For a long time, it felt like anxiety was there to stay. Full-blown panic attacks happened about 3-4 times that first year and I was anxious most of the time. I was in constant fear of the next attack.
The only thing I knew to do was PRAY. At the time, I didn’t know anybody else that had experienced these bizarre attacks so I couldn’t get advice from friends. But prayer got me through one anxious moment at a time and eventually landed me at a store in front of one of those big bins piled full of clearance books that nobody else wanted. I tossed a couple books around and there she was… literally a whole book dedicated to using grounding and breathing techniques to control anxiety and prevent panic attacks! I knew it was a God thing and I was hopeful..… read it quickly cover to cover, took notes, and started practicing.
Then gradually over several months, I was able to start using the techniques effectively in real time... eventually, very slowly taking back control of my mind and my life. The book didn't once mention mediation or yoga (that I remember). It was strictly about very specific breathing techniques and grounding strategies to take control of your mind to stop the irrational thoughts and reactions that lead to panic attacks. It took years and lots of prayer and self-awareness & self-regulation work but I dug in and did the work and won.
Mental/emotional health and well-being is nothing to be taken for granted!
It can be snapped away from you in an instant.
So fast forward to 2013...
It was 14 years after reading that God-sent self-help book before I took my first power yoga class (at our local YMCA). I was immediately hooked on the challenging physical practice. But like most people new to yoga, it took some time to realize the bigger picture and how much of an impact yoga was having on my life beyond the flexibility and strength. Some of the same skills from the book that changed me in my 20's were resurfacing in my 30's through yoga. It was fascinating to make the realization that I had actually recovered from anxiety a decade earlier using many of the same techniques I was learning through yoga (but without the asana/pose components).
There I was in South Alabama, happily married to my obvious match and living a life even more fun and fulfilling that I imagined! I began practicing hot power yoga weekly and for several years I attended every workshop I could find, which led to becoming a yoga instructor and eventually a yoga business owner. I'm right where I'm supposed to be and it was worth every bit of the messy!!!!!!
The struggle and pain, the messy stuff makes you who you are, gives you character, and prepares you to live out your purpose.
Today, my anxiety issues are long gone and when they even start to resurface I'm armed with tools. If you struggle with anxiety you MUST dig in to yoga. Please reach out for support!! -Jamie
Yoga doesn't actually enter my life officially for another 10 years after moving to Alabama. Not until my mid 30’s.
But let’s rewind back to about 1996-ish, back in Louisiana to a giant piece of my story puzzle:
I’m home alone sitting in my living room watching the 6pm news. Not feeling stressed at all and not thinking about anything specifically when my heart starts racing. Like beating out of my chest. I started sweating and my breathing got shallow. What the hell was happening?
Was I having a heart attack, stroke, or about to have a seizure? I don't have a clue, but something is BAD BAD BAD WRONG and I truly feel like I’m going to die. I remember thinking maybe it was a congenital heart issue that had gone undetected. I called my mother-in-law and she took me to the emergency room. I had never even heard of a panic attack or anxiety disorder and I was confused and embarrassed.
This would be the start of an almost 3-year long battle with anxiety.
I could not drive over bridges, I was afraid to stay home alone during storms, I was terrified of any medical procedures, and lived in constant fear of the next anxiety attack. I knew that if I didn’t get a grip and find effective treatment or tools that this disorder would ruin my future and any potential I had to create that passion-filled life I had been dreaming about since childhood.
None of it made sense. I was living a great life and was unaware of the stress that was present. I was tough minded and had my shit together and I just couldn't wrap my head around it. Yes, there was the obvious stress of juggling a new full-time job, starting a new career (as a speech therapist in the school system), grad school at night after work, and planning a big southern wedding. But truthfully, it still did not seem like it should be enough stress to cause a disorder like that! To me, it was normal young adult transition from single college to professional family life stress and it just shouldn't be causing this weak ass anxiety mental stuff.
Looking back, I've often wondered if there also may have been some subconscious worry that I may not be on my right path. I really thought getting married, having children, and building a traditional family was my next obvious successful living step. But maybe my young heart knew that maybe it wasn't? Maybe I didn't have the skills yet or the wisdom to listen. Regardless, I do believe that great long relationship and short marriage was a huge wonderful part of my life though and the challenge of kicking anxiety's ass was an important part of my story!!!
Stress can be subconscious, stress management tools are critical, and even the most stable person can be blindsided by anxiety attacks!
TOO BAD I DIDN'T HAVE YOGA IN MY LIFE THEN!!!!!!
I was 24 yrs old when I moved here to OBA (46 years old today). I had just finished my master’s degree and was starting my career as a speech pathologist. I was in the middle of a sad divorce that almost nobody understood or agreed with and I decided to move away from Louisiana for the first time in my life.
I really thought OBA might be a short chapter, a stepping stone. Maybe I would do some soul searching here at the beach, let life settle a bit, have some fun, and re-establish what the heck my future looked like.
But it turns out it would be a really long and awesome chapter. I created my unique quirky passionate life at the beach.... and it fits me perfectly!! It wasn't without challenges, but I did find the relationship and life that I was longing for as that confused scared gal in the U-haul truck that day.
Jack & I were married in 2007 (close to 10 years after I divorced my high school sweetheart). After years of dating, we planned a private wedding on the beach with just us and the two girls. Then we sent postcards out to all of or friends.
He's a wonderful dad (to our girls, my steppys, who I adore) and uncle (to my Louisiana nieces, who I also adore). He's a talented local musician and entertainer (which helps feed my love and need for music & the arts). Plus he is super smart with numbers and finances (eeew). But that means I get to spend more time on creative projects like this blog and teaching yoga.
We love to have a good time and get to have an extra-ordinary amount of fun together!! We've both worked very hard from a young age and are equally dedicated to loving our family and friends, and building a secure future. We've created a really happy life together.
I'm proud of and thankful to that brave young girl that took a leap of faith and followed her heart to the beach. There is nothing more fulfilling than living authentically, in alignment with what you value most. I'm not saying there haven't been trials, tears, sacrifice ,or hard work (mostly self-work). I am just saying that it was totally worth it. So dig in, do the work, take risks, go for it!!!!
Thanks for caring about my little story and for following along here.
The next blog is about how yoga came in to play!! & I do love me some yoga : )
The next blog is about how yoga came in to play!! & I do love me some yoga : )