My battle with Anxiety
I now struggle with anxiety.
Anxiety around fainting.
My anxiety comes as a feeling of constant nervousness and worry. I’m restless when thinking of all the events I have, where my next meal will be, my schedule or anything that could have uncertain outcomes.
This is relatively new for me, but it’s real. Something I now have to deal with everyday.
I’ve seen professionals for help, taken medication, gone through therapy, anything to help me.
Let me share a quick story that illustrates my mental prison.
1 year ago I was asked to speak to a business group at the University of Portland.
I’ve done countless of these talks before and was no stranger to audiences or settings like this.
I was excited, but also remarkably nervous...
Two weeks prior I was traveling to Japan on a big work trip and upon arriving at the airport had missed my flight. I thought for sure there was another flight I could catch, but after a few minutes at the counter, and her telling me it would have to be tomorrow, I remember my vision narrowing, the lights became warm. Next thing I knew I opened my eyes with worried looks of strangers peeking down. I had fainted.
At the doctor's office two weeks later during routine shots I looked down at my arm to see a skin shot that I was not expecting. The doctor caught me as I fainted again, nearly falling right on the needles.
Overwhelmed by these experiences I became petrified of when I was going to faint again. I became a nervous wreck.
The doctor performed heart scans on me and I checked out fine, he just said that I would have to learn my signs.
What were my signs?
How do I learn them? I asked.
As I stood in front of the students at UP, I began to feel those “signs.” My vision starts to narrow. I remember him telling me to breathe deep to get oxygen. This quickly turned into Hyperventilating.
Mid talk I made up a lie and told the students my leg was cramping. “Get to the ground” I kept telling myself, “It's a shorter distance to fall”
I sat down, in front of 250 kids, mid talk, and began to have an anxiety attack.
After the presentation I was overwhelmed with attention. Sitting in a chair, head between my knees I fought through the questions and pictures from every student as fast as I could.
The room eventually emptied and I burst into tears on the floor. Not knowing what was happening to me.
After finally making it to the car I just wanted to get home. But what If I fainted while driving?
I remember the doctor telling me it was good to get my heart rate up, so I stopped every few blocks to get out and run sprints. I was a wreck as it took me 45 min to finally pull in. Upon arrival I collapsed again onto the couch feeling exhausted.
This was a little over a year ago, and safe to say the moment I put my stake in the ground and knew change was needed.
Why was this happening? What was off in my life?
In the doctor's office, in typical Marcus “fixer fashion” I asked him how I could get better. He said a mix of medication and therapy. I began them both the next day. I didn’t like having anxiety and wanted to be cured.
I’m 28 years old.
I’m a builder and a fixer, I like to get things done and constantly rely on my mental checklists.
I feed of the energy of other people, and have considered myself a people person my whole life. I’m a proud Duck and some might even say, a little brainwashed. Since I was born all I’ve known is the green and yellow brick road called I-5 South to Eugene.
I started an Instagram page, @portland 6 years ago without having a clue what I would do with it. What started as a way to feature beautiful bridge and river pictures of my hometown, has grown into a 320,000 person following from all over the world who look to me to be “the voice of the city.”
We work in a world of influencers, collaborators, designers, thinkers and doers, all trying to put Portland on the map, just like me.
I’m also the founder and owner of a small business here in town called Portland Gear.
We sell shirts and hats with a letter P with the cut out of Oregon in the middle, but it means so much more. We sell pride, things that make people feel part of the community. We’ve done amazing collaborations with brands around town and use our platform to promote good.
We’ve shipped product to every state and 59 countries.
I employ and work with some of my best friends, we have lines around the building on event days. Our team hangs out with Trail Blazers, Timbers, and a list of who’s who in Portland.
By many peoples standards we’ve achieved a lot of success in our short 4 year ride, but why am I’m always left feeling like “So what?”
Through all of this, I have also become my own worst enemy.
Let me explain..
For context, as of today, June 1 2018, here is a snapshot of digital engagement across my personal and professional social media pages for the last 4 years.
3,620 posts (taken or found the photo, edited, posted at the right time, with good captions, and optimized for engagement.)
Received a total of 13,245,500 likes
3,457 parts of daily stories 1,202 tweets
Is this healthy?
