Trusting the Process in 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I have written about overcoming fear quite a lot on this blog. 

I have gone through my archives, and I've realized that I am always, always, always trying to figure out the "hows" of overcoming fear.  It's a mystery that I've never really been able to solve, and may never solve. It's an ongoing, constantly shifting and evolving process. A journey that never really ends.

It's a topic that I don't like to write about anymore because it just seems like I'm repeating myself all the time. It's like, oh yeah, I want to work on overcoming fear...again. Here's my so-called epiphany THIS time, and here's what I'm gonna do THIS time.  

But I am fully aware that it is not something that can be figured out, or fixed, by just sitting around and thinking about it. I can come up with various "temporary ideas", based totally on how I'm feeling at that point in time. I can sit here and write yet another post that is supposed to fall under the category of "Inspirational" or "Faith". But I don't think I ever really believed the words I was writing.  I'm still not sure I do most of the time. 

This New Year's, I fear setting goals. Pretty much every year, or even in the middle of the year, I would set new goals for myself that I was so certain {at least on that day} that I would actually accomplish this time around. I would finally find an eating plan that works for me. I would finally get back into shape for ballet. I would spend time in The Word every day, and my relationship with the Lord would thrive. I would do all these things and more...and the result was supposed to be me finally feeling healthy.  THAT was really all I wanted. 

I lost way too many months battling with serious depression and anxiety. Months turned into years. Eventually I was either sleeping too much or not at all, and barely eating. And although I can very genuinely say that things are significantly better {especially in comparison to 2012...and I'll tell you that story eventually), I honestly don't even remember what "healthy" feels like. 

And as much as I can say I do want "healthy", I think I'm afraid of it...because it's unfamiliar. 
Unhealthy thoughts, unhealthy eating habits, unhealthy body image, physically unhealthy...that's all I've ever known. 

I can be so gung-ho about making changes in my life, and be super motivated to get started...for about 24 hours. Then the fear creeps in again and says, "Hey, what makes you think you can do any of this? You've never done it before. You won't be able to."

That's the enemies voice. And that's the voice of mood disorder. It's the easiest voice to listen to, because it's so familiar.

This year, what I want is to learn to let God's voice be louder. 
I want to look fear in the eye and say, "In the name of Jesus Christ, get behind me,"
I want to always remember that mood disorder distorts thoughts, and makes them not real.
I don't want to be a slave to this anymore. 
I want to be healthy. I am terrified of healthy. Healthy never existed for me. But I want it.

And, JESUS, I trust You to help me get there!

15 things I forget to thank him for...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"I'm sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter. Like birds of a feather, we stick together."
-- Mary Wells


Now, I'm hoping that John-David actually knows all of the following things already, ha! But just in case, here are 15 things I want to say "THANKS" for...that I might just forget to say sometimes.

{one} For being patient with me...

Especially when I'm going through a depressive phase and I'm in a pit...when I don't want to talk, or to be touched. Your willingness to hang in there and wait for me to come out of it is very helpful to me. If I knew I was doing nothing but disappointing you by staying "hidden" for awhile, it would make things ten times harder. Thank you for making it slightly easier.

{two} For taking creative pictures of me...

And for making me look really good in them! Like this one you took awhile back! :))

{three} For taking me places...

You know exactly what I like to do, and you always pick the best locations for us to make excellent memories together! We always have so much fun...and I need that in my life!

{four} For doing all the "manly" things...

For lack of a better word {LOL}...Seriously though! I can't kill spiders. I can't install anything technologically related. I know zilch about cars. I can't carry heavy things. There are probably plenty of others...but I'm glad you are willing to step up and do all of this stuff for me!

{five} For spending time with all of the children in my life...

  You join me on a lot of my babysitting adventures, and it is so neat for me to see you with some of the kids that are super important to me, and that I've loved for a long time. It makes me so happy to watch them click perfectly with you. They are so used to me, and I like that they take to you so fast...that they LIKE you! It truly reassures me that you are going to be a really good father to our own children someday.

{six} For listening to me ramble on and on...

When I'm talking about "this thing" that happened at preschool...or "that dance class" that was super hard to teach today for whatever reason...or "this person" said "something" and I thought they were ridiculous, and here's why...I know this stuff probably isn't super significant to you. But I'm saying it, so you listen. And that's a big deal because you know I love to talk ;))

{seven} For making me laugh...

Especially with your Syd the Sloth impression...AHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

{eight} For letting me be myself...

For not questioning if I'm too overdressed for wherever we are going. For not telling me to "turn it down a few notches" when I'm in one of my too-happy, slightly manic moods. For not being embarrassed when I don't realize I'm "practicing ballet technique" in public places {i.e. using a shopping cart as a barre, doing an arabesque when trying to reach something high, doing turns in any kind of open space because open space equals dance floor}. 

{nine} For putting up with my constant indecisiveness...

Let's face it...I can't make a decision to save my life. I never know what I want. It takes me forever to just pick something. I appreciate that you don't get annoyed by that.

{ten} For letting me watch the things I want to watch...

