Tears consumed my face for several hours. The mental pain took over my body, and I couldn’t stop the shaking. This was my weekend routine for months. Like clockwork, every weekend something will trigger me, and I will fall into a dark place. A place filled with guilt, embarrassment, frustration, and anger.
My husband, Nicholas will look at me with such helpless eyes. I knew he wanted to help, but he was also frustrated that he had a partner like this. A partner who couldn’t fight through the self-built agony. Which just added to my guilt.
I didn’t tell anyone the severity of my weekend woes. Not my parents, not my siblings, not my close friends. I did not want to “bother” anyone or have people to look at as weak. Even the most well-intentioned people will think I am weak.
I have always been a person that felt things. My mom called it “silly;” my siblings called it “sensitive.” My friends just thought I was “quirky.” Shoot even Nicholas said he liked my “quirks.” With the magazine growing (which I am grateful for) and getting more and more interviews, more eyes were on me. I loved it, but then I became overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that I will let people down. Also, I didn’t think I deserved the accolades and accomplishments, that I fooled everyone, that I was nothing but a liar. Nothing I did was good enough. All this guilt physically made me paralyzed.
I would have one meeting in the day and then have to lay in bed for several hours. This is not how you grow a business. Nicholas was growing worried. He said he always admired my ability to fight through things, but he could see I lost my ability to do that.
I was worried too about entering that dark place in my mind. That dark place has taken over me a few times in my life. I have considered suicide twice in my life- once when I was 12 and another time when I was 28.
So that one weekend when I couldn’t stop shaking I told myself, “ENOUGH NICOLE!”. I picked myself up momentarily. Put on some makeup, and had dinner. The next day, the planning began. I decided to tackle my anxious feelings from all angles.
I went grocery shopping. I planned out my meals. This was not about eating healthy. This was about actually eating. My goal was to have breakfast (at least) every day. From there, I made sure there were plenty of snacks. Nicholas and I have busy schedules where we can find ourselves getting home at 10 or 11 pm. So we will only buy enough for at least three dinners at home. Knowing that there was food, actually made me excited. I will get up and make a yogurt bowl with fruit.
Again this was not about losing weight. This was about managing my anxious feelings. So I bought more SoulCycle classes and signed up for ClassPass. I work out three times a week. I realized a combination of SoulCycle and Pure Barre is my favorite. For at least three hours a week, I know I am control of one thing. For people that deal with anxiety and depression, exercise can help reduce tightness and tension held throughout the body.
It can also assist in producing endorphins, the body’s natural mood-enhancing chemical that is involved in fighting off pain and stress. Some studies have shown that exercise decreases a person’s sensitivity to the body’s reaction to anxiety. So every Sunday, I look at my week and plan my three workouts.
Guess who’s in therapy? Me! I couldn’t be happier about that choice. I am blessed to have excellent insurance that gives us eight free sessions and then a percentage off. So why not take advantage of it? So instead of holding in my anger or reacting to my triggers, I can make a note of it, and discuss it with my therapist. I was excited that in week two, I found myself in an argument with Nicholas, I took a deep breath and said “you are not here to fix my problems. I will discuss this with my therapist.” The look on his face was priceless.
Shoot, I live in a state, where cannabis is legal! I decided that a little cannabis couldn’t hurt me. Truthfully I wanted something to help me sleep. So I found a local Latina company called, Happy Honey Organics. She gave me some of her dark chocolates with some CBD in it. I take one in the morning to help with level me out and one at night to calm my muscles. For anyone that doesn’t smoke. CBD is the healing component in cannabis. It’s the part that gives you the “body high.” THC is the part that gives you the “head high.” THC is for parties, CBD is for sleep. The dosage is so low that it brings me down from 10 to 8 on my anxiety scale.
Mediation had to be one of the hardest things to incorporate into my life. I love “me time.” But “me time” usually is Netflix or adult coloring. But I knew I needed something to help calm me every day. So I found this app called Insight Timer that has multiple free mediations. One for the morning, one for the evening and more. I tend to mediate in the evening.
Now with all this in place, I would love to tell you I am 100% better. But that is not the case. There are still days, where I break down. There are days where I lay in bed and have to push myself to face the day. I (at times) walk around thinking, “does so-so hate me?” “Oh, was I nice enough?” “do my friends really like me?”
However, I now have more focus and perspective.
I know this is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life. Every year will get better. But I know life has a way of throwing curve balls, (parent’s dying, accidents, kids with disabilities), there are a million things that could throw me down, but now I know, I can get out of the darkest place ever.
For everyone who is in a dark place. Remember that you will find your strength. It may not be today, or tomorrow, or next week- but you will see it.