This is the story about how I got here.
You’ll learn a lot about me from the blogs, but here’s a quick look into my life.
I was born in a hospital…. Just kidding, we won’t go back that far.
I find my identity in many things. I have been married to my wonderful husband for six years and in love for twelve years. We were high school sweethearts when I was a sophomore and he a junior. We bought our first home together in 2016, less than a year before I left my first “big-girl” job. You know, not serving in a restaurant kind of job. I have fantastic friends that we spend multiple days a week with, mainly because they are conveniently located within a two minute walk from our house. And cause I love them.
I never thought I would be interested in anything like this blog, or start writing a fiction book, or apply to go back to school. My ambition wasn’t very high and I’ve always been happy with the thought of letting others own and I’ll be the cog. And though I still feel that way, I have passion projects and interest besides television now. All because my anxiety no longer defines my life.
When our minds are so cluttered and full of the fog our stressful jobs and anxious thoughts, it can not focus on itself or what we want from our lives.
When you learn to control your thoughts, responses, and become less reactive in your daily life, you can become productive in your personal life and drive forward.
My amazing, supportive husband and I are on the left and my best friends are on the right. In this picture, we spent the weekend at this cute but also terrifying (only to me) cabin in the woods on our third annual cabiny-woods trip together. We love Mentone, Alabama for its quaint town, majestic hiking trails, and The Wildflower Cafe.
The weeks leading up to this trip, I found this little podcast called Lore, and I was freaked out the entire trip. EVEN IN THE DAYLIGHT-while this picture was being taken actually. I just knew there were bodies in the cellar below the bedroom we slept in or a murderer coming to wrench open the door to our bedroom and kill us all.
But this is just my overactive imagination that I discovered is entirely susceptible to the paranormal and all things scary. Also, anxiety.
Also, I won’t let us go back to that cabin. It is riddled with terrifying feelings now. Shh, I haven’t told them that yet.
My college's nick-name is TUNA
That’s right, I went to TUNA for my bachelors of science in environmental biology. The UNA was where I feel like my life really started. I had moved out and lived on my own with my high school bestie. She graduated before me, so eventually, I was a bachelor with a soon to be husband. I served at a steakhouse to pay my bills, took out student loans, and would stop at the gas station on the way home to buy those tiny bottles of wine.
My symptoms of anxiety shined through during this time in my life. My mind shut down easily, especially at Quantitative Analysis, and soon my motto was D’s get degrees. I didn’t actually get any D’s, but there was a C or two and I wasn’t use to that, but what was I to do when I couldn’t focus and my body forced me to take two-hour naps every day. Alas, I survived with a pretty decent GPA.
I graduated with my degree in December of 2015 and had very specific wants in a job that could not be served in Alabama. I found it impossible to apply for positions because I felt under qualified and inexperienced, though I spent a lot of time volunteering in the field I wanted to work in. If I wanted even a low paying internship, we would need to move states. Tony is an electrical engineer and the city we live in is the hub for government contract work, so for him to have a good job, I needed to find something else.
It took a YEAR!
You go off to college with the false impression that once you get out, you’ll find a job. A decent paying career that is in your field where you can just be a cog in someone else wheelhouse. Not the case for me. It took a year and my job was not in my field.
My first job finally came along in April of 2016 and I was excited to be working for a non-profit that served the community. I was not using my biology degree, even though I say the position loosely qualified as experience. I’m a servant at heart and love people, so the job spoke to my desires to help people. This vision quickly began to alter as a continued in the position of office manager and the company began to move more towards a for-profit mindset.
We had one full-time employee not worth a cent, myself, a part-time manager named Keith with a heart bigger than his truck and a mouth dirtier than the cow shit fertilizer in my garden, and the founder who worked about 30 hours. Less than a month in the position, the founder began coming in two days a week and I was still lost on what and how to do the job that was requested of me. I don’t remember the progression, but I can tell you that by the time I left the job I was the only full-time employee.
The founder, by this point, had started work elsewhere doing something she loved. The other full-time employee had been fired five or six months prior to my leaving. And I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what the other guy was there for.
Hell, I don’t even know what I was there for!
By the end of my reign as the sole employee of the company, I was breaking apart day by day.
I would cry during conversations with acquaintances and every day on my way home for the final month before putting in my notice.
An individual from a networking group I was in offered me a free session with her because she could see how absolutely overwhelmed and sad I was. She manipulated the body in neurological ways and improved body awareness. Essentially her goal was to help me see the ways stress and anxiety were affecting my body and reverse them.
