Time For Change.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK Jr.

 

My heart is so incredibly heavy, and my anxiety is at an all time high. Everything is changing, evolving and manifesting at such a rapid rate that it’s hard for me to keep up and thoroughly process it all.

I’m so proud to be a part of the revolution that’s occurring, one that is far overdue. I’m so proud of my friends of all colors for standing up and saying “enough is enough.” I support, love and cherish each of you wholeheartedly.

I vow to help this fight in any and every way possible, but I’m not going to lie, this is all really overwhelming. Most of the time I can’t even process my own thoughts and feelings, much less those of the whole nation.

I first want to say “I’m sorry” to every POC … every race, gender and ethnicity. I’ve always prided myself on being someone who loves everyone, someone who doesn’t see others by the color of their skin but instead by the beauty of their soul. I look to the inside to get to know someone before coming to any conclusions.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means ( I know I’m far from it), but I’ve tried really hard my entire life to be a genuinely good person. Yet despite all of my good intentions, I’ve failed to act upon my anger and outrage of racism, injustice and the needless loss of human life.

To be honest, I think my reservations have been due to the fact that I didn’t think anyone would care what I had to say on the matter. I tried to walk the fine line of not acting like I knew it all while also not condoning these outrageous murders.

Let’s face it, I’m a very white girl.

I grew up in a tiny Texas town where there were literally no Black people, no Hispanic people, no Asian people … just Caucasians. I was never taught racism or given preconceived notions about people of others races, and for that I’m truly grateful to my family.

I was always taught to love everyone regardless of race, religion or politics. However, I think my upbringing also somewhat hindered my understanding of how truly oppressed POC were and still are to this day.

This is no excuse, just fact.

I’m sorry for not truly understanding your struggles, your pain, the fear you face every time you leave your home. I’m sorry that I haven’t used my voice, the privilege I’ve been given just because of the color of my skin, to speak up and fight for you … to fight with you.

I’m sorry that my limited understanding of your hardships may have seemed like ignorance or indifference. I am not indifferent, I am not okay with what is happening and I am using my voice, my platform, to say to you “I HEAR YOU, I LOVE YOU, I WILL FIGHT WITH AND FOR YOU.” 

I truly believe that every human being struggles with something. My struggle isn’t one that can be physically seen but instead is a constant war raging in my mind. Others struggle with addiction, body image, self-love, family issues, and the list goes on and on.

However, I see your pain. I hear your voices. I stand with you. I stand beside you. I am here to love, to support and to fight.

My anxiety has caused me to struggle with this whole situation. It tells me I need to have all the answers before I speak up, before I raise my voice, but I will no longer let the unknown hold me back from screaming my outrage on these matters any longer.

I will not let fear of others’ opinions stop me from expressing myself, from using my rights as an American to fight for justice. I will not allow public judgement to keep me from standing up for my friends and all those that I love.

Listen to me when I say, “YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE HEARD.”

To all of my friends and family in law enforcement, this is not a bashing of you as an individual. I love you, I respect you, I pray for your safety and I’m thankful for the sacrifices you make each and every day. I don’t believe you are all the same, I know your hearts. I do believe that you are sincere in your efforts to help others.

Unfortunately, this is a pattern that’s repeated far too often. We all, not just law enforcement, have to do better. We have to unite and stand together against hate. Every human being, regardless of race or career, has the choice to do good or bad. It’s not about profiling a specific group but instead bringing awareness to all of the injustices that occur every day.

To all of my white friends and family, understand this … silence is now just as condemning as the violence and oppression itself. If we truly love all of God’s children, then we need to use our voice and our privilege we were given the day we were born white.

No, not every white person is racist, not every black person is a thug, not every hispanic person is illegal … we are all beautiful and created equally in the eyes of God. However, our society, our history, has made it so that a white skin tone gets you a louder voice. It gives you the benefit of the doubt. It offers you a safety that POC are not always given.

I pray that we all listen to our POC friends, that we hear what they are saying and instead of being offended, we try to understand their pain. POC are not saying that because you’re white you’re a racist. They’re saying it’s time to start standing up for the oppressed, to start fighting a system that’s been corrupt for far too long.

They’re asking us to speak up, to use our voices for positive change.

I don’t know about you, but one of my lifelong goals has always been to leave a positive impact on the world, to leave this world better than how I found it. This is our chance. This is our moment.

Are we going to stand up for what is right? Are we going to help our brothers and sisters who are asking for and more than willing to accept our support? Or are we simply going to turn off the news, stay off social media and act like the problem doesn’t exist?

