Target Practice

Another spring break has come and gone.

As excited as I was to take some time off from the normal day to day and get down to the Georgia coast, I was pretty dang excited this morning dropping my kiddos back off at school. Grass is always greener, they say!

I have to bring awareness to the fact, however, that my anxiety levels have been heightened as of late. I’ve noticed the soundtrack in my head becoming stuck on the old what if and oh no and get me out of here more than I have in a while. Old triggers have been more noticeable and louder in the past month or so.

Of course I’ve been ruminating over why…but the sad truth is that the wild goose chase may not ever lead anywhere. Hormones? Stress? Diet? I mean, you could run yourself into the ground.

I did know that I had a long drive to make, and I was doubting myself pretty heavily.

I know I’ve mentioned that the way we think has a direct impact on our anxiety levels, among others factors. The truth was, the doubt and fear were starting to gain momentum on the feedback loop in my brain. This negative thought pattern sets us up for the perfect breeding ground for anxiety to grow.

The drive down was tough. The endless lanes of Atlanta’s interstates bearing the morning load of traffic was overwhelming. I squirmed in my seat and fought through it, although waves of disappointment and discouragement accompanied my endurance.

I’ve been doing so good! Why am I taking a step back? Am I falling back into my old ways?

Just like that, the lies began to try to persuade truth into my life. It’s amazing how powerful your thought life can be. The tiniest idea can manifest into a whole identity-stealing concept before you can blink.

After we arrived, I was mentally exhausted. That was hard, I mentioned to my mom without much detail. I kept going back and analyzing the failures of my drive, like it was some judged performance, although it was me who was the lone judge in this competition. I had the hardest time shaking off the worry that I was re-entering the dark pit of debilitating anxiety.

Sadly, ruminating on the negative has completely overshadowed the fact that I still successfully made the drive. I tackled Atlanta morning rush hour (which is no small feat…um, hello 16 LANES!!!), managed two children and a dog, fed everyone, made the necessary bathroom stops, all while making pretty darn good time. From an accomplishment stand point, I should be thrilled! Especially knowing that a handful of years ago, driving on the interstate with my children was my number one fear.

Hold up…I conquered my number one fear!!! How could I forget how awesome that is?!

It’s funny how you can desperately wish for an outcome for so long, and once you achieve it, there’s a point that the euphoria of success tapers off, and you begin to assimilate that once impossible task back into daily life. It just becomes normal. You try to remember why you struggled so much to do something that barely phases you anymore. It’s almost as if the anxiety never robbed you of all those years in the first place.

Until years later, when you receive an uninvited visitor.

Hey girl, haaay… so it’s been a while. Why don’t we hang out anymore? I know, I knowI was a bully. But I was just trying to keep you safe, remember? I mean, you could’ve been out living your life worry-free and having fun, but who wants to risk that?! You were safe in your little cage, thanks to me. You couldn’t drive, you couldn’t get on an airplane, go to concerts or movies or crowded restaurants, I mean ugh…what a hassle that is anyway! Why don’t we go have lunch and I’ll remind you that you can have your old fear-driven, anxiety-ridden life back? Can’t we just be friends again? Puh-leeeeeease?!

Ughhhh…there she is. My a-hole brain, trying to let herself back into my life. There I was, dwelling on the disappointing flashbacks of my lessthan-perfect drive, when I should’ve been celebrating an amazing accomplishment. That’s what the a-hole brain does; steals your joy and tries to erase the good thoughts from taking the proper front-row seat in your brain.

She even tries to stop me from writing, that little hussy. Distracting me and doubting my abilities with every passing hour. You don’t have time or no one wants to read that or why even bother, what’s the point?

All too often, I listen to her. Or I just get lazy and pick up a book or defer to the Netflix. But not today, dang it! If I have to pick up and finish this post every time I’m in carpool line, I’m gonna make it happen. So what if spring break was a full three weeks ago…no one said this was a race.

