Being Brave

This year has been a brutal year for me. I have faced some of the scariest most humbling experiences of my life. I have spent nearly 15 weeks in hospital with a number of complications and challenges. I was gassed and robbed in my home and then I lost my brother who was, and always will be my hero.

On Monday 7th of October I stood up in court and testified against the people who robbed me and finally my body said ENOUGH! An overwhelming sense of anxiety and a feeling of complete desperation flooded over me. It all felt like every part of me was unravelling rapidly. I felt terrified and exhausted and basically like I had reached the limit of what I could take.

There are many people in this world who can relate to panic attacks and anxiety and the overwhelming feeling of deep grief. And there are so many people who don’t reach out and ask for help in this situation, however my greatest teaching this year has been to just put up my hand and ask for help.

As a society we have developed a belief system that we need to constantly put on a brave face and pretend to be ok in order to make other people comfortable, when actually we just need to own the emotions we are feeling however scary and real they are.

To be brave is to know when you need help. To be brave is to ask for help and say I am not ok. I am not coping and I feel like I am drowning. There is such societal stigma around depression and anxiety that many people don’t speak out and ask for help and that is a very dangerous thing.

The fear of judgement and rejection is so great that people often feel it’s better to pretend they are fine and hide behind a mask than to face the gruelling journey of unpacking and healing the parts that feel broken inside. I have learnt this year that no matter how much I have tried to put on my big girl panties and pull myself towards myself, I have struggled to keep it to together.

The combination of traumas I have experienced both physically and emotionally compounded and my body simply said no more. I became anxious and had massive panic attacks and realised that this was not something I could simply “will” myself through.

I have had to face the fact that I have full blown PTSD and that the best healing was to face all the scary stuff in a supportive way through counselling. I have had to realise that no matter how much my logical, analytical brain is trying to be “FINE”, I am not fine and am taking strain.

A deep deep sadness enveloped me and it feels like I have lost my joy. I put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis while at times feeling completely numb. There are so many moments that have flashed in front of me from this year that have shaken me to the core and unbalanced me as I don’t like being out of control. It’s an extremely uncomfortable place for me.

I apologise if my vulnerability and humanity makes you uncomfortable and disengaging but I really don’t care. You see I choose to feel the roller coaster of emotions and rather understand with true courage and conviction what it is to live through these great challenges.

I choose to confront all that makes me uncomfortable and feel off kilter. I am fully aware that I am not my “old” self but that I am just who I am and the best part of me is that I feel deeply and care deeply.

While my generosity and willingness has at times seemed like a dumping ground for bullshitters, con artists and narcissists, I am choosing to no longer be that dumping ground. I am a real fan of Brené Brown and while reading her book Rising Strong I discovered a paragraph that resonated with me and helped me to realise that it’s ok to not be ok.

“The opposite of recognising that we are feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. our job is not to deny the story, but defy the ending – to rise strong, recognise our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. this is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends.”

So as you start your day don’t forget to be curious and check in with where you are emotionally, physically and mentally and never to the disservice of yourself by masking your vulnerability and truth as in the end the only person it harms is you.