I wanted to share with you how I sometimes feel and experience life.
Sometimes, it feels like there is a rage burning inside of me that I can’t get rid of. Negative emotions and reactions drown me and I’m constantly covered in tears and gasping for air. Talking to people exhausts me and I spend all of my free time procrastinating or trying to take a break from life by sleeping. I don’t feel like myself. The things and people I love don’t bring me joy the way I’m used to. I feel numb to everything unless overwhelming sadness or anger decide to make an appearance.
I feel out of body, like the world is happening all around me but I’m not apart of it. Moments of clarity are rare but every so often I see someone spill something on their white shirt, trip over a crack in the sidewalk, or make a mistake at work. These simple, sometimes embarrassing, moments remind me that everything is okay because we are all human, we all have moments of weakness, and eventually I will come back to myself and feel safe in my own body and mind again.
I usually first notice the vibrating. It feels like my bones are buzzing. My words tumble out of my mouth a million miles a minute. My sentences become shortened and quick. I can feel the weight of the words I can’t remember on the tip of my tongue. I feel electric as thoughts race through my mind.
The sun seems extra bright when I first open my eyes in the morning and I am often flooded with anxiety from nightmares. Once I am up, I am full of energy and excitement to start my day. I have productive days. I make lists, delete hundreds of emails I let let pile up, do all of my laundry, and read multiple books a day. I wash and deep condition my hair, shave and exfoliate. I try to feel clean from the inside out.
I feel amazing for days. I see everything through a different lens, one that is full of hope and gratitude. Sometimes, it can feel scary. I feel impulsive and like every choice I make is the right one. When I feel mania beginning to grab a hold of me, I know it’s time to buckle up. Being manic feels extraordinary, but one thought persists through the other thousand racing ones; eventually, this feeling will come to an end and I will begin a new cycle.
Once in a while, I am somewhere in the middle. I feel balanced, normal. These are my favorite times. Holding onto these days, or weeks can be nerve wracking sometimes because I know that at any moment, my mental state can dramatically change.
Having a mental illness means that I experience life in a very unique way. For now, all I can do is keep myself grounded and try to use this energy and perspective to live my life as happily and healthily as I can. It has its ups and downs, and not all depressive or manic episodes are easy to handle or to learn from. What’s important is that I practice gratitude, I take what I can from each experience, and I try to be present in each and every moment.
1. Coffee in the morning. Nothing says "I love you" like waking up to a cup of coffee made just the way you like it.
2. Listening. When we take the time to listen to someone else without interrupting, or someone lends an ear to us, it demonstrates patience, respect, and love.
3. Creating art. Whether it's something made intentionally for someone else or just taking some time to write or doodle, creating art is often times an expression of love.
4. Showering. Taking time to clean your body and wash your hair is time spent giving love to yourself. (And since you won't be smelly, it's also a great way of showing love to the people around you.)
5. Words. Sometimes we just want to hear that we are loved. Actions often speak louder than words but without some reassurance, it's easy to forget the meaning behind the actions. Telling someone you love them, giving genuine compliments, or leaving little notes are all easy ways of reminding someone you love them.
6. At-home remedies. Sometimes we can't afford to get massages or pedicures. Taking some time to give yourself or someone you love a massage or making a cup of hot tea filled with honey and lemon when you or someone else is sick is a great way to demonstrate love.
7. Apologizing. It can be hard to admit when we are wrong but if we make a mistake, apologizing shows others that we love them enough to ignore our pride.
8. Spending time together. Spending time with others doing things that you enjoy is one of the best ways to show someone you love them or to feel loved. Our time is valuable so making time for others means that they are valuable enough to make the time for.
9. Learning. We never stop learning in life and every time we do learn something new, it's a form of showing ourselves love. It means we love ourselves enough to feed and nurture our minds.
10. Cooking for someone. Taking the time to prepare nourishing food for ourselves or for others is always a great and delicious way to demonstrate love.
When life throws you a few curve balls, it’s easy to get distracted and focus only on the problem right in front of you. Now I wanna ask you where did this problem come from? You probably haven’t thought about it much, have you? It probably seems that the problem just appeared out of nowhere and nothing that you have done or any of the choices you have made created this problem in the first place. Whether your problem is that you can’t get up for work on time, your room is always a mess, or you don't feel like you are making healthy choices, every time you try and take a step toward solving the problem, you somehow end up two steps backward. A lot of us have a great habit of always doing everything possible to not set ourselves up for success. We fall victim to self sabotage.
