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My aunt and I had the longest conversation about this word. She lives across the country and pronounces the word differently than I do here in Las Vegas. As we carried on our conversation, we kept stopping mid-sentence, as we pronounced “empath“, because we weren’t sure how it was actually pronounced. Now I pay closer attention when I hear people use that to describe either themselves or someone else. I wondered how this cool hipster term for “Empathy” was suddenly a word of it’s own and used with a separate definition?
It makes total sense though. Empath’s give their emotions to others. You can see another persons perspective, naturally. Empathy is so deeply rooted in who a person is. It has both positive and negative aspects to it. It’s a variety of characteristics that happen to make someone feel so deeply to another person that they can match their emotional state simply by that connection. It all sounds like feelings we should want to have, right? Well that’s what I thought.
Someone who has empathy understands it’s good sides, but they also are no stranger to it’s list of negative attributes too.
Once you know me, I hear I’m a deeply emotional person. Perhaps, like a lot of you! I know I am also very complicated, complex and unpredictable. I’ve been extremely sensitive since childhood. Large crowds, even places like Target or Costco on a hard day can be enough to shut me down emotionally. Especially if I’m not mindful about my emotions. It’s so easy to feel overloaded because emotional energy can only run around on ‘empty‘ for so long. Empathetic individuals can struggle to find the balance, than absorb the impact of stressful emotions & trigger a plethora of bad habits, panic attacks or health issues. This pattern can be incredibly hard to identify and fix so the cycle repeats itself again and again.
a few tough mental breakdowns was enough for me to realize my bad habit of building up emotional needs that are way beyond my capacity. So I started reaching for resources to broaden and strengthen my balancing skills when it came to emotions.
Through practice, and patience, guidance and some bumps in the road; I have finally found some seriously helpful ways to keep me from tipping too far to one side. It’s a constant adventure where there is always a lot to be learned. As I keep experiencing life lessons and just the natural course of growing up; I remain open to the lessons I have yet to learn and so grateful for the ones I’ve already been using.
From experience, I learned that balancing your emotions is possible & such a better way to live. For me, I can handle being an Empath only by setting some boundaries, staying focused on things that motivate me, learning how to communicate & from tuning into when I can and should release emotions.
Motivation: Parenting is one way I keep myself accountable for trying my hardest to become a woman with healthy emotions. A child needs that stable and healthy adult figure to model and teach them the ways of life. Every moment around my little child I know I’m being watched as if I’m under a microscope. So because I need the energy to do what I have to do, I stay motivated to be emotionally healthy. Though I’ve wrestled with feeling the shame from not doing enough by the time I get home. I try to do whatever I got to do to keep that little bit of fire going all the way until I’ve gave it to him, and my husband and still have some for myself. It’s possible. It’s hard, but it’s possible to stay incredibly focused on the motivation that will get you across the finish line, mentally.
Boundaries: For me, Grandma taught me what it even means to have boundaries; and she helped me see how they actually play a much bigger role in life than I think most realize. But that’s a whole new topic for another day. Lesson learned: I need to have boundaries that help me stay fulfilled emotionally, and I don’t feel selfish about it either. One of my favorite ladies ever once told it to me this way; “If you were on a plane, they’d tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first & that way you can help others. In life, it should be the same.”
It’s brilliant. It’s the easiest way to visualize that your own emotional needs are important and need to be considered.
Talking, Talking and Talking. I’ve realized that men actually aren’t mind readers. People don’t really know what you’re thinking. I have to know when to communicate and how to communicate so that I can prevent a build-up or break down. Communication is part of a prevention plan and can protect you from feeling anxiety, unwanted, used and all the other negative self talk that comes naturally when we’re sad or mad. Even if I sound crazy, I’ll meditate with myself in order to be mindful of how my own self dialogue is. I hold a true value that honest and open communication is a must-have in relationships with friends, family, co-workers and yourself.
Release and Resilience. I need to keep practicing this, but from dozens of podcasts, websites and from my own personal experience; Releasing negative energy that I’ve absorbed is possible and easy to do. I just have a hard time discovering when too much becomes too much. But because of my own habit of absorbing too much, I’ve built a resilience against so many things that could’ve troubled me, but I let it fall behind. I reflect often how many times I haven’t felt resilient, but than I can just as easily reflect on the insane adventures through trials and troubles that left me with this resilient willpower to always find a way.
I’m fascinated by humans and all their quirky, unique differences. I could people watch all day because of this, but ask me to interact with them all day and I’ll have to mentally prepare myself. Empathy is one of those topics I could talk with you about all day, but I’ll remember forever the times I’ve pushed it too far before and felt the heavy consequences.
So cheers to the Empaths out there! Cheers for another beautiful day. Surprisingly, after a rough week, little things like this thunderstorm in Vegas right now make me feel great!
When life becomes too much, it’s so easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of anxiety, depression and hopelessness. If things are combined, constant and chaotic enough; it can leave you feeling like you’re in a paralysis; unable to move, make decisions and stuck in that ‘new life’ forever, ever and ever.
Good news is that I learned uncertainty and chaos eventually pass and new normal’s are worth embracing. I feel strongly about this from my own experiences and real life examples where I had to make a choice of pulling myself out of the darkest, worst of times. I learned that out of hundreds of methods out there., it is for certain that a few simple practices will help you really prepare for the “when it rains, it pours” periods in life. You don’t have to keep feeling the surprise aftermath of being knocked down underneath your feet. Life can be hard and still feel worth it at the same time.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve felt comfortable in chaos. Growing up in a divorced family that had two completely opposite sets of rules, to being the older sibling with a different set of expectations; I always felt like life was anything, but steady and calm. That was OK, life was a circus and I survived it just fine. I felt that I was created to handle the storms in life; not only for myself, but for those around me. I use to I thrived in chaos until the chaos I was dealing with became my own brain and it’s chemical imbalances.
As life carried on, the realization came with it that challenges we face as an adult become so much harder. I’ve realized some people have it easier in life, some have it harder; but we all experience the eye opening, potential learning circumstances that come our way from life’s uncertainty and chaos. Examples so commonly will include our own shame, decisions, our past or perhaps the future and mix that with just the unfair, random crap parts of life. I’d include my own examples, like when situations are minor, but annoying enough to make it a bad day like when I get a flat tire while becoming sick and nothing going as planned. Than we run into the more serious situations that happen to all of us; like making a bad decision,knowing it sucks, feels so unfulfilling, and having to pay consequences. Or being told to do something from an older and wiser adult, choosing to do it your way anyway and suffering consequences. I know only one thing from experiencing so much ongoing, unstoppable, uncontrollable and uncertain chaos which is that you have a opportunity to come out with a new perspective on some topic in life, but it is your choice. Just pure Life experience can be a free education topic & one that you can’t pay for…
Skip forward to being in your mid-twenties and life seems to get harder, challenges seem more complex and worst of all; they happen all at once. I call these periods of life: transitions. They’re uncomfortable. They’re isn’t always a bright side. But maybe we can make it our goal to make sure we have some lesson to be learned or use it for a part of your story to make you who you are . I can handle these hard times, not with grace and not with perfection, but I know I’ll make it through. Even when my depressive episodes enter and the feeling of worthiness goes away, I know I’ll have good days again and I’m sure you can relate too as we all have had our unique times where we’re forced to navigate difficulties.
What I have the hardest time grasping my head around is the unofficial, but totally true… the basic rule in life that seems we all experience which is having to go through so many transitions at one time. How can one person possibly do that and thrive? Maybe they handle the issue well, but is it possible to handle several life changing circumstances while keeping in the right mindset easy? Maybe. But definitely not without purpose and practice.
At 27 and someone who is comfortable in chaos; I still get knocked on my feet and struggle to cope with the magnitude of the uncertainty in life and the chaos it brings when situations begin to stack on top of each other, day after day and one by one. I’ve failed miserably at keeping a open mind in the midst of a hardship. After a few other things like loved ones being diagnosed with deadly diseases, betrayal and being diagnosed with my anxiety disorder… I realized I couldn’t live any longer in this constant trap of chaos. I started to become more mindful and open to listen for ways I can deal with these circumstances as they come. I can’t control a lot of things in life so instead I’ll focus finding what I can. I know that reading simple positive mantras while contemplating my life isn’t very motivating. I know to count to three during an anxiety attack, but does it always help? Definitely not. With purpose and setting out to make a plan, I now have a few concrete steps that ground me no matter what situations life throws at me.
It’s always a work in progress, it doesn’t work for everyone; but through trial & error, I found what works for me. I can now follow at least 3 simple steps when I begin spinning into the whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty. Even this last month, I was diagnosed with a life changing disorder, while just adjusting to the new invitation I extended to a family member (living with mental illness) to move in to avoid further hardships for them and than I’m in my first scary car crash which totaled my car and now leaves us paying for expensive fees and rental cars as my husband’s car is out of control too. It’s raining and pouring in my life, from one transition to another, one change than the next; but I’ll be the first to say people have it worse out there though and I’m not going to lose hope. If they can do it, I at least owe it my best shot. I know I made it out of harder times before.
So because I know that talking about realities that can feel so isolating, but actually happen to all of us and can help people deal with the pure hard times in life; maybe we can use that as motivation to find helpful steps that work for you. Until than, here are steps that I know to rely on time and time again.
Constructing the Right Frame of Mind:
Understanding hardships are a part of life. I’m not meant to feel happy and content all the time. Even the great accomplishment that I might have just achieved yesterday, is yesterdays celebration and this new hell-ish circumstance I may be going through today doesn’t take from the celebration yesterday. I know that actions come from thoughts so to avoid making radical decisions that I don’t want to regret later; I try harder to take control of my mind and my thoughts. I push the negative thoughts out or at least die trying, and rephrase the questions that naturally enter. For example: “Why does this have to happen to me, again?” will not help me see anything in a new light and yet it’s always the first question that pops up in my head. It wasn’t till I learned how powerful our minds are and that it’s possible to re-train them that I began shaping the question into “I’ve done this before, I can do it again”, which now gives me the opportunity to change or grow, through uncertainty. Feeling in control of my mindset is not only something I CAN do and CAN control (unlike many things); but it’s so important to making it through the circumstances. Speaking from just real life experiences and periods in the journey, being positive and optimistic has no negative side effects. Being pessimistic can ruin almost anything.
Prioritizing my Self-Care and Self-Love… above all.
Setting up routines and sticking to them, for myself, is the best way I learned keep a sense of normality and calm in the midst of these circumstances. If I take on too much and commit to too many plans and people and obligations; I’ll feel so overwhelmed that it’s inevitable before I’m emotionally drained. Instead, I’m learning to pace myself and choose my time and energy wisely which is my form of self-care. I have to align my actions with my values during these periods which isn’t always easy. I’ve had to give up serving and volunteering which I loved. I’ve missed out on hanging out with my best friends. I wanted to do all those things and more, but I’m contingent because I must use the right mind. Even choosing to say “no” and spend time with my son, my family or myself is one of my most important values and since it’s what I learned that I needed most during life storms; I take care of that need to keep on keep-in’ on. I have only learned this by watching people do it around me. They break down barriers and stand strong in the worst times of their life because they built up the courage to love them self like they deserve.
