This silence has been brought to you by Anxiety

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I've been distant. Quiet. I know.

The truth is I've been going through something. All my life I've been considered a "worrier." If you were to ask any of my friends, they'd probably say I have a lot of stress, much of it self imposed, and kind of on the irrational (ok, crazy)  side. I've been finding over the last couple of years,  culminating in the last several months, that my anxiety levels have been getting to a point that is crippling.

All of my life I've believed that if I just powered through, kept moving, I could get past the uncomfortable feelings. I recently came to the quiet revelation that I've been doing mental health all wrong and that maybe my constant feeling of dread and worry wasn't normal, especially when things are generally ok.

The turning point for me was releasing this last pattern collection. I've been so worried that things aren't good enough, that people will be disappointed, that something is wrong, that I've been terrified to write about them. I need to work on a new collection for my lingerie shop, which is looking rather ragged, but I have the feeling that nothing will ever be good enough.  I open my email with dread and some days can't even bring myself to check because I'm afraid that something is wrong. I have no reason to feel this way. I am a good designer. I've worked hard to build a fairly successful business.

Thinking about these feelings made me realize how afraid I was for Isabel, and my compulsive need to make sure she is ok. My irrational worries that she will get out of her crib, through her locked door, past the baby gate, down the stairs, out of our locked house, and come to some terrible end out in the world. It's a terrible feeling to constantly have with you.

Since buying this new house, my anxiety has shot through the roof. I feel like there is a lot of "unknown" which is really terrifying for me. I have constant stress over finances when I really don't need to. I have constant stress over the state of our house, when reality is I live in a beautiful old home that much of the major work has been completed. When I sit and think rationally about my anxieties, none of them make sense, but I just can't stop. I almost constantly have that tight feeling in my chest, like the way you feel before writing a big test that you're not quite prepared for. I wake up this way, and when I do fall asleep, I have stressful dreams.

Mix all this with an unhealthy dose of intrusive thoughts, and I decided that maybe something wasn't firing quite right and that I needed some help. As someone who DIY's everything, saying this was a big step is a bit of an understatement.

I always thought my Anxiety was a mixed blessing. Sure, it stopped me from sleeping or actually getting to know any of the many amazing people in my life, but it compelled me to work, work, work! In hindsight, none of my best work has been done in periods of high anxiety. It's not a good motivator and it's definitely not good for business. In fact, it's been crippling my business over the last few months.

So, I'm trying something new. I've been doing self care things for months, like exercise, but it hasn't been cutting it. I've been getting a lot of new insight into the way I think over the last week and it's really been a revelation. I've started on some medication, picked up yoga again, started a "worry journal" (which sounds lame but feels helpful),  have enrolled in some support groups and hopefully will have some one-on-one care soon. Unfortunately, there is a wait list for mental health care in our area, so that has been frustrating for me, but it feels good to be getting help.

I wanted to write this to explain a little to you what's been going on with me. I haven't been myself for a while now. I've always wanted this blog to be a place where I can share real life: it's good times and it's not so good times...  I hate that persona that people put online where thing are 100% perfect 100% of the time #bestlife #blessed. Reaching out for help was extremely difficult for me, and I want anyone know is going through something similar to know it's ok! We would never judge a friend who is going through these things, so I don't know why we judge ourselves so harshly.

Thanks for listening, and mostly, thanks for caring about me. If anyone has any similar experiences, I'd love to hear.


  1. I wanted to give you a virtual hug after reading this! I personally think that every person would benefit from some "fine tuning" - both physical and mental, and it is never a bad idea to get help. I do know that is easy said than done (especially if there is a shortage of proper care in your area) but you deserve a pat on the back for advocating for yourself and getting a little help.

  2. Bigs hugs - and a high five for taking steps to feel happier! I've been through similar things, and meds and counselling helped a lot for me and my other family members similarly affected. I think depression is the type of mental health most people are most aware of, but I bet anxiety is actually the most prevalent. It's a bitch!

  3. (Hugs) I think it's amazing that you're being so open. I've struggled with anxiety for most of my life, and I know the feelings you're describing.
    You're taking a lot of great steps to help yourself. I assume you're still breastfeeding, so none of the normal medications are available. I know some people hate taking meds, but for me, they're like vitamins. Taking my meds allows me to meditate and calm myself so I don't become hysterical and have to take anything stronger.
    I'm a big fan of positive reinforcement when I'm starting to worry, by listing what is right and good, sometimes you can decrease what is wrong.
    It's not easy, quick or fun to go through this, and I wish you all the best. If you need to reach out to someone, message me.

  4. Sending you love and strength...

  5. Sending more hugs and warm wishes - I agree with Gillian, anxiety is a bitch. I've been depressed since I was tiny, but was amazed to find out how anxious I get. Anxiety can be difficult to deal with because you almost feel like the anxiety is helping you be prepared for the future. It's not. I hope you get one-on-one help soon :-) I thought your new collection was wonderful, but in the grand scheme of things it needs to be you who realises that. Not relying on the internet for reassurance (difficult, I know!)

