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!

I've got the Music in Me!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Brave Love Blog

Linking up with Bailey @ Brave Love today...haven't really been keeping up with the #blogtember challenge, but I was pretty excited to start here!

Today's Blog-tember challenge is to put your music playlist on shuffle and share the first 10 songs that play.

I was pretty excited to try this. Being a dance teacher and a girl with such wide music interests, from classical, to oldies, to Broadway, to Top 40, to movie scores...I have quite a "hodge-podge" of music on my phone! I couldn't wait to see what came up!

Without further TOP 10...

{1} Adagio in G minor for Strings & Organ

Oh I am so happy this one popped up first! This is probably my most favorite classical piece EVER! I saw a pas de deux {ballet duet} done to this that took my breath away & brought tears to my eyes! This piece gives me chills! Even if you're not a die-hard classical music fan like me, listen to it anyway. It's so soothing, it will completely de-stress your mind!

{2} Good Morning by Mandisa {ft. Toby Mac}

I haven't listened to this in awhile! It's a good way to wake up :))

{3} Shake it Out by Florence + the Machine

Because you just can't have a playlist without Florence! I so love her music because not a single one of her songs is like the other!

{4} Promises in the Dark by Pat Benatar

Oooh, I got lucky here! This is my favorite Pat Benatar song! Such a HUGE voice for such a tiny person, haha! And the note that she hits at 2:39 ish...ohhh myyyy goodnesssss!

{5} Your Song by Ellie Goulding

The sweetest cover of the Elton John song! I used this song for one of my solo dancers in our summer recital this year!

{6} Breath of Life by Florence + the Machine

Ah, more Florence! But, of course! This song, from "Snow White and the Huntsman", is possibly the most epic, incredible song she's ever done! There is not much like it anywhere else! For those who know me well, you'll think a song like this is out of character for me...haha! Not so! I'm DYING to choreograph this one! THAT would be a stretch for me!

{7} 50 Ways to Leave your Lover by Paul Simon

Haha, here's a funny little oldie for ya! Paul Simon {as in Simon & Garfunkle} is awesome :))

{8} Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins

No explanation needed :))

{9} When it Comes by Tyler Hilton

I actually heard this song on the show "One Tree Hill" and loved it! I use this a lot for warm-ups for my students in my dance classes.

{10} Caislean Oir by Clannad

Because no playlist is complete without a serene, Irish Gaelic song! Probably sounds odd to some, but I really love Clannad! And for you those of you who have heard of Enya, Clannad's lead singer is Enya's sister! I just think they make beautiful music, even though it's very New Age-y. 

and here's 5 extra because it's fun!
Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Sans
{if the first song is my favorite classical piece ever, this is my second! LOL! it's such a fun piece, played often around halloween. If you listen to it, it'll be obvious why.}
Sparks and Shadows by Twila Paris
{i was totally obsessed with her growing up! such an icon in Christian music in the 90s and early 00s}
Eric's Song by Vienna Teng
{another unknown. worth listening to. she wrote an entire love song without using the word "love". it's perfect.}
Stand in the Rain by Superchic[k]
Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac
{cool! i didn't think they would come up, haha! they are my favorite oldie group.}

So what is playing on YOUR playlist right now??

One Down...

Friday, September 4, 2015

...And a whole lot more to go.

So...this has been a good week.

And I mean, a really really good week! 

Probably because I'm starting to get back into the swing of things. I finally got to go back to ballet class after a six week break {can we say, WAY TOO LONG?!}, a new choir season has begun, I've gotten a whole new group of dance students at one location, and I'm getting ready to welcome another group of students at another location! 

But I think the main reason is because I was able to accomplish one of my "easier" goals.

Cleaning and redecorating my room.
And I love it! It's sweet and Audrey Hepburn, who is pretty much the "theme" to my room. The "Tiffany Blue" color of the sheets make me so happy and relaxed, and I plan to add other accents in that color later.

The "newness" of all of this...and the fact that it's actually CLEAN...just makes me feel 10 times better about everything else. Even about just BEING IN my room! 

Now...the moving forward part...this is where things get tricky.

A good week like this...several days in a row of feeling THIS GOOD...

I have no idea when the inevitable "drop" is going to come, or how I'm going to handle it.
Redecorating the room...and GETTING it clean...that was the easy part. Or...well...relatively easy, in comparison to the rest of this...

  • KEEPING the room clean.
  • Sticking to a schedule for practicing music, & for writing.
  • Growing in my relationship with God.
  • Exercising regularly {apart from my Monday night ballet class}
  • Finding a way of eating that works for me {including learning to plan meals ahead of time to avoid "food anxiety'}.
That last one is going to be the toughest one...and if I spent time going into all of the "whys" about it, we'd be here for a long time.
So I'll just say this..."eating plans" always, always, ALWAYS equal unhealthy thoughts for me. I've tried so many different tactics. I always end up back in a very bad place.
{Someday I'll write more about's just not the right time.}

Really, they are all going to be hard. And most people would wonder why...because for most people all of these things are just part of a normal lifestyle. However, people with mood disorder aren't normal. I've said before that it makes what should be everyday tasks, a lot harder.

Which is why a good week like this is scary...but I'm learning how to enjoy this "UP", and to take advantage of it and make it great...and trying very hard to not worry about how long it's gonna last before I "go down again."

One down...and a whole lot more to go.

I'll Never Get Tired of...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I'll never get tired of...

Watching birdies on the bird feeder.

Having "Friends" or "Gilmore Girls" episodes on in the background while doing something else.
{Like right now..."Friends" is my background soundtrack}

Sweet iced tea & Coffee {in pretty much any form}!

Going to ballet class.

Making new friends.

Taking naps in the middle of the day.

Beautiful sunsets.

Watching old musicals...Singin' In the Rain, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady...the possibilities are endless! 

Falling asleep to the sound of a thunderstorm.

Attending services at my AMAZING church!

Getting dressed up.

Really, really long walks.

Thinking about happy things like this :))