By Guest Blogger, Tracey Child
It was 2004, we were in Phuket Thailand celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a few family and friends. We had an amazing day out touring the area and after dinner we headed out to begin a fun shopping evening.
As I stepped outside the restaurant, I felt a wash or flush come over me. My heart was racing, I had chest and tummy pains and the group I was with said I was as white as a sheet, so they flagged down a Tuk Tuk to take me back to our hotel.
I took some Panadol and went to bed and rested, all the while thinking: if this is something serious, my children were at home with my parents in another country. With these thoughts, I began to feel homesick and I prayed I would be ok and make it back to my boys.
The next day I was fine, we continued our holiday and came home back to our usual routines and my beautiful boys.
These weird feelings came over me more and more to the point where I felt like I was having a heart attack each time it happened. Heart racing, hot, clammy, sweaty, feeling weak, a feeling of collapse, and blurry vision and feeling unwell.
As this continued, I started withdrawing from people, declining social events and invitations to catch up. Pretty soon I was having these feelings whilst I was driving, and experiencing at least 2 on my way to work (which was only 7 minutes away). It got so bad, I walked into work one day and resigned because it just caused all my symptoms to heighten.
A visit to the Dr suggested I had a virus. I had picked up a bug called Gardia while away and advised to take some antibiotics, Panadol and rest.
Following these instructions, my tummy pains and a few other issues cleared up, however all other symptoms remained. On a return consult it was diagnosed that I actually in fact had “Anxiety” and was suffering severe “Panic Attacks” which was spiralling me into mild depression.
I had started losing weight and became house bound for fear of collapsing or worse, actually dying from a heart attack.
I never told my family or friends what was happening as I was worried it was all in my head and felt silly. So instead I pretended that everything was ok and I was fine (I now know, I really wasn’t).
My life definitely changed as this “Anxiety” gripped me, imposed and totally controlled my life.
I was spiralling deeper and deeper into what I can only explain as a deep dark hole that I was desperately struggling to climb out of, whilst at the same time losing the strength to keep fighting this. I was tired and exhausted all the time.
I was trying to be a Mum, a wife, run a household and work while this thing had consumed me! I started to feel guilty for what I felt was, not being able to be the Mum my children needed and leaning on my husband for more support while he worked fulltime.
The Doctor offered me anti- depressants and counselling and marked my file with “Mental Health” issues…. I refused the anti-depressants as I had heard they were addictive and had horrible side effects, however I did accept the counselling sessions.
And thus begins “My Journey to Recovery”.
I set upon my own research into finding out how I could tackle this from a holistic natural point of view and a friend advised I see a Naturopath that she had been treated by, (there is much truth in the saying “Sometimes It takes a village”).
I did go and see this Naturopath who assessed my individual situation and prescribed herbs and supplements to help ease the stress and anxiety.
I then saw the counsellor my Dr recommended, however I didn’t feel this person fit for me and after some trial and error, I found a wonderful holistic counsellor that had a passion for a “Wholistic” approach to wellbeing. I had finally found “my person” and felt both nurtured and informed.
Within these sessions we found the true core of my emotional state and what had actually sparked all of this within me.
Apart from having Gardia which triggered a fear of my children possibly growing up without a mother, we rewound back to when my first born was not even 1 year young. At a Sunday Market with my brother and we saw a man in a yellow tent offering palm readings and thought it would be fun to see what was in store for our future.
This man told me I would live a short life and that I had approx. 20 years left so I possibly would not see my boy turn 21!
Yep he had given me a “life” time frame. I shrugged it off… or so I thought. Leading up to my son’s 21st birthday I was in total melt down mode believing I had to plan his birthday perfectly as I may not be here to enjoy it with him.
I was debilitated in everything by this point and then someone said to me “you can make things happen when your thoughts are so focused on something, whether negative or positive”. This meant my thoughts would create the outcome that I believed which sent me on another spiral.
Fast forwarding after some intensive work on mindfulness and changing my thought patterns (extremely hard at first), as I was starting to “recover” I found my needs changing. I kept researching and trying different modalities, therapists and practitioners until I found what I call my “network team”. This team consisted of a NEW GP (holistic Doctor), Naturopath, Chiropractor (also specialized in Kinesiology and NET work) and a massage therapist.
I changed my career and completed my Education Assistant course at a special needs school. These children gave me so much. I would see them with big smiles each and every day, as they face much bigger challenges than I was facing. Working with these children made a huge impact in my healing / recovery Journey and it came to the point where I realised it was time to put my big girl pants on and really fight this thing.
Thankfully for me, I was able to get through.
The work I had done with mindfulness, positive affirmations, meditation and developing consistent healthy strategies and habits got me through.
I knew I would be ok with all that I had been through in this mental health and emotional journey, that it was also ok to have days where, it was “ok to not be ok”, that if I had a setback, I had protocols to use to get me back on track. I had a plan!
Through my life I have faced a few challenges, these protocols have played a role in my recovery for all these in one way or another with added self care techniques for each. Although it was a longer and tough process, I did it without the chemical drugs I was being told I should take.
Don’t get me wrong western medicine definitely has its place in our lives, this was just MY choice on how I wanted to move forward and control how I handled my wellness and recovery.
My Journey to recovery from Anxiety, Panic attacks and depression, was a span of 5 years from start, to the point where I felt confident to go out and face the world on my own. It also put me on a path to wanting to help others. I went on to do Massage Therapy and became an Energetic Healer, Reiki Master, Clinical reflexologist, Holistic Counsellor and Meditation Teacher practitioner.
I now run a successful business treating the Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit which allows me to fulfil my passion to help others through one on one sessions, workshops, women’s empowerment and relaxation retreats and mini retreats.
Did I fully recover? I believe I have made it back to 98%. I can’t help that feeling in the back of my mind of, what if it comes back and remains?
Yes I believe at this moment, I am and probably will be, a work in progress.
It is about reminding myself of just how far I have come in my healing and remember to be proud of myself for putting the work in and honouring myself. As you may have guessed, I did get through to my son’s 21st and he is now 30. I also have a 28 year old son who is now married and he and his beautiful wife have given us a gorgeous grandson.
Find gratitude and blessings everyday for even the smallest things. Do what you love. Create the boundaries required for you to live your best life. Surround yourself with people that lift you up, with those that accept and love you for you.