Dear future, 2020.

During this time frame, nothing is as it seems. It’s a time outside of time, where things are occurring. I feel this is the beginning of a cycle that can affect my relationship. A profound and mysterious change is taking place right now. There’s a sense of magic in the air, as if something is ready to emerge. Over the past few months, I have been limited in my movements, which has disrupted my relationships. Whether restrictions are finally easing up or i’m still isolated from others, but I am aware that this influence may cause further surprises.

I may need to reframe my feelings not only about relationships, but also about beauty, intimacy, or anything else I thought had a link to female qualities. I am going to need to be as open and flexible as possible. To let go of my previous ideas about what I thought was feminine -both in myself and others.

At times, It might seem impossible to move forward or make plans with the important people in my life. Or, things that may have been going smoothly up until now may shift. In either case, it’s not a time to take anything for granted. Even if this isn’t true for me personally, I have to keep in mind that it could be affecting other people.

The intention of this time is to cause me to question objective reality, especially around relating to others. It feels like I no longer know what to expect from people, but this is a good time to release everything I thought I knew about relationships- including my ideas, expectations, and past experiences.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt my life shifting recently, but all the same, trying to be open to a total reset. This is another opportunity to observe, be curious, and gather information. I’m someone who tends to seek solid agreements and commitments, I may end up disappointed or disillusioned now. Things aren’t as they appear- this is a time where something unexpected and unimagined can unfold.

During this time, I will be asking myself, “Can I slow things down enough in my relationships to let something new emerge?” and, “Where do I jump to conclusions or make assumptions because I expect everything to stay the same?”.

During this moment, magical changes can happen, but I have to try not to expect to be overly attached to them. Ideally, over time, I will discover s new aspect of myself – and others – in regards to my relationships.

~AS

.tired eyes.

I often feel judged by other people, but most of all by myself. As a kid, I picked myself apart; I may still be overwhelmingly self-critical. I want to devote myself to a sacred calling and a purpose that I believe in, but often I feel blocked and unable to do so. Or when I do accomplish something, it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Even if I do everything right and exceed expectations, I often can’t enjoy it.

It hasn’t always been easy for me; from an early age, I felt I wasn’t good enough. I believed that something was inherently wrong with me – which set me apart and made me feel deficient. To be par with others, I needed to compensate and prove myself worthy. I’m extremely layered and complex. My mind is likely analytical and detail-oriented- I notice EVERYTHING. Because my way of thinking is unique, I might feel different or self-conscious.

A lingering sense of being less than others may shut down my ability to honor my integrity, bringing anxiety and depression. I sometimes feel so consumed by self-criticism and the perceived judgments of other people that I give up. I can feel like it’s just too hard to do anything that really matters, so I stop trying to find a meaningful career and purpose, sell myself out, and take a job I hate.. Well over a period of time begin to hate. Or when I actually do try and adhere to my high standards, it feels like something gets in the way and disrupts me, or I’m disappointed by the results. This dynamic boxes me in, like I am being forced to internalize everything.

I tend to follow specific patterns and routines as a means of working efficiently. But in response to my struggles, this could turn into being antisocial or controlling- of things aren’t exactly how I want, I often withdraw. There tends to be a heaviness that burdens me, making me feel alienated and in my head a lot, analyzing my deficiencies. Throughout the day, I may review the running mental list of mistakes I’ve made on a constant loop. It’s hard to escape the dense, continuous pressure I feel.

I feel like I have felt this way for years. but could never put a finger on it or understand why it was happening. Or perhaps I’ve worked through a lot of these blocks already; this energy felt stronger when I was younger. While it’s hard to see, there is an advantage to this dynamic: it gives me the drive, discipline, and capacity to work hard. Without this influence, it would be difficult to achieve on the level at which I am capable. There is a fine line between this energy helping me channel my gifts in a productive, balanced way and it crushing my will.

In response to this pattern, I often feel unable to ask for what I want or fully devote myself to a calling because I don’t feel I deserve it. Or, this sense of deficiency could drive me to overachieve in an effort to show my worth. Feeling the pressure to be better and do more, I can set extremely high standards for myself. But if I am unable to live up to them, I may feel guilty or ashamed and beat myself up. I often become defensive, anticipating that I am going to be picked apart. I could find myself in constant state of trying to “fix” myself – or instead I simply withdraw.

My internal struggle to improve and do better can easily turn into a compulsive need to be perfect; my detail-oriented behavior may become obsessive to the point where I am never satisfied. Or I may become critical of others as a means to cope. I feel I work harder than anyone, thinking if I just keep going, do everything right and get to a certain place in life, I’ll receive some reward and finally be relieved of this burden. But when I get there, it doesn’t change anything- as a result, I spend my whole life striving for something that unattainable.

This is the most powerful part of the process: discovering that even when I achieve my lofty goals, they won’t release me from this prison – they aren’t enough. Nothing external will deliver the self-love I am looking for – only I can give that to myself. There is no finish line or ultimate destination – there’s only me and the way I choose to respond the this dynamic in my life.