I know you probably don't always want to watch things like "Downton Abbey" or "Pride and Prejudice" or "Anne of Green Gables". But when I'm being incredibly stubborn, and dead set against watching pretty much anything else {cue the indecisiveness again!} thanks for watching what I want. However, I do love that we have developed a mutual love for shows like "Friends" and "How I met Your Mother". 

{eleven} For loving me when I don't love myself...

There are many occasions that I don't feel pretty, or thin, or worthy of love. But thank you for always insisting that I am. Even though I probably won't believe you in the moment, it's always nice to hear. 

{twelve} For doing really awesome things with your talents...

I love that you've recorded so many of my students' recitals! I am so fortunate to have those videos to always look back on, and to watch how much the kids grow as dancers over time. And the parents have been thrilled to have them as well! 

{thirteen} For dealing with my tardiness...

I'm never ready when I say I'm going to be. {Isn't that how it is for girls in general though?} I have such a hard time getting out of bed on time. And I'm a little too laid back for my own good sometimes. I know you're not the biggest fan of being late to thanks for not getting irritated with me.

{fourteen} For coming to my concerts/performances...

I'm fully aware that an extremely lengthy Baroque music piece sung in Latin is probably not something you would listen to to on your own. But while I'm standing up there in the choir, it's nice to look out and see you sitting in the audience.
Oh...and to add on to that...thanks for coming to see my students perform too! 

{fifteen} For being THE SWEETEST!

You constantly put me first. You open doors for me, so gentlemen-like. You laugh at all my silliness. You send me encouraging text messages. You treat me like a princess.

I know I don't say it often enough...
i love you to the moon and back!

He Talks || Guy Behind the Blog, December Edition

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Whoa, my friends! I'm at the tail end of an incredibly busy season of life! After two super, super fun performances done by my dance students, I'm finally taking time to breathe, relax, and allow myself to just be much as I don't like it, ha! It's healthy. And, after this week is over, I'm looking forward to two full weeks off of EVERYTHING. One of which I'll be spending with my boyfriend, John-David, in Savannah, Georgia. I can hardly wait!

But before all of that, CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!
And today, I'm participating for the first time in a link up called Guys Behind the Blog, where the men-folk in our lives take over the blog for the day.

So, Boyfriend is here to talk to us about Christmas!

1. What's on your Christmas list this year?
Each year I find it harder and harder to make a Christmas list. As I get older the things I want are either to expensive to get as gifts or I just can't think of anything I really want. 

2. Did you believe is Santa as a child? Do you have any funny Santa stories?
As a kid I think I believed in Santa on some level but I don't remember my world being "shattered" when I found out he wasn't real. As for funny stories... I honestly don't remember any funny stories. 

3. What is a Christmas tradition you hope to pass on someday?
I think one tradition is like to pass on is opening one gift on Christmas Eve. I always loved that as a kid.

4.  Do you open presents on Christmas morning or a different time?
We usually open one gift Christmas Eve and the rest get opened on Christmas Day at some point. We aren't in any rush in my family. 

5.  What is your favorite Christmas song?  Movie? 
My favorite Christmas song is a tie between Christmas is All in the Heart and All I Really Want for Christmas, both by Steven Curtis Chapman.
As for a favorite Christmas movie, I'll have to go with "It's a Wonderful Life." I know that's probably a typical answer, but I'm not going to apologize for it.

Side note from Emily: Oh, we are soooo made for each other. 
"It's a Wonderful Life" is not only my favorite Christmas movie...
It's one of my favorite movies EVER! There are so many more things 
that we have in common too! I love that we can enjoy so many thing together.

This was really fun! I can't wait for us to do this again next month...and the months after that!

Tell us some of your favorite things about Christmas!

Sorry, Not Sorry || Things We Should all Stop Apologizing for

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shame & Guilt.

It's an epidemic in our world. All the time, I hear people {MYSELF INCLUDED} apologizing for things they should NOT be apologizing for. 

Of course, it is always right to accept responsibility when we know we have wronged someone, and to ask forgiveness for our wrongs. THAT is an appropriate and necessary apology. But there are so many things that are just so silly that we feel so guilty for, and so compelled to apologize for!

What's actually happening here?
You're apologizing for *EXISTING*.

Whether you are aware of that or not. That's what you're doing.

Again, myself included. I find myself constantly apologizing about one thing or another. Even though I also spend a lot of time telling others around me, "That's okay!" and "No need to apologize!" or "What in the world are you apologizing for?"

I'm so quick to see the good in everyone else, and so quick to pick out all the negative things about myself, and I forget that I don't need to feel so guilty all the time either. I know a lot of others can relate to this.

We so often sabotage ourselves from good things, from success, because we are too busy apologizing for what we assume are weaknesses.

{{I wrote about distorted perception and shame RIGHT HERE}}

I've spent some time thinking about all of the things that I apologize for on a regular basis.
All things I don't really need to be sorry for because they are just...well...ME.

And I've made a list.

And from this point on, I'm going to start retraining my brain to not jump right to my go to phrase, "I'm sorry." every single time.

Join me won't you!

