A is For Acceptance

Today I am beginning my April A to Z challenge. For those of you that didn’t read the post I re-blogged about it a few days ago it means I will blog 26 posts this month as I go through  the alphabet in addition to other posts. Acceptance

Deciding what to blog about today was a bit of a challenge because there are so many good words that start with A and are applicable to my life at the moment. The one I settled on is acceptance because when I woke up this morning that is what I felt: acceptance of God’s love and His plans for my life. It’s difficult to describe, but when I woke up I felt more at peace than I have in a while. I felt like God was reassuring me that I can let go of everything I’m worrying about and stressing over, not just the small stuff.

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I have accepted the peace He is offering and I have accepted that He wants what is best and will guide my life if I let Him. No more drama and worrying about whether I’ll be happy or not in the future. He has promised and He will provide. I accept His gift. I accept the life He wants me to live.

I also accept my life as my own. I accept responsibility for whatever I haven’t taken responsibility for in the past. I accept that I am human and will make mistakes. I will never be perfect though I can strive for perfection every day. I accept this as fact and will conduct myself each day as God asks me to to the best of my ability.acceptance

What are the things in your life you need to accept?

There is No Magic Pill for Anxiety or Depression

I have a confession. Sometimes I have irrational fears.

Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will walk outside and my dogs will be gone or simply dead, lying lifeless on the cold concrete of the car port where they are tied. Sometimes I’m afraid I will walk into a room and everyone will turn and stare at me for no reason.

anxietyattacksQuite often I have anxiety attacks when I think about such things. My heart starts pounding. My breathing gets faster. My thoughts start racing and each thought is more horrible and gut-clenching than the last.

Nowadays when this happens I know that it’s irrational. I know that I just need to take a few deep breaths and calm down, but it doesn’t ever really work like that. My brain is screaming that I need to chill out, but the rest of my body doesn’t comprehend the command. Everything else in my body is screaming that I’m under some sort of attack, so the rapid pulse, near-hyperventilation, and racing thoughts continue.

This anxiety has happened for as long as I can remember, starting before college and before high school. I knew it was odd long before I could categorize it as irrational. There were even times I would have vivid dreams that would cause me to sleep walk and when I woke up in the middle of them with someone asking me what I was doing I would have a panic attack and go back to bed without answering them.

Unfortunately, as my anxiety got worse around people I found myself falling in and out of depression. I would have crazy, wild mood swings where I’d go from happy to cursing angry to bawling my eyes out in a matter of hours. The worst days were when my anxiety triggered my mood swings which generally triggered my depression.

The older I got the worse everything got and I became more and more of a social recluse who was too anxious or depressed to be around anyone else except when I absolutely had to be. Eventually I recognized my mood swings and depression as having somewhat of a cycle, but I still couldn’t control it. It took many, many years before I found a close friend to talk to about it and many more to talk to others about.anxiety cycle

Now, I know many of you who are reading this would like to hear a happy ending about how I realized what was going on and I took a magic pill and everything was rainbows and roses after that, but that’s not how it worked, at least not for me. It would be nice if it did, but it didn’t. In fact I still struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, and depression. I do a myriad of things and talk to specific people about it to keep it under control, but it’s a constant struggle. There is no magic pill, no secret antidote for it, just me and the resources I utilize to make it better. That may be very discouraging and seemingly unhelpful to some of you reading this, but don’t let it be.

There were times in my life where I couldn’t function as a normal human being. There were times when I was so crippled by what was going on inside me that I would sit on my living room floor with my arms wrapped around my knees sobbing and thinking about ending it all. But somehow I pushed on. I would tell myself that it was selfish to commit suicide when I had family members and friends who loved me so much and would be devastated if I did. It may seem silly to some, but just having my dog Dirk depending on me every day helped pull me through some of those dark times. He would sit close and let me cry into his long, soft fur and he would lick my cheek and tell me in his own quiet way that it was going to be ok and he needed me to be there.

