After 13 years, thousands of dollars, and constant, relentless hopes of seeking “the thing”… I’ve finally found the answer:
The first time I had a panic attack, I was 12 years old getting ready to compete at a level 7 gymnastics meet. I didn’t know what exactly had come over me, but I knew I couldn’t compete that day. I felt like I was going to die. My stomach was in knots. I was shaking + sweating. I was crying uncontrollably. I thought I was going to throw up my entire soul. I needed to get outside of myself and out of where I was. I had to run from that feeling.. so I did.
I ran to the bathroom with my mother and coach quickly behind me, crying hysterically trying to explain myself and how I had to go home immediately and couldn’t compete. I was speaking gibberish to them… I loved competing. I loved my sport. What did I mean I didn’t want to compete? Why the sudden crazy behavior? No one could possibly understand how I felt in that moment, except for me- I was 100% alone.
I ended up competing that day after all. My coach made a deal with me that I didn’t have to compete if I didn’t want to, but I had to at least warm up. After warm-up’s, I completely forgot about the scene I created earlier and felt totally fine. It actually ended up being one of the best competitions in my career. I remember thinking, “Huh.. that was a weird feeling I had this morning before the meet. Hopefully that doesn’t ever happen again!” But it did. Over, and over, and over, and over again.
Fast forward 13 years and here I am: almost 25 years old, married to the man of my dreams, living across the country from my childhood home + family, running my own Nutritional Therapy business, figuring out what I want out of my life, achieving more than I ever thought possible, manifesting my greatest dreams, and still dealing with panic attacks + anxiety.
The amount of ugly-crying, breakdowns, panic attacks, chest pains, feeling like I can’t breathe, sleepless nights, ER visits, and pure death-chilling fear I’ve been filled with this year have been beyond my comprehension. This last year has been the worst year of my life in regards to my anxiety and PA’s. Before 2017, I never knew you could have multiple panic attacks in one day, that you could be afraid of everything in your life- even the good things, that you could become depressed because your anxiety is so isolating, or that you could feel like you were genuinely having a heart attack but it was just caused by copious amounts of cortisol coursing through your veins all at once.
It’s been a really fucking hard year.
All that said, I’ve had the unbelievable privilege to dig deeply into my mental health in ways most people never even dream of. I’ve been blessed to have sought all of these things to try and get rid of my anxiety + panic attacks throughout the last 13 years:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- Mindfullness-based therapy
- Blood tests
- Hair tissue mineral analysis test
- Stool test
- Nutrient status testing
- Muscle testing
- Nutritional therapy
- EFT (tapping)
- Chinese medicine
- Herbal therapy
- Functional Medicine
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Soft Tissue Manipulation
- Various body work techniques
- Infrared Sauna
- Neurotransmitter tests
- Methylation protocols
- Getting into nature + in the sunshine more
- Thousands of supplements
- Genetic testing
- Parasite cleanses + antibiotics
- Getting off birth control
- Energy healing
- Paleo Diet/ GAPS Diet/ SIBO Diet/ Low FODMAP Diet
What a freaking list, holy shit. I’ve never written that out before. What a journey this has been. As I look over this list today, each of these things seem to be a manifestation of how I was ultimately running away from my true problem, then telling myself I was actually getting somewhere.
Each one of these bullet points has been a pivotal part of my journey. I could look back at this list and say, “Fuck. What a waste of money and time to get to a simple answer after all of these years” but, each of these things has taught me so much about myself, about healing, about others, and has brought me to where I am today.
I am a firm believer that God reveals himself and our purpose in our darkest days. No one would be who they are without a genuine challenge.. a soul-tearing, gut wrenching challenge that forces you to question everything you thought you knew.
I could go into detail about each of these experiences and tell you all about them- what helped, what didn’t, what I liked and what I didn’t, what I thought, etc., but what I really want to do is share with you the number one thing that has brought true healing to my soul + physical being.
Since 2017 was an all time high with anxiety + PA’s, I knew I had to approach it differently than I had before. I went down the path of how my genetics might play a part, tried 3 months of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, completed functional testing for everything under the sun…. and then I found a therapist who truly saved. my. life.
Teri Karjala is the 7th therapist I’ve been to in the last 13 years. She doesn’t practice one single type of therapy, rather she evaluates her patient and applies the techniques, tools, and skills she thinks would be best for that individual.
The first time I went to Teri, she told me she wanted to try EFT- Emotional Freedom Technique (aka tapping). She mentioned we would be taking my deeply rooted thoughts and emotions that were stored in my body and give them a place to rest. Her analogy of tapping is that our subconscious mind takes our experiences, thoughts, and emotions from each day and places them in a file folder. The things that are scary, uncomfortable, and have no clear answer are not filed- so they continue to coarse through our body + brain and cause the same emotion and physical expression over and over again until they are filed. Tapping allows the body to put these existential thoughts into a file so we can have peace with them.
She told me I would most likely be super tired and thirsty after our sessions, and that while tapping I would probably start yawning a lot or begin crying for no reason at all- all signs of emotional release: exactly what we were working towards.
