Coping with Anxiety and Depression

Yesterday, I went to the dentist to replace some old fillings. No big deal — except that it was. I got in the chair and the dental assistant put the nitrous mask over my nose. I started to feel intense anxiety. I think it reminded me of my ECT treatments, which give me a ton of anxiety. I grabbed the mask off my nose and tried to calm down but I had lost control. My heart was pounding and I started to shake. I lay back down and the dentist started to numb my mouth but as soon as he put instruments in my mouth, I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was in danger, as silly as that sounds. By then, it was decided I would come back another day and I left with my numb mouth and all.

I am prone to panic attacks, so I have a lot of coping mechanisms I use – not just for acute incidences like at the dentist but also for times I can’t go to therapy every week and now for a pandemic!

It’s hard to distract yourself when you’re in the throes of an attack or in a depressive episode, and I’m not perfect. For almost every healthy coping skill I have on file, I also have an unhealthy one. When I don’t use the healthy mechanisms, I definitely pay the price emotionally, and even physically.

Here’s what works for me, whether I’m stressed or having an attack:

  • Practice deep breathing – When you do deep breathing exercises you increase the supply of oxygen to your brain and it stimulates the parasympathetic system, which promotes a state of calmness, according to Stress.org
  • Watch Friends bloopers on YouTube – This is one of my fave ways to relax because as soon as I start watching, I’m cracking up and my brain has managed to think about something else. I highly recommend laughing your stress and anxiety away
  • Sing my favorite songs – I sing a lot. The kids are constantly telling me to stop but it makes me feel good. It’s something that I do regularly to improve my mood but probably not something that can stop a panic attack in its tracks
  • Take VERY hot baths – I like to turn the heat up as much as possible to where the only thing I can feel is the hot water. It’s also therapeutic for me to have a good cry while the water is running
  • Write – Again, blogging really helps maintain my mood but it isn’t something I would be inclined to do when I’m panicking
  • Get a massage – This is my favorite thing to do to keep me de-stressed but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get one because of the coronavirus
  • Get under a weighted blanket – Healthline.com says the weighted blankets help ground your body by pushing it downwards and has a deeply calming effect. The blankets also stimulate deep pressure touch, a type of therapy that uses hands-on pressure to reduce chronic stress and high levels of anxiety
  • Sew – I really have to concentrate to sew, so I tend to leave my troubles behind while working on a project
  • Read – Reading is awesome and you can get lost in a completely different world
  • Pray – It helps me to pray, especially when I’m feeling completely out of control
  • Go to therapy – This probably should go at the top of this list. Talking to my therapist helps me sort my thoughts and she provides practical solutions to some of my often-illogical behavior
  • Get my nails done or do them myself – My friend Meredith and I have a saying — “Everything is always better with painted nails.” Solid philosophy

Those aren’t all the coping skills I’ve employed but my favorite ones that have proven beneficial. Now, for the unhealthy mechanisms. I DO NOT recommend you try to deal with panic, stress, anxiety or depression with these but I know they are very common. While I aspire to nix those from my list some day, I understand that it’s hard to break these habits and behaviors.

  • Overeat or binge on healthy foods – Depending on the situation, I purposely overeat until I’m uncomfortable or in pain. More rarely, I binge on unhealthy foods like candy and LOTS of carbs. I do love my carbs but I had gastric sleeve surgery last year, so it’s REALLY not in my best interest to eat them. (If you have unhealthy eating habits, check out my cousin’s Facebook page. She’s a licensed nutritionist and has great ideas about intuitive eating)
  • Compulsively shop – Sometimes, I just feel the need to shop. It’s fine if I need something and need to buy it for the house or kids, but I’ve had times where I’ll spend hundreds of dollars on stuff we don’t necessarily need. And it makes me feel terribly guilty. That’s the thing with unhealthy coping skills, they only feel good for a little while
  • Blow off appointments – When I’m dealing with a lot I feel like I need to retreat into my home and be alone, which is fine some of the time but at other times, I really need to go to therapy or my doctor. There have even been times I blow off the not-so-important appointments like getting my hair done or a massage appointment but I’m still being inconsiderate but not going and wasting others’ time. I feel guilty about this, as well
  • Abuse my medications – I don’t do this anymore but there was a time that I would take too many of my anxiety pills because I just didn’t want to feel, well…anything. I would also take too many pain pills, pushing the limits of what was safe. This is a serious problem, and for some people, it’s a deadly problem. If you abuse your medication and need help stopping, please contact your doctor

Having depression and anxiety is hard. They both can take over almost every aspect of your life and make it even harder. While I implore you to find coping mechanisms that work for you, I think I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention that things such as talk therapy, medication and a good doctor can drastically improve your life. Sometimes we need to arm ourselves with more than coping skills, and that’s OK. Whatever your plight, I hope you find peace with it and thrive.

