A few weeks ago, a friend asked me how I manage my anxiety and depression. She had recently started having minor panic attacks and was curious how I worked through mine. During the conversation, which included Moscato (obvs), we also talked about how my year went after I confessed earlier in 2017 that I was regularly seeing a therapist and working through what felt like a literal shit-load of stuff. I only brought up a few ways I’ve learned to cope with anxiety and depression, mainly because it was our annual Ladies White Elephant Gift Exchange, and I didn’t want to damper the mood too much*, so I thought this post would be an opportunity to share what I do when I find myself in a scary place.
As stated above, I’ve been seeing a therapist for a little over 2 years, and that has been the absolute, number one best gift I have given myself. Energy-centered, with a beautiful office located in a historic hotel, my therapist provides the non-biased support and ultimate safe-zone when I’m feeling, well, anything. With this constant mental and emotional series of “workouts”, I find myself being able to differentiate between bouts of depression and panic attacks.
For me, panic attacks mean not being able to breathe well, muscles tightening and the inability to do anything but basic tasks (cleaning the house, showering, watching mindless television…). And the weird, and still frightening thing about my panic attacks is that they can come out of NOWHERE. Sometimes, I’ve had a stressful day and these symptoms pop up. Other days, everything has been going swimmingly, and then suddenly, BAM!…I can’t breathe and I think I’m going to die. When this happens. I have my go-to’s; the things that bring a sense of safety to my chaos.
1) When a panic attack occurs, I don’t want to be alone, which is difficult because I work in a relatively professional environment and don’t want to cause a scene. But thankfully, a group of coworkers have a small office space that they share, and, since we all get along pretty well, if I’m having a panic attack, I ask to sit in their space and work on easy tasks for a little while. They are incredibly understanding and no one else knows whats going on because I’m still working.
2) I keep a few healthy snacks at work (dark chocolate, peanut butter, CHEESE!) and stop for 5-10 minutes to make a snack and listen to a comedy bit on my phone.
3) I immediately stop drinking caffeine (if I’m doing so prior to a panic attack) and chug a bunch of water or my favorite tea.
4) I mentioned only being able to handle simple tasks, so if panic attacks happen at work, I work on anything to do with numbers, data and list-making – it’s easier and I don’t have to worry about how I’m responding to emails, calls, etc. or how I’m presenting myself to the general public.
1) Home is a bit different, because I live with my family. Therefore, I’m rarely alone, which is quite wonderful and makes me feel incredibly safe*.
2) Along with healthy snacks and H2O, I make sure that I’m wearing comfortable clothing that keeps me warm. I take off all my makeup and put on clean, fuzzy socks. It’s such a basic action, but calms me down nonetheless. Same with putting my hair in a massive bun, keeping all hairs away from my face. I’m compulsive, and having these things be part of my choices, I feel the chaos a bit less.
3) BRITISH PANEL SHOWS ON YOUTUBE. Honestly, British panel shows have been my lifesaver over the past few years and I’ve discovered some amazing comedic talent because of it. I stumbled upon 8 Out of Cats Does Countdown one night and was down the rabbit hole within days. But not in a Netflix-binge kind of way. I was fascinated with the new (to me) comedians, show formats and how these shows made me feel, as I was laughing out loud (literal lol’ing) at my computer. I felt happier, lighter, more free. For me, it’s: 8 Out of Cats Does Countdown, Mock the Week, Would I Lie to You, Nevermind the Buzzcocks, Shooting Stars (the BEST, you MUST look up the brilliant-ness of Reeves and Mortimer), and Chatty Man with Alan Carr. Basically anything that makes you feel good, and happy.
Speaking of happy (and sad), let’s talk depression.
Depression is such a different animal and I’m not sure I’m entirely qualified, even when talking about myself, on how to deal with/battle/face it. I do know that, for me, it’s important to acknowledge that it is happening. To know that I am in the depression storm, but it will pass. It. Will. Pass. I also workout more often than I used to. I try to stay at the gym for at least 10 minutes if I’m feeling depressed. Because, if I can do 10 minutes, then I can do 10 more. Both Kimmy Schmidt and my personal trainer say you can do anything for 10 seconds, so I’m always going to try. 10 seconds becomes 10 minutes and, when the depression dragon attacks, I know that, if I can just make it through 10 minutes, then I can MAKE IT THROUGH anything.
As we roll into the New Year, I’ll have a little more fun with posts and be bit more playful/lighthearted, but I’ll continue to write about how I feel, always. My mind is my palace and, since I’m with myself 24/7, I care deeply about my emotions and overall well-being. Even with a massive support crew, I am the only one who knows what I’m dealing with, and I always hope that, by sharing my story, I may be helping someone else understand and feel more comfortable with theirs.
Here’s to 2018. Stay safe, eat dark chocolate, and know that I’m here for you.
*Please note: My friends couldn’t have cared less if I went on about the topic. But someone got a set of cock-themed corkscrews, so there was fun to be had.
*Thankfully, my relationship with my parents is amazing, and I trust them wholeheartedly.