Perfectly Imperfect

You would think that because I am an anxious person, I am great at dealing with other anxious people. On paper, I am. Through text, I am. In person, it’s often a train wreck. My anxiety builds off of their anxiety which builds from mine which…well, you get the point. Or we both have no idea what to say and its just awkward.

Speaking of building my emotions off of other people’s feelings, I have something really embarrassing to share. When I was younger, I thought that my over-sensitivity and anxiety was my “superpower”. I thought that deeply feeling the emotions of those around me was my Superwoman skill. I remember one instance in particular when we (my family and I) were driving by a group of people who were at a roadside memorial for someone who was recently killed in an automobile accident and I could feel their sorrow so deeply that it actually brought me to tears. I hadn’t experienced a loss in my life yet at that time, but somehow I felt their pain. I was amazed and scared at that point, but now I know that it was due to being a highly-emotional person. But what if it is also my superpower?

Empathy is one of my strengths and it is something that has guided me into a nursing career. What if we thought of some of our “flaws” (such as being overly sensitive and emotional) and twisted them into strengths (such as the ability to be empathetic)?

Why does being emotional always have to be a bad thing? Why does having anxiety always have to be a bad thing?

Having anxiety has saved my life at least once. In the fall after I graduated high school, I tried going to a university. The night before classes started, I went to an outdoor concert. I convinced the guy I was with at the time that we needed to start leaving two songs before the end of the concert. He fought me about it, but I said I needed to go and had a bad feeling about staying any longer. Long story short, we made it to the buses that drove us to the parking lot down the street. The buses never came back to get more people from the concert. Everyone else had to walk in the dark down the road and through the woods to the parking lot. Someone was hit by a car and died that night walking to the parking lot. I remember hearing the news a day later and how everyone who was left by the buses had to wait hours for the police and medics to clear the scene. That could have been me that night and if it weren’t for my anxiety and deciding to go with my gut, I would have been there when the tragedy occurred.

Maybe the things that set us apart aren’t all bad. Maybe those are the things that make us better at what we do and will protect us in certain situations. Sometimes you don’t have to understand why things are the way they are or why you are the way you are. Go with your instincts and try to put a positive spin on all things in your life. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it will make your life much more manageable.

You are perfectly imperfect.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Fake it ’til you Make it

There was a month break between my last job and current employment. In theory it sounds great, but in actuality I was going crazy. I am not good at having too much free time. I like to keep busy and with the break being a surprise, I didn’t have time to plan anything. By the time I started my current job, I wasn’t feeling myself.

Sure I had time to pick up the house, but I felt like I was losing myself. I wasn’t allowed to drive until I got clearance from my neurologist, so I spent the days in the house alone until my husband got home. I love my dog, but she was driving me crazy. I was losing patience because my entire day was spent chasing after her, cleaning up her messes, grabbing things from her, letting her inside (and outside and inside and outside…). Let’s just say she is a very high maintenance pooch. I felt horrible for being so frustrated with her, but I was becoming overwhelmed. I don’t know how stay-at-moms do it. They are amazing superheros.

My anxiety was getting worse. The more time I spent in the house, the harder it was for me to get out. I wasn’t a nurse. I wasn’t a hard worker. I wasn’t the things that I pride myself in. So I felt like I was nothing.

I was actually really excited to start working again and not only has it decreased my anxiety, but my self-esteem has gotten so much better. I feel like I am helping people again and my life has meaning. I am working toward appreciating myself more aside from my career, but for now I will take it.

For years my motto has been “Fake it until you make it” and that rings entirely too true for my anxiety. I am a high functioning person with anxiety, but I have learned over the years that when I stop making myself highly function, my anxiety creeps back in. If I don’t keep myself super busy, my mind wanders and it gets the best of me. It’s not the healthiest cycle to live in, but I am in a much better place than I was when first diagnosed with anxiety.

I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder when I was in tenth grade. My anxiety was worst in my history class and I ended up being placed in an emotional support class (independent studies) for the remainder of that class. I’m not proud of it, but at the time I couldn’t handle how my anxiety made me feel. Half way through tenth grade, I changed to a home-bound program where I did my studies at home with a tutor. I would learn independently and take tests with the tutor. At the time, I was going through therapy and trying medication (I’m notorious for being a non-compliant patient, so it wasn’t consistent). I was too afraid to go to the mall, car wash, elevator, and pretty much anything that wasn’t just sitting at home. After about two months of being out of school, I switched to a new district.

This was my chance for a new start and this is when my motto started. Nobody in my new school knew about my mental health (not that anyone in my old school really knew what was going on entirely anyway). I told myself that I had anxiety issues and that was okay, but that I had to pretend that everything was okay when I was in school. Overall this was successful for me. It taught me to acknowledge how I felt, but to not allow my feelings to overwhelm me.