Is this the new normal?
Is this what every kid is now striving for?
Are we addicted to screens?
Is narcissism, social media and mobile technology a force for good or evil? Is this sustainable?
Lots of questions... things I wish I had the answers too.
One thing I know for certain, I’m in this game, and it’s a rat race.
There are days I feel like I’m just spinning on a wheel in my cage, going nowhere.
Feeling suffocated, trapped.
Want to know the most intriguing part?
I created all of it. All of it.
I can’t escape the very thing I once built out of love and passion.
Sometimes it feels like I’m in a pie eating contest and the grand prize for the winner is... more pie. And I don't even like pie!
The term “mindfulness” has become popular over the last decade, but why? We’ve never been this addicted to devices, social media, keeping up with the Jones, that we now have to practice what was once normal?
When we practice mindfulness, balance, we begin to live in the present and not rehashing the past or imagining the future.
This involves acceptance of our thoughts and feelings without judging them. Something I’m working on everyday.
I want to be clear, I’m not an expert.. Just a kid struggling with this like everyone else, trying to find the answers.
My beautiful fiance and I will be getting married in a few months, and in meeting with our pastor recently told us about this idea of emotional deposits, withdrawals, over drafting and balance.
I call it, the “Bank of Emotions”
Here are my principles in this context. And come along with me for the analogy. Think of it as a real bank ledger.
*Deposit = doing something for others or yourself
*Withdrawal = having something done for you
*Overdraft = anxiety, depression, well-being, physical health
*Balance = happiness, contentment, zen
You can't make a withdrawal without first making deposits
Deposits and withdrawals have to equal to achieve balance
If you withdraw more than you’ve deposited you overdraft
The more deposits, the larger the withdrawal can be
You don't always have to know what you’re depositing for.
Simply put, I’m overdrawn. I’ve worked so hard over the last 8 years building this, taking minimal days off, never turning my phone off, posting thousands of things, my body and mind are exhausted. Sometimes, I feel numb. Sometimes I even, faint.
I’ve given all of my energy to Portland gear, this city, my employees, that I’ve forgot to make deposits in myself and my relationship. I love Noelle so much, but she’d be the first to tell you that I often don’t seem present, I’m what she calls a “Phone zombie.”
Last year I went so far as actually living just above my store so I could always be there, have no commute to maximize work time, and be accessible 100% of the time.
The very thing I created and love, has crippled me. On my off days I can get sick to my stomach having to walk into the store. I’ve lost all boundaries and separation.
“Marcus” is lost somewhere deep in my phone many years ago. Those posts, tags, comments, I’m so far overdrawn that I started to lose myself. I became Marcus - Portland Gear. Not Marcus Harvey.
I acknowledge this, and I’m working on it. I’ve begun to turn my phone off at night, not check it first thing in the morning. Like my Emotional bank, I see and feel when I give more to my relationships, I get it back 10 fold.
Now I understand that I’m young, that I have not experienced but a quarter of the things life will throw at me. Owning a home, having kids, taking care of a family, the ups and downs of a small business, illness. But this is my story right now, this is my situation.
I hope this is only 1 chapter in my book, and as I continue on this roller coaster called life, always keep track of my deposits and withdrawals.
Our goal should not be to have more followers, or get the best engagement, it should be balance. We should continue to search for the true meaning in everything we do.
Mine has manifested into fainting, but how does your body react when it’s overdrawn? Do you notice it? Do you listen to it?
Take this week to keep track. Build your own way of writing down your transactions and see if you can achieve balance. If you feel overdrawn when you notice the withdrawals are heavy, take time to make a few deposits, whatever that may be. There is no right or wrong way of doing this.
Maybe you fish, sew, go on walks, root for the green and yellow, read. Work on creating those intentional moments of deposits to bring back your balance. If you can do this, congrats, keep going full steam ahead! If you can't as fast, or it’s a learning process, know you’re not alone, we’re all working on it too.
If I could leave you with one thing, it’s that these devices will not last forever.
Social media pages will come and go, we’ve seen it already. Technology is simply evolving too fast for us to keep up with.
Spend time with your loved one. Spend time on things that bring you true meaning and fulfillment. Make more deposits than withdrawals, and if you feel a little faint, write a blog about it, it will help :)