Talk about a tumultuous time in your life. What kind of impact did it have on you & how did you learn to live with it?
I lost my dad when I was 21. He was diagnosed with cancer when I was 20 and was diagnosed with Bipolar II a few years prior to that. I was a full-time college student working three jobs and an internship. When he was diagnosed with cancer, I developed terrible anxiety in the form of agoraphobia. It became so unbearable for a few months – I was seeing my counselor twice a week and was having difficulty doing anything (food shopping, going to class, driving).
I honestly did not think I could graduate or continue working. I used to call my dad on the way to class to tell him I was too dizzy to walk. I would get such bad panic attacks that at times, I had to interrupt class because I thought I was going to faint. Going out with my friends at night was out of the question – everything became so difficult.
This was not only scary, but really embarrassing for me. I dropped a few classes, left one of my jobs, and carried on the best I could. It is tough to explain this to people who do not suffer from anxiety. A lot of people think this is something that you can just ignore or move past.
To this day, I still struggle with generalized anxiety. Some days I can’t catch my breath or can’t explain to a friend why I just physically cannot leave my house.
I think it helps a lot to talk about it. Even if someone does not understand it, I can try to help them understand it. I have also found that through my hundreds of panic attacks and episodes – nothing has killed me yet. (Didn’t Kanye say that that that that that don’t kill me can only make me stronger?)
If you could go back in time at any point in your life, what words of advice would you give yourself?
Life goes on. So generic, I know, but it is so true. Nothing makes life slow down. (Not a significant other cheating on you, not the death of a loved one, not a terrible day at work). You really need to be able to make the best of the deck you are dealt!
What three products automatically make you feel confident?
#1 – MASCARA. My lashes are straight blonde, so I am pretty creepy looking without it! #2 – Altoids. This is weird, but mint calms me down – always. I usually have 3-4 Altoid tins in each purse. #3 – Dry Shampoo. This hair of mine is way too thick to wash more than twice a week, so dry shampoo is my BFF.
What’s 1 thing that keeps you up at night?
I often wonder, am I doing what I love? I spend 50+ hours a week at work, so I can’t help but think I should be working at my dream job and doing something that makes me feel extremely fulfilled. (Basically, how can I work with animals all day? Or get myself into Disney Corporate…?)
What are you most inspired by?
I pull inspiration from all over the place. I know a lot of great women, both in my family & group of friends, who have dealt with great losses but continue to remain positive. I always find that I look up to them whenever I’m going through a rough time.
My closest friends are very open-minded and are always there to support me. Also, my boyfriend, Kevin, is a perfectionist and has a great attention to detail that I find I lack sometimes. I also had a few college professors who continue to still inspire me from hundreds of miles away. I’m inspired by many different people for many different reasons.
Kelly is 26 and resides in NJ, but her heart is in Disney World. She loves crafting, a good iced coffee, and her cat. While she spends most of her time with her amazing boyfriend and friends, she can’t help but be addicted to daydreaming about those Mickey ears.