I haven’t spoken much about the fact that I struggle with anxiety. I talk about it with my friends and family a little, but for the most part keep it out of business conversations.
As a business owner, and president of a respected and growing company, I feel like I need to always be put together. More than that, as a woman, in a predominately male dominated industry I feel the old saying “never let them see you sweat” (or cry, as the case may be).
Looking back I am sure that I struggled with anxiety in junior high, high school and all my adult life. It wasn’t until 2007 that I talked to my doctor about it. I started seeing a therapist and taking anti-anxiety medication. I suddenly felt “normal”, like myself, but a self, that I liked.
Fast forward 10 years and life has not been a smooth sailing ride, nor has my anxiety magically gone away. But I am learning ways of dealing with it. Having anxiety means that I need to constantly be aware of taking care of myself; and the last few months I have been stretched pretty thin and doing a lot beyond my normal routine, causing my self-care to take a back seat.
During a recent trip in the midst of a long stretch of travelling, I actually lost it. I completely fell apart in a meeting. A number of things went wrong. I forgot a ticket to something, a ball got dropped at home and a meeting wasn’t going as I had hoped. I excused myself to the washroom, came back to the table, finished the meeting and took a cab back to the hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel, I found out I had booked a hotel in the wrong city and that was it. I was done. Both hotels were amazing, I got a room, and by the time I stepped off the elevator, I couldn’t breathe. I managed to get out of my work clothes and cried. I cried for over an hour. I missed the event I was in town for, and I wept.
A few hours later, I pulled myself together enough to get dressed, go downstairs, and eat. I met up with a colleague who was staying at the same hotel and we talked. I shared what had happened and realized that it was okay to be a little vulnerable. It was tough, but as embarrassed as I was for missing the event, I needed to not go. This colleague understood and was supportive.
Anxiety makes everything harder, but not talking about it makes it much worse. Being able to share what is going on with friends, family and supportive work colleagues, doesn’t make the anxiety go away, but it can make it feel less crippling. Being more open about my anxiety has shown me that I am not alone, and that when I am struggling, people are there to help me. There are always people in my corner to encourage and support me, and to let me know that it is going to be okay.
P.S. A big thank you to the Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel. @marriott