L.A. Vacation Incoming - & Why It's a Big Deal | Chicago Wedding Photographer

So today I booked a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles. That may not seem like that big of a deal to you, but for me, this is kinda a huge deal! Before I tell you why, I'll tell you about my trip: There isn't a whole lot of a plan actually, the two things I do know, It's going to be a vacation (I'm going to do my best to not work while on my trip....we'll see how that goes) and I will be staying with my friend Aisha who's going to school just outside of L.A. We've brainstormed a few different ideas, but nothing's concrete. I'll go to Disneyland, go to the beach, take pictures of some cliffs, hopefully see a show or two, but who knows! I'm excited to explore a new city!

On to why this trip is such a big deal to me. The first reason being: I am a young 20-something trying to build my business. I've been focusing on investing in my company for the last couple years, meaning that the money I save goes straight back into the business. Every time I would have some cash I would spend it on some big button item. It felt pretty endless, and I know that I'm not totally out of those woods yet. But I am finally at a point where I feel confident in the tools and gear that I've invested in and as of right now (ask me again in like 5 minutes, my mind might have changed) I don't see an immediate need for a lens, camera, computer etc. There were many times over the last few years that I would see friend's on Facebook sharing photos from their trips to cool places, after all, your 20's are supposed to be your time to travel before you settle down, or at least that's what I've heard. So many of the times I would see those posts I would think about the fact that I had plenty of money in the bank, enough to take a trip to Paris, or like 7 trips around the US. But I knew I was saving that money for some piece of equipment that I really wanted/needed for my business. I am by no means complaining, this year has been overflowing with blessings that I am oh-so thankful for, but there were moments where I didn't want to be a responsible business owner, where I just wanted to pack up and travel. So in the last 3 weeks I got to a point where I felt happy with where I am, and with this came the excitement as I realized that this meant that I had the option to travel!

On to the second reason. The second reason is a lot more personal to me. Rewind to the start of the year. I was set to take a trip to New York to spend time with two of my best friends from college. I was all packed, everything was set and ready to go for me to wake up in the morning and head to the airport. My friends and I had a group text going that whole week talking about how excited we were. But as I laid down to go to sleep a single thought crossed my mind that sent me into a massive panic attack.

This isn't something that I've talked about very publicly in the past. I've shared a bit about it to my close friends and family, but it was never something that I wanted to admit. I suffered my whole life with anxiety and depression, I wasn't really aware of it until my senior year of high school. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (G.A.D.) that year. Anxiety means different things for different people, everyone experiences it differently, but for me this meant that I would feel a lot of my anxiety physically. I would have ailments and doctors couldn't find causes, they would ask me if I was stressed and I really honestly would tell them that I didn't feel stressed. When I was diagnosed I was offered anxiety medication, but as I had just been told that I had a disorder that I knew nothing about, I wasn't really sure that medication was what I wanted. After reading up on G.A.D. and learning a lot more about anxiety and depression I started to feel my anxiety mentally a lot more. I did my best to contain it, but still had a hard time coping with it. In April of 2013, after having multiple anxiety attacks in a short period of time, I finally decided that I needed to talk to someone about it. I had talked about going to see a counselor for a few years, but "never got around to it" A.K.A. I was scared. I saw a counselor for 9 months (until insurance changes made going to a counselor very expensive) I learned a ton about myself, my triggers and coping with my anxiety. I still very much felt my anxiety, triggers would come and I would have 2-4 days of no appetite and sleepless nights, leaving me utterly exhausted and defeated, but it would come in waves.

When I started planning my trip to New York in January I was feeling good, I hadn't been anxious in a month or two, I was very much riding one of my waves up. I knew that travel was one of my triggers, but I was feeling confident that I could do this, after all I would be going to see 2 of my favorite people! But that night before, as I laid down to go to bed, that single thought sent me into one of the most intense panic attacks I had ever experienced. I went from 0-100 in about 3 seconds. I spent the next hour texting, calling and facetiming my friends telling them how I was feeling, and asking for advice. I then spent the next 1-2 hours after that talking to my mom and brother, wresting so hard with my demons, trying to figure out what the best thing for me was going to be. I wanted so badly to go, to face my fears and show them who's boss. But I also knew my anxiety pretty well, I knew there was a chance that I would be anxious and spend each night full of anxiety, curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor. And if I was all the way in New York, I wouldn't be able to just drive home and get to a "safe place". Ultimately, at around 2:30am I decided that what was best for me was to stay home and focus on getting better. There were so many times that I had missed out on trips, bridal parties for family members, events, things I really wanted to do, all because of my anxiety. I was fed up, I knew I couldn't keep living the way I had. Over the next couple months I discovered that a few of my friends also suffered from anxiety, I talked to them about their experiences, what had worked for them personally, and asked for any advice I could get. It took me a couple of months to finally make an appointment to talk to my doctor about being put on anxiety medication. A week before my birthday I started medication.  I know people have lots of opinions about anxiety/depression meds (especially Tom Cruise) but I know that this was ultimately the right choice for me.

It has been about 5 months since I started taking medication and it has radically changed my life. I'm not going to go into it too much right now but the point is 5 months ago, I didn't think travel was an option, I wanted so badly to travel, but I wasn't sure I could handle it with my anxiety. Now I can't wait to travel and visit my friend, go to unknown places, do and see things that are out of my comfort zone! For me this is a huge step, and I am so excited to take it! Now it's time to buckle down and get a bunch of work done so I can really make it a vacation so I don't have to worry about doing work while I'm gone! I've already started a list of things that need to get done before I leave. Of course I can't just write down a to-do list like a normal person....:] I cannot wait to visit these two lovely human beings in a month!

Thank you so much for reading this and for walking with me on this journey! All of your love and support over the last couple years means so much to me, no matter how small a role you've played, it really does mean the world! <3