One Year Ago.

One year ago, I began having panic attacks.

One year ago, I found the greatest therapist ever.

One year ago, I took my mental health into my own hands.

I’d always been that person who thrived on being really busy but could sometimes teeter into OMG stressed out and overwhelmed pretty easily.

Once I took my physical health into my own hands more than four years ago, my mental health improved from my healthier diet and steady exercise, but at one point last year, a healthy diet and running were no match for my anxiety, and I needed to figure out how to handle stress better.

I won’t say that I have it all figured out, and dealing with anxiety may well be something I deal with all my life, much like maintaining my weight loss,

Jordan wrote a wonderful post about anxiety the other day. About how our minds latch onto these worries and won’t let them go.

And oh lord, do I understand that. But I’ve also learned how to reframe my thoughts. And how to rationally think through those worst-case scenarios. And think about how 90% of the time, when I’m worried the worst is going to happen, the actual outcome is so much better than I ever built it up to be.

And to just move forward. Several weeks ago, I saw a post on the Buffer blog about the Seinfeld Strategy that talked about disconnecting from outcomes and focusing on the process instead. (Laura also recently wrote a post about that, and the awesome Leanne at Uplift just today wrote a post about how to get started.)

While I haven’t picked any “don’t break the chain” habits, I really like the idea of taking some of the power away from what gets my heart pumping with fear. Important email to write? Big project to start working on? Big scary workout on the calendar that if I don’t do well on might mean I don’t reach my race goal? Inbox full of emails that all need to be attended to immediately? Just get started. Just keep working through it.

I also write a lot more down on paper than I ever did. Often, just seeing my worries written out makes them a lot less scary and serious and helps me pinpoint what’s really worrying me, rather than that icky generalized panicky feeling.

And of course, as I’ve mentioned often in the past year, yoga and meditation have been completely invaluable in this fight.

The world isn’t slowing down any time soon, but I can slow down my mind, and that’s so important to me. I didn’t ask for panic attacks, but I took that hand I was dealt, and I’m stronger for it today. And I am very lucky to have an amazing support network of parents, friends, and oh yeah, you guys πŸ™‚

26 comments on “One Year Ago.

  1. Steph @ Steph's Miles

    I feel like I’m in anxiety mode all day, every day in the never-ending challenge to live a perfect life. I’m trying to get better at it and drop my shoulders once in awhile, but it’s a constant struggle! Here’s to all of us anxiety-ridden females out there trying to PR in the race of life!

    1. Theodora Post author

      PR in the race of life. I love that πŸ™‚

      And honestly, I find literally dropping my shoulders and letting my heart/chest open a bit helps.

  2. Kristi

    I have suffered from anxiety most of my life, but started getting panic attacks about 4 years ago. I struggled with anxiety and panic for 4 years, before deciding that I needed to get my health in order. I exercise daily. I quite coffee. I stopped eating meat. I quit alcohol. I have never felt better. It’s a struggle and at times I feel a panic attack set in, but with learning my breathing through yoga and knowing what my body is doing I just talk myself through it. It really is a learning process.

  3. Diane

    Great post, and I couldn’t agree more about taking your mental health into your own hands. To many of us are in ‘effect’ to the world, when we have the power to control how we respond to the things to happen to us πŸ™‚

  4. Meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles

    While I do not suffer from anxiety, I am convinced that technology and social media has played a huge role in increasing everyone’s anxiety levels. I have noticed even for myself that unplugging more and retraining myself to NOT use my personal facebook account has made my life much calmer, if that makes sense. With so much we have to be responsible for in our day to day lives, I just feel that we don’t NEED to know so much additional info that ends up weighing on us if we realize it or not…not sure if this helps at all but congrats on taking charge and how awesome to have found a fab therapist last year- that is a great and tough relationship to find! lol.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles: I think you’re so, so right about that. Working in social media and having a blog–and genuinely just loving social media–I find that kinda hard to do sometimes, but I have been just leaving my phone at home when I can lately. It’s very nice πŸ™‚

    2. Phil

      @Meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles: I completely agree with unplugging from social media and letting your thoughts flow organically and at a natural pace. I’ve recently created a favorites list in Facebook and added only those pages that I feel are essential reading. That way, I can scan through the important posts without feeling overwhelmed and, at the same time, not feel anxious about missing anything important. If I have time, I’ll then move on to some other pages that are interesting but not essential.

