I remember the first time I ever had a panic attack.
I was in a bathtub. The most peaceful place on Earth, right?
Come to find out…panic attacks do not discriminate because it hit hard and fast and rocked my world while trying to relax in a warm bath. I thought I was dying in that moment and like most others, rushed to the hospital because I saw my life flash before my eyes. This circus act of feeling as if I were dying and going to the hospital happened multiple times within two weeks.
It progressed even further and turned into full blown anxiety and panic disorder.
Months and months of testing went by to make sure my heart was in working order, which put my anxiety at a whole other level. During this period, I had panic attacks weekly. I became a shell of myself and I refused to leave the house. I was afraid of myself and everything around me. I lived in a bubble of fear – my own personal prison. I became agoraphobic and a hypochondriac believing that I had every single illness and disease known to man.
When the testing was over and the doctor told me that I was as healthy as a horse, despite the panic attacks, I was outraged. That could not be true. I had to be sick, right? I wanted something wrong with me so that it would make sense.
When my cardiologist told me that I was suffering extreme panic and anxiety disorder I was shocked. He told me this would be a mental battle I would need to fight, but that he had a feeling I was a strong individual and would persevere.
But he did not know that I, Catherine Dean, was incredibly weak…powerless.
How could I, someone who had become a shell of herself, be strong against this…battle?
He recommended a full lifestyle change with a fitness regime and a closer look at my eating habits. I remember going home and sitting in the “suck” for a couple of weeks.
I was miserable with this diagnosis and I remember feeling embarrassed.
But there came a moment (not long after the diagnosis) when the truth hit me like a ton of bricks. As I reflected on my life, I started to realize all the ways in which I was creating my own chaos and inner turmoil.
I rushed my way through EVERYTHING. I had little patience. I lived by my to-do list and God help anyone who got in the way of me completing the MILE-LONG list of things to do each day after work. I worked in a hostile environment with a micromanaging boss. I sabotaged anything before it could happen due to my inner critic having control of my day to day thoughts. I hated the girl in the mirror and rarely ever complimented her. I held resentment towards my past bullies, and I was a certified pessimist. I was my own worst critic and I had no idea how to be my own hype girl.
Even though I seemingly had it “all” …a house, a job, a wonderful supportive husband…it did not matter because at the end of the day I was not happy with myself.
That day in the bathtub was my body rejecting all the poisonous words I fed myself – rejecting all the stress, the anxiety, and negative mindset. It was my body rejecting the way I had been living life. It burst like a volcano – done with simmering and ready to erupt.
I went through a period of regret after my reflection moment, realizing I had lived my life in such a way for so many years. But after that period, I forgave the girl I used to be and instead I decided to start a new chapter of my life and rewrite my story.
I cleaned up my lifestyle habits, including binge drinking on the weekends and I became more and more open to a quality diet with more veggies and fruit. I drank more water and committed to a fitness regime. I even hired a personal trainer. The fitness world was a gateway drug to the online space where I ended up finding out about podcasts, entrepreneurs, and life coaches.
I listened to motivational podcasts each day and I started to dive into affirmation work, reprogramming my brain and changing my state of being to something more abundant and fulfilled. I became fully aware of what was going on in my head – so much so that after two years of off and on panic attacks, I stopped having them completely.
And I had successfully, albeit trial and error, been able to manage the anxiety I was feeling by finding practices and daily grounding activities that worked for me.
I even got the courage to give my job an ultimatum – move me to a new department, or I would walk. They moved me to a new department within the month.
My relationships with those around me changed for the better and I found myself enjoying life with a new set of eyes and a new set of values.
I LOVED rewriting my story and starting a new chapter. I had been shackled by the weight of my lack mindset and high stress for so long that the freedom a growth mindset provided me was so exhilarating that the possibilities of what I could do became endless.
I became my own hype girl – my own personal cheerleader.
When I stopped playing the victim and decided to become the victor I felt a radical shift within me.
It was all because I decided to raise my standards – I made a conscious decision that I would no longer live by the old identities that had defined me most of my life. When I was presented with an obstacle, I no longer reacted – I became responsive. My emotions no longer controlled my life – and the extreme anxiety I was experiencing no longer had a place in my vision for the future.
To do this, we must heal from the past, embrace the present and work towards a better future for ourselves.
I started doing things that scared me and excited me – including starting the Hype Girl Podcast traveling to events out of the state alone and even becoming a life coach where I help women with anxiety and mindset.
Six years it took for me to navigate lifestyle changes, fitness, mental health and really working to understand what it meant to become your own hype girl. Looking back now I feel like the panic disorder and extreme anxiety was a blessing – I took the pain and turned it into purpose.
Was it difficult? Absolutely. I had to break through old conditioned beliefs and un-learn habits that did not serve me. This was not a linear experience – I had ups and I had downs, but there was a warrior in me that knew it would pay off in the end if I was consistent with my self-healing and self-discovery journey.
Anxiety and panic disorder did not break me.
It gifted me with a wake-up call and a reminder that at any point in time we can start a new chapter and rewrite our story.
The power to change your life and become your own hype girl lies within you.
All you must do is turn the page and start writing.
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