It’s the Little Things

It is 3:00pm and I’m in my pajamas eating a dark chocolate orange and enjoying the silence of Jon’s apartment, aside from the steadily clicking keys on my computer keyboard.

I’m suddenly overwhelmed with this immense feeling of intense gratitude and contentment.


Guys, life has been crazy lately.

A few weeks ago I received news that a family member that sexually abused me when I was younger, sexually abused another child. That same week I had just started a new job and was trying to balance it with my other two jobs, stressing about affording Christmas, and noticing that some of my Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia symptoms were increasing.

Fast forward a week and my great-uncle passed away. My mother and grandfather had surgery on the same day (they’re both fine and recovering well). And, I’m still struggling to cope with the news about my abuser. My abuser contacted me while intoxicated towards the middle of the week and I didn’t really experience the full effects of speaking with him until the next day when I seemingly couldn’t stop crying and ended up skipping all of my classes for the remainder of the week.

I sat down and thought about writing a blog post about the reality of dealing with psychological symptoms that follow sexual assault, but I didn’t.

Instead, I sat down and I talked to my significant other.

Jon has been so understanding through everything. He has always been careful and kind and forgiving no matter the circumstances when I am going through something difficult. Over the summer, coming to terms with a new and scary chronic illness challenged our relationship in a multitude of ways. All of a sudden I was this terrified little girl that couldn’t leave her house for a meal or an adventure. We definitely struggled with communication, but ultimately, he helped me move past my anxieties about my symptoms and before I knew it, we were picnicking in the park on Sunday mornings and visiting the zoo on rainy afternoons.

I think the hardest part about confiding in anyone, especially those you’re close to and whose opinions matter most to you, is the idea that you could be rejected or misunderstood. That’s what stopped me from talking to him about how strongly the assault affected me, because I didn’t feel like my emotions or thoughts were valid. But, they are. For those of you that are going through similar things or have been there, know that what you are experiencing is real and valid and that you will recover and persevere.

For me, talking to him really helped, even though it took such a long time to work up the courage to. But, I’m so thankful I finally I did.

Yesterday was our two year anniversary. I have a stomach virus or something, not entirely sure, but we had to postpone celebrating until later this week. Last night wasn’t the most amazing night of our lives. We got into a disagreement about something trivial and I had to eat rice for dinner because my stomach is so finicky, and anyways, the night ended with one or both of us crying into the shirt of the other.

There’s something so beautiful and raw in expressing pent-up emotions, to just lay it all out on the table to be dealt with and to be understood.

This morning we woke up, he kissed me gently before he went to work, and he surprised me with Chic-Fil-A for lunch. I climbed back in his bed to study for finals, and to type this blog post in absolute appreciation for our relationship, for him, and for this life.

Our relationship isn’t perfect. We both have our faults, as humans, and we both have our faults, as lovers. It’s natural to have a push and pull in every relationship. However, it’s not so natural for the push to become a shove and the pull to become a tear (always remember that). I’m thankful that we’re able to communicate and find new ways to surprise each other. I’m thankful that we’re still in love after two years together. And, I’m hopeful that we’ll be in love and living in happiness for much, much longer.

There are a lot of things that I’m uncertain about in my future. I’m graduating college in about five months. I’m not sure where I’ll go to get my Master’s degree, where exactly I’ll be living, or how I’ll be making ends meet. But, I know that I’m capable and I’m excited to see what happens next, preferably with him by my side.

Earlier today an older gentleman holding a vase of red and white flowers knocked on the door to Jon’s apartment. The note read “no message,” and I couldn’t help but smile and chuckle at the endearing gesture after calling him and hearing that he’d left a message after all.

“Happy Anniversary, I love you.”

It’s the little things.


After a few weeks of dredging through emotional sludge, I’m feeling more mentally grounded than I have in quite some time.

I’ve been focusing on mindfulness and it’s really getting me somewhere.

When I start to feel anxious or out of control, I tell myself to stop and breath. I take in my situation, my surroundings, and realize that I’m not out of control at all.

It’s this mindfulness that’s getting me through finals week, and bringing me into Christmas break.

It’s this mindfulness that’s allowing me to express gratitude even in uncomfortable situations like disagreements, fighting this stomach bug, and knowing that my abuser is still out there.

It isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a start to feeling better and doing better.

I think, considering, I’m doing just fine.

A reminder: Be gentle, kind, compassionate, and caring to yourself and those around you this week and every week. College kids, be strong and determined as you conquer your finals and know that academic stress is temporary. I love you all, and I want you all to succeed.

Best,

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20 Ways to Practice Self-Care (Today)

Self-care is so important.

I woke up feeling particularly anxious this morning. Anxiety is something I’ve been dealing with quite often recently. A great deal of it stems from trying to manage tachycardia. If you want to learn more about tachycardia and how it affects me, click here to be directed to my post Living with Tachycardia 101.