I once read somewhere that the only person standing between us and our best lives is no one other than ourselves. We have the ability to undeniably and unapologetically take control of our own lives. It’s all about the actions we choose to make. If you want to be somewhere on time, try to not stay up until the crack of dawn. Go to bed. If you wanna do better in school, learn to prioritize your time. If that means not going out to stay home and study, then do so. If your mental health is suffering and you're not sure why, find a therapist that can help you.
Ultimately, you have to take the first step. It is up to you to achieve every goal and dream you have ever decided on for yourself. You have to make your dream or your goal a reality. The change that is needed to accomplish our goals can be found inside each of us but it’s up to the individual to grab change by the reigns and steer it wherever they desire.
The bumps along the way
It's a lot easier to ask someone to take control of their life or a situation than it is to actually do it. Alongside goals and dreams comes the opportunity to fail. Failure is something that causes a lot of us to shake with fear and sadness, but accepting and dealing with those emotions is just as important as achieving the goals themselves. Achieving a goal feels a lot more satisfying when you’ve put in the work. You can’t allow failure and negative emotions to steer you in a negative direction.
Learning how you may be self sabotaging and ways to avoid doing so is crucial to moving forward with your dreams and goals. If you want change you have to be the change. Take steps, no matter how small, to find solutions that work best for you and help you to find your personal happiness.
A few years ago, I had been attending a small, private college located in a magical town. There were a lot of ups and downs and I know that I would not be the person I am now without the experiences I had and lessons I learned during my stay. I was surrounded by beautiful people, diverse communication, and unique encounters. One of the lessons I learned would be one that completely changed my perspective on life forever.
In 2015, a few days after the new year, my friends and fellow classmates received news that someone we attended school with had passed away. It didn’t seem real. I had never experienced something so sudden and out of the blue, yet permanent. This was the first time I had experienced the death of someone so close in age to me. He was a beautiful person with so much energy and personality that none of it made sense. After months of watching those around me grieve, I came to a realization; as far as I know, I only have this one life and anything can happen at any moment.
I completely changed the course of my life. I dropped out of college the next semester and went home to focus on my mental health. Right now, I am in an entirely different place than I would have been if I kept forcing myself to live life in an unhappy and unhealthy way.
This year I challenge you to take control of your life.
I am a firm believer in fate and the idea that everything happens for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work for what you want. If you want something, go out and get it. Don’t just sit back and expect the universe to work its magic and give you everything you think you deserve. Simply sitting back and waiting for life to happen to you isn’t going to make for a very fulfilling life.
It’s okay to start small.
Sometimes what you are working toward can seem so far away, but you have to start somewhere. If you try to completely change your life all at one time, chances are, you won't make any progress. Think about where you see yourself in the future and take the necessary steps to get to that point.
Accept this life for what it has to offer.
When we do attempt to take control of our lives, things will not always go as we plan. That’s okay. Failure doesn’t mean you have to give up or that whatever you’re striving for is impossible to achieve. It just gives us an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, to get back up again, and to start over. Keep pushing yourself, no matter how many times you slip up, because the more you try to take control of your life, the closer you will be to reaching your goals.
Realize the opportunity that lies ahead of you. Be ambitious. Get excited about the goals you want to achieve. Life can be stressful. Sometimes it seems like you can’t get ahead or that when you do, something happens that knocks you back five steps. Keep thinking big. Don’t become discouraged because there is so much out there for you to experience, explore, and achieve.
Only I am in control of my life. I choose to live in the present and to the fullest. I still struggle with learning when to go with the flow and when to stand up and take control, but that’s okay. I continue to grow and learn everyday and I try to live a life that keeps me both happy and healthy because as far as we know, we only have one life to live.
This Christmas, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with beautiful people. I ate delicious food and sipped sweet wine, laughed with family and friends, and exchanged gifts with loved ones. I spent a lot of December stressing, scrambling for gifts, and planning out how I would be able to visit everyone I wanted to see during the holidays. Finally, the holiday was here and all seemed successful.
