I was NOT prepared for adulthood like I should have been. I truly think I was so focused on getting through and making it that I didn’t plan ahead and think about my future too much. Good news - I did make it! Graduating with honors was a huge shock and my only “solid” plan was to move back in with my parents, wait tables and start performing around DFW. Did I really think I would move to NYC? Not at this point, but I knew I wanted to perform, so that’s what was driving me. So, I successfully got a job waiting tables, started learning about that world (and trust me, it’s a whole different world!) and began auditioning. I was able to pay my bills, but when student loans kicked in, it was definitely tough! Living at home or not, let's just say I have quite a lot in student loans and it was a rude awakening! That summer, surprisingly, I was cast as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde the Musical,” and that was by far one of the most fun and challenging shows I have ever been a part of. It was quite the learning experience! I was ecstatic to play a true dream role out of college.
I continued to work around the area and my anxiety seemed to get better. My mom still came with me to doctors’ appointments, but other than that, I was very functional. My medicine always made me extremely tired and it was the one thing that followed me after I graduated. I think it was habitual at this point, but I know the medicine had an impact on my daily life. I made some huge mistakes this year – all around. I won’t go into detail, but I wasn’t responsible. I was still looking for validation with “love” and performing, and I was a flaky as they come. It was during this time that my best friend invited me to church – which I have to say, I had NOT been to church in a long time (other than Christmas and Easter) and I was completely convicted and decided to recommit my life to Christ. I started getting plugged in and learned what it meant to live authentically. This changed the way I was living, but not completely. I also started to develop a better understanding of panic attacks I had and some of the reasons for the root of my anxiety. Yes, some of it was how I was wired, or chemical imbalance, but some of it was just me believing lies about myself. This wasn’t an overnight fix, but I was gaining the courage and confidence in who I was to make changes and face some of my biggest fears – only with the Lord’s help.
I had quite a few scares with passing out that were truly embarrassing. So, before I even understood/knew what Vasovagal Syncope was, I still believed the lie that I was somehow different, and something was wrong with me. One instance, specifically, was in the middle of the night – I woke up and heard a loud noise, which sounded like yelling or like someone was in pain. I was half asleep, so I got up, and saw my dad having a hard time catching his breath in my bathroom. Apparently, he was just getting sick, but it sounded like he was having a heart attack! I was FREAKED and tried to go get my mom and I ended up passing out in the doorway of another bedroom before I could even get there! I didn’t understand why I would pass out because of this? I think for me, if I see someone else in pain – or anything medical, in my head I automatically think it’s me & become extremely FEARFUL? I tend to take on those emotions and feelings and my “fight” or “flight” response went into action – but I didn’t even make it that far! It was scary! The root of all my medical triggers is the fear of dying, so I am at least able to identify my fears and give those over to the Lord. Luckily, I fell right in the doorway and didn’t hit my head on the table right next to me or anything else. So, medical triggers are still a part of my life right now, and I definitely had (and still do!) some generalized anxiety around the future, overcoming these fears, finances…what else is new?!
It wasn’t long after that – that I met my now husband, some of you know him already – Max! We hit it off immediately and pretty much started seeing each other every day after we met on June 6th, 2013. I will say that Max was fully aware of my anxiety, but it was hard for him at first. As someone who had not experienced it first-hand, it can be difficult to relate! So, a challenge for me was learning how to communicate my feelings and triggers and it actually made me THINK about it. I hadn’t disclosed a lot of the information to anyone else I had been in a relationship with. I also, successfully decreased my medication to a much lower dose and that seemed to last awhile (until we got engaged!). I have to say, learning how to navigate your anxiety with someone else – and at this point we were just dating, can be very challenging. I still didn’t understand WHY I did certain things, etc. and I tried way too hard to try and figure it out and always wanted to have an explanation. But, Max was SO understanding and encouraging, and he did (and still does) everything he can to comfort me and make me feel better. We even did a trip to South Padre together – which was my first flight without my parents and it went GREAT! It was also during this time that we knew how serious we were, so I decided to get a full time job that would give me more financial stability and benefits (hello, adulthood!). It was quite a challenge adjusting from waiting tables - which is super flexible, to a more rigid schedule in a completely different environment. I found work to be stressful. And, it didn't come easy for me. Honestly, I felt very inadequate some days - I just didn't know what I was doing! But, I am very thankful for the experience and time of growth and learning! This period was one of the best times in my life –having fun, working, performing, falling in love and feeling good about LIFE! Things were really starting to turn around and it was a major relief and answer to many prayers over the years!
Next up: Engagement + Marriage!