I often hold a parent or authority figure responsible for my insecurity, believing that their judgment is what keeps me down and their validation is my path to happiness. I think that if I prove myself in their eyes, and get them to say I am perfect or good enough, I’ll be released from my struggle. While exhausting and frustrating, the intention of this energy is to force myself to break through and love myself unconditionally. I am learning to cultivate a sense of self-worth that doesn’t rely on outside validation.

There is no logical connection between merit and reward. It doesn’t matter how much I achieve or how “good” I am because perfection isn’t enough. The sooner I can let go of this concept, the easier it will be to deal with this energy, and the less I’ll be affected by it. It isn’t personal – I am not flawed and I haven’t done anything wrong. Rather than see this pattern as a punishment, I think of it as a process that I need for my personal growth. If I believe the judgments and react from that place, I am giving my power away. Self-consciousness and doubt only continue for as long as I accept them.

If criticism does exist from friends, family, or culture, I see it as an opportunity to empower myself by rejecting the negativity. No one is judging me as harshly as I judge myself. I am making friends with my critical side and the voices in my head so I can quiet them. It is important for me to find a sacred purpose that’s authentic for me, and not driven by needing to prove myself. I have the opportunity to channel this pressure in powerful ways.

I am taking advantage of my increased capacity to accomplish my goals and direct it toward something meaningful. Taking pride in the fact that I am highly-detail oriented and focused, but making sure that I am working hard because I enjoy what I’m doing. It can be easy to toil some thankless job for someone else’s goals. For me more than others, I need to follow my instincts to feel healthy and satisfied. Not to sell myself out; trust and honor what makes me incredibly unique.

If I find myself working hard for the wrong reasons or in an unsatisfying career, then I need to re-evaluate. I’ll know this is the case if I am lost in obsessive-compulsive behavior – this is a consequence of not doing the things that feed my soul. The same can be said for my relationships. If I am compromising my needs, lowering my standards, or trying to change my personality to make others happy, I am on the wrong track.

If I can align my drive and ambition with my sense of integrity, then I’ll feel fulfilled instead of anxious. Once I find a calling that I love, I can immerse myself in a healthy way and achieve profound results. Don’t let guilt or “because I should” be a reason for anything I choose. I have nothing to prove. I’ve forgiven myself and accepted the person I am, Not the person I one day may be.

~AS

Quarantine in a nutshell.

The more the days drag on, the more I am not able to leave the same 4 walls everyday, the more I feel I am waking up and repeating a groundhogs day, I feel it is literally testing everything I have ever gone through..

Let’s look back at the mindset of day 1.. Okay, we got this, it’ll only be a few weeks.. No biggie..
….Day 35, doing the same fucking shit over and over and over…

Will things ever go back to normal? but then again was normal even tolerable in the first place? What if this is our wake up call? Our punch in the fucking face with reality to get our shit together? I don’t know about anyone else, but this experience has been very difficult for me. My emotions, thoughts, actions, just everything I am is not how it should be. I am putting that “Fake it till you Make it” to the full term right now.

Fast forwarding and to the present day quarantine.. not sure what day it is TBH..We wake up, prepare to be working but still stay in bed basically pretending to give two fucks about our duties that day..

what shall we do today? Oh what we have been doing the last couple of months.

JUST IN: I’VE TESTED POSITIVE FOR MISSING MY LIFE!

(lol, the life of being all to myself)

Coronavirus is all over the news, and seriously, if you have anxiety with all the covid 19 updates happening, please do not read on. 

The coronavirus hit us by surprise, and consumed us within months. Nobody predicted that it would kill so many people, force countries to lockdown, shut schools and public places and put our life on hold. It hit us and now it’s everywhere. It made the whole world bleed, and spreading like wildfire.

Everyone has been writing on this (and no it’s not a post about panic buying and no toilet paper), and I honestly do not know where I stand. I am just a bored blogger with high anxiety and I realized that I would probably not be able to properly say goodbye to the lame life I had in the first place.

During this chaos, we then realize the weight of humanity, the implications of our actions and how we all are connected. While we wait for borders to be opened, so that we can go back home in the comfort of our bed, we hear the shouts of refugees louder, we ’empathize’ with those who have been uprooted from their home, and force to flee, we understand their pain and suffering because we know how it feels.

We know that we share only religion that is humanity, and this crisis is bringing humanity out of people. The world is changing, it is healing, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Pollution is being cleared off, the equilibrium is being restored, and at the end of this, the world will heal. There are so many lessons of humanity to take on from there: racism, health, love and how to embrace uncertainty and make something out of it!

My heart goes to people who live in a toxic environment at home and to all those with depression and other issues that is making social distancing difficult. Please be strong, and let us brave through this together. Let’s practice self care, work on ourselves, love ourselves and others more deeply, sprinkle kindness around, heal so that we do not bleed on people who didn’t cut us, spread more love and be there for each other.

