I wake up every single day and make the choice that I am going to live my life in a positive mindset. Optimism comes second nature to me, and through everything I have overcome in my life, I have always tried to maintain that sense of balance. The one thing I’ve learned over the last year is that I can’t wait for good things to happen. I can’t sit on my couch watching Parks and Rec, drinking wine and waiting for the changes I want to see to magically appear. I have fought so hard, and continue to fight every minute of every day to earn my happiness.
The traumas and hardships I have overcome cannot be compared to the journey of someone else. In reality, I come from a strong, family-oriented background. We had nightly family dinners, took road trips together (mostly for hockey tournaments), lived in relatively close quarters, and always attended each other’s events (no matter how boring ). I remember growing up and not getting along with my siblings most days, but that frustration had an underlying layer of love attached. I never experienced any standardly classified traumatic event. I didn’t lose my first loved one until I was in middle school, my dad didn’t have his amputations until I was in high school, and I was given unconditional love from my parents. By textbook definition, I should not have a reason for anxiety.
In all of my years of therapy, my therapists have attempted to “get to the bottom of the issue.” They were under the clinical mindset that something within my past triggered my brain to develop anxiety to use as a defense mechanism. My earliest memory of anxiety was first-grade taking timed math tests and having such extreme testing anxiety I couldn’t even answer a simple “1 + 1 =” question. When I would go on field trips I would get physically sick the entire night before and the morning of the event. Was I ever in any risk of physical harm taking a test or going to the zoo? Absolutely not. My body’s reaction to those situations was extreme and inappropriate.
I have been under the belief the past year and a half that my brain was built differently. I don’t have the same chemical makeup as a person without anxiety. My body lives in a constant state of defense, and I can feel my anxiety living inside of me like a gentle hum of energy. I find very rare moments in my life where I can truly relax, but when I find them I cherish them. When I feel anxious I get so uncomfortable in my own skin that I wish I could take my body apart and clean it piece by piece. It’s almost like part of my consciousness views the experiences in the 3rd person, and wants to help the version of me trapped inside. I live under the constant threat at any little thing could set my anxiety off. But my mental toughness and willingness to fight this battle is what gets me through every day.
I have always believed that psychotic drugs serve a beautiful purpose for people who need them, and should be used as an aid to help balance some of those imperfections we are born with. I also am vocal about the fact that I do not take medication. I was put on antidepressants in my early 20s, but I didn’t have depression. I was misdiagnosed, and given drugs to alter my brain chemistry that was not even out of balance. As a result, I became an emotionless robot that lost the ability to feel anything. I went 2 years not experiencing joy, sadness, excitement, absolutely nothing. The thought of that happening again terrifies me, and I decided I would rather feel too much all of the time then to ever lose my senses like that again.
I acknowledge that if I had been properly diagnosed and treated, my experience would have been different; however, life tests us so we can learn and grow into the people we were meant to become. I have grown into someone that is intelligent, witty, understanding, empathetic, and strong. Looking back, I have come so far from the girl that was insecure and sought validation from people around her. I am now at the point in my journey where reflecting on my progress is important, and I can see the milestones I’ve hit in my recovery process. I went from 5 years ago almost losing my job because my anxiety made it impossible to function, to use my own experiences to help others find their balance.
I use humor to combat my sadness.
I use music to soften the buzz in my head.
I use goals to hold myself accountable.
I use blogging to get my thoughts on paper.
I use exercise to release endorphins.
It takes time and dedication to figure out what works best for you, and sometimes you will experience moments of failure. My journey certainly hasn’t been perfect. I continue to have moments of doubt with what I’m doing. Some days giving into the darkness feel comfortable because that feeling of emptiness is so familiar, but I know deep down that’s not my answer.
I have met some incredible people through this blog, and to everyone I have ever impacted, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for supporting me and offering kind words. Thank you for knowing me well enough through my writings to know when I need help. Being open and being vulnerable to complete strangers is incredibly difficult. If it wasn’t difficult more people would do it. Find your passion and share it with the world as I have. In a society where we thrive on the darkness, decide to be the light.