That was until the evening of Christmas when I started my car and it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to make it home. I could tell the engine was having a difficult time staying on, the lights were flickering, the check engine light was on, and there was a weird sound that I had never heard before. I became very upset because it seemed that car troubles follow me everywhere, and it wasn’t the first time my car had broken down on Christmas. Fortunately, this time I was with family and had a place to stay. The next morning, I took it to a local mechanic and had it repaired. I was relieved when it was ready by 2 in the afternoon so my boyfriend and I would both be able to make it to work.
However, the night before when all of this was happening, I did not feel so relieved. In fact, I felt defeated. I got upset because I had just gotten this car a few months ago and I have been doing everything I can to keep it in good condition. I felt frustrated with life and the unpredictability of it all. I called my dad to tell him about the unfortunate situation and he said what he always says, “Well baby, that’s life.”
Negative, scary questions were swimming around my mind until I was eventually able to fall asleep.
“Why do these situations always happen to me?”
“Why can’t I ever seem to get ahead?”
“How am I going to afford this?”
“If life is always so stressful, unpredictable, and frustrating, what’s the point of it all?”
Looking back on how I felt during the situation has made me realize I really want to work on going with the flow. Sometimes you have to take a step back. You have to remove yourself from your immediate situation and remind yourself that everything is going to be okay.
I have always felt connected to water and I think I could learn a lot about going with the flow from it. A river still flows when there is something in the way, it simply goes around the object. The currents may change direction because of the wind, but they still keep moving. Water boils when it’s hot or freezes when it’s cold, but it still exists. Water is not afraid of unpredictability or change, it simply goes with the flow.
I have a lot of intentions for the new year. I think that in order to successfully manifest these intentions, I first have to learn how to let go and not try to control all aspects. Whatever wants to leave I will let go of and whatever wants to come my way I will accept. I truly believe that 2019 has a lot to offer and I hope to experience this new year one moment at a time.
The seasons are changing, travel plans are piling, and family is visiting; the holiday season can be a particularly stressful time. If you do not take care of yourself, physically and mentally, it is going to affect your mood. Self care, in general, is extremely important to remain happy and healthy all year round, especially during the end of the year. If you would like to know more about the tips I use to remain jolly during the holiday season, please keep reading.
Take Care of Your Body
If you want to be happy and healthy mentally, you have to be happy and healthy physically. The holiday season can make it difficult to find time to go to the gym and the colder months make outdoor activities less inviting. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be the healthiest you can be during this time of year, especially considering all of the holiday goodies that are offered, but try to be active a little bit everyday.
If going to the gym or taking a class doesn’t fit in your schedule or isn’t your thing, maybe do a ten minute yoga flow at some point during your day. Try going on walks with your dog. Get some friends together to go roller skating or bowling. Something as simple as stretching once every day helps my mood stay uplifted and it also allows me time to listen to my body.
This time of year means I am always on the go and, often times, my body needs extra care. The cold weather is hard on my joints and I always seem to have a case of the sniffles. Try not to ignore the signs your body gives you. If you are feeling extra sore or you feel like you might be getting sick, go to a doctor. Do research for DIY or at-home remedies. Your body worked hard to get you to the end of the year so make sure you take care of it.
I feel it is easier to recognize when I am happy and in a good mood. However, when I am cranky, annoyed, depressed, or in any other negative mood, I don’t always realize until it seems like it’s too late. I find that trying to be mindful of my moods helps me to get out of the negative ones quicker.
For example, I know that if I haven’t eaten or slept well, I am eventually going to become cranky. Because I am mindful of this, I try to eat well and frequently enough and I try to sleep as routinely as possible. Sometimes I am unable to do so. Being a server means my hours are rather hectic and, of course, I have a life outside of work so, sometimes, an all-nighter is needed to accomplish everything. When this happens, I make sleep my number one priority. I will change plans if necessary, sleep a whole day away, do whatever it takes to get me back to the happiest and healthiest I can be.
The winter months can be especially difficult, depending on where you live, because you might spend less time in the sun. Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement to make up for the lack of sunshine in your life. The effect it has on your mood may make a world of a difference.