Anyway, so we have a great break, and guess what? I will have to drive back home at the end of it, because that’s how vacation works. Of course, I would rather stay and live at the beach forever, but that’s not really the most realistic life choice at the moment. So I prepare myself by trying to think more positively about my journey. I can listen to my podcasts! I get to sleep in my bed and take a shower in my own shower (we all know we get cleanest in our actual, own shower)! Maybe the traffic will be lighter than normal in McDonough (reality check: traffic is never light in McDonough, for some mysterious reason.)!

So I start my trek, the kiddos settle into the first of many hours of technology time (an utter delight to their eyes and my ears) and I get going on the podcasts. I love a good podcast lately, and a nice long drive is the perfect time to devote some attention to them. Most of my favorites are personal development podcasts, but I have everything from pop-culture to faith to current events to business psychology in my library. I kind of love all the things.

What I really love is a hearty, deep conversation, especially within the realm of faith, and more importantly, when my soul needs to be nurtured. Sometimes I just need a good soul hug. So I sat back and took a deep dive into a few of my favorites.

In one particular interview, the speaker was talking about calming her nerves before speaking publicly. When she prayed about it, she saw the image of a target on the back wall during her speech. It was there to remind her that God should be her primary focus, especially during difficult times; all she had to do was focus on Him to get her through her struggle.

This wasn’t a new idea to me, making God my focal point. My faith-walk has been a pivotal factor in overcoming anxiety. But sometimes I need a reminder, a wake-up call, a direct-line to hear His message.

About 10 minutes after listening to the target story, I got my message. I passed a billboard with a huge, white target symbol plastered across the front. I can’t remember what the advertisement was for (I know it wasn’t my beloved Target big-box department store), but it screamed to me, loud and clear.

I’ve got you. Keep your eyes on me. I will guide you home.

Traffic was horrible, as Atlanta traffic always is on a holiday weekend. It was coming up on hour six of my drive. The sun blared down on all 16 lanes of packed cars, reflecting off their roofs like shining scales on an enormous school of fish navigating through the current. I was weary. I wanted off the interstate, and I wanted off now.

Those are the moments that you realize you have a choice. You can succumb to the chaos of your lack of control, or you can focus on your target. You can get carried away by the endless waves of uncertainty or you can stay on course and follow Him home. Once you can let go and surrender that control, it’s smooth sailing.

I don’t remember the exact moment in that sea of traffic that the peace washed over me, or how I somehow received a boost of energy that helped me through those final 45 minutes, but I do remember my overwhelming gratefulness. I relaxed in my seat, smiled at the familiar scenery of my hometown out my window, and breezed on home.


Like I do with every blog post, I start to narrate in my head, can’t wait to run to the computer when I get the chance to share my insight. But before my fingers even make it to the keyboard, my a-hole brain quickly shows up and tries to shut it down. You’re too tired. Nobody cares. Your thoughts aren’t really worth sharing anyway.

But then…Monday. I take my daughter to tennis practice and I hear her coach say, “Focus on the target.”

Tuesday. A friend sends me a rap video on my phone (we were trying to get pumped up for our tennis match, ok?!!) and guess what’s painted on a brick wall in the background? A white target.

Wednesday at my tennis practice. We ask our coach what we are going to work on today. “Target practice,” she says.

Fine, I think. I hear you!! Keep going. Keep your focus.

Symbols have always been a huge influence in my life. I can’t explain it, but I feel it in my spirit when something I see takes on a deeper meaning. I’ve never really heard God speak to me, but I know He can communicate in so many ways. Even though my faith has grown leaps and bounds recently, I’m a skeptic at heart, and I think God knows I need these reminders to stay the course. Sometimes they are whispers and sometimes they are roars, but I know when there’s a message waiting for me. All I have to do is be willing and ready to receive it.

So here I am, reminding you to stay the course. Focus on your target. Lean into your faith and trust the way forward. Do the hard things because they will help you grow, no matter how much you want to stay where you are. You will miss the mark, over and over again. But when you hit the bullseye…that is the moment that you realize all that target practice was worth it.

