Struggles with Anxiety
by Kelly Evers
(Fort Myers, FL)
It has been almost 4 years since my battle with anxiety began. The first terrifying 6 weeks was the greatest obstacle of my life. It seems like a distant nightmare now, but the recovery has brought me to the point of gratitude. The endless possibilities of helping others, battle their war, is now my hope.
The most humbling step in my recovery, is exposing my imperfection to you. I believe that this step is the reason for my journey. I believe, by my story, I can help others recognize stressors, deal with them properly, and focus on a more positive healthy lifestyle.
I grew up in a loving supportive family, full of love and encouragement. I was given everything I needed as a child, and my parents were involved in all of my activities. I am the youngest of 3 siblings and the only girl. I had many friends in High school who I still keep in contact with today. I married a wonderful man and have two beautiful children. We live in a nice home and we have everything we need and the things that we want we eventually get, by hard work. My husband runs the family business and I am fortunate to stay home, to raise our children and take care of our household.
My life is close to perfect in most eyes and I still find it difficult to believe I developed an anxiety disorder. I think if this could happen to me it can happen to anyone. Looking back, I believe my biggest contributor to my anxiety is, not taking care of myself. I was so busy taking care of everyone else that I did not take the time for myself.
It all began around Easter a few years back. Driving home from a family celebration, I had chest pains. The pains were intense and all I could focus on, was my family history with heart disease. My father had his first heart attack in his early 40’s. When we arrived home I immediately went to the internet to diagnose my symptoms. Panic started in. The more I read about my symptoms the worst they got. Other symptoms suddenly began as well. I sat up until 3 am before driving myself to the emergency room. The doctor ran a few tests and sent me home with a prescription for anxiety and instructions to take over the counter heartburn medicine. How dare him dismiss me so easily? I felt I was in my last days of life & I was wasting his time. The next day I followed up with my family doctor who dismissed my heart diagnosis as well & sent me for tests to check for digestive issues. He gave me a script to make my stomach digest food faster. I was on this medicine for about a month until other symptoms began to happen. Since the doctors would not help me, I was determined to figure out what was going on with my health. I was on the internet researching the symptoms day and night. When I was unable to be at the computer I was reading medical books. This consumed every moment and I was losing my life.
Sleeping and eating was no longer a necessity. I complained of so many ailments that no one took me serious. I became very angry and no one would listen. While researching, I decided to look up side effects of the medicine that helped digest food quicker. I read an article that patients became mentally unstable after taking this medicine. I felt like I was going crazy and now I had a reason why. I must be crazy and there is no hope for me.
The next few weeks was a complete nightmare, and I never slept. I was up all night pacing the house waiting for death. As soon as daylight came I was on the phone calling doctors begging for something to make me sleep. I was a zombie who just did the bare minimum to take care of the children.
Eventually, the panic turned into a state of hopelessness. I laid in bed, never wanting to get out. My mind racing with panic. When I did get up, my body was so exhausted by the fear I could barely stand up straight. This is when I called my mother. I needed someone to take care of my children while I tried to either; find recovery, or go check myself into a mental institution.
A few days after my mother arrived I realized that I was dealing with depression from panic and fear. She saw a side of me that had never been seen, including by myself. I was in a constant state of panic. My breathing was shallow, my thoughts were rapid, and my tension levels were so high all my extremities were falling asleep, including my head. The tingling sensation was always present. My body was becoming numb and my health was fading.
I feared leaving my bedroom and I began to wonder if this is how people felt just before they committed suicide. I knew this was not an option for me, but death would be easier.
I finally realized that I needed professional help. I just did not know where to turn. My family doctor gave me a prescription and I desperately wanted it to work. It did not. My panic was much worse. He sent me to see a psychologist, but I still was in a panic. We tried another prescription that seemed to work for about 3 weeks but the panic came back. Finally, she recommended that I go see a psychiatrist. I needed the right medication and a general doctor nor a psychologist are experts on medically treating this condition. I am not a person who takes medication easily and this was a whole other panic with inside itself, but I needed to get better. I was willing to try anything.
For me this was my turning point. With the tools my psychologist gave me and the medication my psychiatrist prescribed me, I was on the right path of becoming me again.
I used all kinds of techniques to get back to normalcy. I studied meditation, yoga, and for once in my life, I focused on myself. I gave myself the time I deserved. Even though life is extremely busy, I had to find time to quiet my mind, focus on what is most important to me, and relax the tension built up in my body. During my recovery I placed small sticker reminders where stress was highest. Even if I did not feel stressed, I would go through the steps of relaxation. In result positive outlook surpassed anger & fear. I started a company that did just this. Stress Release Reminders is now my hope to help others recognize stress and deal with it properly.
In today’s world, we always on the go. We forget to quiet our minds or believe we do not have the time. I have found that we can achieve the serenity our mind and body deserve in a short clear moment. By allowing oxygen in to think more clearly and relax the nervous system. Next, we need to focus on “what is most important to us”. This will keep us on track of our goals and achievements. Last, we need to relax the tension we hold so tightly. This is vital to our health. Holding tension leads to so many physical complications including; heart disease, bone disorders, and so many more.
Calming, clearing, and relaxing our minds and body many times a day is important to our health. There are many different resources to teach us how to relieve stress, but nothing that will remind us so often to do so.
Now, I take care of myself first. I once thought it was selfish, but realize now, good health physically and mentally make me a better wife, daughter, and most importantly mother.
I am excited for what my future brings. I am grateful for all I have. I hope that my story along with my decals can help others from falling victim to stress and anxiety.