The Not-So-Colorful Parts of My Fairytale Life

This was not the next blog post I had planned to share. I had my next few lined up, and this wasn’t one of them. I planned to write about the awesome Disney Sea date Joey and I had a few weeks ago, or our crazy adventure hiking Mt. Fuji, ya know, the highlight reel of my life, the part that I WANT you to see. But then a little nagging voice in my head reminded me of the words I had written in my “About Page,” the ones that said: “My goal with this blog is to show you the parts of my life that can’t fully be captured in an Instagram post. The messy parts, the ugly parts, the beautiful parts, the less than colorful parts, the real parts.” *rolls eyes at self* Right now I’m thinking, “Yeah, it’s a lot easier to be real with people when your life is great at the moment!”  But I made a commitment to you and myself that I was going to use this platform to be real. So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to show you the real-life parts, because today was a not so bright and colorful day.

When you look at my life, you see a girl adventuring around the world, wearing a ball gown, dancing in front of castles. It looks like a perfect fairytale, and sometimes it kind of is, but every fairytale has a dragon, or an evil stepmother, or perhaps a witch that wants to keep the happy ending from coming to pass. In my fairytale, my dragon comes in the form of anxiety. Today, when I went into work at the happiest place on earth, that dragon reared it’s ugly head and for the first time in a really, really long time, I had a full-blown panic attack.

Here’s the thing with anxiety, it comes out of nowhere. I think that’s why I started referring to it as a dragon…I always think of the scene in Sleeping Beauty where everyone is smiling and laughing and having a party, and then all of a sudden Maleficent swoops in and everything changes and it’s sad and scary and everyone who was celebrating one moment is panicking the next. (Sorry for the Disney references, but it’s kind of my job so what do you expect?? 😉 )That’s what anxiety is like. You can be having the best day and the next thing you know you’ve locked yourself in the bathroom at work and you’re hyperventilating and wondering how the heck you went from being the normally happy and carefree girl to being the one having a complete meltdown in the girls’ bathroom.

This morning when my dragon decided to swoop in on my happy day, it really pulled out all the stops: shaking, hyperventilating, hysterical crying, headache, nausea, and complete inability to pull myself together or communicate at all, I ended up having to go home from work before my day even started because I just couldn’t perform. If you’ve dealt with anxiety or panic attacks before, you know the struggle, if you haven’t, chances are, you have someone in your life who deals with it and you’ve seen the pain and destruction that it can bring.

I’ve never shared my struggles with this before, it’s always been something I was embarrassed or ashamed of. To be honest, writing this post is really scary for me and my hands are literally shaking as I type it, but there are two reasons why I think it’s important for you to know now:

The first is that I get a lot of messages and comments on my posts saying that my life is perfect or “goals” and I just want to be really honest for a second and tell you that that just isn’t true. I get to choose what you see on my social media. The brightly colored, perfectly posed “candid” shots, the days spent running around Disney or adventuring around really incredible places or jet setting from one country to the next; What you don’t see from my social media is that sometimes (a lot of the time!) I am a freaking mess, It’s part of who I am, and ya know what?  I’m thankful for it because it’s this “weakness” that has actually made me so strong.

The second reason I’m sharing this with you is because Anxiety is a liar. Anxiety tells you that you shouldn’t feel this way, and you shouldn’t talk about it either because you might ruin the facade of the “perfect” life you live on your Instagram page. I want to tell you that it’s okay to sometimes not be okay. You don’t have to be perfect, it’s exhausting, and whether you’ve got anxiety or you don’t, we ALL have bad days. It’s just a part of being human so embrace it and learn from it. Another lie anxiety wants you to beleive is that you are all alone. It tells you that it can’t be beaten, that you can’t win, that people won’t understand, that your world will be dark forever. A lot of people who struggle with anxiety and depression believe that. I know I did for a really long time. If you are anything like me, I REALLY want you to know and remember that anxiety IS a liar. What have we learned from all of our beloved fairytales? We’ve learned that the fight is easier when you let people come alongside you in the battle. The dragon doesn’t seem so big and scary when you have an army of people fighting with you and your world doesn’t seem so dark when you have friends who come into it and choose to be a light.

Today I could have focused on that horrible attack and the suffocating feeling of loneliness that came with it. Instead, I’ll tell you about the three amazing girls from work who sat on the bathroom floor with me, and held my hand, and rubbed my back and spoke words of truth over me, and the encouraging messages I got from my coworkers reminding me that I am not alone. Today the dragon swooped in stronger than ever, but I still consider it a victory because for the first time I allowed people to come alongside me in my battle. I had an army of people who picked up their swords and decided to help me fight when I wasn’t strong enough to do it on my own and that made all the difference.

