I beat my anxiety and panic attacks and so can you.
I want to share my story with you today with the hopes that you will avoid some of the many mistakes I made while working through my own anxiety. I went through hell and back and I hope that by telling others about how I overcame my anxiety, maybe it won’t be so bad for them.
Before I get into it let me summarize what I’ve learned. Anxiety is as much about what’s in your body as what’s in your head. You can overcome it, even the panic attacks. But you have to make a commitment. You have to know that you have the power to change. Once you take that first step, you can move forward toward healing.
Just when I thought life couldn’t get any harder…
It was about eight years ago when I had my first panic attack. I had always been an anxious, stressed out person but after my divorce, when it was just my daughter and me, it got as bad as it’s ever been. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and was always worried about something.
It was a sunny August evening and I was on my way to pick up my daughter (I won’t embarrass her by mentioning her name) from daycare after work. When I was only a few miles from the daycare house something came over me. My heart started racing, my chest felt tight, my hands felt tingly and almost numb. It was unlike anything I’d ever felt before and I thought I was having a heart attack or something very serious.
Luckily I pulled over without crashing. I crawled onto the grass at the size of the road, stared up at the blue sky and prepared to die. I just kept thinking, “what will happen to my daughter?”
The next few moments are a bit of a blur but some wonderful angel of a person stopped and called an ambulance and when I got to the hospital, the doctors quickly realized what had happened. My first panic attack. I was immediately stressed about having to pay for the ambulance ride, which sure didn’t help the situation.
There were other anxiety attacks, often coming out of nowhere. Over the next few years I saw many doctors trying to figure out how to fix problem. They put me on Paxil, Xanax, Lexapro and other SSRIs and Benzos. They told me I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. They said the meds would fix me. I wanted to be healthy if not for me, for my daughter’s sake.
When I look back on it now, I think those doctors all made things worse by putting me on all those meds.
Every time I got a new prescription, I believed it would be the answer. But it was crazy. The medications that seemed to “work” made me feel like a different person, sometimes even like some kind of zombie. I couldn’t accept being that zoned out, washed out person – not when I had a daughter to raise. Hell, if I couldn’t have a happy life, I was going to be darn sure she could.
But every time I went back to the doctor saying the meds weren’t working for me, they would put me on something else. Mix and match. Wean me off this to try that.
Then one day I had a revelation. I was on vacation, the one vacation I had taken in six years (my daughter stayed with her aunt). My therapist said I needed to take one – to get some “me” time. So I went as far away as I could think to go, India. While there I met a naturopath herbalist healer, Ashraf, who could tell just by looking at me what I was going through.
Ashraf invited me to have tea with him and tell me about my problems. I remember he really put things into perspective when he said, “Do you think the Native Americans needed Paxil for their Generalized Anxiety Disorder?” I laughed and agreed.
The mind and the body are linked, Ashraf told me, and if you take excellent care of your body, your mind will find peace. The next day he guided me through an intense but meditative yoga session, “to open and calm my mind.” Then he recommended some herbs to take. The big ones that the Ayurveda tradition recommends for anxiety were Ashwagandha root and Brahmi (also called bacopa), he said. I spent a few days under Ashraf’s care, drinking tea from his herbs and doing yoga. For the first time in decades, I felt at peace. I felt that old spark for life in my heart return to me. It made me almost giddy.
But all good things must come to an end, and I soon had to return home to the U.S.A. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I was back in “real” life I was back to being my stressed out person again. Old habits die hard. But I had learned something. Ashraf had given me a taste of true relaxation.
I became obsessed with curing my anxiety naturally
It was hard enough to find Ashwagandha and Brahmi. They don’t sell the stuff at CVS, after all. So I searched out a few local herbalists. Over the next few months I put together a list of all the best herbs, amino acids, vitamins and elements to take for anxiety. I also started doing yoga regularly.
I learned that the two biggest things in the brain that help support relaxation and calm are Serotonin and GABA, both important neurotransmitters. I learned about herbs like passion flower that calm the body and green tea that helps build GABA. Actually it’s a chemical called Theanine in green tea that builds GABA. And then there’s Tryptophan that works to build Serotonin.
So I started taking all of these along with magnesium and a full B Complex. B Vitamins help produce calming neurotransmitters and are critical to a healthy brain. I also took a good dose of pure GABA for good measure. I heard about St. John’s wort from one herbalist, but another advised me against it because I take birth control. Apparently St. John’s Wort is very dangerous if you take birth control. I don’t trust it at all.
After two months I felt like a new person
I had been taking my natural regimen and practicing yoga a few times a week and something started to change. I started to regain control of my mind. I started to feel that old lust for life again. Soon I realized that I had found the answer. There was only one problem. All those supplements were costing me a ridiculous amount of money every month.
So I did some more searching and finally I found something that brought it all together. I discovered a product called Tranquilene that had almost everything I was taking. I couldn’t believe my good luck. Just one of the 14 ingredients would cost $20 a bottle at the drug store and this stuff only cost $35 a bottle. I put it on a monthly subscription and now I get almost my entire regimen in one bottle. What’s great about it is that it doesn’t change my mood very much. It just makes be better able to handle what life sends my way.
Now with a combination of yoga, Tranquilene and a positive outlook I feel totally in control of my life again. Sure I still get a little stressed out – that will probably never change. But all these changes I’ve made have taken the edge off in a big way. Now I’ve been panic attack free for many months.