How I Cope with Anxiety

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Anixety doesn’t take account of your plans for the day. It isn’t concerned if there are people around or if you’re in the middle of a performance. I’ve known that I have anxiety for the past few years, but the last year in particular I have been susceptible to stronger and more consistent attacks that leave me feeling helpless. I know I cannot predict when it’s about to happen, or make it stop before the adrenaline has stopped pumping, but I know I can take action in my everyday life to make my mindset healthier and more at ease.

My first public panic attack was in the middle of a final rehearsal with a band I was working with. A few people were there to watch our set to give me some feedback. I was working with a 5 piece band of extremely talented musicians, and we were getting ready to perform our first show together at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. At this time, I was unknowingly deep in my battle with my yeast intolerance…so sometimes my voice was on point and other times my voice was hoarse. (See previous post Starving Artist) The fear of not knowing what condition I’d be in or how to treat it was causing so much anxiety and nervous energy to build inside of me. We were rehearsing “We Can Ride This Out, Love,” and in the middle of the second verse: my voice disappeared, the room started turning, I felt overheated, and my ears started ringing. Everything felt dimmed. I was frozen. As I couldn’t get any sound out to sing, and everyone in the room was unsure of what was going on with me, I felt like time was moving so slow.  A few seconds felt like an eternity. I told the band to stop playing. I could see how panicked I looked in the rehearsal mirror. I stepped off the rehearsal stage, asked my dad to get me a cup of tea and I sat and ate a donut (how ironic in hindsight, this would actually only hurt my voice!) trying to give my exhausted body some energy. Although the actual attack didn’t last long, my body felt like it had gone through war. After feeling so vulnerable in a public space, I knew I had to figure out some coping mechanisms for myself. As you read, especially for those of you that are experiencing anxiety, just be aware that these are things that I have found work for me over time. At this point, I have chosen to avoid going to the doctor and taking medication for anxiety as a personal choice, but that does not mean that would be the right choice for everyone.

Peppermint Tea:

When I’m going through times of high stress, I know I am more likely to start having attacks, big or small. The busier my schedule is the higher the chance I have of getting overwhelmed, even if I love what I’m doing. I always carry two kinds of tea in my bag: Throat Coat for my voice, and Peppermint to calm me. If I feel my thoughts are starting to race, and my to do list is growing, I brew a cup of Peppermint and before I even take my first sip, the aroma seems to ease my heart beat.

Playing Piano & Singing:

Music is healing. For every situation there’s a song, and if there’s not…I’ll write it. The feeling of playing piano and singing a song opens my heart, and every bit of anxiety pours right out. If I sing everyday, I will keep the panic away. It’s been proven that singing for at least 10 minutes a day relieves stress. Some of my busiest days consist of going to work for 8 hours, working out, getting ready, driving over an hour to perform, singing and then getting right back in the car to get home and get some sleep to do it all again the next  day. Even though I may be extremely tired while I’m driving to the venue, as soon as I sit behind those keys, something inside of me is ignited and I let go of every stress that’s been weighing me down.

Running & Cycling:

Working out in general is a great release. My preferences are running outside and cycling on my Peloton. When the wind hits my face, I am free. As my feet pound the pavement, I forget that I’m working out, and I feel like I’m floating. Cycling on my Peloton gives me a different kind of rush. It’s a physical exhaustion, pushing myself to my utmost limits with a trainer who is keeping the positive energy flowing! I usually take my classes with instructors Jess King and Robin Arzon, two powerful, strong women. At the end of an intense sweaty workout, running or cycling, I can physically feel all of the negativity exit my body.

My Core Group:

This one is key. I used to keep my anxiety a secret. I though it was a sign of weakness, so I kept my feelings inside and hid what I was going through from the people I love. By keeping everything bottled up, I was feeling so alone in my struggle. I have my core 5 people who I know I can call or text at any moment and say “I’m having a rough time right now.” What’s even better is that they all give me different forms of advice. For instance, my mom coaches me through my anxiety in a very practical way mixed with tough love. My sister listens and simply just understands. Some of my friends relate and struggle in the exact same way, so we share our experiences. Living with a secret will only hurt you. I’ve learned the more transparent I am with my weaknesses, the more they become my strengths. Its part of owning every aspect of who I am. Let your support system be just that: supportive.

What doesn’t work for me:

Limiting my coffee:

I’ve read so many articles that suggest limiting your caffeine intake. This has never helped me. I’ve cut coffee out entirely at times in my life, and I felt no difference. Just because it works for other people, doesn’t mean it has to work for you. For many people, I’m sure it helps…but for me…I’ll take my morning espresso and my midnight coffee. They keep me happy.

Journaling:

Throughout my life, I’ve gone through phases of journaling. I would tell myself that I should keep track of my daily experiences and recount what I go through as a way of sorting through my emotions. For some reason, sitting down with a pen and paper and writing everything I did that day, makes me ANXIOUS. I feel rushed to get to the ending, or to convey my feelings a certain way even though it’s a personal diary. Personally, journaling gives me a completely different feeling than writing lyrics or typing a blog.