To all of my readers, followers, friends and Anxious Minds … please tell me how I can help. Let me know how I can assist in cultivating the change our nation so desperately needs. Educate me, explain to me, show me. As much as I love y’all, I feel as though I still have so much to learn.

I truly pray that we each take some time to research, reflect and process what is happening right now in our world. This is a pivotal moment in our history. This is a change that is long overdue.

This revolution will make history as the time when we unified as a nation and said “no more.” I’m tired of the hate, injustice, inequality, racism, bashing, negativity and senselessly spilled blood.

It’s time we stop talking about it and start taking action. I am with you. I hear you. I will fight with you.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Lonely Girl.

“And in the end all I learned was how to be strong … alone.” – Anonymous

 

Lonely girl, alone she stands
Searching for her place
Looking, looking far and wide
Then drifting into space
The love, the joy she once had craved
Was no where to be found
In her quest she disappeared
A shadow on the ground.
Lonely girl, she numbed herself
To all the pain she felt
No need to run, no need to fight
The cards that she was dealt
Her biggest fear had now come true
She sat there all alone
Abandoned, used and left behind
With no where to call home
No one to care, no one to call
No reason to hold on
The life she thought she once would have
Suddenly was gone.
Lonely girl, poor little thing
So easily replaced
No thinking twice or turning back
A memory erased
One by one the doubts crept in
And settled in her soul
Day by day she lost herself
It finally took its toll
And now she’s just a lonely girl
Unsure of what to do
Hoping maybe one day
Someone will break through.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

*Copyright 2019

It’s Not The Darkness That Scares Me.

“I don’t know what it’s like to not have deep emotions, even when I feel nothing, I feel it completely.” – A. R. Asher

As a child we’re told scary stories about monsters that lurk in the darkness. We sleep with a nightlight and hide our heads under the covers, afraid of what may be hiding in the shadows.

At such a tender age, monsters seem to be the most frightening things we could ever imagine. It’s not until we become adults that the real terror reveals itself to us.

You see, it’s not the darkness that scares me. Instead it’s my never-ending thoughts of worry and the paralyzing numbness that haunt my body, my mind and my soul.

It seems like every time I’ve almost gotten myself out of that dark place, anxiety pulls me right back in. The darkness doesn’t scare me. If anything it gives me a sense of solitude from my own messed up mind.

What seems to affect me the most is not the freedom that comes from reaching the light at the end of that tunnel nor the dark tunnel that precedes it. It’s the never ending struggle, the tug of war feeling, that I’m forced to live through every day.

You see, having Generalized Anxiety Disorder means fighting a constant, daily battle. Most people can’t fully comprehend this, and I’m happy that they don’t understand. That just means they’ve fortunately evaded a frustrating, lifelong journey of obstacles.

Having a Mental Health Disorder is like wearing a ball and chain. Those who deal with these diseases can seem “normal” and act like everything’s perfect, but in reality we’re being mentally hindered by our own minds.

Sure, I can overcome my disorder from time to time, and I’ve even learned to somewhat manage it. Yet, in the long run it comes back to find me again and again. There is no escape.

While dealing with constant anxiety is tough enough, I also struggle with my faith in love, humanity and sometimes even God. I try to wait patiently for the things that I know God has planned for me, but my anxiety tears me down.

It points out how all of my friends have moved on with their lives to have successful careers, significant others and children, events and playdates. Each time I reach out to someone they’re unavailable because they’re busy with their own lives.

This is all completely normal in the evolution of life, but when I feel like I’m getting left behind it allows my anxiety to take over. It causes me to lose faith, to feel numb to the world around me. It causes me to slowly lose hope.

The worst part of it all is that I try my hardest to shut down my negative thoughts, to listen to the light within my heart, to be the bright, radiant person that I know I am.

Nevertheless, the dark silence is louder than the positive whispers in my ear, and in this moment right now, my disorder is winning.

It’s the most frustrating feeling to fight an invisible, daily battle that no one else can see. I can try to explain it to others, but they’ll never truly understand the struggle and pain that I go through.

While the darkness in my mind can be scary, it’s the numbness that I occasionally feel that truly terrifies me. I’m not talking about “my foot fell asleep” sensation. I’m talking about the “I’m here but I don’t feel like I’m even present in my own body” type of feeling.

It’s hard to describe, but when I get in that mode I’m essentially a zombie. I go through the motions of everyday life, but I’m not actually present. My mind is a million miles away, and my body is a mere vessel.

Those moments terrify me the most because they make it difficult to recover. Each time I fall into a paralytic mental state, I find it harder and harder to make my way back to reality.

It get’s tough because those moments are the only moments where I’m truly free from my mind. I have no thoughts, no worries, just complete serenity. However, I always find that those times are usually followed by depression … another enemy of mine.

