It’s Been a While..

I realized that I have been a little recluse in my postings in the last few weeks. Reflecting on it I have just been feeling a little hypocritical from professing my anti-medication stance for the treatment of anxiety. I still feel that my decision was correct, but my anxiety therapy never treated the whole story. Anxiety can easily explain some of my symptoms, and physical manifestations of the disorder. However, I always felt like there was so much more to the story than I had realized. Sure I was nervous, had upset stomachs, would get shaky when nervous, would lash out in anger, and generally avoided certain situations. Here is where we get into what I mean by “more”.

On top of anxiety, I also had serious bouts of depression. I would get into these ruts where it felt like my life did not have any meaning. My brain constantly told myself terrible messages, as a way to punish me for being happy about anything. I lived in a state of fear for days at a time where I thought everyone was always mad at me, and I was a disappointment to those around me. These symptoms would last for days, and I got really great at hiding them. I convinced myself that if I needed to cry I would do it when I was alone. I let others see when I was in distressed, but not nearly to the extent that I was actually feeling bad.

I also had moments where I was in a state of feeling wonderful. Absolutely nothing to get me down, and I had so many ideas and goals that I was going to accomplish. I would start elaborate projects with plans to make my life perfect. At one point I started writing a book, I was coaching for Beachbody, I started grad school, I’ve changed jobs so many times over the years on a whim, and all due to this feeling of having zero consequences. I have also been an avid spender. I will go on these shopping sprees where I can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and not feel an ounce of guilt (until my sad spell hits). I bought things I didn’t really need, but inside my brain, I told myself I really needed them.

My life for the last 17(ish) years has bounced between one of these two moods. There were very few moments where I felt like I was at my perceived level of normal. I would go days wanting to do nothing but sleep, then 4-5 days later I didn’t need sleep anymore and could stay up all night. It’s a dangerous cycle that kept my brain exhausted in this flipping mode. It was also hard for people around me to deal with because I heard so many times “why can’t you just be happy”, “stop being so angry”, “just stop spending money”. I would get increasingly frustrated with people around me simply because I know. I know my actions were sometimes wrong, and I could never articulate what it was inside me that prevented me from making better decisions.

I feel like I owe everyone in my life an apology, but some of my actions I was not fully in control of. I am known for saying sorry, even when I don’t mean it if it avoids conflict that I don’t want. Since starting my medication, I still cry a lot. I had a moment on Tuesday where I felt like there was no hope for me again. Kevin was leaving the next day for a 2 week trip in Europe with his family, and I knew I was going to miss him terribly. I have been dreading this trip ever since I learned it existed. I am aware that 2 weeks is not that long for someone to be gone, but it does not take away the fact that I feel so sad without him around. I became angry at myself for wasting our last night together being sad and crying over it. The messages in my head got so negative, I did want to hurt myself. The best decision I made that night was to tell Kevin exactly what was going on in my head and hopped into the shower to relax.

The hardest thing anyone can do in their life is to admit that something is wrong. I spent way too many years in denial that I could be helped or that anything was wrong. I now have a great support system between my family and Kevin that I feel I am in a good place to be cared for. There are moments when I cannot carry my own weight and need to lean on my loved ones to get through it. The most important conversation that Kevin and I had was that none of this is his responsibility to fix. It’s natural when you love someone to want to fix things that are hurting them, but this is something that I need to heal on my own. All he can really do is to be by my side and listen to me talk. Right now that’s all I need is reminders that everything is going to be ok.

I Will Get Through This

My mind feels like a horror movie right now. Replaying the worst parts of my life and constantly reminding me of the bad things that have happened. My brain’s instinct right now is to think of the worst-case scenario and react to life as if that is already the assured outcome. I have been having trouble lately trying to process how I’ve been feeling. I’ve always used this blog as a place to put my thoughts and feelings. As a way to explain why I am the way that I am. I want to help inspire other people to be honest and open with themselves, but I feel like a hypocrite because I also haven’t been dealing with my emotions in a healthy way.