I really want to make talking about uncomfortable stuff like this okay, I want people who struggle with anxiety and depression or anything else  to be able to talk about it without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. Pride says you should fight all by yourself, anxiety says you don’t have a choice because you are all alone, depression says to give up because there’s no point in fighting anyways. I want to tell you are NOT alone, you CAN win. Invite people into your story, let them fight alongside you, I promise you won’t regret it.

Today, let’s go out and love people a little harder, let’s look for the ones who are struggling and hurting and hold them a little tighter and let them know that they aren’t alone. That’s when the world seems too dark and the dragons seem too strong. Let’s pick up our swords, join the battle and be a light in someone else’s darkness.

 

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

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12 Comments

  1. Denise
    October 15, 2017 / 12:01 am

    Thank you for writing this! Thank you!!!

  2. Mamaquandt
    October 15, 2017 / 12:38 am

    This is so encouraging. I love you Bren.

  3. Stacy
    October 15, 2017 / 12:47 am

    beautifully expressed in your honesty!!! I commend you in your outreach to be vulnerable and fight this!

  4. Dani
    October 15, 2017 / 1:01 am

    Look at the sky if you see a bright star is my love shining for you wherever you are. Wonderful soul, fighter and the most wonderful smile I’ve seen. THANK YOU for sharing what a lot of people are trying to scream and have no courage

  5. Sage
    October 15, 2017 / 1:10 am

    I love this, thank you for sharing! You’re awesome Brenna, I admire your heart to help people and your courage to share this!! You’re right, it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!! We all have our weaknesses!!

  6. Stephanie Rohlfs
    October 15, 2017 / 3:48 am

    Thanks for being brave 🙂

  7. patricia pfeiffer
    October 15, 2017 / 3:55 am

    Anxiety reels itself outward like spools from an old video cassette that are unrestrained. I sometimes imagine an old theater movie reel that became unattached from one side to the other and is free-wheeling all over the floor while people watching the film are left with a blank, dark screen. They don’t understand when your life goes dark…and the spool keeps turning and churning what seems like a million miles an hour. Worst part? There seems no stopping it.
    Anxiety and panic attacks have been a part of my life for decades…I’m thankful to have learned where and why and how they began …but thankful, more, that I know how to manage it.
    Keep sharing your trials and triumphs as many people do not have a voice as strong as yours. There may not be a perfect way to slay the dragon, but you certainly can keep it at bay and conquer it after all.
    Prayers to you as you find the right solutions and make the reels stop spinning out of control.

  8. Moa
    October 15, 2017 / 7:13 am

    Wow Brenna. So brave of you to share this. Proud of you! Keep fighting the good fight and share both the good and the bad, it is so encouraging 🙂

  9. Camille
    October 15, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    You are amazing! It’s so cool to see someone so real who is willing to share their experiences and to be so authentic and humble! I don’t even know you and I am inspired by you!

  10. Opa
    October 15, 2017 / 10:54 pm

    Your mom tipped me off this morning about your recent battle with a “panic attack” and directed me to your blog.

    From I read, the crippling impact of anxiety begins to paralyze you and your body quickly responds to this emotional impact on your heart. The resource God used to bring you through it were people who love you and came along side you when they realized the struggle you were having. This reminds me of Psalm 91: 11 ” and He will give his angels charge over you to keep thee in all your ways”.

    Lessons learned on the training field, or more commonly called the School of Hard Knocks, always start with the test so that what we learn is not easily forgotten. The only time we truly get to apply scriptural principles in the battlefield of our mind is when we find ourselves in a dark place.

    A favorite quote: “Do not doubt in the dark what you know in the light”. As tough as these lessons are, realize you are being prepared and equipped to deal with the many spiritual battles as missionaries in some very dark places on this earth.

    It has been several weeks since my last letter. Another dissertation about spiritual warfare will be forthcoming in a few days

  11. Darby
    October 16, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Bren,

    The dragon is a real and scary place in peoples lives and I am so proud of you for sharing your heart and your battle. Its when we share the light in the dark places of our life that God has the opportunity to come in and KICK THE DRAGON in the behind. Anxiety is something that is not talked about enough and my heart is soaring at the light you are letting in. Way to go, remember to carry your sword daily and fight enemies with God in front and you right along side Him. He will be your strength beautiful lady!!!!!! You are strong, powerful and utterly beautiful

  12. October 18, 2017 / 2:23 pm

    Brenna,
    You Rock! Transparency is humbling but oh the Truth does set us free. I loved your analogy of the dragon. Someone who has had this dragon in my life, well said! You are rare jewel among stones!
    ❤️🙏🏻

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