I constantly battle with myself, knowing what I should be doing but hardly having the strength to power through my anxious thoughts. Then comes the anger. I get so mad that I can’t just “fix” myself. It’s a never ending roller coaster of emotions.

So you see, the darkness doesn’t scare me anymore. It’s the monsters lurking in my mind that truly terrify me, trying to convince me everyday to give in to the sadness, depression, anxiety and fear.

For now, I’ve once again defeated their attempts, but for the rest of my life I’ll have to fight this never-ending battle.

No matter how long and tough the journey may be, I’ll forever strive to reach the light at the end of that tunnel because I am stronger than my disorder.

The battle will rage on until the monsters give up, the numbness disappears and the light is the only thing I see.

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

Mental Illness: Disorder NOT Decision.

“Anxiety is the most silently painful experience. It makes no sense and you sit there alone and suffer for an unknown reason. You can’t explain it, and you can’t stop it. It merely is.” – Anonymous

 

How could you think I want to feel this way? Do you think the never ending fear and dread is something I look forward to each day? You say I do it for attention, that I’m making it all up. How dare you.

You don’t believe me when I tell you my heart is pounding so fast that I feel like I’m having a heart attack. You scoff when I say I’m dizzy, scared and confused which only makes me feel worse.

I tell you I have anxiety, and you act like you don’t believe me. I open up to you about what I go through, and instead of helping you laugh. I’m glad you think this is funny because I feel like I’m dying.

You’ll never understand the fatigue that comes along with being in a constant state of fight-or-flight. You think I’m lazy when really my mind has been running a marathon. You can’t see my suffering so you don’t believe that it’s there, but trust me it’s there.

When I tell you I’m feeling anxious you tell me to “get over it” because “everyone has anxiety.” I try to explain to you that this is different, but you don’t want to hear it. You mock me and leave never realizing that you’ve completely shattered me.

You get frustrated with me because I tell you that I can’t get out of bed. You call me pathetic and worthless then walk out of the room. Little do you know that I’m paralyzed by my mental illness, and every time I wake up I’m forced to fight another battle.

You get mad and tell me I’m a terrible friend because I cancelled plans with you. You say you’re never hanging out with me again because I’m a flake. Unbeknownst to you I’m sitting on my bathroom floor crying uncontrollably for no reason, unable to move.

I try to tell you I’m sorry and that I’ll make it up to you, but you say you don’t want to hear my excuses. You curse under your breath and hang up on me not knowing that your hatred just sent me over the edge.

Not only do you hate me, but now I hate myself. I take every single word you said to heart and start telling myself how worthless I am. I repeat your harsh words over and over until they’re stuck in my mind, and then I start believing them.

After a while, I somehow find the strength to pull myself out of the darkness. I begin to have a social life and finally start to feel like a normal person. You ask me on a date, and I say yes with pure excitement.

You pick me up, and we go to dinner. We start talking about ourselves, and I decide to bring up my anxiety. Instantly your face changes, and you shut down. You take me home and tell me that you just can’t deal with my disorder. Then I never hear from you again.

Never will you realize that you’re a perfect example of why I gave up on love in the first place. I start telling myself how stupid I was to think anyone could ever love me, and you send me straight back to that dark place in my mind.

I fill my days with mindless TV and junk food just looking for something to ease the pain. I do anything I can to numb the overwhelming feelings and emotions because, despite what you think, I don’t want to feel them.

You say you’re finally ready to try and understand my anxiety disorder. You apologize for all the things you said and tell me you didn’t mean them. You sit me down and ask me to tell you what’s going on, but yet again I disappoint you.

I wish I could tell you what’s going on in my mind, but I can’t even explain it to myself. I tell you as much as I can, and when I look over at you you’re crying. You finally start to see exactly what I’m going through, and it breaks your heart.

We sit together in silence, crying and hugging each other. I finally feel somewhat understood and loved, something I haven’t felt in a long time. The biggest weight is lifted from my shoulders when you tell me I’m not alone. You’ll never know how good that feels.

With every day that passes I start to feel a little stronger, and the sun slowly starts to brighten my dark place. For the first time in a long time I begin to think that just maybe I can live a happy life despite my anxiety.

Mental illness is a disorder not a decision. No one asks for this curse, and sadly some don’t survive it. No one that suffers with these disorders did anything to deserve them. They were merely woven into our DNA.

Because there is no cure all we, who suffer from these conditions, can do is learn to live with them by taking it one day at a time. We have to surround ourselves with those who are patient with us and love us despite our flaws.

