Where Have You Been?!

So, funny story…

I’ve been hella MIA.

I wish I had a really cool reason, like I’ve been traveling the world or tucked away in some hidden Air BNB finishing my novel…but I don’t.

The truth is – I lost my mojo, baby. I lost my motivation, my inspiration and my control all in one swoop. I hadn’t written in months. My life swam by me in a blur. I was drowning within myself, and I was painfully aware of it. I would wake up in the morning and within two hours, be ready to sleep again. I was emotionally exhausted all the time, anxious, on edge, introverted. All things that were just…unlike me.

It’s never easy to sit down and look at yourself in the mirror and ask the question, “What is going on with me?” But I had to. I realized that life is far too short to get sucked so far into yourself that you can’t see beyond the door. So I did.

Backstory-time.

I have willingly chosen not to pursue medication for the majority of my adult anxiety/OCD journey. Mainly because I’m terrified of medicine, but also because I wanted to learn practical coping methods for myself first. Turns out, for the most part – I could, and had been, managing my anxiety and OCD on my own.

Until recently.

For whatever reason, unbeknownst to me, my normal tools weren’t working. Meditation, nope. Yoga, negative. Breathing exercises, nada. The list goes on and on with the things I’ve tried. I was falling into habits that I hadn’t done in years. I caught myself picking at my cuticles until they bled, chewing my lip until I could run my tongue along a visible swollen spot. The tipping point was when I realized I couldn’t pull myself out of my room.

I woke up on the morning of the Equality March – something I had been looking forward to for months. I knew. I knew instantly that it was an off day. My fan was so loud I swore it was a helicopter taking off when I woke up. The sun seemed unyieldingly bright behind closed blinds, even though it was a cloudy morning. My heart raced and my hands trembled when I thought about leaving the house. Fear consumed me. It consumed me to the point that I felt like walls were falling in and I couldn’t breathe.

That day – for the first day in nearly twelve years – I let fear trap me in my own home and in my own body.

I missed the march. I missed standing up for something that I have always fought for.

And I said, ‘enough’.

I talked to my doctor about everything, what I was experiencing, feeling and doing to combat all of it. There were blood tests and sleep analysis questions. Finally, the step I never thought I’d be willing to entertain came up – medication. My doctor was patient and listened and knew that I was afraid and she talked me through it.

I thought back to the march. To what I had missed, to what I could miss in the future – and I got the hell on board with it pretty quickly, and I feel confident about my decision.

I say all of that to say this – It’s okay to need, and ask for, help. 

It’s okay to not have it together all the time. It’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or unable to manage, I promise. You don’t have to suffer in silence or try to fight a battle on your own. There are people, sometimes even total strangers, who support you – no matter what your journey may look like. Promise.

One thing I swore in the beginning was that this blog would be a safe space for all of my readers, and I felt like it would be unfair for me to not use it as mine as well.

So that’s where I have been. I’ve been healing and learning and fighting myself and repairing.

I’ve been feeling more inspired and there’s new content, series and funny stories on the way!

Thank you, lovelies. For being a community and a support system I never knew I needed until I had you!

Readers, Meet Anxiety.

I struggle with anxiety and OCD – and not because an online quiz told me. I was diagnosed as a young adult, but have fought this battle for as long as I can remember.

BAM! How’s that for an opener?

I was always super self-conscious about admitting to other people that I dealt with these things because I was afraid of what they would think. That it would make me less of a person and more of a statistic –

“Oh my god, what will they think?”

“Will I still be allowed to do certain things?”

“Does it make me a bad mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend?”

Sometimes those thoughts are still my elephant in the room. For the longest time I hid it all from the world and the people I trusted and loved. Since I had been hurt before by some of those same people who made comments or dismissed how I felt, my confidence was shattered for years.

The words “mental illness” were bullied – so I bundled up my seemingly irrational fears and obsessions and sadness and hid.

It wasn’t until the last five years of my life that I really found my voice. I came out to more people about what I had been dealing and continue to deal with. I am still very guarded with myself. It’s not easy to open up the most vulnerable parts of your mind to others, but I have. I let it be known and I have people I can talk to.

