4 Things I Learned About Anxiety & Depression

There's never a real end to anxiety or depression. There's only new coping skills and calming techniques that can help. Whether you are spiritual or not, it's been proven that those who have faith in God seem to pull through more than say those who don't believe. Same goes with grief: more people found help getting out of the pit of despair with faith in God, than those who didn't have faith. Whether it is all psychosomatic, or if it's really true (which I believe to be) --- it works. But I'm going to list off some more symptoms as well as coping skills that I have done to help me. Please keep in mind that I'm not a doctor or psychologist---I'm a patient who needs to work on myself---working on being OK every single day. And, it's also OK to not be OK. Just know and remember that when you need help or if you are in a crisis, reach out! Hopefully, my list will help in some way or another. I hope you feel better.


Heart Palpitations, Racing Heart, Tachycardia

For me, this one has to be the worst! I've listed this one first because this is my most recent symptom. It feels like my heart is unattached inside my chest, rattling around like a restless chinchilla. At times, when I'm at rest, my heart rate can increase all the way up to 150 bpm. Other times, my heart just a little elevated, only this time, it includes sporadic irregular heartbeats and fluttering---as if my heart is bubbling up. It goes away for like five minutes, and then all of the sudden, it feels like someone is inside of me punching my chest from the inside once or twice. It's enough to make you jump up and pay attention to what your heart is doing. So you start focusing on it, obsessing, taking your pulse and of course, looking on WebMD to see if you need to go to the ER. But if you suffer from anxiety disorder or going through grief, this is normal. Here's what happened to me... I felt this for two entire days. I really didn't "think" I had anxiety. I felt calm, but my heart was acting whacky. Did you know that you can have hidden emotions and fears about something that you aren't conscious of at that time? But yet your heart is? It doesn't even make sense! But your brain is connected to your heart, therefore, even if you're not thinking that stressful 'thing'---it'll start acting up. I realized I was stressing over the snowstorm that's heading our way this weekend. We usually get snowed in and lose power. Sometimes, my other half can't even make it up the huge private road we live on. So the thought of being alone during a snowstorm without power lurks behind my mind. Once I figured out this was the source of my stress, I prayed about it for a long time, and just by 'talking it out' -- even if it's to God, (which is so much better) -- that in itself is therapeutic. My heart palpitations went away. Talk it out. Pray. Or just verbalize what's wrong! It works.

The Random Culprit: The Vagus Nerve 

Another reason why your heart may be rattling around like a caged monkey is that you're experiencing stomach issues. Constipation, bloating, heartburn or other associated stomach issues are connected to your vagus nerve. You would not believe how powerful that vagus nerve can be. It's associated with a lot of our pain and health related issues. If your stomach is upset, that nerve will send a message to your heart, and there you have the ingredients for an awful night! The best way to relieve the nerve pressure is to be rude and burp a lot---pass that air out any way you can if you get my 'drift.' If you're constipated, take a mild laxative so that the pressure is relieved. Do not lay on your right side. Lay on your left side if possible at night---your digestive system flows easier this way. Stay away from fatty or acidic foods. During this time, you're gonna want to bulk up on that arugula salad instead of hitting that delicious prosciutto and mozzarella. Also, stay away from fresh garlic and onions. I ate a huge bowl of pasta fagioli last night and suffered quite a bit. During this time, try to stick to a somewhat bland, healthy diet, and add in some probiotics to boot. Another great source of relief is taking magnesium, not only to regulate your heart rate, but to also help with relaxation, constipation and muscle strain. I take Natural Calm powder, and add it to hot water. It's delicious and it makes you sleepy at night.

Tightness of Chest, Feeling of Suffocation, Shortness in Breath

My friend Jason explained this symptom in an interesting way. He said that when he feels anxiety, it feels like his soul is too big for his body and that he felt like he was suffocating and felt confined. I've experienced this too. This is a whole other type of anxiety symptom that can be scary, because it involves your breathing, or lack thereof. Sometimes, I can't even get enough breath into my lungs because I'm in a total panic mode. But remember, it's PANIC. I say this only if you have anxiety disorder. Please check with your doctor if you feel like you have an elephant lying on top of your chest---that's entirely different. It's strange, because panic attacks are known to mimic heart attacks. If you can calm it down, it's anxiety. Also, if you are experiencing chest pain, the real test is if you can recreate the pain---then it's usually muscle/skeletal, which is also known as "costochondritis"---a medical term used very loosely by the emergency departments due to chest pain not being caused by the heart. Getting back to the tight, suffocating, shortness of breath feeling---the ONE thing that has helped me in this state of panic is this video. Put on your earbuds, and just listen, even if you're still panicking. It's 30 minutes long, but if you get past the 15 minute mark, you'll start to notice that you're calming down and taking bigger breaths. Please copy this video for emergency panic attack!
If you can't view the video below, then please click here.

"I command you to be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you whoever you go." ---Joshua 1:9

Grief and Lonlieness

Grief is apart of life. We lose people, whether through death, breakups or divorce. It's something everyone has to deal with one time or another. Grief is especially hard on those who were living with their loved ones. As a caregiver for my mom---well, let's be honest, she took care of me in many ways too. We relied on one another. I work from home, so she felt safe that I was always around. I cooked her meals and we both gave one another company. We went to do errands together when she was feeling up to it, and we also trekked out to grab a bite to eat when it was a particularly good day for her. I felt a sense of loneliness when she left. I felt unneeded and worthless---like why am I even here? I've always had a relationship with God, but the day she died, my relationship with Him only grew stronger. I relied on Him every single day. He was the only one that was truly there for me when I had my breakdowns, crying, sobbing and feeling like I was about to die. I realized and learned that we are truly never alone. My fear of being alone has diminished greatly. I'm content with alone time. Does it get lonely from time to time? Sure---but not in a way that's fear-based. I get lonely in the sense that I just want to have company around or talk with people. My dog has been a blessing. We go out for walks around a nearby pond and meet other people with their own little fur babies. It's good to just feel the sunshine on your face. I feel like God put me in this position of isolation to teach me something valuable. I learned that being alone isn't something to fear. Most people don't even have two minutes to themselves sometimes. I learned that prayer can change your entire outlook on the day. Have you ever woken up with that feeling of dread in the morning? Once I feel that, I just say "JESUS" -- and somehow, it encourages me to get out of bed, start my day and try once again. There is power in His name. And don't get me wrong, I still have fear and anxiety, but when I pray for God to give me mighty inner strength---that in itself changes everything. God is always with you. As it says in the scriptures, He will never leave or forsake you. You may feel alone, but that's the one time you should turn to God and ask Him for help. It's the only reason I'm alive and writing this today.

If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out for help. It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I know you think it'll never end---that your problem will always be there and that your grief and agony will always follow you. But remember, God gives beauty for ashes. Endure just a little longer. God has you in the palm of His hands.

For now, please reach out.

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 

CALL: 1-800-273-8255

If you don't wish to call the number above, on the sidebar of this blog is a contact form. I check it regularly. Please contact me if you need someone to vent to. I know what it's like to feel so alone and depressed---so full of fear over things other people seem so casual about. But focus on your journey. Everyone has their own cross to bear---this one happens to be ours: anxiety and depression. Although we will probably face it throughout our lives, we can conquer it by continually praying and reaching out to those who can help.

I hope you feel better.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at Deb's Cucina for some of her famous recipes!