Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday Tune - Hamilton Pick Me Up

Getting beat up pretty bad lately by my IBS. Funny how they didn't tell when I was diagnosed that my symptoms could change at the most inopportune time. So I've had this song on repeat the past couple of days; hope it helps you too.  (And yes: I listen to Hamilton on repeat when I'm down.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday Tune - Where'd the happiness go? Again

I remember the first semester when I started to feel again; I was studying in DC for the semester and it was so hard but so amazing at the same time. It was if I had fought my way back into the light and it was amazing.

Lately, I feel like I'm fighting to get back to the light again. AGAIN! So when I get fed up with fight or annoyed at things happening AGAIN I crank up the tunes. Today this one came up on my shuffle mode. Thought you might like it too.

"Searching for meaning, it's not always easy; But your story's not over, it's still being told; Your sunrise is coming without letting go" 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Go Easy - Today's Is Hard On Me

Let's Get Real Real.

All this week during National Suicide Prevention Week, I've tried to encourage those battling the darkness to seek help and see the hope still left in the world. I've hinted and shared that I've glimpsed the darkness after the loss of my dad and my struggles with anxiety. I got to thinking why would you believe me; I'm hoping you will take me at my word but if you weren't I guess its time to practice what I preach. Being authentic and real even when my voice shakes

Now I'm not brave enough to show you a picture, let alone have my picture taken during one of my panic attacks; truth being I don't want anyone to see me or touch me or hug me during a panic attack. As soon I start to feel my hand shake, foot tap incessantly, my fingers twitch, tightness around my chest, a weight pressing down on me, the live wires running along my veins, or my mind spinning uncontrollably refusing to listen rational thought; I just want to disappear into my room or under an invisibility cloak. A little over two months ago I experienced a panic attack but afterwards I asked my mom to take a picture. Originally to show my counselor and now to show you.

I'm lying underneath all of my covers to keep me warm, a weighted blanket to soothe, on a wedge pillow hoping to stall any nausea or GERD attacks, face soaked with tears, red from crying, holding a stuffed animal I've had since I was little, and listening to a funny TV show on my Kindle to distract me. 
This is really hard for me to be this vulnerable; to open myself up to the world at one of my weakest moments. Hoping that instead of judging me or bullying me; you find comfort and compassion instead.

Today I know and I'm beginning to believe that my anxiety and loss is just a part of my story and does not define me. But that hope I've found, it takes a lot of continual hard work. So yes I've seen some of the darkness and I get occasional reminders to hold on to hope even when darkness tries to surround me. My hope with this point: you truly see that you are not alone and neither am I.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Hope's Still Here - I used to love the rain!

I used to love the rain. I would run out just to play, walk, run, or dance in a summer storm. I still do sometimes stand out in the rain with my head tilted toward the sky just feeling the water wash over my face. However, now Hurricane Florence has hit and is threatening a lot of people I care about with a lot of wind and a lot of water.

Confession: I may be a North Carolina girl at heart but never really been a big fan of the beach. For all my past love for rainstorms; I generally don't like swimming or being in anything other than a pool. I love Outer Banks, areas along the Sound, Cape Fear Basin, and the beach; but not the ocean. Kind of hate it or rather terrified of it. I would always come up with ways to spend the least amount of time in it: oversleep, blame my pale easily sunburned skin, freckles, being a girl, etc. And wouldn't you know it all goes back to my anxiety, my fears, and my long bumpy journey through life.

The reason I'm scared of the water is because I can't see the bottom or what's around me most of the time and it goes on forever - immensity. I can't control it and I can't control my own body's path when in it completely; and thus keep it the heck away from me. Bonus points: it can be very dark and stormy looking sometimes so sort of like a personification of my life.

Anybody else feel like that; figure out that one of your childhood fears has everything to do with your adult anxieties. I lost someone I love, watched both of my parents fight horrible diseases, fight my own demons and who'd thunk I'd be terrified of things I can't control or situations where I'm not sure of where I stand. Controlling things or at least feeling like I can is how I survived so as I try to discover a new way of doing things I'm confronting all my past fears and hang ups to see if they're logical/normal or another manifestation of the crappy road I've been on thus far.

This right about the time I would love to stand in a short summer rain or smell the air of the South right before a storm. Thanks to Hurricane Florence (hurting my beloved North Carolina) and healing (which is taking an annoyingly long time) I don't know if I'll play in the rain the same way I used to.

Do you ever feel like that? That you keep finding ways in which the darkness has changed you or created leftovers that you have to deal with. I guess its true what they say:
"No one gets out of this life alive ... Life is a process, not a goal." - Charles Franklin
Here is a link in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week. Stay safe and ask for help whether its for help fighting the darkness ...

