This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been quiet on the blog and other social media, trying to process and cope. My emotions and thoughts have been going haywire and my brain feels like it’s been put through the ringer. But during all this I decided that I want to share. I want to share what brought me to the place I’m at and what my personal journey looks like.
What I set out for on this journey was not to come across as perfect and that I have it all together, but share what I am learning as I go and to build a community of imperfect people sharing what they discover on this road to self love and acceptance.
I am a huge believer in health and wellness. I have always been fascinated with it, and in the last few years I have fallen in love with yoga, meditation, herbal medicine, natural beauty, and home products. This shift in my lifestyle has dramatically improved my well being and has given me unexpected joys and pleasures. I am learning self awareness and discovering self love, the idea of loving myself and all imperfections seems delightful. But there is something plaguing me, something that keeps me stuck on my journey. You see, I am one of the lucky human beings that live with anxiety.
It wasn’t always a daily presence in my life, I have periods of time when I am blissfully anxiety free. But it seems it will always creep back into my life, that it will be a lifelong struggle. I am learning to cope and working through this demon, striving to reach my full potential in spite of it and I want to share my story of anxiety, from the beginning. Maybe it will help me heal a little or maybe I won’t feel like I have to pretend anymore. I don’t know, but I feel a need to share it. I think that maybe if we speak out about these things more often, about mental health, others who are going through it won’t feel so alone. Maybe more people will understand what someone like me goes through. And maybe sharing the things that help and comfort me can help someone else.
It all started at the birth of my 3rd son. Technically, I have struggled with anxiety since I was very young, but it was at this point that it became debilitating and started me on this path to healing. He was born with a congenital heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries. In layman terms, that means his main arteries leaving the heart were reversed and blood wasn’t circulating to his body. We had no idea, no warning. You can imagine my surprise when a joyous day welcoming another child into our lives was replaced by a nightmare. I held him in my arms for a brief moment, and then he was whisked away for procedures and tests, and it would be three days before I could hold him again. I had to stay confined to my hospital bed while they life flighted my newborn son to a hospital an hour away. I had to stay the night in a recovery room that was meant for me and my child, but I had no baby in my arms. I could hear the cries of other babies and the coos of mothers from rooms all around me. I don’t know if I slept. I was numb. The next few days were filled with fear, tears, prayers, heart surgery, waiting, more tears and pain. But there were also smiles, laughter and miracles. And, miraculously, 10 days after his open heart surgery, our sweet baby boy was released to come home with us. There is so much more I could say regarding this experience, but it was just the beginning of my struggle.
A few days after I gave birth I started having physical health problems. My right ear would plug up and I would have vertigo for about one or two seconds and then it would pass. I remember thinking that was odd, but it really wasn’t my primary concern at the moment. Then when we were finally able to bring our little guy home, the downward spiral began. I was getting very painful pressure headaches, like a sinus infection, but without the runny nose. I had brain fog and it was really difficult to focus or concentrate and I was extremely off balance. I always felt like I was falling and it was really awful to try to bend over or to sit for long periods of time. Then came the full blown vertigo attack. I almost fell to the ground it was so sudden and forceful. The room was spinning and tilting, my eyes were literally twitching and I couldn’t focus. My right ear was completely full and everyone sounded like a robot through it. Several doctors and multiple tests later and they could find nothing wrong besides a possible vestibular ear infection.
But the worst part of it all was my mental health. I was living my days with an underlying fear and a feeling of panic at every moment. I didn’t feel like myself, with my regular emotions and feelings, and there was so much worry that it was keeping me from really living. My fear was coming from lots of different areas and it was hard to identify what was causing it exactly. I was living in my own personal hell. Trapped inside my own head. I know that sounds a little melodramatic, but it’s the truth. You know that feeling you get right as you slam on your brakes and almost rear end the car in front of you? Your heart is beating wildly and adrenaline has just surged through your body? That’s what my generalized anxiety feels like, but all day long, everyday when it’s really bad. I’m in a constant state of fear and feeling like I just need to run. The pregnancy and the trauma of my sons birth and diagnosis left me with adrenal fatigue, severe nutrient deficiencies and major gut problems on top of my now uncontrollable anxiety. This went on for months before I finally found a doctor that saw my anxiety for what it was and got me some help.
Fast forward to the present day. In the last year I had weaned off of my anxiety medication (with guidance from my doctor), discovered that meditation and yoga actually decrease my anxiety and found a way of eating that keeps my gut health in check. So, all in all, I was doing pretty good. I had been feeling very vibrant, positive and full of life and love. So ready to share myself with the world. But then something happened. Two months later, I still am not sure exactly what caused it, but I experienced a complete and total regression. When I say total, I meant total. All of my anxiety, the fear and panic, all of it is back with a vengeance it seems. Adding to it some crazy insomnia issues that I’ve never experienced before. Everything I have been working towards seems so far out of reach. I feel completely incapacitated and that vibrancy and full-of-life feeling are nowhere to be found. It’s funny how I could be doing so good and then overnight, be doing so bad. I am a mess.
I have been struggling with feelings of failure. I am pretty much starting all over again and I feel like that means I have failed. But I have learned these last two months that just because I FEEL like something is true, doesn’t mean it is actually true. I am also learning that starting over doesn’t mean that I failed. Starting over means exactly that, starting over. It means getting back to what really matters, centered with your truth and priorities getting aligned. When you are suffering and struggling, you only have the strength to focus on what really matters the most. Getting aligned in this way is a good thing.
I thought I started this blog because I had found a new vision on life and I wanted to share with others what I had found and learned. I had discovered this thing called “self love” that was singing truths in my ear and a yogi’s lifestyle that was bringing peace to my heart and I just wanted to bring that to people around me. But, I think deep down, the real reason I started this blog was because I wanted a place to document my journey to this new life I so desperately wanted to live.
Because the truth is, my journey has just started. I’m only in the beginning steps to this new way of living, and I am kidding myself if I think otherwise. You guys, I don’t know shit most of the time and I am learning as I go. I think I know exactly what I want and that I am living authentically, but A LOT of the time I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’ll keep thinking that I am making progress and then all of the sudden life throws a curve ball. One step forward two steps back, am I right?
For a while I have been feeling like such a hypocrite! Here I am preaching all this self love and divine soul crap on my blog and to my yoga and dance students, but most of what I am preaching I really struggle to live myself. I mean, HELLO!! Practice what you preach, duh! But, I am learning that I am not a hypocrite. What I set out for on this journey was not to come across as perfect and that I have it all together, but share what I am learning as I go and to build a community of imperfect people sharing what they discover on this road to self love and acceptance. I’ve never once claimed that I have it all together. My failings have brought deeper self awareness and a desire to grow and learn. I think that’s all we need to start living with more love! Who says I have to have reached a certain level of success before I can share my message? I mean, that’s why I started down this path in the first place, right?!
The anxiety might be something that I battle my whole life. My hope is that I can get to a place where that truth doesn’t make me feel less. I don’t want to feel that this ailment makes me lacking in the beauty that makes me me. But that’s the whole point, right?! To learn how to live big and really love ourselves, imperfections and all. Those imperfections don’t make us less, they are just part of what makes us who we are. And the goal should be to believe, deep down in our souls, that who we are is divine and beautiful. I’m not there yet, but I hope I get there sooner than later.