Anyone with any kind of chronic health problems gets tons of advice, solicited or otherwise. Most of the time otherwise. But as opposed to saying something does or doesn’t work, I’d like to offer more constructive feedback on each suggestion. Just because the rest of the world doesn’t apply critical thinking or medical science to your condition(s) doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself! And not to brag or anything, but as a person with GAD, OCD, panic disorder, and Tourette Syndrome, I’m kind of an expert. Despite my expertise, remember that your own results may vary.
As both a scent and a culinary ingredient, lavender is wonderful. I have used it while making cupcakes, love it as a perfume scent, and bought ice cream with some in it. I even made a trip to a lavender farm where I tried some lavender-infused wine. Delicious all around.
Despite the otherwise glowing review, I cannot give it a full five stars because it did not cure my anxiety and did not stop my panic attacks like the internet promised. Four out of five stars.
A Paper Bag
During my first panic attack, my pediatrician -- or maybe it was the school nurse -- suggested I breathe through a paper bag. I thought that was something people only did in cartoons. Based on how unhelpful it was, I think I will leave the paper bag therapy for cartoons. It also made me feel bad for the tree used to make it that was wasted on an eleven year-old with a racing heart and an inability to breathe, even less so through a bag. One out of five stars.
Running feels awful while I’m doing it, but afterwards, I will actually admit that I feel refreshed and a lot better. However, I don’t like the way it aggravates my acid reflux and makes my muscles sore, which were probably already sore from repressing my tics, which exercise is supposed to lessen. Nonetheless, I’ll give exercise four out of five stars for its multifaceted benefits such as keeping my mortal vessel functional for a little bit longer.
Mindfulness can come in different forms: coloring, praying, meditating, and many other ways. This one is hard to judge because it truly does depend on what it is.
Coloring is helpful until your hand gets cramped. If you’re using markers, the colors get all over your hands. Or maybe that’s just me. Am I just an overgrown toddler?
Praying depends on your faith system of course. While praying is helpful for me, it was not helpful during the times I have accidentally fallen asleep mid-prayer. Nearly every single time I’ve done this, the intrusive thoughts about whether or not God still loves me haunts my mind for the rest of the day. Not cool!
Regular mindfulness is supposed to be pretty effective, and there are days where this works for me until a tic or an intrusive thought says, “Okay sweetie, it’s time to go home! Say goodbye to your little friends for now and maybe you’ll get to see them tomorrow.” Three out of five stars.
I used to Google if anxiety could be fixed by brain surgery, and was disappointed that there really wasn’t an option for it unless it was so bad that not even the power of lavender and paper bags could stop it! Worse, it can be so expensive and it’s scary. But someone out there in an obscure scientific study I couldn’t understand might have seen good results, so I’ll give it two out of five stars.
When I figured out that brain surgery wouldn’t be an option, a related article mentioned that eating certain vegetables could help me. One of the ones listed was peas. I’m not a big fan of peas, but I’m even less of a fan of anxiety. I found a can of peas in the pantry, microwaved them, and then pretended they were a delicacy for as long as I could stand them. They tasted like metal and did not cure my anxiety, but did at least provide sustenance for my body. Two out of five stars.
Not Talking About It
Repressing feelings works for a time. Until it doesn’t. Zero out of five stars.
Simply Not Having a Chronic Condition
The moment my primary care physician told me I needed to get my anxiety and other conditions under control was the day I decided to simply never have a neurological disorder with comorbidities. How would I take care of my future children with my easily manageable chronic issues? It’s not like chronic illnesses last a while! I mean really, get a grip, girl!
Just because I was 19 and never mentioned any plans of having children really doesn’t count. I decided to stop being selfish and removed my brain from my skull and put it directly in the trash. “I think, therefore I am?” Oh no, honey, I don’t think, and therefore I’m cured! Five out of five stars.
Gretchen Gales is the executive editor of Quail Bell Magazine. Her work has been in Next Avenue, Bustle, YourTango, and others. See more of her nonsense at writinggales.com.