If you are suicidal, please call the Suicidal Lifeline Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org to use the chat function. Stay in the light.

 

Crash and Burn

Y’all. I have lost my damn mind. I stopped fasting. I stopped eating healthily. And I’ve been drinking at least one Diet Coke a day. The struggle is real.

I don’t even want to get on the scale because it would probably depress me even more but I’m guessing I’m around 179 again. I would say I’m surprised about this whole thing but I’m not. It usually happens when I change my diet and start weaning off Diet Coke but guess what? I’m going to turn it around and get back to where I was. I’m not going to be a quitter. I mean, I was a quitter for a couple of weeks, but that’s ok.

I still haven’t bought any Diet Coke for the house. I’m still buying healthy groceries. I just need to buckle down and back off the carbs, mainly macaroni and cheese. Delicious macaroni and cheese. And bread. Mmm, bread.

On another note, I haven’t been feeling well since I had that stomach bug at the lake house during the week before Memorial Day. I even went to the ER for fluids and to draw labs because I was sure I was low on iron or potassium or something. Turns out I wasn’t but when I went to see my primary care doc, he checked my thyroid and my thyroid numbers were low, so I got bumped up to the next dosage – 150 mcg. I haven’t noticed a huge difference, but it hasn’t been that long.

So anyway, I’m going to try and stop my shenanigans today but who am I kidding – it’ll probably be Monday. Or tomorrow. I’ll shoot for tomorrow.

Stay well, my friends.

Nutshell

The fam and I are out of town, so this will be quick.

We decided to go to the family lake house before summer camp starts and we’ve had a really good time. Hanging with the cousins. Swimming. Playing corn hole. BBQing. Then a stomach bug hit and that hasn’t been so fun. I haven’t caught it yet – about half the family has been struck down.

Speaking of stomachs, I did not lose any weight this past week. I have no idea why. I’ve been eating well and drinking more than 2 liters of water every day. I don’t think it’ll be hard this coming week because my parents eat healthily, but who knows.

I’m still 179, starting weight 187. I’ll take it.

Maybe if I get the stomach bug I’ll have a little help. Only kidding. My mom and SIL are in total misery.

That’s all for now. Stay well, friends.

Also, I’m writing this one my phone, so if the format looks crazy that’s why.

Week 2 Fasting: I’ll Take It

Week 2 
Starting Weight: 187
Current Weight: 179

So, I lost 2lbs this week, which is great, but after last week’s 6 I was expecting more. But 2lbs gets me out of the 180s and I’m grateful for that. It means I’m that much closer to my goal weight in the 160s. I sound obsessed with the scale but I know when my clothes fit the best based on my weight. Plus, I’m obsessed with the scale. Which you shouldn’t be by the way – you should have non-scale goals, too.

As far as the Intermittent Fasting (IF), I did go most days without eating past 2 p.m. but this was a crazy week with end of the school year parties and Teachers’ Appreciation Week, so I had to eat dinner a couple nights. I still ate healthily.

I’m VERY happy to announce that I had NO Diet Coke this week. Not one sip. Last week I had a few sips here and there – nothing close to a whole can. Now I can say I went the whole week. I’m so proud of myself. I’ve been drinking Diet Coke for almost 20 years (yes, I’m old) and for the past 10 years my doctor has been begging me to stop*. He will give me a gold star for sure. Right after he jams my B12 shot into my arm.

Speaking being B12 deficient, my depression has been better since I started fasting and losing weight. I don’t know if it’s my diet or the ketamine infusions I’ve been getting – I received one three weeks ago and one last week. Even though sometimes anxiety and depression start biting at my ankles it’s not enough to bring me down. This allows me to keep eating healthy, drink water, make healthy decisions for myself and not sabotage my progress. My depression would not allow any of this to happen.