If you haven’t heard, the divorce is final. I can guilt-free move on with my life, and in fact, I have. I have met someone that is absolutely incredible. From the first day we met, I was accepted by him for being authentically me. I have been able to be weird, say crazy things, and share my life views without being judged. This person has added a lot of depth to my life and is the perfect complement to who I am. Our relationship goes both ways, and I love that he is able to be himself around me. I feel like I’ve hidden behind masks for so long and always tried to please people that could not be pleased. I feel a sigh of relief that I no longer need to use those masks when I am around this person.

In opening up my heart and emotions I have been trying to deal with too many issues at once. I am still healing every day from what happened with my past relationships. I am struggling to stay focused at work and it has not gone unnoticed. Work was supposed to be a sanctuary away from what has been happening in my personal life but due to coworkers being petty that too has become a source of stress. I feel like a bad pet mom, and like I am not doing enough for Macie and Herman to help with this transition. I am financially stressed, but the nature of my job does not allow me to have a second job. I haven’t been coaching because I haven’t been doing any self-care. I have struggled to maintain the energy levels to be able to deal with all of these trial and tribulations.

I am starting therapy again on Wednesday with a new therapist closer to where I am living now. I am excited and nervous about this new adventure. I know I need professional help because where my mind is right now, I cannot continue to live this way. Every single day I cry. I cry about everything and nothing all at the same time. I have been pushing people away from me, including Kevin. I am just so afraid that how bad I hurt; I will hurt the people that I love the most.

I am embarrassed by my current financial situation and need to figure out how to live my life again from scratch. I didn’t have the typical undergraduate experience of moving away from home and being on my own. Through my college career, I went from living at home with my parents to being married and not having to take on that financial stress. Everything was always calculated and paid for me, so I am re-learning how to be fiscally responsible. I love to gift people closest to me and it breaks my heart that I am unable to do so.

I have found through all of this that I need to figure out how to self-care. I have not wanted to paint. I have not enjoyed my workouts. I have not wanted to go on new adventures (because every day is a new adventure). I have not been sleeping. I have not been eating well. But most importantly, when I try to do these things, I feel guilty. I feel like I am punishing myself for everything that’s happened and believing that I am the bad guy.

I believe that I do not deserve to have good things. I believe that I am destined to always have people leave me. I believe that pushing people away from me will minimize the pain that I cause them. I believe that I am a bad person. I believe all of these things because I allow myself to. I have accepted in the back of my mind that I am all of these things. I have told myself repeatedly these messages until that was the only truth that I know. I am heartbroken that I have allowed myself to become this way.

I have always been optimistic regardless of how hard life has gotten. I have always had a spark of light inside of me that keeps hold of the person that I want to be. I need to find that light again and I think that is what my frustrations have been focusing on. How am I supposed to believe that other people love me when I cannot love myself? The answer is I can’t. I need to remember who I am and that I am worth it.

My goal for the next week is to find five things each day that I am thankful for and write them down. I am going to start my day with these five things and I am going to repeat them 5 times for every time I tell myself a negative message. I have had people ask me how they can help and honestly, I need to be the one to help myself. This pit of hell I have found myself in is inescapable unless I believe I can climb out of it on my own. I may ask for help and, in those cases, I hope that you help me. I have a lot to live for and fantastic future plans, but I need to get through this. I will get through this.

Decisions, Decisions

I’m going back to therapy kids. 100% my own choice, and absolutely necessary. I was excited a few months ago when I ‘dumped’ my therapist, but I never could have predicted the turn my life would take and how I would react to it. I feel like a complete failure for needing treatment again, but I have a full understanding that this is what will happen for the rest of my life. I will continuously be in and out of treatment programs because anxiety is never truly healed.

