I recently became a follower of the blog Fitness Blondie and she has started a #BeFearless project. I love this idea! I love the idea of sharing our stories and supporting each other in our own personal journey’s. LOVE IT! Today we are sharing our stories of being fearless, so go over and visit, read some stories, make some comments and maybe share your own story!
I don’t know what being fearless means to me yet. I am still working on being fearless because I have many fears. I am one of those over thinking, obsessive people that think about my fears on nearly a constant basis. Inside my head can be a very busy place. It is hard to share my story because for the most part I stayed quiet for a long time about my emotional and physical struggles. I was one that feared if I shared it people would judge me. I was scared of what the people I loved would think of me. But in the end, my blog and these last couple of years have helped me to share my struggles with emotional eating, infertility, PCOS and anxiety. It felt good to release some of that loneliness I felt for years.
I will start my story where I think it begun, where I think I started learning and pushing my boundaries of being fearless.
I started off as a small town girl. I thought I would live there for there for the rest of my life but eventually I realized after many failed relationships (especially one in particular that really devastated me) and too many nights spent at the bottom of an alcohol bottle, that I needed out because I was going nowhere fast. So I left. I ran away to the city and started a new life there with my now husband. I remember hearing everyone talking in my hometown, she won’t go anywhere, she won’t become anything, she will be back in no time. It was a really tough decision to decide to leave but I made it and I left with the very little possessions I had loaded up in my SUV.
Flash forward to a few years later, I was diagnosed with PCOS, I was dealing with doctor after doctor who had no sympathy for what I was experiencing and they all just kept saying lose weight. I was pushing 335 pounds. I was scared. I wasn’t working because I couldn’t stand the idea of leaving the house and my PCOS symptoms were so strong that most days it took everything I had just to shower. I spent most days in bed sleeping and most nights reading. I was trying to deal with a huge onslaught of new emotions, mostly heartbreaking sadness and fear due to finding out that I was infertile. I watched my friends get pregnant and I could feel the pull of wanting to be a mother become very strong in my life. It was like if I couldn’t have kids, I had no purpose. I can still remember that the world felt dark, that I didn’t want to hang out or do anything fun. I remember my husband being so angry because he just wanted me to get out of bed and spend some time with him. I remember struggling with anemia and eating fast food on almost a daily basis. I shutter when I think of that girl and how lost she was. She was angry and pissed off at what she had handed to her.
I don’t remember when, but I remember that one day I couldn’t take it anymore. I was so tired of being miserable and unhappy. I was tired of being broke because I couldn’t leave the house to find a job. I was just tired of staring at the four walls of my apartment. I felt like a crazy person hiding away. My ankles hurt when I walked, I couldn’t even manage to make it around the block without sweating and breathing heavy. I was so ashamed of what I had allowed myself to become. So I got up, I went to the college down the street from my apartment and I signed up to get my A.A. in paralegal studies. I was terrified. I had dropped out of college before. I had failed at this before. What if I failed again?
Most days I wanted to crawl back into bed. Most days the other students scared me, what if they didn’t like me? But I made myself get up, pack my back-pack and walk to class. Then I made a friend and another one and another one and soon I was enjoying going to class each day. I started applying for entry level positions to gain experience and help support my household while attending college. Soon I landed my first legal job as a receptionist/case manager, I started off with only 20 hours a week and proved myself in order to work 40 hours a week. I went to school at night for 12 hours a week, worked 40 hours a week (sometimes more if there was a lot of billing to do I would go in on Saturday’s as well) and balanced many many hours of homework. Every single second of every single day revolved around balancing school with work. I forgot about being infertile, I forgot about being ridden with PCOS and focused instead of surviving each long day till I could graduate with my degree. I missed holidays, I missed outings, the husband and I didn’t go on vacations, everything revolved completely around graduating college.
It was a tough time but almost two years ago I graduated college and landed a job at my dream company to work with. After that things started to click into place fast. We were able to afford to move into a neighborhood we had always wanted to live in and leave the horrible four-plex we had been living in behind. We were able to get a reliable car and pay our bills on time. But I looked in the mirror one day and realized that I hadn’t been taking care of myself for a very long time. My PCOS symptoms were out of control and I was battling the worse of the worse. I was severely anemic and my white blood cell count was high, I was exhausted and I feared I wouldn’t be able to continue to work full time if I couldn’t fight it. I was brought in every three months to take blood work and to keep an eye on all my numbers. I was taking iron supplements and given Metformin to help control my PCOS a little bit better. It seemed that though other things got better, other things were falling apart from years of ignoring them.