Each time I would come out of my depression I would try to find something or someone else to help me stay out of it a little longer, or manage it better. I talked to my best friends, I made lists of coping skills and things that made me happy, things I felt blessed for. Eventually I summoned up enough courage to talk to a counselor and try to find the root of the problems. panicattack

It’s not easy. Like I said before, I still struggle with it on a regular basis. There is no perfect answer, but it can be overcome if you really want to overcome it. There is help that doesn’t include drugs and alcohol (I tried the latter one and it failed miserably). So if you’re reading this and you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, take a deep breath. The sun is still there I promise. There are people who care and there are ways to change wherever you are right now, no matter how low or dark that may be.

Sincerely,

An Anxious & Depressed Individual Who Fights to Overcome it Every Day and Wins More Often Than Not

 

What I Do Know

Write what you know. Seems like sound writing advice, right?

OK. What do I know?

I know that depression is real. I know that you can’t wish away your feelings or always change them by changing your thoughts. I know that smiling is contagious. I know that drinking doesn’t wash away your hurt or your anger or your fear. I know that a mom’s job is never done and she has the hardest job of all.

I know that dreams and goals can only be achieved if you are always looking for them, always striving to rise above where you are. I know that some of life’s best experiences are the most unexpected moments of meeting a stranger at a random time in a random place.

I know you can love somebody with all of your heart and soul and watch them walk away without a care in the world. I know you can pick up the pieces from any relationship and move forward if you really want to. I know that your future is only as happy as you make it.

When I first read ‘write what you know’ I thought it was the hardest piece of advice I’d ever heard in regard to writing. What do I know? I don’t know anything important. I don’t know anything someone else doesn’t already know. I don’t know enough to write something someone else will want to read.

Fortunately, I came across that same piece of advice again: write what you know.

What do I know?

I know that ‘knowing’ changes every day. I know that every day is a new day. I know that every day you have the chance to learn something new.

Well, would you look at that, I guess I do know a lot.

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Stop Whining

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Why? It is the most frequently asked question.

Why did this happen? Why did he leave? Why me? These are the questions everyone asks at some point in their life, usually more than once. I know I’ve been guilty of it. But as I’ve gotten older and experienced more I’ve come to realize that the more important question is why not?

Everything in life happens for a reason, whether that reason is because you’ve made the wrong decision or because God decided it should happen.In addition to a reason, and perhaps more importantly, everything that happens has a consequence. It may be good or bad, but there is always a consequence.

The cool thing about consequences is that you can learn from them, good or bad. So maybe that guy you were seeing betrayed your trust. Now you know how important communication and trust is in a relationship. Now you know some qualities you DON’T want in your next relationship. Maybe you lost your temper with a coworker and work is suffering. Now you can learn conflict resolution and better interpersonal skills. Now you can create an atmosphere of deeper trust and understanding by talking with that coworker and working things out.

Every interaction is a chance to learn and experience something new. It’s not always easy. Heaven knows I’ve dealt with more than one man who didn’t know what trust or respect meant, more than one coworker or friend I’ve lost my temper with and had to utilize new skills. Each time I grow from it and I move on stronger than before.

I decided a long time ago that life is too short to constantly be living in self-pity and asking why me? I don’t want to live in regret and remorse for things come and gone. It happened. OK. Now its done and its time for you to move on.

Life is much more beautiful when you learn and appreciate each one of your experiences instead of seeing them as a reason to sit in a corner and dwell on what could have been different.

I Need That

I have a problem. I’m addicted to stuff.

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I’m not a hoarder and I don’t collect junk (of course, truth be told I can’t say that’s always been the case), but I have stuff…a lot of it…everywhere. Why?

I’ve asked myself why on numerous occasions and my inner princess has always obliged with a reason (usually akin to an excuse). I need those shoes for that dress. I need that dress for the interviews I’ll have in 5 years. I need that belt to match those shoes in case I want to wear them with something besides that dress. You can see how this line of thinking has gotten me in trouble; it has endless possibilities for the stuff I can collect.

