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In November of 2015, I wrote the following blog post. I shared it on my personal Facebook page, making sure to edit the privacy so that only my friends and family could see it. I posted it on an anonymous WordPress account and couldn’t imagine complete strangers reading these very personal things about me and knowing that it was me that wrote it. I thought of my reputation. I didn’t want people to think differently of me. I’m not sure why I made the decision to keep it private, but what I do know now is that there are so many people who are dealing with similar situations, including people I’ve known for years.
Since I launched this blog, I’ve gotten comfortable speaking about anxiety on my Instagram page and I found people reaching out to me to tell me that they too suffer from anxiety but were afraid to speak out. And so, here we are, three years after I told my friends and family what I was dealing with and I’m finally ready to share it with the world. No more secrets. No more mask. Please know that if you are also suffering from anxiety and/or depression, you aren’t alone. There are so many people out there that are just like you. I am just like you and this is my truth…
Looking at me from an outside perspective, I have it all. A beautiful family, an amazing husband, a couple of fairly successful businesses, a nice home and overall, the life I’ve always dreamed of… but there’s one thing that many people don’t know about me. One thing that has taken over my life this past year. It’s something I’ve hidden. I smile through it, I pretend like nothing’s wrong, but the truth is, I am living with something that I can’t control.
The truth is, I’ve been struggling with something that has completely crippled me. It’s something that I fight daily. It’s something that keeps me in bed more days than I’d like to admit, afraid to get up. It keeps me from doing my hair, putting on makeup, from caring what I wear. It’s something that stops me from leaving the house. It’s the reason that when most people ask me to go and do something, I immediately come up with an excuse why I can’t. Mostly, it’s the reason that I’ve lost friends and contact with family members.
The truth is, I suffer from anxiety. An anxiety that gets my heart racing and causes me to feel like I’m going to pass out. An anxiety that brings with it a fear that I will never be able to go anywhere without feeling this way. An anxiety that has kept me from birthday parties, family functions, my daughter’s dance competitions and even everyday things like grocery shopping or picking up my kids from school.
I have always struggled with some form of anxiety, but it really reached it’s height in 2014. I wanted to take the girls to Disney since they had a day off from school. The plan was to drive up by myself, with the girls, but thankfully, one of my friends and her two kids came along, and she wound up driving. The whole way up I felt anxious but I tried to ignore it. I knew if I could just get there and get into the park and could see the kids having the time of their life, I could get past it.
We made it to the ferry line when my mind started racing. The line was huge. We were toward the back of the line. I knew that if we made it on that ferry, there would be no where for me to sit. Instantly, I started to panic. It probably took less than a minute for the anxiety to escalate and I ran for the nearest bench, fearing that I was going to pass out. By the time I reached the bench, I was so far gone, I had to lie down. I was light-headed, I was panicking, I was sweating and I knew that if I could just let it pass, I would be ok, as I have in past situations. The next thing I remember is the paramedics taking my blood pressure and watching as my kids looked over at me, with a look of fear, not knowing what was happening to their Mom.
We wound up heading back to the car and driving home. The entire 3 hour ride, I felt horrible. These 5 kids were so excited and I had taken away their opportunity to see Mickey. I was heartbroken because I couldn’t control what was happening. I couldn’t just deal with it so that they could have their day. To this day, I still feel embarrassed about it.
Although I’ve spoken with a few people about it over the last year, I’ve never wanted many people to know. I thought that keeping it a secret would make it go away. I thought if I kept it to myself, I wouldn’t be admitting that it was real. Over the last couple of weeks, it’s gotten worse and I think it’s time that I speak about it. It’s time that I stop hiding my truth. People’s lives aren’t always as perfect as they appear on social media. Most people don’t take pictures of the sad moments. They don’t take pictures of the fights they have. They don’t talk about their fears and their failures but maybe we should. Maybe sharing something like this will not only help me to deal with it better, but will also help someone else to get their truth out. Maybe it will help us to connect with others that are going through similar situations, but are also afraid to talk about it. From this day forward, I’m not going to be afraid. I won’t let anxiety win.
So there it is, my truth. And I’m not ashamed of it anymore. In fact, I’m proud. While I don’t want to be labeled, I know that my battle with anxiety has made me into the person that I am today. From now on, I’ll be sharing more about my journey with anxiety. I’ve accepted it but I won’t surrender to it. I will continue to live my best life because I deserve it.