Most of you know that Mr. Greg and I married at the end of 2020. Soon after our marriage the court hearings began. I honestly wasn’t too worried about anything because in my opinion, the allegations were far fetched. It seemed to be a vengeful attempt to lash out about the announcement of our marriage. Most allegations dealt merely with exchanged words, and roughly half of those dated back to 2017. Who goes to jail for calling someone a name, or better yet, calling a blanket stinky?
Before marrying Greg, I had never experienced an anxiety attack. Sure I have had fearful experiences, have been overwhelmed with sadness, and overcome with worry over situations, but never have I had a physiological reaction that has lingered for extended periods of time. Missing school because I needed to be available for court caused my grades to suffer, backed up work, and greatly reduced time with my children. The phone and video recordings of my husband when interacting with his son had us both terrified that one wrong move, one wrong word, and we could be served with another lawsuit. There was even a point where I suspected that his son’s backpack or watch may have a recording device in it or that we could be being followed by a private investigator. We had nothing to hide, but as you can imagine, when someone has unlimited legal support and big connections, you really have no idea what they are capable of, or how they may twist a situation to ensue another court battle. Due to all of this and much much more, I began having massive anxiety attacks. I had no idea what was happening at first. I just felt like I was dying. Like I couldn’t even walk or talk. Everything would go fuzzy with my vision, I would get ringing in my ears, and would have an overwhelming feeling like I was going to vomit. My body temperature felt like it was going through the roof and I would sweat profusely. The worst part was, I had no way of controlling it.
When the judge found Greg guilty of far less than half of the 53 allegations brought against him, most of which referenced words spoken that he admitted to having said, the opposing counsel urged the judge to sentence Greg to jail time and to cover all attorney fees. (Even fees allegedly incurred, but admittedly never paid, by Greg’s ex-wife dating all the way back to 2017.) I found the entire thing absolutely absurd, thinking to myself, there is no way in hell that my husband is going to jail for things like calling his ex-wife a name, or calling his son’s blanket stinky. There is no way we will be forced to pay attorney fees that were never paid in the first place, fees that had a contract in place that stated they would only be paid if they won their case. But the reality was a hard slap in the face. The judge had ruled: The judge sentenced him to 83 days in jail, with 53 of those days suspended, although the judge seemed to want to impose the full sentence. (15 weekends in jail. Mind you, he gets his son every other weekend. If forced to do consecutive weekends, he would go 15 weekends without his son, reducing overnights to two Wednesdays per month) and to pay roughly half of the opposing counsel’s invoiced attorney fees (even though he was not found guilty of more than half of the allegations). On top of all of that, the opposing counsel insisted that Greg’s jail sentence begin immediately!
This is when I began to spiral. I felt hopeless watching my husband break down, and fall into a numb sort of state. We both couldn’t believe what was happening. He has always paid child support on time, has been present for his son, even plans special activities on weekends when we have his son. We provide a safe and secure family atmosphere and always treat all three of our boys equally with the same amount of love and attention. There were no counts of physical abuse, or any other criminal allegation that would, in my opinion, justifiably warrant jail time. We are just an everyday family. How can he be sentenced to such harsh punishments that will take him away from his family and children like this, or further punishments that could cripple us financially? He was getting the maximum penalty for some of the counts he admitted to. One night, just before we were married, our boys wanted to watch movies and have a sleepover at Greg’s house. We thought that was a fine idea and said ok. The Judge, in her discretion, sentenced Greg to the maximum punishment for that sleepover, a $50 fine and 10 days in jail. In case you are wondering about calling the blanket stinky, he was sentenced to 3 days.
So many questions going through my head. I stopped eating, began drinking more wine than normal when we didn’t have our children, and spent a lot of time laying in bed, feeling like I couldn’t get up. The anxiety attacks were getting to the point that I contemplated going to the hospital a few times. I knew I needed to get a hold of myself. I couldn’t live like this one more day, so I decided to take back control.
As for the sentencing, we are in the middle of an appeal. I am praying that the appeal will go in our favor, we can put this behind us, and get on with our lives.