Switching schools and changing my mentality was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. I met so many new people and made a million memories that I will have for a lifetime. One of my best friends is someone I met from the school I graduated from and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to grow our friendship. Not to mention the fact that I graduated from high school instead of getting my G.E.D which was the other option at that point. The day I crossed the stage and received my diploma was one of the proudest days of my life.

If you are someone who is struggling with anxiety (or mental health issues in general), there is hope. It will be hard work, but it will be worth it. It’s okay if you have to “fake it ’til you make it” right now because one day you will make it.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Anxiety

Chances are that somebody in your life is living with anxiety right at this moment (whether you realize it or not). If that somebody is you, I hope that what I will write in this post will help you. If not, this post may be able to help you relieve stress from your life.

Anxiety is something that I have lived with for about ten years now. There are a ton of different kinds of anxiety and I am not going to pretend that I know how everyone with anxiety feels, but I am going to list things that help my anxiety below.

  1. Essential Oils: I don’t know what it is about them, but lavender in particular will help me to relax if I am having a stressful day or feeling a little extra anxious. Orange is another great scent that will help me to feel energized and leave the house smelling so clean and fresh. There are a ton of different brands of essential oils out there and I’m honestly not sure how to tell which are better quality (although it is something that I want to do more research on), but I have bought some from MLM companies, Big Lots, Amazon, and even Walmart. I have a couple diffusers in my house and all i have to do is fill them with water, put in a few drops of the oil of my choice, and turn it on. I learned recently that some essential oils can have negative effects on pets, so talk with your veterinarian or do your own research if this is something that you have to consider. I have also been gifted essential oils that are in a diluting liquid (I’m not 100% sure on the process) and can be rolled onto my skin – I typically will rub it into my wrists – but I wouldn’t advise putting regular essential oils on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin like I do.
  2. Deep Breathing Exercises: When I find myself getting worked up and increasingly anxious, I tell myself to take ten deep breaths while closing my eyes and count them as I go. (inhale through my nose – hold for a moment – exhale through my mouth – “one”) By forcing myself to focus on my breathing, I am momentarily distracting my brain from what it was being anxious about. I usually feel much better after ten deep breaths. Going to new places is one of my sources of anxiety. I know that the longer I procrastinate getting out of the car, the harder it will be for me. I allow myself to take one deep breath and then quickly open the door and get out of the vehicle. The more I let myself stew about the “what if” possibilities, the worse the situation will be and the worse I will feel. If you meditate, this is another awesome idea. Meditation on a regular basis is like a stronger and more effective form of deep breathing exercises. It forces you to release what tension you have and return yourself to a peaceful center. Meditation is something I am new at and still working on, but I have already found it to be helpful.
  3. Do a Craft: Art is a great outlet for frustration and anxiety. By forcing my emotions out through creativity, I am not only releasing tension and distracting my brain, but I am creating something that can be useful or is beautiful. Some examples of this could be crocheting, coloring, drawing, poetry, photography, wood burning, calligraphy, or any other craft/hobby that you like. It is so important to find your outlet and realize when you can benefit most from practicing your craft.
  4. Read a Book: I love to read. When I get into a good book, reality slips away from me. Having a break from the real world is sometimes just what I need. Pro tip – although there is nothing like the hard copy of a book, e-readers are great for people who are working on minimizing their possessions and living a simpler life. You can also find coloring apps and much more on most tablets, phones, and computers.
  5. Cleaning: I know that this sounds really cliche. I also know that this actually works for me. I think it’s partly because being around clutter and knowing that I have a long list of things that need to get done is subconsciously a huge source of my anxiety. By cleaning my house, I am able to get my frustration out while working on fixing what is making me so on-edge.
  6. Exercise: I used to be a runner. I’m not saying that I did track in high school or ran marathons or anything, I just used to run every day to get my stress and frustration out. This is something that I hope to pick back up again because it worked so incredibly well for me. It was like I was running away from my anxiety. Not everyone enjoys running, but just about any form of exercise can release endorphins in your body and help with your mental/emotional well-being.

I wish that I could guarantee that if you do these six things, your anxiety will be cured and you will feel great. That just isn’t reality. You need to figure out what works for you and go with it. If that means you need to turn music up loud and sing at the top of your lungs, do it. If you have to write out letters telling yourself that you are going to be okay and get through this, do it. You need to do whatever it is that is going to make life easier for you. Anxiety can be a real pain in the butt and affect a lot of your life, but it only has as much power as you give it. Don’t give up and keep working on your coping mechanisms.

Make yourself and your mental/emotional well-being a priority.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

P.S. There is nothing wrong with talking to a trained professional. They can be incredibly helpful in targeting what your anxiety triggers are and figuring out how you can deal with them.