As you may know, I write from my perspective. The word depression and anxiety have been coming up among my peers as of late, so I figured I would write about my personal experience with it along with a few things that have helped me + a few things more things I found that might also help.
I had my first anxiety attack when I was 13. I tried running away and when I went back home to face my mother, I went into a hyperventilation fit. I just thought it was a one time thing, little did I know “anxiety” was even a thing. In my teenage years I suffered from depression as well. I didn’t know that was what I was going through, I knew I was sad very frequently, I didn’t want to be where I was, and I didn’t want to do anything. I would come home and go to sleep. I slept so much my mother always thought I was pregnant.
Fast forward a few years to college and my depression reached an all time high. The combination of being thrown into a new world (that I had been overly sheltered from) + series of misfortunate events (I was raped, was involved in an extremely unhealthy situationship, didn’t have housing, didn’t have money to eat most of the time, family dealings, deaths, etc) my grades suffered & so did I. I was heavily depressed. Mix in alcohol, marijuana, and sexual abuse……that left me very much suicidal. I thought about it all the time. Just putting myself out of my misery. No one really knew what was going on in my mind. Very few people knew what I was dealing with at all. There were so many rumors going on about me, I felt like people wouldn’t even have cared if I was gone. I didn’t want to tell my mother because she was going through her own personal problems. One day I was in my best friends room and I just went in the shower and cried for about an hour. I realized I had to leave school. To this day, very few know why I just up and left college like that. I knew I had to leave for my mental sanity. I had to get away from the people and things that reminded me of what happened, away from all of the negativity.
As far as anxiety goes, I had another major “fit” in college the night of my pageant (perfect timing right). I hyperventilated so much they took me to the hospital. Within the past 4 years I’ve had on average 2-3 anxiety attacks per year, some more major than others. Ive been in the hospital 3-4 due to anxiety (the last time I went to the hospital, my blood pressure was extremely low and I was very dehydrated). The first time I went to the hospital for an attack I kept telling them “my heart hurt”. They ran all kinds of tests, but there was nothing physically wrong with me. That’s when I realized what anxiety really was.
This year was a good year for me. I was depressed for the first few months this year (not as bad as I have been in the past) and I only had one anxiety attack, that I was able to get control of before it got really bad.
One thing that I have learned is that I am very much so an empath, meaning that I am “a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual”. I pick up on other people’s energy and such, I feel everything. I will discuss this in detail at a later date. But learning this made so much sense to me. My senses are naturally heightened and my feelings are overly magnified. My heart tends to “hurt” right before an attack & it hurts to breathe. This causes me to freak out and onsets hyperventilation which sometimes causes me to pass out.
I am not one to advocate for medication, unless it is absolutely needed. I do believe that the mind is a powerful thing and there are plenty of natural resources to use before ingesting manmade chemicals that block receptors in your brain. BUT there are a select few people that really do need prescription drugs to help them out. If you are weary about medicine as well, try these things out to see if they work for you, if not, by all means see a physician.
The first bit of advice that I would give to anyone who suffers from either depression or anxiety, or both like I do, I would say to know when your spiraling downward. I would know when I was going to have an anxiety attack. Depression kind of creeps up on me, but I would know when I was getting into a rut.
Second thing, which is EXTREMELY important, is TELL SOMEONE! It does not have to be a professional, but let someone know what you are going through. Please believe that someone will be there to love and help you. My friends have honestly been life savers for me. When I told them that I was depressed, they didn’t even know because I hid it so well from them. They helped me by encouraging me and also forcing me to not stay in bed all day. Sometimes they would come over and other times they would take me out. They supported me and definitely helped me on my roads to recovery.
Third thing that worked wonders for me, especially with my anxiety was yoga, but more importantly learning how to breathe and control my breathing. The physical aspect of yoga did help, but breathing is what kept me calm & helped me from going into a full blown fit. I always tell people that yoga saved my life.
Other natural remedies(A= for anxiety, D= for depression):
-[A, D] Working with essential oils. These oils are great at working directly with the brain. There are plenty of oils that can be used for anxiety/depression. You can use them by themselves (that is diluted in a carrier oil if you are applying topically) or my mixing them with other oils to inhale. Try bergamot, basil, clary sage, frankincense*, geranium, jasmine, lemon, lavender**, mandarin, marjoram, wild orange, palmarosa, sandalwood**, ylang ylang*, or roman chamomile. [the oils marked are the ones that I have personally used that have helped & I found has calming effects.