My afternoon companion had their hands gripped so tight around my neck I thought I was having a heart attack (this is not a person, 😉 ) Focus was absolutely impossible for me at any point in the day and I truly thought I had Adult ADD. As I pondered on my self-diagnosis I thought, “Oh yes, that also explains why I did so poorly during my last few years of college as well!”
But when I finally remembered that I have a friend that is a psychiatrist and called to consult him he told me, “You don’t have ADD. You have something else going on that you need to seek treatment for, medication won’t help.” I asked him for a recommendation for a therapist and this began the sprint to the end for me.
My thoughts at the time were that I couldn’t leave my place of work because they relied on me. What on earth would they do without me? I am there only employee for goodness sake!
I should want what they are offering me. If I leave, the founder would have to leave her job that she loves and come back to run things. If I leave, Keith would have to keep working although he wants to be home with his family. He was dealing with so much at home. I mean big stuff that would make anyone want to get in their truck and drive away.
Enter, Louisa, My bomb-ass therapist.
During these weekly sessions, my mind began a sharp curve toward freedom. Mostly our beginning sessions were me ugly crying and using her entire box of tissues.
Week one I expressed to her all of the above concerns and I was resolute about staying at the job.
Week two I had resigned that opinion to say I will quit one day, but not now.
I was on the apex of the curve. The 180 degree turns on steep, steaming mountains that surely kill hundreds of people every year.
The thing about 180 degree turns is that at a very specific point you begin traveling in the opposite direction than you had been.
My destination was what it had always been – to work and be happy, but in order to get there I had to take that curve.
I had attended a board meeting in which the founder asked me what I wanted to do in the future as a continuing education type class and I began to cry. Luckily, Keith already knew my hesitation to grow in the company and the stress I had been feeling as of late and was able to deflect the questioning eyes and move the meeting ahead.
I can very definitively tell you that this was my point. Week 2.
Because by the next week, week three with Louisa, I had written my notice to leave the company and began seeing the lies I had been telling myself for what they were – absurd, ridiculous, and dare I say, stupid.
I dated that notice for less than a week from composing it, even when I had no intentions of turning it in at any point in the near future. I also cried through every keystroke.
I told myself that I can change the date. It is just there as a place holder, but my subconscious knew better. By day four with Louisa, I was a – partially- free woman. I had turned it in and much to my relief, I was not berated and made to feel that I was destroying their future. Instead, the founder apologized for not being a mentor to me while I was with them.
My anxiety would not let me off the hook that easy and I still struggle some days, but I promise it is easier and easier every day. I also had no plan.
My future involves pain- but not my pain
I worked for another month waiting for and training my replacement. And would you believe that in the first two weeks I had two job opportunites? In this time I began exploring other career paths. Biology wasn’t the way. Alabama isn’t overflowing with nature conserving research and the local refuge had been on a hiring freeze for a year.
I continued going to therapy because I knew I wasn’t in the clear just because I decided to quit my job. It was helping a lot and it began to bloom a passion in me for mental health and the people that need help but don’t get it.
I knew I needed to care for people and it would require more schooling. So I looked for something medical, but blood makes me lose grip on reality, so nursing and dermatology were out. I found the perfect thing – physical therapy. This is where the pain comes in, not mine but the patients I will one day be treating. I fell in love with the knowledge that this position allows me to love and care for someone while helping them love life again without their pain.
And just as I made that decision, I was offered a job as the office manager of a teeny-tiny clinic that a lone therapist was trying to run.
The peace I felt about my decision to leave was undeniable.
I had a plan and was already ticking off the things I needed to do to have this future. I went to the library and started studying anatomy before I had even started my pre-requisite classes. I had ambition, something that for years had been completely dormant in me and it was because I was finally able to fit myself into my own mind.
I had five fingers gripping my anxiety’s throat and another five on the steering wheel of my metaphorical car, finishing out that curve at ninety miles an hour.
At the time of writing this I have been working for a year and a half and I’m loving it.
I’ve applied to the local community college for their Physical Therapist Assistant program and hope to start in just a few months.
I continue going to therapy at least once a month and will forever keep a consistent schedule with her.
I’ve become increasingly productive in my life. Creating more, building more.
- I started writing a fiction book (I’m about 25,000 words in but have lost motivation)
- I’ve had a business idea that is only on hold until I’m done with school
- I’ve built a garden
- And I’ve started this blog
Thanks for making it to the end. I hope it was worth it.