Breaking the Silence

I’ve been quiet.

I want to be inspiring, I don’t want to be depressing.

So I’ve been quiet.

Silver linings and tales of courage are great to share, but thanks to my tribe I’ve been reminded that, above all my goal is to be authentic.

I’ve been judging where I am, and it’s been keeping me silent. If this blog is about my journey, then this is part of it. I can’t edit the scary parts out of life (though a girl can wish), so how dare I try to edit it out here. That clearly was not my intent when I started. I lost sight of that for awhile, but I see it clearly again now.

I understand if this sounds redundant, I’ve written about learning this lesson before. Apparently learning something once and writing it down doesn’t mean you will never forget or need to relearn it. From what I’ve been told this is a common trend, so I suppose there’s value in being openly repetitive.

I could chose not to share the darkness with you, stay silent, but this would only push me further from my values, and the more I think of why, the more important it becomes to speak up. If I give you half the story, cherry pick what truths to share, I might as well be writing a fairy tale, disguised as non fiction. And it makes me shudder at how harmful that could be. I know your story and my story will be different, but if there’s a part of you struggling, and my story depicts this rose-tinted view, it could leave you feeling more alone. Instead of pain, struggle, and setbacks simply being part of the journey, just how it is, we get the impression that they are indicators that we have failed.

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I think this happens far too often in society; where “I’m fine” is the only socially acceptable answer to “How are you?” and status updates and instagram photos show the bright shiny stuff. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with sharing happy things – it’s just the other part, the stuff we don’t speak about or share – those missing details are distorting the picture. It’s an environment that fosters misconceptions of how life is; “Everyone else is doing great. Why can’t I be that put together? There must be something wrong with me”.

I realize now that my silence only perpetuates this and I regret it. I 100% believe that it’s perfectly okay for people to not be okay, which is why I’m finding my voice again.

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So, this isn’t going to be upbeat or particularly inspiring, it’s just going to be real.

Panic attacks ruled my life in my late teens/early twenties. I couldn’t go into stores, I was afraid to leave my home, to eat, to socialize, I was even scared to fall asleep – I wasn’t living, I was existing- and I was hardly doing that. Though anxiety and the occasional panic attack have stuck around over the years, I have not experienced the all-consuming debilitating panic since then – until this past month, that is. I feel like I’m stuck in a nightmare, being visited by the ghost of panic past, and I can’t wake up.

If you know me well, you will know that illness is a huge panic trigger for me. I panic about getting sick, I feel sick from panicking, and feeling sick makes me panic more. Lately I seem to always be sick or and panicking. I feel stuck in a vicious cycle of panic and illness and it’s leaving me drained and hopeless.

I feel myself slipping into old habits and mindsets, and even though I can see it, it’s hard to stop. I feel stuck. I try to reason with myself, but the fear that this will never pass is overwhelming and way too convincing in my heightened state.

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At these most desperate times I am grateful for my tribe.

I can’t stress enough how much difference healthy tribe makes. Having people who support you, whole-heartedly and non-judgmentally. They offer much needed understanding and compassion, “me too”s, as well as insight and encouragement. They help light up the darkness. No matter how weak I feel, I always feel stronger after connecting with healthy tribe.

There’s a resistance I feel at these times though; this belief that I should only connect with others when I can at least end my story with “but I’m okay” or “I know I’ll be okay”. I don’t think I’m the only one that feels compelled to end things on a high note; we’ve become accustomed to this. Is it pride, not wanting others to feel uncomfortable, fear of rejection, fear of being a burden, not feeling worthy of compassion? My guess is that all of those play a role. The problem of course is that the times when it’s the hardest to reach out is when you need people the most. We need to push past those fears at times like this, because our tribe is there for us, but we have to be brave enough to let them in.

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The dragon is an anchor that keeps me steady through storms; but my tribe are lifesavers in the stormy waters, for the times when my anchor slips and I find myself drowning.

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I’m treading water, I’m not okay, but I am still kicking.