Thank you for reading. Please wash your hands. Laptops and phones carry a lot of bacteria and viruses, so please take care everyone. Sending huge virtual hugs and healing vibes. 

AS

invulnerable:

What works best for me in a long term relationship is being with a partner who takes action to claim and commit to me. No one person can fill my needs all the time, but at minimum, my partner should be committed. They should be upfront and make their intentions clear. This kind of clarity gives me confidence to embrace my full potential.- it’s the energy that resonates with me in the most supportive way.

Knowing that my partner is decisive and “all in” is essential for me. There’s no ambivalence with them- they make me feel wanted and that’s very apparent. They should be willing to devote themselves to me in an uncomplicated way, which is reassuring. Common knowledge, this is not just how I feel it should be.. but how the right partner makes it become.

Experiencing past relationships that ended in positive or negative ways taught me many things. A partner who shows their love by being fully committed and prioritizing me reinforces the person I’m becoming. Other personality traits are still important, but that can’t make up for a lack of these characteristics.

Having no doubt that a partner is loyal, monogamous, and protective encourages my personal growth and happiness. It’s vital that I can rely on them in times of need and are able to take comfort in the fact that they’ll always have my back. At the very least, the qualities need to be present in a serious relationship. Having them in a partner ensures that I won’t be back from following my intended path. In fact, they’re essential for me to fully thrive.

I am looking for a partner who truly sees and understands me. It’s very important for me to feel loved for who I genuinely am- not based on money, looks or status. Most people want to be recognized and accepted by their partner, but for me it can be real longing. I value long-term partnerships and genuine collaboration and like to feel that everyone’s on the same team. I am learning I’d like to be claimed by a partner who takes me seriously, appreciates me and prioritizes my needs. As I would do the same for them.

Depending on the environment I am in or experiences I am dealing with, I may or may not follow that impulse. I often relate to this part of myself, or it feels impossible and scary to even think I am this way. But my greatest potential lies in cultivating meaningful relationships where I feel valued and understood in a conscious, equal partnership. For me, I truly feel authentic, aligned and content with myself. It’s crucial to own my desire for a long-term partner. It’s okay to want this and it’s not a sign of weakness. I may feel vulnerable accepting it, but it’s a valid part of me.

I feel that the pain I carry has affected my strength and confidence. I’ve been hurt before and it makes me feel different from other people. This vulnerability has come from separation, abandonment, betrayal, violation, or lack of self-love. At times it can make me feel alone, thinking no one understands me. I know that others have gone through similar experiences, yet I still feel alienated because my wound is unique to me. I want to keep it hidden. Instead of dealing with my feelings, I may suppress them in order to function and survive.

I may often in times feel uncomfortable or even angry, life has signed me out and placed me an unfair burden on my shoulders. I often wonder why this happened to me- it doesn’t make sense or fair. I feel different and “not normal” compared to others, I could be hesitant or fearful to embrace who I really am. The pain may be blocking me from expressing this part of myself.

I’m intended to dedicate myself to a sacred calling. A part of me is extremely complex and layered, and i’m coming to realize I am no sellout.

I’m learning not to value myself based on fame, money, or status. It’s important that I listen to my instincts rather than the thoughts of others.

A part of me is analytical and detail-oriented; I set high standards for myself. My thinking is different from the mainstream and I feel compelled to live life according to your my rhythms.

It’s imperative that I find something I feel born to do. Embrace my independent, unconventional, introverted side. I might have fears around expressing my unique nature or feel pressure to conform.

If I’m working hard for the wrong reasons, or in an unsatisfying career or relationships, then I need to reevaluate. I’m compromising my needs, I’m headed in the wrong direction.

Quiet any fears or judgments. For I more than others, need to follow my instincts to feel healthy and satisfied. Throughout my life, difficult events and experiences came along to highlight my pain, forcing me to see my fracture points. As a result, I became aware of where my wounds are- so that I can face them.

I acknowledge that there’s uncertainty, discomfort, or wounding around the person I’m becoming, I can start to heal myself. It’s like an initiation, making me incorporate what I’ve learned and eventually define my own sense of self. I may be be tempted to see myself as a victim, but that’s not that truth. My struggles may be the source of my greatest strength- even a gift.

By integrating my pain, It will become a central part of my identity, giving me a powerful perspective and wisdom. It’s like an elixir or healing essence- I am using this knowledge to help other people. Instead of feeling judged, I see this process as a lesson of vulnerability and compassion for myself.

AS

awareness..

I am finding major writers block in this current moment. There is so much on my mind but I feel I can’t really translate them into words. Long story short, my thoughts seem to be overcoming me.

One of the features of depression is pessimistic thinking. The negative thinking is actually the depression speaking. It’s what depression sounds like. Depression in fact manifests in negative thinking before it creates negative affect.

