• BridgetVanbuhler

Opening Up About Anxiety

I am going to start of with saying that if you told me back in January of this year that I would own a Boutique that is actually up and going, a blog that people are actually opening up, & I am fully able to talk on an instagram story without being totally embarrassed... I’d look at you like you just found my Doppelgänger! There was absolutely no way in hell that I was or am capable of such things when my anxiety rules my entire life.

I can tell you the exact date of when my anxiety took over my life. It was September 22nd, 2018. Just three months after I had my second child. I was in Florida with my boyfriend and our 2 friends without any kids, enjoying the sunshine, and all that Disney had to offer.

We were driving in the car when I started not feeling very well, I had to pull over at an abandoned restaurant and got sick behind a garbage can. That’s when I first realized that something wasn’t right. Quickly then came on the feeling of not being able to breathe. I have NEVER felt this way, ever! I let it go for a little while but then thoughts of dying came rushing in my head like a broken dam. My kids were all I could think about, mommy is miles and miles away, not with them and she is going to die. I know, awful right?

I drove myself to the hospital in Orlando and checked myself in as urgent. I was explaining to them that I can not breathe, my hands were cramping up and I could not open them, my face tensed up and I looked like a girl on myspace back in 2008 with a stuck duck face.. I was more scared than I had ever been in my entire life. *Was super hesitant to post this photo, but I just want to be as real as I can*

Once I was in the room, no one was coming in. No one was checking my vitals, NOTHING. I looked at my boyfriend and told him you have to do something... I honestly think I am having a stroke or a heart attack. He ran out into the hallway and told someone to get the doctor for me. She finally came in with a smile on her face. OH MY GOD, that pissed me off right there. How could she be smiling when I am literally dying in an Orlando hospital bed.

I asked her what is going on with me and why is no one doing anything. I explained to her that I thought I was going through something serious. I shit you not, she looked at me and laughed and said “have you ever had anxiety before?” - I mean I have heard of it, felt it a tiny bit in crowed places or when I am scared but what I was feeling that day, no freaking way. She told me she believed that I was having a panic/anxiety attack. They gave me some medication to calm my “nerves” down and not even 30 minutes later I was back to being Bridget. I walked out of that hospital like nothing ever happened and went to an amusement park that evening.

Guys, anxiety and panic attacks are a funny, funny thing. I can not and will not ever claim to know what someone is going through with their own anxiety because I believe everyone’s is different, but for me, I can think I’m dying one hour and once its gone I back doing normal things in that same day. It is just plain wild to me.

I have “hyperventilation” anxiety. Not the kind where I am huffing and puffing in a brown paper bag but the kind where I think I am breathing normal but I am actually breathing a bit faster than I should be and I am not getting the right amount of oxygen into my body and it makes my face and hands cramp up. Super embarrassing, I know.

I went a whole year of sitting on my couch not leaving my house. Every time I stepped out my door I would have an attack and was back in the hospital for a measly hour until they gave me medication and I would be walking out again all embarrassed. Embarrassed to whatever family member I inconvenienced to come pick me up, embarrassed that I ran out of work and had an ambulance meet me at my house, embarrassed that my boyfriends parents had to come meet me on the side of the highway where I was sitting in an ambulance and needed one of them to drive my car home.

This is my all time favorite photo. My sons, first day of pre-school. This is the same day that I had an anxiety attack on the side of the expressway where I had to call my boyfriends parents. You can never truly know what someone is going through, especially in photos!

I really saw no light at the end of my tunnel. I was a mess, thought this was how the rest of my life was going to be. Talked to so many people and took meds. Those meds made me feel worse, zombie like and just far more of a non-functioning member of society. I stopped taking them and started to workout, take vitamins, stop doing things that triggered it and learned that I will not die from an attack. Now its all easier said that done. I still get attacks, in fact I had one last weekend but I have learned that this too shall pass. It’s not easy and I was still pretty close to going to an emergency room because I haven’t had one that bad in over a year.

There are things I do that help me :

  1. Limit my alcohol consumption- Honestly, a lot of my attacks have happened after a night out that involved some sort of alcohol. 1 glass of wine and I am in hangover mode for 2 days. I have learned that it stresses me out and puts me over the edge sometimes.

  2. Driving far places- This one is most likely only for me but it can’t hurt to share. I use to be able to drive hours upon hours. I actually drove myself straight through to Florida while 6 months pregnant with my son. But now a days if I drive more that 20 minutes I start getting anxious. It is SUPER inconvenient that I get that way while driving and it has stopped me from doing quite a lot of things but I know in my head that this will not last for ever (at least I hope).

  3. People- Surround yourself with people who understand what you are going through. It is really hard to be around someone who doesn’t get it or someone who doesn‘t at least try to get it. I have been around friends that didn’t seem to care and it would only make my situation worse because in my head I am thinking “ omg what if it happens here, while I am with them” and that thought alone will make it happen. It stresses you out, it TRIGGERS” it.

  4. Exercise- I can not stress this one enough. You need to get your blood pumping, your heart rate to go up with something other than anxiety. I fall in and out of exercising and I honestly can tell you that there is a total difference in the brain fog, anxiousness, and all around mental health when I am and am not working out. You have probably heard that one a lot and that is because its the truth & it helps!

