During my 30’s I had several life changing medical scares happen to myself and those very close to me, watched several people I love die, and was still (started in my 20’s) dealing with regularly occurring high levels of stress with a loved one who thankfully lived outside of my home.
For those who know me well, know that I am both a planner and a procrastinator. I procrastinate if I don’t think I can do it “right” ... which leads me to mention the need for perfectionism. I am my own worst critic and beat myself up with trying to not hurt others feelings or worrying about what may of hurt someone’s feelings after the fact. I wanted to Do. It. All. and do it “perfectly” no matter how much I knew in my head there is no such thing as real perfection... I wanted it to be close. So I tried hard. I left my teaching career and tried to be the best stay at home mom with play dates and keeping a house clean and tutoring and home and hospital teaching ... to keep a little part my love of teaching for myself and feel like my masters degree was not for nothing... while my husband worked full time, did side work to make up for the lost income, and went to 11 years of night school. We sacrificed time in our 20’s in hopes of better years in our 30’s. And the 30’s besides the health changes were better!
So back to the health... what I didn’t realize when I was trying to do do do all the time was that my mental health was secretly suffering. I started getting panic attacks. It took 5 years to sort through it all to realize that my triggers were actually the things that made me, well me... or at least I thought.
I had to re-evaluate me... let me say that again... I had to re-evaluate ME. And I realized the normal anxiety anyone can get that had turned into thought-overpowering full-body distraction panic attacks at any point in time while trying to keep composure was actually my minds way of saying, “Girl, you are enough. You just need to learn to say no. You need to learn to set boundaries. You need to leave time for your mind to absorb and pass through all the thoughts that goes through it.”
Some people have drive time where they can let their mind wander. Some people meditate. Some dance or use some other form of self expression to clear their mind. Whatever works for you, no matter how busy you think you are, you need to make that time for yourself, for your brain. There are no AP classes, sports awards, job requirements, or people that are more important than your own brain health. So I learned to say NO, put up some bigger boundaries to lower my stress and my family stress, and well, that is how I got my panic attacks to get back in check. I can’t say they are totally gone, because let’s face it, sometimes life is just hard. There are things that pop up and make it difficult to have time to process all the thoughts. But I can say they aren’t occurring on a regular basis anymore and if they do start up, I know my mind is trying to tell me, “Hey don’t forget about me I need time to ‘exercise’ too”. #mentalhealth