Not Isolating, but Socializing with the Right People.
A concept borrowed from Stephen Covey’s, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, teaches a general concept that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. After understanding how much truth that holds, I realized I needed to evaluate a circle of friends who influence me and have values, dreams and ambitions that align with mine. Surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and inspire you is not only a healthy way to live life, but for me it helps me use these back-to-back hard times to grow into a healthier version of myself because I’m surrounded by people who can tell me a different perspective when it seems so cloudy to see myself. To prove that it’s healthy to socialize, and with the right people, research shows that connection helps reduce stress. So while I’m typically one that can easily isolate myself—I’ll push myself to talk to my favorite humans during the ‘rainy days’ in life because I know it’s exactly what I need.
There is a super cheesy quote that goes, “You can’t control the waves; but you can learn to surf”. And boy, how true is that.
While I don’t believe a lot of our hardships are designed with intention, made for us only to thrive and become our best self in; I do believe they happen, inevitably and you have the option to give up or keep going forward. As you move through it, In time you may understand that you are so much stronger than you think. Life experience is our best teacher. I also pay such close attention to how others handle the storms in life and I’ve watched time and time again the most courageous people fight in the midst of chaos or remain calm when they’re dealing with abrupt life changes that I have yet to deal with myself. This is where I’m introduced to these steps that I can rely on. The real life experience and people that motivate me help me get to the next stage in my life. Just like surfing is learned by practice, not through a how-to book; I don’t think these situations are something you learn in a book. I learned the hard way how to find tips for me that will make certain I walk with a sense of peace or resist the urge to feel defeated during the chaos. I know if I can do it, anyone can.
I believe that Relationships and connection is what our purpose in life is. We were placed here and designed to perfectly and beautifully establish connections. I realized we have the privilege to receive and give love and to care for and be cared for. There is no stronger or more beautiful connection to me than, LOVE. It’s listed right there in the vows of traditional weddings, “Love you till death do us part, through sickness and in health“. However, things aren’t always as easy as they seem. I can maintain a healthy relationship, while I battle multiple mental health issues, but it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest roads I navigate in life because it’s a constant world of unknown struggles. What eventually made me embrace the challenge was understanding the small tips that helped us grow stronger and overcome the mental illness obstacle course.
From personal experiences to material learned in my degree program; These tips have helped my husband and I move from surviving to successfully thriving in our marriage while even though I continue to struggle with mental illnesses.
First tip , Let go of your timetable. There is no magic time frame for wholeness, and certain mental illnesses ebb and flow for many years. Believing that your loved one should be better in a few weeks or months can set everyone up for hardship; “should’s” are a trap, and everyone’s journey is their own. Resolve to love and respect the person in your life through each part of the process—when they move forward and when they regress, when they have victories and when they stumble back into old coping mechanisms. Let go of idealized timetables and make a one-time decision that just as you would tell someone with cancer that you will remain by their side until they beat it, you are going to be there (even if it’s hard, even when it’s ugly, even if it takes a long time). And then stay, even when you’re pushed away. Isolation can feel comfortable for someone suffering with certain mental illnesses, and sometimes not talking is easier than trying to express thoughts and feelings that they themselves can’t piece together and understand. Sometimes a person feels toxic to their environment, and they pull away to protect people that they are hurting because the symptoms of their illness are out of their control. This is when love becomes a choice, because it can be a confusing and angering time for everyone involved. Choosing to love someone who acts or feels unlovable can be part of what helps them see that are valued as a whole person, that they are not the sum total of their pain. (some information from nami.org)
Second: Self-Love: Trying to be there for everyone else before you make sure that you’re okay is like pouring from an empty cup. You can love others, but it’s not coming from a stable and healthy foundation. I learned that in a course in college where it was explained that the relationships I hold today are built off the structures that were modeled to me in childhood. Shouting, avoiding conversation and co-dependency from addictions that were present are some of the examples that molded you to form a similar pattern of communicating that you were raised in. Taking care of yourself might mean going to counseling together with your spouse, or taking a designated “me” time to reflect and write in a journal. It could include ways you work through processing your past so that you can find a healthy way to love yourself the way you deserve to be loved. Therapy, where both my husband and I went, was the most amazing and beneficial thing we ever did for each other because instead of just one person working on themselves; we were working as a team to understand each other and shed light on the importance of self-love as a #1 priority in life.
Even when you don’t feel like it, we have to try and communicate because your significant other cannot read your mind. They need us to communicate to them in order for them to understand what is going on and where your head space is at. In fact, Strong and consistent communication is important in every marriage and/or relationship, even without the aspect of a mental illness. Trust me, sometimes I don’t feel like talking to my husband. Not that I don’t love him, but I know it’s not comfortable or easy for me to talk about my feelings. Sometimes I can’t say aloud that I’m replaying thoughts about death in my head because although that’s normal for me, I feel in that moment, very vulnerable and afraid of being judged. When we feel so unloved, lonely and unworthy, it can be scary, totally out of our comfort zone to share with anyone. So, even if you don’t feel like it, and I know how hard it will be for you to talk about feelings when you’re feeling alone;, I’m understanding that it’s hard for them too. An example that we’ve probably all had one day or another is when we go to that dark place in our mind that can last days, weeks or months. It’s easier to say, “I’m fine”, “I’m tired”, “Can we talk later? However, if we don’t communicate what’s going on, they’re going to think your bad mood that’s lasted days or weeks or months is because you’re not happy with them. We know that the truth is far from that; it’s because we have a mental illness which overrides our ability to control our emotions so strongly. The benefits of communicating these emotions could provide your lover to be there to provide guidance when you need it, To recognize the symptoms of a on-set of anxiety, depression, bipolar, etc… and try to off-set it before it begins. Communication helps so much because it keeps them from feeling left out and in the dark. So even when it’s hard and you don’t want to, communicating with our lovers will make them feel better because you are enlightening them to what’s going on instead of keeping them in the dark. You are also learning to express your feelings in a healthy way so it’s a win-win.
Fourth, Help them to understand:
Mental Illness, in terms of relationships, means that your partner has to understand there is nothing to be fixed, but what they can do instead is they can learn and put in effort to understand what you are going through. Becoming educated is one of the key factors that will teach our loved ones to help us, and as they learn more about our mental illnesses; than we’ll feel better when communicating our thoughts to them. At least, that’s what happen in my marriage. I encourage him to watch documentaries, listen to podcasts, or even read about it from the never ending resources on the internet. With so many options to learn about what we are dealing with, we can feel so much more loved and supported; especially when they begin to understand why you need space or why we ask them to skip a movie date and just lay down and enjoy their presence on a Friday night. Knowledge is power!
Fifth & Finally: Remember, you have a mental illness; you are not your mental illness.
Marriage and dating come with their built in basket of common issues that arise in every marriage. Separating yourself from your illness is hard, but once you see things for what they are, you can be free to be yourself without the cloud of paranoia and delusion hanging over your head. It’s something you take care of, it’s not you. Also, when couple relationships are under stress, partners begin to physically and emotionally distance themselves from each other. They tend to avoid each other, and when they do come together, it’s often strained, resulting in restrained or surface-level conversations. A healthy way that my husband and I got back on track is by having reasonable expectations of the rewards that marriage brings, and recognizing that it still requires personal effort by both parties to make it work.
Navigating the road of compromise in a marriage is a tough one though, when am I being selfish and when is he just not being sympathetic or helpful? While I still am a work in progress, I learned a important lesson which is… we don’t have to do life alone!
“You can’t compare your insides with everyone else’s outsides.” You aren’t perfect, your partner isn’t perfect and your marriage will never be perfect. It’s the wonderful, spontaneous journey that you’re both on together which makes it worth it.
It’s always easier to talk about the coping skills that help with depression and then those days come into your life and suddenly nothing works.
For example: I can read 1,000 things to do when you’re depressed or how to avoid depressive days, but I’ve realized that’s not possible (or at least they don’t work for me usually). It’s especially hard to find your own way of surviving depressive episodes given the different mental illnesses that exist. You have to decide what works and decide for you what works because it’ll be different for everyone.
These tips won’t work for everyone, but after 4 years of extensive research and trial and error; I finally have a list of ways I survive my depressive episodes.
Today, these are the few tips that I always find successful and I use on a day that feels hopeless, where my mind spins like a radio station; only full of negative thoughts on a repeat track. The days where the color and dreams leave our body, and a dark cloud enters the mind. It’s those days that I’m mindful to use these tips to survive the hours that feel like days; during episodes of depression.
I lay down before I start my day, awake. I lay down to try to meditate. Sometimes that fails from fighting all the demons and thoughts in my head, but laying down to collect my thoughts gives me a feeling of power over my mind; I’ll practice this mindfulness practice regardless of how down or defeated I’m feeling. I can’t login my phone, I don’t go to work, I don’t talk to people in the house until I’ve had time to anchor my mind (as much as possible) before I present myself to the world. If I don’t anchor my mind, I’ll spiral down and down for the rest of the day because I’ve lost complete control of my emotions.
I stay away from social media, sometimes I stay away from my phone altogether. If I feel like blogging, I’ll log straight into a word pad and begin to write a draft; but I stay off the “Stats” and “notifications” page. I don’t find it fun to scroll through Facebook or Instagram when I’m depressed. For me, I’m working hard during a depressive episode to stay mentally stable and in a content place; the presence on social media paints this perfect world that we all should strive to have or we end up in the game of comparison with others lives versus ours. That’s no help. And on most days, I like social media and usually, I never compare myself to others; but everything changes during an episode of depression. So for me, no social media on these days.
I change the music I listen too. I stay away from all emotional songs because they’ll jog my memory to past trauma or future worries. I’ll listen to podcasts, talk radio or extremely happy songs that I’d normally skip on my playlist during a down day. It keeps me from going to deep into my emotions.
4. I stay away from things/places where my brain can go dark and depressive. For example: I love bubble baths and candles with some music on. During a depressive episode though, that can create a perfect storm for an emotional breakdown. The dark, the emptiness, the silence… combined it creates this perfect scenario for an awful experience of dreadful thoughts and feelings. I don’t necessarily socialize, I just stay away from secluding myself entirely and I remember that taking that “me time” that I so dearly love on normal days will have to wait until tomorrow.
5. Reminiscing through old memories, stories & pictures can bring you back to reality when you’re caught up in your thoughts. It can show you that today is a bad day, not a bad life. It’ll prove that you are loved, no matter how much your mind tells you different.
6. Resist the urge to live in the past, or the future. Resist the urge to cycle through the “what-if” questions. It is hard, and requires mindfulness; but commit to a new way of thinking when you see yourself thinking about one of the above. Staying in the present moment is always a great thing to do, but especially helpful during hard days.
