My Anxiety Makes me Strong

I have lived with anxiety for almost as long as I can remember. It lurked below the surface until one day; it reared its menacing force, and never left.

 As a child, I didn’t understand.

As a teenager, I was embarrassed.

As a twenty-something, I slowly began to unravel.

For far too long, I struggled alone. I struggled in silence.

Simply put; I struggled.

I reached a breaking point and finally asked for help; and, with time, I started to heal. I began to come to terms with its existence–with its daily and unwelcome intrusions into my body and my mind.

Even after many years together, my anxiety still catches me off guard. It can crawl into my mind when I least expect it, and is nowhere to be found when I am awaiting its arrival.

I often feel as if I am living a double life. Those who don’t know me well are oblivious to the internal battle I fight on a daily basis.

They don’t know the trepidation I feel during preschool drop off.

They don’t see me sitting nervously outside the grocery store before I am brave enough to enter.

They don’t witness me wiping my silent tears in the morning, as I prepare to simply step outside the house.

But, there’s something else people don’t see.

My anxiety is the driving force behind my will to succeed.

My anxiety fuels my desire to overcome obstacles.

My anxiety pushes me to conquer my fears.

It has taken me many years to realize something life changing: something that has freed my soul.

My anxiety makes me strong.

I am constantly pushing myself outside my comfort zone. Anything outside of the familiar makes me anxious. Yet, I continue to put one foot in front of another. I refuse to let my anxiety hold me back from moving ahead.

My anxiety makes me strong.

I have learned that being silent is not only a detriment to my own well-being, but also to those who love me most. Finding my voice and admitting my struggles was exhilarating. I began to accept my anxiety and, in turn, I use it as ammunition.

My anxiety makes me strong.

There are days when my anxiety is exhausting.

It has the ability to swallow my joy whole, and spit it back out: bruised and broken. Some days, I would like to bury my head under a shield of covers and hide from the world.

But, I have responsibilities. I have people who count on me.

I have a daughter who needs me to crawl out from under the blankets, and wrap her in my arms.

I am strong because I allow myself to ask for help.

I am strong because I can admit when I am weak.

I am strong because I don’t live in silence.

We are all flawed.

We are all imperfect.

We are all striving to overcome something.

It is these flaws, imperfections, and obstacles that make us undeniably strong.

You are mighty; even when you feel at your weakest.

For those of you living with anxiety, know you are not alone.

Know you are brave.

Know you are loved.

Know that when you wobble, someone is there, ready and willing to hold you up.

 

FullSizeRender

 

Today is Bell Let’s Talk day. Today is about finding your voice, and knowing you are brave for making it be heard.

Don’t suffer alone; don’t struggle in silence.

It took me far too long to find my own voice. I am still amazed at how liberating it is to write about my life with anxiety. So, in honor of today–but really everyday–I wrote this piece. This is my small contribution to help break down the barriers associated with mental illness, in hopes that someday the stigmas attached to mental health will no longer exist.

Advertisements

Filling our House with a Classic

We all love a blast from the past. Well, at least, I do! Recently, I have fallen in love all over again with the popular sitcom, Full House. One afternoon, I decided to turn it on for me and my (almost) five-year-old daughter. I wasn’t sure if she would have any interest, but to my pleasant surprise, I soon felt her little body cuddle up to mine. She was instantly drawn to the show. As a family, we have thoroughly enjoyed reliving the antics of the Tanner Household. We have almost finished the series, and I am going to be sad when we reach the series finale. However, with the Netflix Original Series, Fuller House, on the horizon I have a new generation to look forward to watching. The anticipation is like waiting to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in years.

So, in celebration of this classic, feel-good show, I have compiled a list of my top seven reasons why Full House should be added to your family’s viewing list.

