Spring Changes

As a midwesterner, I would say that the best season should probably be spring. It’s the relief from months of depression and vitamin D deficiency. New life, fresh air, garden parties, BBQs, patio beers…what else could we possibly want after what seems like an eternity of white knuckle driving, falling on ice, rusting our cars, coughing up mucus and dry heat bloody noses.

But not me.

Spring triggers all kinds of anxiety. I have a long history of facing life changes and trauma during this particular season, and it’s usually a very uncomfortable transition. I’ve accepted my anxiety long enough now to be able to anticipate it. So this year, I’m trying something new. I’m cleaning, organizing, drawing, and donating as much as I possibly can. My goal is to get rid of all unnecessary possessions. I’ve also decided to work on a garden project with my husband, create new routines, and watch new shows. Memories are a powerful thing - they’ve controlled so much of my attitude about myself. It’s time to be mindful about the present moment and create new memories.

I’m loving this journey for me. #ALittleBitAlexis #SchittsCreek #BestShowOf2019

Speaking of Schitt’s Creek, David is my spirit animal and after I publish this blog post I’m realistically going to contemplate the meaning of life while I wash my hair and then take my husband out to dinner and binge that show until I forget I’m anxious.

xo,

Victoria

Valentine's Day!!

Happy Valentine's day! This is by far one of my favorite holidays. I know it's a Hallmark holiday filled with consumerist ideals, blah blah blah. But it's only negative if you choose to look at it that way. I don't expect to be showered with gifts. I'm a giver, and I want to treat myself and everyone else around me. I like dipping strawberries and making treats for my coworkers. I love taking my husband out for dinner. I look for excuses to send my mom, sisters, and friends small packages and cards to show them I'm thinking of them. It doesn't matter what holiday it is, I have a box of thoughtful gifts on reserve that I buy whenever I see a thoughtful gift for a special someone in my life.

That being said, if something has ruined the holiday for you, I understand. But if you can make a good day out of a universal reminder to show love and gratitude to the people around you, I think you should do it.

Another important message I want to share is that you should spend a few moments today or this weekend focusing on the things that you love about yourself. A daily recognition of your strengths can go a long way to building self esteem and confidence, which will resonate throughout other parts of your life. It’s easy to get stuck living in the past, or fixating on your weaknesses. Whether you have depression, anxiety, or both, your mental illness doesn’t define you or your value. If you can’t forgive yourself for making a mistake in your past, if you can’t break away from a toxic relationship, if you can’t stop obsessing about your student debt, if you can’t ever see yourself living your dream, if you haven’t quite found the right job, or if you’re simply just going through a hard time, even if you’re not necessarily sure why - you have more power than you think. Those of us who live with mental illness every day - we don’t always get to choose how we feel, or what we are capable of doing. Some days, we don’t get an option to be happy and motivated. We can do some things, though. We can:

  • Ask for help when we need it (Not just from a doctor, but from our friends, family, spouses, coworkers, teachers, etc.)

  • Reevaluate our goals and pursuits (Do you really think you’ll be happier as a full-time musician if you’ve never put the extra time in to work on your skills?)

  • Establish a sense of purpose (Do you secretly criticize yourself for not going to the gym? Have you always wanted to learn a new skill? What have you done to adopt these new behaviors?)

  • Follow through with goals (So...you don’t have the energy or courage to get back in the gym. What if you walked 10,000 steps per day? Are you really bad at staying positive, but you don’t know what to do to change? What if you read a chapter of a self-help book, or watched a 20 minute Ted Talk every single day?)

Start small and only do as much as you can handle. Don’t beat yourself up about not being as productive as you think you should be - that will only lead to more depression/anxiety. Set small, reasonable goals each day, get enough sleep, and take a multivitamin. Get a health and wellness checkup - tell your doctor about your symptoms, and get blood work done to see if you have any deficiencies. If you need help with basic activities, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of others is a sign of strength, and we often do much better in life when we allow ourselves to connect with others. The more you love yourself despite your flaws, the more you’ll enable yourself to learn and grow.

xo,

Victoria

Guest Post: Re-Centering

Guest: Liz

For the past 33 years, I have struggled with appearing perfect on the outside while trying to conceal my learning disabilities. After years of suppressing my emotions and feelings, mixed with the potent cocktail of lack of sleep and exercise, poor eating habits, and anxiety at work, I entered into the perfect storm that ultimately led to my mental breakdown and hospitalization.

My meltdown led me to take the past year off and re-center myself. Prior to the hospitalization, I normalized my anxiety. Constant doomsday thoughts and persevering on mistakes consumed my days with worry, leaving my stomach in knots and crippling my appetite. One silly mistake could send me on a downward spiral of thinking that one single mistake could unveil something catastrophic.

It has taken me more than a year, but I now understand that these thoughts happen when my anxiety spikes. With the right help, I use different coping skills to address and quell my anxiety. I have a better understanding to how my anxiety affects me on a daily basis.

Before this experience, I disregarded mental health. In turn, I scoffed at anyone who pulled the mental health card for anxiety or depression. I didn’t understand how anxiety and depression could paralyze a person. It hinders people from fully living their lives and their ability to be present.

My biggest challenge to overcome my anxiety has been to slow down. I have to work on slowing down my life’s pace. Life is a marathon not a sprint. The faster I respond to emails or complete a chore doesn’t mean that I’m winning the rat race. Instead, these fervent habits just prevented me from doing my best work. Learning to take lots of deep breaths before each task, I continue reminding myself to smell the roses while completing the task.