1. Passion
When I feel strongly about something, I want to share it with people. But I often hesitate because I am afraid that people either don't want to hear it, or that it will bother someone who doesn't agree with it. But now I'm taking a step back and thinking, wait a minute! People know me! Have I ever been mistaken for a mean or hateful person? People know that just because I don't agree with someone else's stance, or someone else's passion, doesn't mean that I don't like them. I would never cut someone down for putting the things they feel most strongly about out there...especially through social media outlets. Granted, I don't always like how heated, rude, and spiteful things can get, but I do understand, and advocate putting your passions out there. Even if I don't agree with them. So I expect that if I choose to do the same, I won't have to say I'm sorry for it.

2. Being Right
Thinking that you have to apologize for being right, implies that you're not actually confident that you're right. Granted, I don't want to be known as a know-it-all, but I also know that if I feel I'm genuinely right, I don't need to change my opinions or feelings to suit other people's opinions and feelings. Similar to what I said above, I know that not everyone is going to agree. But for my own emotional sanity, I need to stop feeling badly that someone may not agree with me. Because it can turn into a vicious cycle of guilt.

3. Not feeling good
Everyone knows...and I mean everyone, whether you know me personally, or if you've ever read my blog at all...everyone knows that I go into down phases sometimes. And when I do, sometimes it's bad enough that I don't want to go out, don't want to be around people, and don't feel like talking. It's nothing personal, but still sometimes people take it personally. Which is a problem because guilt finds me a lot faster when I'm feeling bad, and it makes me feel even WORSE. I work really hard to make the choice to not apologize for feeling bad. Please don't expect me to.

{While you're at it, check out my post about things you should avoid saying to people with depression.}

4. Saying No
I am a busy lady. And I enjoy being busy. I fill my time with things I love doing. But a person only has the brain space for so many things...and I tend to overfill my brain with entirely too many things. I feel like I am completely powerless to say no to people sometimes because I just want to make everyone happy. But if I have too much going on, I'm not going to have the time to devote to whatever extra commitment I made that I really shouldn't have made. That's not making anyone, including myself, happy. It's okay to say no if you feel you are too swamped already. And if people are not understanding about that, well, that's their issue to deal with.

5. Asking for help
It's not just that I want to try and do everything by myself, which I often do. That's a control thing for me, and I'm trying to work on that too. But it's that I'm always so afraid to approach people to ask a question. Especially if it's a person in authority, or someone who is obviously smarter or wiser than I am. I'm afraid it makes me look weak for not knowing what I'm doing, or not doing something exactly right the first time. So I don't ask...I stay in the dark, so to speak, too afraid to grow.

6. What I wear
I have always been a very "girly girl", and I enjoy dressing the part. Don't get me wrong, I don't constantly walk around with my belly button showing, or shorts that barely cover me...but I am not opposed to wearing a pretty little "spaghetti strapped" top in the summer. I'm comfortable wearing v-neck dresses. I do not consider myself to be an immodest dresser. But I refuse to change things about my appearance and how I dress because someone else thinks I am still "showing too much." Believe me, I understand that men are visual, but if they cannot control themselves, that is NOT my fault. Nor is it ANY woman's fault, no matter how much she is showing.

7. Doing something well
If I have a success...if I've put together a great show for my students, or I've had a great performance myself, I have earned the right to revel in that, be happy about it, and be proud of myself without having people think that I'm just self absorbed. Without having people think that I "lack humility". Feeling good about a success is perfectly legitimate, and no reason to feel ashamed.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are many things that absolutely warrant an apology! And those times tend to be very discernible. The point I'm trying to get across here is, that when you feel the need to say, "I'm sorry," give it some thought. Are you actually just apologizing just for BEING? Just because you ARE? 


From Distortion to Restoration

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I've lived with a distorted perception for as long as I can remember.

It's pretty much the least fun thing ever...

I cannot recall ever NOT feeling like I just constantly make mistakes, constantly disappoint, and that I will never belong anywhere. I cannot recall ever NOT feeling that I do not deserve the good things that happen to me. 

The problem is, I've always been SO SURE that this was how EVERYONE ELSE viewed me too!
But that's not true. It's always just been me.

This is called Emotional Reasoning: Believing that what you feel must automatically be true. "If I feel like a failure, then it must be true, and everyone else must think so too."

  • I feel completely inadequate in this, that, or the other thing...I'm sure everyone else sees that as well.

Another style of distorted thinking is called Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on one piece of evidence or a single incident. If something happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.

  • One person may not have been completely happy with how I did I get it into my head that NO ONE is happy with ANYTHING I'm doing. 
  • I could make one error in judgement, and even after it gets resolved and I learn from it, I get it into my head that EVERY choice I make is a mistake, and I'm doing nothing but messing up and disappointing everyone. 

And this turns into such a vicious cycle...and it's EXHAUSTING!

I have spent so much time pushing people away, and blocking myself off from receiving love because, a) I didn't think I deserved it, and b) because I was so sure that they would eventually discover that I was not a likable person. Ultimately, I was so sure that they would just leave. 
But really, it was because I didn't like myself very much at all. I projected this perspective onto everyone else around me.