7. Lastly, connection. No matter how much you hate the idea of connecting with people when you’re feeling lonely or feeling depressed; make something small work for you. Don’t stay alone & secluded for long periods of time. For example: Stop at grandmas house just to lay on the couch while she goes about her day. Ask a friend for a coffee date. Ask the husband/wife to see a movie. Join the family in the living room and just journal, you don’t even have to participate in conversation. For me, staying around others reminds me that “it’s all in my head”. It keeps my mind occupied on small, insignificant things which are so much better than thinking of the doom and gloom our minds create.
Depression comes in all shapes and sizes. It shows no favoritism, and everyone/anyone can suffer from it. It’s a day that feels like your living your last or a period of days you swear you can’t take it for one more second. Our mind has a mind of its own during depressive episodes. However, we’re lucky to live in a time where they have medication to help. They have researched techniques that help. These help me, they may not all be the best way for you to live your depressive days; but I want to encourage you to remember you aren’t alone. We all have bad days, sad days and worst of all: depressed days.
You’ve made it to today when you probably felt like giving up many times before. Just remember,
Strength comes from the times that we felt like giving up; but kept going anyway.
Especially when Bone Thugs’ Harmony goes outs, makes one of the best songs with the catchy beat calling it “Crossroads” which gives you all the extra feels.
I think of crossroads as a time in life where you have two decisions; both very important, but polar opposite outcomes. We all probably experience them in different ways & at different times. Some consider it a time of crossroads when you’re at the boiling point, Boiling down to a negative outcome in so many things. A way that I think of it is when a critical decision can be made that changes drastic aspects in your life. A crossroad can always be a good thing too as if two problems finally crossed roads.
Life’s hard. I know in my life, I started having some serious life changing aspects from a crossroads starting at like 5 years old. But life without crossroads would be a life without measure. There would be no room for new possibilities. Crossroads come down to must or should.
When we must do something, it’s that calling that starts coming from within. That thought that never leaves the mind. Must is that amazing feeling that we feel when we first hold our child and know we must take care of its needs for life. A crossroads when you stop looking for the answers out there and must do something because there isn’t really any options or second thoughts .
When I should do something, I realize it’s coming from a place just as important. It’s based off the people I love, the things that I value, the world I created.
A crossroads when you should do something is prioritizing connection, love and personal reflection first. Reflecting on what can go wrong, who will it hurt, what can I gain and how will it help me.
I’m at a crossroads, in different areas of life. Chances are, you probably are too. How do I figure out when I should do something or when I must? a nearby psychic. Perhaps Craigslist if that isn’t working.
We will go the wrong way at least once. We will wish we’d went the other way, had a better outcome and feel that regret heavily. We will go around and around in our head what we should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.
It’s also a part of life that you’ll have to be honest with yourself in a crossroads. You’ll have to be vulnerable… a bold, but beautiful place to be in life.
Remembering that at the end of the day, I’m not expected to be perfect. I don’t know any actual judges so my money, my time, my calling are all parts of life that I can try & try again. That is, as long as I don’t give up.
This has been on my mind a lot and I realized from friends of mine that we all are going from one crossroads to another. The coolest part about us is that when we are vulnerable and make those bold decisions at crossroads; even when we’re wrong.. we will get there. We will do better next time.
I want to start tightening my grip on the things I want. I want to close that gap on my reality and my dreams. I don’t want to wait till tomorrow, I must choose today, grow more vulnerable and when I fall, just get up and do better next time.
I hope you remember that you have that something super special inside of you. Embrace the crossroads, choose the hard, but totally worth it decisions.
I’m giving all the credit to this new and inspiring epiphany that I had while reading< “The Crossroads of Should and Must”. It’s such a good read!
Happy Sunday friends. Wishing you the best, always.
The lovely, so inaccurate, stigmatized perception of depression. Or any mental health issue for that matter.
I hate overhearing someone describe the nastiness, bitterness, awkwardness of someone else and than end in with… “she must have mental health problems” like that describes her bad qualities perfectly!? I remember the day I was diagnosed mentally ill and fought it off like a death sentence for years. I refused to be one of “them”. But I was so wrong. Embracing the fact I was depressed, and mentally ill like them earlier would have made life easier.
To my surprise, now I’ve continued to be diagnosed with an additional life changing mental illness that I’m not ready to talk about, but I bring it up because all I can think about is people who’ve lived with this for so much longer than me. I think about how strong they are and how much they go through. The perspective of mental illness has to change, and I don’t know how it will unless we share more openly our experiences.
I couldn’t imagine giving myself that credit today… because I’m still grieving the old life and old me some days. I have only bits and parts of the old carefree life that made it to today’s version of me. I hang on to those pictures and memories of the old me, “normal Carrie”, to get me through those days; you know, the don’t get out of bed and ignore the fact life exists kind of days.
If you know anyone who doesn’t truly understand mental health, never be afraid to inform them. They’re ill informed and perhaps they can learn something from you. The weeks that make up the up and down days existing in the life of a mentally ill person could be (slightly) similar to the lives when they shown mentally ill people in scenes from a movie. Where the movie producers get it wrong is about 90% of the symptoms and feelings that make us live through depression or anxiety or any other mental illness.
People wouldn’t understand unless you and I feel confident enough to stand up and show them the stigma they have is so misleading and wrong.
A day where I go to sleep counting the reasons I’m so happy to live the life I live only to wake up to the opposite of that and greet the all to familiar, knotted stomach and low energy feeling accompanied with Major Depression. These are how fast those days can come. Depression occurs overnight or at a friends or even on vacation (it’s seriously been happening and I’m shocked myself. Who gets depressed on vacay!?Oh ya. Depressed people )because depression occurs Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace).
Than the cycle of chaos starts. You’re tired and scared at the same time from anxiety and your depressive episode. You feel unloved but don’t really care either way. Negative thinking takes over all your thoughts, dreams and aspirations. You’re restless when you lay down, but to lethargic to get out of the house, almost like you’re waking from Anastasia. I am always too disinterested to go out and socialize. I hate being alone, yet being around people is too much. It causes my heart to beat so fast my check cramps. Depression in reality is realizing sudden the plans you made for that day turn from exciting events to dreadful decisions you have to make when you decide you really don’t want to go. Time has no concept to depressed people during these days. The misery drags on. The time stops. You’re stuck in your own little, chaotic and dark world. Even when I can tell others 1,000,000 ways to think more positive if I’m helpless others–not one coping strategy works for me on these days. Social media is too much socializing, Even Walmart is a nightmare, people feel suffocating to me and cause anxiety attacks. On the good days, I can shop till I drop but not during my depressive episodes. I feel like the world is so colorful to those around me and I suddenly awoke in a black and white colored world; I’m color blind. Paralyzed. Numb.
I’m not weak though, just sick.
I’ve made it through one too many of these days so I know I have it in me to get to bedtime and hope tomorrow is better.
I don’t suffer from depression, I fight it. I battle it with all I have.
Next time someone makes a remark that hurts, makes you feel less than them or causes you to think you’re not beautiful the way you are– all because your brain chemistry makes life a little harder for you; I hope you remember you’re a warrior. A fighter. A overcomer. You’re so strong that when your brain tells you how to think and how to act, you fight back so you can conquer the day like you own it. Because you do.
Depression sucks, it’s hard, but I’ve come to learn how to live with it. I’ve come to feel comfortable and inform mislead thoughts from people about mental health and correct them if I feel it’s needed. I’ll continue to fight because I know others are too. It’s a scary, more like horrifying, to experience a mind with a mind of its own—- but It’s the bravest thing I ever get to do. I get to continue and live when everything inside yells it’s time to quit. Whatever you do, don’t. You’re worth the fight, the struggle, and you’re strong enough to fight it. Keep on keepin on warriors! Eventually we can educate on the reality of the perception of depression/mental health.
I usually talk about the mind, the dreadful and wonderful parts of it that contribute to our life. I do that because our ideas become our reality. Suddenly our worst fears and most fascinating dreams become the moments we’re living in! Today especially, ’m finding myself reflecting on the reality of our lives, the moments that we surround yourself with people; how we all look, listen and feel things differently…I reflected on my reality and how learning the skills of mindfulness and self-awareness has helped me so much. It helped me understand how my perception of myself compared to the perception of others are all so very different. I reflected on how I should use these different perceptions for the positive. The person I am “believed to be” with my mom, dad, boss, brother, best friend or strangers are all going to be different and that’s sort of beautiful. They’re perceptions are built during different periods of my life, based off what I’ve shared, how I’ve acted, who they are shaping how they perceive me to be; utilizing my actions (my past and future). They’d all be different, and that’s totally okay I’m realizing. That’s actually pretty awesome. We have several different dynamics within us and together they create the beautiful uniqueness that makes up YOU. That makes up Me!
Am I a open book? Definitely not. Is anyone actually though? I don’t really think so.
I remember the saying, “ We’re like family!’, hinting that the family members are the only people who know the most about us, the real us. The bad things we did, our quirky favorite dinners or most annoying habits. Our awkward secrets we wouldn’t tell a friend. That’s all true stuff, but does our family know the real you, like we believe? The more and more I reflect on myself, I find that quote to be so off track. I personally don’t think that’s true for the majority of us. I think I know the real me. You know the real you. I write my story from a first-person perspective and nobody can truly know or argue any better.
One person may know all your secrets, but are they the friendly employee whose always greeting and helping you? Maybe. Maybe not. Our family may be the people or person who knows your life situations and where you came from, but isn’t our friends people who we can easily talk about our goals, aspirations and failures with?
We can be so many things and I think if you can master the skill of awareness, than you are truly the only person who knows everything about you. You make your story and tell your tale. There may be some truths to what others know about you and what others say about you, but there is also a lot of your story that only you know.
On my most darkest day, it’s me that pulls me out. It’s me that has to create the positive thoughts and mindset to get through that day. Any given day is a blessing only because it’s not promised. Even on my happiest days, I don’t share every small seamless detail with my husband. So, when I was able to gain my perception of self awareness, I realized how much power over my life I had. What I can control is what I should put my best self towards. Perceptions and descriptions of my life from others leave me very little room to control or change anything so anytime wasted on that is a misfortune for me. Instead of worrying myself sick, I can be real with myself and own up to the failed adventures I made and all the great, creative details that make up me entirely.
From the morning when I wake myself up, I make decision after decision. This is part of my story. The phone calls on lunch break, the cool conversations with guests or co-workers, the argument with a family member or the moments of laughter with another family member, the consistent texting with friends all make up me, the different sides I have. They make up the different colors of me, the different layers to me, the things that make me a capable, caring human being. Capable and caring aren’t including “perfect”, although people often mistake you’re intentions and personality characteristics. This caring and capable personality doesn’t mean the best, the most important, the “got it the most together” girl or any other misconceptions. I simply look at my story like I’m the author of every chapter, every paragraph and every word. That means every person I choose, every decision or thought I make or don’t make. These colors, these traits is my perception and that’s so important to understanding self-worth and self-esteem. The importance of knowing who you are all came to me from the beauty of this bouquet of flowers I got my cousin for Mother’s Day.