Support is critical to those of us who are dealing with these issues. We’re our biggest critics and therefor we don’t need anyone in our lives that will add to our already overwhelming negativity. If you aren’t here to help us then leave.

Although mental illness is not a decision, it is up to us to fight for our happiness. We can’t let our disorder consume us or dictate what kind of life we live. Ultimately, we control our minds.

So when the darkness starts creeping in, hold on to this…you are not your disorder, and you are not alone. The sun will shine again and when it does, it will be beautiful.

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

 

Your Death Gave Me Life.

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this…” – Unknown

 

It amazes me that 12 years have passed since that tragic day. I still remember every single detail in my mind. I remember spending that hot Summer day with my (then) boyfriend, simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

I remember my Mother answering the phone and the look of sheer terror in her eyes as she approached me. I remember feeling like something was horribly wrong but not being able to figure out what it was.

I remember hearing those words, “Jacob has passed away in an accident” and immediately falling to the floor. I remember feeling completely numb and overcome with grief. How was a 14 year old teenager suppose to understand the magnitude of what had happened?

I kept telling myself “get it together,” but all I could manage to do was crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t function. I was in such shock at what I’d been told. We were kids. We were suppose to live forever not die a few weeks before our Freshman year of High School.

I remember laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed like eternity. My family continuously tried to comfort me, but nothing could take away the immense pain I felt. My best friend was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I remember picking up the phone and calling all of my friends. Each phone call ended the same, in heartache and grief. None of us could understand why God chose you, why you had to be the one to leave us.

I remember bits and pieces of the following days. Our school was encouraging everyone to see the counselors they provided to help us “process our grief,” but I refused. Instead, I decided to work through things on my own, a process that I’m still working on to this day.

I remember going to the funeral home to visit you one last time. Walking through that door is an image forever burned in my mind. I remember seeing your hat, the one you always wore, sticking up a little bit as I walked down the isle to you. It was a strange relief to know you’d be buried wearing something you loved so much.

I remember seeing your face, so peaceful, as if you were merely sleeping. I kept praying I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare, but I never did. I took a moment and placed your “friends” necklace in your hand. To this day I still have the matching “best” necklace that I wear to remember you.

I remember writing a poem for your funeral, determined to write the best poem ever. I remember walking in to the auditorium, my final chance to say goodbye to you. There were so many people there because you were so incredibly loved.

Each of us took an orange rose (our school color), and one by one we placed the roses in your casket. I stayed strong the entire time until I got up to read your poem. Suddenly, the fact that I’d never see you again hit me like a ton of bricks. Somehow I managed to get through it.

We placed you gently in the ground at your burial and took a moment to grieve together. I never knew that walking away from that cemetery would change everything. I never knew that your death would ultimately give me life.

I’m sure many of you are confused by that statement, but hear me out. Losing Jacob truly showed me how precious life is. It taught me that our teenage thoughts were completely wrong, we weren’t invincible after all.

Experiencing the death of a best friend at such a vulnerable, tender age made me appreciate the small things. I took my time and friendship with you for granted in so many ways. To this day, I try my hardest to be a good friend and value those around me.

Your death encouraged me to fiercely pursue music. The last time we were together you were teaching me the guitar so I vowed to continue on that path. I went on to write many songs about you and how you changed my life.

Your death increased my desire to take care of others and lead me to care for the sick and dying as a nurse. It gave me the courage to hold the hand of someone passing into the afterlife. It gave me the strength to support their family in such a trying time because I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one.

Your death put my faith to the test, but it ultimately strengthened my relationship with God. In the months following, I was so angry that He took you from me too soon. Yet, over the years I began to realize that we each have a purpose, and I guess you had already completed yours in a short time.

Your death made me create closer bonds to the people in my life. I learned that no one lives forever and tomorrow may never come. I learned to love hard in all relationships. I learned to move forward in life with an open heart and to accept people for who they are.

I learned that although being a good person doesn’t make you invincible, it does make you memorable. Not only were you incredibly good at everything you did, but you always had a smile on your face…a smile that was contagious and unforgettable.

Your death taught me to be the light that this world so desperately needs. It taught me to count my blessings instead of my shortcomings. It taught me to give back to others and expect nothing in return. It encouraged me to carry on your legacy of making the world a better place.

So while you were taken from this world 12 years ago, your legacy remains alive and well. On this day each year, I hear stories and see posts about you. Even after all this time we still miss you, we still think about you, and we still remember the beautiful person you were.

While this day never gets easier, it does continue to enlighten me. Each year I’m amazed at the discovery of another emotion, another layer of my feelings towards your death. I’m amazed by the fact that time continues to pass so quickly. I guess the process of healing is truly never ending.

