It’s been a few months since I’ve written about the state of my mental health. A lot of instances of my reporting were the high points returning. I have seen a lot more highs lately versus lows but I have also come to terms with the normalcy of the lows that sometimes come my way. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder last year around this time and I am proud to say that I am feeling a ton better since then. This time last year I was desperate to find a way to be cured from my anxiety and never have to deal with it again. There had to be a way to completely shake this debilitating disorder and I was hellbent on finding on it. I hated feeling like I was a constant burden to myself and to my family and friends. Thankfully, I found a therapist that I could be comfortable with and began the bulk of the healing work that needed to be done. I use the term healing because I am a lot better off than I was last year. It is a blanket term to describe the progress I’ve made from my lowest to date to the empowerment I feel through therapy and the acceptance of my emotions that come and go.
Will I ever be fully healed? No, I will not. However, the acceptance that anxiety is a part of the human condition has been an incredible relief. I’ve had too many days and nights thinking I was somehow broken because I couldn’t walk two feet without feeling dizzy or feeling like I would die at any moment. The physical symptoms and intrusive thoughts were terrifying at first encounter but now I am able to name these things and realize that they are something I can handle when they come up, rather than fear the unknown. I am able to use the tools I’ve learned in therapy, the tools I’ve learned in the Dare Program and meditation with headspace and find ways to become grounded at my baseline again.
It’s been a tremendous road of ups and downs and I still have downs some days. Rejoining a world in a pandemic sometimes leaves me terrified but I now have a strength that I never had before. I have the strength that moods and feelings all pass like the metaphorically storm that they are and whatever comes my way will be handled. I am eternally grateful.
The last professional wrestling show I went to in-person was April 2019, it was a WWE Event at Madison Square Garden with my younger brother. We had a blast at the Monday Night Raw after Wrestlemania. It’s a coveted show to WWE fans because that’s usually an eventful night for their fans. Today was supposed to be my long awaited reunion with the wrestling world. Today I was supposed to head to New Jersey for my first All Elite Wrestling event and my first time watching wrestling live in over two years. Unfortunately, due to protcols in the arena, I needed to consider mine and my wife’s first and ultimately decide not to go.
While we are without a doubt healing from the Pandemic, we are still actively in one. Our world has not been eradicated from Covid-19, so when venues don’t offer any sort of Covid protocols, it makes me question my attendance there. This isn’t a dig at protocols or what’s right or wrong. I don’t like to publicly shame anyone for how they carry themselves. This is merely a reminder for myself that this new normal is very real and choices like these will continuously be presented.
Did I want to go tonight? Absolutely. I’ve been waiting for this day for over a year but knowing that I’m going to be getting on a plane in less than a week’s time for our honeymoon left me unable to go through with my plans tonight. I was given the choice to potentially jeopardize our honeymoon and attend or to stay safe in an environment that will allow me and my wife to travel on a vacation together for the first time in 5 years. This decision was not easy to make but a necessary one nonethless. Our world will be full of stops and pauses to think, is this safe? Am I putting myself and my family at a risk? It’s the reality of our new world and a very eye-opening idea for me to take on. It makes me sad that is how it needs to be but I am willing to do whatever it takes for myself and my family’s benefit. We all will at some point have to resume our daily lives but it doesn’t come without a known risk. I just hope we can all do our best to continue to help ourselves and others along the way.
I found the Dare Book in 2019 when I saw excerpts from chapters on a high school friend’s Instagram page. The pages I saw were detailed ways to get passed your anxiety and different ways to do it. I was instantly curious after seeing his page and purchased the book to get the full experience of what was written. Within a few chapters of reading the book, I became very intrigued by what was written. My anxiety had begun to peak during planning my wedding and then just stayed at a level 11 after getting fired from a job I was at for four years and having to look for another job while planning my wedding. I needed something to take the edge off of my anxiety and the book became the perfect way to do that without having to partake in therapy at the time. I wrote a full review about the book, I’ll link it here.
The book was just the start of my DARE journey. The book later was accompanied by an app where I was granted access after paying a yearly fee of $59.99 to a full library of different audios to help soothe my anxiety in real time. The author of DARE, Barry McDonagh narrated all the audios and used his soothing voice to assist the users in calming down, help them remember that they are not alone, and explain all the different types of anxieties that people go through to further educate you about each kind. In my case, hearing Barry explain the types of anxieties almost verbatim to what I was experiencing was cathartic. I have always been labeled a hypochondraic so having someone explain how common it was to be feeling what I was feeling felt amazing. It was proof that I wasn’t crazy and could continue to work the steps of DARE and eventually find a stable mental place.
