Anxiety

So, it’s the end of May already. Seriously, how did that happen? We are seven months away from Christmas! Anyone that knows me, knows I love everything Christmas—music, decorations, the magic of it all. I don’t really know why I’m skipping to Christmas right now, to be honest. I love summer. It’s my favorite season—bonfires, watching fireflies, driving through the country on a Sunday evening, picking wildflowers (and putting them in my hair, obvs), fishing, car shows. I love it. You know what I don’t love? Anxiety. May is Mental Health Awareness month, and I wanted to open up a bit about my own struggles with anxiety. I want this to be safe place to be vulnerable, honest and to share my stories because I truly believe that when we share our stories, we can not only heal ourselves, but we can make it so that others can feel safe to share their own stories.

I don’t like change. Like, at all. Which is weird, because I also don’t like being stagnant and I love trying new things. But, when there is a change happening in my life, I resist…big time. It causes anxiety within me, and it just plain sucks. Not feeling like I am safe or supported in certain situations, also cause anxiety for me. If I’m meeting new people, trying new things, or if I’m trying to tell someone how I feel and I don’t feel like they’ve got my back or have empathy—I either give up or just let myself sit with anxiety alone because I don’t feel safe. Safety is key when someone has anxiety because when it hits, there’s really no stopping it. I had a recent experience with anxiety. I was out with friends at a musical and all of the sudden, the walls started closing in, I was sweating like a pig, shaking, couldn’t breathe and right in the middle of the performance, had to be practically carried out because I passed out. Um, yeah, yuck. Usually, something triggers it but this time, I was relaxed, calm and having fun, and then wham. Afterwards, I told my friend who didn’t know I even had anxiety, what happened. Their response was something I wasn’t expecting: “how can I help you in the future if this happens again? What can I do next time to be more helpful? What did I do that wasn’t helpful? What can we avoid that might trigger it? How can I help you?” They said it in such a calm, comforting way that actually floored me. I didn’t know what to say at first. Then I responded, “I don’t really know. No one has really ever asked me that in that way before, so I honestly don’t know how you can help me.” They actually took notes on how to help: water, fresh air, cold towel, affirmations, not making a production out of it, not yelling or getting angry, being patient and staying calm (because that keeps me calm). I was so grateful in that moment. I was expecting judgments, frustration or the usual “I guess I don’t know what that means.”

The other day I was researching anxiety, and came across a blog post and it was so perfect and so beautiful that I have to share the premise of it here. It’s called Validation and Hope vs. Toxic Positivity. I think we’ve all said at some point that we’re struggling with something, and have had someone say “just be happy!” or “you’ll get over it eventually, think positive!” While that’s nice and all, it doesn’t really help the person struggling. It honestly feels like a brush-off, like you don’t really care and you’re just trying to help in the quickest way possible. Because, really…if it were that easy to “just be positive,” don’t you think we’d be doing it already? Yeah. Exactly. The chart below is absolutely perfect. Thank you, Whitney Hawkins Goodman for this. Every single one is perfect, but my favorite is “good vibes only!” as if to say, “well, if you’re not chipper, then you’re not welcome here.” I thought this would be a good thing to maybe print out and keep as either a reminder to yourself in how to respond to someone struggling, or to give to someone so they can see what’s helpful and what’s not.

 

I really believe that if we share our hearts in a loving way, we will all feel a little safer to struggle. Because, it’s ok to struggle. It’s ok to not be ok. And it’s definitely ok to ask for help. Check up on friends who you know are going through something. Take a chance and have a real conversation with them about mental health and how you want to help them. Ask them how you can help and actually listen to them. Sometimes they won’t know how you can help, but if you can be a safe place for them that might be all they need. Believe in yourself, but if you can’t right now, it’s ok! What steps can we take to help you get there?

You’re not alone, trust me.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Rescue Me,” One Republic

“The Joke,” Brandi Carlile

“Desiree,” Keith Urban (this song is so old, but it’s been in my top ten all-time favorite songs)

“Maybe It’s Time,” Bradley Cooper (from A Star Is Born)

What I’m reading:
My Story, by Elizabeth Smart

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Quick Update!