I’ll never fully understand why you had to leave us, and although I can’t comprehend your passing, I’ll forever cherish your life. I’ll cherish all of the many wonderful memories we made and the best friend I was fortunate to have, if only for 14 years.

I know there will still be days ahead full of sadness, tears and pain because true heartache never fully goes away. However, I want to say “thank you” for inspiring me to be the person I am today. Your death gave me life. Keep watching over me my guardian angel…until we meet again.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

*RIP – Jacob Aaron Skinner
(September 21, 1990 – July 25, 2005)

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The Unfortunate Ones.

“It’s time to distance yourself from the people who let you down, the inconsistent ones. it’s time to start loving yourself.” – Billy Chapata

 
I hate to tell you this, but you are the unfortunate ones. If you play any part in my life, I must apologize in advance. I apologize for the person you will be dealing with, the person who has changed so much over the last few years.

I apologize because you will no longer see the weak and innocent soul that once consumed this body, the girl who would do anything for anyone without a second thought.

Now, I’m not saying this generosity has been permanently removed from my DNA. I’m merely no longer naive to the ulterior motives that now seem to drive the human race. I no longer turn a blind eye to the harshness and cruelty in the world.

There was a point in my life where I would turn away from things that broke my soul…child abuse, animal torture, violence, broken hearts, etc. Yet, I discovered that those terrible things happen whether I like it or not.

Leaning to accept this uncomfortable fact allowed me to accept many things about myself as well. I learned to stop making excuses for people who hurt me time and time again. I learned to cut people out of my life that wanted to use me for what I had to offer.

Ultimately, I learned to accept the fact that the world is a cruel place filled with a human population that is overrun with sin, abuse, manipulation and negativity. I hated giving in to this reality, but as I looked back on my life I realized it too was full of unpleasant moments and memories.

Upon this realization I decided to make multiple changes in my life. I started cutting out those who had done me wrong (on numerous occasions). I started separating myself from things that didn’t bring me joy or positivity. I ran from people and things that caused me heartache.

Now, I am by no means a perfect person (I’m far from it to be honest), but I try to live a positive life by being the best person I can be. I pride myself on being a Nurse and Humanitarian, giving back to those who need it most. I try my hardest to make a positive impact in the world.

Yet, I’ve found too often that many people seem to only be looking out for themselves. Their selfish nature not only feeds their ego, but it causes them to hurt others emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically.

I’m grateful to have never experienced the latter, but mental and emotional trauma can sometimes be just as damaging.

Going back to the beginning, I must say “sorry” to everyone in my life. Unfortunately from now on you will have the realistic me, the one who doesn’t fantasize about fairytale happy endings and white picket fences.

You no longer have the girl who is willing to give and give and give with nothing in return, to be trampled on without saying a word. There is no longer a quiet soul who finds an excuse for every bad thing that happens in life. Screw that.

There will always be good and bad people in this world. There will always be heartbreak, cruelty, disappointments and sadness. I’m completely aware of this. However, in this day and age we are able to decide what kind of life we want to live.

We are in control of our own destinies, living in a world full of endless possibility. We have the freedom to move to a new city, start a new job, create our own company and include people who truly matter to us in our lives. We are no longer pinned down by our pasts or backgrounds.

In 2017, we are able to be whoever we want to be, to create a fulfilling life full of love and happiness. We are able to choose our friends, our spouse and ultimately our futures. Unfortunately, so many people will never take advantage of this fact.

I, however, will take full advantage of my choices from now on. I will be extremely selective about who is allowed in my inner circle. I will keep the thick walls up around my heart until I find the right one who is willing to patiently break them down.

I will look for people who have similar goals and aspirations, who long to make the world a better place. I will cut people out of my life without remorse if they continue to do me wrong. I’m not playing games anymore, and neither should you.

This world is full of people (7,500,000,000 to be exact) so why let a mere few take away your joy? Why let one pesky person bring you down? If someone doesn’t love you for who you are then let them go. If someone can’t understand or accept your anxiety or issues then say goodbye.

Gone are the days of compromising ourselves for those who don’t care and the times of giving ourselves to others who won’t do the same in return. We all deserve love, understanding, happiness and a fulfilling life so why let others hold us back from that?

So again, I say “sorry” to the unfortunate ones, the ones who have recently come into my life or those who have stuck by me since day one. My core values remain unchanged, but my mind has a whole new outlook.

There is heartache from the past, but the future seems so bright. I’ll no longer simply allow things to happen to me. I understand that we cannot predict the future, but I’ll now control the impact I allow those events to have in my life…and I hope you’ll do the same.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Always Remember.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

 

Some days you’re going to feel like giving up, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’ll feel like that weight is crushing you and that you no longer have the strength to stand tall.

