When You Can’t Always Trust That Gut Feeling, Thanks to Anxiety

We have probably all heard the term “trust your gut”. I have even told a younger person while giving them advice, that if you ever get that gut feeling that tells you this might not end well, to listen to it. Then I realized, maybe this was not the best advice. I mean this had been true for me at times, but so many other times, it was not. Actually, I often had that feeling in my gut, but nothing ever actually went wrong. I spent so many years in fear of having fun because, well, something may go wrong. I often thought of the worst case scenario. Ironically, the times in my life when the worst scenario did happen, I never even saw it coming.

Thanks to this, and thanks to of course finally getting actual help for my Anxiety, I started relaxing and having more fun. When you have Anxiety, your body is often stuck in fight or flight mode. Your body thinks you are still living as a caveman constantly worrying about some wild animal attacking you. However, sometimes this is a good thing. In this blog, when I talk about the kind of anxiety everyone has, I will keep it lowercase. If I capitalize it, I am talking about the other kind of Anxiety. The other kind is when you are anxious all the time, or at least so often that it interferes with your life. It is when you feel anxious for what seems like no reason.

For me, it is when you are just going about your day and it suddenly feels like you are having a heart attack, it truly hurts and scares you. Actually, after it happens enough, it does not scare you as much anymore. You know you will be okay and that it is just a panic attack, but it still scares you a little, because the fact you did not see it coming and the fact that you are already on medication for it, and have been for a long time, means you still do not have complete control over it, and that scares you. It also still hurts and sometimes makes you cry. You also wonder if one day you might have a real heart attack and just think you are having a panic attack.

Even when you have this type of Anxiety, you still have the normal anxiety everyone else has. It is often hard to distinguish the two. When an actual panic attack occurs, it is easier for me to tell the difference of course. I know that I am either having one when there is nothing to be anxious about in the moment, or having a more anxious response than most to something it is normal to feel anxious about. Even when it seems there is nothing to be anxious about, I often think that maybe it is because there are things I have been anxious about, and not dealing with that have built up. I also sometimes get that heart attack feeling in a moment where any other person would be anxious, but most not anxious enough to have a panic attack, so I know the panic attack part is still a symptom of my Anxiety. I saw my stepdad experience this when he once had a stroke and he kept losing feeling in half of his body in the hospital. Every time, he got anxious, worrying it might be permanent, like any person probably would, but his kind of anxious, was the capital A kind and he had panic attacks. Luckily, it eventually quit happening and was not permanent.

There are other times, where I feel anxious in a moment where anyone would feel anxious, and react the same way most people would react, yet I still question if that is what is happening. I have explained this all to my daughter, because she seems like she might have the capital letter kind like me. I was hoping she would not, but at least she will know earlier than me to not always fear your gut, and maybe she will get help and relax and have more fun earlier than I did.

Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

Teaching Your Children not to Ignore Their Mental or Physical Health

When my daughter was a toddler, like many, we used to joke it often sounded like she was speaking a different language. She talked early and often, but at times only my husband and I could understand her. As she got even older, and we were still sometimes the only ones that could understand everything she said, some started suggesting something might be wrong. Maybe it was because I was still recovering from severe postpartum depression at this point, but that bothered me so much at first. I don’t know if I felt it was my fault or I thought it somehow made me a bad mother, but it made me defensive at first. My husband and I also did not have any speech issues that I knew of when younger, but some of our family did. Eventually I gave in, got her the help she needed, which turned out to just be speech therapy, and we saw almost instant improvement. This therapy continued for a bit and helped make sure she was ready for Kindergarten.

However, in second grade, one of her teachers, who we still call the best teacher she has had even years later, noticed something with her speech that most probably wouldn’t. She only noticed because her daughter had the same issue. This time, I had no guilt, and did not hesitate to accept the free speech therapy offered by the school, (well, not really free, but paid with our tax dollars, but still, we had to pay the first time, so this was nice). My daughter continued this therapy off and on through the years until recently, and it has helped her tremendously. There are other children I have known, who are now adults with a stutter, because they never got the help they needed, whether it was because the parents felt guilt or shame, or did not want their children to, or for other reasons, I do not know.

