This chapter has been tough. As incredible as these past 18 months have been, I have found it so hard to balance my emotions. We are all fighting a battle that no one knows about — which can take so much courage just to even get out of bed some days.

I have dealt with anxiety since I was around 17 — anxiety so bad I don’t think anyone would understand it unless they’ve experienced it too. I couldn’t figure it out and it didn’t really make sense.

Chrissy Teigen describes the feeling of anxiety perfectly — “every step I take feels a little shaky, its such a weird feeling that you wouldn’t know unless you have bad anxiety…you feel like everyone is looking at you.”

Very few people knew how deep my anxieties ran because somehow I still smiled on the outside, and I learned to manage my duties the best I could. There was also no logical reason for me to feel this way. My Mum would often tell me I had an amazing partner, incredible friends, a great life and businesses…so how could I feel this way? But, you can’t explain it.

My mind was toxic. No matter what the outside circumstances were, I would find that sadness and victimization were my closest friends.

I didn’t really understand the extent of my anxieties or understand the feeling of depression until after my wedding in June.

I have an amazing, loving and supportive partner, the most gorgeous friends and my own businesses that provide a very comfortable lifestyle; in fact, an incredible lifestyle. A lifestyle that I would get frequent messages from people thinking I had it all and had it so easy. Almost like it was all handed to me on a platter? It is far from it.

Social media can be a double-edged sword when it comes to mental health. Constantly being connected makes it impossible not to compare our own lives with picture-perfect ‘grams’.

Everything is so fast-paced: Instagram ‘lives’, Instagram ‘stories’…when in reality, we are only seeing little tiny facets of each person’s life and of course, only the very best chunks of it. Everyone is human and everyone has imperfections and struggles in their life. Sadness is isolating and lonely. I’ve had social anxiety so debilitating at times that I have lost friends, feeling like everyone hates me.

Walls I put up for myself like fear and anxiety, are things that paralyze us. My idea of the perfect wedding was a really small wedding with family back home, but Jeremy, coming from a big family, wanted the biggest and the best party and celebration. “Do it once, do it properly!” (this is a whole other post haha). He wanted the overseas wedding and ‘party for a week’ with everyone we loved in the place we first met — Bali. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy with this and that’s one of the things I love about him — he will never do things by halves. The detail, attention, extravagance and effort he helped put into our wedding was so incredible and well thought out that I made jokes that he was the hired wedding planner.

However, with our wedding in Bali creeping up my anxieties kicked into over drive. Paralysing fear, crippling and heart racing anxiety months before our big day. My anxiety was so bad at the thought of so many people coming all this way for us and for me. I didn’t feel worthy of it.

My anxiety was making me physically ill and my body was showing so many signs of being unhealthy. I couldn’t even think. The phrase ‘panic attack’ can be used so very casually in the world. I don’t think most people really know what it is.

Our wedding day was an absolute dream, with our beautiful friends and family who mean so much to us. What more could you ask for?

It was pure magic.

Every single person was telling us it was the best wedding and commenting on how incredible everything was. It was so much fun, you could not of had a better group of people — it was madness!

But somehow all the positivity in the days and weeks after the wedding and all the positive things people were saying to me were completely blocked out as I’d fixate on trying to find something negative. I would literally search for it.

I remember getting our wedding photos back and zooming in on every single imperfection examining how I looked, my dress and my flaws. I hated myself and thought everyone would be judging me or talking about me and how awful I looked. Sounds superficial, right?

I was going back and worrying — fixating on certain things that we could’ve done differently on our big day or certain people that had let me down prior to and after. This anxiety led to deep depression. I couldn’t explain it and was in denial I was depressed. I was embarrassed.

I was newlywed — a time where you are meant to be on cloud nine. But I was replaying and critiquing everything about the day, obsessing over a comment someone said to me and feeling guilty I hadn’t connected in a meaningful way with some of our 130 guests who had flown all this way for us who mean so much to me — beyond just a ‘hello’ and ‘thank you!’

I had a history of anxiety but never had a history or signs of depression. The thing that triggered this depression was my anxiety, but this time it was more. I was coming off birth control straight after our wedding. I know what you are thinking…and no, this was not to get pregnant!