You’ll have moments where you doubt every single decision you make, constantly wondering if you made the right choice. You’ll doubt your self-worth, abilities and who you are as a person.

No matter how great life is going there will always be moments of darkness, moments when the storm seems like it’ll never pass. The winds will howl, the rain will beat down and you’ll begin to wonder, “Why me?”

You’ll have days when you view the world as a blank canvas full of opportunities. You’ll set out for adventures and begin to learn that this enormous planet is full of more beauty than you ever imagined.

You’ll find a refreshing sense of peace while escaping the every day routine of life. You’ll explore places you’ve only read about in books, and while you’re gone you’ll feel on top of the world. Yet, when you return you may feel a sense of sadness, for the joy of adventure has faded and the mundane routine has returned.

You may fall in love, a love that turns your world into rainbows and sunshine. Eventually, however, you may find that love can quickly turn to heartbreak, and that pain may flip your world upside down.

You may start to once again doubt yourself. You may question why you were even put on this Earth if only to experience heartache and pain. You may question your relationship with God, wondering why He chose you to walk such a tough path.

You may lose a friend or loved one tragically and begin to question life itself. You may feel like you’ll never be able to overcome the grief and pain you feel. Death is such a permanent thing, and you’ll never know why they had to leave.

In this life, you’ll undoubtably experience heartache and happiness. You’ll have moments of debilitating weakness and tremendous strength. At moments, you’ll question the purpose of life, but other times you’ll admire its unfailing beauty.

There will be times when you may cry yourself to sleep, unsure of what the future holds and anxious about the times ahead. There will be moments of unexplainable joy, happiness and accomplishments. Life may start to feel like a rollercoaster of emotions with alternating highs and lows.

Yet in those moments of doubt, fear and pain I hope you always remember this…

Always remember that your mistakes do not define you, and your past does not dictate your future. Remember that in times of struggle you are never alone and that the pain won’t last forever.

When you’re feeling broken, wounded and unsure remember to reach out to those around you. Look for guidance and reassurance from those who love you most. Never stop relying on your friends and family because they will help you through even the toughest of times.

Remember to cherish your time with loved ones because nothing is guaranteed. Tell them and show them how much you love them. We never realize how much someone means until they’re gone, and regret is a horrible thing to live with.

Always remember that this life is what you make it. If you don’t like how your life is you ALWAYS have the capability to change it. Change is scary but so is living an unfulfilled life. Don’t wait until it’s too late to live the life you deserve.

Always remember to give love another chance. Our hearts have this amazing way of healing themselves even after they’ve been torn to shreds. Don’t let the wrong person from your past defer you from the right person in your present. Give love a second chance.

Remember to guard your heart, for from it everything flows. Be willing to allow someone to break down the walls you built from previous heartache, but don’t give your love too freely. The right person will be patient and willing to remove the bricks one by one.

Always remember to learn from your mistakes and to take a leap of faith. Nothing good comes from playing it safe. Even if you fail, you tried…and in the end that’s what matters. If you fall, always get back up. Nothing in this world can keep us down unless we let it.

Always remember to put yourself first. It may seem selfish, but you should always be your first priority. You deserve the love and attention you so freely give. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. You can’t pour from an empty glass.

When anxiety begins to consume you and the darkness closes in, always remember to fight. You deserve to be here, to take up space on this Earth. If you have trouble staying strong for yourself, remember those who love you. They need you more than you know.

Always remember to allow room for change. You may not see the purpose in it right away, but God has a much bigger plan for our lives than we can even imagine. Sometimes change leads us to the things we always wanted but were too afraid to try.

Always remember to chase your dreams. Nothing in this world is impossible, it’s all about mind over matter. If you really want something you will make it happen. Even if it takes a while, continue to fight for your goals. With fierce determination comes success.

Remember to do what you can to help others because you never know when the roles may be reversed. This world is full of people seeking love, acceptance and support…be the person willing to freely give those things. The small act of giving goes such a long way.

Lastly, always remember to be yourself. There is only one of you in the world, and that is your super power. We were each put on this Earth for a reason so never stop searching for your purpose. Make your mark on the world, and it may just leave an everlasting impression on others.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Dear Anxiety: An Intimate Letter

“And sometimes it hits me out of nowhere, all of the sudden, this overwhelming sadness rushes over me. And I get discouraged and I get upset and I feel hopeless, sad, and hurt. And once again I feel numb to the world.” – Anonymous

 

Dear Anxiety,

I thought I had you under control. I thought I’d found the magic potion that made you disappear forever. I always knew you’d be lurking in the shadows just waiting for your opportunity to consume me again, but I thought I’d found the shield to defend myself against your unwanted presence…I was wrong.

