Brilliant article in the Huffington Post about controlling “anxious thoughts”.
Brilliant article in the Huffington Post about controlling “anxious thoughts”.
I am not exactly proud of my past but I do know that I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t go through it. My name is Dawn. I am an Alcoholic and Addict, who suffered from Bulimia. I can’t exactly tell you why I woke up that day in June stating to myself that this thing I called a life wasn’t a life at all. My out of control behavior needed to stop and I had to be the one to stop it. It was a morning like any other I woke up startled and afraid, I had drank and taken as many pills necessary to black out again and I did not know where I was. This was normal behavior and on top of it all I suffered from an eating disorder that complicated thing further. These three diseases had complicated my life for long enough, they fed off of each other one leading to the next and it was to the point that I either get help or die. But get help how?
I didn’t have insurance or anyone to turn to at this point I had screwed up all relationships. I needed to figure this all out on my own and I was determined. I began with the phone book and started searching for any phone number I could find that had the words rehab or recovery before them. I called every number I could find hoping someone might have an idea of where I could go for help. While doing this I started attending AA and NA meetings. I found these meetings in my first few days of sobriety life saving and they are free. If you are in the need of help from alcoholism or struggling with addiction I suggest trying a meeting. You can find where they are being held in the newspaper or online and they have them morning, noon, and night. They are always free and can really help when you are struggling. You don’t have to attend the same meeting every week if you go to one and don’t like it try another one you will be able to find one where you feel comfortable and it is worth it.
I was also able to find help with my ED through public health this was done through a number of phone calls. The first place I called was the nearest social service office I figured they would have resources for the community and give me a direction to go in. Getting someone on the phone was another story I ended up leaving numerous messages with no call backs. At this point I was feeling very defeated but I was not going to give up I needed help and I knew there had to be a way to find it. I began asking around at the NA and AA meetings if anyone knew where I could get help for my eating disorder. I was told that there was a public mental health office in my area and that I should give them a call. I called the office and they let me know that they have a division that deals with mental health and eating disorders and that they will allow you to pay on a sliding scale according to your income. If you are not making money and need help they will allow you to receive the help for free. They will do an initial intake appointment and offer you a plan they feel will work best for your situation. I was offered a outpatient treatment plan in which I was assigned a treatment team and attended private and group therapy. When searching for help you do have to be prepared to be assertive and follow through with all the paperwork required in order to receive the help. I felt overwhelmed at first because it seemed like so much work but it was so worth it. I was able to get the help I needed for a very small amount of money. I have heard others who want or need treatment to give up on finding it because they do not have insurance. Help is out there if you are willing to fight for it and what is more important than life.
My name is Dawn and This is Where I Stand
“God, If you really love me, you’ll just end it. It would be more humane.”
For a solid year and a half my journals reflect not just (I don’t think just is the right word) my depression, and bipolar, my eating disordered behaviors or my relentless need for perfection, no for these 18 months you read a complete hopelessness; a borderline constant suicidal state of mind. I had lost in my mind and in heart this battle that I didn’t ask for. It was as if I would never understand, recover, nor regain control, find joy, see light, or feel warmth.
Often times I think to myself: Why didn’t I take my life? What kept me from crossing that line? I think the answer lies in the a lot of things.
My faith is one. Somehow my ability to communicate with God, thank him, complain to him, ask him, cry out to him, kept me alive. I also had (and still have) this understanding that my life was (and is) bigger than me. That didn’t fix the fact that I wanted to die, or that I felt like I was dying everyday a little more inside. But helped keep breathing.
Another thing was the support in my life. From my friends, church bible study, therapist, psychiatrist, all the way back to individuals who had impacted in growing up in my life such as teachers, mentors, children I spent time with. I was so depleated of hope an strength during this time that I had to borrow the hope and strength of other people. Sometimes, I asked for it and it was shared with me, and other times these people saw how hopeless I had become and gave it to me without my asking.