  5. Mom

    Well have I told you lately how proud of am of you?
    Maybe I have to confess how much of a worrier I am and maybe some of that rubbed off on you, which leads to anxiety, sorry about that, but I am working on it! Yes we will always be hear for you, just a short trip over or under the river and we will be there!!!!
    As Nana always said, Put the music on! Get out there and enjoy this Race for life, after all tomorrow is another day!

  6. Amanda @runtothefinish

    I hate that so many of us feel so stressed out… I think it’s our desire to achieve so much. A few years ago in Miami, I was hitting a low point with feeling sick and just feeling alone. I do know that the daily meditation and finding people to talk to helps a lot.

  7. Shawna

    Thanks for sharing this — so glad you’re feeling more empowered and on the foward-motion journey of learning to work through such a tough thing. One of the dearest people in my life struggles with anxiety too, and I’ve spent a lot of time praying for her and trying to be there for her this past year. It’s great that you have your running and yoga and other healthy activities to keep you fit and sound! πŸ™‚ I’m mid-Master’s program for therapy and we talk a lot about anxiety, so it’s awesome to hear girls share their struggles freely and talk about their journey to a better place. Hope things keep getting better for you as you put in all the hard work!

  8. Vicky

    You’re very wise to have enlisted help and actively taking action towards your own mental health, keep it up!
    Do you remember the movie “The Sandlot”? They were terrified of “The Beast”–to the point that he had earned legendary status. But when one kid came face to face with him? He stuck out his huge tongue and licked his whole face. All The Beast wanted to do was play ball with someone. I’ve found that’s not unusual with my worries–I make them so much bigger than they actually are!
    And I learned a great process several years ago–when I’d be afraid of something I’d ask “what’s the worst thing that could happen”. And when I said what that was, then I asked myself, “ok, if that happens what would I do about it?” Most of the time I have a ready and relatively simple solution. After I walked through the process several times, I realized that I could come up with a solution for all my ‘worst-case scenarios’ so my overall freaking out reduced!

  9. Katie

    Thank you so much for sharing about your mental health. I feel like we all have different things that help us cope. I have learned that I need to be busy and have activities in my life, or else I start funneling down. Of course I also have to have a few quite nights. I agree that writing things down on paper helps tremendously! Especially when I need to keep track of a lot of things at once.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Katie: See, for me, it’s such a delicate balance. When I was in my early 20s and had just started working, I found myself lonely and staying busy just for the sake of staying busy. Now I’m much much busier, with things that truly fulfill me, but sometimes I just REALLY REALLY need a quiet night. Or two.

  10. Mary

    Thanks for being so honest about this, Theodora. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with work/life, and it makes it worse that my coworkers and friends seem to be so “together.” I wish more people would talk about mental health issues openly.

    Lately, a mantra that helps me (that I made up and isn’t the most eloquent thing in the world) is: “the best cure for not wanting to do something is doing it.” It helps me shut off the anxious thoughts before they snowball and just get shit done. Weird, but it helps.

  11. Samantha @ 10,000 Squats

    Great post on anxiety! My sister is pretty bad with her anxiety so I understand. She ends up making herself sick with how worried she gets which can get pretty awful sometimes. She’s getting help for it which is good and so should anyone else who has any kind of anxiety issue. Talk to someone about it! That’s the best thing you can do. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Naomi

    Over the past two years I’ve been working with a therapist on managing my anxiety as well and as a result have also discovered meditation. What I’ve learned is that it is a continuous work in progress. One of the reasons I like reading your blog so much is because you are so open and honest on topics like this. I know many of us can relate.

    1. Theodora Post author

      Thanks <3 Sure, it's really hard to admit when I'm seriously struggling...but posting about it helps me to feel I'm not alone, and I know helps others feel that way too.

      Isn't meditation amazing? <-- something I never thought I'd say πŸ™‚

  13. Hallie Wilson (@coralsncognacs)

    Kudos to you for being so open and honest about this topic. Mental health MATTERS! I’m a very anxious-ridden person by nature, so I’m sitting here nodding, agreeing with everything you’ve said.

    Thanks for the dose of perspective this week. Hope we run into each other (ON PURPOSE) sooner rather than later, T!

    1. Theodora Post author

      Oh, girl! Given the crazy schedule I see on your blog, I can understand why! πŸ™‚

      I’m emailing you this afternoon and we are MAKING PLANS. xo

  14. Lindsay @ Lindsay Weighs In

    I love that you took your mental health in your own hands. Sometimes, it’s the hardest thing to do, but it’s always the best thing to do. I’m glad that you are finding ways to manage it. I think it’s something that I will battle with my whole life too. Always good to know we aren’t alone πŸ™‚


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