Now, it’s just another path I walk. Sometimes it’s flat pavement and sometimes it’s mountains.

But let me be real – the stigma surrounding mental illness is very real and it’s still out there in so many ways. So I say, not-so-politely, screw the stigma.

Be you. Be brave. It’s okay to talk about it.

I want you, as my readers, to know this about me because these things are part of who I am, and I think it’s important to talk about. It has taken years for me to reach a place where I will put myself out there in all of my messy-glory.

If I think it may help even one person, I’ll continue sharing my stories until my voice goes out.

For me – living with anxiety is like living with this hyper awareness of everything, and OCD is constantly obsessing over how I can keep control of it all.

It’s exhausting. My mind runs so fast sometimes that I can’t keep up.

Panic attacks are a storm that will come out of nowhere. It’s like I become a balloon in a hurricane and I’m tossed back and forth – completely out of control, and all I need is for one thing, one person, one thought to hold onto me so that I can stop.

My mind is never quiet. Sometimes, every nerve ending is overloaded and sounds and lights are more intense than they were just a few hours ago.

Dealing with a mental illness of any kind is a tough business to try and understand – but there are people who do. We exist, and we are here to listen and support.

There are a lot of amazing resources out there that talk about what things look and feel like – but please trust me when I say that they’re different for everyone. EVERYONE. There are common threads, but everyone’s mind is different. The best thing we can do is to support and ask questions.

Ask questions. Ask someone what they need. Ask someone if they feel safe. Just ask.

Don’t judge someone else’s struggle because it doesn’t match what you’ve read about or even what you may have dealt with. We can only ever speak for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak at all.

I feel comfortable talking about my journey now. I’ve learned a lot along the way. For the most part, I have learned my own triggers and how to calm my breathing and my mind so that I can bounce back with minimal damage to my mascara. But there are  still times when my world is spinning so fast I can’t get my feet on the ground and all hell breaks loose.

We are all existing on this beautiful planet together, and the best thing we can do is help each other out and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Fair warning – walking in these shoes can be like running a marathon in a pair of knock-off Jimmy Choo’s. Not that I’ve tried that, because mama don’t run.

Really, I want this post to generate acceptance and understanding for those who go through any of these things.

My hope with this post is that by laying it out there, someone else will see that and give themselves a moment – one singular moment to feel loved and understood. Because you, my lovely, are not alone.

If you, or someone you know is struggling, share this, you never know when it will save a life. Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Just Because

On occasion I write a post, just because. Without any point other than to share. This is that post.
There comes a point in life when you have to let the chips fall where they may – I realized yesterday that I am at this point in my journey.

My entire life I dreamt of being a writer. As I grew older, I also realized I had to make a living and pay bills, a rather unfortunate byproduct of adulthood. So writing fell to the back burner on my list of priorities.

Until recently. Something happened when we moved to NC that told me I had to start writing – full time. I started this blog. I got organized. I wrote more than I had in a long time. I looked at long term goals to help me achieve this particular one and made up my mind.

Only not really. I still kept writing as a fluttering afterthought on most days. I even applied for a position that would essentially limit my ability to balance personal commitments and writing. I really wanted that position, until I got word that I wasn’t selected.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So yesterday, after I second guessed my corporate career, ate brownies, cried and complained for a few hours straight, I sat up and made myself go to writing group.

That was when magic happened. The people in my writing group inspire me every single time I meet with them. This was the moment I needed, the cosmic “click” everyone speaks of. I realized that while a job didn’t work out, my passion for writing and storytelling always worked out for me. The certainty of that future was dependent on me and my motivation, no one else’s.

I made a decision to write. To reach my goal of doing it full time. To allow myself to be creative and passionate and teach others. To share with others and document my journey, my failures and successes whenever I could. But mostly I decided to enjoy the gift I had been given.

My chips are in the air and I’m excited to see where they fall. It’s still exciting to me that brownie-binge inducing failures can generate great motivation. Even if it’s not exactly what you were expecting.