Steady your arrow, and let it fly.


It was a typical school morning. I bark at kids to get dressed, pack their snack, put on a coat. They ask for their favorite radio station and when it’s all talk, we skim through until we land on Nelson’s I’m the One Who Wants to Be With You and I jam out while I explain that this was mommy’s favorite song when I was about Jack’s age. I get blank stares. We scroll again and land on Turning Japanese and now they really think I’m crazy.

We pull into school and inch through the carpool line, I wave at a familiar mom here and there. Most faces I don’t know or can’t see as they pass. But there’s one face in particular that catches my eye. A mom I kind of recognize, but it’s too fleeting to be sure. She’s wiping her nose and looks like she’s crying her eyes out. Maybe she just has a bad cold, I don’t know. But it tugs at my heart and makes me stop in my tracks.

Momming is hard. I know its not a real word, but to me it is one of the most important. Momming is constant. Momming is exhausting and frightening and joyous and beautiful all at the same time. It’s keeping up with 800 schedules and activities and feeding them and shopping for them and cleaning and hugging and kissing goodnight and the occasional if not daily butt wiping.

Oh the infamous potty training days

And oooooh sweet Christmas time. It’s constantly reminding our littles of the real meaning of the holidays when all they see is you running around like a crazy person. It’s pretending to be a magical elf and a man in red and then dealing with the guilt of the huge lie of it all. It’s becoming a professional shopper and gift wrapper and cookie maker and special ops gift hider (special thanks to Amazon for spoiling a few surprises already. Ok so maybe it was my fault and I’m just bitter I have to figure out another Santa gift. Whatever. Why can’t it just be about baby Jesus?!? Ok sorry, rant over.).

Last night for me, it was trying to make dinner while my daughter hugs my leg crying and screaming because her friend can’t play and I’m worried because she is reacting as though her pet has just died and I have to just stop what I’m doing and hold her because she can’t stop being sad. Then I stay up late reading up on childhood anxiety and worrying and studying and figuring out how to help her and how to calm my frustrated, discouraged momma heart.

It may be dropping off a child who cries every morning because she doesn’t like school because of a bully. Maybe your child is the bully and you pray that you don’t get that conduct report or the call or the meeting with the principal and your heart aches every day trying to figure out why your child’s pain is making them hurt others. Maybe it’s 22 degrees outside and your son refuses to wear pants and you just don’t want to fight it anymore and you tell him fine, but you’re gonna get pneumonia like last year. Maybe your child has a severe allergy and you fear that this will be the day that the epi-pen has to be used. Maybe you’re a mom of a special needs child and you just wish that someone knew the level of selflessness and strength it takes every minute of every day.

Momming is all the worries and all the responsibilities and trying to have a marriage and a personal life and a career and a clean-ish house and shower on top of it all.

My two crazies

Hold up- don’t think I’m all boo-hooing or regretting this Mom gig. Momming is often my favorite thing ever. Momming is hugs and home-made cards and watching your child play and laugh and open gifts and the overwhelming favorite of watching them sleep. It’s watching their first steps and their last day of Kindergarten and their first date and their last time on Santa’s lap. It’s knowing that despite the times they act like they hate you, you really are their biggest hero.

I know many dear friends out there that hope with their whole hearts that they will be momming some day. They pray for the chance to one day be called “mom”. They wonder if there’s something wrong with them because it just doesn’t seem to be happening. They cringe when they get asked about it over and over, they fight confusing emotions when close friends and family start momming without them. I’m sure they wish people like me would stop complaining that being a mom is so hard when it’s the thing they wish for the most.

Despite the craziness and chaos, I truly am grateful. I wouldn’t trade this role in life for anything. But we all see life from different perspectives, and when you’re in it, when you’re steeped in your day to day, before you know it, you’re overwhelmed, and you just wonder if anyone else can relate. You just want to align your heart with someone else’s in those moments.

To the mom crying in carpool…I see you.