I started walking. I couldn’t even walk a mile without my ankles screaming in protest. I started riding my bike. I started changing what food I was eating. I started hiking in the summers with my husband. I just remember struggling so much to do little things and being brought nearly to tears because I was so damn frustrated at how little my body could handle. But with each hike, each walk, each bike ride, I became a little stronger in who I was, I gained back some confidence and I dropped almost 20 pounds. Losing weight isn’t easy with PCOS but it is possible. Just means I have to work harder.
In October of last year I quit smoking. It was super hard for the first few weeks of withdrawal symptoms but I assumed that would be the worse of it. I was wrong. Two months in and I suddenly started waking up every night petrified I was having a heart attack. I stopped being able to eat, I was calling in sick to work and hiding away in the house. I had no clue what was going on but it scared me nearly to death. After a few weeks of battling the strangest onset of symptoms, convinced I had cancer, I headed to the ER. The ER doctor diagnosed me with acid indigestion. I started taking pills. They didn’t help. So I made an appointment with my regular doctor, the one that has been amazing with me and my condition. She didn’t call me crazy, she didn’t roll her eyes at me, she listened and she diagnosed me with severe anxiety. I had always had it according to her but I often blamed withdrawal symptoms when I was a smoker on what was really anxiety symptoms. Shortness of breath, panic, stomach aches and suddenly feeling really angry, all anxiety symptoms masked by nicotine symptoms. In other words I had used cigarettes to cover up an anxiety problem for a very long time.
I can tell you a lot about severe anxiety but what I will tell you is this, the hardest part to deal with is coping with the crippling and irrational fears that make you stay awake each night, that make eating nearly impossible and often times had be crying in the bottom of the shower thinking I was downright CRAZY. I spent so many hours battling these irrational thoughts that didn’t make sense. For an example: My coworkers and I were eating lunch at our favorite Thia food place. It was our favorite place because we all loved the peanut sauce. LOVED the peanut sauce and would eat there at least once a month. About ten bites in, suddenly I got it stuck in my head that what if I suddenly gained a peanut allergy and was about to have my throat swell up so bad I can’t breath?! I literally had to stop eating. Get it to go and threw it away at work. But the whole time I was waiting for my coworkers to finish their lunch my throat started to hurt, I felt my heart skipping beats and I was pouring down sweat. I literally gave myself a panic attack right then and there over a peanut allergy I DIDN’T have.
I knew things couldn’t continue, I couldn’t live like this, it wasn’t living. So I started researching natural solutions, it was that or my doctor was going to have me start taking anti-anxiety pills. Since I was already on two different medications, I just did NOT want to take another, so I set out on a journey to find my breath again with yoga. I found a cute studio by my house and every week I dragged my mat to the studio. It became the only time I could breath and the nearly constant pressure on my chest would lift. As I sweated and bended into what seemed like impossible positions, I slowly found my breath again, I found my quiet place, I found myself. I found that on the nights I didn’t go to yoga that I could do a small routine at home based off of what I had learned in class from the amazing teachers. I found that I slowly I was able to start identifying irrational thoughts, address them and move on from them without sending myself into panic attacks. I found I could fight the panic without lying in the bottom of the shower in tears. I think the best feeling was sleeping through the night again and enjoying a movie with my husband again without panic settling in or going to dinner without sitting there the whole time worrying about if I was going to puke if I ate or die from an unknown food allergy.
I have been smoke free for 8 months now. I don’t have to go to yoga weekly to feel sane anymore, I found my peace somewhere inside of me and most days I can still hold on to it even through stressful events. I have signed up for a color run in August that I hope to run/walk. I can complete a full boot camp DVD without stopping or doing a lot of modifications. I can go to the gym and lift weights without fear of judgment. I go to work, I plan vacations, I laugh, I love and I am living for what feels like the first time in a long time. Every single day I battle my PCOS, my emotional eating and my anxiety, but every day I win just by making the right choices. I am still a work in progress. I still slip. I still have really bad weeks of emotional eating or in May’s case, bad months. Sometimes I scream at the sky when I can’t handle the fear of never having my own child. But I can honestly say, for the first time ever, I feel okay in my own skin more often than I don’t. Each day I am getting closer to where I want to be and I am enjoying the journey in the mean time.
I have a few people in my life that have rocked my socks off with how much they have supported me emotionally over the years and supported me finding myself. My husband being one of them. We had to face somethings after I graduated college, some issues that had been staring us right in the face for a long time that we were both avoiding but we faced them. We worked through them. We are still working through them. But I can honestly say between him, my family and some amazing friends, I wouldn’t have survived ANY OF THIS without them. A girl’s heart gets so big when she realizes how much love has been sent her way, even when she couldn’t love herself.
How are you fearless?