I often try to imagine if my daughter had turned out to have a more serious issue, and how I would have handled that. Looking back of course, it seems silly for me to have been so defensive about my child possibly needing speech therapy, when others have much more serious issues. Maybe one of my fears was finding out it was a more serious issue, or it was my daughter experience shaming for having it, like she wouldn’t if we tried to ignore and it and did not get help for it. Of course I felt a little guilty in retrospect, but I have learned it is important to not harp on guilt. As I recovered from my postpartum depression for instance, I also noticed positive changes in my daughter. This made me realize something I already feared, which is yes, I think our children do pick up on our depression, and the hard part is to stop dwelling on the guilt, and to work on getting better for them, and for you. My daughter does not even remember any of it now, but she does know about it, we do talk about it in case she ever goes through the same. She is now my biggest fan and encourager!

Even though her speech issues are resolved for now, she still shows signs of anxiety like me. Because of this, she often talks too fast for others to follow, especially when she gets excited. Of course, I think a lot of people, or maybe even everyone, does this to some extent when excited. I am the same way, because, even on medication, my mind is often full and I try to get it all out before I forget at times. This made some worry she still had speech issues at first, but the speech professionals agreed that was just fast talking, possibly from anxiety and possibly just from normal excitement. My daughter may have speech issues again later in middle school, or in high school, and if she does, I would again not hesitate to get her the help she needs. She also does not feel any shame, and realizes it is to help her. She is proud of how far she has come, and wants to maintain her progress, so I hope if she has any speech issues, anxiety issues, or anything else as an adult, or if she has children with them, that she does not hesitate to seek more help.

Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

The Worst Day of My Life Was my First Day Towards Recovery

The worst day of my life was when my husband left me. We were both twenty-eight years old. I am now about to turn thirty-eight in less than a month. We were high school sweethearts. Our daughter was two years old. The day he left also happened to be the same day he had asked me out twelve years before. We were both sixteen years old. I remember the day Jay left in bits and pieces, like most things then. He probably remembers things differently than I do. I remember being up with Aubrie because, as usual, she would not sleep. I think I had to be up for work in about four hours. I could not wait for Jay to get home to offer me some relief.  He was closing that night. I would often get excited at the sound of the garage door opening. That night, Jay texted me that he was going to Waffle House with some coworkers before he came home. This upset me and that upset him. I am pretty sure at this point he said he could not take it anymore and that he was leaving.

When Jay left, he did not take Aubrie with him, even though I was a mess. That was the moment I realized he still expected me to be her main caregiver. I just wanted him around more, and now he was leaving for good. I was angry that I was going to have to raise Aubrie as a single mother. I wanted to run away to the beach the day he left, and I thought about it. I knew Jay believed I would not do it. I wanted to prove him wrong.  I wanted to make him, and everyone else worry. I could not go through with it. Even in this state, I thought too much about the consequences. I was so tired of thinking about the consequences. I think I even drove down the street at one point, and came back before I left the neighborhood.

The worst day of my life was also my first day towards recovery.  It was the first time I acted in a way that finally made me, and everyone else around me, realize that something was wrong with me. I would later realize that I had always had #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder and #Anxiety, and that both got severe after losing my father, having a baby, losing my grandfather and then losing my job. I also got so depressed I did not want to live anymore. I decided to stay with my parents and get some help. I went to the doctor and to therapy. I only missed one day of work. At the time, I worked in a retirement community, and we had a therapy dog. She must have sensed the pain I was in. She came into my office and put her head in my lap a lot that week.