I am ready to come clean with a few life events. A little over a month ago I asked Steven for a divorce, make it official. We had some issues last year that was making me question the future of our relationship, and to be honest I felt like it was better to move on than to fix something that wasn’t healthy for either party. There are a lot of people in my life that are unhappy with my decision, but it’s my life and my choice to make. My family is upset with me, I have lost nearly all of my friends, and I lost someone that I relied on for everything.

We got married when we were 22, and to be honest that is really young. I thought back then that I was officially an adult and I was as mature as I would ever be. My mindset back then was not great, and I felt like I needed to rely on someone else to make me happy. I remember when I was 17 in high school, and I made this 5-year plan. I wanted to find a man and marry him. Growing up in a Catholic background, marrying young didn’t seem out of the norm, so this life plan was what I set out to do. We would have been celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary this month.

But through the last year, and through my therapy journey, I realized that something big was missing. I wasn’t able to talk to him about my anxiety and I always felt like I was compromising so much of myself to make him happy. Knowing what he did for a living it was difficult for me to express any negative feelings or emotions because of no matter what his day was automatically worse than mine. I gave so much to him that I absolutely lost every sense of who I was. I had to discover, over the course of 4 years of intense therapy, who I AM.

Decisions like this are not taken lightly. I know many friends and family feels blindsided by what happened, however, you cannot possibly understand the dynamics of every person’s relationships. I would NEVER judge someone for seeking their happiness. I would NEVER be angry or turn my back on someone for a decision they made to improve their own life. For anyone out there that thinks I am just a heartless bitch, you’re completely wrong. If you think I don’t have pain from this, you’re wrong. I have been dealing with so many different emotions for so long, and I finally have had enough.

You cannot possibly make another person happy if you are not happy yourself. I found myself in that relationship being incredibly unhappy. I stopped discouraging people from flirting with me because the attention felt good. I was getting some of my needs met by complete strangers, and I couldn’t even properly communicate how I was feeling to my own partner because our dynamic did not work.

Am I a horrible person? Depends on how close your mindset is. You can see me as a villain because I left a marriage where I had everything. We were building our dream house, we were financially set, we were planning some lavish vacations, and on the outside, we made a great team. In reality, I made the hardest decision of my life to leave all of that behind and go out on my own.

I now live in an apartment by myself in Uptown, where I am solely responsible for Macie and Herman. I lost 2/3rds of the income I was used to having. I have had to learn how to pay bills and set up all of my utilities. I went from living in a house with a decent sized yard to an apartment complex with 70 units and a major lack of grass. I remember the first time I went to Target after I moved out and needed cleaning supplies. I was so used to ordering them from Melaleuca that I wasn’t sure how to even buy over the counter cleaners. It’s those little things that keep me humble and reminds me of the decisions that I made.

My life is slowly adjusting to a new norm. Macie and I go for 1-2 walks every day or travel to a nearby dog park. My work commutes are 12 minutes now instead of 35 minutes. I live 2 blocks from Eat Street, that has tons of incredible restaurants. I am 2 blocks from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which is one of my favorite museums in Minnesota. I met someone that makes me laugh every single day, and I appreciate him showing me how to smile again. But most of all I have the freedom of independence to make decisions on my own and be my own person.

There are times that I feel so incredibly alone, but I would rather feel that than to hurt someone I care about by lying about my feelings. I know I don’t owe anyone in my life an explanation, so I am not even going to try. There is nothing that I could possibly say that would make the people that hate me feel differently about my decision. Just know that in time we will both be happy, and that life works out how it’s supposed to.

My choice to go back to therapy is to help regulate my moods. Right now, I have been experiencing moments of being really high-highs and really low-lows. When I get into the low emotions, I feel an emptiness that I have never felt in my entire life. Having depressive episodes is terrifying because of the level of pain you experience overshadows anything good happening. I had moments where pain on the outside sounded better than any pain I was feeling on the inside (which is absolutely not the answer). It’s going to be a long road to a full recovery, but it’s a journey I am willing to take.

If you’re someone that is mad, confused, or upset by what is going on, don’t be. Feel free to blame me, but please be respectful of the situation.