I wish I could give someone the perfect formula from hopeless to hopeful. Sometimes I look back on the past 6 years of my life and ask myself “How did I get better?” But what I can tell you is that when you don’t have hope, when you are at a complete loss, when you are well below your “rock bottom” barrow someone else’s hope. That may sound silly or even impossible.
I borrowed everyone’s and anyone’s hope I could…..If I hadn’t I’m sure I wouldn’t be here today.
I painted pottery with The little girl I’ve been a babysitter for since she was 3 moths old she, decorated a plate for me, to remind me ho much I am loved during some of the most frustrating parts of my day. I called my mom a lot, sometimes just to cry and have someone who cared about me listen. I climbed into bed with my roommates when I couldn’t keep myself safe. I continued to go to therapy week after week, month after month even after I was sure I was broken forever. I stayed connected with important adults from my childhood, who listened, encouraged and believed in me.
Everyday I felt weak. I asked God why I wasn’t like everyone else. I didn’t understand why I hurt and struggled so much. I may never know the answer to that question. Today though I look back on that girl fighting for her life and think about how strong she was. It takes so much strength to admit it to yourself much less anyone else that you need help – doing it daily is crazy. My existence was dependent upon the hope and strength that I got from God and other people, because I had officially reached empty on that tank.
What totally surprised me though is as I borrowed their strength and hope to get through each day I started to building some of my own. And then it started: recovery.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
As summer begins I wanted to do a project that would get us all moving around outside. Maybe even inspire someone to take that trip to the beach in the name of art. This project can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You can display your finished project in a centerpiece bowl, your garden, or a vase. These little stones become a reminder to push through the rough days and how truly beautiful you are.
What you need:
-rocks and stones as many as you would like to make
-sharpie marker or paint pens
How it works:
-Gather your rocks and wash them in your sink or a bucket. Let them air dry outside or lay paper towels down on you counter and let them dry there.
-Pick your favorite inspirational quotes or words and write them down on a piece of paper so that the are easily accessible while you are writing on our rocks,.
-Choose a special rock for each quote or word and write it on this rock. You can also decorate your rocks with doodles and polk a dots if you would like. Use a white paint pen on darker rocks and the sharpie on the lighter ones.
-Give your rocks time to dry.
There are many things that you can do with rocks. If you are looking for more ideas, you can always email me for other inspirational art ideas.
As much as I don’t want to believe it, social media rules our world. Instead of enjoying the moment we are in, we think about how we can show other people what we are doing and how much fun we’re having. Okay, I admit it: I’m very guilty of doing this. Whenever I go to some place new or have a nice outfit on, I feel a need to snap shot the moment and share it with my friends.
Now we all know the old cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” However, I don’t think this really applies here at all. Pictures don’t show character. Pictures don’t show personality. Pictures don’t show who a person truly is. The picture simply shows a two dimensional portrayal of whoever is in it. Which means as you scroll through the comments of these pictures, the only comments applicable contain words such as pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy being called beautiful, but I am so much more than that. This obsession with “likes” and “favorites” puts our focus on the physical appearance of the people in the pictures, NOT who we truly are.
I don’t know if you have seen the stories, but more and more teens are getting plastic surgeries to look like their favorite celebrities. They have been bullied for their appearance and believe the best way to stop things is to change how they look. Some people think this is funny, but it really shows the fault in a society that highly values appearance. We value what can be seen before even getting to know who a person truly is, and that is a shame.
When I was in treatment, we rarely had access to social media, weren’t allowed to have fashion magazines, and could only watch approved television or movies. At the time, it was a really hard adjustment and I felt so out of the loop. But after a while I realized how freeing it was. There was nobody else to compare myself to, no magazines flaunting diet secrets, and no Joan Rivers mercilessly mocking women for not being society’s definition of “skinny”. Instead of all of this, we focused on our soul self. The part of us that no matter what we looked like always remained the same. The part of me that loves art, dancing like a fool, and Harry Potter. I learned more about myself in this time than I ever had, because it was the first time I could be completely alone with myself.
