I honestly look back on this past year and think to myself, “what in the world happened.” I was cruising along in my 3rd year of nursing and absolutely loving my mental health rotation. Mental health was suddenly at the forefront of my career goals and I knew I wanted to work in that field when I was done school. I was passionate about it but, never in a million years did I ever think that I would have a personal encounter with it. My uncle passed away early in the fall and I guess that was my trigger. That was the point when the shit storm of anxiety came on full force. My naïve self who always gave people the benefit of the doubt, probably to a fault, was now paranoid about every person and every situation in my life. There wasn’t much that made me feel at ease. Heck, there was hardly any point in the day where I didn’t feel nervous or on the verge of literally losing my mind to the fog that panic attacks put you through. I barely went to school for 12 weeks. My grades dropped. I made excuses for everything and anything. I destroyed friendships and relationships because I was paranoid. I lost my mind on friends because this little voice was telling me that they were in it all for the wrong reasons and they didn’t actually care about me. I was a 21 year old who couldn’t even go out and drink with her friends because that voice would say hey “you might get paranoid or hey you might have a panic attack.” Which by the way, makes the panic attack more likely to happen and trust me they did. I still have a hard time explaining my paranoia to people who have never experienced anxiety like mine. I find it hard to explain it in a way that doesn’t sound like an excuse, which it is not. They say time heals everything and I don’t know if it was the time that passed, the councilors, the meds or my experiences that helped….all I know is that things got better. The whirlwind of anxiety continues but I found my safe haven.

My safe haven is the gym. My safe haven is listening to my favorite song while driving down a back road into the sunset. My safe haven is climbing up a volcano in Indonesia and watching the sunrise over the ocean. My safe haven is thinking about working as a nurse in mental health and hopefully changing someone’s life in the smallest of ways. My safe havens are those moments where my heart is beating really fast because I am working out or because I cannot believe how excited I am to be experiencing something so wonderful. My safe havens are those moments that take my breath away. My safe havens are my passions that drive me in my daily life. These are my safe havens because I know that in those moments, the reason why I cant breathe and my heart is beating fast IS NOT because I am anxious or having a panic attack. Find your safe haven. Find that thing in life that you love and just wrap yourself in it. Cling to those moments that make you feel alive. Enjoy those moments that make you feel settled and grounded. Let part of your soul live in those moments forever.

            My trip to Asia awakened my mind and soul; a mind and soul that had been so broken by paranoia. Traveling made me fall in love with myself again, with the people at home, with the places I had been to, with the people I had met and with places I had never been and people I had never met. My experiences on the other side of the world made be believe that I could be happy again and that I could trust people again. I can be vulnerable. The quote by Erin Hanson, “What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?,” has become something I tell myself all of the time. I am still anxious. I have anxiety. Man, that is still hard to say. I don’t know if my mind will ever stop racing. I don’t know if I will ever stop thinking about the worst possible thing that could happen. However, I know that I can manage it and I know that I can consciously tell myself to think positively. I can never be on auto-pilot or else I will sink into that hole of paranoid anxiety. You know what? That’s my life and that is okay. Anxiety or not, don’t ever let those voices of self-doubt, or the doubt of others stop you from pursuing the things you want in life. What if I fall? Oh but Jordan, what if you fly? 

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