I realized when someone points out my flaws, they could be right. When someone gives me a compliment, it may be accurate. When I reflect back on a situation, I have to be willing to say “dang, you didn’t handle that as great; better luck next time”. I don’t know everything, I never will and I doubt one person I know does. What I am confident in is the fact that you are unique, you are the reason you should care, change or have passion towards something. If you remember you are the author of your story, than you’ll own every different side of you that you have. You’ll feel confident in the weaknesses you’ve polished into positive traits or you’ll own the muddy waters you walked in to make mistakes turn into lessons learned.
I don’t live in a white castle on top of the hill, referencing that I don’t have my shit together (being completely transparent). I didn’t come from a family of perfection. I’ve felt rejected, misunderstood and hurt just like some of you. I’ve had people who know one side of me and paint my story as if they have all the details that describe my life. It’s a natural habit to follow your gut. I do it all the time. I follow my gut in real life situations to decide what to eat for lunch or who to keep in my circle of trusted friends.
My gut tells me that we wouldn’t be who we are if we didn’t have these different sides of us. I wouldn’t be me if all the colors in my world were the same. You can be consistent, life isn’t though. Trust in yourself enough to know your worth, keep a strong self-esteem & trust in your gut. Take the day as if you chose it and you’re deciding to live it. And after you start living and making the most of everyday. Join me as I make the most of 2018. It’s been a roller-coaster of a year, but it’s all teaching me little by little that I’m a wonderful contribution to this world JUST. LIKE. YOU!
You’re going to make mistakes, mess up or could’ve done better. You’ll also have days you conquered, loved or couldn’t have done worst. I hope that you just realize how unique and important you are to your own story. I got to finally understanding that perceptions from others can’t be your problem. You solve your problems, you get to chose your problems. You make your life cool because you design the rules. I am not sure how the unique, baby flower about to blossom like all the others, reminded me how it’s no less important or beautiful than the others. It’s just making its mark among the other flowers. It’s contributing to the beauty of the whole house because of this simple random, bouquet full of colors.
Just like you. And me. And us. Let’s learn together to be so proud of what we accomplish and master the skill of learning from failures. Conquer the world with a positive loving mindset and what can stand against you?
Being the big Disney fan I am, I remember a famous quote by Walt Disney where he says, “Happiness is a state of mind. it’s just according to the way you look at things”. While that quote is inspirational, I never agreed with it when I first started to suffer from Depression and Anxiety. The way I looked at things seemed out of my control and out of control for the other 16 million people who suffer from these mental illnesses, (World Health Organization).I
Depression and Anxiety cripple the lives of many, everyday with dozens of pessimistic thoughts and irrational fears. That’s exactly how I functioned, everyday, until I was introduced to the powerful skill of meditation and mindfulness.
Meditation is proven by scientists that it leads to advanced mental awareness; constantly maintaining a well-balanced, calm, and clear state of mind. (EOC Institute, 2018). In my experience, practicing meditation daily resulted in a bulletproof brain, impervious to depression, Even more exciting was learning Mindful Meditation; which was the ability to approach the experiences of life and others with kindness and more understanding.
If I were you, I know that my amount of faith isn’t going to be enough to convince you of the importance of mindfulness and mediation & how it changed my life, and the lives of many. So let’s take a look at the science behind it. Scientists from the, Foundation For a Mindful Society, have credible research that shows mindfulness has this ability to reprogram our brains. Both science and the experiences of mindful meditation have demonstrated its positive benefits for health, happiness, work, and relationships. It awakens parts of your brain that is on auto-pilot.
Mindfulness is becoming a popular social phenomenon because:
Anyone can do it. Mindfulness doesn’t require a special skill. It’s cultivated in all of our universal human qualities.
It’s a way of living. Mindfulness isn’t just a hobby, it has the ability to change our perspective and make life better. It can even cut down what we stress about once learned and practiced regularly.
It’s evidence-based. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for every aspect of life: from friendships, to relationships, to life and work.
It sparks innovation. Life will always be complex and uncertain, but mindfulness helps us remain resilient in hard times, effective in our decision making and enables us to control our responses to outrageous problems. .
This simple yet powerful act of mindfulness and meditation is one that anyone can do. I still struggle with these mental illness, but these practices were so strong and important in helping me live my daily life with depression and anxiety. I’d encourage anyone who struggles with the same mental disorders to make your time a priority.
If you want to try these practices, or if you are desperate for anything that will help with the life your living: Start by setting a commitment everyday to dedicate time for meditation and mindfulness. Prepare a space in your house that allows you to escape and begin these skills. It’s helpful because when you become mindful, you can reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness all through observing and spending time within our mind, You deserve that. All you have to do is make that first step to try it and practice it.
Now, I am able to understand Walt Disney’s quote much better. He is describing the fact that, how we perceive the world is largely dependent on our inner state of mind and oh, how true that is.
With Depression and Anxiety, we may still have bad, sad and mad days. That’s a part of life. However, with knowledge of these mindfulness skills, let’s begin living our best life. They will not hold us back anymore, but build ourselves up through personal growth. Life is too short to continue and battle our own mind. Meditation and Mindfulness taught me to stop holding on to what hurts and make room for what feels good.
The most important quote to me that reminds me the life changes that mindfulness and meditation “Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice”.
We have bad days and long days. We have sad days and mad days. These are all normal emotions that every person goes through. The good news is that those bad days which are accompanied with negative feelings will pass and within a day or two you’ll be back to yourself; Living your best life.
Wishing you all a week full of love. Remember, you’re imperfections make you wonderful & perfect just the way you are…right now.
I’m going to share some research with you about a topic that’s very important to me. I think this topic will help shed insights into the millions of people that we may know, work with, live with or simply live among who suffer with Mental illnesses. Those that suffer daily, but hide their illness and the battle within themself because of the reasons we will discuss. My hope is that we can come together and help share this information to the community in hopes we can begin to support the large group of people living with a Mental Illness.
My own experiences is just one reason I’ve researched this topic endlessly. Mental Health is a topic I am passionate about and one I find so much value in. My own experiences are uncomfortable to talk about and a struggle I fight everyday, but I believe that shedding light on this stigma and the benefit of providing more understanding on the Mental Health is worth my moment of vulnerability. More importantly, I’ll do whatever I can, including discussing one of my own Mental Health illness in hope it helps the outsiders of the Menal Health community open their mind to the insights discussed throughout this post.
One illness I was diagnosed with and continue to struggle with is a severe form of generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety which surprises people since I’m relatively outgoing. Because I don’t act like what people expect, most people think I am making it up. But being (or faking to be ) outgoing doesn’t stop me from getting paralyzed by thinking about all of the ‘what ifs.’ I fight harder than ever to appear outgoing so that I am not judged or considered ‘weird’. However, the truth is, I’m a champion of over thinking which than causes a heartbeat that goes so fast I sweat in a cold room. These anxiety disorders also make me become a over-thinker with thoughts that fill my mind at 100 mph from start to finish each day. Each day I think ‘if this happens, then this will happen, and then this will happen…until I end up exhausted and alone. it feels like a never-ending battle. This experience is mild compared to others I know, but Reading, Researching and Sharing these Mental Health effects below are just a few ways that you and I can better help our Mental Health community feel less uncomfortable and more understood.
First, understanding Stigma and discrimination:
People with Mental Illness are discriminated against in a number of different areas. Research found that the stigma surrounding Mental Health causes those who actually suffer from Mental Illness to experience:
Loneliness and isolation for a person with a mental illness
attempts to deny they have an illness for fear of feeling rejected which is why they feel too vulnerable and fearful of people and social occasions.
a fear of admitting they have a mental illness (especially with the more severe disorders)
People with a mental illness will experience discrimination, social exclusion and negative attitudes.
I find it most saddening that the stigma directly causes those that are ill to be so self-critical that they believe “depression is something they should be able to handle themself”.
Stigma is accompanied by a discrimination. Because of that, the people with Mental Health Issues are commonly excluded from social groups to professional settings. The types of exclusion that were found in my research include these examples below:
Insurance companies – making it difficult for people with a mental illness to get health insurance or life insurance
Police – being perceived as trouble-makers
Discrimination by decision makers in general
School – denied opportunities in schools or labelled as ‘kids with problem behaviours’
Employers/potential employers – not being offered employment or taken advantage of in the workplace
Families – not taking responsibility for their family member with a mental illness, rejecting them, making them feel to blame for their condition – “They’re too much work!”
Media – misrepresented in the media, for example, mental illness is often associated with violence
Community – being shunned, suffering verbal and physical abuse
It’s no secret that America continues to raise awareness on Mental Health. From the negative community attitude to the types of exclusion from friends, family, school and society in general; Millions of people fight the Mental Health battle with little support and hardly effective resources available.
MY HOPE is that together we can raise awareness and provide more support for the Mental Health community..
Share your support
join the movement
contribute in any way that helps end Mental Health stigma and discrimination.
Fear and Failure go hand in hand. They run through our mind like:
Am I going to fail and look like a complete idiot?
Am I going to waste all my money & hear everyone say “told you so”.
Today, I am going to say in bed because I don’t know what I’m doing in life.
I could never do something like that. I’m not brave or cool like them.
Do they actually like me or do they just fake it to be nice?
These are the thoughts that use to run through my mind from time to time. It’s rooted from fear and self-doubt and we all experience it. How I got through this stage in my life was meditation and listening to positive psychology podcasts. I learned the inner truth about who I was and I learned the power of our brains. I retrained my brain, through time, to resist any negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations. I repeated this every morning and eventually my brain got use to rooting for me, instead of against me with the negative, fearful thoughts that use to fill my day. It’s not easy, but everything worth it takes time, patience and some hard work.
There is another problem with fear and self-doubt though..
The other problem is that society has trained us to deal with these emotions in the worst way possible: to ignore it, some people treat others so these self-doubt feelings feel reinforced, or worst of all… we are determined to be weak for experiencing it in the first place. They’re wrong. We all experience these feelings, it’s normal. In fact,
the truth is that you are the real MVP because you are putting yourself out there; whether you’re afraid to fail or not. You’re taking a chance to be better than you were yesterday. You have it within you to learn instead of staying stagnant in life. How many times do we fail, but learn lessons? We fall and it’s only so we can get back up again and try harder, become stronger. We fail until we get it right and develop the courage to conquer our next journey.
We also experience failure and loss, guilt, self-doubt and pain, but these raw and hard emotions can become our greatest teacher, if we let them. They teach us to let go of what we can’t control. Loss teaches us to never take everyday and everyone for granted, becoming more grateful than we were before. Self-doubt and pain causes us to dig deep into ourselves. It gives us a chance to reflect and by doing so we can become more aware of what we’re feeling, what we want and those challenges that caused us self-doubt and pain will begin to transition us onto a journey of becoming better than we were before. Emotions can be our worst enemy, but if we change our perspective about them they teach us humility, compassion and allows us to grow deeper to our authentic self.
I hope I never come off like I know everything. I love writing about personal experiences and I love letting people know they’re not alone because I have struggled in many areas, emotions included. Fun fact: I study psychology intensely, both during my personal time and for school. I am going to College to help those with mental disorders because the stigma that “the mentally ill aren’t normal” kills me. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes and I have learned from personal experiences and from self-help books (and psychology studies) how to help myself and others when the world around us doesn’t want to acknowledge these emotions or face the fact that absolutely nothing is wrong with people who struggle with mental illnesses. Fear is a normal emotion and so is self-doubt, but no more do they have to run our lives.
