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I'm Here For You.

It was a sunny fall day, I remember it so vividly. I was queued up waiting to get into my elementary school. I had severe stomach pain and this constant desire to vomit; sometimes a feeling, other times, the real thing. I was 8 years old. Today, I'm 33 and for the first time learned what that feeling was at the age of was anxiety. I didn't quite understand why I had anxiety and that feeling perpetuated and made me even more anxious (especially having no one to talk to). I knew at the time I was different, but couldn't quite understand why. I remember having blood work, ultrasounds and scopes to figure out why I was always feeling so sick, and even then, my doctors didn't know what was wrong with me. Anxiety wasn't a word that was well received. You diagnose a young child with anxiety and now you have to explain this to parents who come from a world of just "dealing with things yourself". These symptoms became worse over the years. Anxiety trickled in to how I presented myself, how I felt around others, how I felt in professional environments, well into my 30s. I thought I had my anxiety under control, but really, I just silenced it by keeping busy, pushing myself in all directions and loosing track of who I was. I tried to cover up this anxious person I didn't want anyone to see. Once the pandemic hit, I lost my job and had hours, days, even years to reflect on life's traumas, cringe worthy childhood moments, comments from family, friends and colleagues that triggered my anxiety. One day, my anxiety and depression hit me hard, so I decided to take two anti anxiety pills, take a warm bath (I know, it probably should have been cool), and hope for the best. My anxiety was too strong to be controlled. The extra pill didn't help. I knew by this point I needed help, needed support and knew for sure I couldn't do this on my own. I found a supportive group of friends who I could talk to, who could help me and understand me without judgement. I made huge changes in my life and started listening to myself. I've made changes that friends have encouraged me to do. When I feel anxious, I ground myself by placing both feet on the floor applying pressure, sitting up right, with my hands on my knees, eyes closed, visualizing whatever I'm thankful for that day. I take a deep breath in for four seconds and a deep breath out, exhaling for four seconds. I repeat this as many times as I need to. Therapy, medication and supportive people helped me through. Today, I only have anxiety when I have exciting milestones in my life. I know how to now manage my anxiety and my intrusive thoughts. I was able to come off my medication, but ONLY when I knew that therapy was working and I was on the right track. Everyone's challenge through anxiety is different; we're all different, and with therapy, you can find who you are and organize your thoughts. It's okay to get help and not do this alone. Not all of us have the tools, resources or education to help ourselves.

Find your people, listen to yourself and who you've always wanted to be. Cleanse your life of people who don't bring you joy - your life will become richer. If you know someone who has anxiety or depression, the best thing you can say to them is "I'm here for you"

The challenge was real, but the rainbow shines so much brighter now.

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