Today I live a life that I love. But most of my childhood was marked by severe panic attacks, depression, OCD, and PTSD. I’ve had more panic attacks in eighteen years than you’d imagine — over 400. I don’t feel upset that I’ve suffered from so many anxiety attacks. I actually rejoice in gratitude because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
When I was 13, I was told, “You are never going to college. You are going to live at home for the rest of your life.” Most would be horrified at hearing that, and though I was, I thought, “I'm not going to let that happen.” That was said to me five years ago and I have yet to let any of those words stop me.
I came to the conclusion that I was the only person that could help myself. My parents couldn’t take away my anxiety nor could friends. It was clear that if I wanted to enjoy my life, I was going to have to take charge.
So I got a little crazy — kale crazy that is! I started drinking greens. I’d bring spirulina drinks to classes with me. My teeth would often be stained green, but I thought it was cool. I openly shared with people what I was going through. I no longer felt like I had to keep my anxiety a secret and I made deeper connections with those around me.
Mindfulness became my saving grace as it allowed for me to see I had other thoughts I could choose — like positive thoughts. I learned to smile often instead of crying constantly as I had done in the past. I eliminated friendships that did not serve me. There was no room for negative thinkers, bullies, or unhealthy relationships. I realized it wasn’t one thing that helped me survive with anxiety — it was a combination of many different practices and lifestyles.
I believe an empowered life is a lot like a recipe. There’s not one ingredient, but many and they can be interchanged at anytime. This is my recipe.
1. Eat what’s right for your body.
I can’t eat gluten or dairy because it’s a trigger for my anxiety attacks. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Be mindful of how different foods make you feel. Staying away from processed foods and sugars are key, but after that get playful with your eats!
2. Show your body you care.
This includes healthy eating, but goes much more beyond that. Working out is giving my body the time to strengthen itself. Sleep is my gift of to myself to recharge. Self-care is not a random thing I do, but an everyday practice.
3. Eliminate what does not serve you.
This can be a negative thinking pattern or an unhealthy relationship. If it causes you pain, anxiety, or stress, let it go.
4. Be patient.
I still have panic attacks every once and awhile. Though this used to frustrate me, I decided to choose a more loving approach: patience. I recognize that it takes time to make shifts and I welcome the journey.
Find what makes you thrive and be open to trying all sorts of things! I recently have fallen in love with hot yoga as my workout and stress reliever. I resonate with a mindfulness practice over another meditation. I’ve discovered that ‘A Course In Miracles’ is the spiritual practice that jives best with who I am. But I didn’t find these things overnight. I went on an exploration.
This is my recipe for my life, it may not be yours. But it’s up to you to discover the recipe for the life you love.