So the best advice I can give here is take a break from it all. When you notice that your mood changes, when you’re thinking about ways to compare to someone, deactivate. Take a moment without social media to be you and not care what other people are doing. Pick up a cheesy teen book that will make you smile, do the wonderful art projects that Dawn posts on this site, or simply go for a walk and take in the fresh air. Whatever feeds your soul self should be all that’s on your agenda. There is so much more to you than your appearance, and there are so many ways to realize this. People love you for who you are- your personality, your humor, your grace.
The trick of being a truly beautiful person is not doing your makeup perfectly or having the most toned body. It’s showing off your soul self and the amazing qualities that you as a person have to offer. When I am an old woman, I want people to look back on my life and think that I was beautiful because I made a difference. I helped people who needed it, I laughed and loved life. I don’t want to be remembered for simply being a pretty shell of a human being. I am so much more than that, and so are you.
My name is Alexa and this is Where I Stand
Personally, my anxiety begins long before I arrive at the airport. I worry beforehand about all the people I’ll be encountering, how I’ll be rushing to get to the airport on time, how clogged airport security will be, etc. Once I arrive at the airport, I have to check luggage, go through my (highly despised) airport security checkpoint, and find my terminal. Then, there is always the normal wait for the plane to arrive, plus any flight delays. Also, while in the airport, I must confront my eating disorder while I search for and eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner while waiting to board the flight.
Once I arrive at my destination, I get my baggage at baggage claim, and either get a taxi or my family rents a car to get us to our hotel, which entails even more anxiety-provoking waiting, though at this point, my adrenaline and excitement helps calm my anxiety.
Throughout the vacation, I deal with my eating disorder at mealtimes, my anxiety around other people and new experiences, and my depression when I get homesick or when the nighttime blues hit like they tend to no matter where I am.
In order to combat my ED thoughts, I try to enjoy the opportunity to eat foods that are available at my destination that might not be as readily available at home. I also try to pay more attention to my surroundings and use my environment to distract me from my anxiety about food and my body. I use the same technique to help with my social anxiety. I’ll pay more attention to the surrounding scenery and to my family than to the strangers around me. When my depression hits, it’s usually at night, which is good because I’m usually able to be in my hotel room listening to music and browsing the Internet. I’m also able to text my friends for support and sit on the bed and mentally process my emotions. Keeping connected to friends back home while on vacation is always a huge help to me because it reminds me that, no matter how many miles away I am, my friends still care and will always try to help me if they can.
No matter what my mental illnesses are trying to tell me, I still do my best to enjoy my vacation and to have fun with my family. I do everything I can to help myself stay present in the moment and cope appropriately with any emotions or urges that might come up. I remind myself that emotions and urges are temporary and that I will make it through whatever I’m feeling at the time.
Vacations are a wonderful time to get away from home and have some fun, no matter how far or close your destination may be.
Stay Strong & love yourself!
My name is Hollyn and this is Where I Stand.
Alcohol was an easy way to fit in with others, and feel more confident in myself. I wouldn’t say peer pressure was always an influence on me; it definitely made things worse, but majority of my drinking was my own influence. I took control, in the worst way, of my drinking. I wanted to get drunk, to become the center of attention, or to feel numb to any of my actions. I wanted to become drunk to build my self-confidence.
Mark Twain said, “The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” I feel this encapsulates how I felt throughout my senior year and my early college years. I felt so comfortable when I was drunk. I felt pretty and sexy, confident and intelligent, truthfully, I felt better. I liked me.
When I was drinking recreationally, I knew that having “liquid courage” was an expectation of alcohol. I knew that when I would drink I would feel this way. I knew that by drinking, I would lose all reservations, but I was ok with it. I accepted any attention I received, and I was happy with it. The worst part about it, is the moment I sobered up, I would look at the events that took place while under the influence and admit that it was because of alcohol. Any attention I received was simply due to the actions I made while under the influence. I didn’t care what I did or who I did it with. (That’s an entirely new subject that I will dive into another time)
Alcohol is a scary thing. It influences you to do things you normally wouldn’t. It truly plays as a “liquid courage” form, but that’s very dangerous. You can end up somewhere unknown, doing things extremely dangerous and regretful. It’s not all fun and games, or what the commercials and actors show you, there are scary sides, dangerous sides. This is the reality.
