Since I had basically a nervous breakdown all summer and went to my parents’ house to adjust to new meds, I’ve been trying some other non-meds things to help with my anxiety and panic. I’ve been calling it my “life reboot” wherein I fix all the unhealthy holes in my life that might be contributing to my declining mental health.
You too can reboot your life! Not that these changes are easy fixes or anything but they’re a start.
This was nearly impossible. Last April, a medical doctor advised me to cut back on my coffee intake and I laughed in his face. But turns out when your hearts already beating crazy fast and you have massive amounts of panic energy, consuming caffeine does not help the situation. I was only making my anxiety worse, and I was frighteningly addicted to coffee. If I missed a cup, I’d have headaches and nausea and other terrible withdrawal symptoms wherein I’d think I was sick and then realize I just hadn’t had my coffee fix. So once I realized this anxiety thing was only getting worse, I knew, sadly, I’d have to quit caffeine.
It sucked. At first, I slept a lot and missed the smell and feel and taste of drinking coffee. I felt gross and sick for the first few hours of the morning. (The Zoloft wasn’t helping there.) But ultimately, quitting caffeine has been super beneficial. I don’t get stomach cramps as much, my heart rate is slower, I’m eating more, and basically I feel ten times better without it.
I just had to replace coffee with something else that would wake me up. Hence:
Okay, bear with me here. Literally everyone and their great aunt told me I should do yoga for my anxiety and I always had the same thought, “I DON’T FREAKING HAVE TIME TO SIT AROUND AND BREATHE, YOU IDIOTS. DON’T YOU KNOW I AM ANXIOUS ABOUT WORK AND THE FUTURE.” My dad would mail me meditation tapes and I’d throw them away. Friends would offer to take me to their yoga studios and I always bailed last minute. I’d hear people talking about the benefits of yoga and I’d roll my eyes and dismiss them as hokey, fad-following weirdos. But after my lovely rock bottom last month, I did not have a choice. My parents were like, “You are trying yoga.” So I went.
Guys, this yoga thing is pretty good. Pretty, pretty good. Because of the lack of caffeine and the abundance of morning-sickness-esque side effects wrought by Zoloft, I needed something to get me out of bed in the AM. Though I always groan and cringe and don’t want to put on my yoga pants and go out, I always ALWAYS feel better after class. It’s crazy how much better I feel.
One of my teachers said something that’s been sticking to me. She said, “Just focus on getting to the mat.” Once you’re there, the bulk of your work is done. The hardest part is committing to going.
Having a Skincare Routine
I’ve found that when my skin feels good, I feel good. I used to sleep with my make up on and I never moisturized, then I would wonder why my skin felt like sandpaper and I’d break out if the wind blew the wrong way.
I started trying to find a skincare routine that worked for me. I used mint masks and beaded face washes. I went to a dermatologist and got a nice, prescription moisturizer that’s been working really well. I got make up remover wipes. Now, I wash my face with Cetaphil when I wake up and at night, I do some version of using my make up removing wipes, putting on my moisturizer, and applying a mint mask. Whatever works for you, just make sure you’re taking care of your skin. It’s good for you and it feels good.
I started taking vitamins too. I got one of those pill containers and filled it with Omega 3, Vitamins B, C, D and E, and Magnesium. I’m not sure exactly what they’re doing but they’re supposed to help with mental health. I take these vitamins every morning which I think is better than…not taking vitamins. Right?
I’ve become a little bit obsessed with natural toothpastes. When I was home, doing my usual insane research into everything, I found a bunch of conspiracy websites that said regular toothpaste is full of chemicals. (I know, I am crazy.) The more I read, the more I realized regular toothpaste can cause skin irritation, acne and sore gums. Not good if I’m trying to be insanely healthy. I looked into natural toothpastes and then I ordered four off the Internet and found one that looked interesting at an organic supermarket. Currently, I have five tubes of toothpaste in my cabinet, which is…weird. My friend Jamie was actually over my apartment when two packages arrived and I excitedly opened them to reveal toothpastes. The best one I’ve tried so far is the Jason’s Sea Fresh Toothpaste. It doesn’t taste gross and that’s important in a natural toothpaste.
I’m trying to be sober too. While I was home, I didn’t drink and when I came back to New York, I kept it going for five weeks. Then, I went to a boring party and in my boredom, had some wine. So now I’m drinking moderately again. I don’t have a problem with alcohol but I’m starting to think that just because there’s no detriment to me drinking doesn’t mean there’s any benefit to drinking. As a friend of mine put it about her drinking days, “It was just a waste of time.” Plus, if you’re trying to ease depression, drinking a depressant is probably a bad idea. (Even if you’re not a drunk crier like me.)
If I’m trying to reboot my life, this might include being sober. But that’s no fun, right? Right?!
By Gaby Dunn