After a year and a half of being on and off again, my husband and I eventually worked things out. Over the years it has made my marriage stronger, and I finally got help for my #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder and #Anxiety. I no longer try to just power through both without help. I have also shared my story to help others, because the one thing I wish I had known was that I was not the only one thinking these thoughts and going through this. My experience changed me so much. I have always had an open mind and will continue to, but I eventually realized what my own beliefs were as opposed to what I was raised to believe. I truly found myself, and became more comfortable being myself and sharing my true feelings without shame. I kept trying to get back to the same person I was before, but that was not possible. I was different, but I finally realized that was not a bad thing. If I ever went through the same thing again, I would be more prepared. I was stronger. Even if I never went through the same again, I know I will go through hard times. That is just a part of life. Now I feel better prepared for this though.

People say time heals, and it does, but you are forever scarred. Most of the time, it is hard for me to remember feeling as badly as I did. Occasionally, something, often a song will remind me, and I will remember that pain just for a moment. If Jay had never left, I think I would have gotten better without getting as bad as I did and without needing as much help as I did.  However, I might have not gotten the help I needed for my general #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder and #Anxiety like I did. Also, like a lot of other women, I am not sure I would have ever completely realized I had #postpartum #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder/#Anxiety/#Depression. After sharing my story, I have had many women tell me they think they had it long ago without even realizing it. I think I was starting to get better right before Jay left. I was starting to realize something was wrong. I recently saw a quote that said, “Even though your wounds are not your fault, your healing is still your responsibility.” This took me a long time to realize. Most of the time you don’t get rescued. Even if someone tries to, they often fail, despite their best efforts. You must want to get better yourself. You must fight and save yourself most of the time.

I never thought I would relate to people who did not want to live anymore. I used to get angry at people who died by suicide. Like a lot of people, I thought it was selfish. I now know that the people who get to that point do not mean to be selfish at all. I have more sympathy and less judgment. They don’t realize they are just passing the pain onto others who love them. They truly believe you will be better off without them. They are suffering so badly, and just want to make it stop. There are better ways to make it stop.  I never tried to kill myself or planned it out, but I did want to die at times. I am not sure if there had not been a pill in front of me that I could have easily taken at certain points, that I would not have. I am glad I did not. Life is better than ever for me now, and I hope to make others realize it can be for them too.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

Those Closest To You Won’t Always Be Your Biggest Supporters

When I first started writing a book about my experience with Postpartum Depression, OCD and Anxiety, of course I was worried my daughter might one day think I did not want her, or that she was somehow to blame for how I felt or what I went through. I needed to tell her my story regardless, even if I never told the world, because I did not want her to go through the same thing.  Who knew she would end up being my biggest fan and supporter. She is only 12 now, some might think this will change one day. I do not think so though. I have been as honest with her as I could as she has grown older. I know she still does not completely understand and will more with age, but she is gifted and I think she understands a lot more than some adults. She thinks the thought of me having a book on Amazon is awesome and so do her friends. Yes, she has read my book. Yes, I discussed everything in it with her first. She understands that I love her like crazy, she was very planned, and that what I went through had nothing to do with her and was not her fault.

When I wrote my book, I thought my husband and family and friends would be my biggest fans. I thought they would all buy copies, share all my posts, give me nothing but encouraging words, etc. I thought they would help me sell enough copies to make some money to actually get the book professionally edited and to advertise etc. In reality, this was the case with some, but I ended up giving a lot of free copies away, so many I did not lose money, but broke even. I received some praise but I heard a lot more criticism. Of course, this is something you should be prepared for when writing a book, but I was not ready. I think I was still healing and that is why for the time being, I unpublished the book, and did not try to republish it again for years.  Now that I am republishing, I have almost 1k Facebook friends, but less than 300 likes on my Facebook page and I believe over half of those are strangers. I believe most of my Twitter followers and blog followers are strangers.

