Killing myself was never an option, but I was at a point where I would have given anything for my struggle to end.
It was April 2006 and an overwhelming feeling of panic and anxiety had been my constant companion for three weeks. I was sick and tired of the never-ending compression in my chest, the tingling running from my neck to my forehead, the short sleeps punctuated by waking up with a shortness of breath, the inability to focus at work, and the constant fear that it was only going to get worse.
I begged for it to end.
I didn’t care how.
If I died in my sleep, it was fine by me. I know it’s a terrible thing to say but I was doing everything I could to find a solution and nothing was working. I was nearing the end of my rope. The days were darker than ever, but I realized I could never stop looking for the light. I drove on.
And then finally, a breakthrough.
There wasn’t one magical fix. It was through yoga, meditation, Qi Gong, buying a dog, going to the emergency room twice, confiding in friends, seeking advice from doctors I knew, and buying the e-book, Panic Away, that I eventually overcame my 8-week anxiety attack.
Why am I telling you this?
It is my hope that pouring my heart out, airing my dirty laundry, and sharing my struggles will inspire you to change.
It will show you that I’m just like you, with my trials and tribulations, my desire for a better life, my commitment to doing whatever it takes to change the situation for the better, and my encouragement to you that no matter what you are going through, that you too can overcome the obstacles in your life.
We learn best from stories, and we learn even better from emotionally charged, vulnerable storytelling.
There are many reasons why Unbroken was one of the most popular movies of 2014. We want to see a hero pushed to the edge of their limits, to their breaking point, and then to come back from near death to success. We love a hero’s journey, because we long to have the one inside of us come to the surface.
It is my hope that my vulnerability, my story of my lowest lows, will inspire you to fight through whatever is in your way right now.
It will make you change.
It will make you take action.
It will help you succeed.
And then it will encourage you to pay it forward and help someone get through their struggles, too.
This story will stick with you and help you more than another article on 6 tips to creating your website, 3 stock-picking secrets, or how to save 15% on car insurance in 15 minutes.
Vulnerability remains rare. We prefer to put on a bold face, holding in our struggles, lying to others that everything is just fine.
That gets you nowhere. It leaves you stuck in the mud.
You are better off pouring your heart out, asking for help, begging for a push, and recruiting support, so that you can stop spinning your wheels.
Yes, it will require you to admit your faults.
Listen, we already know that you’re not perfect. Sorry to burst your bubble. Best to, as Brene Brown writes, embrace your imperfections, be vulnerable, and open up your world to the opportunity of attracting help from others.
“Vulnerability is a key element of what it is to be human, to make art and thus to be generous,” says Seth Godin.
“Vulnerablity builds trust. We long to connect, all of us. We long to be noticed, to be cared for, to matter. Generosity is the invisible salve on our wound of loneliness, one that benefits both sides, over and over again.”
Despite all the negativity in the world today, there are still many good people that want to help you. Mentors want to guide you to success. Friends want to be a part of your hero’s journey.
Frodo didn’t go it alone to Mordor. Robin Hood didn’t rob the rich all by himself. Batman had Robin, and Alfred. Luke had Han and Han had Chewy.
So why do you think you can do it all by yourself?
Show a little humility. Confide in a friend today. Pour your heart out.
You don’t have to write an email to over 100,000 readers telling them you wished you were going to die in your sleep because things are so bad, but I’ll tell you what. I’m better off because of it, and so are you.
I don’t care what people think. I’ve been vulnerable and open to criticism from anonymous blog commenters for over 15 years now. I’ve heard it all, from being called ‘fake’ to having someone tell me, “You and your dog are pathetic”. (Really? You’re bringing my dog into this? Now those are fighting words!)
But none of those jabs matter. The opinions of small-minded people will not stop me from moving on. Don’t let that hold you back. It’s time now, as Epictetus teaches, for us to live the real life we are here to live. It’s time for your hero’s journey to begin.
“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. Once you have determined the spiritual principles you wish to exemplify, abide by these rules as if they were laws, as if it were indeed sinful to compromise them. Don’t mind if others don’t share your convictions. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you will be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do you what you need to do – now.” – Epictetus, translated by Sharon LeBelle in The Art of Living
Share your vulnerabilities because you can, because turning on a light for yourself will light the path for others.
Everyone has tough times. I make mistakes every day. I work hard to have better days every day, and that’s what you must do. It’s all you can do. And I believe you can do it.
Control what you can.
Cope with what you can’t.
Concentrate on what counts.
It’s not going to be easy. It won’t happen overnight. That’s okay.
I went through years of struggle and frustration and an eight-week anxiety attack as I built my online businesses. People only see the fruits of my labors now. They don’t see me on the lowest day of my life, walking into an emergency room in Toronto, convinced I was having a heart attack at the age of 31. That was the lowest point in my life.
But I believed in myself. I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop looking for the solution. Eventually I found several ways to fix myself, to get the results I wanted, to live the life I dreamt about. I’m still pushing and striving for a better life, a better me, and a better world.
I believe I’ll achieve.
And I believe you’ll achieve.
It will be easier if you let us know how we can help.
Pour your heart out and tell us how.