As one is want to do following a big trip or other perspective shifting event I am sitting here reflecting on our trip to Japan, our return to “real-life”, and the big changes I have undergone over the past year. I’ve been in conflict with myself, my future, the options that lay before me, and the reality of being a person who lives with anxiety.  #IfYouCouldSeeMe has provided a platform for me to open the doors to myself in a new way. Getting ways from everything for a few weeks has allowed me to look inside in a way that I couldn’t have imagined and that was completely necessary. Sitting here with major jet lag I’m reflecting on what comes most clearly to the surface but this has been a huge year for me emotionally, personally, and professionally. I will continue to write on the shifts, changes, and outside influences that have had me fighting with myself, making realizations that are very painful, and deciding what’s next for me on my journey. I’ve decided to begin here. 

For several years I had an antidepressant that seemed to work for me. My anxiety was in check. In actuality I was a well oiled machine – I worked constantly, devoid of a lot of the emotion and over thinking that has historically gotten in my way. I have accomplished a great deal. I was able to not take everything personally, focus on the tasks and goals that lay before me. It allowed me to be a machine for the first time in my life. It was amazing. I didn’t feel like a failure anymore. 
Then those same meds made my thyroid fail and the rest of me followed which meant I was sick physically and emotionally, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Being forced to go off this medication has brought some things to light for me that have been both liberating, terrifying, and simply necessary of management. Everything has changed and a lot of what I thought I was and what I wanted has also changed. Getting away from my life for the past nearly 3 weeks has been eye opening in a way that I had not anticipated.
1. I don’t want to be a machine. It’s a coping mechanism that I am discovering is very unhealthy. I have passions that I want to focus on but I don’t want to be in perpetual motion for the sake of it anymore. I need space to breathe. 
2. Being on those meds for so long was wonderful in many ways but it also dampened what should have been natural and healthy reactions to unhealthy situations in my life. It prolonged difficult realizations and adjustments to life and lifestyle that I believe inevitably led to illness and discontent. 
3. My body cannot be taken for granted and being healthy is much more than the way I look. Emotional and spiritual wellness are the single most important things I can focus on for my long term health. The problem is when you start practicing mindfulness and change your longtime habits a lot of junk that you’ve been avoiding comes to light. 
4. Once you make the changes and all that garbage begins to surface there is a choice: face those demons head-on or to continue the dance of denial and avoidance. How to address this is a daily series of choices and weighing of options. It’s not a one and done but a constant struggle to face what is real as opposed to the false narrative I have become comfortable with that keeps me in my “place.” 

This last one is a doozy. I struggle so much with what I believe I deserve in this life and the fear of asking for or expecting too much because I irrationally believe that there is a finite amount of good, safety, and security allotted for each human. If I ask for or desire more than my fair share on one end then I will have to sacrifice elsewhere. I am in continuous conflict with the monster that tells me if I want to be successful in my creative pursuits I will have to sacrifice the overall well being of my family. This is irrational and yet I can’t move past it to fully grasp what I know to be true but can’t seem to accept for myself: the endless abundance of the universe. I often get stuck in a place of fear at which point I am also faced with the realization that fear in the act of creation is exactly what is necessary and it is only in facing that fear that I will be able to achieve the desired outcomes. 
Circular logic. Overthinking.  The marks of a mad woman? Or just being responsible understanding what’s at stake? Who’s to know…
I was raised with endless love and equal parts fear and uncertainty. The fear and confusion haunts me and when I began the journey of motherhood I committed to mirror that love for my own children and conversely to never give them a reason to feel afraid that I couldn’t or wouldn’t keep them safe. In truth, I don’t know how to keep that promise without limiting the scope of what I think is possible for myself in the world yet I also recognize that by limiting my vision out of fear I am also sending a message that the world is not accessible to us. It’s a delicate dance. 

On my old meds I had these beliefs but I was able to contain them in a smaller part of my heart and mind that kept me from being consumed by the fear. Now as I am in a new, healthier lifestyle, with meds that work ok but on which I feel more anxious, in combination with so much possibility laying before me with the release of the book, new speaking and presenting opportunities, a podcast, and whatever else becomes possible I am afraid and I don’t have the protective barrier that used to keep the fears at bay and help me to continue moving forward. 

I’m learning everyday that while my anxiety and depression give me super powers, for which I feel a deep gratitude, they also present me with limitations that I must also accept. By accepting and beginning to really speak out about my own experiences I am also learning how to own the truth of who I am instead of always working so hard to try and be something other than this. 

I am only a single human sharing my experiences and perspective about my experiences and perspective. The only answer I have to all of these questions is to keep showing up, learning about myself, the world, what I want from it and what I want to contribute to it. As I continue to learn to tell my stories, make peace with sharing different parts of myself, and expand the reach of this project in all of its many facets I imagine certain things ei get easier and become more clear. I wish I had more answers for you dear friends but I suppose the answers are in the questions that come when we continue to look inside. 

I can only share the questions and what feels true when I attempt to find answer. Here’s to the search. 

Much love,

Erin