I am a supplement junkie. Especially an energy supplements junkie.Combine that with my basic lack of understanding of chemicals and ingredients and it’s really a recipe for disaster. If you clicked on this thinking you were going to get a great education on what to look for in a supplement, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Instead, I’m going to tell you what can happen when you’re relatively clueless.
My Energy Supplement Search
I’ve never been a coffee drinker so I have occasionally found myself needing to find something to perk me up “of an afternoon.” I have tried many different packets, powders and shots. A well-advertised one sent me to my doctor with a pounding heartbeat. Some, despite tasting absolutely horrible, made no impact whatsoever so I suffered their consumption for nothing. Eventually I stumbled across a well-known “health” company’s energy supplement drink that not only seemed to wake me up (without making me jittery) but actually was fairly tasty. I was absolutely sold. I started drinking it on long car trips at first just to help me stay awake. Then I tried it for that basic afternoon pick-me-up. Worked like a charm.
Over time, it started to become an everyday afternoon treat. I had a feeling that it wasn’t really working anymore, but I put that to the back of my consciousness. I don’t know why except maybe I assumed I was feeling better than I would without it. Somehow, quite a few months ago, it became my wake-me-up juice in the morning. I’m not even sure when it happened but pretty quickly it became my morning routine to drink one before I did anything else and then to sometimes have a second one in the afternoon. I would often put it in a pretty glass just to enjoy the experience even more. I had given up diet coke a couple years earlier and this was my addictive treat of choice! I convinced myself that I had to have it in the morning. The only down-side, I figured, was the cost but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
Life Change and Depression
So here’s the parallel story. My husband retired in April of 2017 and we moved back home to Ohio. Quite a big adventure considering we had spent so many years overseas. There were a lot of stresses, for sure, and I certainly wasn’t helping with the way I was taking care of myself. At some point I realized that depression was becoming a way of life and I hopped onto some Lexapro. (That’s so crazy in itself, how apathetic I became for a while, but I was determined to stick it out and eventually it all came around and I felt very steady in that direction.)
So depression. Okay. That was familiar territory and I had gotten some meds and all seemed okay. Then sometime in the Spring of this year I realized that I was starting to avoid going out. I wanted to stay home. Every day. I made up excuses to miss anything and everything I had committed to. I thought that this was who I was now. I know, makes no sense when I say that, but it all happened so gradually that I really did just feel like it was a natural evolution of my post-retirement personality. I was concerned but only to a degree. Home became comfortable. I could go many days without having to go anywhere at all and in fact would feel a bit panicked at the thought of leaving my house.
Anxiety on Steroids
It wasn’t until September of this year that the physical symptoms of anxiety started. The worse they got, the more scared I got, and the more I burrowed in. My nervous system felt like it was firing at every spot in my body. I felt like one of those x-ray blankets was on top of my head, pushing me into the earth. And I had strong bouts of vertigo that would seemingly come out of nowhere, especially around the same time every day – 1pm. I felt like I was losing my mind. On top of that, this was all happening around the time of the Kavanaugh hearings and I started to wonder – had I repressed something horrible? What on earth was happening to me?
As you do, I let this go on for way too long. Eventually my friend Julia told me to call and make an appointment with a therapist. I said I would… She said, No. Do it. So I did. My appointment was scheduled for a Monday in October. About Wednesday of the week before, panicked at the thought of yet another day of this torment, I thought about doing an entire elimination of everything I was consuming. Going to water only and rebuilding from there. Maybe something I was putting into my body was causing this. It could happen. And then I thought about the energy drink. It seemed a great place to start because it was absolutely the most consistent part of my daily intake. I decided that I was not going to take it that day. Why not. I already felt horrible. How much worse could I feel. The morning went on and the afternoon came and then it was evening and I hadn’t had an anxiety attack. Okay. Well. Everyone is due a day off. Maybe that was just mine.
So the next day, again I avoided my energy supplement. No anxiety attack. And I felt better in general. Not ready to leave the house but my head felt a little more engaged with my work. Over the next few days, although I did not leave the house, I didn’t have another anxiety attack and every day my head felt clearer and I was able to focus and concentrate.
By the time it was time for my therapy appointment (which I kept) I was feeling quite a bit better and the following days had me feeling better and better and soon I felt like my old self. Ready to re-engage with the world – ready to re-commit to my obligations – and ready to be out and about without fear of heading outside. I had lost a lot over the preceding months. I spent most of my summer at home. I had to drop out of my improv class because I just couldn’t get there. I had let down people I had made commitments to. I had forced my husband to watch me disintegrate on a daily basis.
Just Be Careful and Pay Attention to Your Body
You have probably noticed that I did not name the energy supplement that I believe I had such a strong reaction to. That’s because it’s not about any one brand of supplements. My message really is that if you find yourself in a place, emotionally, and you don’t know how you got there, take a good hard look at everything you’re consuming. Even if someone else has a great experience with a supplement, it doesn’t mean that your body will love it. I had been taking this drink for quite a few years. It took a long time for me to build up my frequent intake enough that it overwhelmed my system and sent me down a rabbit hole. (I do want to say, because many of my friends know how much Ningxia Red from Young Living has changed my life & health, that it is not Ningxia Red or any other Young Living product.)
It is a complicated, noisy world out there. Be careful with yourself.