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The Evolution of My Opinions of Carrie Bradshaw

I feel like I owe Carrie Bradshaw a thank you note. She is one of my inspirations that got me into blogging over seven years ago, where I would question the high school dating scene by contemplating nearly everything that happened to me. Back then, I would write about whether or not someone actually liked me based on their actions, despite them not actually liking me.

Seven years later, I’m still blogging, but the subjects of my posts differ. Instead of concentrating heavily on dating, my posts have shifted to talking about mental illness, current events, feminism, and so forth. However, I’d like to believe that my ‘columns’ or blog posts are a modern version of Sex and the City.

Recently, Sex and the City celebrated 19 years since its debut on HBO. Upon hearing that, it instantly put me in the mood to watch a few episodes.

As I rewatched the show, I realized that my perception of the characters has changed. This makes sense, because I first watched the show when I was 16 years old. For example, when I first watched the show, I thought that Bradshaw was relatable to all of the single women who weren’t going to settle for anything less than the butterflies that come along with real love. However, watching it again, I thought that while I could relate to some of the problems that she goes through, i.e. why won’t Mr. Big put a ring on it/it sucks being single, she seemed narcissistic and immature.

Every episode of the show, Carrie has a problem, and her friends constantly have to hear her bitch about it during their lunches, usually cutting them off from one of their problems. While listening to your friend’s problems and lending a supportive ear is all part of being a good friend, after a while, I felt that if I were one of the other three ladies, I probably would have told her to shut up about Mr. Big.

Which leads me to my next point.

When it came to Carrie’s relationships, the big (get it) problem was that Big was Carrie’s problem. Carrie constantly fell into the trap that so many women before her have fallen into — the relationship is always on his terms, the guy won’t commit, etc. She was always insecure, and constantly needed reassurance from her partners.

However, I believe that some of the relationship’s problems were caused by Carrie. Remember when she thought he was shutting her out because she farted in bed? She then decided to show up to his place unannounced, where he was watching the game. Carrie then wanted him to focus on her, which of course he wasn’t, and resulted in her being upset. I think that she shouldn’t have the right to be, since he was just watching a game, and it had absolutely nothing to do with his feelings for her.

With that being said, many real human beings have their own flaws, so I won’t hold it against Miss. Bradshaw for having her own.

However, despite the change in my opinions about Miss. Bradshaw, I still love the show. That show is definitely one of the most relatable shows for women in their teens through 40’s. I believe that it helped contribute to shift of female empowerment, as well as really helped women become more comfortable talking about women’s issues that those women did. And, in all honesty, it’s a good show.

And despite the changes of my opinion of her character, I still have Carrie to thank, though. Without Carrie, there wouldn’t be no blog post for you to read today. Without Carrie, I wouldn’t want to write, and I wouldn’t have an obsession with my initials. (Does anyone besides me want a Carrie-style name necklace?) Without Carrie, I wouldn’t have chosen to study journalism to become a writer. 

So, with that being said, thank you Carrie. You have become the face of the single woman, all who are people who are just looking for love.

Relationships

The Man Factor

Since my last relationship ended in August of last year, I decided to take a time out from dating for a period of time. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I began to fall in love with myself, something that is more important than having an ‘in a relationship status’ on Facebook or a Man Crush to post about every Monday if people even post about them anymore.

During that time, I embarked on a journey of self-reflection and growth – kind of like Eat Pray Love without the travel. I learned to be okay with going to coffee shops alone, I learned to go on long hikes with only my iPhone for company, and I began to expand my social circle. I joined a book club, meet friends through a local worship service, and just became comfortable with who I was as a person.

This sounds cliché, but it was just what the doctor ordered. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am in a place where having a boyfriend is nothing but an extra, not something I need like oxygen. Truth be told, I don’t need a guy to feel awesome. And, that is everything.

