Bigger Than Me

That pit in your stomach when you wake up. The way your heart feels like you just chugged a Venti Starbucks double shot on ice with an empty stomach. You’re out in public and someone just looks in your general direction and all of your self esteem vanishes. Nothing even happened, but then again, nothing needed to.

Hi, for those of you who don’t know me yet, my name is Madison. I am a co-owner (alongside my parents) and the manager of Bridals by Madison. I am 23, an Aries, not married (yet) hint hint Chris (jk), a lover of animals but not reptiles or insects (sorry not sorry), and of course a lover of all things bridal. However, something you probably don’t know about me is that I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and depression. You probably don’t know this, mainly because I don’t like to talk about it. Usually. It’s uncomfortable, I’ve worked really hard on my confident cover-up so I don’t have  to talk about it, it’s super personal, mental health is super stigmatized, and mainly no one cares (or at least that’s what depression tells me and anxiety backs it up, seriously, I’m sitting at my desk crying even typing this).

I’ll be real honest with you. I was never popular. I’ve never had a lot of friends. I was bullied my entire k-12 life. I was “the fat kid” in elementary school, in middle school they found something new to pick on me for when I lost my childhood fluff, then in high school I was labeled a bitch because I didn’t talk to anyone. But, the truth was I didn’t talk to anyone because the cruelty of my peers left me afraid of my own shadow. I think the turning point, when I decided I didn’t need anyonewas when I walked over to my childhood best friends house to hangout after school and even she turned me away. She had just reached the inner circle of the cool girls in her grade, and I simply did not make the cut.

While I’m super proud of how far I have come, it would be a lie to tell you I don’t think about these things on a regular basis and they have no lasting effect on me. I was in shambles for weeks before Bridals by Madison’s anniversary party. I could already see it, it was a childhood birthday party all over again. I’d be there with my cake and balloons ready to pop the champagne alone. The vendors who came to set up at the event would be angry because they wasted their time setting up for such a flop. But that didn’t happen, people came, the vendors I work with are so kind and supportive, and I am so grateful for them.

Owning a business (or at least being the one making a lot of the big decisions) is really hard for me because it wholly opens me up for scrutiny. From my business partners, from vendors, from other bridal boutiques, from the lines that I carry, from brides, from everyone. It’s especially hard with anxiety and depression because anxiety tells me “All eyes are on me, make the right move” while depression whispers in my other ear, “No one cares, remember? You are alone”.  When I go days, sometimes weeks, without a yes to the dress, it reaffirms my fears and takes me away from my store because of that “whats the point” feeling. I am a failure. This is why no one liked me growing up. I really am bad at everything. But that’s untrue, and the same goes for you.

I work really really hard. I haven’t worked less than two jobs at a time since I was 19. I hustle. I give more than I take. I care. My gowns are beautiful and special. Just like each of us. I strive for better. I’ve hustled my butt off, and continue to do so, to provide this safe space for anyone who needs it. If there is one thing I’ve learned this past year; Alone is no way to live.

Recently my mantra is “It’s bigger than me”. This whole job is. This career. This industry. This LIFE. It’s all so much bigger than me. It’s about giving others, just one second, one place, where they can feel the absolute best version of themselves. When you walk in our doors, I want you to feel welcome. At ease. At home. Please, if you need anything, reach out. If this process scares you, if you are anxious, if you are down on yourself. I am here to help. I’ve been through a lot, we all have, but that doesn’t make your insecurities, your demons any smaller than anyone else’s.

From this day on, anxiety and depression do not control me. I will not let them keep me away from my dreams. Away from you guys. Because It’s bigger than me. I am here for you. To make your bridal dreams come true. I can’t take away your anxieties and insecurities, but I can assure you that you are loved and cared for. You are somebody’s everything.

So, for those of you who didn’t know me, now you do. And for those of you who did, now you know me better. My name is Madison, I’m 23 and my mental health will not define me. I am a lover of love, animals, all things bridal, empowering women, and an advocate to erase the stigmas that do come with mental health. And, I am here to help you find the gown of your dreams whatever that may take.

If your anxiety is giving you anxiety, it’s okay. I’m a master at playing distraction, I give good hugs (while I do tend to be stingy with them), and understand random crying. If you’d like to shop with us, we’d love to have you. If you need someone to talk to, you can always come to me. When you say Yes to the Dress at Bridals by Madison, you get a very special hand picked gown and a friend for life. Please come in. Come as you are. If you wanna be a Bridals by Madison, we want that too.