11/28/17 #SameHere Hero: Megan Alewine

Today’s #SameHereHero: Megan Alewine So interesting to read her story as she’s been lucky in that nothing you would consider an “intense traumatic experience” has happened in her life, but she still acknowledges that her “crazy” is actually what makes her “normal” & just like everyone else.)


“I moved to NYC 6 years ago from Tennessee & didn’t know what ‘struggle’ or ‘rejection’ meant until I left the comfort of the south & entered the unknown in the Big Apple.


Over my time living here, I’ve witnessed children & adults being hit by cars/buses/bikes, walked in a street that was later the scene to a man-made pressure cooker bomb, walked by the area of 9/11 which made something I had only seen on TV feel ‘real’ & suffered the loss of several friends & family members.


As an individual who has always found such joy in attending a concert or sporting event, the current events around our world unfortunately now make me always wonder – ‘does someone here have a weapon & want to cause us harm?’


Now, I realize I haven’t had a series of intense life events occur that have caused my anxiety like others recently have shared, but I also doubt I’m the only person to develop anxiety through ‘just’ daily life. One morning last year while I was walking down Park Avenue I felt something hard pelt me in the head. I looked down at the sidewalk, & I kid you not, it was someone’s dead parakeet! As a result I’ve developed this fear of things landing on me that may have fallen from a building as I walk.


I have always been a bit on the more anxious side, maybe from genetics. When on an airplane during turbulence I would just about lose it. I was diagnosed a year & a half ago when my anxiety got to the point where I was struggling daily with headaches, dizziness, & nausea.


I’m deathly afraid of getting stuck underground in subways & getting violently ill due to a panic attack. That has fortunately never happened, but in my head that’s what I fear. Around the time I was diagnosed, I started having horrible headaches, vertigo, & nausea. Who knew anxiety affected us in so many ways? They didn’t teach us this in school. From the moment I had a doctor tell me ‘you don’t have a brain tumor or migraines, you have a mild case of anxiety’ I took matters into my own hands. I started telling everyone I could about the ‘condition,’ because everyone that knows me knows that I’m an open book & sharing helps me. They also know many entertaining stories ensue.


Through outwardly sharing, I discovered that so many of my closest friends, family, & colleagues struggle as well. It isn’t just me! I’m blown away by how hard it is for some of those I love so dearly to simply leave their home in the morning.


I now no longer think ‘healthy’ means NOT sick. I pay more attention to what I put inside my body & my overall wellness. I use essential oils and have taken up yoga to naturally lower my anxiety. Working out & staying active has always been something I love, but is now something I need in order to feel more like the me I want to be. Nothing makes me happier than a good workout or buttkicking with a trainer, even if I do cuss them out the entire time (looking at you Eric Kelly from the #globalmentalhealthalliance). I also find strength staying connected & sharing my struggles w friends in my Big Orange family. Moving away from the south is a lot harder than one would think, especially since I couldn’t escape fast enough! Becoming active in my alumni association has introduced me to so many of my closest friends here in the city. Now that I am the President of our Alumni Association in NY, I want all my VOLunteers to know there are a bunch of us outsiders in this chaotic city we have all grown to love, & we ALL struggle!


Self-awareness has saved me! When I am on a crowded subway in the morning listening to my music & I feel that overwhelming sensation come over me now, I immediately tell myself ‘Ok you aren’t having a heart attack, you aren’t going to pass out & you aren’t going to projectile vomit all over these people in transit. This is your brain simply playing tricks!’ And, let me say that nothing helps to calm me down like a good ole country song! And ‘that’s why all the folks on Rocky Top get their corn from a jar…’#SameHere bc I guess crazy is in fact the new normal.”

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