overwhelming, just thinking that we were all there for the same reason, someone caused us harm, but I soon learned after the first day that there is strength in numbers in this community. We are a sisterhood of survivors! We are maintaining those valued relationships still, even though we come from all over the U.S. Our group of 21 women was the 107th group this retreat has catered to. Real help, real people, and real love. I also learned that it’s okay to cry. Really, it is!
December saw another set of anxiety/panic attacks, but this time these were brought on by medications. I keep being told that people like me with anxiety and panic attacks need to be on an anti-depressant to manage vs being on a low-dose prn prescription of alprazolam, which I only fill twice a year, and keep on hand for emergency situations. So, after trying a few, I give up! These meds are not for me and my body does not tolerate them.
I’m determined to beat this monster!!! Anxiety is one of the worst feelings in the world. I don’t mean generalized anxiety, I mean crippling anxiety. The kind that makes you not want to eat, move, or function in any capacity. It’s debilitating. For the first time in my life, I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to take the whole bottle of pills, not to kill myself but to make it all go away. Of course, I did not take the whole bottle, but the thought…that was scary! I suppose these things are happening so I can use them to help others, so others can relate to me or I can relate to them. Whatever the case, my plan when I started writing my book and this blog has always been to help others.
It is my goal to use all my experiences to help others. If life is comprised of the sum of all our experiences, what good are they if we are not using them to help others? I’m still not sure how it’s all supposed to come together or what or how I’m going to help others, I just know that I am going to. I have faith in the bigger plan that God has for my life. Some of this is still confusing and jumbled but it’s getting better and clearer every day. I cannot wait to see what great things 2019 will bring. I am sincerely hoping that the worst part of this personal growth thing is behind me and that my path is revealed to me.
Meanwhile, I’m down 34 lbs (30 intentionally, the last 4 dropped in a week from anxiety). 2019 will be about finding joy. 2019 will be about being healthy, physically and mentally. Diet, exercise, and great self-care in the form of meditation, yoga, tai chi, Muay Thai, more reading, and massage will be significant assets to my wellbeing. I am stronger than my anxiety!
If you have any tips or tricks you use to manage your anxiety, I would love for you to comment.
XOXO ~ Kara