Let Me Breathe

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: life never gives you more than you can handle. My anxiety in the last couple of weeks has been pretty out of control. I have been trying to keep a focus on the important things in my life, but often times I find the need to pause and catch my breath in order to continue. I know you’ve noticed my social media silence. I know it’s been blatantly obvious my life has shifted direction. I am not comfortable disclosing exactly what is going on right now, but know that I am ok and will continue to be ok.

I just find it funny how one conversation or a few words spoken can change the entire dynamic of your life. If you think about every decision you make and every opportunity you have to do things differently, but for some reason, you were meant to make the decisions that you do. I have lost a lot over the last few weeks, but I have also gained so many wonderful surprises. I believe most of all in fate. I believe that our lives are pre-planned for us and our fate is sealed. We make decisions and interact with others because destiny decided that for you.

I have spoken about this briefly, but I was raised Catholic. I no longer practice Catholicism or any other organized religion, because there are too many flaws that I am unable to see past. I think if you believe in God and Jesus, and praying is helpful to get you through the hard times, by all means, do that. I think having faith in something is part of what keeps humanity grounded, but there are also side effects to that, both good and bad. In some respects, my outlook on this issue has alienated me from being able to discuss this topic with people close to me, and trust me I get it. I have just found my own source of faith in myself and believe in my ability to be strong and overcome any obstacles that thrown in my direction and I will leverage that strength to get me through every day.

Tough decisions are hard. Sometimes we go through experiences and believe wholeheartedly that our entire world is ending. My inner optimistic voice is what fuels my fire to continue to look on the brighter side. I make the choice every single day to see the good in others, to make an effort to make another person smile, and to focus my energy on activities that promote good in this world. My outlook is what drives every single decision I make. I have learned that some choices you make will not make those around you happy. Sometimes it is worth disappointing people to achieve your true happiness, and knowing someday they will find theirs too. I have found pleasing everyone around me to be taxing and I wasn’t being true to the person that I need to be.

I know that time heals all wounds. I just hope that the people that truly care about me will accept my decisions and just be there for support. You do not have to understand the circumstance or agree with my decisions, but I need to know that the people that I love are there for me through this transition. In time there will be great things that come out of this experience, but I need time to heal and I need time to live in a world where people keep their judgment and opinions to themselves. Trying times are hard enough to come to terms with, but when the people you love most turn their back on you it is absolutely devastating.

My anxiety feeds on the idea of abandonment and being unloved. I am making the choice to not feed my anxiety but to let it starve. At the end of the day, I control my own happiness. I chose the path my life is going to take. I cannot sit around and look for other people to understand because that is an unrealistic expectation, and honestly if you cannot be an empathetic human being then clearly, we don’t belong in each other’s lives.

Why can’t we be allowed to be happy?

Happiness is an emotion we should all be allowed to experience. For me happiness means uncontrollable smiling, giggling at things even if they aren’t funny, and just feeling a sense of lightness in every part of my body. But I often find moments in my days where I should be happy and the emotion makes complete sense, but for some reason, I cannot express my happiness. This is likely due to an anxious mind feeling the need to focus on what could go wrong to take this happy moment away.

Think about relationships. When you first start getting to know another person you feel nervous, excited, hopeful, and you cannot wait for a moment until you talk to them again. For an anxious mind, these positive emotions get translated into moments of doubt and panic. Instead of feeling hopeful to see this person again, my brain would obsess over the fear of rejection. Of that person getting bored, or forgetting about me or lying about my importance to them. I do not allow myself to cherish the small moments that provide bliss.

But this goes beyond relationships. These moments of doubt can come along with good news from work, or feeling “lucky”. My immediate mental response is to go on the defense. I want to process what the worst possible scenario could be and what has the potential to take this good feeling away. Instead of enjoying the moment and living in a state of complete happiness and appreciation, I self-sabotage everything. This is one of my most irritating traits and something I am working diligently to improve.

