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Confessions of the FROG Lady

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Right, I’m just going to come out and say it. No use pretending everything is OK- Because it’s not. My confession is happening now. I’ve told you a bit about it in the past, but now I’m going to just come right out and say it. I Am Not Of Sound Mind. Phew! Glad that’s over with.

The reason I tell you this is that I think we should all tell one another how we are feeling. We live in a world where we are bombarded with images of perfection, on TV, in magazines, and it’s not even just photo shopped celebrities we have to worry about anymore- even our closest friends do it- putting up images of fake perfection, big smiles, perfect lives… it’s like we’re not allowed to be imperfect anymore. But you know what; most of us are not of sound mind, and we’re certainly far from perfect. In fact none of us are. Not. One. Person. Is. Perfect. Let that sink in a moment.

Nearly half of us are swallowed up by that dreaded feeling we call Anxiety. It’s not something we catch either, it’s our mind playing tricks on us. You’d think that ‘you’ being the root cause of your illness would make it so easy to get control, after all it’s not like you caught it like you catch a cold, but anyone with anxiety and panic attacks will tell you how out of control you are when it hits you. Like a truck running over you. One minute you’re smiling and enjoying the day. The next minute your brain is self destructing. Your heart beats harder. Your mind tells you this may be the end. You need to run. But you feel as though your legs are set in concrete. Rational thoughts are thing of the past. You think everyone can see it in you. You are so lost in your mind that you almost forget how to function- you get shaky. You want this to end. Maybe this is the end? Oh no, you never imagined you would die in the toy section of Kmart. You try to breathe. You breathe too much. I want out! And then you regain control and it passes. You pretend nothing ever happened. You swear you will never let it happen again. You feel tired and deflated. Who would have thought shopping for a birthday present could be so hard. You’re already dreading your next visit to K Mart. You want to go home and stay there. Forever.

I don’t know how that monster came to live within me. I never invited him in that’s for sure!

Was it the life change I experienced as a 5 year old moving from Switzerland and starting a new life in New Zealand? Did someone say or do something to me that became hard-wired on my brain as a child that I don’t remember? Was it the glandular fever in my late teens? Is it the toxic amalgam fillings in my mouth polluting my body and my mind? Did I smoke too much pot when I was younger? Is it just a design flaw? Did I inherit this from my parents? Is my gut that unhealthy? Since my first panic attack 20 years ago I have pondered these questions. It’s crazy to think that for half my life anxiety has ruled every decision I have made in life- but sadly it has. It affects my family life. It affects how much fun I invite into my life. It affects FROG and how successful I allow myself to become. It even affects what I wear!

So what do we do about it? Is there a solution? Sometimes I think I’ve found it. Those times are the highlights for me, but sadly it always seems to creep back in. I’ve learnt to expect less and just keep searching. I’ve tried homeopathy, naturopathy, I’ve tried to change my breathing (being a chronic mouth breather you tend to hyperventilate so I tried to train myself to breathe only through my nose), I’ve tried EFT tapping, I’ve had counseling, done visualizations, meditated and healed my gut. I’m not saying these things didn’t work. They did. Pretty much everything I have tried has worked to some degree. I guess part of my problem is that I’m just a little bit crap at sticking to things.

Perhaps I hold on to anxiety as a way of keeping myself small- if I didn’t have anxiety I would have no reason to stay in my comfort zone- I could be great! I could explore the world! I could say YES to every invitation that came my way, I could stand up in front of people and talk about FROG and how amazing it is to live an organic life, I could push myself to be the best I can be. But I tell you what, even writing this down has me shaking in my boots. What if I did one of those things and a panic attack happened out of the blue. No, that’d be too scary. So I stay small, I stay home, I stay safe from the possible evilness of my mind. I try to hide from my monster so he never finds me.

Last year was a particularly bad year for me and my monster. Up until last year I had had some panic attacks, but they were few and far between. I could list the major ones I had had in the past 20 years on one hand- and believe me that was enough of them to last a lifetime! Then last year happened. I don’t know why it was different. I started having them everywhere. In the supermarket I shop at almost every second day. In the shopping centre I have been visiting for 11 years. At Kmart. Whilst watching standup comedy at the Brolga Theatre. At the restaurant while having our FROG Christmas dinner with some of my close friends. I even had one whilst having a relaxing cup of tea at a good friend’s house! Suddenly I was having them everywhere and I became scared. I closed myself up and wanted to hide. I became depressed at my state of mind. I wondered how things had got this bad, and if I could ever get out again.

It’s funny though, how well we can hide things. If you see me out and about you’ll just see a big smile. I’ll probably look confident and together, but inside I’m a mess. Don’t get me wrong though, I function really well with anxiety. I’m very good at lying to myself that everything is just fine. As a mother to two kids and the carer of our family I have to fight the urge to crumble in a heap and give up. I get up every morning, get the kids off to school, run FROG, cook dinner, clean the house, be a good mother and wife. Perhaps that’s my saving grace, last year was the biggest test I have had to date and I can say that on the outside I probably passed with flying colours. But what you don’t see on the inside is the struggle I deal with when it comes to booking holidays outside of my comfort zone, the turmoil I feel when I have to come up with an excuse as to why I can’t go to an event I said yes to, or the meltdowns I have getting dressed as I sort through clothes trying to find something comfortable to wear out in order to reduce the feelings of being so bloody uncomfortable within myself.

Oh I could go on and on and on. I wish I was writing this blog with answers to help all of you out there who are in the same boat. Sadly, I don’t have any answers, but I can tell you what I am doing for myself now. You see I hit a wall with my monster last year. Suddenly I realized I couldn’t get over it alone, so I had to call in for back-up… firstly I started talking to my friends about how I was feeling. It sounds so simple but I found it so hard to take that step. I’ve started telling friends when I’m in the middle of a panic attack too which is so fricken hard to do, but you know what- as soon as I do, the wave passes and I’m back to my old self again (the good self without the monster on her shoulder!). I closed my Facebook account and said goodbye to Fakebook and all its pretend perfection. I’m trying to keep breathing through my nose as much as I can which I’m hopeless at but its something I know makes a big difference. I’m staying focused on my gut health and doing what I can to keep it nice and healthy. I went and saw my naturopath and got some kick-arse herbs to get through the panicky stage which really helped as it gave me a break from all the panic attacks and allowed me to experience life without being triggered by every little thing, she also got me on a vitamin & mineral supplement as even though I eat well my body was showing signs of needing extra help.

Yes there’s a lot I’m doing, but I think the main thing for me is staying connected with everyone around me… it’s easy to start despairing and depression goes hand in hand with anxiety, so I find one of the most powerful things to do is to reach out when I need it- as hard as it may be to do that. The best thing about reaching out to others and laying it all on the table, is that it turns out I’m not alone, in fact I’m not abnormal at all. So many of us live our lives with a monster on our shoulders, and we all think we’re the only ones feeling like this, but we’re not. Just knowing that others are on the same journey brings comfort and hope, and it turns out that monsters don’t like hanging out with other monsters- they are solitary creatures so by banding together we can be like the Pied Piper whistling those monsters away.

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