My daughter and a friend were the ones who got me wanting to give it another try.  When I told a friend I did not know when I first wrote my book about it, she asked why did I have it unpublished if it could be published and I could be making money on it?  Also my daughter asked why I did not have it published anymore and I did not want to tell her I just gave up because it was hard, so I gave it another go. I am so glad I did and she has been my biggest cheerleader and encourager by far! Of course the big dream is to become a best seller, but the more realistic one is to make some money doing something I love while helping others. The worst case scenario is I don’t make money but fulfill my childhood dream and still feel like I helped people and I will still feel accomplished. Writing is like acting. A lot of actors start as waitresses. You have to have another real job at first because you don’t make any money at first. Only those that make it huge make tons of money, but many do make enough to make it a living, others make enough to make some good extra money.

It is really important to me now that I tell my story in a way that my husband is okay with. He will be reading my final professional edit this weekend and hopefully approving it. When I first wrote the book, instead of just thinking of my target audience as being women going through the same, I also thought of my audience as those around me who missed the signs liked my husband. I eventually gave this up. I mean don’t get me wrong, I still hope and want everyone to read my book and blogs, even those who have not been through this or are not going through this, for one, in case they ever do, or because it is very likely that someone they know will, is or already has.

However, the way I got better was because I finally quit waiting for others to understand, or rescue me. Not saying I did not have any help or support, but even those closest to me did not understand what I was going through in the way others going through it did or I did. I had to do a lot of things that made me uncomfortable to get better including medication and therapy. Some family have never even acknowledged I had a postpartum mood disorder. If I ever discuss it they do not say anything, they either ignore it or change the subject. I feel like they hate me telling my story publicly, while at the same time not being embarrassed to post their extreme political beliefs on Twitter, and yes I do think this has a lot to do with why I suffered so long in the first place or suffered at all. “One stranger  who understands your experience exactly will do for you what hundreds of close friends and family who don’t understand cannot. It is the cool glass of water in hell.” This quote from Laura McKowen in We Are The Luckiest” is why I wrote my book and why I blog and share my story.

Do not get me wrong, I have had many friends and family members, probably reading this right now, who have been so supportive, some that have been through what I have and some that have not, but honestly it has mainly been my daughter and complete strangers keeping me going-hundreds of strangers who have told me I have changed their life, or given them hope and made them realize they are not alone and that they will be OK. My husband and I were at a concert for his favorite band recently and he was talking about how amazing it must be to have a whole stadium singing and relating to the lyrics you wrote. I told him that is how I feel when someone loves my book or my blogs, or writes a comment, or sends a private message about how much they relate or it changed their life. I think he is finally starting to get that.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

When You Have An Panic Attack for What Feels Like No Reason

Since getting on medication long term, I stopped having panic attacks. Eventually I got a new boss, that actually caused a coworker of mine who had never had them before to have them, so I had them again. They stopped again when I left that job. I had not had one in at least over 6 months until I had one recently, and I still have no idea what caused it. I have been surprisingly calm during the current COVID-19 pandemic. I am one of the luckier ones. My husband is still working. He is a restaurant manager and they are doing curbside orders. They closed the preschool I work at for a while, but are paying us for most of the time we are out.  We are also expecting a $2,900 stimulus from the government. I have also been babysitting for essential employees during this time, so I am actually making more money than before the pandemic. The people I babysit for have a pool, which is great since our neighborhood one might not open this year.

I actually used some of our extra money to have my book professionally edited. It should be done in a couple of weeks! Before I started babysitting, I had some extra time at home to catch up on all my shows, and to get some blogging and work done on my book. The day I had the panic attack was at the end of a somewhat rough day. It was one of my first days babysitting. I was just finding out that one of the children had special needs I was unaware of. This was making homeschooling both of them very challenging. Since then, I have gotten to know the children better, and things are still challenging at times, but much easier. I did not think babysitting stressed me out that much that day. Maybe it did though, or maybe it was a combination of that and the pandemic.