With tachycardia you already have an elevated heart rate and when you add anxiety to the mix, your heart rate increases further. So, when I start to feel anxious I focus on grounding myself as much as possible to avoid feeling exhausted and weak.

Today I’m sharing with you some super easy ways to practice self-care!

Some of these ideas are also in my post 7 Super Simple Ways to Curb Anxiety (Tonight)!

  1. Take a long bath

    For added relaxation add some Epsom salt, essential oils, or bubbles!

  2. Make a list of things you’re grateful for

    Sometimes anxiety is caused by lots of negative thoughts and emotions. This combats negative thinking. If you think of reasons to be happy and grateful, it’ll definitely make it harder to be obsessed with what you don’t like or want to change.

  3. Put on a face mask

    These are some of my favorites: Keep Your Cool by Formula 10.0.6, I’m Real Avocado Mask Sheet by Tony Moly, African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask by SheaMoisture.

  4. Spend time with your pet

    Cuddling with animals can reduce stress, according to various studies.

  5. Read your favorite book

    Sometimes getting your mind off of what you’re thinking about can really help to calm anxiety. Mindfully reading a book is a great way to keep your mind busy without your thoughts racing.

  6. Meditate

    Meditation is a great way to calm the mind and body. I used to meditate during anxiety attacks and it helped so much. If you can’t get into sitting in silence and meditating, you can try a guided meditation. They have a wide variety of them on YouTube and apps like Omvana.

  7. Color or draw

    Coloring and drawing are like minor forms of art therapy. They help release pent-up emotions and feelings, while calming you down with repetitive motions and distractions.

  8. Journal

    Thinking about heavy things and need an outlet? Journal. You can find journal prompts all over the internet if you need ideas to get started.

  9. Watch your favorite movie or TV show

    Like I keep saying, distraction is key! If you can get your mind off of what’s bothering you, you’ll start doing better! I like watching animated movies when I’m stressed or anxious.

  10. Diffuse essential oils

    I’ve mentioned how therapeutic essential oils can be when used properly in so many of my other posts. I am obsessed with essential oils. I’m not saying that they can cure anything and everything, but they make living so much easier.

    *If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils and their many uses let me know in the comments below! I’m thinking about making a post about how I use them!*
  11. Have a hot cup of tea

    Hot beverages are calming in general, and beverages without caffeine like herbal teas are extra calming. I like drinking chamomile tea when I’m stressed.

  12. Try yoga

    Yoga has been used for centuries to heal the mind, body, and spirit. It leaves most people feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and content. I love practicing yoga before bed, and right after I wake-up in the morning. Check out Yoga with Adriene.

  13. Take a nap

    Napping is almost like pushing “refresh” for your body. It gives you time to unwind and relax. According to various sleep studies, 20 minutes is the perfect amount of time to nap in the middle of the day.

  14. Light a candle

    A lot like using essential oils, this idea is all about grounding yourself through smell. Lighting a familiar scent can really help pull you out of any funk.

  15. Get some fresh air

    Feel like you need to run from a situation? Feel like you need to clear your head? Go take a walk outside.

  16. Call a friend or family member

    Sometimes you just need to hear a familiar voice to feel less alone. I like calling my grandma when I’m having a bad day and need someone to distract me from what’s going on in my life.

  17. De-clutter your space

    It is a known fact that the more cluttered your space is, the more cluttered your head will be. Take some time to tidy up your space when you’re feeling stressed. It’ll make a real difference.

  18. Wake-up early

    I like to wake-up as the sun is rising and watch it from my bed as it comes up. I can’t see the sun from my window, but I can see the colors in the sky changing, and watch the sunlight touch different parts of my yard as it rises. It’s relaxing and beautiful.

  19. Open your window

    This goes along with needing fresh air. Circulate some fresh air through your home by opening a window. You may even get some natural background noise such as bird chirping, the wind blowing, or (if you live in the city) cars passing.

  20. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

    Water is so important! I drink water around the clock, but crave it especially when I’m anxious! Make yourself a tall glass of ice water, and if you have a straw handy use it! Growing up I learned that drinking through a straw can actually help to regulate your breathing when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack.

Let me know if you try out these self-care ideas!

How do you practice self-care? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Reality of Taking a Leave (from Uni)

This post is going to be a bit more personal than many of my others. I’ve had a lot on my mind recently and I made this blog with the intention to be 100% open with you all and 100% invested in its success. So here I am, sharing my current reality.
The following is my experience.

If you’ve read my post Living with Tachycardia 101, then you know that I’m currently taking a short break from my studies to deal with some medical problems.

This post is directed to those of you in similar situations, thinking of leaving or having left due to medical illness.

It took me almost a month to make the decision to leave college for a semester, and I still feel uneasy thinking about it. It feels unnatural, being home while my friends are studying and being independent from their parents.

You might lose a great deal of independence.

