Real Chat with Emily Thieme

Real Chat with Emily Thieme

Emily Thieme is a compassionate supporter of many charitable causes, namely mental health awareness. Things she loves most in life are her family, friends and traveling. She also has a love for the arts, especially modern art.  

Diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a Panic Disorder.

PROJECT 375: What are you most passionate about?

Emily: Traveling! My Aunt from Nairobi, my Aunt from Virginia and myself have a pact to meet in a new country at least once a year. Last year was Paris and this year I went to Jamaica and next week I am heading to Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. I find traveling to new places expands my appreciation for other people and cultures. I have a constant desire to see new locations, learn about other customs and other’s perspectives on life. Every place I’ve travelled has taught me something new. I visited my family in Kenya for a month and I was able to see my own personal concerns and troubles in a different light. At home I could spend an hour just trying to find the perfect outfit and shoes before heading to a nice dinner yet in the Maasai Villages there are children walking around without shoes, no access to clean water, no doctors, little food and nothing but a ring of thorn bushes to protect them from predators – certainly gave me new perspective! Traveling makes me a more compassionate person and I am lucky enough to have been able to see some of the most beautiful places on earth.            

PROJECT 375: Do you have a daily ritual you cannot live without?

 Emily: Exercise, I’m obsessed with exercising. I love running and lifting weights. Being strong makes me feel beautiful. I also love reading. Non-fiction books are my favorite, I’m currently reading What is the What by Dave Eggers. It is based on the real-life story of Valentino Achak Deng, Sudanese refugee and member of the Lost Boys of Sudan program.

PROJECT 375: What is the one most defining moment in your life thus far?

Emily: The loss of my mother is the most defining moment in my life thus far. She was barely 50 years old, she was my best friend, she was healthy and happy. The shock of losing her so suddenly changed me as a person. It was after her passing that my anxiety and panic attacks started. You never get over a loss like that, but in her death I found the strength I needed to live my life in a way that if I died tomorrow I would leave a positive impact on at least one person. I found the strength to become an individual who would not settle for anything less than an amazing life – one without regrets.

PROJECT 375: What food can you not live without?

Emily: Pasta! I could eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never get tired of it. I think my soulmate might be carbs.

PROJECT 375: How has your diagnosis affected daily life?

Emily: After I was first diagnosed I didn’t really tell anyone except my now ex-husband. I don’t remember being ashamed I just remember not realizing the severity of it. The anxiety and attacks started increasing very quickly, though. I started purposely not going out with my friends because my panic attacks were so bad I was afraid of embarrassing myself while out in public. It started affecting my work life, too. I would have panic attacks in the middle of meetings and have to walk out while working on multi-million dollar deals. I was going to the emergency room at least once a month thinking I was having a heart attack. At that point there was no hiding the issues I was living with so I told all my friends and co-workers. After speaking with my therapist and working on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I realized my triggers and learned different ways to deal with my anxiety and attacks. My husband had moved out by this time, he didn’t understand and couldn’t deal with the “drama”, the doctors visits, the fact that I was isolating myself. I wasn’t a good wife during that time and I know that. We divorced shortly thereafter. Also, I knew that the stress of my job at the time combined with the 12 hour work days was really taking a toll on not only my mental health but my physical health. So I realized in order to be happy again I needed to find the courage to let go of what I couldn’t change and make the changes I could. I quit my job, moved into my very first condo that was all my own, started running and working out. I am in such a happy place right now. I love my job, my friends, my family, I just ran my first 1/2 marathon. My anxiety still creeps in from time to time and I’ll have a panic attack every once in a while but I accept that and realize that being strong is the best choice I can make for myself. I have so much to be thankful for.  

My life is pretty amazing.   

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