The app resources began to expand over time as more people began to use it. Eventually, Daily Dares were incorporated which spoke about different parts of mental health and how to help combined with a daily guided visualization to help assist in calming your nerves throughout the day. I used these a lot at the height of Covid in NYC. I was very disregulated and having this resource to utilize daily was helpful in attempting to maintain a baseline level of anxiety. The evening winddown was added in months and new master classes around mental health. The app membership also offers monthly calls with licensed therapists where you can ask questions about how to use the resources but also general questions as well.
I think the price of the app is well worth the cost because it provides multiple resources within the apps but also access to group calls with therapists at your discretion. I would personally recommend this app for people who suffer from anxiety. It has aided mine and allowed me to realize that the more resistance you give anxiety, the worst it gets. Let it go and let it flow!
For a long time, I was very much against the idea of meditation. I didn’t see a purpose for it. I thought that I would immediately fall asleep having someone speak in a calm soft voice to me and be instantly bored. However, when I was in the height of my mental health struggles, I was desperate to try anything to find some sort of relief. I tried a few different apps on my phone as a means to relax and get away from social media. I finally found Headspace and was able to get exactly what I needed to help quell my anxiety and assist with the sleeping issues that comes with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Headspace has a detailed meditation library that offers meditation courses, single, live and SOS meditations for your in the moment needs or daily use. Headspace also provides focus/sleep music playlists, focus/sleep soundscapes, sleepcasts, and short videos that are labeled as advice of all kinds to help assist your needs and better your mental health. In my experience, I found the guided meditations the most helpful. I used a variety of meditations centered around calming my body down and breathwork to help my racing mind throughout the day. Some of my favorite guided mediations are Alone Time, the WFH series, Taking a Break, and the Self-Love meditation. Each of these were able to be applied to my exact needs and help me gather my thoughts and feel more grounded throughout the day instead of fixated on worries and the constant need for the control of every thought and sensation that would feel like it would race through my body. All of these meditations are offered by different meditation coaches each providing their own calming cadence and structure to the meditation. I also used sleep mediations to help me fall asleep faster at night. The relaxing voice of the founder Andy Puddicome was able to calm my nerves nightly and get me into a comfortable sleep cycle.
As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I would reccommend this app to anyone who’s looking for a way to calm their bodies and mind. I’ve learned that once both are connected and quieted, it makes life’s daily functions a lot easier and your ability to sleep a lot better.
There is always the moment in history that people will retroactively ask you about. Questions like where were you when it happened? What were you doing? How did you feel? September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center towers fell was my major historical experience. I can remember where I was, what I was doing and how I felt. I was 12 years old on that day, I was supposed to be in school but I had stayed home not feeling well. I slept most of the morning away with cramps but was awoken by Dad after the second tower was hit. He explained to me what had happened and that it was important that I wake up to see all of this. I went into my living room and sat by the TV and watched it all unfold. My mother was already getting my brother from school and I was sitting at home paraylzed by the sight in front of me. I’d never experienced anything like this before. I had only read about events like this in books which led my already anxious mind to a million questions, would there be a war like I had learned about in school books? Would this unknown enemy be here to stay? I was just shy becoming a teenager so my mind couldn’t wrap my head around any of it. I had a lot of questions and very few answers to them were immediate.
Now as a 32 year old woman, I have been working in the Manhattan area for 14 years walking the same path that so many did on that day. Every year I find myself feeling extra somber on the anniversary but always grateful to have never met the same fate. Twenty years is a long time but I know as a New Yorker that I will never forget that day. I will never forget the fear I felt, I will never forget the uncertainty, but I mostly will never forget how New York banded together to help each other anyway they could. How food drives started, how collection of medical supplies began, and how so many people helped each other get home when the city was in chaos. Looking back on that day as an adult and when I share the stories with the generations after, I always moved by the generousity of others in times of tragedy. We were all fearful and afraid and so many had been lost, but hard times created so many kind stories.
To anyone who experienced this first hand, my heart will always be with you.
One hand in the air for the big city
Street lights, big dreams, all lookin' pretty
No place in the world that could compare
- Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z (Ft. Alicia Keys)