Rachel s Story
"How do you fight back when you don’t realize anything is wrong? It took me nearly 21 years to understand I suffered from anxiety. And, another 5 years to understand it well enough to fight back against it. I’m a product of childhood domestic violence, but that will no longer define who I am. Two years ago, I decided I would start sharing my struggles, with hopes to help others focus on the light.
I didn’t know any different growing up. I just thought everyone’s father had an irrational temper like his. We referred to this temper as being in 'one of his moods', frequently those moods associated themselves with alcohol. The moment we heard that tone of voice or the liquor cabinet door open, my family all scattered like mice found in the cupboard. If we stayed out of sight and still enough, he couldn’t find anything to yell at us for, right?
Open swings my bedroom door. Apparently reading a book quietly on my bed is not acceptable. I need to be practicing my clarinet. Doesn’t matter that I already practiced today- he didn’t hear me do it, so it doesn’t count. Insert his fist into my wall. Don’t you dare walk down the stairs without tip-toeing if he is watching TV- you are likely to end up being called anything but your birth name. I could breathe the wrong way and would need to hide in my closet from him. But, like I mentioned, I didn’t know any different. I never had a black eye or broken bone from my father. The abuse hid far under the skin where it fermented and festered.
I spent a good portion of college in a toxic relationship- like I said before, I knew no better. I began to fall into a routine of actions to avoid my anxiety, which pushed me into depression. I didn’t go out with friends, I would skip meals, I was always exhausted, and couldn’t ever manage to keep normal sleeping hours. I lost myself so far into that rabbit hole that I lost those college years to depression and anxiety. I slowly began to acknowledge that I needed to spend a little more time taking care of myself and that’s when I found my strength.
The past few years have been full of many adventures, into finding myself and cultivating my inner strength. The sole game changer was starting a business. I had no idea what I was doing, but learned. I felt the lows and the overwhelming anxiety, but I found that tomorrow was a new day. I started terrified to talk to customers or to let them know about myself, but I discovered new friends. As my business grew, my personal community grew, and so did my strength and my bravery to begin to share my story. I discovered something about myself that I never wanted to believe before: I was enough. Actually, I was more than enough, and I held the power to help others believe that about themselves.
So, I decided to pick a word for 2018 that would encompass my goals and dreams, something simple that I could focus on when anxiety came knocking: light. I will focus on the light in life. I will do what I can to help others who may be consumed in the darkness that anxiety and depression bring to notice that little glimmer of light and make it grow. Without light and life, things can’t grow. And, I’m determined to grow like a lotus flower out of my darkness."
Photo By: Cassie Mulheron