Jessica Sidener is awesome! She is an inspiring example of a real human that was forced to handle two of the most stressful events imaginable at the same time. Jessica not only managed to get through it all intact, but she also turned her experience into something positive in the world. When you are sure that your anxiety struggles are too much, or if you’re dealing with anxiety alongside other problems, Jessica’s story will provide hope and inspiration that we all need sometimes.
- (01:25) Jessica is a perfect example of someone who was forced to navigate through tremendous medical challenges, fear, grief and real, soul-aching loss all at the same time. She’s with us today to share with us how she got through it all and how she is not just surviving now, but thriving AND helping others in the process.
- (02:55) Jessica’s husband Tyler struggled with severe depression. She never really understood how severe it was until one day, Tyler never came home. After filing a missing persons report and spending days searching, they finally came across a suicide note from Tyler. – “It was like watching a movie, everything was all in slow motion. That was the moment where my life completely changed. I became a widow to someone who had battled such internal demons.”
- (06:10) After going through all the stages of grief and feeling every emotion imaginable, Jessica’s mind still played tricks on her, causing her to be fearful that something bad would happen to her family. – “Every morning I would wake up and think, Man, that was the worst nightmare I’ve ever had. And then I would realize it wasn’t a nightmare. That was my life.”
- (08:50) Six months after the discovery of Tyler’s death, Jessica was diagnosed with breast cancer. She couldn’t believe the luck she was having. The unpredictable waves of sadness and anger were overwhelming. But the thing that got her through it was this internal grit that she discovered she had. – “People are stronger than they realize that they are. You may not think that you’re strong enough right now to deal with X, Y, Z, but you realize in those moments that you can do this. There’s an internal grit and determination that comes out. First of all it’s really about taking the baby steps and moving forward, honoring the past, honoring where you are, but taking baby steps forward.”
- (10:25) Grief takes all shapes and forms and it can last a really long time. It can be hard but it can also fuel you to do things differently. It’s important to check in with yourself daily and see how you’re feeling. – “If you’re feeling like a shit-show, adjust your calendar to reflect your mood. It’s okay.”
- (12:20) What about the micro-level, day to day lessons? How was it possible for Jessica to make it through each day? – “Achievements are a mixture of ‘I did it once, I can do it again,’ and intentions set despite your pain” Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is to pull yourself out of bed, even if it seems impossible and take care of yourself, even if that just means getting dressed and feeding yourself.
- (15:20) After Jesssica’s breast cancer diagnosis, multiple people were coming to her with questions on how she discovered the lump, what it felt like, how the mammogram went, and much more. She realized that instead of allowing the devastation of breast cancer to consume her, she needed to help other women feel more comfortable about learning and performing breast self-exams. This was the birth of her business, A Night Out With The Girls.
- (19:40) How do you not get caught up in the, “This is it, This is the end of my life.” thoughts? – “Your brain and your heart and your emotions can only handle so much. I put a pause on my grief from the Tyler Suicide thing because I had to focus now on my own life and how I was going to survive this.”
- (21:50) Staying in the TODAY and not thinking about the worst case scenario feels challenging, but when you remember that you made it through tough stuff already and that you can do this again. On the day to day, it’s important to surround yourself not just with people, but the RIGHT people. When you don’t feel like you’re able to move forward, you’ve got to give yourself grace.
- (24:20) Isn’t it amazing how the same principles apply to recovery for a person who doesn’t have diagnosed anxiety disorder as it does for people who do. The language that Jessica uses when she talks about the uncomfortable things and the tools she uses to overcome her fear, pain, grief, and shock are so similar to what I talk about in The Anxious Truth. One day at a time. Allow yourself to feel how you feel. Take care of yourself. Take baby steps.
- (25:35) The moral of the story is that you have already overcome everything you have gone through and not only can you be okay, but you can turn your pain/fear/hardships into something that can help others as well. – “If we can increase connection with each other about that stuff that is ‘icky,’ we are going to decrease those feelings of isolation and at the end of the day we increase the action we need to take, whether big or small.”
- (27:15) Night Out With The Girls is a virtual wellness company that offers a virtual wellness early breast cancer detection program called The Breast Education. It is designed for everyone. They focus on delivering the best education for how and when to detect breast cancer early through videos from a team of breast cancer providers as well as survivors. It’s very focused on connection, conversation and comfort.
- (28:45) Some of Jessica’s best tips include: taking action immediately and bringing the right people into your life.
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Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)