I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder shortly after I graduated college in 2005. For the last few months of college and consistently once I entered the workforce, I started having horrible panic attacks and generalized anxiety all day, every day. I sought help once I had a job and decent insurance. I started seeing a psychiatrist once a month and was prescribed Xanax for the anxiety (the first recommendation was anti-depressants, but the idea of those “brain drugs” scared me). At my worst, I was taking up to 2.5mg of Xanax a day to feel “normal.”
I’m 5′ and 100lbs. I’ve never had weight problems, but I was not healthy. I was inactive and ate at Taco Bell at least three times a week. For many years I only drank soda. I didn’t like how water had “no taste.” I hated cooking. Pizza and McDonalds snack wraps were my best friends.
After 5 years of this, I made a few changes. Shortly before my 27th birthday this year, I moved to Austin, TX from Washington, DC with my boyfriend of two years who eats only a Paleo diet and is a CrossFitter. I was determined to build a new life – take on a less stressful job, eliminate bad friends, and remove other toxic influences that I was sure was contributing to my anxiety. I even took up yoga, going 3-4 times per week. No change. I had to take Xanax before I went to yoga!
Once we had moved, my boyfriend was cooking for us all the time and I was really embracing Paleo. We watched the CrossFit games this year and I decided that I too would join CrossFit. I started in August of this year. I started to thrive. I wasn’t taking any Xanax before those classes. Everyone was so nice and welcoming.
I started noticing that I was going most of the day without reaching for my medication.
Finally, after reviewing the nutrition information about my latte, I gave up my morning Starbucks. I’ve gone full blown Paleo – no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no processed foods, only carbs from fruits and vegetables, lots of protein and healthy fats.
It’s been almost a month and I’m medication and anxiety-free. For the past five years, I’ve lived every day on the verge of flight or fight. There’s always been a knot in my stomach. Even on the medication, my emotions (including happiness) were dulled.
I can’t thank people like you enough for raising awareness on how vastly important an appropriate diet and exercise are to all aspects of quality of life – not just weight loss.
Update from Christina:
I’ve been eating about 90% Paleo – any diversions from that only including occasional alcohol or sugar. I have not reintroduced grains into my diet whatsoever. Interestingly, when my diet is not optimal, I do feel an increase in anxiety. However, being able to attribute that anxiety to my poor diet choices makes the anxiety very manageable.
In conclusion, there has been no need for further medication or treatment…and my life continues to go wonderfully.
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