Just a thought I had today, and wanted to share with you all:
I was in a good mood and thinking about my future. I was reflecting on goals I want to achieve, places I want to see, and things I want to see happen.
3 or 4 things come to mind for me before anything else. My 3-4 things may be completely different from yours and what you can't wait for in your future.
As I was fantasizing about when the time will come where all of these things will just fall into place I was thinking, "Damn, I need to remind myself how much these things mean to me so when I catch myself in a stuck point, I can remember my life is worth living."
So here's the thing with me:
1. I'm super good at coming up with coping strategies for crisis situations.
2. I'm terrible at remembering/finding the motivation to actually use those strategies in those moments.
So my plan..
I am going to make a list for myself and only myself of all the things I have to look forward to in my future. Then, I am going to write to myself. Yes, like "Dear Haley," and I am going to explain to myself why those things mean so much to me.
Yes, this sounds like a DORK plan, which is why I'm going to keep mine to myself. I take my mental health seriously; my silly plans have meaning for me. Sometimes I just need them.
From someone who has been in crisis, it is important and useful to have safety plans and things to turn to when you are feeling out of touch with yourself or life itself.
I get so scared and panicky in the moment that my mind jumps to negative thoughts and generalizing everything that is bad. I need to breathe, take a step back, remind myself any current craziness will pass, and that I have things to look forward to if I just hang in there.
It's just about making sure I remind myself that.
When I was in 4th grade I remember my teacher asking me to do her a favor. She asked me to go to another 4th grade teacher's room and ask him something. (I clearly don't remember what that something was.) But why ask me? Probably the quietest kid in the class. I know she really liked me, but- why me?
I remember leaving the room for my "quest" and standing in the middle of the hallway, petrified. My mind drew a complete blank, almost as if I was unable to form words.. even in my head. I turned around and went BACK to my classroom. I remember approaching my teacher and saying "Wait, what do I say?" I wanted her to put words in my mouth. I wanted her to give me a line (almost like a script) of what I needed to ask him. Even if it was just to say 5 words.
I needed the confidence of what I was going to say before I was going to say it.
So here is what I've learned about myself:
I am a very social person, who is socially anxious, who has little confidence socially, who hates social situations, who loves talking to people, and loves people in general.
Wait What ?
Trying to figure myself out is like walking through the world's biggest corn maze.
I had been diagnosed last September with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, with many of my symptoms relating to Social Anxiety Disorder.
It was then where I had to understand that social anxiety and "shyness" are completely different things. I am not shy. I am very personable, in fact. When I'm not anxious :-)
I have also learned that I am extremely confident socially when I am familiar, interested and engaged in the conversation. Recently, I was at the kitchen table with John's sister and his mother discussing the social work career. Boy was I talking. Something that I am passionate about, and I even amazed my mom from the other room with how I held the entire conversation- eye contact and all.
Discussing stigma, mental health awareness, issues in society...Now that's where I can spend a conversation. (Reasons why I will probably kickass in my college classes) Things that matter to me, and that I am knowledgable in of course.
But try small talk with me or ask me questions I am not prepared for (even simple ones) and you can find me relating to the socially awkward penguin memes ..
So this is what confuses me:
I have no issue walking into a store at Hampton Beach and asking a complete stranger behind the counter if any places on the boardwalk did body piercings,
today I was panicking (in real tears) over the fact that I would have to check-in by myself at my dentist appointment. My mom had to come in my room, first ask me what was wrong, and then say "Haley, all you need to say is "I'm here; Haley" and they will say okay thank you."
What I have pieced together is.. in many ways it has nothing to do with my social skills. It is not shyness, or social anxiety.
It is a lack of confidence, and a fear of making mistakes.
Speaking out loud is not my problem, it is being confident enough with what I am saying.
Remember that quote I frequently use? "I write better than I talk."
When I am speaking or being asked direct questions that require a little thought, my brain freezes up. It feels like a boulder is on me and I just feel very very heavy. My cheeks could be drooping down to my shoulders. My mind is thinking about what to say, without even thinking at all.
I am not very good with a quick response, most of the time. I like to take my time and make sure I am presenting my thoughts accurately through my words. When I struggle to do so, I am very hard on myself.
Tonight, I was reminded that we all have a different process. We all have a different way of doing things, strengths and weaknesses, how our brain functions, and we all have things we wish we could change about ourselves.
Tonight, I needed it to be drilled into my head; A reminder of the real me.
I needed a reminder that I am a person who puts a lot of pressure on myself, and who sometimes needs a little time to process things. However, I am a person that proves that once I do reach that process, my words are more than meaningful and understood.
To become strong mentally there are a lot of things you need to gain, and a lot of things you need to let go.