The last few things I learned from a psychology and self-help book. I wanted to share them with you before I end this post:
Feel the Fear—But Do It Anyway
The ego creates fear to keep you small. For example, fear of losing it all, fear of humiliation, fear of rejection, fear of overwhelm, fear of making mistakes, fear of losing it all, fear of the unknown, fear of being judged, fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, and on and on it goes. The list is huge.
All entrepreneurs, celebrities, politics and everyday people experience fear. What separates those who are successful and those who allow fear to hold them back is the willingness to act in spite of the fear. The best way to get over fear is to walk directly into it. It takes courage but you know what? Walking into fear is never as bad as you think it’s going to be. Instead, you’ll find it liberating. You’ll find talents you didn’t know was in you. You’ll build your courage and become proud that you conquered it. Sometimes our emotions overwhelm us and the anxiety exaggerates the situation to make it seem more fearful than it is. Try to stop the negative self talk, instead remind yourself the great things you’ve accomplished and the greatness you have inside of you to conquer whatever it is you are fearing. It just might work.
Here is one of my favorite inspirational videos, it’s a must watch. It talks about fear and so much more.
DON’T LET FEAR KILL YOUR DREAMS
Last, but not least: Fear or Intuition? How do we know when we are just afraid to do something or if our gut also known as intuition is telling us it’s a bad decision. I learned how to distinguish between the two in a fascinating book I read called Brainstorm by Dr. Dan Siegel. He said it perfectly by describing the difference as, “Intuition integrates the neural networks from different parts of the brain”. He goes on to explain that these linkages in the brain lead to that unique inner wisdom we refer to as intuition that also helps us make informed decisions or sense when something or someone doesn’t feel right or good. Fear does none of that. “It activates the amygdala as a neural shortcut that also leads to a racing heart and a catastrophizing mind”. This book taught me more about how to analyze the situation to see if we are comfortable with it (intuition) or does it make it anxious and immediately lead us to say no (fear). Developing more awareness and developing your subconscious with meditation helped me increase my intuition to push through the fear. I’ve been able to public speak when that use to be at the top of my “no can do” list. The concept of intuition is fascinating and better yet, getting in tune with your intuition helps you conquer your fears easier.
I wish you all a great week. I hope you get out there, live your best life, enjoy every moment and make a difference. Remember, be kind to your mind and don’t forget to love yourself, like you love others.
(PS. I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions
and the steps you've taken to overcome fear and
negative emotions. Don't be shy.
Say hello! & Share some of your insight).
I turn 27 next month. Recently I went to a psychic because my personality was changing, my mindset was changing, my outlook on life was different. I had never experienced this drastic inner change and wondered what was going on so I wanted answers and figured “What do I have to lose?” so inside the shop I went. Now, whether you’re a believer in psychics or not, I’ll tell you one thing: she was spot on. She knew and said every single example of what my life had been like the last few months (along with other shocking truths) and she described these changes I was experiences as: Growing. I was growing into a new stage, new person and preparing for the next stage of life.
This got me thinking and reflecting about my 20’s. I’ve learned so much compared to when I first turned 18. Despite all the lessons I’ve learned,even up till last year I thought I know it all. But, clearly I was wrong. I can tell I am growing; I choose my time wiser, I have a different view about topics and life in general and I found time for my hobbies and self-care
Your 20’s are all about transitioning into adulthood. Although I can summarize my experience to: Partying weekend after weekend, making fun memories, making friends and losing friends, changing jobs and struggling to finish college, moving from house to house, traveling as a way to take a break from the stresses of life, watching my bank account fluctuate and pretending things were fine during the hard times. Life is always going to be full of ups and downs, for everyone. The 20’s are especially hard though because we are just setting foot into this big world full of all differents opportunities and all types of people. It’s also hard because during those hard times like breakups, fights with friends and family, mental issued that were passed down genetically and appear in your 20’s… you can feel so alone.
So because I’m in a vulnerable state and I want to share my story in hopes that other 20-something year olds realize they aren’t alone– I’m going to share some of the real lessons I’ve learned during my 20’s:
DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY You were made the way you were and flaws included; it doesn’t serve you any good to take to heart pointless opinions.Sometimes we might misconstrue the derogatory comments made towards us; maybe they were just having a bad day or maybe they’re going through personal issues and taking it out on you.. Sometimes people are jealous so they’ll say something in hopes to bring you down. Whatever the reason and whatever they said, don’t give people power over your emotions or over you. YOU have the power to decide if those personal comments will have power over you.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP: Nobody can go through life alone. Humans were made for connection. Going to therapy in your 20’s is the most powerful thing you can do. I use to blame a broken household for my personal vices and faults. The truth was it was both of these that caused me to be who I was. Therapy at 20 might seem embarrassing, but for me, it helped me identify my personal flaws and get me off the self destructive path I was on. Therapy is a great way to reflect on your past in a healthy way and push yourself to be the best version of you.
BE VULNERABLE. vulnerability is the birthplace of courage. I spent a big chunk of my 20s, pretending that I knew it all, that I was doing amazing, but I was suffering in silence. As I began opening up over the past couple of years, I have attracted wonderful friends, grown tremendously, and was able to connect really deeply with the people in my life. Being vulnerable takes courage and eventually will lead you to be comfortable in your own skin.
IT’S OKAY TO SAY… “NO”. If you don’t feel like going out with the ‘cool crowd’ or to a party or anywhere you simply don’t want to go; you have every right to say NO and you don’t need to give an excuse. You don’t need to feel guilty. You deserve to spend your time how you want to and setting boundaries is the first step to living a life on your terms. Your time is precious and you should decide carefully how you spend it; especially because no day is promised.
COMPARING YOUR LIFE TO SOCIAL MEDIA LEADS TO DISASTER: No, seriously. Comparison is a recipe for disasters and bad decisions. Today people overload their opinions, stories about their day and pictures of their great husband/kid/house decor/etc.etc.etc. Social Media can be used as a great way to stay in touch from friends and family who live far. However, usually social media is the new age “popularity contest”. You can buy followers, people can sit behind a blank screen and write hateful stuff to people. What purpose does this serve us? Without being rude, who really has the time to follow and remember every detail of the 579 friends you have posting their foods, kids, vacations, decor, etc…? The bigger problem is the research that has come out that proves social media has a negative effect on people’s self esteem. It subconsciouslly takes up so much of our time that we start to doubt the lives we live because we spent time viewing every detail (or better yet, the greater parts of social media friends) lives. I learned this advice last year and it changed my outlook forever. Don’t ever let social media make you feel less than. I started limiting the time on social media to an hour (if that) and I hardly post on social media anymore. This helps me live more in the present, spend more time with my family, read more and do things I enjoy.
DON’T WAIT FOR HAPPINESS, FIGHT FOR IT: I had it all wrong. “If I had a big house, I’ll be happy”, “When I move, I’ll be happy”, “When I land straight A’s, I’ll be happy”. Happiness brings you success, it makes you more productive and it is the foundation for everything in your life. In this way, I have chosen to make happiness my life’s starting line. You deserve true happiness. It doesn’t always come easy, you have to fight for it. It’ll be the best fight you ever had to pursue in your life though
7.IF YOU DON’T PRIORITIZE YOUR LIFE, SOMEONE ELSE WILL: I finally learned this after living a chaotic life that felt meaninles at times.For me I choose about living purposefully. It’s about living with direction and priorities instead of letting life happen to me.What drives you? Why are you here? What drives your actions and decisions? Don’t chase a job just for the money; you spend over 40+ hours a week there. You should enjoy what you do. Don’t make so many obligations for others that you forget to take care of yourself. I learned these lessons first hand. I had to start prioritizing my life or before I knew it, I’d be living a life that I had none of my aspirations and dreams in it.
8.WILL YOU REGRET THIS? I’m not talking about the nights out with our friends where we barely remember the mornings. That is part of living our twenties. Do you remember that saying, “Parents know best”. Well, sometimes their is some major truth to that. I’m all about living in the present, but I do regret neglecting to think before making decisions about my future. For example, my Credit Score. They don’t teach you that in school. However, you have to have a good credit score to buy almost anything valuable and for a good price. If I could have a do-over, I’d invest more time on making decisions that will better my future and not decisions I’ll regret. Sometimes parents do know what’s best!
9.BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHILE WORKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT: You were born to live a life that makes YOU happy. I’ve learned early in my twenties that people mold into the people they are hanging around.I would say “yes!” to things I did not want to do. It took me a few years to learn that I had nobody to impress but myself. I am enough. I don’t need to feel unnecessary pressure to live a life my friends are living or the life I see on Facebook. I want to live the life that matches my values and morals. That’s filled with my hobbies and people and things that make me happy. You do not have to impress anybody, but yourself. And when you start being happy with what is in front of you, it makes it clear on what you want your future to look like
10.PEOPLE WILL BETRAY YOU, AND THAT’S OK. Betrayal was a hard pill to swallow when it first happen to me. Our twenties are filled with of a lot of unnecessary drama that stems from being stabbed in the back or lied to by someone you trusted. Your first instinct (if your like me) is to be mad, upset, enraged. That’s just wasted energy. Being stabbed in the back sucks, and it will suck again when it happens– but it says a lot more about you if you can build up the ability to move on and deal with it with dignity. Taking the high road with dignity will fill like a huge weight lifted on your shoulder. There are good people out there; loyal people and than there are bad people; untrustworthy and unloyal. It’s just the way the world is. Learning how you respond to these issues will make it that much easier.
11.LOVE ISN’T ALWAYS RAINBOWS AND BUTTERFLIES, AND THAT IS WHAT MAKES IT AMAZING. Those romances we watch that leave us in tears and always have a beautiful happy ending are far from reality. Instead, we learn in our 20’s that true relationships take compromise on both ends, they require effort and constant growth. I let go of the notion that true love happens effortlessly without any hiccups or roadblocks. I learned early on though, after dating my highschool sweetheart whose now my husband, that true love comes with challenges and obstacles and you face them together if things are going to work. Only the strong will survive. However, it is an amazing feeling to be with the love of your life who becomes your best friend and someone you can count on. Keep in mind, you don’t want to put yourself in a relationship that’s not healthy either. Verbal and Mental abuse can be hard to recognize and even harder to swallow the truth once you realize it, but remember you deserve to be happy and nobody had the authority to treat you otherwise.
12. FRIENDSHIP: IT’S QUALITY OVER QUANTITY It’s better to have 4 quarters than 100 pennies. I’ve found such value in friendships with substance. It’s always great to have friends you can go out with, get lunch with, etc., but it’s important to have friends you can actually connect and converse with. Have substance in your friendships. As you get older, surrounding yourself with individuals who are motivated and supportive will benefit you in the sense that it will keep you on the right track. Be with people who want to make you a better person. You do not want to have a point in your life where you feel that you have no one you can truly bond with. Do life with someone who cares about who you are and want to be.Get yourself true, long-term friendships instead of thinking the more friends you hang out with it. It’s the quality of those friendships, not the quantity of friends you have.
