Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Artwork by Taryn Knight

I wasn't really sure how to approach this blog post. I've written and re-written this over and over again thinking of how I can perfectly portray this to whatever audience this may receive. I felt like this was a huge deal and wanted to make sure that it was coming across that way in my writing until I recently realized -  I can present my story in any way I want to. At the end of the day it's just that - my story.

I've been dealing with anxiety the last 8 years of my life. I first started having issues around anxiety the spring of my senior year of high school and it popped up here are there throughout college, but it really started being consistent throughout graduate school and over the last year of working professionally. It's something that I never really knew what it was until recently, but throughout grad school, inexplicably it became very, very difficult for me to speak my mind, put myself out there, or even interact all that well with people (whether I know them or not) which is not something that had made me feel anxious or uncomfortable before. Over the last few years there have even been days where the feeling of being anxious has totally prevented me from doing anything but staying in bed. The feeling of panic can be so overwhelming that it's next to impossible but sit there and feel it.

I'm still trying to figure out what exactly my triggers are. There are times where I can hold it together until I'm home. There are times where it pops up in the middle of the day at work and I have to go close myself in the bathroom (which, luckily, is a one-person locked bathroom) or stand in the back stairwell until the panic passes. There was even one time a few weeks ago where Brett and I were just chatting over waffles and pancakes at our favorite breakfast spot and I felt the panic completely wash over me, and all of the sudden I was crying in the middle of a restaurant for seemingly no reason. (Luckily, Brett is amazing and is to get me through episodes like this.) Right now it's really unpredictable, but I'm starting to recognize some of the warning signs and recognize the difference between anxiety and other emotions.

When things are impacting my life in a big way, I tend to research them extensively (which is probably why I have Learner in my top 5 Strengths). I've been reading many articles and watching countless videos of those who also deal with anxiety on a regular basis. I've learned so much - that not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way, that this is shockingly more common than I ever would have anticipated, and, most importantly, I'm not alone in this. In our world, hiding things that have anything to do with mental health struggles is the norm, so many people suffer in silence. However, through the power of the internet, I have been able to read and hear stories from countless people that experience the same thing as I do and that makes me feel comforted. I don't have to feel like I'm the only one in the world that is going through this. 

I found the piece of art at the top of this post on Instagram the other day from an artist I follow named Taryn Knight (check out her Instagram and YouTube!) and it is such a perfect reminder that everything will be okay, even if it isn't in the moment. I found the image on a day that I had a lot of anxious energy flowing through my body and it put me at such ease. I instantly saved the image and it is now my phone background so that I can look at it on any day that I might be feeling anxious or panicky. There are dozens and dozens of artists that I've come across in my research that produce art and illustrations related to anxiety and other mental health issues and illnesses, and I've found them to really help me through my not-so-good days. I would highly recommend doing a Google search to find some of these artists if you feel like this is something you can relate to.

Unfortunately, like any mental health issue, this isn't something that just goes away. Some days will be better than others, there may be really good periods of time and there may be a long string of days where I'm not feeling so great. It's going to be a journey and will likely always be part of my life, but now that I'm able to recognize it, it's going to be that much easier to deal with (and I'm lucky that I have people close to me that will support me through it all). 

I want to leave you with two articles that I've found that I think are really helpful for those that deal with anxiety as well as those that might know someone that deals with anxiety on a regular basis:

Remember you are not alone. I am more than happy to talk with anyone who might be going through a similar struggle because I know it often feels like no one understands or there's no where to turn.it's a journey and is often a part of someone's life for a long period of time, but with a bit of courage in your heart, everything will be okay soon.

Much love <3

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