The Many Faces Of Perseverance Blog Series. I thought it would be nice to take the filter out of our daily lives and to be able to relate to many different people about struggles that we each face. I am learning everyday to embrace the struggles we go through, instead of fearing them. I am learning that everything we go through is putting us on our path and helping us grow. I am learning that even when its uncomfortable and hard that we are learning so much about ourselves and that our struggles are shaping us into a better version of ourselves. I hope you gain guidance, inspiration, and support from this series – Alexa
Syanna, What made you want to share your story with others?
When I was feeling at my worst, down in my darkest moments, I felt so alone and so unable to share what I was going through with anyone around me. Not because they weren’t willing to support me, but they just couldn’t be in my head and my body to understand the way I was feeling. After I got well and had done a significant amount of healing, I realized that I wanted to be that light for other women who were maybe going through similar circumstances and experiences. To let them know they weren’t alone and there WAS light at the end of the tunnel. To me, if sharing my story means that possibly one more person on this earth doesn’t have to suffer through their journey, then it was worth it.
When Alexa reached out and asked me if I would be willing to participate in The Faces of Perseverance, I was honored and excited. My story is familiar to many, perhaps not in the intimate details of my experience, but in it’s essence, because it’s a story that centers around anxiety, depression and shame: frequent visitors to many of us living in this modern world.
But before we dive into the rabbit hole, there’s something I’d like to preface this blog post with and it is this: If you are currently experiencing any of the above mentioned conditions, you will be okay. And yes, I understand how reductionist and simplified that statement may sound, but that doesn’t make it ring any less true. While modern medicine may tell us that there is no way out from under these proverbial rocks, I am here as living proof you tell you differently, and I hope my love and enthusiasm for the idea shows through.
So with that said, here we go…
I am currently a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner working with one-on-one clients, as well as a co-host of The Female Experience Podcast. However, getting to where I am now, which is a life full of love, light and great health, was a long road.
I grew up a terribly anxious and fearful kid, and this was amplified when my father walked away from our family when I was 5 years old. What had started out as a general intensity, quickly morphed into a lifetime of anxiety, phobias, OCD, panic attacks and depression; a killer combo. I was basically a walking ball of fear, alert and ready to “flee or flight” at any moment. Needless to say, this had a pretty detrimental effect on my body, but as a child, I learned to just deal with it by staying close to home, keeping my social circle small and avoiding situations that made me nervous or upset. Not the best way to live.
At the age of 19, I was given an anti-anxiety pill by a friend of mine, and from that moment on was hooked. For the first time in my entire life, my heart rate felt normal, my hands weren’t shaking, my stomach wasn’t clenched in a ball, and I remember hearing the sound of my own, unabridged laugh for the first time in years and feeling free. And while I hate to admit that about such a powerful and dangerous pharmaceutical drug, it was true. Unfortunately, what was also true was that that tiny blue Xanax pill became my life line for the next 7 years as I developed a total dependency on having those pills.
While it never turned into an addiction anyone else noticed, every day I would take at least half a pill to “take the edge off” and never understood the implications that would have on my body, my mind or my health, especially once I decided to come off of them years later completely unsupervised.
What no one told me, however, was that when you numb about negative feelings like sadness, anxiety and fear, you also numb out the good ones such as love, empathy and connection. After several years of this, I felt as if my life wasn’t my own. Like I was going through the motions, and not having any more panic attacks, but also a bit dead, longing for something more, but not able to put my finger on it.
So, unwisely, I got the idea to quit my medications cold turkey and see how I did without them considering I was no longer actually having attacks. Which, is when I had what I consider my complete breakdown. Not only did I experience what is known as rebound anxiety (i.e. worse than before because of the imbalance the medication created), but in response, my body began to fall a part physically as the toll of all that stress compounded.
This feeling of falling a part and holding on by a thread lasted for about a year and half, until one day, Christmas to be exact, I decided enough was enough. I had ruined enough family get-togethers, my 7-year relationship was disintegrating before my eyes and all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and sleep my life away. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, I turned to nutrition to see if it could solve my problems.
I had spent thousands of dollars on conventional medicine at this point, only to have everyone tell me there was nothing wrong and nothing they could do short of putting me back on my medications, which was not something I was interested in. So, I picked up a copy of The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and dove in deep.
As I began to take note of what I was putting in my body and how I was treating it, I also began to see light at the end of the tunnel. I regained my energy, I was able to sleep through the night, my stomach aches and digestive issues resolved, my hormones balanced and I was feeling physically amazing. However, there was still this nagging feeling of underlying anxiety and fear that didn’t seem to fade no matter how healthy I ate, how much yoga I did or how nicely I treated my body.
And so, with a little reluctance, but also a deep resolve to see my healing all the way through, I dove in deep to the mindset piece of the puzzle. I began to take a look at my beliefs about the world and people in it, I saw a wonderful therapist, picked up a meditation practice to tune in and, much like the nutrition, began to see things fall into place.
Now, in my opinion and experience, the path back to ourselves and our happiest lives is not one that ever ends. There is never a time or place when we can say, “that’s it. I’ve done it. I’ve mastered life,” because life never ceases to provide us with opportunities for growth. However, that being said, I do believe that through this work, through the blending of nutrition and mindset work, we can absolutely get to a place where we can say, “I’m okay. I’m enough. And regardless of the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the light and dark, I truly love this journey called life.”