I don’t know what your morning was like. What every day is like for you. But your worries, your pain, your precious momma heart isn’t alone. I see you. Don’t feel guilt that because you drive a nice car and have your kids in private school you aren’t allowed to feel pain. That your pain is any less that anyone else’s. You are seen and loved all the same.

Pain is pain is pain.

If you’re momming today and wondering if you can survive another second of crushing pressure to do all the things and be all the things and worrying about your littles, find a minute to be still today. Make some space, even if it’s for five minutes, take some deep breaths of fresh, life-giving oxygen, and just receive the fact that you are amazingly loved and enough. Really sit and let it soak in. Even if no one’s told you for as long as you can remember, receive it and believe it.

There’s no medal for momming. There’s no parade for you at the end of everyday or a thank you card or even a paycheck.

But I see you. We see each other. We’ve got this.

You’re a good mom. Even if no one tells you that today or this week or this month or this year. Even if you forget you child’s lunch or their jacket or their pants. You love them with your whole momma heart and love is just about the best thing you can give.

While you’re running around today doing all your momming stuff (and the other 4 million things you have to do), stop and recognize your momming medal. Sure, it’s not really there, but it is. Feel it’s heavy weight, the thickness of the shiny gold. Maybe your medal has diamonds sprinkled in, or rubies, or whatever! Make it your own. Feel the satin ribbon around your neck, securing your precious award. Imagine what’s engraved on it…Worlds Best Mom. Enough. Loved. Thank you. Makes Mac and Cheese Like a Champ.

Walk out into your day with your head high and your shoulders back. Know that your medal shines for all to see. Put it on everyday, wear it proudly, engrave the words on your heart. Don’t feel silly about it for a second, because you deserve that medal. I mean, you might as well come home to a parade too…so go ahead and imagine that confetti flying and crowd cheering as you walk in the door. Celebrate that you killed another day of momming.

Step on over those Cheerios on the floor and know that your medal sparkles as bright as the sun.

The Blanket

I’m drinking coffee…on a plane!!! What?!! Who is this girl?

Many people head straight to the bar before they board an airplane, hit the Starbucks, whatever pumps them up (or calms their nerves) for the flight. Not me, I am straight-up ginger ale only up in the air.  I want to be in complete control at all times, just in case. Like I’ve said before, someone needs to be sober in case it all goes down, just in case I need to take over for the pilot or something. Yet here I am in the middle seat, next to my son; my husband and daughter in the next row, ordering coffee.  A previous panic trigger. There was a point in time where I wouldn’t drink coffee at my own house, as even the slightest elevated heart rate would start me down the worm hole of panic.

Ahhhh the dangerous desire for control.

The past couple of days I’ve really been thinking about the effects of the need for control. I’ve been a control freak most of my life it seems…which is why the fear may have started early. I want to have control to the extent that I can know what will happen next, which I’m pretty sure no one in the world has the power to do. The realization that this is utterly impossible, and that I must learn to accept that I will never have complete control in all situations, is a constant struggle.

Even my devotional passages this week have been reminding me of the importance of letting go of the desire to control every aspect of my life. I love these reminders, but then I start to feel bad about myself. Guilt creeps in. Why can’t I put all my trust in God? Is he mad at me for this? I am less deserving and worthy in His eyes because of my constant level of fear? 

So add trust issues on top of control issues I guess. I am constantly reminded to release my urge to control my life and look to Him.

“No one was ever meant to carry the burden of complete control”


Yes. As I read the words I remember this, they blanket my soul in warmth. But why then, do I end up finding myself so quickly back to feeling exposed and chilled with fear? Perhaps I didn’t remain under the blanket long enough? I didn’t let its warmth radiate deep enough?

If you are a person of faith, you realize that it is a journey. I’m a little late to the party, having not been raised going to church regularly. We did go occasionally, to different places sometimes, and every place always seemed a bit foreign, like they were speaking a language I didn’t quite understand. I wasn’t sure how to act, what to say, what was expected. I was afraid I was doing it all wrong. I went to church with friends, witnessed different types of denominations and their rituals. My stepdad is Jewish and we spent some time enjoying some of their traditions. I taught in a Catholic school for almost 10 years and can say the heck out of some Hail Marys. As intimidating as each new religious experience was, I did learn that finding God came in all shapes and sizes. For this perspective I am grateful.

