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