After a ton of self reflection and thought, I decided to lay everything out on the table regarding my battle with anxiety. This is my most honest, real and raw self put to words. I share everything with you and it looks like a picture perfect life (it mostly is!). However, behind the pretty home, perfect photos, exciting career adventures and smiles, I struggle DAILY with severe anxiety. My intention in sharing this is not for pity or attention. I am okay. I am very blessed and fortunate to have the support needed as I navigate this journey. I always promised to be truly honest with you and that means sharing the good AND the bad. After 3 1/2 years of dealing with this, I am sharing my full experience in the hope I might shed some light on the effects anxiety can have on someones life. This is my story.
Unless you have ever experienced anxiety, you may not truly understand the severity of the situation. It’s hard to explain a mental illness. Whoa, writing that out is eye opening. Never in a million years did I think I would have a mental illness. I often hesitated sharing my situation. To admit you have a problem publicly is not ideal, especially when your career is driven by looking perfect. Social Media can be very deceiving. I am very aware my life is pretty close to perfect, I really should have no reason to feel anxious. I am beyond blessed. Why do I have anxiety? Why can’t I kick it? I ask myself these questions daily, I really wish I knew.
Start of the Battle:
Let’s start where it began. The moment Meadow was placed in my arms. I was holding the most precious gift from God, but instantly felt a weight on my chest. Pure fear of the what ifs rushed over me and since then, I haven’t been able to kick the feeling. For the first year I did a fantastic job hiding the struggle and chalking it up to being a new mother. I knew something wasn’t right, but I also was not depressed. Everyone talks about postpartum depression, but not as much about postpartum anxiety. Please note, I am not depressed, I am very happy. I just have a lingering cloud of anxiety that lives over my body. Fast forward to the COVID shut down and the world going to hell. That’s when it hit me full force. It’s no secret the news these days is like a real life horror film. For my own sanity I have to limit what I watch. Some people can see the news and go about their day. I am not one of those people. I hold onto things, think about them, feel for others. When my anxiety was at it’s worst my brain would race. I developed a massive fear the ones I love would die, Meadow would be kidnapped, just the most absolute horrible, crazy thoughts. Most days I could control it, until one day I had a full blown panic attack. I then developed a fear and anxiety over having panic attacks. It’s like living in a vicious cycle that I can’t escape. Let me tell you, living with an anxiety disorder is not living fully.
For months I had a hard time sleeping. Let’s just say my bottle of Tylenol PM was always in close reach. I could not leave my house without Brian. I wouldn’t and still will not drive myself certain places. I trust no one besides immediate family to watch Meadow. Which means I do everything you are seeing with her by my side. I have missed out on so many fun and career focused events because my fear for having a panic attack overwhelmed me. Large spaces filled with people like the mall send me into an instant panic. Small spaces like an elevator became my biggest fear, stepping into one sends me into a complete spiral. I have a full on internal, mental battle with myself in these everyday spaces to just act normal! From the outside looking in I am composed, but inside I am dying. This does not happen every day which is what makes it scary. I never know when it will hit me. One moment I am fine and the next, boom, my heart is racing, head is spinning and my chest feels filled with weight. Sometimes I feel like I could pass out, other times I feel like I could crawl out of my own skin. There is no greater fear than in those moments of losing yourself, losing control of your mind. After a very long time of torturing myself, I finally accepted I needed to get help. I have a very strong willed soul and to admit I needed help was a huge step for me. To even open up and share this with you is big.
It took one hour for Doctor number one to conclude I needed medication. I am really not a big medication type person, minus the tylenol. I never needed a daily pill for anything, but desperate for a change I figured what could it hurt? This was right before Brian and I went on a big trip to Punta Cana with our friends. I knew I needed something to help get through the trip. It was clear from the start that medication was NOT for me. It made me feel unlike myself. I was tired and just completely off. I swear it actually made my anxiety worse. I also didn’t want anything in my system that would effect my business brain and work ethic. Needless to say I got off of the medication and went back to trying the natural solutions.
