Here I am reading this week's column -- about flower essences! I've been MIA the last few weeks due to dealing with some anxiety and family things, which I'll get to later. In the meantime, here are some things that have been helpful.
After having an anxiety-ridden time of it (most of my life), including a good old-fashioned anxiety attack last week — bully for me! — I’ve been amassing a list of helpers and non-helpers. Which you may or may not follow, because, if I knew how to get rid of this chest-tightening friend, I wouldn’t have it anymore, right?
Here’s what happened: Since I’m hypersensitive these days to my body’s weirdnesses, I started asking myself why I couldn’t take deep enough breaths after singing and feeling winded. This began a spiral in my head: “Can I breathe enough?” And then I got dizzy and next thing you know I am in the bathroom trying to calm myself down.
Watching the new Starz series, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, “American Gods,” didn’t help. I know people are going nuts over this show. I think it is just a toughie to adapt in a way that actually feels satisfying to the viewer, as currently it is very episodic. But, I thought to myself, anxiety attacks AND erections on television are on the table of my life now? Yeesh. (Ian McShane, however, as Mr. Wednesday, is magic.)
Other things that probably don’t help: caffeine, blood sugar spikes/plummets, crowds, but mostly the fear of fear (as my therapist has explained can turn a sporadic anxiety attack into panic disorder).
I sprayed Fear-Less by FES Flowers into my mouth and it helped, I think. Who knows? It’s a combination of essential oils and flower essences that are to help with panic and the like, such as red clover, mountain pride, California valerian, Oregon grape, mimulus, rock rose and green rose.
“Composure and containment when challenged by fear, anxiety or panic,” it says on the bottle. I’ll have what she’s having.
If you aren’t already hip to the flower essence tip, basically it’s known as a vibrational essence of a flower or plant (or, in some cases, trees, rocks, gems) mixed with water and brandy, traditionally. Usually the plant is left in water in the sun, but the possibilities are endless, including “no-pick” essences, etc.
Flower essences in general are my jam. I have gotten a few custom ones from a woman in North Carolina — Purifoy Spirit Essences. I also love Bach’s Rescue Remedy and FES Flowers’ Yarrow Environmental Solution. Yarrow is amazing for boundaries, if you’re into those sorts of things.
Herbs rule (chamomile, holy basil and lavender are some faves), provided you don’t have any medication interaction. Always check with your docs. This is why flower essences are sometimes a better choice. You can use the flower essence of St. John’s Wort since it is merely a vibrational imprint of the plant without it messing with your hormonal birth control or hormone-manipulating meds, whereas using the actual plant or a tincture is contraindicated.
Also helpful: Acupuncture, lying on the yoga bolster, yoga in general, massage and distraction. And going easy on yourself. Like the flower, we get to be simultaneously thriving and delicate.
Jenn Sutkowski realizes that moving across the country in the same year as having a cuckoo diagnosis might also be contraindicated. Certain music is helpful for that, too. She wishes you lavender essential oil-scented calm. Find her handling it at jennsutkowski.com.
This Full Frontal column appeared first in the Newport Mercury.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.