  6. I think it's really brave you shared all this, and it actually makes me see that I have this too. I think I used to pretend I didn't think about awful things happening, and now that I notice it, I just feel weird about it. So I appreciate that you're saying you have this and it's not indicative of real life or how you want to live, and I think it's amazing that you're asking for help. I hope that you can feel the relief you're seeking!

    I may be a random person on the internet, but your business has had a huge impact on my life. I am besotted with your patterns, and it's been very inspiring to see how well you handle social media and your business. I'm trying to figure out how to do that same thing for my job. And I've only been sewing for a year, but finishing one of your patterns is one of the most satisfying things I've ever done. I washed the lace crop top I made this morning and laid it out to dry, and just stared at it forever, because it's just so pretty and the shape of it is so seductive. I feel that way after I finish any of your patterns. I actually need summer clothes but it's hard to stop sewing bralettes and undies!

    SO I just want to say thank you. I appreciate the way you share the bad things and the good, and how generous you've been releasing these amazing patterns, and how learning to sew lingerie has honestly changed my life. I hope that you start to feel the clouds parting soon, and can feel comfortable with the beautiful life you've created. If I knew how to make a heart show up here, I would. :)

  7. Anxiety can be absolutely crippling, for the past two years my husband has been suffering with stress and anxiety and everything thing you have written sounds very familiar. He is getting better, medication has helped, so has the counselling available where we live. Writing down your worries was one thing that was suggested to him, as was logging 3 good things every day. I also had a period of stress several years ago at work (I now have a different job) and I now appreciate what effect that had on my husband and Mum. Be strong, get what help you can and you are very much not alone. And you design lovely patterns.

  8. I really admire you for being open and honest about the not so great parts of life. Everyone goes trough hard times and somehow that got to be parts of life that we are taught to hide. Even sharing with family and friends is hard for most of us and this is why I admire you and everyone else who speaks openly because life isn't always 100%, not for anyone and that isn't just ok it is life.
    It is great that you are seeking the help you need to get better. Thank you for sharing.

  9. You brave, brave woman. For keeping on keeping on, for sharing your pain and for coming outside of yourself to gather resources. Big virtual hug to you. Your work is beautiful, your life is grand and there will be a time when you can accept these wonderful things as just that, wonderful things and a source of strength and joy, not anxiety. More power to you, my dear.

  10. Hello there,
    I am (probably) rather older than most of your admirers since I am 63. I recently decided to make my underwear rather than spend $38 per pair to buy Hanro cotton panties and found your patterns to be the best for my purposes. I got several of your patterns and can't wait to try them all.
    However,it made me really sad that you are anxious about your web site and patterns. They may seem routinely familiar to you but to me, they were pure joy and pleasure. You are right, you ARE a good designer. I think you are a great designer.
    Vis a vis anxiety, from experience, I know it can be overcome Some of it changes with age, some with help from medicine, some from help with therapy. Personally, EMDR ( was most effective for me.
    Please don't lose hope.
    A fan,

  11. I've never commented before but just wanted to send some well wishes your way. When life gets stressful I tend to get a bit anxious but since having a baby I've experienced more anxiety and some intrusive thoughts with the change of hormones and the lack of sleep. It is hard to ask for help but learning to accept help is the best lesson I've learned this year. I'm glad you are doing the same.

  12. I'm sending you big hugs and lots of love Sarah. It takes a lot of guts to put this out there, and I really appreciate your honesty. I have struggled with anxiety my entire life, and self-care, self-love and reaching out are definitely the things that have helped me. A worry journal sounds great, and I think just talking about it and awareness really helps too. I hope that you find some peace. Be gentle with yourself; you (and your work) are amazing!

  13. I'm sorry to hear you're struggling with anxiety but also very glad you're getting help for it. My granny had it pretty bad when I was growing up. Her sons all used to come visit in the weekends, and she would be this knot of worries from they left the house till they showed up on the doorstep. It was as if she felt she was helping in keeping them safe by taking on the worries.

    I've had some experience with anxiety myself as well. I've had something called muscular pain syndrome, and it made me very scared to do things that would trigger pains or that had triggered them in the past, and I had to work pretty hard to get over it. The most useful thing for me was something called amygdala desensitisation training/ havening.

    I hope things will get better for you soon, hugs from Norway :)

  14. So good you are doing positive things to change the way you feel. I was a worrier before kids, and then having these precious little people sent my anxiety levels skyrocketing. Best wishes from Aus.

  15. Just wanted to say pretty much what everyone else is saying. Thank you for being so brave and opening up about this. Anxiety is a serious health issue and you are doing all the right things and taking the appropriate steps. Wishing you well and just to send some positive thoughts your way... I've loved following your blog for ages. Your photography and writing are amazing and quite soothing. Your product and designs are out of this world.

  16. Thanks for sharing this. I have been dealing with some anxieties and they became much stronger during my pregnancy. It was hard but I was trying to find out the reason and then asked for help. It still comes up but in the process I got to know myself much better and what makes me and the anxiety tick.
    Big hug and hope you feel better soon! I love all your work by the way!