After a few months medication free, I would openly speak about my issue with friends. Most of which are moms who have had very similar experiences. The majority of them shared they take medication and encouraged me to try again and that maybe a different medication would work. I made an appointment with Doctor #2. This time within 15 minutes of my conversation I was diagnosed with high functioning anxiety stemming from postpartum anxiety disorder. Pretty much if you took the symptoms of both and put them in a blender, you get me! She instantly wrote me a script and explained I would need medication to get better. I got the prescription filled and literally stared at the bottle for over two months before one day finally caving and taking it. In my gut I just felt it was not going to work. After about a month to my surprise, I was actually seeing a little difference and excited for the slight changes. Little improvements, but I would not say I was cured by any means. I explained this to my provider and she thought it would be a good idea to increase my dosage. Within a week of taking the new dosage everything changed for the worse. Doing so lead me to the scariest panic attack of my life.
The Side Effect:
After we increased my dosage I started to feel very strange. The thoughts I would have about life and living quickly shifted from a positive to a very negative space. I could feel myself changing and as much as I wanted to shake the horrific thoughts, I simply just could not do it. It was like that extra dose of medication just completely took over my thought process in the worst way. I put Meadow down for a nap and then boom, the worst panic attack I ever had took over me. For the first time in my life I did not trust myself and that is the scariest feeling I have ever felt. Full transparency, if a cliff was in front of me that day, I might have jumped. This medication side effect is very, very real and not explained to patients enough. Before you ever put anything in your body be sure to read the side effects and the statistics behind them. I am telling you right now, these medications could be very helpful, but they can also be extremely dangerous. I will never forget the way I felt in that moment. It was also mind blowing to me that a simple change in the dose cause a significant shift. We immediately lowered my dose and since then things have been better. I guess you can say I am on a journey to finding what will work best. However, I am not sold that in the long run medication will be the quick fix I was hoping for.
Mental Health In America:
Which leads me to my opinion on the mental health system in America. After my most recent experience I have thought a lot about how we need a better system. Mental health is a serious problem and should not be taken lightly. Anxiety and other mental issues can effect you at any point in your life. I am a prime example of someone you wouldn’t think struggles and in my case it’s a mild situation. My heart goes out to those who have more serious issues. I also wonder why Doctors are so quick to throw mind altering drugs at you right off the bat. I really wish other options could be made available as easily. Medication does not work for everyone and in some instances can make a person worse. Consistent follow-up after prescribing such medications should be mandatory. Why do most insurance companies not consider mental illness an an actual illness? Coming out of pocket for a therapist is big money. I am fortunate to have had the means to do so but so many others do not and that is just simply sad and scary. It’s horrible that most people who really need help cannot afford to get it. It is easy to ignore, but perhaps we would not have as many horrific tragedies if we came together to put a major focus on fixing our system. Just my opinion, while we are on the topic.
At this point I have accepted this anxiety will just be a part of who I am. I am going to continue to push myself even when I am not comfortable in situations to hopefully find a way to get over it. I have a lot of exciting adventures ahead and as you see them play out I hope it encourages you to fight the good fight for whatever it is that’s challenging you. I will never let anxiety define me or stop me from being my best self. In a weird way I thrive from my ever racing mind, consistently thinking out of the box on how to get to the next phase of conquering my goals. It’s known that the most successful people in the world struggle with anxiety or have done so at some point in their life. Knowing this makes me feel a little better and a little less crazy. Part of me feels strange putting this out into the world. Hopefully my honesty helps someone out there! If you personally struggle, know someone who struggles, the goal here is to make it known that you are not alone. If I am fortunate enough to have my platform grow or even if it stays exactly where it’s at today, I promise to always be honest in what’s truly happening in my life. My brand will always be more then a glimpse of perfection. As always thank you for reading, for the support, and for following.
– Without challenges there would be no opportunity to evolve –