Although I have mainly looked at the bright side of things, I do miss my work children and coworkers so much! I also miss going to my favorite restaurants and the movies. I feel like maybe my medicine has made me feel so calm that I do not even realize when I am anxious anymore, but I still am sometimes. I instantly knew I was having a panic attack when it happened because of having them before. It was not like the first time I had one, or the first few where I thought there might be something wrong with my heart. Despite knowing what it was, it still hurt and still scared and surprised me, and I cried. My chest hurt so bad, but I quickly tried to lie down and do some breathing I know helps, to calm down and stop it. I was able to stop it pretty quickly and was fine.

If you don’t know what a panic attack feels like, for me personally, it usually feels like my heart might beat out of chest and I have trouble breathing. I feel like I might pass out if I do not lie down. There are many times I had them that made sense. Once I was on a scary ride, another time I had to see my husband for the first time after we separated off and on for a little while many years ago. Other times, I have been working out and started to have one. This was so strange to me because working out usually relaxes me. I think maybe sometimes you have them when your body slows down enough to finally panic. I think the same thing happened the day I got home from babysitting and finally relaxed, and it just totally caught me off guard. I have not had one since, so unless they become frequent again, I don’t plan any extra visits to the doctor or changes in my medication or career anytime soon.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

I Think MY OCD and Anxiety Medication gave me cavities!

Getting on medication for my OCD, and the Anxiety it caused, was very hard for me, even when not getting help for it had also caused me to get severely depressed. I believed in all the myths about getting on medication at first. The truth is medication does not work for everyone. Some people need other treatments and some need medicine along with other treatments. You also often have to try many different kinds and dosages to see what might work for you, and even once you find what does, you may have to change it again later if it seems no longer as effective. You must also wean on and off your medicine properly and take it exactly as instructed. I have always taken it as diligently as I used to take birth control.

Even once I finally got on medication, I came off of it too early. I eventually got back on and was finally doing well. I accepted that I might even need medicine for the rest of my life and I now see my doctor at least once a year. This realization is not easy as just taking some pill everyday and reaping the benefits. There are side effects. I had no cavities in my adult teeth. I had one in a baby tooth I lost. In the last few years I believe I have had 4 to 5 cavities. I did not understand why until someone at my dentist asked if I was on any new medication the last few years.

Sure enough, when I looked up the side effects of the OCD medication I was on, dry mouth was a symptom. I knew I had this because at night I would wake up with my mouth feeling so dry even if I kept water by the bed, or tried other things to battle it.  When this happens at night, it can cause cavities. Since figuring this out, I have tried many things to battle the dry mouth, because even if the medicine is 100 percent responsible for the cavities, which I am not even sure of, the benefits of the medicine outweigh the cavity risks.

Cavities are not the only side effect I have experienced.  Even though I am normally diligent about taking my medicine, I am human, and there are times I have forgotten to take it. This has actually affected the way I feel and act and that is a scary thing. So scary that last time it happened I cried, because I realized I will probably have to deal with this my entire life and always have.   Not feeling in control of my actions, feelings, is so frustrating and scary to me, which is why I try to so hard to treat my OCD properly.   I have watched others I know never get help, and have watched them, and those around them, suffer needlessly for it.

The main time in my life that I did not have my illness under control, my marriage almost ended, long time friendships I had ended and I had trouble bonding with my daughter at first. Most of the damage caused was fixed once I got help, but not all of it. I still miss those friends, but some people just don’t accept mental illness as an excuse, even if you did not even realize you had it, or that is why you were doing the things you did, and as soon as you did realize, you eventually did everything you could to get better, even things that made you uncomfortable.

For those of you considering taking medicine, but it makes you uncomfortable, if you give it a chance, just please try to give it a real chance. There may be side effects you don’t like, there may be kinds that don’t work for you, and if you do not follow the instructions your doctor gives you closely, the medicine might make you get worse instead of better, even if temporarily. The reason I think I eventually got back on medication is that once I realized I did not have to fight this on my own anymore, as I had for so long without even realizing it, it was hard to go back to my old ways. I liked my new ways a lot better.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor