Hi Anxiety, Will You Let Me Sleep At Night?

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Month, I am going to write about having anxiety. But, if you’re a regular around here, chances are you know already I deal with anxiety.

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Me during my junior year of college.

Anxiety is something I’ve dealt with since my junior year of college. That was the time when I struggled to maintain a normal, balanced schedule. At the time, I was taking five intensive college courses, as well as balanced two jobs. Needless to say, I quickly crashed. After dropping a course and receiving therapy from my school’s counseling center, I entered the summer feeling confident.

However, the following fall, I began to struggle with anxiety once again. Only this time, the fix wasn’t as easy as dropping a course or reducing my hours. My fall semester was a constant downward spiral of mental breakdowns. At the time, I was working three different jobs, and taking intense classes. And, I never went to my therapist, because I felt like he never listened to me.

This continued into the spring semester, where between coursework and work, I wasn’t able to even breathe. However, I saw some changes in the spring semester. For instance, I saw a new therapist who was much more open to my needs. I also began thinking about what’s best for me.

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Me, along with friends the night I gave the sermon.

Eventually, I began to get better. I became an advocate for myself, and truly tried to make sure that I was listening to myself. Furthermore, I’ve developed an attitude where I focus more on myself and my needs, and less on the expectations. I’ve also learned to be less critical of myself, and focus more on the good vs. the bad. Towards the end, I even delivered a sermon on how faith plays a role in mental health.

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Me at the beach, August 2017.

Since graduating college, I still with anxiety. Only now, it’s less feeling crushed by the weight of the amount of work I had. Instead, it’s overthinking every little thing and worrying constantly. It’s asking my boyfriend a thousand times if we are okay. It’s lying in bed at night and worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to accomplish everything. It’s crying because a rush of emotion comes to me all at once, and I need someone to give me a hug.

Can I be honest here?

Anxiety freaking sucks.

Although I still attend therapy semi regularly, I’ve come to accept anxiety as a part of my daily routine. However, I’ve somewhat learned to control it. Somewhat is the key word here. I still have moments where I call my boyfriend crying because I feel as though I can’t handle the stresses (to which I thank him so much for, because he not helps me get through it, but does a very good job of making me smile). I still have moments where I write everything in my journal as a release. I still run to get those endorphins pulsing through my veins.

With that being said, since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I write a post about my journey with anxiety. Since this is the second time I’ve done it, I like to look back at it and think about how far I’ve come. I’m not perfect, and maybe I’ll never be. And, that’s perfectly alright. There is no such thing as a perfect human.

However, I do ask one thing of every person who is reading this. And, that is to become more aware of mental health and mental health issues. That’s the main goal of me having this blog, although I’ve strayed to discuss other topics. It can be uncomfortable to talk about mental illness, which is why some don’t often do. But, just because it’s uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that we should sweep it under the rug, now should we?

Didn’t think so.

Furthermore, I ask that each and every one of you helps spread that awareness to others. Stamping out ignorance is the first step in trying to spread and develop a world where mental illness should be regarded as the same class as a physical one. So, if you suffer from a mental illness, be sure to reach out to me. I’ll be more than happy to help you get through it.

Words

It seems like words surround us wherever we go. They are what compiles our thoughts, and what makes up every book and article that we read online. Words make up the blog post that you are reading right now.

Despite the fact that words are a wonderful and beautiful thing, they can also be harmful.

But, you know the old saying. Sticks and stones may break my bones, while names will never hurt me.

Whoever said that didn’t live in the age of social media. I don’t know about you, but words have a bigger impact on me than any physical blow can. If you break your leg, you get a cast, and over time it heals. However, what’s different about words is that they have the ability to stay with you for almost an eternity.

With that being said, the words that we speak to each other — and to ourselves — are crucial to our mental health. This dialogue — both inner and what we speak to each other — can have a much bigger impact than any of us can imagine.

Let’s talk about our thoughts for a second. Now, our thoughts are something that can frame our perception on the world and the events around us. And, sometimes we have negative ones. Those thoughts ring to the tone of self doubt, and self consciousness. You know those thoughts where you feel like you can’t do anything, simply because you’re not good enough. Or even awfulizing every situation that you’re faced with. With those thoughts swirling in your head, it can be hard to stand up to all of the positive ones.

Imagine this — you erase all of your thoughts into positive ones. Easier said than done, right? But, you can somewhat make it happen, step by step. It can start by saying to yourself I’m awesome and I can do anything. Furthermore, it can even turn into a repeated version of saying nice things about yourself.

Furthermore, thoughts have the power to spiral. You know those anxious thoughts

In addition, I also would like to point out that we need to work on the things that we say to others, for those also have an impact. It can be the minor things, such as backhanded compliments (you know, someone saying that dress is nice, however it’s not my taste. But on you it’s nice!) social media comments, or flat out insults. Furthermore, this also includes saying something to someone out of anger. You know, calling someone a bitch or a loser. You never know what that can come off as sometimes. Therefore, it’s important to watch your words — no matter what the situation may be.