My independence was a big deal to me. Before I began dealing with tachycardia and the other various symptoms that have popped-up along the way, I was as independent as I could be. I bought my own groceries. I paid for school by myself as much as I could. I set my own schedules at work and school. I didn’t depend on my parents for dinner, a ride anywhere, etc. That changes when you leave, especially when you’re sick.

I came home feeling dependent on my parents. Dependent on their approval especially.

Was I making the right decision? Were they disappointed in me?

It took me a few weeks to realize that I had to do what I thought was best for myself, regardless of the opinions of anyone else.

You could spend a lot of time alone.

If you’re taking a leave of absence for medical reasons, like I am, and you can’t work right away, you’re probably going to be alone the majority of the day every day. My younger brother goes to high school, works sometimes after school, and also has extra curriculars. Both of my parents work during the day. So, I’m left at home by myself at least five days out of the week. At first this seems like an advantage. I know I was excited to be able to rest and relax alone with Netflix and no major responsibilities. But it becomes lonely after a few weeks, and you begin to get tired of being alone.

I keep thinking to myself:

If I were at school, I could call a friend to watch a movie with me.

I could talk to someone face-to-face. 

You’ll probably lose a lot of your support system.

I don’t want to say that you’re losing them because they’re technically still there, but you aren’t. The majority of my support system was composed of college friends, professors, and in some instances even employers. Making the decision to come home, I also had to grapple with the fact that I was leaving all of them behind. The reality is I can’t just pick up a phone and ask my best friend to come over, because she’s miles away in a classroom. I can’t just ask a friend to stay the night because they aren’t a few doors down from me anymore. It’s challenging. I know that they’re still there, but they aren’t within a reachable distance and that makes it so much harder to feel supported. I can’t hug my friends when I’ve had a bad day, because they simply aren’t there.

Don’t get me wrong, my family is a huge part of my support system. But it’s different. It’s so completely different. There’s nothing like watching an old movie with a good friend, being held by them while you cry, or getting milkshakes at midnight because you both feel like your life is in shambles.

You’ll feel like you’re missing out on a lot.

When you leave college behind you also leave behind the culture. I can’t go to the functions on campus because I’m not there. I can’t struggle through midterms with my friends because I’m not taking any. I don’t know any of the happenings on campus and can’t hear any of the new gossip because I no longer work in Student Life. You just feel so out of the loop.

You could struggle with anxiety and/or depression.

This has been a big one for me. Being alone the majority of the time, I’m left with my thoughts. And sometimes that isn’t a good thing.

What the hell is happening to my body? Why am I sick like this? Why is this happening all of a sudden? Will they ever find an answer? Will I have to live like this for the rest of my life?

A lot of the time no one seems to be as concerned as you are, which makes you wonder:

Am I blowing this out of proportion?  

Which leads to:

Did I make the right decision to leave school? 

It’s a downward spiral that leads to intense anxiety. There’s so many what-ifs when you have an undiagnosed illness.

On the other hand, you’ve isolated yourself either in an attempt to manage the anxiety that you’re experiencing, or because, like me, you don’t have access to the public during the day. Isolation leads to depression. You start thinking things like:

Maybe I did something to deserve to feel this way. My friends and family probably feel like I’m a burden. I’m too dependent on my loved ones. Maybe my boyfriend will leave me because I’m so needy. Maybe my friends will stop talking to me because I don’t have school in-common with them. Maybe I should just give up completely. 

You’ll have good days too, even great ones. 

Just yesterday I was in Charlotte, North Carolina enjoying pizza with Jon, thinking to myself how lucky I was to be sitting across the booth from someone so understanding, encouraging, and full of life. That morning we drove almost an hour to the mall to buy lavender-chamomile soap from a store with only one location in the Charlotte area. He didn’t act like it was a chore, and he distracted me from thinking about how I felt. When I started to get anxious about how fast my heart was beating, how dizzy I felt, etc. I just hooked my arm into his and let it come, knowing that if I should fall he would catch me. We got milkshakes at one of our favorite ice cream shops and drove through downtown just so I could look at the big buildings and interesting people.

Your family will always be there for you. 

This morning I called my grandmother because I was beginning to feel discouraged and anxious about how dizzy I’ve been the past few days, and was met with:

You’ve been doing so much better and you’re going to do even better. 

My mother has been my rock through this entire ordeal. When I first decided to come home, she didn’t approve, and sometimes it still seems like she doesn’t, but regardless she’s there for me. She has been to every doctor’s appointment with me, and has been my advocate 99.9%. She looked my cardiologist in the face and said:

As women our symptoms are often brushed off as anxiety. Don’t do that to her. I want you to leave no stone unturned. 

You’ll be just fine.

I’m not there yet, and if you’re reading this you probably aren’t either. But, I’m getting there one day at a time. Someone the other day told me that I was getting better, and I met that with the response:

I’m managing it better. 

And honestly, that’s all that matters.

Take it day by day.

Listen to your body.

Breathe and know that you aren’t alone.

You’ll be just fine. 

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