Or surviving a hurricane. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hope's Still Here - Writer's Block

I'm not a writer at least not yet. And tonight as I try to think of what to post, my brain becomes flooded with concerns about Hurricane Florence and North Carolina, chickening out about what I want to post tomorrow that is really raw and real, and an honest to God migraine from congestion. Here's my fallback; if you've been reading along I often use music to speak when I don't have the words myself and I often use quotes as well to give me words when I have none to speak. (And I'm sorry if I don't have an author for some of them - these are quotes from the world and other writers not me).

"It's never easy, and it's never over, and it will be a fight renewed each morning; but IT'S POSSIBLE."

"Work on being in love with the person in the mirror who has been through so much but is still standing."

"She's been through hell and came out an angel. You didn't break her, darling. You don't own that kind of power." - BMM Poetry

"So take a deep breath, Pick yourself up, Dust yourself off, Start all over again." - Frank Sinatra

"The very things that held you down are going to carry you up." - Dumbo

"Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact! And remember that life's a great balancing act!" - Dr. Seuss

This last one may be a little hard to hear and I hope you hear it with the care and love its intended.

And the truth is that's incredibly true. When I hear that quote, I hear Washington teaching, pleading with a young man who's struggling to find his place and home in this world to stay in the fight. To give it just one more day; just one more fight. To see all the good that is still there in the world for him; and for everyone. In that moment, Lin Manuel Miranda and Chris Jackson wrote and spoke a truth no one says aloud. That life is hard but that doesn't make the living any less worth it. Or the life you have any less worth sticking around for. Sometimes its those hard truths discovered in the darkness that show us just how strong we are. To stay in the fight. To ask for help. To know there is more for us in the light and in this life.

Everyone stay safe tonight and remember help is out there. And the sun will rise tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hope's Still Here - Day Three

Anyone ever get angry, angry not in an aggressive way but instead in a way that you use it to help you make it through the day? Especially when you feel that darkness lurking in the shadows just waiting for you to get anxious, scared, sad, or weak. I have I used the anger I felt after I lost my dad, about my mom being sick, about my IBS, all of it to give me fuel to make it through the day. I was good at turning that anger into fuel but it never lasted and I always felt more exhausted at the end of the day. Then I eventually I remembered something my mama said; anger doesn't hurt anyone but you and it will eat you alive.

Now to find balance in my life, to do more than survive, I choose to not use the anger as fuel for the day or to help me through the hard times to keep the darkness away. I choose to focus on things that bring light and love into my life: my family, my friends, great TV shows, movies, music, hiking, good real food, and honest to goodness rest. Counselors call it self - care; I call it finally choosing me. Putting my life, health, and future first. To not let that darkness and my fear of it stop me from creating a good life for myself and having good even great days. To choose not anger but health; to not let bad coping strategies continue.

Sometimes its the hardest choice of the day (week, year) to let go of it all; I have experienced loss and pain and struggle so a little anger is normal. But I refuse to let the anger and the fear rule my life anymore. Its not what my dad would want for me but more importantly what I want for myself. I deserve better and I will find better. So some days its the easiest choice; knock me down ten times and I'll get up each time stronger and wiser for it.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week; keep fighting, keep getting up. One day, one hour, or one step at a time; doesn't matter which. Hope is out there; the light's still here. Reach out for help to any of the resources below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hope's Still Here - Tuesday Tune

So day two ... no lie y'all I'm so tired today. Emotionally deep in the bone just exhausted. I mean I wasn't a loaf all day. I went to work, got a little prepared for the upcoming weather (please everyone on the East Coast stay safe and listen to the authorities), handled some adult stuff and went to counseling. But I want to keep the conversation going and keep raising awareness for National Suicide Prevention Week and also bring mental health out of the shadows and secrets.

A little bit of my story: My dad passed away when I was nineteen after fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma off and on for eleven years. And after his death, I went through a kind of zombie/robot phase of I guess shock and grief and survival. But when I came back home at the end of the semester and he wasn't there; the loss got real, it got real real. I don't know if I like the phraseology of "fell into a depression" but there isn't another word for it: I was depressed. The silver lining I found was I knew I could talk to someone about it, I could ask my doctor, my family, and my counselor for help. In December of that year I sort of woke up; I know it sounds strange but that's what it felt like for me. One day it just seemed easier to breathe in a world without my dad. And a few days later I could think of parts of my life without my dad being here on Earth and not break down crying or close myself off in my room.

