Over the summer I noticed something about myself. I was having trouble sleeping, and being consumed with concern about things that I really hadn't previously. I have always been an anxious person. I will always need to check my route to a new place ahead of time, figure out the best route and time it will take - that's just me but this was different.
One example that sticks out is leaving my kids at an afternoon camp. It was in a community league so there was a ledge which during a party would be an open window for the bar, sticking out a bit from the wall. I sat at the door and actually pictured my son, who was bouncing a ball towards it, running into it and hurting himself very badly. Which didn't happen BUT the whole 2 hours I was gone, I couldn't get it out of my head. I kept thinking, I'm going to be half way across the city at a meeting and they are going to call me, but I won't get there fast enough. It's awful. Right now you're thinking, ya she's crazy. I get it, and I started to think maybe I was.
Small things like these, worries that probably wouldn't happen were keeping me up at night, making me cranky all day and keeping me from being the mom I wanted to be. I finally went to the doctor for my regular check up and mentioned how I was feeling. She asked me a few questions, suggested where I could go should I need someone to talk to asap but in the meantime she would put in for me to see an actual psychologist. I left wondering again, if this type of thing happens to other people so I talked to a few moms I know. People I trusted and they had either been through something similar or knew people who had. I felt better but didn't really know where to start while I waited for this apt.
In the meantime I had been offered the opportunity to take part in a media food & fitness challenge. The 21 day challenge from Fresh Fit foods included food, working out at World Health Edmonton and not drinking alcohol or coffee. Of course at the time, it hadn't dawned on me that my pot of coffee a day habit might be contributing to my anxiety, and because I wanted to fully honour the challenge I weaned myself off coffee completely over the 2 weeks prior. Then began eating regular, healthy meals, snacking and working out 3-5 times a week.
I can tell you this. I was looking for weight loss, maybe some toning, but I did not expect my parenting, my emotions to be affected by the challenge. Without the coffee to add to the anxiety, adding on the endorphin producing work-outs and quite frankly, I'm not going to lie, that hour to myself almost every day - it was life changing. I am absolutely certain the eating contributed as well because suddenly I was eating protein at every meal AND boat loads of fruits & veggies. I'm not a doctor, I'm no scientist but I tell you, for me personally - I changed.
After the 3 weeks was up, I finally had that psychologist apt. I went in and pretty much told him I had considered cancelling because I just felt a million times better. We talked about what I was doing and he said that would have been exactly what he would have suggested we try first before medication. He still says I am diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which someday may require medication, but for now he thinks what I am doing is managing it just fine. He said if I'm doing these things and see a decline in how I feel, that's when we need to worry.
I felt better, looked better and was a better mom but I knew I had to keep going. Plus I have been doing my best to keep with the food rules I learned, indulging once in a while, and I have a membership now so I can still try to keep up my work outs too. Do I still have anxiety sometimes? Absolutely! But when it's something completely outside of my control it doesn't consume me - I can breathe and put it aside, refocus myself. Do I sometimes still lose my cool on my kids? Heck ya I do, but not half as often. I still don't drink coffee either. I'll indulge in a hot chocolate or decaf skinny vanilla bean late but I will never drink more than one a day, I'll never get back to a pot a day.
I'm sharing this because maybe somewhere out there there is someone like me who doesn't know where to start to feel better. I didn't think exercise was an answer, or eating right, or even that coffee was a factor in my anxiety. And for some people perhaps none of this will work but it's still nice to know you're not alone.
***note: this post was not endorsed, sponsored or collaborated on with World Health or Fresh Fit Foods and is completely my opinion/expression of my experience.