Health And Wellness

How I Regulate My Crippling Anxiety Without Pharmaceutical Drugs

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anxious woman

I began having severe anxiety when I was just 6 years old. My Mmm was very meticulous about cleaning the house and I would have to clean the house daily. If a magazine was out of place, my mom thought the house was messy. My parents also yelled a lot.

This gave me a lot of anxiety because I never knew where my center was. So, to deal with these issues, I developed OCD to cope with my severe anxiety. I had many rituals that I had to do to get ready for bed. It took me probably an additional 30-40 minutes before I could ‘safely’ get into my bed. 

RELATED: What It Feels Like To Have Anxiety And Depression At The Same Time

When I was 16 years old, I got sexually assaulted by my boss’ husband (I did a work/school program). 

Just months later, I went out on a date with a new guy in the adjoining neighborhood and he picked up two other guys and proceeded to drive me out to a desolate area of town where all three of them sexually assaulted me. These horrifying traumas caused me to suffer from PTSD and amped up my already high anxiety.

I started an amazing job when I was just 19 years old, and I became constipated for three weeks due to extreme anxiety. 

My anxiety continued to drive me to make poor choices throughout my twenties and thirties. In my late twenties, I married someone that would change my life and make the PTSD and anxiety I was already suffering from increase significantly. 

The marriage was extremely abusive on every level. I needed all my strength to leave after four long years. During those four years, I suffered broken bones, lacerations, contusions, punctured skin from bites on my nose, and emotional torture. 

What helped me leave was continuing to work at an incredible job and networking with people who believed in me and helped me to see through the power and control maze to my true self. I put a safety plan of escape together. I executed that plan and left him.

After I gathered the courage and strength to leave, I thought I’d be well again if I took 6 months to abstain from dating. However, when I got into my next relationship, my anxiety came back with a vengeance. 

Even though I had serious doubts about my boyfriend’s fidelity, I was using the relationship as medication for my anxiety until one day I reached a breaking point and left him.

I continued for several years getting into one dangerous relationship after another as I had deluded myself that the relationships made me whole. I did not understand that I was using relationships to medicate my severe anxiety.   

I was in a vicious cycle of medicating my anxiety through relationships (I would be single for a while, get my life together and then get into another destructive relationship). 

In my mid-thirties, I got into an extremely dangerous relationship (he was a drug addict). He put me in some high-risk situations and gave me a sexually transmitted disease. 

By the grace of God, I left at that point, but I continued to struggle with anxiety. 

Because the relationship had taken such a toll on me, I became homeless which also increased my anxiety.

As I slept in my car and showered on the beach, I had no access to a doctor or other medical care for my issues.

After becoming homeless, I called my parents and finally shared with them my circumstances. 

They began helping me financially, so that motivated me to do something for myself other than medicate with drugs, alcohol, and relationships.

RELATED: 5 Ways The Most Successful People Turn Anxiety Into Productivity

Signs you may be self-medicating include:

  1. Staying away from family, friends, social events, and other activities.

  2. A sudden change in hobbies or who you spend time with.

  3. Secrecy about how one spends time such as getting into dangerous relationships.

  4. Neglecting physical care, such as showering, eating, exercising, and doing calming activities.

  5. Having difficulties in work, school, or relationships, especially serial relationships.

  6. Sudden anger or sudden depression or anxiety.

I became more and more interested in diet and exercise and became a vegan and walked religiously on the beach for 16 miles/week. 

I had been eating healthy (when I was able to buy food) by most standards for a while, but now, I began to be more careful and it became ingrained into my being I wasn’t eating perfectly by any means, but I did stick with my healthy eating for the rest of my life. I still didn’t realize that I had PTSD and needed further help from professionals.

When I moved across the country and got into another unhealthy relationship, I began getting panic attacks. 

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A lightbulb went off and I realized that I had to quit drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana (which I had used to medicate). I had not realized that I was also using relationships to medicate my anxiety which only exacerbated it.   