Getting back to the subject, I know I can’t lose 6lbs every week, like the first week – it’s unrealistic – so I know I need to exercise to speed up my weight loss. (As I’m writing this, I’m saying to myself 2lbs is good and I need to chill.) But exercise is good anyway. I’m still too nervous to go to the gym, I don’t know why, so I’m going to try my husband’s stationary bike. I hope after a few days I’ll get bored enough to go back to the gym to my favorite treadmill and eventually lift weights again. Maybe I’ll just woman up and go to the gym, lol.

This week I will be positive and continue doing IF as best I can. What healthy decisions are you making this week, friends?

 

*Diet soda has links to weight gain and metabolic syndrome, which can make diabetes worse or increase the risk of it developing. Some sweeteners in diet soda even cause insulin spikes in the blood which worsens insulin sensitivity over time and can eventually raise blood sugar levels, according to MedicalNewsToday.com

Week 1 Fasting: 6 lbs

Well, I did it – I made it through Week 1 of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and I survived. Not only did I survive but I lost 6 pounds. And to be honest, I didn’t even fast the last couple of days of the week.

Six pounds sounds like a lot but I completely changed the way I ate. I was literally eating McDonalds for breakfast, Whataburger for lunch and ordering out for dinner every day before this. It was probably a real shock to my system when I started fasting. Plus, I stopped drinking Diet Coke (this article tells you why it’s bad). I had a few sips here and there but I regretted it at once – it didn’t taste good at all. I switched to water and tea. I drink a ton of water, I’m not bloated and I feel better. My depression is also a little better but it’s still hard to do some things and I’m still fatigued.

However, I still feel really uncomfortable in my body. My back is still hurting – I’m guessing from the extra weight I put on and I don’t feel like I look any different. I am glad that I lost so much in one week, it is encouraging but still.

Again, let me go over what exactly I’m doing. I’m doing 16:8, which means I fast for 16 hours out of the day and eat for 8 hours. My plan suggests I start eating between 6 – 8 a.m. I usually eat breakfast at 7:30 and I have to get two more meals in before 2 p.m. That’s my cutoff window. I drink water or tea for the rest of the day. If I’m too hungry, I can have a low-carb snack before bed.

Now, I followed this for several days, then began to eat dinner (plus my other three meals during the day) sometimes when I wasn’t even hungry. Mental block. But this week I plan on following the plan exactly as written.

I think my biggest challenges coming up are going to the movies with my friends – it’s the Alamo Drafthouse where they serve food and I always order a pizza. Also, after school lets out, we’re visiting my parents at their lake house in Mabank and it’s really going to be hard cutting my meals off at 2, because my dad cooks delicious dinners. I have heard of people switching their meal windows from noon to 8 p.m. but I’m kinda scared to do that. Anyone ever do that and lost weight?

Anyway, here’s my picture from last week on the left and this week on the right for comparison. I don’t know if you can see changes but wanted to post. Note: I am wearing a different bra, so that doesn’t count.

I’ll update you again next week. Thanks for the support.



 

Body Back

Today is the first day I’m doing Body Back, a Fit4Mom HIIT class that is intense, hard and invigorating once you’re finished. It really transforms you – physically and mentally. I’ve done Body Back before and I lost 6inches and 9 pounds. It’s no joke. But I’m scared to go today. I’ve gotten so use to my unhealthy lifestyle that I’ve been really comfortable and I know I’m about to be VERY uncomfortable. I need that. I need to get uncomfortable and start living a healthy lifestyle. No more overeating, downing Diet Coke every hour and being sedentary, My husband has lost 70 pounds and I’ve gained almost 10. More importantly, I need to show my kids how to be healthy and I need to be around to watch them grow up and be there for my husband.

I’m also scared because this session will be different than any of the other sessions and I hate change, lol. You see how badly I need to do this.

When I made a list of hard things I’ve ever done (to prove to myself how strong and mentally tough I am) Body Back was definitely on the list. You’re not just working out, you’re pushing through mental blocks and challenging your body to go harder, faster, better, stronger. Once you get through the class though, you get about 15 minutes to meditate and reflect on what you’ve accomplished and it feels so good.

I just need to remember that I’ve done this before. I’ve run a 5K. I’ve given birth to two large babies. I’ve fought depression and suicidal thoughts for years and haven’t given up. I’ve done some hard things.

So I can do this, right? I guess I don’t really have a choice. I have to start living a healthy lifestyle.

So, here’s to burpees, squats and sweat.