 

Now That I’ve Rambled…

I hope having a little insight into how I cope with my anxiety will potentially help a few other people in their journey of finding inner peace. It’s an ongoing process. Like most things in life, anxiety comes in waves…sometimes we have a better grasp of it, and sometimes it has a stronger grasp on us. My best advice is to ride the wave. If you have anxiety, use it learn more about yourself. Always turn a negative into a positive. 🙂

starving artist.

December 28th, 2017 I was in a vocal lesson. I was struggling with my warm ups, in a way that was frustrating me more than I can even put into words. For the past year leading up to this point, I was feeling this way on and off. For the first time in my life, my voice was not feeling reliable and singing was more difficult. It felt like something was pulling on my vocal chords, it was causing me a debilitating anxiety that was making me shy away from singing in public, something that was so out of character for me.

As I worked with my coach and internally beat myself up for not being able to hit notes that I knew were in my range, suddenly something just clicked. This is out of my control, this is not a case of improper technique. I am doing everything in my power to sing, and something just isn’t adding up. Something is actually wrong.

I got in the car to make my hour and a half drive home from New Jersey, and I called the ENT, to set up an appointment. Luckily, her office was slow because of the holiday week, and she would be able to see me the very next morning.

The next morning, my car ride to the doctor’s office was nothing but anxiety filled. I prayed, please don’t let this be anything serious or major, please, please, please. I was so afraid of needing surgery or having some kind of permanent damage. I was an absolute wreck.

When I got to the doctor, I explained my situation to her. After getting my vocal cords scoped, she told me I have developed an intolerance to yeast. Our bodies naturally produce yeast, and mine is incapable of breaking it down.  The build up of yeast was causing me eczema on my eyelids, stomach issues, and coating my vocal cords. The yeast on my vocal cords was effecting how they vibrate to make sound, and because I was fighting to push pass it, they were also swollen. My doctor said between the build up and the swelling she was surprised I could even produce enough sound to speak, let alone sing. Can you imagine I was struggling with this for about a year?!

At this point, I had to take 3 different medicines, and go on a very strict cleanse for 3 weeks. Post cleanse, I would have to develop this into a lifestyle change with slight modifications.

The diet basically consists of eating carb free, non fermented, and sugar free foods (strictly no high fructose corn syrup). Yeast is in practically everything, and even when it’s not present, the food has undergone some type of fermentation process that exposes it to yeast. I knew the hardest challenges for me would be:

  1. bread (gluten free bread still has yeast)
  2. candy
  3. wine
  4. candy 

December 29th, 2017 I found out about these allergies, and the past 8 months have been nothing short of a learning experience. Starting now, I will document more of what I can and can not eat, brands that I have found that are truly lifesavers, how I schedule my cheat days, and different recipes I have come up with to fill my cravings. In the beginning, I was so strict, I would not dare to touch anything that I was allergic to. Then life starts happening, and I began to make excuses and allowances. But as I write this blog post, I am vowing to get strict again. My next cheat day will be the first weekend of October, let’s do this!

Ciao for now, doll faces!

xo

 

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hello, it’s me.

Let me introduce myself: singer, songwriter, coffee drinker, over thinker.

 

Here I am in my 20s, navigating the path to the life I want to live and this is my outlet to share my story, hopefully entertain you, and save memories that one day I will look back and either be super proud of or have a good laugh at myself.

“to want my share, is not a sin.” – P!nk

To give you a little more detail about myself, I am a New Yorker, born and raised. At 18, I moved to Manhattan to attend NYU Tisch School of the Arts to hone my craft and pursue my love for performing. I have written and recorded 3 albums, had songs on Teen Mom, Vanderpump Rules, and a Quaker Oatmeal commercial. I’m about to start the writing process for my fourth album, but we’ll get more into detail about that later.

This blog will change from post to post, I’m the kind of girl who wants to do so many different things, sometimes it can be difficult to focus on completing one thing at a time. I figure a blog is at least one place to write about all of my different projects, ideas, adventures. Life in the mind of Dani. Uh-oh, get ready.

Currently, I’m doing an open mic tour of the north eastern area. I pick a different place 3-5 nights a week, and I lug around my portable-but-still-heavy- for- someone- who- is- 5’2-keyboard. I walk into a different setting each time, with unknown faces and different genres of music, and I perform a set and force myself to not live within the boundaries of being limited by anxiety and being outside of my comfort zone.

Introductions are always like a first date, a little awkward, I mean who actually enjoys describing themselves? Who has actually found the balance between sounding like you’re too full of yourself versus sounding too lame and boring? Not me. So with that said, this first post is just a quick glimpse of who I am, I hope you’ll have fun getting to know me better along the way! Ciao for now!

 

xo