I've been participating (more inconsistently than I'd like) in "My Four Hens Project 52"- a project in which a weekly theme is given, and photographers from all corners of the map submit their own interpretations of that theme. This was a few weeks ago, but that particular week's theme was entitled, "Weakness." Initially, I had wanted to post a picture of some dark chocolate or a pair of boots. Maybe some bacon. (They're all bona fide weaknesses of mine!) But instead, I really felt like I needed to do this. It's not weakness in the sense of "temptation," but in the way I viewed myself for five years. It was the narrative I told myself every time I had to take one. The shame. The exhausting back-and-forth self talk. The two-steps-forward, one-step-back. Sometimes it was eight steps back.

Anxiety and depression are rampant, but no one likes to admit that they've struggled with it. Maybe it was because I was young and naive, or maybe it was sheer stubbornness, but it took me every day of those five years (and then a lot more after that) to finally understand that strength never shows up on your doorstep looking like strength.

Sometimes, it's an orange bottle containing powdery-white pills.

An ill-timed panic attack in the middle of the grocery store. Or gym. Or in the car.

Getting out of bed and getting dressed even if that's your only accomplishment of the day.

Awkward conversations.

But, it turns out that my breakdown was one of the greatest gifts I've been given. And I know how lucky I am to be able to say that.

*This image was submitted to My Four Hens Project-52 Challenge (M4HP52). I'm so honored to have been included with such talent!