Now, I see life in a different way. By slowing down, I have time to notice the colors, sounds and smells that surround me. Brené Brown’s research has helped shaped my outlook on life. One of my favorite quotes by her is “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

My advice for someone in a similar circumstance or feeling the world is coming to an end is to seek help. Mental health is no joke. It can become stiffening and prevent you from living your fullest, happiest life.  After being a prisoner to it and coming out on the other side, my hope is that anyone who feels slightly or entirely what I felt, please get help. It is the most invigorating feeling once you shed a light on your struggles and learn how to overcome them.

Unsponsored: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life Recommendation

Most people don’t realize the brain is just as good (or better) at muscle memory than any other muscle. The human brain learns by association, which is why we have a memory at all. The emotion we feel at any given moment is automatically associated with whatever is happening around us. This is the same reason why domesticated animals learn certain behaviors with sounds, treats, and other cues. When we have a bad experience, we associate feelings, objects, smells, sounds, colors…anything our brain can grab onto to remember the moment. This is how we develop interests, learn to fear things, stay in bad relationships, fall into addictions, and even stick with that new diet and gym membership. Although muscle memory is not the sole reason we have anxiety or depression, if you’re in a place where you are able to learn to control it, you can work hard to change your thoughts and behaviors.

If you are not in a good place, and you need the support of a therapist, medication, or if you simply need more time to work through something, don’t feel guilty. Your experience doesn’t need to be compared to everyone else’s. If you’re taking the time to read about mental health, you’re in the right place.

I would like to take the time to recommend this book. This post, and my review, is completely unsponsored. If you’re looking for answers on why people experience mental health issues (anxiety and depression - this book does not apply to other unrelated disorders), and how to accept and overcome them, stop everything you’re doing and read it. (As with every mental health post, I would like to disclose that I am not a counselor, and that my advice will not solve every problem.) I have learned a lot from reading this, and it has given me peace of mind that my experience is universal and that I am not going through it alone. If you’re reading this post, I hope it helps you too!

xo,

Victoria

Guest Post: Open Call Advice 12/16

Hello! I’ve asked, and you’ve submitted! Today I am featuring our very first guest post from the open call. Originally, I was going to close this and re-open quarterly, but the Instagram account is growing and so are the responses. Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories and we appreciate you participating in this healthy exercise!

Guest: Dominique

What triggers you most?

Past Experiences.

Tell us about obstacles you've faced.

Peoples opinion, family’s judgement, insecurities, suicidal thoughts.

Tell us how you overcome those obstacles either long term or on a daily basis.

I currently go to therapy once a week and I’m also taking anti-depressants. Both of those contribute to me getting better daily. With my therapy sessions I’m able to open up completely and heal those open wounds that have held me back in my life. It helps give me clarity, perspective and understanding as to why and how I got here. It helps me save me. I’m also a writer. I’ve been doing that since I was about 10 years old. It is the best therapy I could ever have. My soul is completely free and liberated every time I put pen to paper. When and if I have a suicidal thought or feel like taking my life I redirect my thoughts. Either by reading, praying, or talking to a friend or taking a walk. I do something to change the chemical that my brain is receiving. It’s no easy task but I fight anyway. From it I’ve learned to love me. Love who I am and who I’m going to be. I read positive quotes and devotionals. Things that will help change my thoughts in a positive way.

What advice would you give to people looking to overcome similar circumstances?

Therapy isn’t a bad thing at all. Save yourself for yourself. Find something else as well that makes you happy and sets you free. No matter what it is as long as it brings positive energy into your world. Never stop fighting for yourself. Learn to love yourself. Your authentic self.

Blogging Frequency + Open Call

Happy Monday, folks!

I’m going to make an effort to blog more regularly. It wasn’t exactly my intention to blog on a frequent basis, but I need to develop more content to fill in the gaps. Most of you are brand new readers who deserve to know my intent. For more information on my introduction, please see my first post.

Some of you really enjoy this Open Call, and I have some lovely entries to share in the future. (If you haven’t yet submitted, click here.) I feel very inspired to keep going and collect more of your thoughts. I am featuring my first guest later this week!

In the future, you will find more content on the blog Sundays and Thursdays. Don’t be surprised if I throw in a few posts here and there - I’m still developing my blogging strategy. I’m curious to hear your thoughts…what would you like to see on the blog? What content subjects would you come back for every week? I anxiously await your comments, DMs, and emails. :)

xo,

Victoria

Mental Health: Responsibility

Anxiety will not prevent bad things from happening or make you any more prepared for disaster. It has given me heightened senses and makes me a more sensitive and intuitive person. However, anxiety also makes me visualize every scenario, as if every action and reaction is somehow connected in a web-like diagram in my mind. That diagram holds every bad decision and wrongdoing I've ever done, weaves resolutions of karma and consequence, justifying all the worst case scenarios I can consider. It lives in my subconscious and unravels itself at the perfect moments, convincing me that something is wrong or that eventually something will be wrong, and that there is a reason to be alarmed.

In the thirty years of my life with anxiety, the perpetuating cycle of suffering has become so normal that it's just another emotion I experience on a daily basis. There are times I've caught myself experiencing pure joy--which is quite often, despite the stereotypes--and then I feel guilty for letting go. As if fear is a responsibility to the rest of the world, and that my foresight might save myself or someone else.

I'm still learning how to trust my own mind and distinguish intuitive thoughts versus paranoid rationalizations. I often use humor to laugh at my own perception. I vocalize it to others, and I've cracked so many jokes on myself I could start my own comedy routine. Humor pairs with anxiety and depression like cheap coffee and sugar...hard to swallow without the additives.

xo,

Victoria