I woke up Friday morning and automatically knew something felt off. I’d had this uneasy feeling before, but I thought it was just a fluke so I went about my day. The day was okay, nothing special, but I could feel your presence stalking me from a distance. I thought that by ignoring you I could make you disappear.

I continued on into the night trying to hold it together, trying to act like you weren’t there. I started to feel you drain my soul and emotions out of me a little at a time like a leach. I tried to stop it, I tried to keep your darkness from creeping in and taking over, but my efforts were futile.

I went to bed at a decent time that night, merely trying to fall asleep before you could tear me apart. In that I succeeded.

However, Saturday morning when I woke I found you to be in control. From the moment I woke up I knew I didn’t stand a chance. I tried to complete my morning routine of gratitude, meditation and prayer, but everything I did only made things worse.

I told myself I wouldn’t shed a tear, that I wouldn’t give you that satisfaction of seeing me broken. I tried with all my might to keep my emotions buried deep down, someplace that you wouldn’t find them. Yet, once again you won.

I spent half of the day crying for no reason, and I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so depressed. It’d been a long time since I’d felt these overwhelming emotions. I hated feeling so vulnerable, but I knew you were loving the sight of me in pieces. I hate you beyond words for that.

I cried nonstop for hours  for no reason at all. For feeling so empty, I was full of so many tears. After a while my sadness turned to frustration, and I lost my cool. I was literally having an inner battle all because of you. You lit the match and watched the fire burn.

I was struggling to turn off my anxious mind. All I wanted was a minute of silence from the continuous irrational fight going on in my brain. It was like having an angel and devil on my shoulders that wouldn’t shut up. I just wanted peace and quiet, but you wouldn’t give me that.

I tried to continue on with my daily routine, but my frustration started boiling over and before I knew it I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think (rationally) and couldn’t function. I sat there in a daze, afraid to breath. That was the worst feeling in the world, losing control to you.

An hour went by before I was able to move, but it felt like forever. When I finally stood, my body felt so heavy that I found it hard to walk. That was the weight of you and all of your misery on my shoulders. You felt like a ton of bricks.

I finally walked over to my purse and grabbed my medication. At that point I was desperate to get away from you, if only for a little while. I took my pill and a few minutes later all of your stupid, ridiculous, pointless, annoying noise went away. I finally found my moment of silence.

I knew your absence would be short lived so I took advantage of the quiet while I could. I made a few calls to my family, unsure if I’d have another opportunity once you returned. You knew I couldn’t function with you around, and you relished in that fact.

I managed to somehow fall asleep that night, and I promised myself tomorrow would be better…it had to be. I couldn’t take another day of you and your misery.

Sunday morning I woke up with a whole new mindset, determined to keep you away. I’d been invited to church by a friend, and I was so excited to have some distraction from your tightening grip.

I went to church and heard the most perfect message. The sermon seemed like it had been written just for me. I was so thankful that God heard my struggles and gave me a sign that He was listening. I started feeling hopeful, and man was it refreshing.

My friend and I went to brunch and had a great time. We talked and laughed for about an hour, and then I headed home. Little did I know you were waiting patiently for my return.

As soon as I walked in my door, your heavy cloud started to dampen my uplifted spirit. I felt you slowly dragging me back into your darkness. I resisted your pull the best that I could. I didn’t let you knock me all the way back down, but my day was definitely ruined.

I once again sat in my living room crying for some unknown reason. My willpower and strength wasn’t enough to keep you away, and I hated myself for that. How could you so easily break my soul? Why was I so defenseless against you?

I decided I’d had enough of you and that I was done letting you control me. I stopped the tears, stood up off my couch, closed my eyes and told you to go away. I had nothing left to give you, nothing left to feel. You’d drained me of everything I had.

Sunday faded into Monday which faded into Tuesday, and eventually I started feeling better. I’d somehow made you crawl back into your eerie cave, at least for now. I prayed you’d never come back out, but I knew that was unlikely.

In those few days you threw every trick in the book at me, and I fell for them all. I tried to stay strong, but you beat me down until I had nothing left. Why did you have to do this to me? Why am I plagued with your darkness?

I know you’re gone, but I also know you’ll be back. Lucky for me your attacks only happen every now and then, but I’m already dreading the next one. No one would even know of your torture if it wasn’t for my willingness to share.

So until our next unfortunate meeting I’ll continue living my life like you don’t exist. I know you’re patiently waiting for me in the shadows, but for now I’ll act like I don’t know you’re there. That’s the only way I’ll be able to live the happy life I deserve. Thanks for the reminder though, I haven’t forgotten your everlasting presence.