How I Am Fighting the Anxiety
Make An Action Plan to Stop the Source of Anxiety
First plan of action, set our ground rules and boundaries for the situation. No speaking to (insert name) unless we absolutely have to, and when we do, make it short and polite so as not to make her mad or the situation awkward, especially for his son’s sake. We will go out of our way to be nice when replying to any email that is sent to us. If a request or demand is sent that is not required in the Parenting Plan or may disadvantage Greg, I told him to polietly stand your ground and try to come up with a resolution between you two as quickly as possible. (There have even been times that we have given in to (insert name’s) requests or demands, just to avoid possible litigation.) At any events, do not look in (insert name’s) direction, don’t even make eye contact unless she comes up to us and begins talking to us first. (Greg was accused of intimidation by looking at her so we fixed that.) We made a pact that we would be as pleasant as possible when spoken to, emailed by, or when present in (insert name’s) environment. We even went as far as making a rule not to say her name in our household, AT ALL. It is sad that we have had to set these rules but we are terrified that anything we do may be taken out of context and we will be sued. It has been over 6 months that we decided to set these hard boundaries and we have done a great job of sticking to them. Making a plan of action and setting boundaries is the first step in fighting anxiety. When you have a plan, you have a direction. When you have a clear direction you can make clear decisions which will elicit control.
Second plan of action, take back control over my body and health.
Hot Herbal Teas
It is super easy to medicate your anxiety with wine or other alcohol preferences. This is obviously extremely dangerous and can cause a dependancy. I have made a rule for myself to not consume alcohol when upset. Of course I love a night out with friends and will indulge in my favorite gin or wine, but when I am down, I keep alcohol away. Instead, I have turned to herbal teas. Obviously, tea does not have nearly the same numbing effect that alcohol does, but when I make a warm cup of herbal tea, crawl up in my bed with the lights low, and put on my favorite binge series, I have created a self soothing atmosphere. After a few weeks of doing this, I crave this self soothing atmosphere and do not even think about a glass of wine.
I use my tonal but this doesn’t have to be anything structured, you can choose to just run up and down your stairs, do jumping jacks for 5 minutes, or try to beat your push up record. The goal here is to expend as much energy as you can in a short amount of time. This helps tremendously when I have just heard bad news and I can feel my heart rate begin to rise. Running, biking, push-up’ing, or jumping the bad news out of your head really works. It may sound weird, but it’s all about control. When my heart rate begins to rise uncontrollably due to anxiety, I take back the control and intentionally raise my own heart rate through vigorous activity. (Yes, sex qualifies for you couples out there.) These activities not only put the control back in my court, but also help to blow off steam and take my mind off of the situation that is causing me stress.
The Whoop isn’t necessarily an activity, but is a great device for monitoring your heart rate, sleep, and activity levels. The high levels of stress caused me to have night terrors, several nights in a row. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. When my heart rate would rush, I could feel it in my chest and hear it in my ears. My activity levels were dreadfully low due to lack of motivation about anything in life. The whoop has given me visibility to these things. The whoop records how many hours of sleep I get, my respiratory rate while sleeping, how often I am in dream vs deep sleep state, how many disturbances I have throughout the night, my heart rate, and daily activity levels. With this information, I am able to track how my stress management changes have positively effected my overall health and it motivates me to keep up these positive routines.
You all know I love a great bath these days, I have been sharing my spa bath night set ups in stories on my Instagram. This is one of the best ways to calm your anxiety, but it is all about the atmosphere. First, I set up my bath area with my favorite products and a few necessities. Then I run super warm water (as warm as you can bare) and pop in epsom salts and a bath bomb. Don’t be afraid to pop a few bath products into the water. Next, I grab a hot cup of herbal tea. Lastly, I turn the lights off, light a bunch of candles, and tell Alexa to play spa music. I spend about 30 min to an hour in the bath and follow my bath with a cool shower. I know a cool shower sound terrible, but when you have sweated everything out in that hot water, the cool shower feels exhilarating. On bath nights, I usually snuggle up and sleep in my robe.
Reach Out to a Higher Power
Praying has been a HUGE part of the process. I have always been religious and spiritual by incorporating prayer in my daily routines, but lately I have made more of a ritual out if it. I am catholic, so I will light a candle, turn down the lights, lay in bed, and recite a few Hail Mary’s and an Our Father or two before speaking candidly to God. Whatever your religion may be, set a time and space to speak to your higher power. We are only human, and can’t go at everything alone. While I may have my significant other and family walking this journey with me, I find clarity and solace in laying my worries on the cross and asking for blessings and healing.
CBD Gummies or Natural Sleep Aids
After watching my Whoop data, I have learned that my respiratory rate is lower and I stay in deep sleep longer when I take a CBD gummy or a natural sleep supplement before bed. Not only does it shut down my brain, which seems to run wild with thoughts from our situation when I lay down at night, it keeps me sound and fights off the nightmares. As a matter of fact, I tend to have more pleasant dreams when I fall asleep faster, as those worrisome thoughts do not linger into the dream realm.
If you are experiencing extreme anxiety, give some of these lifestyle changes a try. It will take a couple of weeks to level out, but stick with it. I have learned that control is a big part of managing, the physiological episodes, so take back control with me!
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