I have challenged myself to separate my feelings from my self worth.
Now, I need to work on acceptance. I need to accept who/how I am, even the things that may frustrate or embarrass me. If I am learning self care, self respect, and self love, I must accept my flaws.
I may struggle to present myself at times. I may struggle to put my feelings into words, and I may struggle to put descriptions to my feelings.
But I have writing; my tool to process everything that runs through this head of mine, word by word.
And I have my jumpy mind that is always filled with thoughts, and my skill to focus so much time on a thought, where I am bound to discover every aspect of it at some point.
Everybody is different, we all have something.
If any of you can relate to "beating yourself up" I challenge you to take the challenge of acceptance and perspective with me.
Good things can come from our flaws, and sometimes it is our flaws that hold the talent within us.
The latest with me is that I applied for the Bridge program at my college.
If accepted, (I really have no idea how it works) my move-in day will be 2 weeks earlier than planned.
So why would I want to do that when I could have a longer summer?
The purpose of the program is to give new students a chance to have a head-start in the college process and to become adjusted before Orientation week.
I personally, feel as though I am ready for college. I am not scared of the changes and the demands. I'm fairly prepared. However, I know myself pretty well and I do take longer than others to fully adjust.
I'm the girl that's quiet and awkward until I get to know you (or trust you) and then I am the crazy, talkative, bubbly, (yet still awkward) girl.
Besides socially, in school it is the same. When I am placed in a new environment I am anxious and uncomfortable until I know my surroundings well.
When I toured my college my mom was laughing (more in surprise) at the fact that my worries were not "normal." Afraid of a roommate? No. Afraid of moving to a city? Nope. Afraid of being homesick? Nah. Instead, I was afraid of the dining hall. Just standing there made me want to cry. Grabbing food surrounded by tables and booths? People watching me? What if I drop something? Who do I have to talk to? My second fear, the classroom. I only saw one for an example and I must've looked pale while the tour guide was talking to me.
It was a discussion setting. A circle table. I hate circles. In English class in high school we would have to sit in a circle when discussing a book. One student speaking at a time. Everyone staring at each other. I hated it.
I know that by attending a small, discussion-based college, I will eventually overcome (hopefully) my social anxiety, and improve my social skills and confidence with public speaking.
As for the Bridge program, that is why I applied..
To have 2 weeks ahead of the game to gain comfort and ease anxieties before being thrown in with the rest of the pack.
I have learned this year that it is okay to not act so tough all the time.
Normal me would bite my lip and try to follow the crowd and pretend I am calm and fearless.
I would much rather take my own routes, advocate for myself, and prepare ahead to minimize my anxieties instead of ignoring the coping strategies and resources around me.
If I'm not accepted, I know I will still be okay.
But I really do I hope I am ..
I have always been a daydreamer. Sometimes I will get so caught up in my mind that I find myself questioning the reality of my surroundings.
I have always had the strange question of "am I really here?" running through my mind.
I don't view this as a bad thing. However, it sure can be when I use my excessive thoughts to escape what's around me and end up becoming trapped there.
I study every thought I have. I challenge myself; I try to learn new things about myself. With my happiness, I can become overwhelmed in the best of ways by the smallest things.
I often feel like a free spirit. I just want to run around in a giant meadow or lie in the grass and watch the clouds.
Tonight, Mom and John were going to take a Jeep ride with the top down. They invited me to join them.
I have been invited numerous times before, but I never chose to tag along. I would either be too tired (physically and mentally), too unmotivated, too depressed, and since my car accident- too nervous.
Tonight, however, I said yes.
I put on my pajama pants, fuzzy socks, and a baseball hat and I climbed in the back.
It was dark out, and all I could clearly see was the street lights and the dim light reflected on the clouds among the fog.
I closed my eyes and focused on the feeling of the wind. Of course, I put my hands above the roof and allowed the wind to brush across my fingertips. In the distance I could see a burst of lightning among the clouds, and I started to feel raindrops.
The entire time I was thinking about the progress I have made this past year. I had fallen down..very far and very hard, but I eventually found a way to get back up again.
It is hard to believe that where I was, was who I was. That was me?
I had struggled to see the worth in my life. I didn't care if I was ever going to leave things behind, because I just didn't want to feel the pain anymore.
That was me. Living in the darkness of my mind, and saying no to family Jeep rides..
So yes, I am going to accept that I am a daydreaming dork, and yes I am now going to appreciate a 15 minute Jeep ride on a summer's night.
Life bringing me to my knees has allowed me to find excitement in the little things in life.
I wish more people lived like this, or had this perspective.
What a way to live.
I have been beyond frustrated for some time now ...
But oh so darn happy ..