Most depressed people are not aware that the despair and hopelessness they feel are flowing from their negative thoughts. Thoughts are mistakenly seen as privileged, occupying a rarefied territory, immune to being affected by mood and feelings, and therefore representing some immutable truth.

Compounding the matter is that negative thinking slips into the brain under the radar of conscious awareness and becomes one of the strongest of habit patterns. People generate negative thoughts so automatically they are unaware that it is happening, that it is actually a choice they are making.

One of the most powerful actions you can take in combating depression is to understand how critical the quality of your thinking is to maintaining and even intensifying your depression—and that the quickest way to change how you feel is to change how you think. Often enough you can’t control how you feel, but you can always control how you think. There’s an active choice you can take—if you are aware that changing your thinking is important.

It’s not an accident that cognitive therapy is one of the most researched and practiced of depression treatments. It is based on the fact that thought-processing errors contribute so much to depressed mood.

It is possible to take action and to change patterns of thinking on your own. There are six action strategies that bring the quickest results in breaking out of the negative thought patterns that maintain your depression.

  • Know that it is possible to control the quality of your thinking. That contributes more to how you feel than any other factor. It is a widespread but false belief that you have to change your feelings in order to change how you think; it is actually the other way around.
  • Keep track of just how many negative thoughts you are actually having. There are several ways to do this, but no matter which way you choose, you need two to three days to assess the amount and degree of negative thinking.You can keep a thought journal for several days in which, at the end of each day, you jot down as many instances of negative thinking as you can remember. “I thought I was too fat.” “I hate my boss.” “I hate traffic jams.” Include instances in which you call yourself a name such as “idiot,” or think of yourself (or someone else) as worthless.Note any kind of pessimistic thinking, any focusing on problems rather than on solutions. Record thinking in which you feel yourself to be a victim, even if you have been genuinely victimized.Jot down thoughts of feeling helpless or hopeless. Be especially aware of making sweeping generalizations from one specific bad event so that your whole future appears to be terrible. “I got fired from this job; I’ll never have a good job again.” “This relationship broke up; I’ll never find a partner.” Listen for words that are categorical and extreme—always, never. Black-and-white thinking is another sign—it’s usually too extreme.Alternatively to keeping a journal, carry with you a wad of index cards or a palm computer and note negative thoughts as they occur. Although describing the negative thoughts is more helpful, it is not essential; you can simply tally them.Develop a partnership strategy. Ask a loved one or a trusted colleague to point out to you your instances of negative thinking, and then record them.
  • After you get a fix on the kind of negative thinking and its frequency, identify the situations that trigger such thinking. The act of writing down instances of negative thinking is an exercise in focusing that helps make you aware of the triggers. In all likelihood, certain types of events are particularly likely to set off a chain of negative thoughts. For some, it’s an act of being rejected or ignored or not responded to by another person. For others it might be a negative remark about or actual setback in their work.
  • Convert negative to positive thinking the next time you encounter a trigger. Just flip the switch.For this it helps to have a visual reminder at hand. Keep in your purse or on your desk a switch plate with an actual light switch on it. Refer to it often.Which kind of thought circuitry do you plug into—negative or positive? “I’m too fat” vs. “I’ve never been more fit.” “This plan will never work” vs. “I have some suggestions that will help get this plan off the ground.” Constantly flip the switch from down and dark to up and light.
  • Utilize the partnership strategy. Tell your mate or trusted colleague that you think you’re sounding too pessimistic in your thinking and that you want to be more optimistic; ask them to help you out by first cueing you when you are sounding negative and then asking you to instantly convert it to a positive statement.
  • In keeping your diary of negative thinking, create a separate column for writing the corresponding positive thought. “I’m too old” vs. “I’m getting better with age.” Do this for a few days to get the hang of converting negative to positive thinking.

-AS

direct tweet to myself.

This is going to be a bit different.. These are all my emotions, feelings, thoughts coming out and I feel I can no longer control them.

I feel as if my identity is being radically altered. I feel this is a period of transition.

I’m being pushed to face any shadow or unconscious behavior and uncover anything i’ve kept hidden and repressed. I’m experiencing feelings and circumstances i’ve never felt before. This energy is taking me to a deeper level, forcing me to shed parts of myself that are holding me back from evolving.

This process may be manifesting me in various ways. These changes I feel may be subtle and manageable but I am also finding this time to be painful and trying. In all scenarios, I feel the intention of my feelings are an overwhelming ordinary reality and have caused me to question how I define myself.

I feel it’s possible I’m facing a situation that I can’t change or solve. My will, strength, and logic don’t seem to help, and I can’t detach from what’s happening or pretend it doesn’t matter.

I honestly believe it’s intentional; I’ve been taken out of my depth for a reason. Sometimes, I feel I’m needing to push my external events to make necessary changes and motivate myself to take a much deeper look at my life in this world. What seems random is, in fact, a set of instructions for self-development.

At times, it seems like an immense gravitational force is making me look within. It could even seem like everything I know is being dismantled. My deepest fears about where I’m going and who I’m meant to be arise right now.

