What My Health Challenges Have Taught Me

I haven't talked about it much, but I've had some health challenges this summer. It hasn't been easy, but I wanted to give you an update to let you know why I haven't been around much. But, more importantly, I wanted to share what I've learned in the process.

Anxiety and the Writer

I figured it was time for some real talk. About that thing that no one seems to want to talk about: anxiety.

It's real, it's stressful, and it's overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like it wins the battle. But it doesn't have to win the war.


The Beginning

When I started on this book journey over a decade ago, I never knew what would come. I just knew I wanted to write a book, and, though I had no clue where to start, I somehow did. It was a long journey, but I finally got to the point where I wanted to release my book.

So on June 1st, 2018 (has it only been two months??), I announced my book release. I was so excited (and still am) and I couldn't wait to see what would happen. Little did I know things would start happening, that very weekend.

I freaked out.Like crying, near panic attack freaking out.

Fear, anxiety, the constant what-did-I-do mantra that swirled through my head sped up my breathing, made my chest tight, consumed my thoughts. My husband, being the amazing man that he is, talked me down, calmed me down. He was, and still is, my rock. I'm convinced I couldn't do this without him.

I wish that was the end of it.

My Journey

Nearly every weekend since (I suspect that this is because I work on book stuff the most on the weekend and that's when I try to tackle the hard stuff), I've had some form of a panic attack. I even had two in one weekend (and even two in one day). They're scary, overwhelming, frustrating, annoying, and make me feel like I'm the only writer in the world who doesn't think they could ever get a book out into the world.

But I'm not, right?

I know I'm not. Despite what my brain tells me in the moment, the highlight reel I see on Instagram isn't the whole story. Because mine isn't. I don't want to show my weekly panic attacks, the too-many-times-to-count crying sessions that leave my eyes puffy and red and my throat dry. I only show the happy things, the things that I'm convinced everyone wants to see. Who wants to be depressed? The world is depressing enough as it is.

So that's why I'm writing this post. To show that we're all human, that what you see on social media is rarely the whole story, and that we all struggle. Sometimes it's depression, sometimes it's anxiety, sometimes it's a host of other things. Mental health is important and is lacking in our incessantly busy, constantly distracted culture.

But There's Hope

And that's the other reason I'm writing this post: you don't have to struggle alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are those of us — the ones that you probably see with a smile on Instagram — who struggle like you do. Who think that they couldn't possibly make their dreams come true. The ones that don't see sometimes how they could manage another smile.

Don't get me wrong: the smiles I put on social media are real. I love my life, and I love my online community. But that's not really the point.

The point is that life is sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes we don't think we can keep working on our dream. Sometimes anxiety seems to win.

But it doesn't have to.

We keep going. We keep trying. We never give up. We look anxiety right in its vicious, angry eyes and tell it that we are stronger, that we are better than what it says we are, and that even though it might seem like it has won the battle, we will win the war.


<3 Melissa

P.S. If you are struggling with mental health issues and need help, please reach out to someone. You may email me at any time, or connect with me on social media. If you are contemplating suicide, please, PLEASE know that there are people, like me, who care about you. If you need immediate, 24/7, free help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I am not a medical professional and this post is not meant to taken as medical advice. I merely wanted to offer a free resource to those who need help, and to reassure them that they are not alone. You are not alone.

Perfect Timing

On Sunday I was riding to church with my husband, telling him all about the book I'm currently reading (Twilight, which I'm technically re-reading. If you haven't read it, go read it now. It's so good. I've almost talked my husband into reading it.). We got into a discussion about why Twilight was so popular in its time and surmised that it was just the right story, written the right way, and at the right time that made it resonate with so many people. (And, as a marketer, I'm sure marketing had a little to do with it.)Which got me thinking about my book, and how it's been 10 years since I started writing it. I found some old notes from July 2008 on Saturday from when I was first mapping out my novel (turns out Grady's name wasn't always Grady—I'd totally forgotten that!) which made me realize how far I've come.Then we had a guest speaker at church. She talked about how God sometimes allows us to go through difficult things to show us His power and prepare us for something better, and I realized the same was true for my book.I'm not the same person I was in 2008 (thank God!) and the process it took me to get to this place, in 2018, was long and winding. (I'm a stubborn person sometimes—okay, all the time.) But if I hadn't gone through that process, I would have never gotten to the place where I could release my book.It's hard when you're going through it—believe me, there were years I just wanted to give up and questioned if my words would ever get out into the world, but I believe God was preparing me for this, for my book to be released, in this time, this year.I hope that it's the perfect time for the world to read it, too. That's always the dream! I've found that this past decade has taught me patience, to be sure, but mostly it's taught me that sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination.I can't wait to share my words with you, with the world. I hope you enjoy the results of my journey as much as I do!For another take on the subject, I ran across this amazing article the other day. Check it out—I think you'll really like it!<3 Melissa*This page may contain affiliate links, which means if you use those links to make a purchase, I receive a commission at no extra cost to you.*