Right now, I’m in a place in my life where I want to enjoy every second that I can. I want to wander through unknown territories, I want to try new cupcake shops, and I want to enjoy the people I spend my time with, whether they may be friends or lovers. It’s not like I’m chasing away the idea of having a boyfriend – I’m learning to live life in a way that he’s dessert, not the main course.

And for those who ask me to the question don’t you want a boyfriend, here’s my answer: I’m not waiting around for Prince Charming to get his act together, and ride his white horse. Sorry.

However, there are some people who think that just because you don’t have a boyfriend, a pending relationship, or even someone that you’re ‘talking’ to, it means that you are missing something in the equation. And, for some, that may be the case. But, for me, not so much.

Throughout my time alone, I’ve given a lot of thought about the type of relationship I want and the type of guy I deserve. I’m going to share those thoughts with you now, in case you’re interested.

I am looking for the best and nothing less. Why? Because I deserve it. I deserve a guy that will bring me flowers, one that isn’t afraid to pick me up at home and shake hands with my mother. I deserve a guy that takes me to the movies, to dinner, anywhere pretty much that’s not his bed. I deserve real dates, not just a Netflix and Chill session in your bed. I deserve someone will treat me like I am the best damn thing that happened to me, because trust me, I am. And, I am not afraid to ask for it.
I’m also not afraid to demand what I want. I want someone who respects me, and my friends. I want someone who is not afraid to proclaim his feelings for me. I want nights of great conversation and to spend a good length of time getting to know this imaginary Prince Charming before committing. I want someone who makes me grin like an idiot, and someone who makes me laugh.

And, I’m going to hold out until I meet this person, because not only do I deserve it, but I respect myself enough to not settle for anything less.

At the end of the day, I’ve learned to not be afraid of being alone. I learned not to be afraid to tell someone what I want. And, most importantly, I learned that I deserve to be happy more than I need to find someone to call bae.

mental health, Mental Illness Awareness Month

Ending National Mental Illness Month

Today is the last day of May — as well as the last day of National Mental Illness Month. Throughout the month, I’ve written a grand total of seven posts that discuss my experience with anxiety, as well as the perception that mental health has. We have come a long way from the days of mental illness being perceived as something to be ashamed of. With that being said, there’s still so much to be done.

If you’re sitting here thinking hey, I want to do more to make a difference, there’s so much you can do. Unsure what you can do? Here’s a list to help get you started:

  • Become informed on mental health issues and educate others.
  • Volunteer for your local mental health agency/suicide line.
  • Donate money to a charity whose proceeds go to mental health aid.
  • Write letters to your congressperson about important issues in mental health care and how they will have an effect on patients. 

However, most importantly, I ask you to remove all stigmas you have about mental illness and just listen. Yesterday, I discussed the toxic ways mental health is perceived. Now, I want you all to examine how you interact with someone who has a mental illness. I want you to do whatever you can to ensure that you treat them with both respect and kindness. Because, like you, they are human too.

With that being said, just because the month is over, doesn’t mean the conversation has to be. Keep talking, keep learning, and keep educating. Why? Because with every person who strives to make a difference can be crucial to helping the cause become stronger.

mental health, Mental Illness Awareness Month

Why Mental Health Needs To Be Treated Like A Physical One

A couple of days ago, I saw this video that demonstrated what it would look like if we were to treat physical illnesses the way that we treat mental ones.

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For me, this video really brought home the message that both mental and physical illnesses have one word in common – illnesses. They are something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

My question is, why do we?

Clearly, we know it’s not okay to say to someone who has just hit their head to stop complaining because they are bringing you down. Instead, we ask them if they are okay. So, why do we think it’s okay to tell someone who is diagnosed as clinically depressed to just stop complaining? Or, better yet, why do we belittle them.

Newsflash, people. Mental health needs to have that same perception as physical. End of story.

Being told to suck it up is so last year. When someone has a diagnosed mental illness, it is almost the same, or even worse as a physical one. And, when you tell them that they are complaining too much, or bringing you down, it’s downright rude and disrespectful. They need to take care of themselves, and they are doing the best that they can to do that. Sometimes, people with depression struggle to get out of bed. Sometimes, people with anxiety panic to the point where all they dwell on are the negative. And, if you were their friend, you would do whatever you can to help them – not, disrespect them.

With an Italian upbringing, mental illness was perceived as just not being tough enough. Having anxiety, many of my family members often think that I am just complaining when I say that I am feeling anxious, or think that my therapy sessions are just a waste of money. Or, that I don’t need a therapist.

But, do I tell the person with a broken leg that they don’t need physical therapy? We don’t say shake it off, because you’re complaining too much? No, because that’s crazy. We shouldn’t be saying that going to a psychotherapist, therapist or psychologist is a waste of money, either. Like physical therapy, psychotherapy is trying to heal the mind to make them stronger. And, why would we try to knock down strength – physical or mental?

And, by these stigmas floating around in the world, it might be the very reason why someone is too afraid to get the help they need because they feel like they are complaining too much, or too ashamed or proud to admit that they have a problem. And, that is just tragic.

Mental illness and physical illness need to be on the same tier. Someone who complains anxiety or depression is not them craving attention. It doesn’t come from wanting to drown you down, which by the way is absurd. They come from living in that sea of depression daily. They come from living in a constant state of anxiety and they are not complaining. You running your mouth and saying those things to them is only adding fuel to the fire, and can easily make things worse for them.

Which is something that they didn’t need.

So, let’s not belittle those who suffer from a mental illness. Let’s not make them feel ashamed for getting the help that they need. Let’s applaud those who struggle, but are choosing to get the help they need? Let’s applaud each and every person who decides to fight whatever obstacle they face, instead of just allowing themselves to get swept up in the tide and drown.

Instead, let’s call them warriors, because they go to war with their minds every day, which sometimes can be a constant battle. Life with a mental illness isn’t easy, and therefore, they deserve to be treated with the same sympathy and respect that you did when you broke your leg, arm, or that any diabetic has.

Uncategorized

Confronting the Elephant in the Room: My Journey With Anxiety

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Whenever I talk about my anxiety – whether it may be in writing, in a sermon or in casual conversation – I always feel like I am at an AA meeting.

So, let’s get something out of the way . . .

Hi, my name is Natalie and I have anxiety.

There, much better now.

My journey with anxiety began about two and a half years ago, when I soon discovered that I could not handle the pressure of taking five classes and working two jobs. Luckily, I was able to control it by dropping a class, attended therapy to help maintain the anxiety, and managed to float through the rest of that semester.

I thought that would be the end of my anxiety, if you could call it that. Oh no. In the fall of my senior year, my last full academic year, anxiety came back – with a vengeance, I might add. I began to experience panic attacks, moments when I could sit in bed and do nothing but cry, and times when I felt crushed by the weight of everything that I needed to do for my classes and my jobs. I felt isolated, like a constant sinking stone that felt so lost at sea that no one can come to rescue me.

So, I tried to do the best I could. I went to see a therapist at my school, something that ended up not being helpful, because he had a list of things that I needed to do. That list was a set one. First, let’s try some deep breathing exercises. Didn’t work? No problem, let’s try writing. Didn’t work either? Okay, time to try medication!

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Since nothing seemed to work, I felt like I was setting myself up for failure, almost as if I were failing at therapy if that were such a thing.

I then realized that something had to change. Little did I know at the time was that change had to begin with me.

2016 began as a year of change. I changed therapists, and got a job that didn’t make me sick to go to anymore.

Things began to look up – kind of. I still cried at night because I was just so overwhelmed with everything, I still had panic attacks regularly, and I still felt as if I was so easily broken, almost as if I were made out of glass. I felt almost as if I were in a hole that I couldn’t dig myself out of.

But, beneath that sadness and anxiety, I began to slowly see sunlight. In the spring of 2016, I began to take the wheel and do what I can to make sure that my anxiety was better for once and for all. I was successful to completing that goal – to some degree – thanks to the help of an amazing support system. By the end of the summer, despite some ups and downs, I was able to finally make the right steps to get better.

And, it’s safe to say that most of the steps I took worked for my last semester as an undergraduate. My anxiety, other than the confusion of what to do after with my life after graduation, was pretty much at a standstill. I thought that I beat anxiety for sure, and triumphantly gave a sermon at Luther House at Yale University about how I conquered anxiety and beat it.

As 2017 approached, I was certain that I would leave anxiety in 2016. But, I thought wrong. I struggled as I transitioned from being a full-time student to being a full-time employee. I reverted back to my old ways – crying at the drop of a hat, panic attacks, and being an overly irritable person. To top things off, I soon began to get really sick, to the point where I ended up getting really dehydrated to the point where I couldn’t even move.

At that point, I realized that I had to once again make the choice to do what’s best for me. I never once regretted it since having to do so, and now, am currently leading a life that I am happy with.

And, as I wake up every morning, I appreciate every morning I wake up.
Going through my journey with anxiety these past two years, I believe that it has taught me to love and appreciate myself – the person I am, the person I aspire to be, the journey I am on to get to that point, and the progress I have made to get to that point. I came a long way from that person that I was a few years back! I have learned to take the wheel and make changes that I need to see a result. I learned that my happiness matters above all else. I learned that sometimes life can take unexpected turns, but can fight it with a positive attitude and ‘I can’ spirit. I try to make light of what I went through with humor, and am grateful to be able to laugh at my experiences, rather than cry about them.

Many people – friends, family, teachers, my pastor and a therapist to name a few — have contributed to that journey and supported me to be the person I am today. That very cast of people reminded me that I was worth every challenging moment, were the arms of support when I needed it, and were the people who reminded me that everything was going to be okay whenever I had any doubt that it wasn’t. So, to those who this applies to, I thank you with my whole heart.

But, what I am so glad to announce, is that I have become that pillar of support for myself. I can calm myself down during a panic attack, and remind myself that despite the dismal appearance, everything will in fact be okay. And, that is everything.

Anxiety will always be a part of my life, just as my hair is brown. However, it’s not my whole life, and I refuse to let it consume me. There will be some days when panic attacks that are the furthest thing from my mind, and there will be nights where I can’t sleep because of my anxiety. But, I am not just my anxiety, as I reminded everyone during my sermon at Luther House. I am a bookworm, a blogger, a writer, and a human. But, most importantly, I am stronger than I could have ever imagined myself being. I will not let anxiety be the road barrier to my paradise.

So, as Mental Illness Month draws to a close, I hope that you all have gained insight about anxiety, and for those who suffer with some kind of mental illness, I hope that you know you are strong and wonderful beings. I hope that you know that you can get through whatever you don’t think you can, and you are worth every challenging moment that you have with anxiety.

And when you do have those moments, I’m going to leave you with some lyrics that have been helpful during times of turmoil:

“I won’t break/I won’t bend/But, someday soon we’ll sail away to innocence, and the bitter end” – “Simple Life,” Elton John.

Uncategorized

Aftermath of Manchester

Last night, there was an attack in Manchester, England at an Ariana Grande concert. At least 22 are dead, and over 50 are injured – not mention countless others missing.

When I heard the news – a notification on my phone during my first book club meeting – my heart broke.

This was a concert, one with innocent children and young adults. They were looking forward to seeing their favorite artist, and to hearing their favorite songs. They didn’t deserve this. It breaks my heart to hear a mother frantically cry for her daughter to come home. It breaks my heart to hear that these innocent children are victims to a crime that is so unjust. It breaks my heart to the footage of the attack.

And, all they did was go to a concert.

It’s sad that these have become more and common, and it’s sad that we’ve become immune to the intensity of attacks such as these. Right now, I’m thinking of Paris, Orlando, Nice – and those who lost their lives or suffered injuries. I’m thinking about the children who are victims to this, and the tomorrow that they have to live in. Those children have to live in fear. Those children will sadly never be children again. Stealing the innocence of a child is perhaps the most tragic loss of all.

So, today I pray for Manchester. I pray for those who are injured, those who are deceased, Ariana Grande, and those who anxiously await for news on their children. But, I also pray for the world, for peace, and a better tomorrow.

Mental Illness Awareness Month

What I Wish Those Without Anxiety Knew About Anxiety

For those who are lucky to not have to experience mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or an eating disorder, I consider you to be lucky. There are so many things that you may not know – or even understand what it’s like to have to deal with the effects of one.

I have anxiety. Having anxiety means overthinking everything – from the way that you said hello to someone, to how you worded that text message, or why the guy that you like isn’t texting you back – the thoughts circling around your mind like an endless drain. Having anxiety means having panic attacks – often over something small or nothing at all. Having anxiety means living in a constant state of worry, even though you may have nothing to worry about. Having anxiety is often being scared over things that seem small to the naked eye, and not being able to do something because of that fear. And that is only giving you the Reader’s Digest version of what is truly like to deal with anxiety.

With that being said, there are so many things that someone who doesn’t have anxiety may not get. For example, if they see someone on the street having a panic attack because they are about to go on a date with someone and they are afraid of what may happen, they may think that they are crazy or over reacting.

I can assure you that they are not. I can simply say that it’s their anxiety. And, no they are not overacting. They are not doing it to get attention. They are not saying that so you can drop whatever it is you are doing to get your attention and affection. And yes, they are doing the best they can to control it, but sometimes their very best isn’t enough.

They are saying that because their brain is telling them that there is a danger of some sort. They are feeling that way because the fear of doing whatever has taken over their body like a parasite, and sucked everything else out of them. They are doing that because they cannot help it, and if they could, do you really think that living their life in that constant state of mind?

I don’t think so.

And the same thing applies to those who have other mental illnesses, although I myself can not speak to what it’s like to deal with those on a daily basis. I can tell you this, though: every day, someone with a mental illness is doing the best that they can to float through daily life. And, you should understand that, and remind them that they are awesome, and give them a hug.

Mental Illness Awareness Month

It’s Okay To Cry Sometimes

Big girls don’t cry.

Stop crying now, men don’t cry.

You’re acting like a baby, stop crying.

Crying is showing weakness.

These are only a few of the stereotypes that are associated with crying. However, I disagree with each and everyone.

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: it’s okay to cry. Crying does not make you weak.

I, on the other hand, think that by being comfortable enough with yourself to allow yourself to express those emotions in a healthy way is the best thing ever.

I don’t know where this concept comes from. Maybe it’s something that is passed down from generation to generation – something that a father tells his son, who then tells his son. Maybe it’s society. For instance, many men in television sitcoms, such as Frank Barone from Everyone Loves Raymond or Tim Taylor from Home Improvement proclaim that “real” men don’t cry.

With that being said, I would like to challenge that notion with this. By bottling that emotion up like that, it leads to an emotional explosion where you finally release everything that you’ve held in for so long. It’s not healthy, plain and simple.

I also would like to argue that crying shows strength, as I mentioned earlier. There’s something about allowing yourself to release those emotions. It’s your way of release in the moment, a method of filtering out all of the emotions that are making you sad and release them into the world. And, it’s healthy.

I remember when my grandfather died, and I had to give a bible reading during his funeral mass. During halfway through the reading, I broke down and cried, apologizing to the audience (mostly family) afterwards. My cousins gave me grief about it, but I think in that moment, considering that my grandfather and I were close, that it was okay to release the sadness that I was feeling in that moment. Looking back on it, I think it’s what I needed to do, and needed to feel. And that’s perfectly alright.

And, there are health benefits to crying as well. According to Psychology Today, crying releases stress hormones that build up throughout the body. The article then goes on to state that crying “stimulates” endorphins – you know, the stuff that makes you feel good. After crying, the article states that our bodies enter a “calmer biological and emotional state.”

Can’t argue with science, now can you?

So, with that being said, no one on this earth should ever apologize for crying – whether it may be because you’re going through a breakup, dealing with a loved one’s death, or just because you’re stressed out. I myself, whenever I am stressed out, scared, upset or dealing with PMS. And I say that you should too, if you want, cry it out and express your damn emotions – and don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

You Are A Badass Book Review

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One of the reasons why I love reading so much is because books truly have the impact to change your life. This is why You are a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is one of my favorite books.

The book is not your mother’s self help book, and is truly unlike any other. It approaches the topic of changing your life and giving you the momentum to actually go out there and do it. Sincero approaches each with of the 27 chapters with wit and is extremely entertaining. In fact, one of the chapters is called “Your Brain is Your Bitch.” Take that, Freud.

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What I like most about this book is that it reminds you that you have the tools to change your life, and that it is up to you to change the way you think to get change. The attitude of being a bad-ass is something that you can bleed into your daily life – whether it may be doing something because you want to, or deserve it, or going for things because you want to. She also prompts you to stop thinking about doing something, and start doing it. Being a badass means forgoing any feedback from others, and doing things your way. This is something each and every one of us could use more of.

Furthermore, this book also talks about going out of your comfort zone, and trying something that you always wanted to try for the hell of it, whether it may be sky diving or taking an art class. By doing things for the hell of it, Sincero stated that you learn to enjoy life, and it’s worth it.

However, what is unique about this book is how Sincero ends each chapter with two simple words – love yourself. Two simple words that truly have an impact on a reader who may need to hear them during a time of turbulence.

A little background information about my relationship with this book: it was actually recommended to me by my therapist. Since I read it back in September, my attitude towards life has done a complete 180. For example, when something in my life isn’t working – a relationship, job, for instance – I refocus my energies to figure out why that is and what can I do to find a resolution. Sincero writes that when you don’t you allow others (and yourself) to feel sorry for you. But, instead of allowing that to happen, you get out and do something about it, thus allowing change in.

Because of reading this book, I was able to have the attitude to go out and get what I want, and that I actually deserve it. Why, you may ask? Because I am truly a badass, and completely worth it.

Reading this book made me want to kick ass and get off of mine to do something about my life. With that being said, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to change their life or is unhappy with it. Why? Because you too, are a badass.

Uncategorized

Why I Deleted My Tinder

Recently, I woke up and decided to delete my dating profiles.

No, I didn’t meet some prince charming, although I got the numbers of a few prospective princes before deleting the apps.

The decision to delete them had very little to do with the outer world, and every bit to do with me.

You see, every day, I would go onto those apps and spend at least an hour of my time looking for a guy. Actually, looking is a mild way to put it. When I first downloaded the apps back in September, it was similar to when I went to three bookstores desperately searching for a copy of the Handmaid’s Tale. I was obsessed with going out with someone, and finding a boyfriend. It was quite unhealthy.

That attitude lasted for about a week and a half. Over time, my interest in the app waned to the point where I only checked it whenever someone of interest would message me. Going on these apps were exhausting! Swipe left, swipe right! I was tired of the endless amounts of let’s have casual sex messages, or the guy who couldn’t get the picture that I wasn’t interested in even talking to him. I was tired of having the

So, last week, I deleted every one of my apps. And it felt pretty great.

At the end of the day, I realized that I don’t want to be the girl who is so caught up with looking for a guy that once she finds him, she loses herself. I want to have solid, concrete interests, as well as opinions. I want to be able to say that I had more going for me then just being on a dating app.

Who knows? Maybe one day I will be back on the app for the fun of it. But, in the meantime, I want to enjoy life without the constant swiping. With that being said, whenever I do meet someone – online or offline – I want to do it simply because I want to get to know them or enjoy their company. Not because I feel like I just have to have a boyfriend.