Last Thursday I spoke at a People Tree event, sharing my experience with anxiety within the theme of the event, “Comfort Zones.”
Specifically I shared recent aspects of my history with anxiety ranging from hospitalization, why I shifted from my prior comfort zone of avoidance to now acceptance, and more. As I shared during the talk:
“So as I’ve gone through this, I’ve learned that the past approach of ignoring the anxiety, and suppressing it of the voices in my head that say.. ‘toughen up man – don’t be a pussy – you’re fine – just go relax, have a drink’ that it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work anymore for me.”
I learned many things from the experience and want to share them with you as a reminder that we are not alone with anxiety.
While I enjoy speaking this was definitely outside my comfort zone compared to speaking experiences at work. Sharing intimate details of my experience in front of strangers was daunting as I worried about how people would react. My anxiety level supported this and I had a hard time staying present before I spoke.
The format required a talk without notes which meant I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to get the story right and hit certain points. I threw hours into preparation trying to perfect it. And ya know what? Perfection didn’t matter.
The time onstage absolutely flew by and most of it was a blur. I was sharing from my heart and I didn’t think a whole lot, it just came out. Goes to show that when we let our heart go, the mind filled with intrusive thoughts does not stand a chance 🙂
We are not Alone
Living with an anxiety disorder can leave us feeling alone, that no one else can relate to what we are going through and we don’t have support. I am here to tell that is not true. After the show I had many approach me thanking me for sharing my story and how it helped them too.
I’ve listed below a fraction of the feedback I heard to help show you how we are not alone in this and what kind of support and visibility to this mental health challenge we have:
- “We are all so proud of you for being so brave and sharing your story tonight. You were amazing up there!”
- “Wanted to let you know how awesome last night was. Your honesty and vulnerability is impressive and I’m happy you’re in a good place and on a good path. You’re right that hope is the engine that keeps you in the game. You’ve got a great family and a lot of good friends, and that’s on you.”
- “Damn proud of you brotha. Great work tonight! Was so amazing to hear your story man.”
- “Congratulations Mike. And kudos to you for having the strength to share your story.”
- “I’m really proud of you for embracing all of this the way you have.”
- “Great story last night! Hope you enjoyed the night! I heard lots of great things about the power and strength in YOU!!!”
- “I’m glad you did this and my husband heard it, you made a real difference tonight!”
- “So proud of you man. You killed it! What you did takes more than I and most of us have. To come to peace with your weakness and share with so many. Thank you! Proud to call you my friend.”
- “You were amazing tonight! Great speaking!”
- “Thanks for your courage. I too ended up in the hospital…I know anxiety is more real for some in a way that not everyone truly knows. It is nice to find someone who was there as well…great job today!!!!!”
- “Hey. Great job tonight, really. It’s really hard opening up like that and being so raw. Proud of you!”
Not doing this talk would have been more comfortable but I chose growth over comfort. Remember that there is hope, always.
Click this link for photos of the March event and info on the April event!