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Month, I’m asking that we take a moment to press edit. Whether that may be that moment when you’re trying on a dress and thinking that you’re ugly because you’re not a size zero. Or, that moment when you’re having an argument and might say something in anger that you normally wouldn’t say. Those words might just have a bigger impact that you can imagine. And, once they are out, sometimes you just can’t take them back.

In those moments, let’s try to reframe ourselves. For example, if you’re feeling anxious and the thoughts spiral, try to press pause and take a breath and reframe the thought. Or, if you’re arguing with your boyfriend for whatever reason, instead of saying something mean, take a moment and say ‘do I really feel this way?’ Chances are, you don’t.

So, let’s work on our inner and outer dialogue. And, let’s work on making them positive ones.

Good Days, Good Mental Health

Did you know that May is Mental Illness Awareness Month?

If you didn’t, then today you learned something. To help raise awareness for mental illnesses, I am going to dedicate several posts to discuss the importance of mental health awareness as well as acceptance.

Why?

Well, mental illness isn’t as uncommon as you think it may be. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) page Mental Health By The Numbers, one in five adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with a mental illness in a given year. Furthermore, one in 25 adults experience a mental illness that is so severe that it disrupts regular life activities. ]

NAMI had an interesting info-graphic, which is included below:

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Not gonna lie, these are some big numbers here.

With that being said, what are we going to do about it?

There’s a common stigma that whoever suffers from a mental illness is someone who is tainted and is damaged goods. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

And, that statement is the very reason why so many refrain to get the help they need. When that happens, they are not given a chance for healing and for hope.

As many of you know, I suffer from anxiety. It developed when I was an overwhelmed college student, and despite having a kick ass therapist, continues to exist in my life. It sucks, but I overthink just like the best of them.

One of the main reasons why I’ve started a blog was to promote mental health awareness, and to say that it’s okay to admit that you’re not okay. And, sometimes you need a little help on the way. That’s fine too. I hope readers who read my blog regularly — assuming that is that there’s people that actually do that — are inspired to discuss their own experiences and even be proud of the journey that they’ve come.

Therefore, I make it a point to dedicate a few posts every May to Mental Health Awareness Month.

So, look out for more posts about mental health. And, to conclude, I’m going to quote Dr. Fraiser Crane: “Good day, and good mental health.”

Why It’s Okay to Unfollow Someone

It’s safe to say that I practically grew up with social media. In middle school, I would stand in front of a mirror (or with a friend) and throw up a duck face. #classy I then would edit the picture using Picnic, throw up a cheesy quote, and then dedicate an entire Facebook album to those edits.

However, social media has created the argument of etiquette. It has become an arena of constant statuses, where whenever you log on, you see see several statuses and photos all at once. All of a sudden, you can see the thoughts of every person you’re following in your newsfeed.

Sometimes, this is a good thing. But have you ever had a friend that just made you feel upset or angry whenever you log in. Or, have you ever had someone that just makes you feel depressed every time that you log in.

I bet you have at least one name in mind. But, here’s the thing — you don’t have to deal with it.

Hence the unfriend/unfollow button.

One of the reasons why I am consistently struggling with is the fear of confrontation of this person. I know this is a strange thing, but what if you encounter them on the street one day and they ask you why you unfollowed them? I don’t know what the likelihood of that happening actually is, but hey you never know.

However, at the end of the day, I’ve come to realize this. If something doesn’t make you happy 95 percent of the time, chances are you might need to do a cleanse of them. Admittedly, I forget that I have the power to do so.

Recently, I’ve encountered this dilemma. I would see this person’s posts, and suddenly hop on a bus into self doubt lane where I would just feel badly about myself. Therefore, I decided to unfollow this person. Doing so caused me to feel so much better about myself.

With that being said, I do realize that in this scenario I should have taken this as an opportunity to practice positive self talk. But, at the same time, I have learned one thing in therapy — if something doesn’t make you feel okay or happy, then you are allowed to do what is best for you. This may not make sense to others, but at the end of the day, if you’re happy that’s all that matters.

Furthermore, let me raise this point — we are on social media a lot. Chances are, it’s the first thing that you do when you wake up, and you’re on it a few different times a day. This is a lot of stimuli.

Thus, this will have an effect on your day without a doubt. But, what is cool about this is that we can control it. We can control who and what we see. And, if something does bother us, we have the power to try to change it. 

Therefore, no matter what your situation may be, don’t be afraid to hit unfollow if the situation calls for it. Whether it may be an exboyfriend, a friend who leaves mean comments, or otherwise, chances are it will make you feel better.