I’m Christina and this is Where I Stand.
I thought that we would do something more hands on today for todays art post. When I was first in recovery I had a lot of nervous energy and would have to have something to manipulate in my hands all the time. I came up with the idea of using calming essential oils in play-dough. This was not only able to relieve my nervous energy the scents were extremely calming.
What you will need:
one and a half cups of salt
three cups of warm water
three cups of plain flour
three tablespoons of oil
six teaspoons of cream of tartar
Essential oils any will work – I have even used extracts when in a bind – you only need a very small amount
Here is how it works:
First add the salt and water to a large pan and heat until the salt has melted. Next, add the flour, oil and cream of tartar and heat over a medium heat, stirring continuously until it starts to pull away from the sides. Make sure to stir vigorously during this step. Next take the dough out of the pan and knead for about two minutes or so. The dough will be hot so be careful. Then split the dough into smaller amounts and add the food coloring and essential oils to the different smaller batches.
I have used several different essential oils, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and camomile. You can use whatever scent you would like. I have also used food grade extracts vanilla, lemon, mint, and almond.
In a airtight containers these will last for months. It is also something you can do with children. I kept mine in small air tight containers in my purse and would pull them out whenever I needed them.
Have fun creating and if you have any questions feel free to ask! My name is Dawn and this is Where I Stand
It happens frequently in the world of mental institutions, treatment centers, support groups and recovery programs; we become friends (or something resembling friends) with those around us also seeking up. Except this type of friendship feels deeper. It’s based on this type of personal and deep understanding of one another, of what the other person is experiencing and the relationship becomes more important than other relationships.
We look to these people for validation and consolation. We support one another, we find encouragement. These relationships are essential to the recovery process (in my opinion). They were to mine. Knowing that I was not alone in my battle was invaluable to my progress and ability to push forward on my most difficult days. But when do these relationships become toxic? When do they go to far?
For the purpose of this post her name will be Katherine. I met Katherine in college and immediately we connected. I felt like we understood each other we stood by each other through highs and lows, classes, stressful situations, family problems and more. What I didn’t want to acknowledge at the time though was that our friendship was hardly healthy.
I entered recovery before Katherine and I always felt like it was part of my responsibility to help her get better. But in reality everyone’s recovery is their own responsibility. Our relationships became one filled with resentment and distrust, anger and frustration on both sides. Finally (and thankfully) there was an explosion.
Neither one of us was really actually being a friend to the other one by the time our friendship ended.
Our friendship not only wasn’t a happy or good thing; it was actually keeping both of us from experiencing good and wonderful other things. We felt obligated because we had been friends for a long time and we had been through so much and we were scared to not be friends. But, friendship is supposed to be about mutual respect and love, joy and sharing experiences. Friendship should lift weights not add them.
Toxic friendships can not only hurt yours or someone else’s recovery but they can make life have a little grey cloud hanging over head. Letting go of my friendship with Katherine was one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done. It was sad, because while it was overall toxic we had a lot of good memories too. But I have so much more freedom to invest in relationships that are beneficial for myself and the other person. I’m sure Katherine does too.
You deserve healthy, vibrant, beautiful relationships in your life.
Go get them.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
For the past 90 days, I have been living life as what-I-would-like-to-call an “in-betweener”. Faced with an expiring student visa and a wedding date in August, I found myself getting on a plane in Edinburgh airport on a grim February afternoon to fly back to the US. I would spend the next 90 days away from the man of my dreams, my friends, my church, and any progress towards securing a job. My life was, in every sense of the word, on hold. My life felt frozen in time. I was in a constant state of limbo. I felt sandwiched in between two phases of my life: graduating from my uni and beginning my future as a married working woman. I dreaded the ever-present question of “So, what are you doing back here?” or “What are you up to these days?” or my personal favourite, “How long do you have to wait for that visa now?”