{Side note: There are actually 15 styles of distorted thinking. Maybe you are experiencing them, and you have no idea! To read more about them, CLICK HERE!}

For a person with anxiety and mood disorder, there is a predisposition to distorted thinking. If you click on the link I just provided above, you will find that a lot of these are common struggles and thought processes for many people, but for someone with a chemical imbalance, they become exacerbated. And it becomes that much more difficult to change your perception. 

Now...before this turns into another mental health education post that I'm desperately trying to avoid...

Here's my point...
While I was in college, my insecurities were at their absolute worst. My depression and anxiety was at its absolute worst. I was trapped in this horrible mentality that I just did not know how to get out of. And from my perspective, most people in my life would never understand. So, convinced that they were all going to end up disliking me anyway, I removed myself from their lives before they had a chance to leave mine.
But you know what...
I think many of them {even if it wasn't everyone} wanted to try to understand. Even if they never fully could. I think they were trying to help me, and be there for me in the only ways they knew how. But it was I who would not let them. I recognize that now. 

And since graduating from college, I've gone back and forth between being completely confident in my abilities and so sure of the incredible work God was doing in my completely crashing down, and believing that I was worth nothing, and that no one would ever want me around. And I could have gotten there based on just ONE SMALL THING! And for weeks now, I've been right there...

It's. All. In. My. Head.

It's MY problem to solve. And I'm really starting to work hard on solving it. I've discovered that so many of my relationships and circumstances had been sabotaged, because I was the one sabotaging them. 

So...with a LOT of hard work {that will take lots of time}, a great deal of support {which I already have heaps of}, and diving deeper and deeper into a relationship with my Savior {who values me higher than anyone ever could}, I anticipate being able to restore these lies I've believed for far too long, into TRUTHS that I know are there buried beneath them. I anticipate learning to see myself the way my Creator sees me. And that is all I want.

*Simply Me* || A Link-Up

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's been a sweet, relaxing long weekend so far! I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was absolutely LOVELY! Mine certainly was!

Tonight, I'm linking up with Liz who blogs over at Sundays with Sophie, for *Simply Me*.  It is so much fun getting to know and connect with other bloggers this way! Added bonus: It gets me writing! Always a plus :))

sundays with sophie

What was the first car you drove?  Are you still driving it now?
The first car I drove is still my car today, yes! It's a 2006 silver Honda Accord. I like it! It's a pretty reliable car!

The first dance you went to was?
The Halloween dance at my middle school. I was in the 7th grade. I had never really been a fan of dances, and middle school was not my finest time. I was verbally bullied quite a bit by both mean girls AND mean boys. But on this occasion, I kinda liked the idea of dressing up in a costume. I knew I wouldn't stand out too much because everyone else would be in costumes as well. As time went on, and I grew up, I began to appreciate and attend school dances a bit more often. 

What about your first job?
I started working at a summer day camp when I was 16. They hired me as both a counselor, AND a director for the annual summer talent show. It was so great because THAT was where I discovered that I knew that I KNEW my biggest passion in life! Passing on my love for dance and music to children. I have not stopped doing it since then! 

Tell us about the first phone you had?
AHAHAHAHA! That's funny! In high school, I had one of those motorola razor phones! The flippy ones. Remember how excited everyone was about them?? And at the time my excitement was over the fact that it was pink, and to me it looked so cool! HA!

What was the first book you read? (an actual chapter book)
That would be Charlotte's Web! My 2nd grade teacher was actually reading it to us as a class, but I loved it so much that I checked it out of the library and decided to just read ahead! That was the day I fell in love with reading!

My Heart is Here

Friday, November 27, 2015

Currently, I have about 12 topics for blog posts sitting in my "drafts"...and I'll most likely write all of them. But I wanted to take the time to talk about the blogging EPIPHANY I had last night...and kinda this morning. It wasn't a huge epiphany, mind you, it was more of a realization really. A realization of why I do this whole blogging thing.

I started blogging for THREE REASONS...
1) Writing is a great outlet for me...and I really like it.
2) To encourage people who are going through the same things I went through. To let them know that there is someone else out there who UNDERSTANDS.
3) To educate those who are willing to listen...those who may not understand, but who are willing to try.

I pretty much wrote whenever the inspiration struck. And more often than not, it wouldn't strike for days and days...sometimes weeks at a time. I would get very discouraged because, apparently, it seemed that I wasn't writing what people wanted to read. I would read other blogs written by young women around my age, who had hundreds, sometimes thousands of followers. And I have no idea how they got there. I mean, they had to start from somewhere, right? What exactly did they have to do to attract all of those readers? And why can't I do that?

I do think that writing is a calling for me. I truly think it's something that the Lord wants me to do. But the busyness of three different jobs make me very tired and run down. I don't have the energy to write as much, or as often, as some of these other ladies do. I become intimidated by the other blogs I see, and my brain has its go-to reaction of, "What's the point? I'm not as good as they are." Just like pretty much everything else in my life. I get excited about trying something, then I decide I can't do it, and so I stop. I wish I could just shut this mentality off, and I wish I could just say that I'm going to work on changing it. But, unfortunately, having mood disorder prevents me from doing that {and I've accepted that about myself}.