The second time I went, we tapped through some anxious thoughts + physical feelings I had about flying to MI after having a 2-hour panic attack on my way home from CA a few months prior. While I started to feel the fears of flying get smaller, I also felt a new enormous brick welling up from deep inside my chest and stomach. I wanted to run away. I thought I was going to scream or speak in tongues… but it ended up being a massive overflow of tears and incredibly deep feelings of invalidation stemming back to my childhood.
I was suddenly flooded with feeling lost, alone, pressured, scared, not understood, not listened to, and full of too much “tough love”- the same way I felt the very first day I ever had a panic attack and the way I continued to feel for years to come. I harbored these feelings from conversations at home, at gymnastics practice with coaches, teachers at school, and it eventually became the way I spoke to myself: not good enough, not listened to, not understood, not appreciated, not validated.
I tried to have conversations about these things with the people who had “given” them to me, but I couldn’t ever seem to get the words right. I wanted to be listened to deeply on an emotional level, to be validated for every little thing I felt, told that I wasnt crazy, and that It would all be resolved one day. Instead, I got blank stares, misunderstanding, and told that my perception of an experience was construed. After each attempt, I would eventually resort to tears and harbor even stronger feelings of hopelessness. I only ever received responses of worry from each person I tried to speak to and conversations the day after focused on, “are you okay?” when I all I ever wanted was to be genuinely understood and validated. So I stopped trying to speak up and just made these things my own to carry through life. That said, I really do think everyone around me did the absolute best they could to support me, but just didn’t know how to when I was really losing my shit. How in the hell were they supposed to know exactly what to do?
This has been a stress on all of my relationships, but especially the ones with my family and my husband. Stu’s referred to my anxiety and panic attacks as “A third person in our relationship” before – how horrible is that? How is that supposed to make me feel? I can’t be mad, though, because it’s true. It has been a third person in all of my relationships – it’s what I’ve had to bring along with me everywhere I go. This experience and reality of mine has been isolating in all ways possible. I’ve lost friends, lost multiple close connections with the people I love most, and so much more. By far the hardest part of all of this isn’t my own experience and struggle, it’s knowing the people who love me most have to watch it all happen helplessly while I try to grow and change myself for the better though it all. I despise the pain I’ve caused those who love me.
Teri not only helped me discover these things and then helped me run into them head on in ways I never thought I needed, but she also referred me to an energy healer to work on the physical repercussions that holding onto these negative emotions had created over time.
I know I would have never been open to the idea of energy healing unless I had gone through every single modality of healing mentioned in the bullets above with no true answers. Teri had gotten me so far, so why not keep going?
I ended up going to a bioresonance energy healer here in Denver and experienced a massive release of my emotions + physical attachments to them. His belief is that it is our trapped emotions, anxieties, and unprocessed life experiences that we hold in our nervous system that are the source of everything that ails us.
The weeks that followed my appointment were full of experiencing intense, old emotions and having to let go of them once and for all. To be brutally honest, this whole process of unveiling + letting go of my deepest held emotions has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Things got worse before they got better: I had headaches, body aches, was completely exhausted for a week straight, had heart palpitations, was thirstier than ever before in my life, and felt somewhat bipolar because of the immense array of old emotions that were coming to the surface.
My energy healer told me releasing blocked emotions + energy is like breaking up a dam in a river: once the pieces of debris are initially broken up, they must continue to flow down the river and be cleared out of the way before the water can flow freely again.
So often we look outside of ourselves to find answers. The world tells us we need to do more, say more, try more, be more to feel better… but after 13 years of doing all of those things, I’ve only found healing in doing less and looking deeply within. I am confident I’ve finally found the true answer I’ve been seeking for years, which was with me all along- myself. This experience has challenged my beliefs, my thoughts, my faith, my relationships- especially the one with myself, my purpose, my human experience, and so much more.
I am finally excited about my life again. I look forward to my tomorrows because I know I am healing and living out my truth each day as it comes to me. I am unbound to my thoughts. I am love.
I don’t share this to say I am anxiety free or that I no longer feel stressed out- I am not immune. I am still working through these things daily- it is a constant journey of experiencing and letting go- and I’m no expert.
I share this story of mine in hopes that if you’ve been in a similar struggle and are looking for answers outside of yourself, it might be time to take the first step into a journey within yourself. It’s shitty, it’s hard, it’s painful.. but it has brought me everything I’ve ever needed and more. You owe it to yourself to let go. YOU alone have the power to create the reality and life you truly want- no one else, no other “thing” will create that for you.
I just want to truly + deeply thank you for reading about my journey and following me at any capacity- whether it be on here, on Instagram, or in real life. I only share in hopes of bringing a platform to which we can share our struggles, joys, and everything in between. My passion is in encouraging you to ignite yours. Sending vibrant love and light to each of you no matter where you’re at on your own journey. You are loved beyond belief.
“Each morning, the moment we take our head off the pillow, we have everything we need”