But in not having a strong connection to one house of God, I told myself that I wasn’t worthy of his love. I couldn’t quote Bible verses, and was confused about whether to worship Jesus or God as a child. What if I talk to the wrong One? Do I need to choose? I had lots of questions that I was too afraid to ask. I was asked if I was saved or needed to be, and I was always unsure of how to answer. I often found I felt closest to God in nature (which is still mostly true); watching a sunset, reveling in the breeze, watching the waves on the ocean, I felt Him here. I felt close to Him through music and singing.  Did this mean I had gained his approval? Was this enough?Am I doing it right? I was never sure.

In my Bible study recently, we were asked what our relationship with God was growing up. Every answer was so different. I spoke up and explained that I felt like I was never quite worthy of knowing Him; I felt like God was one of the popular kids that didn’t want to hang out with me. I felt like a good person, like if He knew my heart he would be pleased, and I wanted Him to know that I had a desire to know him, but was also intimidated and didn’t quite know where to start. I felt like maybe I had missed the Jesus boat and was left back with the stragglers. Did I still count? Was another boat on the way?

Speaking of Bible study, the fact that I had even joined one in recent years was so unexpected for me. I always had a desire to join one, but what did I know about the Bible? Wouldn’t they look at me like maybe I was in the wrong place? Was there going to be a quiz on Bible knowledge to allow me to attend (as I’m editing this I just remembered that “Bible” is supposed to be capitalized…doh!!)? But a good friend invited me (she actually thought I already attended, haha!), and assured me that all were welcome, so in I went.

Guess what? They didn’t ask me to leave. There was no Bible verse quiz of any sort (shoot, another B I had to capitalize!!).  In fact, I was exactly the kind of person they wanted to reach. The one who felt unworthy. That felt out-of-place. They embraced me and took me in. They reminded me that there wasn’t a wrong time or a wrong way to find God. That we are all on our own personal faith journeys, and we all have our own pace.

I’m pretty sure it was with that group of amazing women that I first realized that God truly loved me, just the way I was. That I was secure and accepted with amazing Grace. I can almost pinpoint the moment. I was practically in tears about my struggles with anxiety (I could barely get through the carpool line those days without a near panic attack) and those women just took me in and lifted me up. They were the hands and feet of God (or Jesus, right?), radiating with love and acceptance. He grabbed hold of my hand and my heart and never let go.

Still, I am a skeptic by nature. I analyze things down to their core. I think and over think and think some more. Which is why sometimes I question. Sometimes I demand answers and clarity. Which when it comes to faith, you are not given.  You must turn a cheek, and dig deep within. You must walk by faith not by sight. Wow, so hard for me. But I’m still on this journey, and I’m not planning on turning around anytime soon.

There are strong nudges on this journey of faith, ones that shout and ones that seem to whisper. There are crests and valleys and moments where I struggle to understand and others where I am lost in the moment. But the most important thing I am learning is that there’s no perfect here either.  There’s no one size fits all when it comes to faith and God and your place in line for Heaven. Wherever you are, is where you should be, and He is there, waiting to meet you in that place, ready to wrap you up and cover you with love. No guilt, no shame, no doubt should preceed that absolute truth.

It was not ever meant to be our burden to carry. We are not meant to be in complete control.  The work has already been done. The price has been paid. The more we can let go and realize this, the less fear and uncertainty will stain our hearts and steal our joy.

Fear has no place when faced with love.

I turn down the little personal AC fan above my airplane seat, something small that I actually can control, and grab the thin little blanket for warmth. I cover up, sit back and begin to relax in the security of that warm, tiny blanket.

Maybe I should order another cup of coffee? I’m not flying the plane, after all.