Even so, I don't want to hesitate to click the publish button. I want to respond to this passion, this calling, that God has pressed upon my heart. I want to follow my own advice to be authentic and real, and to produce material that will be helpful or encouraging to someone else, as well as material that can also be entertaining. I also know that I want writing to be a part of my future.'s time to start getting take this passion from the Lord seriously. I've given this blog a new look that I'm very happy with {simple but pretty}. And I'm no longer going to question whether or not my content is "worth" sharing. I am well aware that there are people out there who are not going to agree with what I have to say, nor are they going to understand why I am sharing it. But that's okay. They don't have to. Even though I don't necessarily fully believe in my ability to do this, I am making a conscious choice to no longer be ashamed of my least not here.


Thankful || A Letter to my Cousins

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's Thanksgiving this week...and I want all of you ladies to know, I've been thinking of you quite a lot lately. 

All of those summers and holidays spent at Grandma & Grandpa's house...I am thankful for those times. Those were good times. I love being able to say that I grew up in a big family full of cousins to play with, and that my whole extended family was so close-knit.

For crying out loud, look how cute we were! :))
{And this isn't even all of us!}

I will admit, as we all got older, I had a tough time. I was definitely the cousin who was adopted. Even though the rest of you probably didn't actually remember that I was adopted {as in, it never needed to be mentioned}, but I think it was still pretty obvious. I had a lot of different personality traits from the rest of you. I was interested in different things. I was a pretty anxious child, as you will recall. I hated going on those wild tube rides with you because I was too afraid. For awhile, I was even afraid to swim with you on very wavy days in Lake Michigan because I was too afraid. I was never much of a "risk taker"...and I was sure that all the rest of you thought I was boring and "too safe". Looking back on it, I really do wish I'd had more of an open mind to pretty much everything.

Eventually, I got it into my head that, whenever I was around you, I had to change myself so that you would accept me. I tried to overcompensate for feeling left out by working EXTRA HARD to try and become a person you'd actually WANT to include. I did try too hard. It was quite exhausting actually. To this day, I don't know why, but I was so insecure, and so sure that I would never, ever be enough to be loved and PART of the rest of you. Even in age, I was stuck in between two younger, and three older cousins...and I didn't know where I fit. But I promise, this had nothing to do with any of you. It really was just all in my head. My anxiety. My constant self-esteem struggles. I can convince myself of any little thing sometimes, and I recreate things in my mind to be a lot worse than they are. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wasn't even capable of ALLOWING myself to fit in because of my self-sabotaging tendencies. You know...the vicious cycle of wanting to feel accepted, but then not feeling accepted because of being so certain that I am not worthy of being accepted. {WOW! Does that even make any sense at all?}

Just so you know...I don't feel that way anymore. Not even a little bit. 

OLDER COUSINS: I hope you know that I wanted to BE you! To be exactly like you! I was your biggest fan and greatest admirer. I wanted to read all of the books you were reading, listen to all the same music, watch the same movies, and do every little thing exactly like you did. In fact, I still wanna be you! We are all adults now, and the age gap has closed, and I'm glad for that. I'm glad we can all be closer.

YOUNGER COUSINS: I always wanted to be the person that YOU wanted to be. And, quite honestly, I'm sure I wasn't {again, always tried too hard...HA!}...but I want you to know that you are beautiful! And I hope you know that I am always, ALWAYS here for you now. Because it's so true...when you have a cousin, you have a friend for life! 

I miss all of you, and I wish we could spend more time together and less time "adulting" :))

This is a letter I've been wanting to write for a long time, but I wanted it to be "just right". And even now, writing it, it's not turning out exactly the way I wanted it to. But that's okay, because I think my point came across. Which is...I love you all so very much. I love who you are. And even though I really wish I could have connected with you more when we were young, we have so much more life ahead of us, and I cannot wait to keep connecting as adults!

Happy Thanksgiving, my cousins, my friends!
I am thankful for ALL of you!


Linking up with Emily over at Ember Grey Blog

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

A Letter to Myself...just as I am

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dear Emily as she is, right now...

Look at everything you are doing! You have so much going on and it is ALL GREAT! You love your jobs {yes, all three of them}, you're happy to still be taking ballet class every week, and you're so thrilled about singing again. It's so great to be singing again, isn't it? You forgot how wonderful that felt! You've got all kinds of wonderful people in your life. You are blessed beyond measure, and you are fully aware of that.


There shouldn't be a "but"...and still there is.
It's just one big internal struggle. Oh, you've been trying so hard to fight it. Any extra time you have, you do your best to surround yourself with people and things you enjoy. Late at night, you come home and watch movies and desperately try to distract your overactive {and I mean OVERACTIVE!} brain.

You stay very very busy, whether it's with teaching dance, teaching school, or looking after that sweet baby boy two days a week. You try to set small goals for yourself, but you rarely follow through because you come home and you're so unbelievably tired. And unhappy with who you are. Even though you KNOW it's not true, you feel very insignificant. You can't love what you see in the mirror no matter how hard you try. The unhealthy thoughts that you hoped wouldn't resurface have definitely resurfaced. All you ever want to do anymore is sleep and cry. And basically that's what happens when you find yourself alone.

