I have anxiety.
Not like “sometimes I get tense” (though for years I thought that was the case). No. I have generalized anxiety disorder. GAD presents various ways for various people, but I’ve experienced everything from constant lung-crushing anxiety, to panic attacks, to crippling anxiety spikes out of the blue, to post-partum anxiety, to phobias, to extreme anxiety around specific topics (hey, money!).
No Shame Game
Though anxiety is a profoundly stigmatized topic in our culture, I have no particular shame about talking or treating my anxiety…. because hey. Some of us are just wired differently, and that’s totally okay.
While I’ve spent most of my life dealing with anxiety in various forms, I’ve only spent the last handful of years really working on self-care. After years of struggle, I’ve realized that I don’t have to try to struggle through my anxiety alone, and that there are a ton of resources available to help me out. So I use them all: I take meds, I go to therapy, I talk openly with friends and loved ones about anxiety, I recently tried hypnotherapy (which was awesome). And I also use alternative treatments… because when it comes to anxiety, I will enthusiastically embrace anything that works.
Rescue Remedy to the…Rescue
So when Maddie came to me to ask if I wanted to write “about this stress relief product I’ve never heard of, Rescue?” I was delighted, because I’ve been using Rescue Remedy for more than a decade, and I love it. Rescue is an over-the-counter holistic stress solution that was developed over eighty years ago, whose sole purpose is to help you stay calm when you need it. And since it’s made from flower essences, it is both mild and non-habit forming.* But the bottom line? It’s always worked phenomenally well for me.
Early in November (not realizing what a profoundly stressful time this month would be for so many of us), I packed Rescue Remedy in my bag as I got ready to take an international trip involving five flights, as a phobic flyer. What I did not know is that my husband was about to unintentionally take my experiment up a notch by forgetting to pack the anti-anxiety meds I normally take for travel. CUE PANIC AND FREAK OUT. Leaving me with just a bottle of Rescue Remedy and baby cuddles to calm me.
So once we got past a terrified mini argument, I sprayed Rescue Remedy under my tongue at takeoff, the familiar taste and smell immediately grounding me. But when we hit the worst turbulence of my life off the coast of Canada in the middle of the night (fun time to forget meds!), and I took Rescue sleep aid in desperation, I was shocked to find that it really helped. The knife edge of my anxiety dulled, and… I went to sleep. Blessed, bumpy sleep.
Self-Care Is Not Just For Other People
I’ve written on and off about anxiety over the years on APW, because I think it’s important to talk about something stigmatized, without giving into shame. I think it’s important to model the fact that you can experience awful anxiety and panic attacks, and still go on to do big things with your life.
But most of all, I think it’s vitally important for women to model self-care for other women. Particularly when it comes to issues as stigmatized as mental health care, or just taking care of ourselves in stressful situations. Because if there is one thing society has taught me, it’s that I should just be able to power through. That I shouldn’t need childcare help, or a shoulder to cry on, or medication for anxiety, or a moment to take a time out, or any form of basic self-care. That I should be able to suck it up, and do it all (and get some sort of medal for refusing help).
And that’s a lie. Frankly, a lie the patriarchy has come up with to keep us down. (Because I’ve never seen men holding back on self-care, whether it’s poker nights or Sports Center or just getting a damn sitter already.)
So this (incredibly stressful) holiday season, I’m going to be keeping my bottle of Rescue Remedy in my pocket. And in those moments where I need to ground myself, or take a five second time out, I’ll take it out, give myself a little spray… and breathe.
This post was sponsored by Rescue, maker of the original Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower essences, specially formulated to help you mellow out during times of stress. The Rescue formula includes Rock Rose for confidence and composure, Impatiens for patience and tolerance, Clematis for focus and motivation, Star of Bethlehem for comfort and reassurance, and Cherry Plum for self-control and stability. Click here to find a local Rescue retailer near you (spoiler alert, you can totally get it on Amazon too).
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.