The Darkest Day (A Love Letter to my Medication)

I promise that my blog won’t be this intense and heavy all the time! But I feel like I cannot truly move forward without sharing this story with you. If it helps one person with their decision, than it was worth it.

This is pretty much the story of why I decided to start taking antidepressants. I know some of you probably just got on them without thinking about it, which is fine and dandy. But I am an overthinker and an overanalizer, and this was a tough decision for me. It scares me to think about where I would be had I made a different choice. So I don’t really go there. But if you or someone you love is struggling with treatment options, this may be a good read. I’m going to start a series called My Toolbox (coming soon!) with all sorts of helpful tools for helping manage your panic disorder. But I do need to get the medication part out of the way first.

I have numerous favorite books that have helped me through all of this, but some of them spend quite a bit of time disproving the idea that anxiety/depression medications even work. They stress that you can be cured without medication. By all means, you can, and if you can, more power to you! But please don’t put pressure on yourself if you are a complete failure without them. I tried so hard not to take medication, to the point where I almost broke. Sometimes you just have to give in already.

So back to my story. I had my first big panic attack, and many others in the years following. 7 years to be exact (with the exception of my first pregnancy, when I was totally symptom-free) before starting medication. Wow, writing that out makes me realize how long I actually suffered.  I wasn’t miserable all of the time, but when it was bad, I didn’t have the tools to help me in the right ways, so it just steadily got worse.

I was a preschool teacher for most of those years, and I can remember  days when I could barely drive to work. I would try to take different routes that wouldn’t trigger the panic, but there are only so many ways you can go. Little did I know, the avoidance was just feeding the panic. I was just winging it. I would panic in silence while reading a book to the class. I would panic during meetings and conferences, but nobody could tell.  I burried it deep inside and carried on with my perma-smile. I remember my jaw being constantly sore from the stress taking its toll. I would wake up at night with my teeth just chattering with anxiety.

I finally mentioned some of these things to a coworker, and I’ll never forget what she told me, that the other day she had to just “get up and run out of the room.” She was having a panic attack. I think this was the first person that I had really ever talked to about it, outside of my best friend and my spouse. She went to her doctor and he started her on Lexapro. I got his number and booked an appointment as soon as humanly possible.

I went to see this doctor, who talked to me for all of five minutes before giving me a sample pack of Lexapro. Although I was excited, something still didn’t sit right. Was this the right decision? How can he diagnose me so quickly?Does this guy even know what he’s doing?

I went home and took one pill. I remember tying my shoes and all of a sudden feeling like everything was in fast-forward. I started to freak out. Now I know a little trick called weaning on and off medication to help lesson their negative effects. Something Doctor What’s-His-Face forgot to mention during our short encounter. So I started calling people. My husband, my family, a friend or two. Most of them shared the same thought:

“You are the happiest person I know. You do not need to be on medication.”

So that was it. I believed in them more than myself. I decided to ditch the medication route and start talk therapy.

But then I got pregnant, and I felt great. Anxious, but in a good way. I was so overwhelmed with love and purpose for the little life inside me, that most of my fears melted away. I had a great pregnancy, and delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy.

For the first few months of motherhood, I was in the total baby-euphoria stage. Sure, it was a total life change, and not a walk in the park by any means, but I was still so fufilled in my new role. My sweet Jack filled the gaping hole of love and acceptance I had yearned for my whole life. My bucket was full.

But as happy as I was, slowly things started to settle in. I went back to work when Jack was 8 weeks. I was juggling parenting, working, breastfeeding and pumping, lack of sleep, and the realization that I was totally committed to being a parent forever.  All things I expected, sure, but you can never be fully prepared for the challenges this new reality brings. Before I knew it, my a-hole brain started emerging from the shadows. Sometimes I wish he would just announce himself with some grand gesture instead of slowly creeping back in. He would be so much easier to recognize. But he is just sneaky and mean like that. That a-hole.