Why does this have to be so hard? Why, when there is so much good in your life, are you still so sad...for no real reason at all? Why are you so sure that you will never truly be loved by anyone? That everyone, eventually, will just want to be "rid of you"?

You're depressed, and it's okay. You're anxious, and it's okay. You have an illness, and it's okay. You know that God is always good, and He knows how much pain you're in right now. He wants to heal your heart. Please let Him. Please allow yourself to get out of the way, and watch Him tear down, brick by brick, the high walls you've built up around yourself. You KNOW it will hurt, but you also know that the Lord will be there with you every step of the way.

I hope you'll eventually learn to see yourself the way HE SEES YOU. You are already loved. You are already valued. You have purpose and worth. God sees all of this, and so do other people in your life...and yet, you don't believe that. Oh, I hope you will soon. I really do hope you will soon!

I wish it was just as easy to internalize all of THESE words and believe them, as it is to internalize all of the thoughts of unworthiness, not enough-ness, and just plain sadness. But I know it will take time. Lots of time. But you'll do it. You will.

Emily as she HOPES to be, soon

What YOU say, and what WE hear

Monday, October 19, 2015

Please don't say, "I know how you feel."
What we hear: That what we're struggling with has a limit...that it can be measured. You're not trying to understand how we feel, you just assume you already know. And since you "just got through it" you expect that we should too. It insinuates that our problem is "no big deal"...not huge for us.

It is completely impossible to fully understand how a person with depression feels. Everyone has bouts of feeling depressed...that is, feeling sad...and there's a huge difference in that from actually HAVING depression. Feeling sad is VERY a wide spectrum. So is feeling happy.

Please don't say, "Just replace those negative thoughts with positive ones."
What we hear: That it's our fault we are so depressed. This is something we could just snap out of if we just try hard enough. Right?

Believe me, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, I WISH IT COULD BE THAT SIMPLE!

Please don't say, "You have nothing to be depressed about!"
What we hear: The fact that we are depressed is pathetic. Nothing in our lives could possibly be that bad.

Because really, it could very well be nothing at all! It could very well be everything! Sometimes depression is definitely circumstantial, but more often than not, there is a chemical imbalance that we have no control over. That's where the "NOTHING" comes from.

Please don't say, "At least you're not____" or "You are much better off than so many other people."
What we hear: That we are not grateful enough for what we have, and that in comparison to certain other situations, our depression is minor.

This is a reminder we don't need. We are not homeless. We are not dying of a terminal illness. We are not starving in some far off impoverished country. Umm...YES! We know this! Of course we know this! So before I resort to the very called for, "DUH!" let me be very clear...Never would I EVER, in a million lifetimes, minimize any. single. thing that someone else is going through. Nothing! Ever! Because nothing should ever, ever, ever be minimized! I just ask that you do the same for me.

Please don't say, "You shouldn't have to take that medication to feel better."
What we hear: That you think you're smarter than the doctors who prescribed this medication to us. That you don't actually see this disorder as a "real problem" and we don't actually need to do anything to treat the CHEMICAL PROBLEM in our BRAIN.

This is probably the AB-SO-LUTE WORST thing you could possibly say to a person! Leave it to the doctors...the professionals! PLEASE! Saying these words could really put someone else's life in danger!

“Depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. Many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic  system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.” {SOURCE}

Please don't say, "You can CHOOSE to be happy."
What we hear: Obviously we don't WANT to be happy. We are choosing to stay in this suffering state, and not trying hard enough to get out of it.

{I cannot convey to you enough how much I HATE this phrase!!! No I mean truly makes my blood boil!}

But really, though?? I mean...REEEEAAAALLLLYYY???!!!!
Thankfully no one has said this to me for a very long time...and, honestly, if anyone ever does again, believe me when I say that you'll be seeing a side of me you won't expect. 
But I've heard this said to other people who are suffering. For the sake of the sufferer, I've been holding my tongue. But I'm not going to do that anymore. From now on, anyone who says this is going to get a mouth-full from me. Friends, if you hear this from someone, you need to immediately remove that person from your life. They are TOXIC!!!

So....instead of saying all of these are some things you could say instead...

"I believe you are suffering. You are seen and heard."
"I know I will never be able to fully understand this part of you, but I want to try."
"Can I do anything to help you?" {typically the answer to this one is, nothing, but it is still nice to hear from someone}
Say absolutely nothing. Just be with the person. Give them a shoulder to cry on. Hug them.

And if you don't agree with anything at all that I've said here, that's okay. That's your choice. So if you take nothing else away from this, at least understand this part...
Just walk away. You don't need to say anything. You don't need to "pretend" that you care. If you don't truly believe in a person's suffering, that person doesn't need you in their life. Leave.

Harsh? Maybe. I'm typically not harsh. But this stuff NEEDED to be said.

A Hodge-Podge of Words

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I've been...away.

Words have not been coming easily.

