I remember the exact moment so clearly.

I was sitting in my car, pulled over on the side of the road, in the pouring rain. I couldn’t breathe. Panic overwhelmed all of my senses — ringing in my ears, pain in my chest, eyes glazed and unfocused.

It was 12:30 pm, June 23rd, 2015.

For over a year, the panic attacks had been getting more and more frequent, the depression had been worsening, and the anxiety had been heightening with each passing day.

I had almost grown accustomed to it — carrying Ativan in my purse, making excuses to leave social gatherings, avoiding leaving my house whenever possible to try to keep it at bay.

And in my state of denial, I had been passing it off as grief from the loss of my father the year before. I had been telling myself that everything would be okay, so long as I kept my nose to the grindstone.

Except this time, gripping my steering wheel, something was different.

It was like a tree branch inside me snapped.

And in that moment, in the middle of that thunderstorm, I cried. Tears streamed out of me from a place I didn’t even know existed.

My candle was out. My cup was empty.

Something needed to change.

I knew I couldn’t continue to live my life completely paralyzed with fear.

I needed to stop spending all my time taking care of everyone around me and ignoring the fact that I was falling apart.
I needed to stop holding myself to a completely unachievable standard — expecting myself to be everything to everyone, to be the perfect parent, daughter, wife, nurse.
I needed to stop giving and giving and giving.

So as I sat in my car on the side of the road, heart clenched in fear, I made a promise to myself. A promise that I would do better. That I would be better. Not for anyone else. Not for my job, not for my family… but for me.

I promised that I would never let myself get to that point again. I promised the little girl inside my head, desperate for self-love, that I would listen.

I knew I deserved better. I deserved a life of joy and happiness and fulfillment. I deserved to be able to walk out my front door and not be scared of having a panic attack in the middle of the grocery store and embarrassing myself. I deserved to feel at peace.

I took a deep breath.
I committed myself to taking care of me.

I started my car.
And I drove home.

Learning how to have peace in my life definitely hasn’t been easy — balancing family, two kids under 4, being a wife, searching for independence and freedom, and seeking out my purpose and my passion in this life is a lot on one plate.

And it definitely hasn’t been smooth. I had four hospitalizations in the months following, saw 7 different psychiatrists, was trialed on 12 different medications. I lived in a shelter for two months because I was too anxious to be around my own family.

But I persisted.

I reached out to my incredible support network for help when I needed it.
I came back to my breath and re-focused, re-centered, and re-energized when I was feeling off balance.
I worked relentlessly to find the place of ease — the place of joy, and happiness, and loving my life that I knew I deserved.

And I found it.

I said goodbye to the corporate world, and instead chose intentionally to create a life for myself centered around ME, not around the obligations of working a 9–5.
I committed to showing up authentically as myself, being present, and owning my value.

And I ditched the inner monologue of fear — the insecurities, the doubts, the uncertainties, the feelings of not being enough.

I let it go. I created space.

And the more I let go, the more I created space… the more I started to call in what I truly wanted and needed out of life.
The more I started to truly feel fearlessly successful — like I was truly back in control.
The more I started to feel at peace, calm, and balanced as I shifted effortlessly between my life roles.
And the more capacity I had to truly serve those around me — pouring from a full cup, lighting the candles of others with my own brightly-burning flame.

And because of that?

The joy came back to my life.

The happiness and feeling of being at peace returned, stronger than ever.

And now?

I am the CEO of my own wildly profitable business, empowering other women entrepreneurs to create their own fearlessly successful businesses (and lives).

My relationships (with my children, my partner, my family, my friends) have never been better or more fulfilling.

I have my life back… and then some.

And you can too.

Get support. Find your people, your tribe, your unwavering cheerleaders.

Show up. For yourself. Consistently, and unapologetically.

And bring those big dreams to life. Because you matter.

Originally published at medium.com