The Surprising Way I (Mostly) Overcame My Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and Insomnia (updated)

 

This mug shot is one of my CrAzY humor designs. Laughter being good medicine and all...

This mug shot is one of my CrAzY humor designs. Laughter being good medicine and all…

I have been hooked on caffeine for most of my sixty-plus years. I like my coffee strong and black, love dark rich chocolate, green tea, and cola drinks from Mexico made with real sugar, not corn syrup.

For some reason (that I never thought had anything to do with caffeine), as I have gotten older, my anxiety has grown worse. My anxiety got so bad a few years ago that I literally could not function. I finally had to go on disability for my extreme anxiety, which made me feel like such a loser.

When my anxiety was at its worst, nothing I tried seemed to help. Not therapy, not psychotropic medications, not mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapy or EMDR, not self-help books, not deep breathing or going to my ”happy place” — nothing! My anxiety grew until it ruled my life. Anxiety kept me from going where I wanted to go and doing what I wanted to do. Trying to control my anxiety took all of my energy, until I had no energy left for anything else. At times I felt like I was living in a prison cell.

If anyone had suggested that caffeine was my problem, I would have laughed. I had been consuming caffeine for most of my life and it had never bothered me before!

But maybe, as we age, some of us change so that we can’t handle it anymore?

A couple of months ago, after praying for God’s will to be done in my life, regardless of what His will might be, I got sick and could not eat or drink. With the exception of cold filtered water, I felt like I was going to throw up any food or drink that went into my mouth. I was unable to eat for about a week, which forced me into a massive caffeine withdrawal. I had pounding migraine headaches and felt like I was coming apart, both physically and mentally.

And then….. suddenly it was like someone opened up a window in my brain and let sunshine and fresh air into my soul for the first time in too many years to remember. I have been completely off caffeine now for approximately one month, and I feel like a brand new person. Calm. Peaceful. Content. Happy. Accepting of reality as it is, even the parts of reality that I don’t like!

Sure, I sometimes miss coffee, chocolate, colas, and tea that isn’t herbal peppermint. But no delicious taste or “jolt” is worth the horrific hell of anxiety.

Caffeine just isn’t worth the price. Not for me.

5i_lFun_Dsyfunction_500

Update added 28 October 2015: After having no caffeine for about four months, I have discovered that my anxiety will still return occasionally, particularly during times of extreme stress when my PTSD is triggered. Last week when we had a tornado, my anxiety went through the roof! (You can read about it HERE.)

However, although I am not 100% anxiety free, when I do experience some anxiety it isn’t nearly as overwhelming as it was when I was drinking caffeinated beverages and eating chocolate. Also, my episodes of anxiety don’t last nearly as long as they used to.

Plus I am able to fall asleep right away every night, and I sleep straight through to the next morning, which is something I hadn’t been able to do for years. How awesome is that?!

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ABOUT COMMENTS: I have disabled comments to focus on writing my memoir. In the meantime, you may contact me on Twitter via @LadyQuixote.

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About Lynda Lee

Lynda Lee is my pen name. I am a former nurse, a Mensa member, and a writer, diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by extreme trauma and narcissistic abuse. Formerly agnostic, I am now a Christian. My husband, a USMC Vietnam War Veteran and a Chaplain, has PTSD caused by combat. We've come a long way on our healing journey and we still have a ways to go. We put the FUN in dysfunctional. :-)
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