As I sit here this morning, gently waking from a beautiful night of rest, I feel the urge to tell you my story.
I’m nervous inside, wondering…”what will they think?”, “how will they view me?”.
Then, I decided, I don’t really care.
I just know there must be someone out there just like me and I want to help them. Sometimes, just knowing you are not alone makes all the difference in the world.
I’m a mother of 4, a loving wife, a devoted friend, have a successful career. I’m fit, appear flawless when you approach me, and wear a smile, even on the darkest of days.
But, here’s what you don’t see…. I have Anxiety.
And that makes me different.
I often tell my husband that he doesn’t understand because he isn’t like me. When he has asked what that meant, I tried to explain.
After conversing with many close friends, I have found that life for others is not what I know. It’s unfamiliar territory.
Your “normal” is not mine.
And that is OK 👌🏻.
You see, I don’t wake up feeling refreshed most days. I wake up with my heart racing, feeling fear…and sometimes dread. I go through my day pulling back “curtains”, moving scary thoughts and blocks out of my way. My mind doesn’t stop, unless I am working out, getting a massage or sleeping.
I’m not like you.
And that is OK 👌🏻.
I’m finding that so many of us suffer from things unseen. By that, I mean, we work with someone who “looks” healthy, only to find they have an autoimmune disorder and are in terrible pain. We may have a friend who “appears” healthy, only to find they need surgery. Or, if you are like me, you may look put together, but many times a day, it’s like there is glass shattering inside of you.
After much research, education and self analysis, I have come to the conclusion that Anxiety, too, is an illness.
It isn’t something that can be ignored.
Anxiety is tricky, however, and symptoms come and go. We may begin to feel better, so we stop our healthy protocol and slack off on our daily doses of coping mechanisms….and 💥poof💥….the symptoms return.
It’s no different than having diabetes or high blood pressure and stopping your medication. The result? Symptoms return and you feel like garbage again.
This winter, I was made aware of this. My anxiety came back with a vengeance.
As I was struggling through it, I felt as it was gathering strength and would certainly destroy me. I was living inside of a tornado I could not escape. I was watching my beautiful life swirling around me, but just couldn’t be a part of it.
And , then one afternoon, I jumped out.
Out of the tornado.
I took back control.
I had gotten a glimpse of what my Dad and Brother may have lived with. Maybe how their daily lives felt.
Constant fear, unwarranted health concerns(hypochondria),deep sadness, and isolation.
And let me just say, I did not like it.
As a child, I could never understand why my Dad “had” to drink everyday. Until I had a gin and soda….and finally felt some relief.
I never fully understood why my Brother took his own life, but I can now sympathize with his battles.
They both suffered from SEVERE anxiety. But, unfortunately, they were never able to take back control of it.
They didn’t have the ability or knowledge to work out, seek cognitive therapy, have a strong, understanding support system, or maybe have the energy to fight it daily.
And, that saddens me.
I definitely have a heightened understanding of their lives and my level of empathy for them has increased significantly.
Keep in mind, Anxiety can be hereditary. Anxiety can also transpire into other illnesses. Such as depression and OCD, just to name a couple.
And the anxiety?
Well, it most definitely came to find me.
However, in the midst of my winter tornado, I was able to see just how blessed my life is.
I am a firm believer that Jesus puts the most perfect souls in our life to guide us through this world.
My husband, with his psychology background, some of my best friends; who struggle with similar demons, and my family.
I have an army ready to listen and “protect ” me at all times. And, for that, I am so very grateful.
Through our education about anxiety , our realization of its potential inheritance to any one of them, and their understanding of me, we have a system in place.
But, I also have to put in daily work to stay level and strong. When I do, the anxiety stays silent.
I’m more of a natural type of person. Medication, Doctors ….not really my jam. I seek the advice of my chiropractor often and choose more neutral ways to treat my condition.
But, it isn’t for everyone. It takes more time and much discipline. In all, I think it’s worth it.
Through the years, I have learned what works for me. I must eat clean(avoiding dairy, sugars and most grains), I rarely drink alcohol, I have to work out(at least 3-4 times/week), I pray and meditate daily, and I spend time alone when I need to “shut down”.
If you read my previous blogs, you will see that this winter was very traumatic for me. I didn’t realize how negatively my family affected me until recently, as I still have been battling the after effects to some degree.
The reason I am sharing this is for the sole purpose of awareness.
I scroll the Facebook newsfeed and read how society is in shock because Kate Spade committed suicide. We were all taken back by learning of Robin Williams struggles. They seemed to have it all. Happy, beautiful, put together…right? And, what about the people we come in contact with every single day?!
Our friends, coworkers, children…..the ones who “seem” to be in control.
Or are they silently suffering from anxiety, depression or some other illness?
With social media use at an all time high, have we, as a society, forgotten how to physically communicate?
There is a NEED for coffee dates, for 60 second hugs, for bike rides with friends, picnics in the park, and putting the cell phone and snap chat AWAY!
Ask YOUR people how they are.
How they TRULY are.
I will be honest and say that on some of my darkest days this winter, I may have replied to texts with a winky face😉and maybe even…an exclamation point…or two.
I must have been happy and on top of things, right?
We can’t possibly see how our loved ones are doing through a phone. So, get out there and be present. It may save someone’s life. ❤
And once again, I have found that there is collateral beauty that follows the chaos.
I am more aware and more open to others and their potential struggles. I am a more empathetic and sympathetic human.
And most importantly, I realized that I am OK, just the way that I am and it is going to be OK 🦋
We are where we are supposed to be at this very moment. Going through this precious life, learning and growing. It is our classroom.
If you are struggling, reach out. Don’t hide your truth from your loved ones.
Talk about it.
Remember, friends, we must FEEL in order to HEAL.