Once, in my early college years (I was the poster-child for a long-term college plan), I was helping my best friend get ready to move. She had just graduated, was moving from Tennessee back to California, had no vehicle, and had decided to throw or give away everything she didn’t take with her as luggage, or what was too expensive or cumbersome to ship. I’m sure there were a few moments my eyes bugged out of my head when she handed me something and asked, “do you want this or am I going to toss it?” I went home rather happy that day, pleased with the pile of stuff I had accumulated without having to buy it.

Every day advertisements and messages bombard us telling us we need stuff. They tell us we need the newest medicine to make us healthy, we need the latest piece of technology to make us successful, we need another outfit to make us look better, etc. Sadly, it’s a lie. The majority of messages and advertisements that society throws at us every waking moment is a lie. Happiness and success do not come from stuff, they come from people and relationships.

I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with just my dog and it was filled with stuff. I wasn’t happy. In fact, I experienced some of the worst depression and suicidal thoughts of my life in that apartment. When I hurt or got depressed I’d go shopping. I’d bring home the newest $200 dress The Limited offered that I might wear once that year. Did it help? For a day, a week if I was really lucky. My life became a series of highs and lows that hinged on whether or not I got something new. I lived like that for the better part of two years, and I’ve never been so miserable. Several years later I was diagnosed with depression and possible bi-polar II. I got the help I needed and things started to level out, but by then I was obsessed with getting stuff. I was obsessed with shopping to make myself feel better about anything and everything, no matter how small the problem.

After living in a small two-bedroom apartment with two cats, two dogs, and two men (soon it will be three) I have come to realize how pointless it is to have so much stuff. Things I used to take great pleasure in owning, such as candles and various glass candle holders, have become obsolete in such a tiny place. There is no room to store anything, much less have decorations. I don’t need to shop for anything else. I don’t need half of what I own now!

So my newest goal is to let go of the useless, pointless, taking-up-room stuff in my life (like that cool $3 Native-American-looking pot sitting on the end table in the living room). I have friends and family and pets who need and want my time and attention. They are what is important in my life and its about time I showed them.

Rejection in a Winter Wonderland

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Tears are most inconvenient. Especially when they sneak up on you without warning in a public place.

It was silly really, the fact that I was crying. I was sitting in the library reading a book making practical applications to my life as I often do when he finally answered a text I sent earlier that morning. The question was, would you be interested in going for a walk later? I was actually interested in going for a walk right then, with the white particles outside still blowing around like the inside of a snow-globe just shaken up, but he had left the house before me. He didn’t answer me right away, which further cemented my feelings that he was busy at the moment and I should just wait patiently.

So there I was finishing off a wonderful compilation of inspiring and thoughtful literary works and his reply came back: “I’m actually gonna head out of town with my sister as soon as we get done with classes and work today.”

Now, you may think there is no reason for this to cause anyone such distress as would be implied by tears, except for the fact that he was an ex-boyfriend I still lived with, which is a whole different story, who chose moments such as those to pointedly remind me that he no longer cared or wished to spend time with me. After all, I didn’t ask him to walk a marathon with me. How long would a walk take? 10 or 15 minutes? We hadn’t hardly spoken or interacted in days and he couldn’t take 10 or 15 minutes to enjoy a walk and genuine conversation?

These little questions popped up one by one as I stared at his text on the shattered screen of my iPhone. I was tempted to ignore it, but I had spent the majority of the last 24 hours reading Dale Carnegie and John C. Maxwell and how to enhance and improve myself and my relationships. So, I dutifully wrote back, “OK. Have fun,” to which he promptly replied, “You have a good weekend too.” I bit back a handful of snarky remarks, thought about how dense he was, and wiped the tears out of my eyes while furtively glancing around to see if anybody noticed my public discretion (crying in public is not allowed in my family). They did not.

I looked down at the book in my hand. I was on page 197 of 212. It would be such a shame for me to let him be the reason I didn’t finish and return it that afternoon. So I did what any real woman would do: I strengthened my resolve to go about my life without him and I finished the book. Of course that was right after I wiped the remainder of tears from my eyes and thought about how they can be very inconvenient…