I have always been a believer in fate and destiny. I believe that you meet people at certain points in your life to sever a purpose when they are meant to. I believe we have good and bad things happen to us when it is meant to happen as a way to grow and learn. So who am I to argue with destiny? Who am I as one girl in the entire world to challenge what the plan is for my life?

The truth is being along for life’s ride is a part of the journey we all take. I have lost so many great people in my life to tragedies and time. I have always had a revolving door of friends and relationships come into my life, and I never used to understand why people always leave. But those few connections I have made over the years that continue to stand by me mean so much more than having a whole army of people that mean very little.

I am an optimist by nature and always strive to see the best in even the most toxic person. But the constant contradiction with my pessimistic anxiety is really exhausting. I have purposely driven people away from me if I have even the smallest perception they will hurt me in the future. Instead, I should be living in the moment and appreciating them for what they have to offer. After all, life is too short to not allow yourself to indulge in the people and things that bring you happiness.

Life Feels Robotic

There is no secret the last week has been a mental challenge for me. Overcoming this constant buzz of anxiety has been extremely difficult, and I find myself having more bad moments than good. Last week I posted a video on my Instagram story talking about not being ok but needing to know when to ask for help. When I am on a downward spiral the last thing I want to do is feel like I am burdening someone else with my issues. My brain categorizes help with being a burden.

I just feel like I’m letting people down. I’m letting my fitness team down by not being sales-y and selling tons of product this month. I’m letting my friends down by not being mentally present. I’m letting my family down by not contributing to the push to be ready for big life changes ahead. I’m letting my pets down by feeling like I neglect them. I’m letting my coworkers down by giving into my “burned out” attitude that has been developing over the past few months. Of all these people I feel I have let down, the only person I am actually disappointing is myself.

I allow myself to feel like this. I allow myself to cry and rely on other people for happiness. I need to believe I am strong enough to survive because right now that’s all I can focus on. Make it through today in order to see what tomorrow has in store. I am extremely tired mentally and physically. I have lost the ambition to enjoy activities I usually love. I am shutting out the people that truly care about me. I am doing all of those things because I am afraid of not being good enough.

If you told high school me that I would grow up to have an incredible job, incredible family, a 4.0 GPA in grad school, working out for fun, she never would’ve believed you. I was a kid that lived my life unchallenged because avoiding the challenge meant I couldn’t fail. I went through my adolescence coasting by and was a C average student, but as I have gotten older and matured, I realized how bored I was from not allowing myself to see more potential.

I get lost in my thoughts, and I get lost in these ideas I’ve created that I am not enough. Part of me buys into the idea that I will never truly make another person happy, that I will never be pretty enough, that no matter how hard I try I will always let someone else down. I have worked so hard to build my confidence, but these little thoughts are always there chipping away at my masterpiece. Here are the truth bombs:

  • I can’t make everyone happy, that’s an impossible goal
  • It’s ok to disappoint people because not everyone will like your decisions
  • I AM beautiful, strong and intelligent

But saying these affirmations and believing them are two incredibly different things. During an anxiety attack, someone without anxiety will tell you to “not worry about it” or “just breathe”, but at that moment my mind is not being rational. While rational ideas make sense to a brain that is fully functioning, my brain is not always working with the same chemical balance. Some days I can’t seem to buy endorphins to put into my brain. My burnout with life, in general, has made my world unbearable to live in. I am constantly walking on eggshells with myself, just waiting for the moment I have another anxiety attack or crying for no reason. I am exhausted, I am sad, I am angry, I am anxious, but I am not giving up.

I need to realize that the answer is to not suffer in silence. I need to start letting people in and be a part of my world. I need to stop blaming myself for every little thing not going right. Life will never give anyone more than they can handle, and that is certainly true for me. I am just terrified when everything is going to right, that something will happen to take it away. Instead of waiting for life to take away those good things, I self-sabotage to force those things to no longer exist. I need to really take some time to look at myself and realize everything is going to be ok.

Positivity is a Choice

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.