The truth is...

Friday, January 15, 2016


This post comes on the heels of one that Annie wrote yesterday where she opened up about why we should talk about our struggles. When I read through it, it brought tears to my eyes because her struggles with anxiety and panic are struggles that I, too, have faced for years. I've actually written this very post about this very topic five or six times in different ways, constantly tweaking it, nervously removing parts I thought would make me seem too weak or even a little crazy, and then I'd usually end up deleting it altogether. But every time I would click the delete button, only minutes later the urge to get my story out there would swell again and I'd begin writing a brand new post. It's really tough to talk about issues like these because on the surface, we want everyone to think we're doing alright. In a modern world that appears to be defined by likes, shares, and glossy images of ourselves it can be really scary to come clean about the raw and not so pretty pieces we tend to hide.

It's probably vastly apparent to anyone who reads my blog that my blogging habits this past year have been anything but regular. This wasn't because I didn't have anything to say, or because I was getting tired of the blogging community - quite the opposite actually. I was just going through so much in 2015 that I didn't know (and still don't) how to put the flood of thoughts in my brain down in words. Things were happening faster that I knew how to process them and before long, I sort of just surrendered to the waves of chaos and let whatever was to come wash over me.

That being said, I want everyone to know that I still seem to be stuck in this chaotic place. Things keep happening to me that are making it difficult for me to live a normal life. I wanted to take a little time today to maybe attempt to share a piece of what's been going on and what's on my heart in hopes that it will bring some relief.

The truth is, I suffer with an anxiety disorder. I have since I was younger, but didn't fully know or understand it until about a year ago. I've always been a worrier and I have a tendency to over-analyze every little thing that happens to me. I am constantly wondering what bad thing will happen if I do X or if so-and-so thinks Y about me. Analyzing each scenario in my head, endlessly stressing over every little detail. I once heard anxiety compared to "not being able to sleep because you're too worried about the wrong thing you said two years ago." This could not be closer to the truth. I can't let anything go.

The truth is, I have panic disorder. For nearly a year, every single night in our apartment right after Mike and I got married, I would have panic attacks at bedtime and the only thing that would calm me down was watching Finding Nemo on loop every single night. This was a huge hurdle in our first year of marriage and I feel so insanely blessed that not only did Mike stand by my side through this rough time, but he was always the one to get up without saying a word, turn on the movie, wipe my tears, and hold me tight until I fell asleep. The worst part about it is that I didn't want to admit at the time that I had a problem. It wasn't until the panic attacks started making me really physically sick that I sought help.

The truth is, I thought I had a good handle on my anxiety and panic disorder until mid-December, when my world seemed to come crashing down around me. Nothing in particular set it off, just the weight of the emotional and physical struggle I had endured in 2015 and that heinous year coming to an end, I guess. It hit me one night on the side of I-95 when I was driving out to see one of my best friends in Germantown. Since that evening, I've been battling severe bouts of anxiety and panic that have kept me from seeing friends, kept me from driving, kept me from sleeping, and sometimes kept me from wanting to live.

The truth is, I thought I was dying. Over the last few weeks I've been seeing doctor after doctor making sure that the dizziness I felt was in fact anxiety related vertigo and not a brain tumor. Or ensuring that the dozens of times I wake up at night startled by a surge of adrenaline, pounding heart, and chest pain is not in fact a heart condition. Anxiety can make you think terrible things and even though I am now coming to understand that stress is triggering these pains and symptoms instead of a real disease, in the moment, it feels very, very real.

The truth is, I see a therapist for my anxiety and panic disorder every week to help with the traumas I've faced in the past and this year. At this point, without treatment, there is no way I could live a normal life. There were even moments when my anxiety and panic were so bad that I began having anxiety and panic attacks about having anxiety and panic attacks. These thoughts froze me entirely, preventing me from focusing on even simple tasks like brushing my teeth or finishing my dinner much less living a normal high-functioning life.