-[A, D] Sunlight. Get DIRECT sunlight. Sunlight naturally increases your serotonin levels. It is said that low serotonin levels = unhappy you! Ever wonder why you can’t be mad at the beach or on a tropical island, or why the people that live there are so damn happy all the time? You guessed it, SUNLIGHT. People who live in places that don’t have much sunlight are shown to have higher levels of depression/suicide. There are also ways to get light therapy that you can look into if sunlight is not readily available to you.
-[A, D] Drink herbal teas. Each plant has different effects on the body due to the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. The best teas, in my opinion are chamomile** and peppermint.
-[A, D] Diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, high protein, and healthy fats aka COCONUT OIL! (I believe that coconut oil is life and this gets added to the list). These things are said to enhance serotonin levels.
-[A, D] Decrease caffeine intake. Caffeine decreases serotonin levels.
-[A, D] Exercise. We all know that exercise is proven to enhance your mood. It is recommended that you exercise for at least 21 minutes a day. This said exercise can be going to the gym, walking, running, yoga, dance, etc. Get your blood flowing any which way you can and start sweating.
-[A] Conscious breathing/meditation. Take slow deep aware breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. This has greatly helped me when I started hyperventilating. It literally hurts and is hard the first few inhales, but it eventually gets me breathing right again. You can also do this before an attack hits. I like to chant when I am feeling stressed and wired out. I take a deep breath in and as I’m breathing out, I chant or hum “Om”. It brings me back and the sound calms me down while focusing on my breathing.
-[A] Warm up your body/get a massage. It is said to decrease tension and anxiety when you warm your body up. It can regulate your mood and also be associated with well being.
-[A] Essential oil bath/detox bath. There are plenty of different baths you can take. Adding apple cider vinegar, epsom or sea salt, baking soda, and essential oils can help relax you while drawing out toxins. (**WARNING: do not combine ACV + oils together, you will come out feeling sticky) First let me recommend that you are well hydrated before you take this bath. You want to have the water as warm as possible and your body as submerged as you can be. Stay in the baht for about 15-20 minutes. In the bath you should SWEAT. The salts help pull out the toxins through your sweat glands and the essential oils stimulate your brain simultaneously.
Another thing that works extremely well, at least in my case, is grounding or earthing along with non-attachment. Grounding is simply connecting with the earth on a physical level. Walk barefoot on the ground. The earth does hold electromagnetic energy + energy uncharacterized by science. This may bring about a sense of being, a comforting feeling. This is all connected with the root chakra. If your root chakra is not open & active, everything else will not operate properly. It is literally like building a house on a shaky foundation, eventually it will not stay up. Your root chakra allows you to feel secure & stable. Now with non-attachment, it is kind of just taking life as it comes with no fixed attachment to a specific outcome. You release expectations. You go with the ebb and flow of life without resistance. These two things helped me TREMENDOUSLY. With grounding, it started with an affirmation that I still repeat aloud to this day. The affirmation goes “I am safe and secure in the universe knowing that everything will be provided for me abundantly”. I kept saying it until something clicked in my head and I knew what that meant. Affirmations also help with getting your mind right and getting through anxiety and depression. You can make up your own. They can be simple like “I will be happy today” or “Depression and anxiety does not have a hold on me”. Write them down and repeat them. You saying/reading/hearing it will trigger your brain to start believing it. It is very true that there is power in the tongue/your words.
Things are going to happen in life whether we plan them or not. We technically have no control over what will happen in our life. Depression is dwelling on the past, stuck on the “coulda shoulda woulda’s” while anxiety is worrying about the future, focusing on all the “what ifs”. Learning how to let all of that go and succumb to the flow of life was one of the hardest things that I have had to work on personally, but it allows me to be FREE. Do not get me wrong, the thoughts & feelings still come visit me every now and again, but I put them in check. For depression, it helps me to know that everything happens for a reason, good AND bad. I may not see or overstand the purpose now, but I will eventually. (Going through every bad thing that I have went though in my life allows me to speak from experience and help other people heal) In regards to anxiety I tell myself that the future isn’t here yet and I have no energy to worry about it. I will deal with it when it gets here.
These are things that worked for me. I am no medical professional and by no means will everything that I have recommended work for you, but it is worth trying before going straight to prescription drugs.
Have you suffered from anxiety and/or depression? What worked for you?