My therapist at the time recommended that I use pharmaceutical drugs which sometimes can be effective (I took an anti-depressant for a couple of years). I told the doctor that I was quite sensitive to drugs and would only take half the dosage that they recommended. 

After a couple of years, I asked to wean off them and was guided in doing so. This anti-depressant brought me to a baseline but did not address all my anxiety and I was worried about other negative effects that taking pharmaceuticals could have on my body.

RELATED: What It's Really Like To Be A Mom With Depression & Anxiety

Choosing natural solutions to combat anxiety

I never faltered in the decision to quit drugs and alcohol and that inspired me to pursue naturopathic medicine to deal with my anxiety issues. Because the anxiety was so rampant due to a long series of traumas, I was going to have an uphill climb.

I became dedicated to my self-care at this point. I began taking supplements containing adaptogens, amino acids, and certain vitamins which help control high levels of cortisol. Cortisol is created by your adrenal glands going into fight or flight mode. 

Rhodiola, ashwagandha, cordyceps, glycine, B-6, pantothenic acid, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), and Asian ginseng; along with pharma Gaba, melatonin and phosphatidylserine, as the day wains, continue to lower my cortisol levels so that by bedtime my nervous system is ready to sleep. 

I recommend staying in a strict routine with how you take these supplements. I now sleep 7-9 hours almost every night which is an amazing improvement over how I slept in the past. These are natural supplements and not pharmaceutical drugs of any kind.

I also have been doing activities that help lower my anxiety, including, talk therapy, myo-facial release bodywork, craniosacral therapy, chiropractic, energy work, and emotional freedom technique therapy EFT (tapping).  

My exercise routine includes swimming using pool weights, beach walking, elliptical, bicycle doing upper body weights, and gyrokinesis. 

You may not have heard of gyrokinesis, but it is the Gyrotonic method of exercise without the machines (using your own body weight). 

Gyrokinesis is a sacred body movement where the entire muscular body has been stimulated, stretched, extended, contracted, and wrung out leaving it capable of better supporting the skeletal body. 

I find that it lowers my anxiety exponentially because it combines breathwork with body movement that allows you to live in the entire space meant for you.

These are some of the various things I do to help my body to stay in para-sympathetic mode vs. fight or flight mode.

People might think it would be a lot easier to pop a pill and be done with it. My well-being and health are priceless, and I intrinsically knew that it would be up to me to continue to work on bringing myself to soar to new heights so that I could uncover my true self.  Pharmaceutical drugs cannot do that — they only treat the symptoms, not the cause of one’s anxiety.

Today, the sky is the limit as I continue to find new parts of myself through my self-care and self-love.

Tips to practice self-care/self-love and avoid pharmaceutical drugs include:

  1. Taking supplements designed to lower my cortisol throughout the day.

  2. Taking supplements starting in the early afternoon allows my cortisol levels to be where they need to be for restful, peaceful sleep.

  3. Doing schema therapy (involves looking at life traps (schemas created by trauma) and re-parenting child parts.

  4. Sound wave chiropractic to align atlas so that my nervous system can function optimally.

  5. Swimming and pool exercises with weights 1-3/week (also good for the nervous system).

  6. Beach walking (re-ionizes the body and calms the nervous system).

  7. Move my body. I prefer elliptical and weight training.

  8. Gyrokinesis (‘wrings out’ tension and stress in the body by combining breathwork and spiraling body movements for calming the nervous system, muscle strengthening, range of motion, and ‘taking up one’s entire space.

Which of the above resonates with you? 

Are you willing to be ‘in charge of your well-being and life? 

If so, try some of the holistic wellness tips and techniques suggested above but design it for you – what your mind/body/spirit needs are. And remember: never give up!

RELATED: The One Mindfulness Technique That Eliminates Anxiety Instantly

Arielle Spring is a life and health coach. In her new book When Birds Sing: My Journey from Trauma to Triumph she shares how her idyllic life spiraled out of control for over 20 years due to experiencing many traumas.

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