I may have learned some valuable lessons, but I still have a lot of struggles, issues I need to deal with and I still fall just to get back up again. I don’t have it all together, but than again who does in there 20’s? 🙂 I’m sure I’ll have plenty more lessons to learn, but so far these lessons have saved me time and time again after I learned them. Hope it helps some of you too.
I hope some of you can relate to the experiences and lessons I learned. Be Kind to Your Mind and remember, love yourself first & Formost.
When 2017 came to an end, I made several goals. One of them was to become spiritually, mentally and physically healthier. I had no idea what this journey would entail, but I’ll tell you that it has been so rewarding at times, frustratingat times, lonely from time to time. Finding out who you are, who you want to be and where you want to go is no easy task, but it’s the most important journey I’ve ever been on.
I took time away from people, even my closest friends and family that live near by to find the answers I was looking for. I didn’t don’t if a new job is what I needed. I didn’t know if I wanted new friends. I didn’t know if moving across country would help. I just felt lost, in a way. However, the answer was so much easier than I thought, it was right inside me the whole time. I hadn’t focused nearly enough time to finding a solution; I was focused on my problems. I just needed to clarify who I am and than that helped me figure out what I wanted and how to get that.
Being yourself is risky, you may face rejection. Being yourself is vulnerable; And being vulnerable is scary. Is it possible though that it’s worst living a lifestyle, trying to keep up & impress people that you probably (deep-down) don’t care about impressing? This is how I was feeling when I decided I wanted to embark on this journey. From high school pressures, to the quick growing-up you to do in college, to the insecurities that parenting brings, to the workplace conflict you encounter while trying to find common interests with people you otherwise wouldn’t know how to get along with… It’s not the easiest road to navigate.
But in the long-run, I think we owe it to our-self to live the way we want to live; unfiltered. You’re capable of being your best self, and it took me 26 years to realize this myself. You know you’re capable of taking the risk and staying focused on the good that is to come outweighs those fears of risking, trying and than failing. Even if some people don’t understand, you can find a way to pursue the life and work and friends you’ve always wanted. The cliche term, “We only live once” is overused, but it’s so true. Personally, I didn’t want to waste another minute trying to fit in with people, impress people, or live for them more than I was living for myself. I learned this by a lot of self-reflection, by bringing myself out of a deep depression that helped me realize what’s truly important in life.
I’m weird. I’ve learned to own it! I refused to live another day on what I call, “surviving and not merely living”. I wasn’t happy and when people asked why? I had no specific answer. I could ramble on amount the people that annoyed me that day, the things that didn’t go my way, the dreams I hadn’t accomplished yet, but I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. I had plenty of friends, a job I had to work incredibly hard to prove myself at and a fabulous family who loved me, especially my husband who has been my rock and better half during all my ups and downs. Of course, I can go to the gym more. I could probably get my nails done, hair done and shop more to feel ‘better on the outside’ and boost confidence. I could probably go out and party more like everyone else my age is doing. Than there is good ol’ depression. I use to blame my sad and bad days on my depression. Although I won’t downplay that Major Depressive Disorder plays a daily role in my life, I constantly battle the negative self talk that plays in my head like a broken tape recorded. However, that wasn’t the issue either. I found my answer after I took time away from the world and dedicated it to myself. The things I mentioned aren’t who I am, they don’t truly bring the happiness that I want and need. So, I dug deep into who I wanted to be, qualities I aspired to have and made tough decisions (and goals) of creating a life that didn’t include everyone and everything I had in it before. That doesn’t make me selfish I realized, it makes me determined. Determined to live my one and only life the way I wanted and on my terms. I no longer fear rejection, after all– you can’t make everyone happy. I no longer feared living up to societies expectations– because that’s too much for one to bare no matter who you are. I was excited when I came to terms that I owed nobody anything. I didn’t need to say sorry if I was simply saying how I felt in a respectful way. I can show confidence, self-esteem and self-love in a respectful way too. Life has a funny way of putting itself in perspective when you realize the small things, the little things, matter most. At least, to me they do.
And if your like me where you’ve lived a life full of trials, trauma and hardships from the age of 5; than you have to work extra hard to find these answers yourself. I started doing this by unlearning the lessons that had been taught to me.
Whatever cards life gave you, whether you think they are fair or not; Please don’t give up. You are worth it. NOBODY is like you and nobody can do the great things you can bring into this world. It doesn’t matter where you are coming from, it matters where you are going to go. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, it matters what you do from here and only you can turn those thoughts into actions.
In hopes that someone reading this will find time to search for the answers that will bring them the self-worth they’re lacking but deserve, know you aren’t alone. If you suffer from anxiety, be easy on yourself. Some days are just going to be tough, end of story. But those days will end and tomorrow is always a new day. Just remember, tomorrow isn’t promised and it’s important you make the most of the moments you’re living in right now. That’s the mantra that gets me through those days.
If you’re doubting your abilities to put the work in and go after what you want, you have it in you– it might just be deeply buried, but it’s there. Comparing yourself doesn’t make this journey any easier. If everyone was the same, how boring would it be? If you aren’t the type that likes to go out every weekend, that’s great. There are plenty of people who do enjoy that and you don’t have to be one. If you aren’t the type that likes to be the “life of the party” in a group setting, that doesn’t make you any less confident, worthy or less of a person. You are unique in your own ways and you have habits that those people might not. The truth is, the last thing you want is to be bitter, but the second-last thing you want is regret. To avoid regret, you have to make active decisions. I think moving forward is better than remaining stationary.
I’ve made small steps, one day at a time; reflecting on who I want to be, what are important values I see in other people that I want to posses and what are values I don’t want & how can I work on eliminating them. You’ll fall sometimes only to pick yourself back up. Being kind to yourself in everyday life is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I’ll end with the a few things that I’ve found to
be crucial in this journey of finding who I am:
Invest in yourself. Do things you like to do. I personally find more fun hanging out with a small group of loved ones, doing the little things in life that mean the most to me. I fill my days with meaningful actions and activities.
Reflect on what you are using Social Media for. I’m guilty of using social media as a way of showing off the best parts of my life, but with that came a subconscious reality I realized: I felt like I was having to prove to my ‘social media friends’ my life was great & I was fun or doing cool things. How silly right? It served absolutely no purpose in my journey. I now post every once in a while and it’s almost always to save my pictures so I can print and use them later. For me, when I stopped using Social Media everyday and started focusing on the present moment, people and things right in front of me… I noticed a huge difference in my quality of life.
Find the truth and exception when an inner critic or outer critic attacks. If someone you’ve chosen to be in your inner circle gives you feedback, it’s important to reflect and see where they’re coming from. The best friends aren’t afraid to help you better self. If it’s work related, it’s important to at least consider feedback. It’s not always going to be true, but perhaps your actions were misunderstood and responsibility on your own does need to be taken. We don’t gain anything from a little pain, right? I feel that we live in a world where so many people don’t spend enough time working on themselves and those people are usually the first to critique the truly happy. Listen to the critics, and choose wisely what you can apply and what you can’t simply let go. It’s a sad fact in today’s society, but not everyone wants to see you happy or has your best interest in the world. I don’t think that is naive to think, it’s just the truth unfortunately. However, it doesn’t mean it has to affect you. I’m sure you still have too many people to count who you mean the world too.
Be Kind to Yourself & Others: The world is filled with enough people trying to rain on your parade. Learn to de-stress when you need to, learn what you can from mistakes instead of beating yourself about it and be kind towards others. In a world full of such diverse people and personalities; acceptance is key. Being kind can make a world of difference to strangers, friends or anyone you run into. After all, we are all on this journey called: L.I.F.E. Accepting others for their differences, holding back judgement, ultimately just treating people the way you want to be treated shows more about yourself and who you are.Don’t forget, By reminding yourself of great benefits such as:
better life results, more perseverance, higher self-esteem, more inner happiness and stillness, more positive relationships with yourself and other people it becomes easier to stay kind to yourself through life’s natural ups and downs. What more can you ask for?
Go out there and conquer the world, friends.
Just the way you were BORN to.
I have lived entirely too much of my life focused on everything I didn’t have; comparing myself to others; dwelling on things that didn’t go how I planned , playing my past like a CD on repeat. daily in my head. I was giving all my energy and focus into things I thought would bring me happiness….until I realized the happiness I was searching for was within me the whole time. It didn’t cost a dime. It was just a shift in my attitude, a shift into what I focused on… Introducing the Attitude of Gratitude.I’ll share my own stories to share with you how I discovered the incredible, powerful practice of Gratitude.
I was probably always like this, but at 21 especially; I was an analyst, a girl who rearranged thoughts and things to be more orderly. I craved for life to make sense and I cringed when it didn’t. Life is supposed to be consistent and make sense, right? I thought of life like a predictable simple math problem; 1 +1 will always equal 2. It will equal 2 today, it will equal 2 tomorrow, and it will equal 2 the day after that and all will be well...(As. if. I. had. any. clue).
I focused on what I didn’t have. I focused on who didn’t like me, I focused on what I wasn’t doing instead of what I just accomplished, I focused on others beauty and never remembered I felt beautiful sometimes too. I compared my homes to the Pinterest perfect houses, I’d compare myself to the “got their life together” families, I compared myself to everything I thought I needed that would make me happy. However, on this journey of discovering who I am; I realized my focus was in the opposite direction of where it needed to be.
The biggest example I’ll share with you was when I also came realized how damaging it was to be focused and comparing my life to others, daily.
I think I started focusing & comparing myself to others at 14 (because with social media, it’s so hard not too). But I’ll share with you an example of how I truly learned to be grateful for what I had and how everything changed for me. I truly became happier.
I use to follow these blogs that were lifestyle and design bloggers when I was 21. One particular blogger I followed daily, Refreshing my page on a daily basis to see what she’d write next. I mean, I kinda felt like a stalker, but her life was just so glamorous and I wanted to be her.. She was the first person I constantly compared my life to. (Mistake #354 learned in life).
Her blog was posted with picture-perfect days making Disney shaped pancakes every morning and setting up a beautiful playroom & learning corner that looked fabulous for her kids to play and learn. . Meanwhile, I constantly battled with the feeling of being thee worst mom ever because a babysitter or daycare was raising my child while I was managing a pool and I had a bedroom for Conner, with only a bed and toys. (See how the power of focusing on others can truly negatively affect every area of life? First, I’m not good enough and now I’m not even a great mother..) Most of her posts became about style. Every holiday, every time the weather changed., every time they went on a vacation… a post would come out about all the cute clothing items, miscellaneous items, she’d be buying for the trip. So of course, I compared myself to how I couldn’t afford those items, and the negative self talk that we all have would start playing in my head. Each and every time I read these posts. It’s not her posts that made me depressed, it was my focus on wanting what she had, instead of being grateful for what I had.
