How I Got Rid of My Anxiety (and You Can, Too!)

14th March 2017

Did you know it’s Autoimmune Disease Awareness month? As tribute to this event and my own struggles, I want to highlight a few key facts and subjects over the remainder of the month.
We’re going to start with a whopper: ANXIETY.
I’m not talking general worry or fear. I’m talking panic attack-inducing, extremity-tingling, chest-tightening, crazy-feeling, irrational thought-provoking anxiety. Let me give you a picture of my own: all throughout college, I laid awake almost every night thinking someone was going to break into my apartment (in Waco, so maybe not totally unjustified =P) and/or there were demons in my room. No joke. I thought every dog I passed was going to attack me, every car ride would end in a life-ending crash, every tingle in my arm and pang in my chest was a heart attack, every unanswered phone call meant a death, and every girl my (now) husband even knew existed was going to take him from me. Those all may sound like silly things, because they are! That’s the catch with anxiety – everything is completely irrational. Couple that with panic attacks where you can’t breath, you can’t control your thoughts, you can’t get ahold of your shaking, and no amount of breathing, meditating, exercising, praying, etc can help you, and you have true anxiety. Anxiety is more than constant worry, but it does often include it. I was always pegged as a hypochondriac and as lacking faith; turns out, my body was screaming at me to fix something. If you have anxiety, your body is doing the same, and it’s probably a bigger deal than you think. Anxiety is almost always either a pre-cursor to Autoimmune disease or a sign of one, so it’s not something to leave unchecked.
Here’s what you need to know if you have anxiety, most of which you may have not heard before:
1) If you are a follower of Christ, you are NOT experiencing anxiety because of your lack of faith. This is not a spiritual issue at this level; it is a physical one. I let myself believe I wasn’t a “strong enough” Christian because of my anxiety issues and I want to save you from that burden. It is not because you are “just a worrier” by nature. It is deeper. Can faith play into it? Absolutely. I still “worry” about things, but I am not anxious anymore. There is a very big difference.
2) It CAN go away. Easily, if you’ll let it.
3) You do not have to rely on medication for the rest of your life.
4) You DO need to have your thyroid checked (more details later).
I’m so glad anxiety (and depression) are becoming more mainstream to discuss. What breaks my heart though, is that most of the medical community is ignoring the root cause. Here’s what I have done to keep myself anxiety and panic attack-free for almost a year. The recommendations will get stricter as you continue reading, so start with one and work your way down when you feel comfortable.
1) Have your doctor run a FULL thyroid panelEspecially if you have other unexplained or chronic symptoms. Most doctors only check TSH and that is not enough. You need Free T3 and T4, reverse T3, TSH, TPO Antibodies, and Thyroglobulin Antibodies. Vitamin deficiencies (Vitamin D3 being the most common) are helpful to check for, too.
2) Manage your stress levels. Stress is one of the major contributors to autoimmune disease. Every person I know with an AI disorder has had a string of stressful events leading up to their illness. Take up yoga. Start saying “no” to unnecessary things. Get away from technology. Learn how to balance work and family better. Whatever it takes, do not let stress overtake you.
3) Start a whole foods diet. This is absolutely crucial. Avoiding this step will most likely eventually cause you to be sick even if you are not currently. If it is not a single ingredient item, do not buy it. If you get it at a drive-through window, don’t eat it. If there are ingredients you cannot pronounce and have never heard of, do not put it in your body. I try to put this gently, but every time you consume things like food dye, processed food, GMO foods, etc, you are literally killing yourself. Slowly, but surely. It is time to stop the madness that is contributing to our society’s chronic illnesses. Shop the outside edge of the grocery store and try to eat at least the dirty dozen organic.
4) Cut out gluten, dairy, and soy, but without heavily relying on packaged products that are simply labelled “gluten-free.” These can be just as harmful and are a big reason why most people don’t get better on a gluten-free diet. You need to stick with the whole foods approach from before, just with a few more cuts. For more info on the detrimental effects of glutendairy, and soy, click their respective names.
5) If you’re still experiencing anxiety issues, start the Paleo diet. This is where many people’s anxiety break-through finally happens. You’re already halfway there from the previous steps anyway!
6) If you still haven’t found relief, start the Autoimmune Paleo diet and/or consider food sensitivity testing. I’ve had things as weird (and healthy) as blueberries or celery give me anxious feelings. Your body is unique and so is the way you handle foods. Your anxiety could solely be from your food sensitivities.
With all this said, I do recommend working alongside a qualified, holistic practitioner. If all your current doctor has done is offer you medicine, you need a new one. You can begin making headway without one, however! I eliminated all of my anxiety before I ever saw a holistic doctor, just by the diet changes alone. I am not a practitioner, but I am thankful for the wealth of knowledge offered by the holistic healing community through blogs, books, cookbooks, etc.
I pray someone finds freedom from this post. I pray anxiety will soon be approached, by all doctors, as it should be. I pray that you, anxious reader, are free from the burden of thinking you caused your anxiety in any way. You didn’t, but you can heal it, and I pray deeply these words help.

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