  17. Oh, gosh, I'm so sorry that you're dealing with this. Feeling anxious is so hard- you can't just turn it off! I'm glad that you're giving yourself the time and space to take care of yourself and make positive changes. Will be sending good wishes your way!

  18. I too am sorry you are going through this. You have certainly done the right thing by seeking help and medication. Just know that it will get better. (been there, done that also.)

  19. I too have struggled with anxiety and it's not fun. Sounds like you are on the right track so continue to take care of you. The rest will take are of its self.

  20. None of us are perfect, but living in a photoshop world can make it seem like some are. You are doing the right thing in taking care of yourself. Best wishes that you find the balance that will make you happy and productive. Rest assured that we all struggle, and that readers who don't personally know you do still care.

  21. Wauw Sarah, your so brave. Havin'your own bussiness is rough and still it's also amazing! I have had my struggles last year and it's still difficult sometimes. I wish you all the best for the future, you are amazing! Big examaple for me.
    Kind Regards,
    Diana (Poetsie)from the Netherlands

  22. I can understand how you feel, that constant crippling anxiety despite success and talent. I have found helpful reading book from Eckhard Tolle - The Power of Now, all changed to good for me. Anyway, your lingerie is amazing, and your writing even better.

  23. FYI, when my kid was born, I went through a terrible period of post-partum depression and anxiety - particularly OCD. OCD and anxiety are not new to me, but the hormones of pregnancy magnified them tremendously. I can totally relate to how you feel. Get help in any of the ways you may need it. Once you understand that something isn't right, you're empowered to change it. xoxo

  24. From the first time I saw your shop and blog about a year ago, I could see right away you are so talented. Every person has their own distinct style and way of doing things, and you have such a lovely aesthetic that is all your own. You should be amazingly proud of what you have created from nothing!! As far as anxiety and fearful thought go, I totally understand what you mean. I read the book, Battlefield of the Mind several years ago and it literally changed my life. I learned that we can change the way we think and in turn change our outlook on life. The author Joyce Meyer has been an amazing encourager in the battle - here's one example of her speaking:
    Good luck and be blessed!!

  25. My thoughts are with you during your struggles. Therapy helped me immensely and I'm always encouraging people to go. Once you're in, I'm sure you'll learn a lot! It really helped me to think more rationally. I'm a constant worrier too. It hasn't gone away, but now I manage myself and my thoughts a lot better. I can definitely empathize with the silence too, as I vanished from my blog for MANY months and still haven't recovered from it. Last year I went through a difficult divorce, then the process of selling my house during the divorce, and just figuring life out all over again. It sucked. I could only function enough to get through work every day, and I had to force myself to work on my house. Everything else, I was literally too depressed to function. It's hard, but at the end you come out of it and know that whatever it is you're tackling, you're going to make it through! Then next time something comes up you can remind yourself that you've already been through bad times, you can handle this! Just know, truly, that we support you and that you do beautiful work!

  26. I'm so incredibly sorry you've been dealing with this, if I could give you a big hug I would! There is a difference in being a 'worrier' and having that crippling pit of your stomach feeling that is full of knots and feeling like you can't breathe. You need to look back on the achievements you have accomplished and how far you've come. It sounds like you're a perfectionist to me and put your heart and soul into everything, but ultimately life is about enjoying yourself, so I'm glad that you are finding ways to help yourself.
    I'm not sure if this will help but try when you push your tummy out you breathe in, and when you push your tummy in exhale. It's yoga type breathing and can help with stress and feeling anxious. I'm sorry you've had such a rough few months, your pattern collection is amazing, so you had nothing to worry about after all! Take care of yourself, don't give yourself too much to do, don't worry about the days and weeks that go past and just try and give yourself time for you. Sending big cuddles XxxX

  27. I am glad that you are able to talk about it. Sometimes the hardest part is admitting there is a problem. I definitely can relate. I've had problems with anxiety for many years now. I knew my husband was the one when he did not make fun of me when I was sitting on the floor rocking back and forth during an anxiety attack. It does get better and yoga will help.

    As far as constantly checking on the little ones well that never stops. Mine are grown with babies of their own and I will still sneak a peak to make sure they are ok when I stay with them.

    I may be just some random words on a computer screen but if you ever need to vent I am here. Good luck with the new site. I am sure you will do great!

  28. Wow reading this article made me feel like I'm not alone. Some things you have described sound so much like me. Wow, thank you so much for sharing your feelings. You are an incredible designer. I have been following you for a few years now and you are such an inspiration and a role model to me. Now after I read your struggles with your anxiety has made me love you even more. You are truly amazing.

  29. When we’re anxious, we’re prone to taking short, shallow breaths. By tuning back into our breath and breathing deeply in a specific pattern, we can actually calm our nerves pretty effectively. Natural cures anxiety

  30. I stumbled upon this post while searching for a sewing pattern, and I'm so glad that I did. I wanted to thank you for sharing your experience with honestey and vulnerability. I feel this same anxiety nearly all the time, and much of what you wrote describes my feelings in a way that I have not been able to.

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