I had started my birth control Depo — Provera around a year before that. It’s an injection that is given every three months. It just so happened my three months was up at the beginning of July — straight after our wedding. Because we weren’t going back to New Zealand until October for a girlfriends wedding, I didn’t get it on time. That’s when things spiralled out of control. My hormones were going crazy and it sounds dramatic, but it almost ruined my life.

I had to break the negative self talk — it was making me physically ill, and ruining my marriage. I thought I was going to be the in Kim Kardashain ’72 day marriage’ situation — I was my own worst enemy. I had a constant fist in my tummy, brain fog, short term memory loss, hemorrhoids, fatigue, cystic acne, anger, weight loss, hair loss and confusion. I stopped exercising and started eating depressing foods — what I like to call ‘sugar foods’ — things that were feeding my brain and foods that if you knew me, I just never would have dreamed of putting in my body prior. I am a massive health freak and enjoy nutrition as I think it’s a vital part of

how we feel and there is a major connection between the gut and the brain.

I would fear any change in my life. Even when family or friends came to visit I feared I would say or do the wrong things because I was so unhappy within myself. I would fear that everyone hated me — even some of my closest friends. I made myself physically sick.

My message to anyone reading this is to be kind to yourself. Be kind to others and remember where you are now is not WHO you are. Surround yourself with people who uplift you, motivate you and cheer you on, not bring you down. Don’t be quick to judge someone — ask before you assume. I’m learning this; I’m learning who to surround myself with and I’m learning who brings good to my life and my happiness. You do not know what struggles someone else is going through behind closed doors — even your closest of friends. Ask if they are ok. Your life will change when you take responsibility of how you react to what you can’t control. I know the struggles this life has to offer and it’s not selfish to take time for yourself, its imperative. Trying to be perfect is a disease that will eat at you and make you paralysed. Put yourself on your schedule. Surround yourself with people who truly care about you. We are all human beings trying to navigate our way through life. We all make mistakes but that’s the beauty of life. We are here to learn and teach. I have so many regrets in life but I’m determined to not be a victim of them. People in life are always going to disappoint, but learn to see the best in everyone and learn to love yourself before anyone else and not expect anything from anyone in return. When you give and expect return, that’s an investment. When you give and don’t expect anything back…that’s love. 
I’ve only just learnt this very recently.

I haven’t taken medication, because movement of my body and getting back to my usual, healthy self with food from the ground and proper nutrition has reduced it by 99%, and I have learned how to balance out my hormones and breath through my feelings to control it. If you change your diet you will change your life.

Depo — Provera did not work for me, but this does not mean it will not work for somebody else in a positive way. Every single body is completely different.

Anxiety and depression is not an illness it’s a symptom, an emotion. A chemical imbalance in your brain caused by low serotonin.The instant gratification of sugar, preservatives, processed food and fast food is the cause of most of our serious health issues.

If you too had anxiety, depression or both, know that you are not alone.

We live in a world where anxiety and depression are not openly spoken about, and where you have to be perfect to be normal. Everyone is quick to judge or have opinions on this topic but I think talking about it brings us all that little bit closer — something I should have done whilst I was going through some of my darkest days.

Jeremy’s taught me so much about realizing what’s real and what’s not and who’s truly worth putting time and energy into when it comes to people in your life. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. And my life is so SO beautiful.

I don’t want pity or sadness, I love my life. But, I think this message is important and I want to tell anyone else reading this who’s going through a period of struggle, that its ok. This too shall pass. Its hard not to get annoyed at that sentence when reading it, as cliche as it is, but I’ve found it to be so true. Everything passes if you allow yourself to grow through it.

My beautiful friend who came into my life earlier this year said this quote that’s stuck with me:

“You can not give to others if your cup is empty. Make sure your cup is overflowing and then you can give to others without having your own energy depleted.”

Self love comes first, then spread the love.

My emails and DM’s are always open if you need a friend.

Sophia xx

“Find out what you love, what makes your heart happy, what makes you want to get outside, and make time for it. Put yourself on your schedule.”