Overcoming Worry

Just Like That: Relapsing 101

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This past August I opened up about my relapse into anxiety and panic attacks. I told the world in a seemingly simple Facebook post with a picture of myself smiling and a proclamation about being the best mother I can be to my children.

And though I am happy now to be on a new road to recovery, my post was anything but simple – and I want to take a moment to explain a few things about relapsing.

Before August, I had not taken a single pill for anxiety nor had a panic attack in roughly two years. That’s not to say I didn’t worry or have my bouts with anxious thoughts – but I had recovered. I was “well” enough to say “I’ve got this under control.”

After my son was born in July 2015, I almost immediately noticed a difference in my mental health. I was exhausted, I was outnumbered, I was stretched to my outermost limits. As I began to adapt to my new normal of two babies, traveling became much more difficult – as could be expected. But what I didn’t expect was the anxiety that came with it.

Most of my anxiety in the years before centered around traveling. Long trips worried me. Being in the car bothered me. Not knowing when the next bathroom stop would be could send me over the edge. I was diagnosed with a “nervous stomach” in high school, and over time it has proven to be highly irritable, so it has always been important for me to know that I will be able to relieve myself when I need to. Suddenly, with two kids and not enough hands, I found myself unable to concentrate on anything else other than my inability to make a quick stop if I ever needed to.

I distinctly remember two situations that summer that caused my anxiety to begin spiraling out of control. I harbored that fear for months, and in the end it kept me from even being able to drive to work unaffected – a drive I’ve made a hundred times without a care.

Crying and frantic, I began making calls to my doctor for an appointment. It was obvious that I was no longer able to say “I’ve got this under control.”

If you too are finding yourself in a situation where you can no longer say that your anxiety is under control, I encourage you to consider walking through these steps to recovering as I am:

  • Find a support network. Whether that means joining a group of like-minded people that meet weekly, or reaching out to friends who will encourage you – find someone. The hardest part of this journey is feeling like you’re doing it alone.
  • Establish your plan for the future. Think small at first. Convince yourself to inch toward whatever big goal you have in mind. Pat yourself on the back when you move forward!
  • Take steps to forgive your past, and dream of a new future. Relapsing is disappointing, I know. Struggling with something you never wished on yourself is upsetting, I know. Forgive yourself. Forgive your brain. Forgive whatever or whoever you believe set you up for the things that have disappointed you. You can’t move towards a brighter future while you harbor that negativity.
  • *If you desire your recovery to be faith-based, I encourage you to evaluate your relationship with Christ. That means, look at how often you spend time with Him: are you reading scripture? Do you pray during anxiety attacks? Do you ask Him for help, and praise Him when you notice yourself making progress? If you don’t know where to start, I encourage you to begin by reading Matthew 6:25-34, and pray over those verses.

 

Your friend in recovery,

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2 thoughts on “Just Like That: Relapsing 101

  1. Hello, my name’s Maria and I’m under the age of 18, and have been having recent troubles. I recently had what I would call a panic attack last month. Since then, I have had this idea stuck in my head. Anxiety. I had thought about it even before the panic attack, but recently due to many many troubles, it has been on my mind. I don’t think I’m overreacting. I’ve always known that I don’t handle hard situations very well, for example if a friend got mad at me, it is something I freak out about. I constantly worry about and never stop thinking about it. And I come to very negative conclusions. Things have been very hard recently, and I am going back to thinking of Anxiety. I want to know if I have it, but don’t know if I’m being rational or blowing my thoughts out of proportion. Do you have any advice? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Maria, thanks for stopping by and reading!

      Anxiety is a very broad issue, meaning it can show itself in various ways and not any two are alike. I don’t think you’re overreacting – if you find yourself dwelling on past issues and they are causing you stress, it does sound like they are making you anxious – thus, giving you anxiety. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you! You can be completely rational, and still have anxiety. Anxiety is just one way that some people handle difficult situations – me being one of them! My advice to you would be to find someone close to you that you can confide in. Find someone that you trust, and open up to them about what’s bothering you. If you fear that your anxiety is taking over, or if you ever feel like you can’t function like you used to because of it, I would recommend talking to your doctor about what would help.

      I haven’t updated my blog in a while, but I realize that for some of you it might be beneficial to continue reading about what methods have worked with other people struggling with anxiety. Try to stay positive, and whenever you feel like you might be having a panic attack remember to BREATHE! Take intentional deep breaths, and sometimes it helps to start moving around. Walk, shake your arms, squeeze your hands into a fist – all of these things have helped me! ❤

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