This will be my most vulnerable post yet, but I'm encouraged mental health is becoming more talked about in Christian communities because there was a time when it was very hush hush or unwelcome in church discussions. I'm thankful for pastors like Brian Johnson who have been open about their struggle to bring awareness and help in this sensitive arena. Here we go.
I began to notice my emotional stability was faltering around my 30th birthday. My business was gaining momentum as we had just returned from a trip to Brazil and were making headway in the activewear industry in Orange County. We had made solid partnerships with the local spin studios and had just launched a glow-in-the-dark line of activewear. From the outside, my life seemed good, really good actually. The thing is, I had been covering up anxiety that stemmed from a deep fear of being left behind, failed, and forgotten.
My entire identity was in my business succeeding and I had given up everything to make sure that would happen.
One day I went to Costco to pick up a prescription for my dad and when they told me it wasn't ready, I felt an uncontrollable turmoil inside of me. It took everything for me to not yell at the person behind the desk. I strive to be a compassionate person and place great value in loving people well so this reaction was completely abnormal for me. I went to my car and just started bawling. To top it off, I was really anxious because I didn't know why I was reacting like this. This scenario happened about a dozen more times until I faced the fact that something was not right.
I'll give you another example. I visit my storage unit weekly to pick up merchandise and on this particular Monday, I had woken up with my hands shaking. I rubbed it off that I hadn't had my coffee yet and got in my car as usual. When I arrived at the storage facility, they were doing construction and told me I couldn't get into my unit for 20 minutes. I felt the inner turmoil again and got out of my car near tears, telling (almost yelling) at the gentleman I was paying $150 a month and couldn't get into my unit at my own leisure?! I was so upset and got back into my car driving through the gate anyways, ignoring his warning. When I arrived at my unit, I slammed my car door and began to sob uncontrollably. The worst part about this mind space is that you feel intense guilt because you know that what is happening is not okay but you don't know how to stop it. You feel powerless which then causes guilt. The whole cycle continues over and over again.
It all accumulated to a moment around the anniversary of my mom's passing. My birthday, her passing, and her birthday are all very close so this time period is very emotional for me, except I don't show my emotions to people so I would isolate myself and 'pull myself together' before showing my face to the world. This was my go-to for years. My close friends know this about me and I am so thankful because they noticed something was wrong even before I did.
"How are you, Kristina?" someone would ask. "Oh I'm fine, how are you? What's new with you, how's the job?" I was a professional at deflecting so I wouldn't have to acknowledge that I was in fact, not okay. I felt alone, really alone. I felt alone because I wasn't honest with myself and so I felt alone in my own mind. The week of my mom's anniversary, I completely broke down, feeling so lost and void of purpose. It was a moment where all these hopeless thoughts barraged my mind and I didn't have the strength to let them go. Instead, I focused on them. I believed them.
"You will never succeed. You will never get out of this. What are you doing with your life? What impact are you actually making? You've missed your calling. No one will listen to you."
On and on and on. It was all lies with a little truth mixed up in them. I actually knew I wasn't living out my passion or what I felt called to do, but I didn't know how to get out of it because I had dedicated so much time, money, and energy to it that I felt trapped.
Anyone who has experienced this feeling knows that it seems near impossible to clear your mind when you've reached a low like this. I didn't know what to do so I just cried and cried - I cried for all the things I've lost, I cried for all the things that hurt me, and for all the things that I had not grieved. It was about 3 hours of me laying on my floor crying. All the pain and loss was all I could focus on, yet somehow it was okay. There was no one there with me yet I felt a hand on my back as I cried. This may sound crazy, but I didn't question it at the time. I just felt a hand and knew that it was okay to breakdown. So I did.
That moment began my journey to emotional recovery, unpacking the wounds that I wouldn't look at and finally begin dealing with them. I am here almost 7 months later and can say that this has been the most difficult journey of my life, yet the most rewarding. I had to stop everything to see who I was, who I was made to be.
This was just the beginning of a lot of hard work - but the best kind. You'll hear more about this journey tomorrow. Thank you for reading <3
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