Guest Jodi Cecil

Courageous Story Sharing: Living My Life Through the Tears and Fears

This has been a week you guys. I’ve had a 4 day lingering headache, which partnered with the humidity and temperatures outside validates my philosophy that we don’t have to wait for death to experience the idea of heaven and hell. I believe we are given glimpses of the random awful and wonderful right here on earth at different times in our lives so to see if we are conscious, listening and acting in our most authentic way.

I realized something this week. I will no longer be unconscious to the poison of complaining. I’ve been serving this brew for a while to my friends and loved ones and myself. I’ve grown addicted to it. Well, I’m going cold turkey. So if you ever see me complaining about the weather, about my workload, about my dogs, about my community, about broken systems or about complainers, I’m begging you to compassionately ask me these question to help me wake up to the energy offloading I’m participating in:

  1. Can you do something about this?
    • If yes, will you do something (more than you already are) to take action? 
      • If yes, do you need help working through what you are going to do? 
      • If no, do you need anything right now because I have to walk away now because my energy gets very depleted by complaining?
    • If no, do you need anything right now because I have to walk away now because my energy gets very depleted by complaining? 

My energy awareness is leveling up and I’m seeing how toxic, debilitating, just plain wasteful it is. It causes harm and I’m here to cause as little harm as possible. Which is why you should read our guest storyteller’s words below. Jodi has been crossing paths with me for a while and I love her passion around taking care of yourself by understanding yourself and continuing to 

And I’ll keep telling my story and sharing my feelings, even at the risk of being the “weird girl,” not only because it helps ME, but because if it helps one other person feel a little less weird and a little more hopeful, then I’ve made a difference.

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Guest: Jodi Cecil

I’m a storyteller by nature. I’ve known since 3rd grade that I wanted to be a writer. And I can talk for hours on end, about my story, about your story, about hot topics or random thoughts. But I sit down in front of screen to write about something “important,” something that I profess to “know” about…and imposter syndrome stops me in my tracks. In fact, I procrastinated writing this guest spot for DAYS because I was afraid that what came out of my fingertips wouldn’t be “right.”

So, like I do with most things that intimidate me, I looked for some outside reassurance, got a healthy dose of it from my amazing friends, and jumped in blind. And I’ve finally convinced myself that really all I’m doing here is sharing my story and my thoughts with other people–I don’t have a need to be “right.” (But God, I still hope this story is somewhat familiar to at least a couple people, or I’m really outing myself as weirdo here!)

My friends describe me as loyal, fun, energetic, kind, patient, considerate, positive, a high achiever, a problem-solver, enthusiastic, strong, a leader, happy, creative, smart, funny, compassionate and persevering. I love that they see me that way, and I am all of those things! I’m also usually happy and I consider myself successful. And I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, which are sometimes truly crippling. 

Almost 5 years ago, I broke. After experiencing a panic attack (which I had experienced before), I entered a period of about 3 weeks that I only remember with random crying that I could.not.control. Driving to work? Check. AT work? Check. While cooking dinner? Check. Any time or place you can imagine, because remember, I did not have control of it. I also remember the love of a very specific friend of mine who watched my struggle, understood, shared and supported me. She is a gamechanger in my life and I’ve awkwardly thanked her too many times to count. 

Oddly, I was really aware of what was happening to me during all of this. Maybe because I was in master’s classes for general psychology in which we were role playing psychologist and patient. Maybe because throughout my life I’ve gone through very brief periods of anxiety-ridden days. Nothing like this, of course, but I knew what it was.

With lots of support from my husband (ok, he put his foot down and made me) I finally went to my doctor, who was incredibly compassionate and laid a lot of my fears to rest. No, I was not broken or incapable of handling normal life. Yes, I would get through this period of my life and be “me” again. No, this did not mean that I was doomed to an unsuccessful life. So I got to work finding a counselor, and after another few weeks of foolishly continuing to try handling this on my own, I finally filled the meds.

In the midst of figuring out how to keep living my life through the tears and fears, I shared. I told people close to me what was happening–my coworkers knew, my family knew–and it made an incredible difference. Not hiding it and talking about my struggles and the steps I was taking to heal was empowering! It allowed me to connect with other people in my life that I didn’t know were also struggling, find mentors along the journey, find hope in their successes, and be an inspiration to some who were struggling in silence. 

It’s taken a few years of self reflection and some really great talk therapy, but I finally (almost) see that my anxiety, rooted in a deep empathy for others and a desire to meet and exceed expectations, is a gift. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t suck to “have anxiety.” It does. I might be pretty self-aware, but I’m a realist. But anxiety is a part of who I am. It’s not my whole being or my whole identity. Accepting it as a part of who I am has allowed me to really connect deeply with other people, and even provide others with hope. And I’m committed to figuring out how I can flip that script in my head and finally find peace with this beast that tries to take over. How can I acknowledge it, but not feed it? Accept it, but not BE it? 

I’m going to be really honest. I’m a work in progress. I always will be. Good thing I love learning, because I still have a lot more to do about myself and how I function and ways I can get rid of the “shoulds” in my life that plague me. But I’m getting there. And I know I’ll keep progressing and falling back into old patterns and then progressing some more. Because that’s life, whether I’m dealing with anxiety or not. And there’s always hope for every one of us of being a little bit better than yesterday. And I’ll keep telling my story and sharing my feelings, even at the risk of being the “weird girl,” not only because it helps ME, but because if it helps one other person feel a little less weird and a little more hopeful, then I’ve made a difference.

1 thought on “Courageous Story Sharing: Living My Life Through the Tears and Fears”

  1. Weird girls unite!! 🙂 Love, love, love this! From someone who battles anxiety, it is refreshing to hear stories from others who experience similar issues. As much as we say we need to talk about mental health, there is still such a stigma around it. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing others to feel like they aren’t the only ones.

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Julie Stephenson

Julie is one of the founders of Compounding Courage, a company that provides personal growth and leadership development programs. CLICK HERE to learn more.