Leaving Home Behind: My Journey With Overcoming Anxiety

I first met my husband, Kyle, when I was 17 years old. Back then, we were just two kids trying to figure out what and who we were going to be in life. A few months after we started dating, he moved away to play football at Oregon State. He was always great at what he did, and always had a dream of playing in the NFL. He had been my boyfriend for about a year and half when we found out we were pregnant with our baby boy. Life has gone by so fast after that moment.

Fast forward to present day, we’re living in Lone Tree, Colorado, my son will be 3 in about five months, and (by the grace of God) it’ll be Kyle’s third upcoming season with the Denver Broncos.

I know what most of you are thinking, “NFL life! Wow! That’s probably amazing.” And it is… to a certain extent. Before Kyle joined the NFL, I was so naive about the ins and outs of what actually happens when you join this industry. I always thought, “well you get drafted… and you’re on the team and that’s that.” Well let me tell you, there is a lot (and when I say a lot… I mean A LOT) more to it than simply joining a team. It hasn’t always been easy being a part of this new life. I’m now always wondering about people’s motives are when they talk to us. It can be exhausting having my guard up now that Kyle is in the spotlight as a “famous person” or “professional athlete.” Along with having to adapt to this new lifestyle, I’ll be honest with you, I am constantly missing my family and friends which eventually caused me to develop anxiety.

The type of anxiety I have makes me extremely lightheaded and causes my knees to go weak. It makes me think I’m going to pass out at any moment. It got to the point where I couldn’t take my son out for a walk, go to the grocery store, or even cook for my family without thinking about it. Simple things you do in your everyday life became difficult challenges for me. Until one day I decided I was going to change my habits, and as hard as it was going to be, I was going to challenge myself to start experiencing life again. I wanted to do this for myself, but more so for my family’s sake.

They needed me to be strong, and I needed to show my son what perseverance looked like.

Kyle has really helped me with my anxiety. He pushes me every day to go do things that I am uncomfortable with. Even if it is something simple like taking my son to his gymnastics class. I’m the type of person that needs that kind of support system. I get it from my husband but I also get it from friends and family back home. They are constantly asking me if I’ve done my yoga for the day, or pursued anything to keep my mind at ease; they hold me accountable. Yoga has been one of the main reasons I’ve gotten a hold on my anxiety. I’ve learned how to love myself for who I am and I try to hold on to that feeling as much as I can during the day. 

Even though Colorado is our home now, being away from my family and friends doesn’t get any easier. Though I know the reason we’re living in a different state is because we’ve been provided a wonderful opportunity. Over these past two years I’ve experienced what it’s like to be at your all time low. It’s hard to do things when you can’t find the energy for them. Being a mom is hard in general, but it gets even harder when you’re experiencing conflict internally. Though I’ve also experienced what it’s like to be at your highest. I pride myself on being a good mom and always putting my son first in every situation.

I’ve had to grow up fast over the last four years of my life, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Although I’ve had a roller coaster ride while living in Colorado, I know I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I know that I can overcome anything.

For those who are reading this and know what it’s like to have anxiety, I want you to know that it gets better. Do not let the off days discourage you.

I tell my friends and family who are battling anxiety to keep an open heart, allow yourself room for grace apart from self criticism. Truthfully, a lot of my anxiety comes from not completing loving myself. Becoming too hard on ourselves, in my opinion, has become the normality. We have the tendency to compare ourselves to others: whether it be our bodies, clothes, careers, etc.. I think now is as good as ever to wake up and truly manifest our worth and value. If you learn to love yourself unconditionally, soon you will start to see everything else within a loving frame of mind.

Author: Giuliana Peko | @giulianaaaa