When I was 20 years old, depression and anxiety smacked me in the face real hard. I got to a point where I withdrew from everyone and everything. During this time I had decided to take a semester off from the University I was attending. I took a few classes at the local community college and stayed home to work and save money in order to return the next semester to my University. Not being with my friends at the school was difficult, however, one of the hardest things I went through was losing a relationship, in which I was very much in love with the guy (this was the one and only time I have ever been in love).On top of that I was having trouble with a few friends back home and I ended up having two terrible seizures back to back. My depression and anxiety began to take over my life. There were times I didn’t feel like I existed, or that it even mattered if I did exist. I knew that this road I was walking down led to destruction and if I didn’t take a turn I would walk right into my demise.
I finally decided that it was time to get help and I went to see a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with depression, social anxiety and panic disorder. Having one of those things is intense enough, but having all three felt unbearable. Even though I’m not big on medication unless necessary, this was a time it was necessary, so I got put on an anti-depressant. When people ask me if I think these medications are good, I always say that it kept me alive. After a few years, I was mentally healthy enough to get off of them (with the supervision of my psychiatrist).
Even though I was healthy enough as far as depression goes, my social anxiety got increasingly worse through the years. It was paralyzing. I would avoid going anywhere that I knew there were going to be lots of people. I avoided a lot of social activities like the plague. Even though deep down I longed for this social interaction, but I couldn’t seem to get past my fears. It was especially bad when I moved back home after living in North Carolina for several years. When I moved back, I began hanging out at Jane‘s house. At their house, there were constantly people in and out…lots of people…so many people…I eventually made friends with all of them and I loved being with them, but it took me a long time to get to know them because I was constantly thinking things like “please don’t talk to me…please don’t ask me questions. No one look at me.” I wanted to be there but I also wanted to be invisible to everyone else. There were parties at their house for so many occasions, we had birthday parties, “end of the world” parties, Holiday parties, any excuse to drink and chill was a good one. I wanted to be at these parties, but I was terrified the majority of the time. I would usually get up and go to the bathroom just to hide for a bit and get ahold of myself.
However, exactly a year ago this month my life started changing. I began my weight loss journey (so far I’ve lost almost 80 lbs), which helped with my confidence. The thing that really helped me was my friendship with Andrew. Andrew is very attractive to me, even though he is definitely too young for me, and only a friend, I still enjoy the flirting and friendship. He’s a Taurus. This is one of my absolute favorite signs, and if a guy is this sign, it seems almost impossible for me to be at least somewhat attracted to him. One time I saw online that people say that Virgo’s guardian angel is Taurus. Anyways…so, Andrew…he showed me a lot of attention, but always asked permission to do anything, which really helped me to trust him. He made me feel sexy. He made me feel happy and excited about life. He’s a little bit crazy and a little bit weird—my favorite kind of person.
With Andrew becoming a part of my life (he’s one of the friends I met at my best friend’s house…unfortunately it took me about 3 years to really build relationships with the guys that hung out at this house), and me building confidence in myself due to my weight loss, I began to see the world a bit differently. I started hanging out with all of the guys that hung out at the house at least 2 to 3 days/nights a week.
These guys taught me a lot of lessons on life. They are very blunt, honest people. Sometimes brutally honest. They made me realize that people aren’t actually sitting around thinking about me or what I’m going to say or do. Generally, people are thinking about themselves and what they want to say or do. So why care so much about what people think?
Just say it. Just do it. Live in the present not the future, or the past. This is where we are. We live here. We don’t live in the future and do not know what it holds.
So eventually, I started coming out of my shell and actually letting people know me. And guess what? They actually liked me. They didn’t think I was dumb. Sometimes the guys would make fun of me, but it usually made me laugh, or I would just tell them if it made me mad and they either stop acting like fools and apologize, or continue being asshats. You just never knew. But I learned to not care so much about what people thought or would say, instead, I became more confident in who I am. Even though they make fun of me sometimes, they’ve told me so many times that I am a good person, attractive (even though I have a “huge ass”...thanks, guys, because I didn’t know that), and that I deserve a great guy in my life and I need to begin to see my potential. They’re a bunch of sweet-hearted asshats, but they always have my back.
One day, I went to dinner with Todd alone (Jane‘s husband, who was my best friend in high school). It was really nice to have some alone time with him because when we were in high school, we talked and hung out constantly. We told each other everything. He was absolutely my best friend, even though it was confusing to people because he’s kind of an asshole and because of how quiet and smiley I am, people assumed I was the sweetest person alive (don’t worry, they learn otherwise eventually 😉 hah. My best friend always tells people, “Rae is incredibly nice and chill…up until she’s not.”–she’s not wrong). So while I was out with Todd, we started talking about how much I had been changing and coming out of my shell. He called me an extrovert. I’m sorry, what did you just say? I’ve always been an introvert and never even imagined someone thinking otherwise. But I honestly gained so much confidence in who I am and not being ashamed of myself that being around people no longer sent me into a paralyzed state of being where I hoped no one would talk to me and I wished to be invisible because of the “what ifs.” —Because I learned to live in the present rather than the future.
