When I was a kid, I’d always get that nervous stomach feeling whenever I was trying something new or under pressure to perform or even just the night before a fun vacation. It got bad in 5th grade when I had a mean math teacher in the first period and felt sick to my stomach waiting on the bus each morning. By high school, I was that track athlete who physically threw up 5-10 minutes before every race (that might be 4 times in one day before each event) yet feeling high as a kite two steps after the gun went off. I was disguising it better by college but became a giant irritable stressed out bridezilla who didn’t eat anything but crackers for 48 hours during my first wedding. I somehow managed to jet set my pre-children years around the country for my corporate job in my mid-twenties. I would clench my jaw tight and try to meditate my way to calmness for the entire flight. By then, I had developed TMJ so bad I had constant massive headaches and soon found myself sitting in the office of a psychologist, convinced I had a brain tumor and was going to die. (And a husband who is now ex who had zero words to say to me to help me through it except, “I don’t get it.” But that’s a story for another Fire Wife Academy training).
What I experienced, my friends, is a classical diagnosis of anxiety. (And if you are exhibiting any crazy symptoms like those, we highly encourage you to seek professional help to get that anxiety under control!)
I am here to tell you that I no longer experience that kind of debilitating anxiety, and if you are anywhere on the anxiety spectrum it is totally possible for you as well. You can overcome the anxiety that would make you find excuses from participating in certain life events like roller coaster rides. I’m not going to go into the hows of that cure except to say that I did it without medication, which was very important for me. I truly wanted to get to the root of my broken thinking and fix it. And that’s essentially what I did through a combination of:
- Professional Counseling
- A small, professionally-led support group for those struggling with anxiety
- Massage therapy and aromatherapy
- An amazing women’s Bible study that first introduced me to Beth Moore (can I get a “Glory”?)
- Reading almost every self-help, positive thinking book under the sun
- Learning many mental and physical coping techniques through journaling, prayer and meditation
I still get nervous sometimes. Everyone does. It is very natural. But now it doesn’t run off in a whirlwind cycle of doomsday thinking leaving me paralyzed and stealing my joy.
Why do I share this? Because some of you may be looking at me speaking up on stage, shooting videos for all our fans here at FirefighterWife.com and spouting out all this hope and inspiration and think, “She’s really got it together.” I definitely have it more together than I did in my twenties (a statistically high season of life for mental health topics to raise their ugly heads by the way.) But I want you to know that I’ve been there. I’ve been paralyzed with worry and anxiety and too focused on the negative what-ifs. I don’t want anyone else to sit trapped in that pit any longer than necessary. It’s time to share this story and get you all back up on that mountain of positive thinking and confidence while leading a vibrant life.
If you question whether your concerns are more everyday worry or an anxiety disorder, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a very helpful chart to help you compare the differences between the two. More info can be found at http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety
|Worry about paying bills, landing a job, a romantic breakup, or other important life events||Constant and unsubstantiated worry that causes significant distress and interferes with daily life|
|Embarrassment or self-consciousness in an uncomfortable or awkward social situation||Avoiding social situations for fear of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated|
|A case of nerves or sweating before a big test, business presentation, stage performance, or other significant event||Seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and the preoccupation with the fear of having another one|
|Realistic fear of a dangerous object, place, or situation||Irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place, or situation that poses little or no threat of danger|
|Making sure that you are healthy and living in a safe hazard-free environment||Performing uncontrollable repetitive actions such as excessive cleaning or checking, or touching and arranging|
|Anxiety, sadness, or difficulty sleeping immediately after a traumatic event||Recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event that occurred several months or years before|
Reach out today if you’re feeling too anxious to deal with in a healthy way on your own. We all need to reach out sometimes.
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