You have no idea.
As an “in-betweener”, I found life to be somewhat monotonous. My mind and body were dissatisfied and on the brink of disillusionment with everyone and anything. For those first few days of readjusting into life back in America, I was severely unhappy and wondering how one earth I would get through the next 89.
But then came May 29th.
Unlike most days, I did not log into my email a thousand times before dinner. I did not rush to the mailbox each day when the postman drove by at noon. I stopped counting down the days like an advent calendar at Christmastime. That day was the day I had been waiting for since I left what I thought was my entire life back in the lovely town of St Andrews.
Waiting for the rest of your life puts a lot of things in perspective. It revealed to me a thing or two about myself. I was impatient, untrusting, and extremely sceptical. I had placed all of my happiness on whether or not I would get that $2,000 little piece of paper in my passport. It was my ticket to sheer bliss. I needed that little stamp to catch a plane, marry my fiancé, start my first job, and build a life in a foreign country. You can understand why most of the time, I felt desperate.
Waiting also revealed to me another cringe-worthy fact about my personality: I despised people’s consolation. Especially when it was unwarranted.
You’re going to look back on this period fondly.
I think you’re really going to enjoy this season in your life.
It might be nice to have a break from Scotland.
I’ve never been that kind of person who looks on a difficult situation and rejoices in the suffering. I mean who walks around and thinks, I love how difficult life is right now. I’m learning so much.
Give me a break. Let’s be real. I’ve never been that way “when the going gets tough”.
But if that is you, then please please please let me in on your dirty little secret.
If anything, I found myself taking a series of baby steps. No, not steps. I was crawling. Little by little, I told myself “If I could just get through another day.”
It sounds melodramatic. I mean I wasn’t suffering from a disease. There was no cancer patient in my family. No one had lost a job. But I had lost my source of joy.
At least that’s what I thought.
The funny thing about waiting is that, not only does it reveal to you who you are when the going gets tough, but it gives you a glimpse into the future.
How would I react if things didn’t go according to plan?
How would this affect my future plans?
What if I didn’t get this visa? What if the one thing I have been waiting for the past 90 days doesn’t come to pass and I am left with a plan B. What is my plan B?
Then it hit me. I not only didn’t have a Plan B, but this realisation gave me more anxiety than ever before. I was placing my entire happiness in something that may not come to fruition. More importantly, I was putting my hope in something that was temporary.
I wasn’t content.
My discontentment would have me fast forward the next 90 days as quickly as possible. Discontentment would allow myself to wish away 90 days of my life. Wasting 90 days pining for my life back in Scotland and being downright dissatisfied with everything around me. I would be wasting what could be 90 days of joy.
It was in this moment that I realised how much I was capable of. I had the power to choose joy. I had the ability to be happy, even if I didn’t feel that way. I’m not saying we can choose our emotions. In fact, often we cannot help the way we feel. But we can choose how we act. We can choose how we respond to trouble. We can choose to be content with our circumstances, even when they are not ideal. While my heart was in another time zone and my anxiety was at a record high, I purposefully chose to find something each day that brought me joy. Even if a frozen yoghurt or rays of sunshine was all I could muster, I was determined to find at least one thing each day to be grateful for.
Contentment is a hard lesson to learn, especially when you already suffer from anxiety disorder. But that’s the thing about waiting on life to start up again. It’s easy to be content when life is going according to plan. The trick is being content when things fall apart. I can honestly say that I didn’t waste these past 90 days. The temptation was there. I wanted to grumble, I wanted to throw things, and I wanted to wallow in self-pity. But I knew better. Sure it would have been easier to give into discontentment, but I didn’t just want to get by these past 90 days. I wanted to enjoy them. I wanted to savour them. I wanted to look back on them fondly. I don’t wish I could go back and re-live it all again. I would be lying if I said I did. But I am thankful for what being an “in-betweener” taught me about happiness: we can choose to be joyful. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s certainly worth it.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11