Good things are happening in my life.
My mom and John are deciding a wedding date, I have been contributing to other websites, I have been in control of my depression and anxiety, and I have changed my diet after discovering my problems with gluten.
Everything is looking up for me.
Yet, I am so disappointed that blogging hasn't been the same to me.
Back in October I was blogging every single day. I never ran out of things to talk about, and at times I would have to hide my laptop (from myself) for days so I would limit my use.
I was trying to put together why it is no longer the same for me. 2 reasons came to mind.
When I started blogging, I was very sick. I was depressed, and my anxiety made it impossible for me to pay attention in school. Even though I had family and friends willing to help, I still felt alone. I was alone. I was misunderstood, and for that I only had 1 person. Myself. Writing was all I had.
Now, I am stronger than before. I'm no longer hiding in my bedroom with the shades drawn. I am happy again, I am bringing myself out into the world. For that reason, I don't need to write the same way as I had before, because I have so much more than myself now. And if I got lost again, and felt misunderstood again, I know now what to do and where to go to gain help and reassurance.
My second reason:
When I began blogging, I used it as a way to release my built up emotions. I would reflect upon my days, but mainly the bad parts. It was private for a reason, I was completely vulnerable and I poured every depressing emotion into the page. It was a great place to start, but I knew that my recovery was not going to be as successful if my outlet was only being used to support my negative-thinking.
It makes sense to me now. I am happier, and healthier, and my blog is still an outlet for me; I am just using it in a different way.
I am bothered by the fact that my excuse for blogging every day was because I was letting out negative emotions.
That doesn't mean I should now be struggling to write because I have too many positive emotions !?! That's crazy.
So this is what I'm going to do:
- I had blogged a gratitude journal many times before; I can sure keep up that again. It will be for me more than anyone else. But isn't that why I started writing anyway?
- The same way I used to reflect upon my day and focus on the bad, I am going to do the same and focus on the good.
My mind is a busy place, so there is no excuse for missing blog posts.
I need to stop giving the negative all of my attention unless I am reflecting on what I've learned from it.
From now on, I am celebrating the positive.
This site is a part of my story; I shouldn't leave out the good stuff.
The title says it all- I am blogging from Hampton Beach! More than 15 of us are all on vacation. Those from my household, John's mother, John's sister + her kids, and a couple others.
This past week before we got to NH has been interesting. My mind has been racing 24/7 with memories good/bad, either or. So of course- I have not been sleeping well.
The first day we arrived at the beach house it was raining out. We were all tired from the drive (and lack of sleep) and used our time to settle into our rooms, unpack, and rest. My stomach had been bothering me all day but I figured it was normal considering the lack of sleep plus a road trip. As time went by the symptoms intensified. At 4pm the kids all went to walk the boardwalk and beach, and I was in bed-extremely weak and in a lot of pain. I fell asleep and refused to eat dinner. I woke up a couple hours later at 9:40 pm. After that I was awake ALL NIGHT LONG. I was tossing and turning and stressing and feeling terrible inside. I warned the family by morning that I was either going to be very sensitive, extremely goofy, OR a major bitch that day.
I spent the 2nd day of vacation in bed as well, curled up in a ball as everything made me feel sick. I was able to eat 1 plain waffle for breakfast but just that "activity" sucked the life out of me and I was back in bed completely weak.
I was practically overdosing on digestion meds and I could tell I was already losing too much weight. I panicked. I wasn't sick. I knew I wasn't. This was all too familiar. Is this anxiety? Or what if it isnt- is there something wrong with me? The paranoia kicked in. When I wasn't sleeping I found myself googling all my symptoms that were not making sense to me. What the hell is wrong with my stomach? Why can't I digest anything?
I was practically in tears. Mental health is just as important as physical health, but physical health can also affect mental health.
I have dealt with health issues since I was born. Now, in writing i don't want it to sound like I'm over exaggerating because i am ultimately grateful for my health knowing what some kids go through every single day. There was always something with me, though. I never felt 100%. In my younger years it was my asthma and heart condition. As I got older we discovered my thyroid condition. Anxiety and depression can bring symptoms such as insomnia, change in eating patterns, fatigue, etc. With me, it has always been hard for my doctors to fully know what is causing what.
I became frustrated this week. I have been happy. I have been feeling so strong mentally. I am on vacation with a large group of people (which is huge for me), a whole new place, and I'm happy to be here. I'm happy, but I'm so fricken tired. Why is it always a "this or that." My mental health is strong, but then my physical health can bring me down.
Since I was not sleeping at night I spent the hours doing loads of research.