I’m starting to feel as if my life is merely being lived on the surface, like there’s something inauthentic about it or something crucial is missing. I feel disconnected from my true instincts and as if my identity is being broken down.

It’s lead me to worst-case scenarios, believing that what I want seems impossible. I feel I have a desire to overturn my day-to-day reality or even destroy it as a way to speed up my transformation and growth.

I feel as if I am afraid or overwhelmed by my feelings and try to push them down. This manifests my anxiety, depression, and irrational fears.

Regardless of my reaction, I know that it isn’t personal- I haven’t done anything wrong. I am honestly trying to confront the energy designed to break down my ability to control the circumstances in my life.

It’s like I’m being asked to courageously experience all my emotions and situations that are arising right now without knowing or being able to control the final outcome. It’s my time to surrender to what I am feeling. I am trying not to fight what’s happening or make sense of it, because I can’t right now.

This period of my life seems to be overwhelming, upsetting, and intense, but it’s an important initiation. It will be hard at first, but by the end of all this, if I consciously choose to participate, I’ll emerge stronger and more empowered for having endured it. I am learning what it is like to start from scratch and build myself anew.

-AS

i am enough.

In all of my forms–daughter, sister, friend, writer, traveler, lover.

I am good enough.  I am talented enough.  I am confident.  I am kind.

I seek knowledge.  I show compassion.

I fail.  I get back up.  I am perfectly imperfect.

I know who I am and what I stand for.  I know what I need to change.

I don’t know it all.  I can never know it all.  I admit when I don’t know.

I know how to forgive.  I forgive myself.

I am enough.

And not just in the superficial sense of self-love, like exercising regularly and watching less TV.  It was time to really, fully and wholly love myself–top to bottom, inside and out.

To love myself to the point of waking up every morning with a heart overflowing with gratitude for all I was blessed with in life.  To love myself unconditionally–quirks, flaws, occasional potty mouth and all.  To love myself the way I hoped for someone else to one day love me.  Fiercely, and unafraid to show it.

But this story didn’t start this winter; it’s been a long time in the making. Well before I stumbled upon this little $0.99 book, maybe 6 months prior, another pivotal moment in my self-love journey had taken place on a lovely dating site.  A moment whose weight I didn’t fully comprehend until much later.

It was a brisk night and the wheels of the GoCart were still hot; I was in the midst of a awkward first date with someone I’d only known a few days, as this tends to happen when you give dating a try.  We had been snapping or randomly texting for a while…probably flirting, or passing time…or both.

I don’t quite remember how it escalated to this, but I distinctly remember crying as I progressed feelings quicker than i thought.

but just a few nights later, We were talking about relationships and why mine–past and present–never seemed to go so well.  I had trust issues, compounded by the fact that I had a proclivity for attracting the untrustworthy types.

And then a rather unexpected question was posed to me, a question that left me speechless for all the wrong reasons.  Again, my memory of this night is a bit fuzzy after all this time, but the question was something along the lines of:

“Are you happy with who you are?”

I couldn’t find the words to respond.  Not because I didn’t know the answer, but rather because I knew it instantly.

After a few suffocating moments of silence, the best I could do was shake my head “no” as more tears, now double the size, rolled down my face.

I didn’t like who I was or who I had been.  I most certainly didn’t love myself.  And it was in that moment I came to the crushing realization that it was all my fault.

It wasn’t for lack of trying.  I wanted to love myself–desperately, even.  But what I eventually came to understand was this:

When you’re making poor choices, choices that defy what you know in your heart to be right, you never will know self-love.

it was all my fault.

The months leading up to that moment had been particularly difficult for me.  I reached a truly low point in terms of my self-esteem, and it was all because of a series of choices I’d made–choices that I was not proud of, and did not reflect the kind of person I wanted to be.

And in that moment, those poor choices came rushing back to me all at once, swallowing me up in a tidal wave of shame and regret.  Sure, I might have cried first for my failed and failing relationships that night, but in the end, I cried hardest for the person I never allowed myself to become.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but a series of subconscious choices had just been made.

To start living up to my own potential.  To start making myself proud.  To start living my truth.

I feel like in that moment, by the one question you had asked me..I wanted to change myself.

First Came Choices

Every day, we are choosing.  We may not choose our circumstances, but we choose how we react.  In fact, the only thing truly within our control is ourselves and our choices.  It’s all we have.

So even when other people hurt us, when our pain is the direct result of someone else’s choices, the choice is still ours whether we let that pain suffocate us, or if we let it go.  Move on.  Forgive.

For far too long, I felt the pain and emotional bruising from distant moments I should have long-since forgiven as sharply as if they had just happened yesterday.  For far too long, I held onto resentment, blaming others for my choices.

The choice to numb the pain with too much alcohol too often.  The choice to keep traveling when my body screamed to slow down.  The choice to spend undue time and emotional energy on relationships that weren’t meant for me.