I started writing posts on three different topics over the past three weeks. And I WILL finish them, and they WILL get posted. But my brain has been so distracted recently. I can't keep my mind focused on one thing to save my life!

I've always liked staying busy, because I get bored easily and I enjoy stimulation. But most recently, I've NEEDED to stay busy. I've NEEDED to be around people constantly. Down time is not okay with me at the moment. Yes, I'm so tired, and yes I should probably relax but I can't. My brain races.

I'm thankful for all of the beautiful children in my life. I'm thankful for the way they progress in my classes. I'm thankful for the joy of dance exuded from each of them. They make me smile...they make me want to get up and start each day.

The people in my life are wonderful. Sometimes I just need to be "talked down" from a situation I've built up way too much in my head. Sometimes I just need someone to tell me that how I'm feeling isn't "completely ridiculous". Sometimes I just need to get completely out of my head, and simply have some fun. Like I said...I need people...and mine are pretty great :)) mind has been turning in some pretty vicious circles in recent weeks...and it is not pretty {even this post has no center...and is all over the place}. BUT! Life is still good!

I'll be coming back. I'll be writing again...I will.

No longer turning away...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I made a promise to myself a long time ago...

If I see someone struggling, or feeling hopeless and purposeless, I would not turn a blind eye to it. I would not just ignore what I was seeing.

I have not done a very good job of keeping that promise to myself.

Oh, I spend a ton of time advocating and spreading mental health awareness. I write posts here on this blog, and I post other articles, quotes, or info-graphics on my Facebook news feed. And one of the main reasons I do this, is so that other people know that they are not alone in their struggles...that someone else UNDERSTANDS.

But is that really enough?
So many things on social media can just be missed, or scrolled right through.

I've been thinking of one beautiful young lady in particular recently. She has been very heavy on my heart. I always watch for her...she is a very eloquent writer, but her words are filled with sadness and pain. And when I read them, my mind floods with memories of my own lowest points. I hear her heart, and I feel her hurts...because they have been my own too. I also see other words of "advice" written to her from incredibly well-meaning, but completely unaware people. And while they WANT to be encouraging, all they are doing is minimizing and invalidating her struggles...or making her feel bad FOR feeling bad. And the important people in her life who SHOULD be her strongest supporters, see very little value in her.

Been there...experienced ALL of that.

All I want to do is reach out to this girl. I want to let her know that she is SEEN
But then my typical excuse kicks in...

It's not the right time. I'll talk to her...just not yet.  

But that excuse is not okay anymore. Because she's running out of time...before the never-ending abyss of depression and anxiety swallows her whole. And then it will be too late.

So, I am asking for prayer as I reach out to her...
That I would have the right words to encourage her, and that she would be receptive to what I have to say. Also that I would be very sensitive to her own personal circumstances. As much as I can identify with her struggles, my walk is very different from hers. Right now, I need start off being as identifiable as I can to her, without making her feel like I'm "pushing" anything. I wish I could go into more detail, but I can''s just so hard to explain. But there are just certain things about MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE that will not be at all helpful to least not right now.
Many of you know what I mean.

I always say I want to help people who suffer the way I did {and sometimes still do!}...
It's time to take a step forward, and do that!

Why most fiction novels seem so superficial to me now

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I had a few books I wanted to read this summer...
And a few of them were fiction.

But the one I picked made the other choices so completely not worth my time!

Like, why in the world would I read something like THAT after something like THIS...

Psst!...You guys!...This book is AH-MAZE-ING!!!

At first I just didn't know what to do or think after finishing it! I didn't have any words, and at the same time, about a million and one things filled my mind! 

A simple plot description, or even the description from the inside cover would NOT do this justice! It's so much better than a "blurb" could ever describe it.

The writing is extremely intelligent, grabs at your emotions, and fills you with excited energy at the same time! The story is {very basically} about depression, being an outcast, and why having a best friend is the most important thing in the world. Okay, okay, so I know that seems like it's all very HEAVY...and it is...but please, hang in there with me for a little bit! Don't stop reading here, because I promise you won't regret it. Without giving you any spoilers, I reeeeaaaallllyyyy want to let you in on this book :)) 

You meet two main characters, and each chapter alternates between their two perspectives. The first one is called Finch...and I adored him! He's so fascinated with death, but he always finds a reason to stay alive. His character is so spontaneous and lively, but also very raw and real...and so identifiable to me! The things that he deals with in his life...oh, this author KNEW. WHAT. SHE. WAS. TALKING. ABOUT. I give her so much credit for creating a PERFECTLY realistic character with mental illness. Reading about the way his brain worked, and how his thoughts spiraled around, all I could think was, "Wow. Yes. It's like reading the words in my own mind." Most of the time I couldn't even believe what I was taking in, because Jennifer Niven made it so, so real, that it seemed as though it wasn't! {If that makes any sense at all...ha!}

And then there's Violet...Violet, who has recently lost her older sister in a car accident. While Finch does everything he can to find anything good in his TODAY, Violet has a "what's the point of life" mentality. She is trying so hard to move on without her sister, but she is trapped in the vicious cycle of guilt, and trying to stay inside the safety of the mold of what other people think she should be.

