I’ve been told many times I am strong; a trait I couldn’t agree with for a long time. I had and still have not dealt with a serious illness in myself, my family or within my friend circle. I’ve never gotten that dreaded phone call that I’ve tragically lost someone I love. I’ve never held a dying person as they took their last breath. I’ve never experienced famine or homelessness or domestic violence. In short, I don’t feel like I had ever experienced a situation that would merit true strength. Until lately. These last five years have been the best and the worst for me. I got married to the perfect partner. I watched friends make music and perform for audiences. I climbed a mountain (yes, a real, big ass mountain). I discovered BodyTalk and reiki and crystals and angels. I embraced my passion for writing and helping others. I birthed a beautiful, healthy baby girl and bought my first house. I traveled to amazing places in Canada and watched people dearest to me marry their loves. I’ve had a plethora of blessings bestowed upon me in this life. But in the midst of some of these incredible times, I’ve had my darkest moments.
In 2012, anxiety swept in like a hurricane and took over my life. Like many people, I had never understood anxiety or how debilitating it could be. I never thought it would affect me personally and I definitely never thought it would hit like me like it did. For the first two months, I barely left my house. I was terrified to leave and would get dizzy just getting the mail. Then I got pregnant. The hormones involved in pregnancy put my anxiety on hold…only to return when she was 18 months and after my first of two miscarriages. I was determined to be the kind of mother my daughter would look up to and want to be like. I didn’t want to embarrass her in front of her friends with my panic or make her feel scared when I should be her fiercest protector. So I continued a healthy lifestyle of exercise, meditation and soul work but when I miscarried the second time, it plunged me into depression AND anxiety: a terrible combination. Depression are feelings about the past and anxiety are feelings about the future so to say I was mind-fucked is an understatement. What’s funny about depression is that it’s not something you suddenly wake up with one day. It’s akin to laying on a blow up mattress with a pin hole leak. It’s a slow psssssssss of release until finally you’re laying on a cold floor, the mattress depleted. Day by day, my emotions would fade away leaving only anger and irritability in its wake. Happiness and joy were distant memories; ones I could vaguely recall but not fully remember. My drive and ambition were none existent. I had no desire to create my wares, to write, to even get out of bed. I finally understood in those bleak moments why suicide felt like an option. Realizing that, I sought professional help that changed my life.
This post won’t even cover a fifth of what that period was like but what I wanted to get across was how low I was. Low, low, low. And you know what, I fucking fought to get out of that hole of darkness and despair. I clawed, I cried, I did every single thing I did not want to do because I knew I would never survive if I continued living from a place of numbness and void. And that’s how I know my friends are right. I am strong. Strong as fuck.
I did the work from the counselor, crying daily from the tasks. I journalled when I had nothing to say. I took the medication suggested despite my mind trying to forbid it. I worked out every day knowing it would help even though I had days I didn’t want to help myself. I ate healthier foods to fuel my body positively. I did inner child healing work with an amazing woman who gave me hope. I worked hard. I explored my mind, my soul and my spirit and I returned from that dark place strong, solid and more importantly, happy.
From this darkness, I learned you don’t need to face death or illness or famine or homelessness to know true strength. Strength comes from getting out of bed in the morning when you feel like doing anything but. Strength comes from putting a smile on your face after a break up when you really feel like crying. Strength is staring at a ceiling, stone stiff trying to breath but can’t because you’re waiting for the music of life to flit across an ultrasound machine so you can exhale your relief. Strength is waking up everyday and saying, I will not Surrender to this darkness. It is fighting for yourself, for the best version of you. Strength is standing up for injustice, no matter how big or small. Strength is standing beside your friends and family as they navigate tough times. It is being a voice for the voiceless. Strength is trying to get pregnant knowing a miscarriage could happen again. It is entertaining friends for dinner the day you get your period and you feel as soiled for your inability to conceive almost as much as your underwear is from its arrival. Strength is trying every fucking natural product, wive’s tale, trick in the book to make a baby even when you want to give up and never look at a penis again. It is loving your child even when you have moments of annoyance and resentment. Strength is staring your anxiety in its face and saying, “no no, not this time.” It is hard, it is frustrating and it is weary on the soul but strength is a beautiful, worthy trait for all of us to embrace while we navigate what Life throws at us. It’s what makes us warriors. True warriors.