I was all too aware of my faults, and for far too long, I had done nothing to correct them.  I was avoiding responsibility for the shitty outcomes of my poor choices which, as one of my favorite authors points out, wasn’t doing me any favors.

“We all love to take responsibility for success and happiness…But taking responsibility for our problems is far more important, because that’s where real learning comes from.  That’s where real-life improvement comes from.  To simply blame others is only to hurt yourself.”  -Mark Manson

That summer into fall, a few months after that rude awakening on that continuous dating cycle, I knew my life needed to start supporting me financially or I would be up a shit creek without a paddle.

And so I made the choice, over and over again, to put my work ahead of my own pleasure.

In hostels, I sat hunched over my laptop, surrounded by people hell bent on distracting me.  Other times, I purposely isolated myself.  I sat alone in the corner, or alone in my room, or alone at the dining table in the middle of the afternoon when everyone else was out enjoying the work day.

Funnily enough, I still found plenty of time to enjoy myself, too.  But the best part of it all was the sense of pride that arose from finally making choices that aligned with what I wanted in my heart–for this thing called blogging to be my ticket to the life I’d been chasing for years now, a life of freedom and being my own boss.

When I finally began making choices that I respected, my “luck” began to change.  Seemingly all at once, I signed up for new emotions.  For a brief moment, I could breathe again–I wouldn’t have to go crawling back to a “real” relationship just yet.

The positive changes that came out of that fall were all the reassurance I needed to know that I was on the right path, that I was inching ever closer to living my truth, to knowing myself, and ultimately loving myself.

Then Came Growth

As time wore on, personal development became my addiction.  I dedicated late nights and early mornings to my work.  In my leisure time, I read self-help books.

Much like the early lessons, the new lessons I was learning didn’t always register right away.  I had to chew on them for awhile to release the subtleties, the nuances, the complexities.

But all the while, I could feel myself changing.  I could feel myself growing more aware of who I was, how I acted, even what my heart wanted (some might call that “intuition”)–and that awareness allowed me to make better choices and know when to alter my course.

This winter, I bought that little $0.99 book.  I bought the Kindle version, except I don’t actually have a Kindle, so I read it on my phone using the Kindle app.  I read it every night as I laid in bed, this time in my boyfriends florida bed.That book was called Choose Yourself, and it was written by a man named James Altucher.

You may not have heard of ol’ James, but he has founded many companies and made millions.  Some self-help guru, right?

But of course, as it always goes, there’s much more to this story.  James also lost millions.  Sunk businesses.  Destroyed relationships.  Lost his home.  Went through a divorce.

Of the 20 companies he founded, 18 of them were failures.  In 2008, at his lowest of lows and in the midst of the worst economic depression since the 1930s–with no job, no friends, and no money–he nearly lost the will to live.

His life insurance policy worth $4 million suddenly seemed like the best chance for his kids to have a decent life.

“There is no way out.  There is no way out.  I kept repeating it in my head.  I felt like I could will myself to death with those words.  But I couldn’t.  I had kids.  I had to get better.  I had to.”  -James Altucher, Choose Yourself

Feeling someone else’s pain, even through the vast distances of space and time, always helps put our own pain into perspective.  It doesn’t diminish it or make it any less real, but it helps us to realize that if someone can be pushed to such extremes and still find the power to choose themselves, well, so can we.

James developed what he referred to as “The Daily Practice” which centered around taking care of himself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  He was putting himself first, choosing himself in every way.

The months I spent living in an over paid environment became my dedicated months of self-care.  I took James’s words to heart and began choosing myself in every way.

I curbed my wine consumption.  I put myself to bed early and woke up early.  I reintroduced regular exercise into my routine.  I practiced gratitude daily.

I found my way back to yoga, which has been perhaps the most transformative practice of all.

The very first intention I set on that very first day was the very thing that drew me back to the mat in the first place: to know myself.

One major difference between this new undertaking and my casual yoga habit of days past is that I no longer regarded it as a fitness tool.  Breaking free from that old assumption (and the desire to look good in yoga pants) allowed me to see yoga for what it really was: a powerful vehicle for self-exploration.

For me, it is the ultimate display of self-love, showing up on my mat for a moment of mindfulness.  A great butt and toned tummy–should they appear one day–would simply be a side effect of choosing myself.

And my god, it felt so good to choose myself for once.  And that month of self-care?  It’s been extended indefinitely.

Good choices beget good choices, as it turns out, and what started as a painful personal challenge on a random date to andretti’s, has now become something of a habit.

That’s not to say that life is fine and dandy as a result or that I don’t still experience deep pain.  I endure bouts of crushing self-doubt on a near-daily basis.  I torment myself with “what ifs” that have no right to take up headspace.  I still sometimes wonder–and maybe I always will–what if this all comes crashing down tomorrow?

But self-love is a process, one that will never be truly complete.  There will always be more I could improve, more I can learn, more kindness I can show to myself and others.

