Tiffany ArcariMember Relations - Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
Tiffany's Story :
This is about stigma…ironic as I sit here and worry of what ripple this picture from my story might do. Worried about what you might be thinking of me.
Do I look fat? Do you like my outfit? What story should I tell? Why was I even nominated? What if it hurts my family? What of it hurts my friends or hinders any future opportunity? Should I have said that? What if, what if, what if, anxiety, anxiety anxiety, breathe, breathe, breathe more anxiety.
I don’t sit still.
Even as I write this, my feet wiggle and I bounce my leg, I am in my own head, I am uncomfortable and the ‘restless leg’ ? Well, It comforts me. I lay awake at night listing all the things I didn’t complete and all the things I should have said. Hyper aware of my words and my actions, mentally tallying, criticizing and listing all the things that need to be done. Listing makes me feel better. It is Control.
The more I think ahead and consider all the possibilities, the better I can assess potential damages and develop a plan of action…plans for control, plans to ensure things do not get out of my control.
13 years ago I walked out of an appointment in fear the Doctor would think my feelings were pathetic and I was just seeking attention.
I cannot count the times I have heard :
Tiffany is crying again
Don’t worry about it
Or the countless times I have been told :
I am emotional
I am over-sensitive or
I worry too much
Welcome to my darkside…
I live with Anxiety Depression and OCD.
My anxiety flares, I lean into a depression and when I fail to control either of those emotions my behaviour starts to become obsessively compulsive. In what I call the “perfect storm”.
Sometimes I release, which looks like (feels like) a petulant child. The flood gates open and I cry when I shouldn’t. I cry when I should be saying words and communicating, I cry out of frustration. The tears are only ever followed by a guilt and shame from crying in a scene.
Other times I break, in an eruption…a tail spinning cyclone of negativity. I am derailed: lose control of breathing my throat chokes with a darkness and I then begin to gasp for air. This is
known as my anxiety attack. They leave me mortified and… I hate them.
13 years ago, I began to take a step back and looked inward-I asked myself some questions….
Why do I feel despair and loneliness?
What is with this torture of internal narrative replaying every embarrassing, stupid, human error I have made on repeat?
I cry all the time, get choked up, become irrationally upset, constantly feel exhausted…WHY?
I realized that majority of people were not processing emotions like me, they didn’t struggle or worry or react the way I do. When they said “I don’t care “; they truly didn’t and I desperately wondered what that was like.
I arrived at the Doctor’s office 13 years ago to address my state of mind. I stared at the clock slowly ticking away the seconds-which felt like hours. I got into my own head, the negativity and embarrassment were screaming at me to leave. I was scared, thought I was just emotional, dramatic, over- sensitive and worried too much. So I left. I left because of fear, fear of stigma.
I silently suffered for a few years longer.
I began to seek a path to help as I began to realize I didn’t want to live like this anymore and became desperate to change my hard wiring. It started with opening up, I started TALKING. Talking is where I began to seek a route for help. I then, decided to rebook my appointment- I showed up, I cried, I had an anxiety attack. My Doctor provided assurance: my feelings werevalid. We then began the journey to learn + find the tools I needed to live a stronger, happier and better life.
Today, I am the strongest I have ever been- yet still consciously battle a darkness that creeps my internal narrative.
I started to believe in myself, took a leap, a chance and I bet on myself. I chose to pivot my life. A scary decision to reinvent myself; an adventure that has brought me an array of experiences and a deeper understanding of who I really am.
This Inspire nomination, forced me to realize I have learned some of the greatest lessons life has to offer…
1) I have learned, that voice…that narrative in our heads… is not always right. In fact that narrative is often negative and wrong. I have learned to say STFU, you are wrong.
2) What isn’t growing is dying, this is applicable to plants and relationships. There is only room in life for the positive and the kind. Humans are to build each other up. Anything opposite, is for the curb.
3) If someone wants to leave your life, let them go. Even if it is family, especially if it is toxic.
4) The career you start in your 20’s does not define or have to remain your career in 30’s, 40’s etc.
5)Those cheesey motivational talks, podcasts, quotes and videos – actually work ( I am 100% serious. Find one that ignites something in you, and tune in when you wake or when the internal narrative needs to change).
6) Your weight is not your worth. Stop judging your body. If you wouldn’t say it about your best friend DO NOT say it to yourself. Worth is not measured by appearance but integrity and kindness.
7) Be grateful, every single day. The Attitude of Gratitude can help conquer fear, sadness and negativity.
My advice to anyone holding back that needs to hear this: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Do it! Please tell yourself every morning you are f#@%ing magical and worthy.
Start talking, set some goals, take a chance, test your limits, bet on yourself,work hard, be kind and ..
You may be surprised, I certainly have been.