The truth is, I don't do well with change and this seems to be the root of my anxiety. Sometimes, Mike will come home to find me curled up in a ball on the couch crying (at 26 years old) about growing up too fast, or not getting to say goodbye to our dogs that we had to put to sleep,  or wishing I was 10 again playing kickball in the court until the street lights came on. Life moves fast, and a lot of the time, I really hate it. Change only aggravates my anxiety and panic. It's a terrifying feeling knowing that time is passing and you keep losing people you love and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

The truth is, talking about suffering from anxiety and panic is really hard. It's something that many people choose to keep in the dark. But over the years, as I've slowly started to open up about my struggle to close friends and family, I've been so pleased to find nothing but love and support.

To quote Annie in her perfectly, eloquent way:

"But if I had never told anyone about my anxiety, I would have missed out on the love I feel from my husband when he steps in and steps up when I'm having a panic attack. I would have missed out on the gentleness of my parents as they surrounded me with encouragement and support while going through therapy. I would have missed out on counselors who helped me step up and be myself. I would never have realized hobbies that I love (like this blog).



But perhaps, most beautiful of all, I would have missed out on all the "Me too"'s I was met with when telling others about how panic attacks took over my life. I would have missed out on being able to be there for others during a hard time, and I would have never been able to relate to others dealing with mental illness."

So here's to hoping that spreading the truth about my struggle will help to bring more light to the conversation and some relief, not only to myself, but to others that may be silently struggling right along with me. 

11 comments:

  1. I have so much love and admiration for you right now. I'm so proud of you for putting your thoughts into words and sharing them with us. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and like you're losing control when it comes to anxiety but you are a strong woman. Look at all the things you've overcome in 2015 and all the great things that you made happen in your life in 2015. There is a light at the end of the tunnel love. xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much Megan <3 I'm looking forward to all that 2016 is bringing!

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  2. Love you!!!!! One step at a time....Go confidently into your dreams :)

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  3. I have so many words for you, and I don't even know how to say them. Words for Annie as well! You are both so strong, so encouraging and so transparent through these posts. Seeing what is in your mind and in you heart hopefully feels like a burden lifted off in some ways. 2015 was so difficult for you and that breaks my heart, but 2016 WILL get better. It can only get better, especially since you are taking those steps. You are making changes and your body will too. I'm always here if you need me. I CAN'T WAIT to see you on Monday! xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much Macy <3 It was such a crazy year. I'm so ready to just start moving toward normalcy and getting my feet back under me again.

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  4. I am just now catching up on my blog reading today, and Laura, this put tears in my eyes! You are amazing! And you are incredible for sharing this. It's scary and hard to be honest and real, but it. is. good. If for no one else, but yourself. Admitting your struggles relinquishes the power it has over you. I am so proud of you! Anxiety and panic can be hard and I found myself nodding and saying, "Me too", while reading this. We are in this together, we are NOT alone! You are absolutely precious and loved! xo

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    1. Thank you so much Annie <3 And thank you for writing that beautiful post. Without it, I may not have found the courage to submit this one.

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  5. The truth is, once again you and I have something (besides sloths) in common. I have battled anxiety my entire life. I have worked with medication and with a therapist for years to get it under control, and most of the time it is, but there are times (like when I was stuck in a middle seat in the back of a plane last week), when it comes screaming back at me. Luckily for both of us, we have men that love us dearly and friends that would do anything for us. But from what I am reading, I believe that you are strong and will continue to persevere through even the toughest times.

    Lauren :)

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    1. Oh gosh, Lauren, I can't imagine how that was on the plane. You're so right though. We are so lucky to have incredible support. If there is ever anything you need, please let me know <3 I am always here to chat! :)

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  6. Oh,, dear. I'm so sorry it's been ages since I came to visit your space. This post was absolutely beautiful, Laura. I can't say I understand what you go through, but it definitely takes loads of courage to open up like that. Thank you so much for your honesty. I hope, somehow, it brings you some peace to not have to be strong all the time. I can only hope and wish that 2016 will be better for you, and that you'll feel relief and peace by taking the steps you have, and by being surrounded by loving and caring people.

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