Both wanting so badly to just escape their own pain, they are thrown together into a school project, and go off on a journey across Indiana {which, that by itself is very cool because it gave me plenty of ideas of places that I now HAVE to see in my home state!}. And during this journey, they discover beauty in the most unexpected places, and they connect in the most unexpected ways.


I think the way I'm describing this story could never really convey the awesome-ness that it is! It captures every emotion, and portrays so accurately the reality of the abyss of depression. But at the same time, the author adds a sweet, lively, quirky tone to the writing that lessens the "heaviness" of the topic, without downplaying the seriousness of it.

You don't have to have experienced depression, or death, or pain to read this novel. It just draws you in, and suddenly you're simply enjoying the ride with Violet and Finch. You grow to love them and feel for them. They become part of you, and you'll want to stay long after the last page is over. This is the kind of book that will make you feel, simultaneously, numb AND frazzled. {Like I said earlier, I just didn't know what to do or think when it was over!} It will cause you to see the world differently, and you'll want to get up and DO SOMETHING! do something to SAVE people like our two main characters.

Pick it up! Read it! Share it with someone else! 
But also be prepared for the fact that you may need a long, long, long time to recover from it before moving on to another contemporary fiction book ;))

5 Myths You've Probably Believed About Medication

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's a touchy subject I know.

Not many people want to talk about mental health. It can really be a hot button topic, and difficult because it's also a very sensitive topic.

But there is such stigma surrounding it...

|| STIGMA {noun}: a set of negative, and often unfair, beliefs that a society or group of people have about something. ||

And one of the biggest stigmas surrounding mental health is about medication.

So I've decided to shed some light on the subject.

{{Now this is not just from my experience. This is from the experience of many others, and it's also backed up by research. I would not share any of this with you if I didn't have FACTS for you. Believe me, people who give their personal, uninformed opinions and anecdotes bother me just as much as it does the rest of you.}}

Here are 5 "myths" about medication...replaced by TRUTH...

{1} Myth: Medication will make you "numb".

Truth:  Finding a medication that works is a "trial and error" process. If you start on one that completely changes you, and makes you feel too mellow or subdued...then you need to try a different one, or maybe a different dosage of the one you are on.  Certain types can also "tweak" some anxiety, making it worse {and sometimes unbearable!} for awhile. But that side effect typically doesn't last for more than the first week or two, until your body adjusts, which is why it's essential to "hang in there" with it for awhile before giving up on it totally. But it is completely false that all meds will change your entire personality.

{2} Myth: All you need to overcome depression/anxiety is more willpower...the "just try harder" mentality.

Truth: Let me ask you this...if your child falls out of a tree and breaks her leg, and she's in a great deal of pain and can't walk, would you say to her, "You just aren't trying hard enough to get better"? Or...if you're lying in bed with pneumonia, do you think you can just WILL your body to heal itself? That's ridiculous right? You treat the problem. A disorder of the mind, like depression and anxiety, is a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected. It doesn't matter how much willpower you try to muster up. If your chemistry is off, you can't "fix yourself" with self-talk. Just as a broken bone is extremely physically painful and shows up on an x-ray, or pneumonia is an infection that attacks the body, a chemical imbalance {even if you can't SEE it} is just as real and TREATABLE.

{3} Myth: Going on medication means that you are "crazy".

Truth: A lot of people associate mental illness with school shootings and/or other violent episodes. There is a spectrum to mental illness. But people don't want to be perceived as "mad" or "mental". Above, I talked about a chemical imbalance. Depression is a symptom of that imbalance. It doesn't make you weak or lazy, and especially not crazy! Even the highest levels of mental illness {personality disorder, schizophrenia, etc.} have symptoms that subside and lessen when treated with medication. 

{4} Myth: Antidepressants are addictive.

Truth: It is very important to communicate with your doctor about the medication you are taking. Let's go back to the "trial and error" concept. Just like when it's making you feel worse or "numb", if your meds make you feel TOO GOOD, or more UP  than you should be, that's a red flag, and your doctor should know about it...because that's when it could be dangerous. AND! Once again, that's when it's time to switch to something else. Hence, trial and error.  

{5} Myth: Someone you know took antidepressants and got terrible side effects from it, so you will probably experience it too.

Truth: This truth is pretty simple and doesn't need much explanation...
Medication affects every person differently. One person's side effects and problems with ONE KIND of medication, are not going to be the same for you.

Now, don't get me wrong...

I am all for other methods of treatment!
There's cognitive behavioral therapy {CBT}...which can be great as long as you have a good therapist, and self-talk alone is helpful for you.
There's natural remedies, such as over the counter {OTC} supplements, and essential oils.
And many more!
And I've seen these things work for people...and I think it's great! But some people are a bit more "treatment resistant". And it takes something extra...something truly help them get better.

I would love to hear from ANYONE on this subject! Have you been affected by depression and anxiety, or other mood disorders? Do you take medication, or do you have other ways of dealing with it? Did I miss anything here that should maybe be added to this list of "MYTHS"? Let's talk, and let's end the stigma together!