I remember having my first panic attack. I was maybe 8 or 9 and it was in the hallway of my childhood home. I got so dizzy and couldn’t breathe. I passed out onto the carpet and had no idea what happened or why.
My anxiety increased into High School. I developed a severe case of perfectionism and people pleasing. Achievement was my identity. I looked for and often found my approval in accomplishing everything I could. I was varsity soccer captain, President of my Class, and an honor role student. I volunteered at church, and made sure I was liked by everyone. I absorbed the pain of my own and those around me, holding a smile on my face at all times. My self doubts were huge, and depression sank in. I didn’t know how to deal with these feelings of void, and felt I had no one to talk to. So I worked harder (as I always did) to hide and numb them. This is where drugs and alcohol were introduced in my story.
I had dropped out of college, and without athletics or academics as an anchor, I felt lost. For the next ten plus years I would battle addictions. I would constrict food and workout too much. I would then become paralyzed from guilt and shame, finding solace on my couch with a bottle of wine and junk food. I would serial date, spend money I didn’t have, and create chaos just for the high. At one point I had gotten so lethargic, I really believed my hormone levels were to blame. I went to the doctor’s for a full panel of blood work, only to learn I was “extremely healthy.”
Shingles began to break out on my limbs. Every few weeks, painful blisters would appear on my thigh or forearm. They would hurt so badly, I could barely walk. I went to the doctor and they said they rarely saw cases in individuals as young as me. They couldn’t help me or administer a vaccine, as I wasn’t over fifty.
My back started to hurt. My panic attacks and anxiety had gotten so bad, I needed alcohol every night to sleep. To cure hangovers I started to day drink. I couldn’t be with my self. I was so scared of my thoughts, I had excruciating migraines, I never understood my mood swings, and felt entirely B R O K E N.
So how did I get from there ^^^ to today? Well, a lot of work and grace. I went to treatment for alcohol. There, I had started the work to untangle the web of emotions I felt inside. I began to look at my childhood. I started discovering and collecting tools to use for healing. Tools like sober support, therapy, yoga, meditation/prayer, journaling, breathwork, inner child work, and boundaries.
I have been sober for five years, and haven’t had a shingles outbreak since I began this journey. I sleep so much better (when my two toddlers allow!) and almost never have back pain or headaches. I occasionally still struggle with anxiety, but I know where to return to for grounding. I work out because I enjoy it, and eat healthy because it is now a form of self care.
I am honest about my journey, as I never want to forget that girl. She is a huge part of who I am, and I cherish all that she has taught me. Today, I can love, protect and nurture her the way she needs. I can listen, without judgement, whenever she wants to open up. I no longer run from myself. I truly love who I have been and who I am becoming.
I now believe my emotional wounds manifested into physical symptoms. It’s as if my body was trying to send me a message. It took me years to acknowledge this truth.
So there you have it. A bit of a back story for why I am so passionate about this healing journey. The work is so incredibly valuable, and freedom is possible. I know this, because I have lived it.
Thank you for holding space for me to share this with you.
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