And in the vein of extending that kindness to myself, I constantly need reminding that yes, I am deeply flawed in many ways, but that is what makes me human, and I deserve love anyway.

I am still on the path to loving myself and to knowing and living my truth.  I can say in all honesty that I love myself now more than ever, and I know I will come to love myself more deeply in the future.

What’s most important, however, no matter where I am in the process of self-love is to remember…

As tatted on my body: I am enough.

-AS

dear demons.

Hello, Demons,

Hello, Anxiety,

Hello, Toxic Master,

Hello, the Seed of Mess,

Hello, to all of you, My Co-travelers in Life.

I’ve trapped you. You’ve got nowhere to go. You’re weak and broken. Just like I used to be when I was under your control. But now, the wheel of fortune has turned the other way.

Does it hurt? Are you powerless?

I know I was until I demolished you into meaningless spectacles of dust. I’ve locked you in the deepest corners of my mind and soul. I’ve taken the key. I’m your master now. You’ll dance to the music I play.

Once, you were me. Once, you were the ones who were holding all the cards. You were controlling my life. You were running wild. You were having the time of your lives while I was crouching in the dark corner of the cell you put me in, defeated and alone.

Anxiety…you held me as your prisoner every time I tried to step out. Every time I tried to go out and talk to people, you pulled me by my hair, making me scream in pain because I was trying to fight you.

Toxic master…you held me as your prisoner every time anxiety locked me up. You were the one who fed me with suicidal thoughts—with thoughts of hurting myself. You were the one telling me I can’t make it. You were the evil whisper in my ear telling me I’m not good enough.

The seed of mess…you held me as your prisoner when my toxic master planted you deep inside me. He nourished you and watered you to grow. You were the one who didn’t allow me to clear up my thoughts—to differentiate right from wrong. You wouldn’t let me see the light. You’ve sent me nothing but storms and rain to keep me hidden—hidden in the ‘safe’.

My dear demons…I’m talking to you from the surface where it’s sunny and beautiful. I’m talking to you from the place where it’s my time to run wild. I’m talking to you because I want you to know I’m happy. I’m happy because I’m free.

You ARE demons, but you’re MY demons.

You’re my constant reminders that I have to fight to survive.

And look at me now…I’m fighting.

You should know because it’s your time to be trapped.

AS

Current State: Autopilot…

Having experienced my first bout of depression in my early twenties, I realized that one of the biggest challenges was getting those around me to understand what I was feeling (or not feeling) at the time. Having now going through this again and trying to recover, I am able to make this list which would have been impossible in the midst of my illness.

This is not just about my own experience though. Rates of mental illness continue to rise. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.

The key to the effective treatment of any illness is understanding it, and this begins at home. Whether it is a friend, partner, colleague or family member, having someone who understands depression can make a big difference.

The following eleven truths are based on my own experience but I believe that they will resonate with others too. Please share them if they help to explain the unexplainable.

1. A little gremlin lives in your ear.

Whether its forgetting to wish your friend good luck for an interview, or making a typo in an email, even the smallest mistake is just another box tick on the list of things that you can’t do right. Whilst a rational mind would say sorry to the friend, and forgive themselves, you have a little voice in your ear that tells you that it’s because you’re a bad friend, employee, or person, and that ‘you don’t deserve to be happy, ever!’

2. You work on a time delay.

Ever watch the news when the anchor is speaking to a reporter overseas? There is always that awkward delay before the anchor’s question reaches the earpiece of the reporter. A several second silence which seems to last an eternity on live TV.

When you’re depressed that’s how every conversation feels. Your brain takes longer to process what has been said often leading to a time delay. Your slowing of speech becomes obvious to those around you which often leads to giving up all contributing in conversations altogether. Your greatest hope is that people will just stop including you, and you can carry on disappearing into the background.

3. You create your own invisibility cloak.

Move over Harry Potter, those with depression have their own magical creation which is far more impressive than the one Harry used to sneak around Hogwarts. Not only does it make you disappear, but it does it slowly, gradually, so that no one around you notices.

First, it makes you slowly withdraw from conversations, and avoid doing anything that will make you the centre of attention. To throw others off the scent, you respond normally generally telling people ‘I’m fine’, whilst slowly declining invitations to social events. One by one people stop inviting you and including you, and before you know it ‘Abracadabra’ – you’re invisible!

4. Your mind has hit stand-by.

When I was depressed I could go for days, often up to a week, and not remember what had happened. It’s like my brain was on standby, and although technically functioning and alive, it was not absorbing or remembering information. To those around you, you could even appear ‘normal’. This is because you are functioning on autopilot, saying and doing the right things, but not really present.

5. The world becomes a horror movie.

At 21 years old I became terrified to even drive my own car. Talking to a stranger became the equivalent of being chased down the street by a pack of giant spiders. Every day, around every corner, was a potential terrifying scenario. This lead to the point that the only time I felt safe was in my bed, under my duvet, and away from a world I no longer trusted.