For example, this is her latest post I found (after just revisiting her blog that I stopped following 2 years ago when I started learning more about mental health, happiness and began reading self help books). The post below is identical to what she posted and what I compared my life too. It’s the same posts I followed everyday for years. This week, her post is about her next trip to the beach and here are the “must have items” she suggests we “needed” next time we go to the beach.
I want to make it super clear, I‘m not judging her. There is nothing wrong with her at all living her life the way she does. She’s a fashion, lifestyle, design blogger so that’s what her readers want to see. I’m using her blog as an example of how my focus on wanting to be her, and have her life deprived me of time I’ll never get back that I could have been using to grow in my own life. I realized two years ago as I started discovering more about myself, that she is just farther along in her journey than me so she can buy whatever she wants, decorate her house however she likes, spend her time however she pleases and etc. ALSO and most importantly, we have a much different perspective on life. My family doesn’t usually buy anything, but snacks for the road trip. I go to the beach with whatever we throw together in the suitcase (sometimes we even forget towels) because we’re too excited to be visiting our favorite place. Her and I are very different, just like most of us are, and that’s totally okay. It’s actually what makes this world a great place; we all have something unique to offer. At 21 though, by focusing on what I didn’t have, I felt like I never had enough. My cup was always half empty, in every area of my life. And mainly it was half empty because I was focusing on being her, My attitude wasn’t in the right spot because what I was Focusing on was in the wrong direction & once I reflected and figured that out; it changed everything, no exaggeration.
I began to learn the lessons and benefits about Gratitude and the power of what you focus on by reading a positive-psychology book (the books are listed on the page “Inspiration”). I learned that there is actually scientific evidence that your overall happiness when you master the practice of gratitude.
But what does it really mean to be grateful?
For me, the answer is the sense of engulfment you feel when something has made you happy. The feeling of elation you get when you really think about the luxuries in your life.
Try it — stop what you are doing, and think…
Stop and think about what it means to have a solid roof over your head. Stop and think about how you are able to charge your multiple gadgets in your home at any time you want. Stop and think about the high-speed Internet you use to talk to family on the other side of the planet.
It’s one thing to say you are grateful, but I learned you have to feeI it. People often say they are grateful for what they have, but their actions show a completely different side to what they ‘said’. In the beginning, before I actually mastered the practice of an attitude of gratitude; I’d say I’m grateful for my house, yet didn’t maintain it. I’d say I am grateful for electricity, yet excessively wasted it.
However, I understand that it’s harder in reality to simply tell yourself “Be Grateful” when you just got fired, or when you just got belittled by someone at work or someone you care about, or when you’re going through depression & you’re feeling hopeless or you were just broken up with, or etc. etc It’s hard to shift your focus on being grateful overnight; but it’s not impossible.
What I realized was taking baby steps to learn how to be grateful was actually easier than I thought. The best way to truly apply an Attitude of Gratitude is to stop the negative talk in our heads that tell us we aren’t good enough, we are too dumb for that position or we are too ugly for that person to like me. We all have those thoughts that can stay on repeat like a song you put on repeat; but push pause. Than choose to play “next song” and start focusing on the things you can be grateful for by listing them out. If I look around me, I have plenty to be grateful for: A roof over my head, A family, food to eat, having a career to support my loved ones, being able to pay my bills on time and having clothes on my back.
I got an idea from a friend at church about listing out the things she is grateful for so she can refer back to them when she’s having one of those days. I loved the idea and for the last 9 months, my family and I started to do the same thing.
On the refrigerator is our families “Attitude of Gratitude” list. By visibly writing down the things you are grateful for, it’s much easier to turn a negative thought and channel that into a positive reminder of what you are grateful to have which than transitions into a focus on Gratitude, an Attitude of Gratitude. This is what worked for me and it’s been incredibly life changing. On the days I come home from work depleted, exhausted or frustrated or on the days my house is a mess and my child is extra rambunctious; I either read over my Attitude of Gratitude List or force myself to think of myself to add one new thing to it that day. This was my first baby step that helped me develop focusing on the positive things in my life, realizing the unhealthy effects that come from comparing myself to others, learning to live loved and ultimately, living with an Attitude of Gratitude that brings genuine happiness into my life..
Knowing what I know now, If I was to write a lifestyle or design blog: it would look something like this:
Check out this really shiny accessory. I have in my kitchen. It gives me clean water EVERY single TIME I use it; it’s like magic. I don’t need to walk three miles to get clean water like unfortunately some people have to do. I’m very grateful for this beautiful, shiny thing I call my sink.
Next on my “MUST HAVE” list is this beautiful thing called a: table. It’s where I get to eat dinner with my family every night. It’s where I get to watch my son learn and complete his homework. It’s where memories are created when friends come over and we play games and laugh. It’s where my husband and I stay up late talking about life. These aren’t available in third world countries sadly, so I am extra grateful for this beautiful household item I call: my table.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
Til next time– Stay strong, stay positive and remember YOU matter!
Hello and I hope your 2018 is off to a great start.
If your social media sites are anything like mine, every year we see people setting New Years Resolutions and then you’ll see some people claiming how bogus it is to set a “resolution” and ‘expect your life to change overnight’. While I can see where the second half of the people are coming from; that we have 365 days a year to make changes and grow in our life… I also am always very proud and excited to see people voice their New Year Resolutions. After all, I feel it’s not right to judge someone for their motivation to choose the first of the year to make new goals, habits and changes in their life. It’s a start.
Personally, I love New Year Resolutions (even though I try my best to take extra opportunities as often as possible to grow or learn). However… I think personally that there’s something exciting about a fresh start and a new year that is extra motivating to create a vision for how you want to live the next year.
As I was listening to a message by James Silvas (more about him on the page, “INSPIRATION”), he made such a great point I had never heard before. Sometimes we continue to move forward and make more and more goals to change instead of reflecting on what we learned and what occurred throughout the year that just ended. Not that it’s bad to make a list of new goals, but you might be more successful at achieving those new goals and NY Resolutions if you reflect back on what worked and what didn’t work.
So, I took his advice and recapped the most important lessons I learned in 2017 (and 2016… the roughest years of my life). This year was the first year I reflected back on the past year when making NY Resolutions & I’ll admit, it was pretty insightful, but emotional. Than I created a vision board for 2018. Something that simply reminds me everyday what I’m working towards.
I titled this blog “Miracles in the Mess” because Life is Hard, as I mentioned in my last post. So this post I’ll continue to challenge myself and be honest and vulnerable. I reflected through the experiences and messes that I have learned throughout past years.
And here is what I came up with as some of the most important lessons I have learned:
You can’ change the circumstances that happen, but you can change your perspective on how you view it.
Life has a way of throwing so much at you when it feels like you have your plate filled, am I right? For example, in 2016, my Grandmother whom I view as my always there, most inspiring, parental figure; was diagnosed with a terminal disease right after she retired. It threw me into the deepest depression of my life. I’ve never had to grieve anyone thankfully, but to know that a woman who had a bucket list of items on her Retirement list would never get to accomplish them made me so spiteful. I blamed God for a few months and stopped going to church. I sat around my house for months and didn’t want to hangout with anyone. I was so mad and sad that I had no control over the circumstances in my life so I sought out my counselor’s advice. Her advice was change my attitude about the situation; Since I can’t control it, think of the time I still have and make the most of it which is why I feel strongly that every day is a gift.
Another example of this lesson learned was The October 1st incident when a mass shooting occurred and my best friends and many loved ones were at the concert it occurred at. It affected me (and I wasn’t even at the concert or directly involved), but it affected me because it affected my loved ones so much and my community so much. I couldn’t control anything surrounding this inhuman act of terror. I couldn’t make their loved ones come back or help in the way I wanted too so I felt heartache for months. This was a great example of how my attitude and motto, “Every day is a gift” taught me to change my perspective about the negative circumstances that get thrown our way in life. I couldn’t help give the family answers, I don’t have money to donate to all the people affected like I wanted to, I couldn’t take their pain away (it was physically impossible, unfortunately); but I decided to focus on what I could do to help. Like, taking my son and getting involved in building the “Healing Garden” dedicated to the victims and survivors. I took the initiative to create a “Vegas Strong” motivational shirt that over 100 people bought. Although it’s a small gesture, it was one way I could help at the time. It was something I felt I had to do, something I could do and it was a great example of how my attitude was very much influential in staying positive about such an awful situation. The lesson of learning to change my perspective when I can’t change the circumstances prevented me from going into depression like I usually do over circumstances I can’t control.
Your story, told by you, is ALL THAT MATTERS!
I learned last year that people will judge me, anyway. They won’t like me, anyway. I can change everything about me to make certain people happy only to have another group of people judge me and not like the changes I made. It frustrated me a lot last year on a few separate occasions. People misconstrued my intentions and I felt like many people told my story for me, instead of hearing it from me. I felt like nobody was listening because so many people were quick to speak and slow to listen. Than it finally sunk in; I don’t have to prove anything to anyone else, but myself. Ultimately, God knows the truth. If someone wants to make things up, I have no control over that. If someone doesn’t like me, I have no control over that. What I can control is that my story, told by me and that’s what matters most. If you don’t write your own story than people will write it for you. The miracle in these messes is that I learned I need to understand everyone is different and if people want to criticize us, than let them. That’s their story, not ours. I know it’s easier said than done. Sometimes a phrase lands in your soul with such weight it leaves the deepest impression. I use to collect these phrases like people collect stamps. However, I realized these words were so personally necessary for me. Negative self-talk was a rejection from my past that I had allowed to settle into my core. Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me. I’ve made progress in this area, but I still have work to do. What I believe now is that the beliefs I hold should hold me up even when life is feeling like it’s falling apartand people’s opinions about me doesn’t need to be a part of my beliefs.
Boundaries are not important, they’re critical to have.
I believe this quote says it all. I know from experience that I’ve let a few people disrespect me in my life far too long and it wasn’t their fault, it was mine because I didn’t know how to set boundaries or keep them once I tried to set them. Eventually though, I learned takers will take and take from you as long as you give and I learned that because of personal and professional situations. I joined a 12-step woman studies whom I met with every Tuesday for 9 months. These women helped me go through denial (things I was in denial about or just never thought about), I worked on personal inventory for 3 months where I had to reflect on my past and every hurt, habit or hang up I had. After sharing inventory, the woman who guided me closely through the program, helped me identify some character defects I had. One happen to be, setting boundaries. A lot of the messes I went through was because I didn’t know how to set clear and personal boundaries. I learned that boundaries are the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, supportive and caring. I slowly started setting boundaries in every area of my life and I was able to learn who I needed to set boundaries with. I learned that boundaries set the limits for acceptable behavior from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature. I still have so much work to do in this area so on my 2018 Vision Board I have “Setting Boundaries” near the top of my list.
F.L.Y- First Love Yourself.
