The Night The Bitter Cold Air Was A Wake Up Call

It was a windy Thursday night. The kind of wind that hurts your face. I could feel it as I rushed along Queen St West, pivoting around the crowds of people. The sun that was shining throughout the day was false advertising of warmer weather. It was definitely still winter in the city, and much like many others, I was feeling “the blues.”

But, my “blues” were anything but, and I knew it

The anxiety and depression I have been battling for as long as I could remember had taken over. The boogeyman in my head had tightened his grip over my thoughts and actions

I needed to break free.

Just like any other day – my mind was racing. How many times have I walked down this street before? How many times had I rushed through the crowds to get to an event that I was running late for? Remembering the times where within the 7 days of the week, I was out at likely 16 events over the course of 6 days. Remembering how easy it all seemed back then.

Well, how easy I made it seem. There was a lot of pretending everything was ok when in actuality – it was not.

…it was exhausting

Things were quite different now, though. I moved in (north of Bloor St. and if you are from Toronto – you’ll understand why this matters) with Mike and now it would take a whole lot more convincing to get me out and about

At first, I would blame my lack of presence at events on “exclusivity.” Which was, in fact, part of it. I didn’t WANT to be everywhere any more. But in all actuality – it was more so my anxiety. I COULDN’T be everywhere anymore

The anxiety that would come from going out was overwhelming. It wasn’t even just being out anymore. The thought of going out starting inducing panic attacks. I can’t tell you how many times I was on my way out when the fear and panic would take over, so much so that I’d either tell my uber to turn around or I’d have to get off of the public transit because it felt as though I was going to be sick

“Take a deep breath, Jenn. It’s going to be ok,” I mumbled to myself as I hopped over the streetcar track – narrowly missing getting my heel stuck.

I secluded myself. I isolated myself from people and places and things. I would stay home, and as I would scroll through my feeds, I would feel a sudden pang of FOMO. I’d see everyone out there with the smiles and the cocktails and the laughter and I would feel as though I was missing out. But that feeling only lasted a moment…then the overwhelming sense of relief would take over.

I knew that by isolating myself though, that I was actually doing more harm than good. I needed to make changes. I needed to feel better. I needed to be the best version of myself, for me and those around me.

So, what changes did I have to make?

I knew I had to start eating better. I knew that my steady diet of wine and chicken fingers and pizza was no bueno. I mean, it was delicious – but I knew I needed more.

I knew I had to start working out again. I knew that I needed to get those feel-good endorphins flowing. The hardest part of going to the gym is LITERALLY going to the gym, so I knew I had to get over that hurdle.

I knew I had to reconnect with some friends, and distance myself from some others. I knew that I had to be selfish and put my needs first and remove some toxicness from my life. I knew that I had to hope that it wasn’t too late with some people and that they would be understanding of my isolation.

I knew I had to start saying yes again. I knew I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and start saying yes to events and plans again. I knew that getting out there again – socializing as opposed to simply scrolling my feeds, was a good idea

So, I started making some small changes. I started meal prepping my lunches. I launched a motivational month with some followers where we encouraged each other daily. I started going to sleep earlier, and leaving my phone on the bedside table as opposed to scrolling in bed. I started getting up earlier and going to the gym. Those early morning feel good endorphins became EvErYtHiNg to me. They’re amazing!

And I even started saying yes to events and plans again.

“Take a deep breath, Jenn. It’s going to be ok,” I said to myself as I took the 15-second elevator (which felt more like an hour) ride up to the event space.

I had RSVP’d yes to this particular event, and gone solo. Double whammy. I thought that by coming solo I could plot my quick escape, if need be.

As I reached for a glass of wine from the waiter, I caught sight of a grin being shot my way that so big it lit the room and was greeted with a hug so heartfelt I immediately started to feel at ease.

“See, a familiar face. You’re good, Jenn.” I thought to myself as I saw Casie approaching.

The distraction of our conversation helped briefly ease my anxiety. From talking about recent travel to our outfits to the industry…and everything in between – the distraction made the whole situation started to become more manageable.

Distractions are great, until they’re gone – am I right?

Now that my anxiety was easing off, I was able to focus and listen to the amazing panel. Which was great because it became motivation. Hearing the panelists stories, and those from the people in the audience who decided to speak up or ask questions – was that extra butt kick of motivation I needed to make more changes.

I left the event and decided to grab a cocktail on my own. I needed to decompress after the whole evening, and just wanted to gather my thoughts a bit.

It was only after the event that it really hit me how bad my anxiety was throughout the night. And really, how much my anxiety had gotten out of hand and had taken over. As I sipped my cocktail, I knew what I had to do.

I walked outside, and as the bitter cold air smacked my face like the wakeup call I so desperately needed, I made my first therapy appointment.

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