  5. Smoking & Caffeine- I put these two in the same category because when I was a smoker, I couldn’t have one without the other. That amazing cup of coffee with a cigarette was the perfect start to any day... well boy was I wrong. These two alone can set the mood for your whole day. Yes, the instant gratification of both of these is amazing, but medical problems aside, they are both HORRIBLE FOR ANXIETY. I would be lying to you if I told you I cut caffeine out of my life... Let’s all laugh together on that one. Lol I wish. But I have cut it back. I drink one cup of coffee in the morning & that is it. I don‘t go for that refill, I don‘t grab the extra big cup and I don’t keep drinking it if I start to feel anxious. Now instead of starting my day off with a cig & coffee, I take my vitamin C, my multivitamin + Probiotic, and drink my lemon water with apple cider vinegar all before I drink my coffee. It’s just the little things that you must change in order to see a difference.

  6. Lavender- Now I have never noticed a direct or instant gratification of the effects of lavender and I don’t believe that it is even suppose to be a dramatic thing. More of a calm, soothing, help over time type of thing but I do use it all over my house. Literally everywhere. My body wash, hand soap, dish soap, all my cleaning products, air fresheners, candles, my night time tea I drink, my body lotion and spray! It’s everywhere in my house because why not? Not only does it smell good, but it has been a known scent to calm the anxious body. You don’t have to go overboard like me, I didn‘t just go to the store one day and buy everything lavender, I’ve just accumulated it over time. It can’t hurt to try it!

  7. Do what you need to do- I have learned what “resets my day” when I start getting anxious. It’s super hard for me to accomplish it but its a nap. A glorious, well needed nap. All I have to do is fall asleep or even just get into that stage right before you fall asleep where you start thinking of weird things that could never happen like traveling under water in a hot air balloon. I need either one of those for a minimum of 5 minutes. Not even kidding you, if I accomplish that, I am a whole different person. Like I said earlier, last weekend I had a stupid attack. Just came out of no where. I freaked out like normal for a good 20 minutes, tried running around the driveway, laying in the grass looking at the sky, nothing was working and I was in full blown “take me to the hospital” mode. Before I wanted to actually embarrass myself once again, I laid on the couch and closed my eyes and didn‘T open them for ANYTHING. After a while I fell into my little weird dream state. I heard my kids yelling and playing outside and I woke up. No more hyperventilating, no more tingling, no more thoughts of I am dying right this instant. It’s my reset button. Find yours and use it! Don’t be ashamed of it, this is your life. Before all of this took a turn for the worst, I use to only have to take a bubble bath for it to go away. Everyone is different and the level of need might be different too. Do what you need to do.

  8. Don’t stop working on yourself- In my experience I have learned that sometimes you will be good and sometimes you wont be. What I am talking about is for example, this year my anxiety has been down to a all time low because I have been working on it. I can drive more than usual, but I am always on the side of caution while doing it because I know it still can happen at any point. I don’t rule it out. I try to not drive far as much as possible. Even though I can now, I don’t ever stop working on my triggers until it becomes completely obsolete. It truly sucks having to focus on this kind of stuff instead of who the bachelor is going to pick or what the girls/guys are doing later today. It’s a struggle and for those who know what you are going through, they will always be aware, conscious and respectful of your triggers and that they are always a work in progress.

  9. Know that its okay to have bad days- Literally everyone on the face of this planet has bad days. Before I had anxiety attacks, I still had bad days. It’s human nature. Don’t beat yourself up or think you lost all progress because you had a bad day. You locked yourself in the bathroom and took a 2 hour shower while crying to the old Taylor Swift album... who cares. You couldn’t walk out your door today because your body felt defeated and just the thought of engaging in human interaction made you want to fall into a deep whole.... who cares. Let yourself have those days, because if you don’t, you will bottle up all these pent up, anxious emotions and it will EXPLODE on an episode that you can not contain anymore & trust me it will be in a place that is most inconvenient and uncomfortable to you rather than the safety of your own home. Let your body sink into the despair that it is craving. Let it get all those nasty emotions out while you in a place where you able to control it. Lay in bed and watch the whole season of Gossip Girl for the 3rd time or reorganize your living-room furniture or cook every recipe in that Pinterest folder. Do whatever it is that you need to do to help yourself get back to you. Once it is over and you got it all out, get back to work on that progress. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE BAD DAYS.

  10. You are worth it- Last but certainly not least, you are worth it. You are worth feeling “normal” again. And I say “normal” like that because there is no such thing as normal. You will never be the person you were before that anxiety came into your life. But the good news is that you will be a better person because of it. You will be stronger. You will be more caring. You will be more empathetic and you will be the new you. I use to complain to the people around me that I am no longer this bubbly, loud, spunky girl that I use to be and I miss the hell out of her. Through my mental health journey I realized that she was just a phase in my life. She was my “care-free” form of self. As much as I loved her energy and light, I wouldn‘t want her back. I have become a women who knows the importance of life and I have the responsibility of 2 other lives as well. I have become head strong, less naive & focused on what my future is going to look like. That other form of myself had no cares, no worries, and didn’t care for the feelings of others. I, now, feel every bit of pain and happiness for others and myself. Hell, I cried last Christmas over a parade because the amount of joy around me took over. I love that. I crave that. I never want to lose that. I am proud to be on the other side of my anxiety and I only hope to get better and better. You too are worth being on that other side. Don’t lose sight.

Today I am happy. Today I am able to leave my house and take my kids to a cider mill and have my boyfriend take a picture of me eating a donut. I am able to exist in this world, FINALLY. It’s been a long time coming & I am not out of the water yet, but it sure feels great to have my head above the water.

If you have stuck around this long and are still reading, thank you! I look forward to being more open about mental health and things that I learn as time goes on. I would love to hear things from you all, maybe it will give me some ideas as well! If anyone needs a listening ear I am always available, for I know what it is like to go through it all!

As always, I hope you have a wonderful day.

XO, Bridget.

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