In observance of Suicide Prevention month, I’m reposting one of my most read articles about mental health. Be well.
If you are in need of help, please seek support! It could save your life.
Originally posted July 8th, 2015
I played classical violin for over 18 years.
I also had terrible, horrible stage fright. I’m not sure how it is with other instruments, but a shaking body makes playing the violin darn near impossible. I remember that my bow would bounce across the string erratically because of my shaking hands and I would have to lock my quivering knees just to stay upright. I’m amazed that I never passed out during a performance from doing that.
My father made things worse, of course. “If you are properly prepared, there is no reason to be nervous.” I felt like a failure because I couldn’t control my nervous reaction to getting up in front of people to play. And, of course, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. In my nervousness, I would flub (I can’t count the number of performances where I would suddenly come to myself in the middle of a piece and realize I was completely and hopelessly lost). “See?” he would say. “You didn’t practice hard enough.” It was untrue, but as a child you believe everything your parents say even if you know better.
As I became a young adult, I thought that maybe it was just that I was an introvert. I am not comfortable being in front of larger crowds, making small talk, or meeting new people. I’m not shy really. I’m just not outgoing. My father was skeptical.
Maybe you’re just an extrovert with a confidence problem.
Thanks, dad. Even my own personality wasn’t good enough.
In 2006 starting with my first miscarriage, I began a long downhill slide through grief, pregnancy and postpartum into an inescapable feedback loop of depression and anxiety. It wasn’t just that I had stage fright, was introverted and had a somewhat inevitable habit of self-loathing due to an abusive childhood. My brain chemistry was an actual mess. All those adrenaline fuel freak-outs I had as a kid and began to experience with increasing frequency as an adult were not a moral failure or personality defect. They were an anxiety disorder.
I had an illness. I needed drugs.
Oh, God. What?
At that point, I was so low that I was willing to try anything. Fine. Give me drugs before I kill myself or someone close to me.
Here’s the crazy thing: Once the Zoloft finally started working, my first thought was, “So THIS is what it feels like to be a normal person!” By taking what felt like stepping into a huge unknown to try and stop a catastrophe, I had found the person I really was underneath the anxiety and self-doubt. You’ll find in life that often the things that change us most are things that were scary and unfamiliar but also, come with a promise of a desperately needed shift of place/employment/thinking.
My journey with Pure Romance has been similar.
I look back on who I was when I started, see how far I’ve come, and I’m amazed. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do it if I hadn’t already been on the path to conquering my anxiety first. Even so, the confidence and encouragement that I’ve gained through the business has added so much to the awesome I feel when I go to do a party or talk to people about what I do. I no longer feel like that scared little girl about to pee herself before a recital. I’m not only able to control my nervous reactions, but have surrounded myself with people who support and encourage me.
I’m going to end by reposting my video about breaking my board at World Conference in 2013. Seems apropos for this post.