I googled one question. A word-for-word "why does my__________" and the first article that came up was about a woman who discovered she was gluten intolerant. I related to how she was describing the way she was feeling and I became very curious. I took an online test (just for a general idea) and noticed that the questions described how I feel better than I could.
I thought, okay, what if I try being gluten free for exactly 1 week just to see if I feel any better?
I have limited meal choices while I am away from home but I have been making do, and my stomach problems have improved.
I had also read that gluten sensitivity can cause anxiety and depression, as well as rapid mood changes. I had this beautiful dream in my head that IF gluten was a huge source of my problems, and IF I go without it I will become energized, and happy, and not needing to take a nap or two just to get through the day. A life where I wouldn't have to worry about my physical and mental health anymore. I have a come a long way as well as working on skills to do my own part in helping myself. I still have a way to go, but I know if I felt better physically I would be able to live a little more.
So that's what's new with me! I'm at the beach for the week, hopefully getting sun, hopefully not getting burnt, and I'm on a gluten free trial.
So far so good!
I caught myself during a time where I wasn't busy AND wasn't tired, so I'm catching up on the blog!
Did I mention I have 2 new articles published? :-)
7 Short Mantras That Help Me Get Through Stressful Situations
One Helpful Thing For When You Are Dealing With Depression
Lydia, Lyds, Lyddie, Lyddie Loo,
When we were little we were completely oblivious to how lucky we were. We probably just assumed it was common to have cousins growing up around the same age. As we got older we realized that not everyone has that. There are gifts that come along with having a cousin who is also your best friend.
I was looking at a journal my mom had when I was little. Inside, she wrote many facts or quotes of the funny things I would say or do. This one brought a smile to my face:
“Haley & cousin Lydia play very well together, but occasionally “fight” over toys. We observed their differences in situations like that: Lydia when frustrated uses her ACTIONS while Haley uses her MOUTH ! Lydia quickly pushes Haley or grabs the object. Haley talks/yells “Hey, I had that toy! Stop!…”
It is also funny to look back and reminisce about our little rare arguments and that they began very young. We grew up as best friends, cousins, and mainly treated each other like sisters. We have an unbreakable bond, no matter how long it has been since we've seen each other.
We have been through everything together, and some things I don't think I could have done without you.
To start, I can't imagine not having you with me at our family parties, and dealing with some of the craziness alone.
It is bittersweet to realize that someday we will be looking back at the pictures of us as flower girls, and compare them to our own wedding/bridesmaid photos.
Pool parties, mall trips, sleepovers at the grandparents houses, New year's eve, 4th of July at the lake, laughing while horribly singing the 12 days of Christmas, singing A LOT (but usually 2 different songs at the same time.) All, that I get to experience with you.
More sappy, but true, I could not have spoken at Papa's funeral without you right there with me holding my hand the entire time.
Our relationship is perfect. We can be each other's sunshine, rock, and shoulder to lean on. As goofy as we are, if hell breaks loose in our lives we are right there to help each other pick up the pieces.
Here are some more memories growing up with you:
But we are very different in many ways as well.
You definitely can not watch as many musicals as I can, or listen to show tunes without wanting to poke your eyes out :-) But I most definitely can not enjoy snowboarding or skate boarding like you do :-)
I have always admired, and sometimes envied your confidence on a stage (or in front of people in general.) However, you always inspire me to want to leave my comfort zone.
I can not even begin to imagine the amount of dedication, passion, patience, and pure talent is put into your artwork. I can draw some lovely cats and flowers..but that is about it.
You are an abolsute perfectionist, but it goes along with your creative eye. You have a gift, and you were born with it. I would love to see the world through your eyes, but since that is impossible, I am grateful I have your paintings, sketches, and photographs to turn to. I hope your work becomes famous someday, and I can not wait to see what else you create in your lifetime.
When we were looking at colleges I remember saying I wanted a rural or suburban setting, preferably down south. I remember you saying you wanted to go "anywhere in Boston."
I felt like the odd one of the pack. The one cousin who did not wish to go to college in the city. I remember telling my mom "No way am I going to apply in Boston. I hate the city." I wanted to be different; I wanted to take my own routes and not copy what the majority of our family wanted.
So now it is ironic :-)
That the "fit" I needed for excelling in a Social Work career would have me beside you in Boston after all. We will be exactly 15 min away, just as we are now. I can not wait to start this adventure this Fall knowing you'll be right by my side.
I feel like each year, we become closer and express more gratitude for each other.
This year, I feel like our relationship took a huge leap. We treasure our time together, and our honesty and openness with each other is refreshing. This year, it really stood out to me just how much we care for each other. This is a permanent relationship that will last forever. Cradle to grave.
I love you so much Lyddie Loo, and I hope you have the happiest birthday.
Congrats on adulthood! xo
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.