Being mindful of how I spend my time and whether or not I am taking care of myself helps my mood tremendously. I also find it helpful during this season to remind myself that soon the new year will start and I will have the chance to refresh, restart, and welcome a new year.
The holiday season can be an exciting and loving time. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally will help make it more likely for you to have a have a happy, healthy, and jolly holiday season.
When I was younger and on a camping trip with my grandparents, I remember my grandfather telling me to always leave a campsite in better shape than it was when I arrived. For some reason, that stuck with me and I have always tried to keep things in order, especially among all of the chaos that life brings on a daily basis. Recently I have noticed that the more organized and purposeful I keep myself, the more motivated and successful I am able to be.
With 2018 coming to end and the new year beginning, I think it is important to declutter your life and create space. When we allow ourselves to become enveloped by the disorganization and extra clutter in our lives, we limit what we are capable of becoming. If you'd like to know more about how I remain organized and purposeful, please keep reading.
Minimalism is an interesting concept. When many people first hear the word, they believe that minimalism means having little to no materiel items. That is not the case. Living with a minimalist's mindset simply means that everything a person owns serves a purpose and is useful in their lives. That does not mean that they use every item they own every day. Obviously having a winter coat is necessary for the colder months, but you are not going to bundle up in the middle of the summer. Someone that lives a minimalist lifestyle just doesn't hold on to things they do not need or do not use.
So go through your belongings. Get rid of the things you don't use or need. Clothes, for example, was an issue for me. I held onto so much clothing that I had the intention of wearing. However, most of those items didn't flatter me and realistically, never would. Over a span of a couple of weeks, I went through my clothes and I collected items that either did not fit properly or that I did not like. Some, I was able to sell at second hand stores, while the rest, I donated. Not only did I clear up space in my drawers and closet, but now, when I go to get dressed, I see only clothing that I am excited to wear.
The same goes for everything else. Make-up, skin care, books, and other miscellaneous items I have collected over the years were just taking up space. Why was I saving a face wash that I didn't enjoy using? Why was I saving books that I had no intention of reading again? Often times, certain things hold sentimental value, but that means it has purpose. I kept my favorite books, I kept the make-up and skin care products that I use for special occasions or for times when I want to take special care of my skin, but I got rid of the things that served little to no purpose for me.
Important papers and financials
The next task for me was to go through the rather large collection of papers I had stuffed into a box. I knew that a lot of the paperwork and bills in this box were important, but I also knew a lot of it was just junk. I bought a cheap, plastic, multi-pocket folder and went through every piece of paper that had been thoughtlessly stuffed into this box. Now, things like my birth certificate, tax paperwork, diploma, and insurance information all have a safe place to be stored.
Money is a constant stress for many people. Organizing your bills and at least acknowledging them is a big step in the right direction. It can be daunting to deal with, but stuffing them in a box or letting them pile on the kitchen table only prevents you from dealing with them sooner.
A majority of people spend at least a little bit of time on social media everyday. Wouldn't you rather see people and posts that are relevant to you? Every so often, sit down and delete the people and pages that are unfamiliar to you or that do not bring positivity onto your feed. It might not seem important, but limiting what pages you like and who you follow can make a big difference in how you experience social media.
Everyone lives differently. There are some things that I don't think I could live without that another person has never even thought about once in their lives. What's important is to create a lifestyle that allows for you to grow. If you are being held down by the clutter that surrounds you, you're going to continue to drown. Do not stifle your abilities. You can't expect to move forward if you are holding onto items and junk from your past. Create space in you life for growth and possibility.
It is December and the air is crisp and chilling.
The trees stand naked and vulnerable.
The sky is overcast and gloomy.
The birds have flown south and their songs are a distant memory.
The sidewalks are hard and bare.
There are no flowers sprouting from the cracks.
The salt from the last snowfall left a chalk-white stain all over town.
People stay inside, trying to keep warm, and the streets are lonely.
This is winter.
That is to say, even the weather feels a little gray sometimes.
New Year's resolutions and intentions are exciting. While they may feel daunting or difficult, there is a sense of newness and aspiration that make them a fun way to welcome the new year.
Most of us wait until the first day of January to begin our resolutions. Why wait? Why not start early and get the snowball rolling? The holiday season can be a stressful time, so fully emerging yourself in your resolutions may not be practical, but starting to at least toy with the idea of them could make or break their success.