Things were getting pretty bad and I could barely even see it. I did finally start talk therapy, but my claustrophobia had gotten so bad that I couldn’t even make it up to the office for my sessions. I remember the terror I felt in the elevator, the hallway, and in the waiting room. I felt like I was gasping for air, the walls closing in, so anxious to escape.  Sweet Wendy would meet me downstairs in a restaurant nearby instead. We had some great talks, uncovered some past issues that couldve contributed to my anxiety; she even gave me some desensitization techniques. But our goal was to fight this without medication. I was insistant that I didn’t need it.

I had my big panic attack on the highway during this time. This propelled me towards rock bottom. Even though I had a sweet, happy baby that I loved to the moon and back, I was deeply saddened that he had a mother with these issues. My most important job as a mother was to keep my child safe and happy, and I felt like my fear was putting him at risk. Such a helpless, helpless feeling. The sadness became depression. I didn’t even know this until later, looking back. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, and usually one is a precursor to the other. In this case my anxiety had led to my depression.

I started having trouble sleeping I was so anxious. I had terrible, horrific nightmares. I’m still shocked at how bad these dreams were. All symptoms of my anxious state of mind. I could barely drive to work without being in a constant state of panic, and having my precious child in the car with me constantly only magnified my hopelessness. At one point, I was standing up teaching a lesson to my class, and I almost fainted. I was at my breaking point.

I woke up one morning after a bad night of awful dreams and little sleep, and I felt like I was on pins and needles. I was jumping out of my skin with fear. I had to wake up at 4:30am to feed Jack and then get ready for work. I’ll never forget walking into the bathroom, turning on the light, and looking in the mirror. I didn’t recognize myself. I know people say this casually all the time, but this was the scariest, darkest moment of my life. It was like I was looking at a different person. This was not me.  I then had the most life-changing thought I’ve ever had: This person has to go. 

I’m not sure if this counts as a suicidal tendency, and it pains me to even write down those words. I genuinely love my life and the people in it. I love being a mother, a spouse, a daughter, a friend and a good-hearted person. That person in the mirror, however, that person wasn’t any of those things. That person wasn’t me.   I knew at that moment that I needed serious help. I needed to change my life ASAP.

My counselor got me an appointment with a psychologist the next day. She started me on Zoloft and gave me Xanax to “nibble on” in case the Zoloft caused more anxiety, which it did at first. I do remember going back into that fast-forward feeling, and I had some tightness in my chest. But for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t scared. I drove to work without worrying about it. I started sleeping again with no nightmares. Slowly life started getting back on track. The medication was helping me. It was what I needed at the time.

I know medication is controversial. You hear about Big Pharma, doctors getting paid off to write prescriptions, people giving ADHD medication to 2-year-olds. I know this is an abused and very subjective issue. There are risks and benefits associated with anything you do in life. Your circumstances may not lead you down the same road. Everyone has a different story. I’m just sharing my particular story of why I’m thankful that the medication was there when I needed it.

Starting medication for anxiety or depression isn’t something to take lightly. I’m glad I went to someone who was a trained expert, but I also wish I wouldn’t have waited so long. But, to quote one of my favorite songs by the Indigo Girls:

“With every lesson learned a line upon your beautiful face.”

I learned many great lessons on that bumpy ride. I’m learning more and more everyday. It’s a beautiful thing.

If you feel like starting medication is necessary to your healing process, do your research. Be your own advocate. Be vocal with your doctors about what’s working and what’s not. If they don’t listen, find another one who will. If I could give my two cents about picking a medication, find one that’s easy to wean on and off of. Also be patient. You may have to try on a few different medications before you find the one that works best for you.

True, I dislike being dependent on my medicine, and there are withdrawls issues if I switch or forget to take it. I will get off of it one day. But for now, I know I’m doing the best I can, and I am in a good place.  A humble, joyful, grateful place.

If you didn’t hear anything else in this story, hear this: don’t wait until you are staring back at a stranger. Love who you are enough to get the help you need. Do not sit back and suffer in silence. You are worth more than that. Don’t let your fears distort your own reflection. You deserve to wake up, look into the mirror and love who you see.