It’s so important for me to speak out about my journey and be a voice of education for those who also can relate to the stigma what is mental health. It’s the push from people messaging me that gives me confidence to do just this and be honest so thank you to every single one of you following my journey and for caring in what I have to say. Hell I’m STILL dealing with this but I know I have a lot to give to the next person and a personal experience to share. I do have insight into my own mental health and I just feel like its my job to pay it forward.
Not a lot of people living with anxiety actually can differentiate the actual diagnosis in themselves, or may experience periods of anxiety but not actual live day to day with it. I had it for years growing up as a kid, always thought something was different about me. Why do I wake up at night? Why do I panic and have an elevated heart rate for no reason? Why do I act like this without having any control? What is wrong with me… Nothing was ever wrong with me. I believe anxiety to be the body’s physiological and emotional response to stress. There are numerous personal reasons for me having such a terrible way of dealing with stress, but knowing full well what triggers my anxiety was the first step in changing my head space and therefore dealing with it.
So lets be honest here. I still have my shitty, bed ridden, don’t wanna function kind of days. I still struggle daily with insomnia. I’m not perfect. I never claim to be in the best headspace 24/7. When conflict arises, self doubt occurs or an influx of stress… I lose touch with reality and become unreasonable and overwhelmed. In saying that… when I’m good, I’m great. Im so motivated and nothing can get in my way. I like to think this as the normal me. Driven. Positive. Happy.
I have become a lot better at tackling my issues in a mediated (not medicated) and reasonable way but sometimes I still become unreasonable and can’t function when I’m at a higher stress level. I am an ambitious person and I refuse to let my “brain” tell me otherwise. To those that don’t know me, I’m not a depressed dark dim negative person… I’ve just had my fair share of sh*t to deal with with poor coping mechanisms. If this sounds like you, keep reading. I hope I can help in some way.
CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Toxic mates? Toxic house hold? Toxic relationship? Remove yourself. It may seem inappropriate to say this given we can’t always just leave or choose our environments sometimes. It may also be dependent on age, financial status, family circumstances ect and thats reality. Its important to know you honestly can’t expect no matter how positive or vibrant you are, to grow within an environment that just wants to bring you down. My inner circle may be small but my closest friends are people I aspire to be like and they support me 120% in my dreams and ambitions. Yes sometimes its easier said than done, putting people or things from your life that you know have a negative contribution to your mental state is never easy. I sent myself into debt trying to build my life in a better environment and theres not one day that goes by that I regret it. You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT put a price on your mental health.
SAY GOODBYE TO MEDS
A lot of people have asked me, why don’t you just take medication?
Sorry but I don’t do bandaid approaches.
Mental health is a lot like chronic illness or disease, you can’t just take a pill and be done with it.
I am a full time Registered Nurse, but there is sure as hell no damn way I’ll ever be medicated for such a thing. Medication simply masks the SYMPTOMS of anxiety. Depression alike, there are also many drugs to mask the emotions experienced in a depressive state. None of these actually tackle the soul source of the issue. I have been there done that with psychologists but the best thing I did was reach out to positive people around me and throw myself into things I’m passionate about like fitness and health. Changing your attitude, drive your dark thoughts in a different direction when they surface. A lot of my thoughts are that feeling of not feeling good enough, which comes from my upbringing and unfortunately past relationships that made me feel that way. I don’t need reassurance from people now that i am good enough, I don’t starve for attention or reassurance. I simply believe that I am good enough because I have worked hard to get where I am mentally and physically and thats sh*t you cant fake. It has been much more beneficial for me supplementing vitamins to assist with symptoms of anxiety:
- Magnesium (especially before bed)
- Siberian ginseng (Nature’s Own)
- Cort RX (ATP)
- Vitamin D
There are a huge amount of changes I’ve made to my nutrition here and there that I believe have contributed to the reduction in symptoms of anxiety. There have been numerous links to anxiety and depression and poor nutrition having an impact. The body is amazing at informing you when somethings wrong, and ruling out any deficiencies in your nutrition and diet can be essential at eliminating anything ‘extra’ that could potentially accentuate or increase symptoms of anxiety.
Here’s a few things I have implemented:
- Limiting caffeine and stimulants (increases a raise in sympathetic nervous system)
- Regular blood tests (to ensure no deficiencies in vitamins ect)
- Reducing artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium seem to affect me the most)
- Aiming for 7-8 hours sleep
- Greens supplement (deficiency in micronutrients can also trigger a nervous system response) *Victory labs have a chocolate flavoured greens powder (discount code: Taliha-15 online)
What makes competition prep difficult sometimes is the heightening of stressors on the body can cause an onset of anxiety. A deficit of calories and excessive training amongst work commitments is hard for anyone, but anxiety on top of this another level of stress. I recommend to anyone interested in competing to consider this before prepping for a show.
CONTROL YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
Anxiety is like a drug. It washes over you, creating little voices in your head or responses or with your body that may feel like you’re not in control. How you RESPOND to anxiety determines the outcome of the stress. Yeah you can do any sort of self destructive kind of way to cope (mine was binging), but is that a productive way of coping? The truth is, you are in control of HOW you respond to the anxious thoughts and the physical feelings of stress. I’m a very routine person, so I drilled into myself whenever i would get anxious I would do something productive to my health to cope. Soon enough I found myself meal prepping when I got anxious, focusing on photography, deep breathing and numerous other ways of being productive in moments of absolute chaos in my own head. Understanding what anxiety is from a physiological perspective will help you gage what is happening to your body when experiencing the symptoms. This may even be enough to tell you, okay this isn’t me being irrational, this is my body responding to stress. Question why you are stressed? Gage when and how to calm yourself down. Have a plan in place, a routine you can fall back on to when you experience anxiety.
For myself, I do the basics:
- Breathing techniques
- Counting to 10
- Do something to assist my goals (meal prepping)
- Treat yourself but not with food (massage can be amazing at helping)
- Head to gym without a question (sometimes raising heart rate can make things worse but exerting myself or stretching at gym helps me tune into myself and relax)
Its all good and well for me to share what helps me, but anxiety is subjective and irrational. I hope you can read through this when you’re feeling shitty AF and know you’re not alone and theres something you can do to help. End of the day remember, you are in control of how you manage your emotions.
*Please seek medical advice before taking supplements for your health.*
Anxiety and depression resources: https://www.beyondblue.org.au