This is part one of “How I Manage Anxiety Naturally”, a series I have been working on for a really long time and am very excited (and nervous) to finally share with you. With that said, I am not a doctor nor psychologist. I am only speaking from my personal experience and am not presenting this as medical advice. Please see my full disclaimer at the bottom of this post.
MY ANXIETY STORY
It took me 18 years and a university doctor’s recommendation to see a counselor to realize that I had been struggling with anxiety my whole life. When I finally got an answer about why I couldn’t hold down food, why I couldn’t control my thoughts, why I couldn’t sleep, and so many other things, I thought, “Oh, I’m just crazy.” And I dealt with it by self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, and a very toxic romantic relationship. Spoiler alert, this method only made everything worse.
Fast forward six years (2015) and several rock bottoms later, I finally came to terms with my illness and began a masters program in professional counseling (read more about that here) with the intentions of helping students transition to college. This was a pivotal moment in my anxiety journey because I was finally seeing a therapist regularly, I had an incredible supportive group of friends, and I was putting in the work to get better. I felt truly happy, my anxiety and panic attacks lessened, I cultivated meaningful relationships, and all felt right in the world.
Then, 2017 happened. 2017 was SUCH a big year for me. I graduated with my masters, started a new career, and married the love of my life. All of which are amazing things that I am so grateful for. However, it was all happening so fast and it was all so much at once. I began to get very overwhelmed and stopped doing the things I should have been to keep anxiety at bay. I got so wrapped up into living up to all my new responsibilities as an employee and a wife, that I started letting my anxiety get the best of me again. I completely spiraled and began to have panic attacks several times a week.
I was a mess. My frequent panic attacks had me in a constant state of worry that another one would strike. My family and friends were so worried about me. I was so worried about me, but I couldn’t make it stop. It all came to a head one morning while I was driving to work. That familiar twist in my gut and shortening of my breath began. I knew a full blown panic attack was coming. I took my seatbelt off (do not ever do this, ya’ll) to help me breathe and then, I wrecked so hard into a Dodge pick up truck that I flipped it over with my Chevy Cruze.
My car finally came to a stop. I can’t recall it at all, but the airbags deployed and kept me safe, despite my idiotic decision to take my seatbelt off. I pried my car door open to see the truck on it’s side. I couldn’t hear anything, but I’m fairly certain I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was so terrified that I had hurt, or worse- killed, the driver. I watched as some good samaritans got the driver out and, thank God, he didn’t have a scratch on him and was completely fine. A nice lady rushed over to me and called my husband. I was still in so much shock that I couldn’t speak. I was only shaking uncontrollably with intermittent dry heaving. My husband was there within minutes and as he held me, I looked at him and said “I have GOT to get this under control. I cannot live like this anymore. I could have killed someone.”
TO MEDICATE OR NOT TO MEDICATE?
After the accident, I went to the hospital to be checked out and was so lucky to only have some nasty bruises and one very minor cut. I took the next few days off of work and began researching things that could help me get my panic attacks under control. The wreck really shook me. I couldn’t let something like that happen again.
I was strongly considering going on anxiety medication, but had a lot of hesitation. I had been on it before and it did not work well for me at all. Plus, I have struggled with addiction so many times, I did not want to be chemically dependent on anything. (That’s not to say taking medication is wrong. It works really well for SO many people. I just personally did not enjoy my experience.)
FINDING A SOLUTION
Through my research, I came across some blog posts and personal testimonies about CBD oil. At first, I was a bit hesitant because I wasn’t entirely sure of the legalities and the effect it would have on me. After reading a ton more testimonies about how well it worked for anxiety, I decided to give it a go.
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is a non-psychoactive molecule found in marijuana. Not to be confused with THC, which is the well-known, mind-altering substance in marijuana that gets you ‘high’ and might give you the munchies. CBD is derived from hemp, is mostly devoid of THC, and completely legal nationally in the US. My favorite thing about CBD is that it is not addictive.
This article does such an amazing job of explaining how CBD helps with anxiety, so if you’re interested in the science, definitely check that out.
I took my first dose and could gradually feel my body becoming less tense for the first time in months. I felt truly relaxed, but completely in control of my mind. I felt normal again. I began taking it before bed during the week and it wasn’t long before my panic attacks completely subsided. I felt like I finally had my life back. It truly changed things for me and I am so grateful I found CBD oil. I don’t use it nightly like I used to, but on days that I feel anxiety creep up, I take it. Not being dependent on it is one of the biggest perks to me.
This was the first step I took to manage my anxiety. While it is not the only step I took, I felt this was really the catalyst into my healing. There will be several more parts in this series where I discuss the other methods I use to manage anxiety naturally. If any of this resonated with you, please feel free to reach out to me either in the comments below or on Instagram. I truly believe the more we talk about mental health and our own stories, the better we become.
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