  1. Heart to Hearts. Cue music. Every episode concludes with an emotional heart to heart. These moments are imperative to the show. As predictable­–and sometimes cheesy–as they are, the show wouldn’t be the same without them. These are the teachable moments where conflict is resolved; reinforcing the important lesson that family can work through their problems and move on.
  2. Life lessons. During the heart to heart, as noted above, each episode includes one or more characters learning an important lesson. Often, it is the adults in the show who learn a valuable lesson as well as the children. And, at the end of the day, this is what parenting is all about. We learn from our mistakes as much as our children do.
  3. Relationship Diversity. In a house where three male adults are raising three young females, the show exemplifies that families can exist in a variety of ways. The girls develop strong relationships with not only their dad, but with their Uncle Jesse, and long time family friend, Joey. It is refreshing to watch a show where the male characters are capable, dependable, and influential role models.
  4. Dad Perspective. The mom perspective on issues, especially when it comes to daughters, is one we are exposed to quite regularly. However, the dad (and male) perspective is one we are not often privy to. Danny, Jesse and Joey are left to deal with delicate subjects ranging from simple to complex. These conversations, typically reserved for the mom character, are dealt with in a loving way, where all three men do the best they can to broach these subjects.
  5. Kimmy Gibbler. She may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but her wardrobe speaks volumes. She is also a loyal and integral member of the Tanner family–even if she drives them nuts. She is wacky, and a bit clueless; but there is something about her you just can’t help but love.
  6. Not a cartoon. Hooray! Let’s be honest, one can only take so much of the annoying song and dance that make up the majority of shows offered to young children. I appreciate that Full House is a family friendly show with real people. There is a tangible story line, and I’d listen to Uncle Jesse sing over Mickey Mouse any day!
  7. Family. The heart of this show is made up of a non-traditional group of people who love one another. Their bond, and love for one another is what makes them family. They may not always get along, they experience ups and downs, and they face several challenges; but they face these moments together. This is something that is incredibly important and something we work hard to instill in our daughter.

I am excited to see the Tanner family again, and look forward to enjoying Fuller House with my own family.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 5.07.26 PM

Cheers to the Moms

I have recently become a lover of Podcasts. The one I look forward to every single week, is One Bad Mother. Hosted by two honest, real, and hilarious women, Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn, this show strives to encourage moms to judge less, and embrace the chaos that is motherhood. During their most recent episode, I found myself completely relating to the mom rant­–something they feature at the end of every episode. While listening to this mom, I couldn’t help but burst into tears. She was feeling horrible and spoke about the immense guilt she felt for neglecting her child while juggling the constant demands of being a mom and a student.

“Wow!” I thought to myself; I am not alone.

As a full time student myself, I know this exact feeling.

It follows me wherever I go.

It breaks my heart when I know I can’t commit to something.

It leaves me feeling like a failure when I have to miss special moments.

It makes me feel guilty when I spend weekdays in the classroom, and weekends in the library.

It is a feeling that cannot be escaped.

It is the worst feeling in the world.

But, here’s the good news, we aren’t alone.

We all feel ‘mom guilt.’ This dreaded feeling that makes its home in the pit of our stomach. This dreaded feeling that tells us we aren’t good enough. This dreaded feeling that makes us feel like we don’t measure up.

Stay at home moms, working moms, student moms, single moms.

Moms.

Each and every mom, at some point, wishes she could be succeeding more; and failing less.

However, I also realize the incredible lessons I am teaching my daughter. These are the lessons that help me battle this ugly monster we call ‘mom guilt.’ I have learned that the sacrifices I am making now, are setting my daughter up for success.

I am teaching her valuable lessons.

I am showing her to follow her dreams, and to seek out her own joy. Each time I leave for class, she sees my dedication. Each time I have to work on a project or study, she sees my drive to succeed. Each time I succeed, she dances and celebrates by my side.

These are lessons I hope she will always remember; valuable lessons she will hold onto.

I hope she knows that she can do and be anything she puts her mind to. I hope she knows that life is not easy. I hope she knows that hard work pays off. I hope she knows that challenges are worthwhile. I hope she finds something that makes her undeniably happy; whatever that may be.

Every mom should be celebrated. We are all doing our very best.

Despite our different paths, we are all on the same journey. We all want to raise happy, healthy, and thriving children. We are all struggling to find balance. So, to the stay-at-home moms, you are incredible. To the working moms, you are awesome. To the single moms, you rock. To my fellow student moms, you are amazing.

I could easily say, “Stop feeling guilty!” but this is unrealistic. Instead, when your mind is intruded with doubt and self-loathing, remember those faces that look at you with complete, and unwavering love and adoration. Know that even if you feel like you aren’t enough, they see you as more than enough.

 You are your child’s everything–which means–you are the best mom.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 9.44.35 AM