Hey friends! Just a super quick update here for those following along. I was just informed that the House of Representatives just passed nine bills addressing the Veteran suicide, transition assistance and housing! This is big news! Our voices ARE making a difference!

May is Mental Health Awareness month, so please, if you are suffering from anything–ANYTHING–please reach out to someone. I know it’s hard to do, but believe me, it can save your life. I am not a trained professional by any means, but I am here to listen if you feel sad or lonely. If you are depressed and/or feeling suicidal, please call this number immediately: 800-273-8255. You can also go to this website and chat with someone online: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Remember, you are not alone. You don’t have to face anything alone. YOU MATTER.

Xoxo.

Hey friends. I was hanging out with one of my best friends the other night, and our conversations usually go from totally random to totally deep and introspective. That’s exactly what happened this time, and it’s one of the (many) reasons why I love her—she seems to always pull things out of me that wouldn’t normally go through my mind, and then when I say it out loud, it’s like total mind blown moment. Like, “whoa, Aly. Why didn’t you come to that realization before?!”

So, we were talking about life and people in it, and I said “you know, all I ever wished and prayed for was for him to see his own potential and how beautiful he is at his core. I wanted him to believe in himself as much as I believed in him, and to see his own worth. I think I will pray for him for the rest of my life, regardless of what happens.” My friend just looked at me and said “Alyssa, do you realize what you just said?” Of course I didn’t. “You just said what me, all of our friends wish and pray for YOU. That you see how beautiful your core is. Why don’t you pray that for yourself, too?” Why don’t I? It’s so much easier when I pray for other people than it is to pray for myself. When I help other people. When I try to encourage and lift others up. Why is it so dang hard for us to see our own worth and beauty in ourselves, but so easy to see it in others? I feel like this is an age-old question that I will never fully have the answer to. Ever since I was little, I’ve always been the helper, the picker-upper, the soother, the listener. I always took pride in that. When someone in the family was sick, I would make them tea, bring them soup, and clear my schedule to take care of them. It’s easier to believe in others, than it is to believe in ourselves. Our negative self-talk is damaging on SO many levels.

Truth is, people can tell us for days how worthy we are, but if we don’t feel it in our own hearts we’re never going to fully believe it. I don’t know the secret to believing it/feeling it, but I do know that, for me, it starts with identity. I know I’ve talked about this a lot lately, but it’s because I am so passionate about it and truly, truly believe in it. It is literally one of my top priorities lately in prayer, meditation and study. I can find confidence in who I am at my core, how I was created, and can accept myself. It’s a learning process, and I don’t know if there is anyone on the planet (well, maybe Oprah) who has achieved full, complete acceptance of themselves.

In order to understand who we are in Christ, we have to learn who He is. His attributes. What His incommunicable traits are, and what traits He passed onto us. Trust me, it’s hard! Okay, maybe it’s not that hard for some people…but, it is for me! When I want to do ALL THE THINGS, thinking I have unlimited time, I have to shake myself into reality and remind myself that I am only human. As much as I want to do it all, see it all, say it all, I simply can’t. And that’s okay. If you want to read a great book on learning about God’s attributes, check out my recommendation below. Read along with me!

May is Mental Health Awareness month, and I want to let you all know that if you’re struggling, reach out for help. Whether it’s a friend, family member, teacher, neighbor, co-worker, therapist, pastor, whoever…there is power in asking for help. It’s a sign of strength and courage. You don’t have to go it alone. Oh, how I wish I could throw my arms around each one you and tell you that you are loved and cared for! Want to shoot me a message? Do it! letsallbefriends1@gmail.com

I just want to encourage you all to take a minute to tell yourself you’re worthy and your past doesn’t define YOU or your future, unless you let it. When you finally learn who you truly are and what you’re truly capable of, you can be unstoppable. Let’s be unstoppable together.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Lebanon,” J.S. Ondara

“More Hearts Than Mine,” Ingrid Andress

“Dreamers,” Jack Savoretti

“A Letter To My Mama,” Vince Gill (have a Kleenex for this one)

What I’m reading:

In His Image, by Jen Wilkins (amazing book!!)