That's the ending of that particular moment in my life; a "depressive episode" is what my doctors and counselor called it. But the middle of it just plain sucked. I didn't want to do anything and anything I did do felt like it took so much more energy than it should. I was tired, cranky, and just done all the time. I lived between my earbuds going from work to class back to my dorm. And if it wasn't for my friends and family I probably wouldn't have left my dorm other than for classes. I never knew that darkness could be a feeling, a weight and anything more than the simple visual opposite of light. Until those moments, those days. And I don't know if I'm smart enough to even give it proper characterization. Today's Tuesday Tune is Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt "Found Tonight". Play it. Hear It. Listen to it on Repeat.

And what scares me most now that I've fought my way out of it; is winding up anywhere close to that kind of darkness again. My biggest fear, my boogie man, that haunts me if I ever let my anxiety or exhaustion go a little too long before I implement self-care strategies. (Things like a healthy diet, sunshine, exercise, singing, hanging out with family and friends, a sleep routine, working my way back into my faith.) Also its something I praise God for every day. I knew and was able to ask for help when the darkness invaded my life. I had an amazing family that stood there with me in the darkness. Friends that fought to remind me of all the good still left in the world for me. A counselor I got to see free-of-charge because of the college I went to; a school that knew to truly educate a student you have support them and educate them in all realms of their lives. Because I know that I'm the exception to the rule. Even in my darkness, where I felt most alone I still had glimpses of light; cracks in the darkness reaching in to save me. And a lot of people don't have those glimpses of light or are able to see or believe in them when they come through.

So as I wrap up day two (and stop saying "SO") please if you read this and that darkness is haunting you; you are not ALONE. There is LIGHT and LOVE still in the world for you. Reach out and ask for help. It won't be easy but I promise IT WILL BE WORTH IT. Because YOU ARE.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hope's Still Here - YOU MATTER!

Yesterday was the first day of National Suicide Prevention Week. 

1st Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. This blog is just a platform for me to tell my story in hopes (pun not intended) it helps myself and others heal. 2nd Disclaimer: I've never been suicidal but I have been down in the darkness or clinically what doctor's call depression. So no I don't know exactly what you may be feeling but I know some of it; too much more than I want to. I hope my story, even though it differs from yours, can bring you some hope and maybe healing.

When I was in the seventh grade, a very good family friend committed suicide. I was young but I was observant. I saw how much their choice in the darkness hurt my family and friends and left damage and scars that would take years to heal. I love my family and I am fiercely loyal and devoted to them. Like I've said in the past we were the Four Musketeers. So those memories of their grief, even in the deepest darkness that I've found myself in, stops me from sinking any darker without getting help. I will not cause my family anymore of the pain I saw in their grief for that family friend.

I'm older now and had to wade through my own depression so know I know a fraction of the pain that family friend was fighting. Sometimes that depression is so heavy, so dark, so all-consuming at times that its hard to find the little glimpses of light in everyday or even see it. I've been blessed with an amazing family, great doctors, a faith in something greater, and something in me that kicks in when I need extra toughness and grit to get through the day.

All this week, I'll write and post something everyday. My way of shining light into the darkness. To remind someone, anyone that they are not alone. That they are needed and wanted in this world. If you are struggling or scared or in a fight of your own, please reach out to someone: I've attached a list of resources below.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tuesday Tunes - "Love Wins" because it does and it will


So whether you believe in God, fate, or coincidences: Carrie Underwood releases her newest single "Love Wins" around the same time we as a nation lost two great lights: Senator John McCain and Aretha Franklin and at a time when we often find our differences more than our common ground in this country. We lost two giants but in those great Americans we saw examples of how we should live, discuss, and serve. Mrs. Franklin was concerned with the welfare of the people of Flint, MI in her final days and at her funeral a President, Christian Pastors, and an Islamic leader standing together to remember her. Isn't that the point: even in spite of our differences that we respect each other in those differences and come together to support each other during difficult times. At Senator McCain's funeral we saw a family stand in the face of immeasurable loss for their loved one on international television so bravely. We see people who have fought and debated come together to support this family, the county and serve as an example of how to grieve a hero's loss and try to foster more moments of debate, discussion, unity, and respect as he did.
"Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again." - Senator John McCain
Please remember that in all the bad, sorrowful, scary, and difficulty that can surround us in this life that LOVE WINS. It always will and it always does; just hold on. LOVE WINS!!!
"I, I believe you and me are sisters and brothers; And I, I believe we're made to be here for each other; And we'll never fall if we walk hand in hand; Put a world that seems broken together again; Yeah I, I believe in the end LOVE WINS."