A lot of us make resolutions that have to do with our diets. Whether you want to cut out sweets or start going to the gym, being a healthier version of yourself is always a good idea. However, we all know that the holiday season is not necessarily the time to stop eating sweets, our busy schedules may not allow time to go to the gym, and the weather limits our options for activities like hiking or going on a bike ride. That doesn't mean you can't start working toward your goals now. Do research on what lifestyle changes are right for you. Make a schedule for how you plan on fitting workouts into your schedule. Buy some new or thrifted workout outfits. Make little changes that don't entirely take away from the joys of holiday dinners and all of the sweet desserts this time of year has to offer. Drinking more water or eating smaller portions of the food you love might seem difficult at first but will make the transition after the new year much easier.
Saving money or getting out of debt is another common resolution. Buying gifts and traveling may not make those goals easy to achieve at this time. Make a budget for yourself. Start thinking about what necessities you have to pay for like food, gas, and rent. Try to figure out how much you should put aside for personal spending. Be realistic so that you have a better chance of sticking with your budget, but if you do this now, you’ll have all of January to tweak what isn’t working. Many of us make the mistake of waiting until January which means we lose time, and in this case, money.
Instead of spending the first month setting yourself up for success, you'll have already done so. Whatever your intentions for the new year are, I hope you are able to stick with them. Get excited about the changes you plan to make after the new year and get started now.
I know it is not always easy to leave someone you love, but if you are truly meant to be together, the universe will make it happen. I know that breaking up does not mean you will never be together again, but sometimes, you both need time to learn and grow individually before you can be happy together. When I have these conversations with friends, the question always poses itself, “why do people choose to live miserably?”
Earlier this week, I met up with a close friend. We sipped wine and ordered take-out and talked about our lives. We spent a lot of time talking about her relationship and the problems she has
been facing. This is not the first conversation we have had regarding this topic and I always tell her the same thing; break up with him.
It is not because I don’t like her boyfriend. It’s actually quite the contrary. I am good friends with both of them. Their happiness is extremely important to me and seeing them both struggle to maintain a happy and healthy relationship is hard. They’ve been dealing with the same personal issues for about a year with little to no relief. Every time she calls me or texts me to talk about what’s going on, I tell her the same thing. Break up. Each time I tell her this, I remind her that I love both of them and I just want to see them happy and if that means not being with each other, than so be it.
If there is an aspect of your life that is making you unhappy, do something. Don’t be afraid of change; embrace it. Welcome new opportunities and experiences with open arms. We are each given one life. Why waste it being unhappy? If there is something you can do to change the situation you are in, do it. It might be heartbreaking, or scary, or stressful, but if it could ultimately bring you happiness, it’s worth trying.
Be smart about your decisions though. When you’re unhappy, it is easy to be impulsive. You might feel like you have nothing to lose. Don’t just quit your job without having another one lined up or at least a plan of action. Don’t leave your unhappy relationship and jump straight into another one before taking time to learn about the last one. Don’t drop out of school only to spend months in bed. Yes, it is vital to take time for yourself to rest or to heal. But it is also vital to keep moving forward.
Even if you have to fake it till you make it, keep trying. If you quit your job only to work somewhere else that doesn’t immediately make you happy, take it as an opportunity to meet new people or to expand your qualifications and experience. If you decide to leave a relationship and you feel lonely and like part of who you were is missing, take it as an opportunity to fall in love with yourself. If you drop out of school and feel misplaced or like you don’t have any idea what you’re supposed to be doing, take the time to rediscover what you love. Set little goals for yourself to accomplish everyday to remind yourself that you are still a success. Go to work, read, water your plants, make breakfast, clean your car, volunteer, work out, do yoga, meditate, learn something new about anything at all. These are all little achievements that should be celebrated.
We are instinctual creatures. We know, in our hearts, what is best for us. Eventually, your life will begin to morphe around the changes you make, whatever they may be. Don’t let the fear of the future or the “what ifs” hold you back from being happy. Don’t spend the rest of your life making decisions based on comfort and simplicity.
Choose to be happy before anything else.
Are you happy?
Laura is passionate about the power of words and she hopes to share her advice and experiences in an artistic and interesting way.