For the first few weeks after Mara was born, I was honestly doing really well. As well as you can expect anyone to be after going through something like that. People had surrounded us with love and truly carried us through such a tough time. I felt so blessed. And so ready to move on to whatever was next for me. But “next” didn’t come as soon as I’d expected. After everything had died down I started to feel awful. Both mentally + physically. My brain felt foggy. I started having daily panic attacks. I would wake up panicking in the middle of the night, hardly able to go back to sleep. I was always achy. The thought of going out in public was too much, even with people I loved. I always felt scared, anxious, and on edge. I’ve dealt with anxiety for most of my teenage and adult life, but this was so different. I felt like I’d taken a hundred steps back. I wasn’t myself. I knew it. Juan knew it. Sometimes I felt like all I wanted to do was cry. Other times crying felt impossible. Like my emotions were stuck.
I went to see my doctor who reassured me that I had just gone through something major, both physically and emotionally and that my mind and body had every reason to be in a bit of a funk. First, she told me to be patient and gentle with myself. That this was going to take time and that was okay. And it was okay that I wasn’t okay! She gave me lots of advice and comfort and I felt determined to do everything I could to take care of myself mentally and physically. Did it go away in a day? Nope. A week? Absolutely not. Even a few months later I’m still not 100%, but things have gotten so so much better. I feel more myself than I have in a long time. Thanks to lots of prayer, time, patience, and hard work. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. Everyone has things in their life that are going to shake them up, that make getting back up feel absolutely impossible. I also know that anxiety isn’t uncommon, that it’s something real that people are dealing with every day. As always, I’ve had so much help along the path of healing and all I can ask is that I can be that help for someone on a similar path. Here are just a few things from a very big list of things that have helped me over the past few months.
|| GOING OUTSIDE || Even though I didn’t always want to go anywhere, I LOVED being outside. I’ve always been this week. Something about the sun and the sky and the trees, it just clears my mind and makes me feel alive. Even if it was just some yoga on the porch, or a walk around the block, I always felt energized and refreshed. It was so good for me mentally to walk around and notice the beautiful things. It helped clear my very muddled and overthinking mind and focused my attention outward.
|| PROJECTS || I’ve always been a project gal. When I get excited about something I literally cannot stop until it’s done. It’s the best therapy for me, to be able to pour myself into something, get my hands dirty and work on something I enjoy. One of my projects was to beautify our little back porch. I wanted someplace that I could go when the weather was nice, so I bought some porch furniture on OfferUp, sewed some pillows, planted a little garden and strung up some lights. I spent a lot of time out there reading, doing yoga, answering emails. It was the very best. And having my plants to water take of gave me a little sense of purpose every morning! I also found random things in my house to organize, crafts to try, new recipes…it all helped in the best way! Not only did it help me branch out and do something that I enjoyed, but it helped me feel productive, which is something I needed!|| GOOD PEOPLE + GOOD FOOD || When isn’t this the answer to life’s problems? There are few things I love more than spending time with the people I love, especially when there is food involved. When I was feeling low and didn’t want to go out, I could always count on my family to make me feel better. Whether it was chatting on the couch or over FaceTime, just getting my jumbled mess of thoughts out was all I needed. And most of the time we wouldn’t talk about anything of importance. We would just laugh and joke and be together. And it was perfect. And bless Juan for being there to listen to my rants and let me cry things out. I know it didn’t always make sense to him and I wasn’t always the best at communicating my feelings, but he always listened. Always made my feel important. I knowing I had that meant the world. And talking things out over pizza didn’t hurt!|| BIKE RIDES + EXERCISE || As much as I hate to admit it, exercise was at the top of the list when it came to my anxiety. When it came to everything actually. And even though I’d been told this would be the outcome hundreds of times, and even thought I’d experienced it benefits over and over, getting out of my bed and into the gym was still a struggle. I started by fixing up my rusty old bike. This ticked off so many boxes. It got my outside and out of the house, it got me moving, and it became a fun activity that Juan and I could do together. It even helped us save a little on gas and we would ride or bikes rather than drive to places close by. It quickly has become one of my very favorite things. I loved riding down by the canal in the mornings and seeing the hundreds of baby ducks, arriving just in time for spring. I could listen to my music and pick out all the beautiful things about our neighborhood. It was meditative and perfect. Bike riding motivated me to get moving, as did my husband. And every day that I went to the gym or did yoga or stretch was a day I felt clarity and life!
|| THE TEMPLE || While it may seem obvious, truly nothing brought me more peace than being inside the temple. I’ve always felt the temple to be a place where I can clear my find and refocus on the things that matter most. It was a place where I felt close to Mara. Where I felt the love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior. Where I reflected on the covenants and I had made and the best of feelings that I’d felt on the day Juan and I were sealed. When I was feeling so lost and broken, the temple brought perfect peace and hope for good things to come in the future. || ANXIETY WORKBOOK!!! || I cannot say enough good things about this workbook. If you are someone who struggles with anxiety and feel like you’ve truly tried everything, PLEASE go get this book. A while back my mom had given it to all the girls in our family, knowing that it was something we all tended to struggle with, even herself! She’d mentioned how beneficial it had been for her and I finally decided to give it a try. It’s a very easy read filled with so many good exercise and techniques in order to help you accept and deal with whatever level of anxiety you may be feeling. When I read it I almost want to yell, “YES! THAT IS ME! THEY KNOW!” I think in my experience with anxiety, one of the hardest parts is explaining what I’m feeling and feeling understood in those thoughts and fears. This book confirmed them all and then gave plans of action and release from those fears. It truly was a miracle and something that I still refer back to often! You can find it HERE!
Again, I have no idea who will read this, but if you do and you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression…YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And while it may never completely go away, you can learn to master it and use it to your benefit. Yes, this takes time and practice, but it’s worth the time and the effort. You deserve everything good and should spend the time taking care of yourself! I know what it’s like to feel trapped, broken, and hopeless. But DO NOT GIVE UP. KEEP GOING. We’ve got this. ❤