Rabbit trail below…it is what it is…
(Recently I have taken many introvert vs. extrovert quizzes and I score ambivert on every one of them. I need social interaction to re-energize, but I also need alone time to re-energize. I believe I was always technically this, but due to my social anxiety and depression I appeared to be an introvert, when in reality, one reason I was depressed was because I was missing out on the social interaction I was needing. Not only did staying at home bring on more depression, it also worsened my social anxiety. When you want to overcome anxiety, you have to face it head on. With depression, you can take medication to improve brain chemical levels and go to therapy to find healing. However, with anxiety there are no medications to help heal you, there are simply medications to help you relax in your moments of severe anxiety, i.e. Xanax. How you truly find healing from anxiety is facing your fears. If you choose to get help from therapy–generally behavioral therapy is suggested, which will more than likely include you facing your anxiety head on. Example: you would go to a party even though you would typically not attend due to your fears…maybe you would set a goal of staying for a certain amount of time, and/or talking to a certain amount of people. Anyways, I told myself that wanting to stay home was because of being an introvert, when, in reality, what I was needing the most was some “extroversion time.” Introversion does not equate shy or someone having social anxiety. I know many outgoing introverts, just like I know some extroverts who deal with some social anxiety or are a bit quieter by nature. It’s all based on how you re-energize).
There is more to me building confidence than just losing weight (becoming healthy was/is my main motivation btw. When your motivation is simply because you want to look good–it’s not enough. It’s not about how you look. It’s about your health), and starting these relationships. I also began grad school, which helped me to see my potential. I always felt like I was too stupid to even go to community college, let alone a University, and grad school never even crossed my mind…until one day it did. I had always been interested in being a psychologist and, obviously, you can’t do that without at least having a master’s degree. So I got accepted into grad school and I have, surprisingly to myself, done really well so far. So discovering that I’m not an idiot like I always thought, also helped build my confidence.
One of the biggest things that has helped me, though, has been learning about my astrological signs. This is why astrology is important to me and why I talk about it. I learned about having an entire astrological chart and what the other signs/planets in my charts represented. I have Virgo 4 times in my personal chart (out of 12 signs/planets). This is my strongest energy. The placement of these 4 Virgo signs are pretty crucial places and completely makes sense as to why I sometimes tend to hate myself. I am a Virgo Rising, Virgo Sun, Virgo Venus and Virgo Mars. Your rising sign is basically how you present yourself to others, especially when first meeting them, or just not knowing them that well. Your Sun sign is what I like to call your Ego. This the core of your being…motivations…morals…etc. Your Venus sign is how you act in/towards relationships…love–in particular. And your Mars sign is basically about what drives you, your sexuality and how your aggression comes out. All of these crucial signs are in Virgo. One other planet that is pretty crucial to who you are is your Moon sign, and mine is in Taurus, but I’m just going to discuss the Virgo signs for now.
The reason it helped me to learn about my astrological chart is because it helped me to know that there are reasons for how I am the way that I am. I’m not alone. Other people who share these placements go through the same things I do and experience life similarly in these areas. alabe.com is the site I used to find all of my signs. It’s very simple, really. I also like cafeastrology.com
When I read the descriptions, life just made so much more sense. Virgo rising people tend to be shy and insecure when first meeting others. We need a chance to analyze people and situations before we jump right in and show everyone who we are (explains my thoughts of “don’t talk to me, don’t see me, don’t ask me questions” that I discussed earlier). Virgo Sun people are often described as perfectionists and analytical. If we don’t believe we can do something perfectly, we tend to not do it at all (kind of explains my procrastination in school. Anytime I feel like maybe I can’t get something done, I try to pretend it doesn’t exist for as long as possible). We tend to be very curious about everything. What motivates us and truly makes us happy is helping and healing others (which helps to explain my career choice). Venus in Virgo people tend to be shy and not overly flirtatious. We show love by giving and doing for others. We want to make the people we care about happy and healthy, when you’re happy and taken care of–we’re happy. But we don’t put ourselves out there easily and don’t like to show our emotions often because of our fear of getting hurt (explains my situation with David and not allowing myself to be vulnerable in love…). Mars in Virgo people tend to be nervous and worrisome (right?!), we are perfectionists and goal and task oriented (again with the perfectionism!). We tend to be nervous when it comes to sex, but also very curious and have the desire to please others, so that overrides our nervousness (accurate).
By reading all of these descriptions on different sites and watching youtube videos on these signs, I began to become so much more self-aware. I was aware of the reasons for why I am the way I am and what motivates me. I see why I tend to hold back and am shy at times. It’s mostly due to my over-thinking, analytical, need-for-perfection nature. Since learning all of these things about myself, I’ve been able to work on and break down some unnecessary walls that I put up and notice when I am being irrational.
Through my experiences with the guys, proving to myself that I can do what I set my mind to do (losing the weight/becoming healthy and grad school), and learning about my signs, I’ve learned so much about how over-thinking things and not living in the moment can really hold me back. I’ve learned to let go a bit and not be afraid of allowing others to see–perfections and mistakes–beauty and ugliness–nice and not-so-niceness–me. Clearly, I still struggle, though. Example: David. Just because you’re aware doesn’t necessarily mean you know how or aren’t afraid of changing. I am work-in-progress.
Learn to love and believe in yourself–if you think you’re too stupid to do something, try it anyways! Show yourself you can do it if you want to…I’m guessing you’ll show yourself that you’re not actually stupid. Seek self-awareness. Seek healing–you don’t have to stay in a miserable state of depression and anxiety. You are not stuck there forever, just as long as you allow yourself to be. And sometimes, allowing yourself to be there is okay. Just make sure you do get up. Pick yourself up off of the ground, hold your head up and tell your depression and anxiety that you’re ready to kick its ass and then do it! If I can beat it–you can, too.
Hold on, loves. You’ve got this.