This year my anxiety was pretty bad. I had frequent panic attacks and struggled daily to ignore the anxiety. One thing I always considered a strength of mine is feeling a responsibility to help others, including strangers; But at one point,I realized it was draining me emotionally, physically and spiritually. That’s when I learned my lesson in this mess. A good friend told me this analogy that I’ve remembered as I’ve journeyed and focused on learning how to First Love… Myself. The quote was, “You can’t help others if you’re pouring into others from an empty cup and at some point, you’ll be that empty cup“. It was such a good analogy. I love being able to help people and be someone people can rely on, but I don’ know many people who can help people if they’ve depleted them self. I had to realize this year the importance of self-love. I started creating positive mantras that I have posted on my mirror. I read two great books about the importance of self-love. I started finding time again for my hobbies and things I love to do. I learned to play piano again, I started crafting again. These small changes in my life led me back to a manageable state of anxiety. More importantly, it taught me about the importance of loving yourself, first.
Let. It. Go.
I was either focused on living in the future or living in the past throughout 2016 and some of 2017. While therapy was helpful to get me to work on my PTSD, learning the art of letting go was one of the biggest miracles that happen out of the messes over the last few years. I learned if I’m consumed in the future or the past, than I’m missing the most precious moments in life which exists in the present. In addition, I learned by accepting what is and letting go of what was.This at times meant letting go of unhealthy friendships or accepting how people are, even if it bothered me, and letting what they say/how they act/etc…go. After all, they can write their story however they’d like. Their story is not my story so I can let it go, easily. For me though, I think life is too short to worry about things that I can simply let go of. Instead I need to focus on positive things and stay grateful for whom I don’t have to let go of.
My main goal as a mother is to raise a child who
doesn’t need to recover from his childhood.
My childhood was far from perfect. After all, whose is? However, ever since I’ve been 18, I’ve had to retrain my brain to unlearn a lot of the things I thought were normal. When I became a parent, I was determined to break the cycle of insanity that existed on both sides of my family: anger, addictions, lack of unconditional love (just to name a few). I started reading parenting blogs and books while I was pregnant and then my son was born and I soon realized there is no how-to-parent manual for the unique children that come into the world. I learned through the messes of my childhood the importance of raising my child as best as I could, making it my top priority and consistently reminding myself the huge responsibility that I have as a mom; I can’t take breaks from parenting or call in sick. My child is so spontaneous. He will say “hello” to all the strangers in a store and I watch the Seniors smile. He is rambunctious and I swear I think he will be a comedian when he grows up; but Jeff and I firmly believe that we will parent in a way that doesn’t suppress his personality. We want him to shine bright. I don’t want to set limits on his amazing and unique personality. For example, he will dance in front of anyone (School parades, at our church with hundreds of people, in the grocery store). Of course, we will teach him responsibility, respect, compassion, honesty, etc. However, I don’t want to be the parent that screams over the mess in the house; instead I’ll look at it like we were building memories. I don’t want to be the mom that molds my child into being the good child, when I have one right in front of me. I’ve told him I want him to try his best in school, but I don’t care if he is the smartest kid in class; its most important to be kind. I also noticed because we showed him so much affection as a young child, he has grown up to be a sensitive little boy who expresses when his feelings are hurt and reminds me when I’ve said something I shouldn’t……. So clearly I’m not a perfect parent and I’ll make more mistakes than I already have. However, learning about my mental illnesses and how most of them stemmed from my environment as a child; I make it a top priority that my child (and future children) will not have to recover from their childhood.
Making mistakes is better than faking perfection. If you are anything like the old me, I hated when I made mistakes. I had this unrealistic expectation that I could be perfect at almost everything (I laugh looking back at this view now). Mistakes mean you are trying. Mistakes mean you took a chance and now you can learn something new. I’m the type of person that doesn’t need to be reprimanded at work when I make mistakes, I’ll recognize the impact the mistakes had with unspoken words and I’ll learn the lesson that I think is the take away. Sometimes though, mistakes can be made on a larger and more serious scale. For example, I know people who have addictions and have relapsed. I know someone who died from the mistake of overdosing because he made the mistake of relapsing on drugs. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve hurt people. I’ve tried and I’ve failed at things that meant a lot to me. I’m not proud of the mistakes I’ve made, but I’m grateful for them because they’ve led me to this point in my life where I am right now; they’ve led me to be who I am today.
So after reflecting on emotional and hard lessons I learned by reflecting on the messy situations and experiences of the last two years, I discovered what worked and what didn’t. This year, I set NY Resolutions and put them on a Vision Board.
My sister and I had a “Vision Board” party last night with her boyfriend and my husband. My Vision Board is hanging in the living room as a simple, but significant reminder of everything Jeff and I want to stay focused on
So if you haven’t done this before, I’d highly encourage you to reflect on your past. Maybe have fun with it, invite loved ones over and consider creating a Vision Board so you don’t just have ideas that might not ever come to fruition, but you have a better chance at holding yourself accountable and see your dreams come true.
(PS. If you create a Vision Board, share it! I love seeing other people’s vision boards and NY Resolutions).
Wishing you all a healthy, happy year; full of continued growth and full of chasing and accomplishing your dreams!
Till next time,
I often wonder if anyone else thinks consistently about the stigma of Mental Health Illnesses like I do. My heart breaks when I read about all the teenagers committing suicide whose stories turn viral as they circulate on Facebook or when media sites post the latest statistics on drug overdoses, especially when they are so young and around my age. I think about how much life they had ahead of them and wish they knew they were loved and had other choices, but then I remember how powerful mental illnesses can be. Mental Illness symptoms and thoughts can be stronger than your highest willpower.
I browse through the comments on these tragic suicides or overdose posts and see the comments that are made, filled with such negativity from people who appear so narrow-minded and heartless. I try my best not to judge, after all I’m far from perfect. So when I see the negative comments like, “If you take drugs, you’re going to die… what idiots” or “This is taking the easy way out, I don’t feel bad for them…(referencing suicide) than I talk myself into believing that maybe (and hopefully) the people leaving those negative comments on these stories are probably just VERY ill-informed on the subject of Mental Health.
I remember feeling low and down at times as a teenager and figured as I grew older that it would become a phase I’d grow out of. The first time I paid attention to these feelings was at 15, right as I was entering sophomore year of high school. Reality hit me not too far after though as I became a mother at the age of 21, a wife, and “adulting” as we say, was in full gear. Little did I know than but my mental illnesses were in full gear too.
I knew nothing about mental illness, even as a young mother and young adult. What I did know is that I started to not only consistently battle the low mood I had grown custom too, but I began paying closer attention to my lack of motivation, and feelings of hopelessness. I now know those symptoms are also known as: Major Depressive Disorder. As life carried on, I began feeling the immense pressure of just everyday life on my chest like ten tons of bricks. I remember at 23, I didn’t know anything about mental health and mental illnesses STILL, but I knew that I wanted to be “happy”. You know, like the happy you see posted on all the Facebook families or Instagram stories. I wish I knew now what I didn’t know than which is that life isn’t always as it appears and especially on social media. Comparing myself to others was probably the worst thing I should have been doing at that point. However, I continued to do it.
I would celebrate successes like job promotions, vacations, great family times… and life felt normal, for a few weeks… until the depression and anxiety returned like a bad nightmare you hope you never have again; but can’t prevent it from returning every night when you sleep. That “ten pounds of bricks on my chest” feeling is what I now know as anxiety.
Sometimes my anxiety gets triggered, sometimes it just lingers in the back of my mind and I can ignore it and sometimes panic attacks come out of nowhere. The first time it happen, I remember distinctly the feeling of my throat closing and wanting to take a deep breath only to figure out there was no air to breathe. The room starts spinning. I feared I was officially loosing my mind for good and I can hear my heart beating so loud in my head, like I just got done finishing a triathlon. My first panic attack was at 23 and as much as I hate them; Man, do I hate them...that anxiety attack is what saved my life because it led me to what I know now.
I started to see a therapist and was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after only my first appointment. When I first discovered I had these Mental Illnesses, I let these mental illnesses become labels that defined who I was. I believed there was nothing more to me than these 3 diagnosis’s. I thought about them like name tags that I had engraved on every outfit and I didn’t want them to be seen by anyone… so I put on a mask. A mask that would cover the truth about what I really was going through.
I did everything I could to avoid the reality something was “wrong with me”. I actually had a mental illness? More than one?! That must mean I’m crazy. Nobody can know this. Actually I’m not going to believe this myself. I’m sure that therapist was wrong, these feelings will go away. I’ll make them go away, whatever I have to do. These were the thoughts that consumed me and I let the stigma that “It’s not okay to not be okay” run my life for two years, up until last year.
The mask I wore only worsened things. The mask that I wore so long to avoid the stigma that mental illness meant I’m crazy caused me to lose my identity completely. I overcompensated for the fact that these mental illnesses meant I had bad days, sad days, every day anxiety and traumatic memories that occurred throughout the day; but at the time, the terms “Depression”, “Anxiety Disorder”and “PTSD” was shameful. I wanted my mask to hide these issues and I did so by pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I filled my schedule up with so many things to do so I didn’t need to talk about it, or feel it, or think about it. I ran myself ragged because I refused to “not be okay”. I wanted to prove to the world, and to myself, that I was normal, and okay; But one day, it caught up with me and I was painfully forced to face the music. (That story is for another post….).
That’s when I realized that I’m not alone. That’s when I realized that Mental Illness is so incredibly common. The problem isn’t Mental Illness, but the problem is that nobody wants to talk about it. It’s looked at like a weakness in society. It’s viewed like there is some magical cures that people with Mental Health issues can use to just simply talk yourself out of being anxious or being depressed. However, asking someone why they are depressed and why can’t they just be happy? Is like asking someone with a flu why they keep throwing up and why they decided to have a fever and keep it?
If people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or any mental illness could control their feelings, they would. If they could just be happy, trust me, they would choose to be happy in a heartbeat. I don’t think any person on this planet that has been diagnosed with Mental Health Illnesses chose to feel that way, in fact, most would tell you that they’d trade the feelings associated with depression or their mental illness for almost anything else in the world.
Today though I stand tall, without my mask anymore. Today I’ve worked through some really tough times to discover the tools I need to manage my mental illnesses. Today I am so proud and I love to be able to say, “THIS is me.. take it or leave it”.
I decided I’m going to write a book this year. I journal on a regular basis, but I’m deciding to adventure into the blogging world because I’m truly passionate about self-growth, owning who you are and most importantly, breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness. Everyone brings something unique into this world. The hard part is taking off the mask to show the world who you really are and shining bright, like you were designed to do.
The stigma around Mental Illnesses is something I’m not only going to college for so I can live a career where I can help people live wellness in their illness. It’s also something I’m going to talk and write about in my free time. Because if even one person can read this and know they aren’t alone, and that it’s perfectlyOK to not be OK; than I feel the stigma slowly can begin loosing its grip on people.
If you can relate to this, I hope you’ve begun your journey back to loving yourself despite any mental health issues. I hope you realize that those diagnoses aren’t labels, they don’t define you and they are just a part of you. I hope you can realize what I had to learn which is that there are many resources out there to help us live the life we are destined to live; I hope you fight through the tough times to find your passions and pursue your purpose in life. Our circumstances are all different, but one thing I KNOW is that we all have at least this one thing in common and that is: that YOU were perfectly and intentionally made to live your life just the way you are.