6. You look the same but you are not the same.

Who was that person who laughed so easily with their friends? What would that person say to the version of you now? The difference in the person that you are BD (before depression), and the person you are AD (after depression), can be monumental . You can’t remember the feeling of being truly happy, and worry that you will never feel this feel this way again.

7. You feel guilty. Like it is your fault that you’re ill.

It is an unfortunate symptom of depression, that those who are suffering feel guilty for having an illness.

Not only do you think that it is your fault for not being strong enough to resist your negative thoughts and feelings, but you feel bad that other people are having to worry about you when there is nothing physically wrong. The reactions of people who don’t understand can just make it worse, telling someone who is depressed to ‘cheer up, it’s not so bad’, or ‘snap out of it’, will only increase their feelings of guilt making them feel worse.

8. This can lead to self destruction.

Like the fight or flight reflex that humans share with the rest of the animal kingdom, when we are tired of fighting we run instead.

Tired of feeling guilt, you pull away, convincing yourself that it is better for everyone if you are alone. This is when we enter self destruct mode, depriving ourselves of the help that we need, giving up on our commitments, and refusing to show any kindness to ourselves.

9. You watch life through a glass wall.

As you sink further into depression you begin to feel like you are an observer looking on to a world that you are not a part of. Seeing normal situations and emotions play out, you begin to lose your connection with real life and retreat deeper into yourself. You understand what you should be feeling but you can’t feel it, like there is a glass partition between you and the rest of the world.

10. You don’t want to talk about it.

One of the most challenging symptoms of depression for those around you, is that you don’t to talk about it. In truth, you don’t know what is wrong, and when people ask you, trying to explain it makes you feel foolish and guilty for wasting their time.

The benefit of hindsight allows you to see that things can, and do, change, but when you are in the middle of that valley you can’t see over the mountains to any kind of horizon.

11. You don’t feel sad. You don’t feel anything.

It is one of the biggest misconceptions of depression that it is extreme sadness. In my experience depression is very different from sadness. It is the absence of feeling.

When you are sad you feel something. Sadness can be a release. Grieving over the loss of something helps you to come to terms with it, feel the emotion and move on. Within the last month, I have endured emotions and traumas I never expected. I have lost a close loved one. I am dealing and I am not sure how to. Depression is a loss of emotion, the very thing that makes us human. It is a state of limbo in which everything you have ever known no longer makes sense or has a purpose.

I know I said 11, but I’m going to sneak one more in because it’s the most important…

12. It can and will pass.

Like even the fiercest of storms, with the right help and support, it will pass eventually. Although you may never be the same as you were before, you will be a new you, stronger and more self aware.

The biggest lesson that I ever learnt was to let people help me, even when it felt like the most unnatural thing to do.

AS

Disconnected.

First of all, it’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s actually healthy.

When the people around you don’t understand you anymore, be alone. Listen to your own voice away from their noise. Remember who you were before they imposed their lifestyles, opinions, and thoughts on you. Remember who you were before you met them or integrated yourself with them. Recharge your mind and your heart away from their energies. This is the time to be selfish. This is the time to ask for space. This is the time to find yourself again before you lose yourself in the crowd. Don’t wait until you no longer recognize who you are.

When you feel disconnected from everyone around you, it means you’re growing, you’re evolving, you’re becoming a new and improved version of yourself, you’re changing and people don’t react well to change. They want you to stay the same. They want you to be predictable. They want you to be the person who always accommodates them.

When you feel disconnected from everyone around you, it means you’re finally seeing a new side of life. A side that calls your name. A new city that doesn’t suffocate you. A new home that doesn’t make you want to run away. A new lover who doesn’t take you for granted and actually chooses you. New people you don’t need to argue with to make a point because they see thing the way you see them. A new culture that’s more aligned with your beliefs and values. You’re starting to see a glimpse of a better life, a better place where you belong, a place where you feel more connected to society.

Because contrary to popular belief, disconnecting from everyone isn’t a sign of depression or loneliness. It isn’t a sign that something is wrong with you. It isn’t a sign of despair. Sometimes it’s a sign of hope and optimism. You’re waking up. You’re realizing your potential. You’re not settling. You’re starting to learn that you are the driver of your life and you can steer the wheel in any direction.

You’re starting to wonder if maybe you haven’t been making the wrong decisions but making the right ones in the wrong place. Saying the right things to the wrong people. Doing the right things for people who don’t appreciate them. Trying to live a certain way in a place that doesn’t support the kind of life you want.

When you feel disconnected from everyone around you, disconnect as much as you can, for as long as you can because that means that when you come out of your isolation, you’ll know who you are, you’ll know what the next step is, you won’t be manipulated by others, their words won’t get to you, their opinions won’t matter. You won’t feel like you’re trying so hard to fit and failing anymore, you’ll be confident in yourself. You’ll know where you belong. You’ll understand that you felt disconnected for a very valid reason and that’s going to be how you save yourself from drowning and sail away to find a happy home. 

AS

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