With Hate,
Myka Shantell 

 

The thing is we all put on a smile, but you never know what that smile is hiding. We all have pain and struggles, and even those who seem happy have demons they fight. I live a beautiful, happy life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments (or even days) of weakness and vulnerability.

My point in writing this is to show everyone what anxiety looks like at its worst. I decided to snap the pictures of myself above so that people could SEE what it does to a person, even one who has a wonderful life.

Sometimes we can feel its eerie presence among us, and other times it’s sprung on us out of the blue. I feel fortunate that I only have to deal with this from time to time, but other people out there aren’t as lucky. 

If you know someone who struggles with anxiety, please be supportive of them. Don’t turn your back or tell them they’re irrational, that only makes things worse. All they need from you is comfort and encouragement. They need to know they aren’t alone.

You don’t have to understand anxiety to be a good friend, we don’t expect you to. However, I hope writing this has given you a brief look into our reality. This is what we deal with, this is what we fear, and unfortunately this fear is permanent. For we always know anxiety is lurking in the shadows, just waiting to strike again.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Struggles. {Poem}

“No matter how much it hurts now, someday you will look back and realize your struggles changed your life for the better.” – Anonymous

 

I believe that everyone has a unique story and that some tales are darker than others. We all struggle with something, and we all handle those struggles in different ways. Sometimes we turn to people or things that we know aren’t good for us, but we don’t know how to cope otherwise.

This simple poem was one I wrote back in 2010 (©) after hearing so many stories of hardships and trials. So often we forget that no one is perfect, and even the most “perfect” people have their battles.

One thing I’ve learned with anxiety is that no one sees or handles it exactly the same. Each journey to understand and control it is unique. That’s why leaning on others and hearing their stories is crucial to us who face the anxiety battle.

I myself have struggle with many things, yet I’ve gotten through them all. Please remember to never give up hope because we are all facing demons. Learn to rely on those around you for support, even when you feel embarrassed or unworthy of love. Finding strength in others is how we survive our crazy, anxious lives.

 

 

No matter what you’ve been through
Or what you have endured
The pain, the lies, the hurt, the scars
The crazy and absurd
The breaking of your fragile heart
The crying of your tears
The cuts and self-inflictions
The addictions over years
The tearing of your family
The rumors spread by friends
The destructive bond to drugs
The attempts to make life end
The break-ups and the make-ups
The punches and the kicks
The hurtful words and arguments
The bruises, scratches, nicks
The sudden loss of loved ones
The Doctor’s painful news
Starting life all over
The alcohol and boos
The ending of a dream
The being all alone
The constant money struggle
Having nowhere to call home
It happens more than thought of
To more people than you know
If another door will open
Another door must close
And through all of your struggles
You’ll find your happy place
The place that you belong
That puts a smile on your face
Your true amazing grace.

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Until You’ve Seen the Darkness. 

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

As children we grew up afraid of the dark. We heard stories of the Boogie Man, ghosts and monsters hiding in our closets. We slept with a nightlight and blanket for extra security, just in case something was lurking under our beds.

I can recall many nights of sleeping in my parents’ bed or making a pallet on the floor beside them. Some nights I was just too terrified to sleep alone. Darkness is a scary thing.

We put a face to the dark as children, like the monsters we saw in scary movies. Yet, little did we know that there were much scarier things than beasts. Our emotions, our minds, our feelings…those are scarier than any movie I watched growing up.

While my days primarily consist of sunshine now, there were a few points in my life that I thought I wouldn’t survive. I experienced some hard times that I honestly thought I may not make it through.

While I’ve been extremely blessed in my life (great family, friends and accomplishments), my biggest struggles were within. There’s a saying that “a smile can hide so much,” and I found out just how true that was.

My inner critic has always been somewhat of a bitch. No one ever had to get on to me for anything because I would already be beating myself up for not being perfect. Ever since I can remember I strived for perfection. I had to be the best, or I was nothing at all.

That’s really tough to deal with when you’re a kid. Society and peers both put a ton of pressure on children, and putting stress on myself only made me feel 10 times worse. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this lesson until 20 years later.

Losing competitions or games in middle school would throw me into brief periods of darkness. I’d be pissed, then sad, and eventually I would get over it. The process probably took me a little longer than my friends, but I managed to figure it out.

Fast forward a few years, and my best friend, Jacob, died in a tragic accident. That was the first time I’d ever experienced debilitating grief. I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, couldn’t function. The following weeks were a total blur, and after 11 years I still haven’t fully healed.

The darkness I felt when I lost Jacob was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It was a feeling that I never want to feel again and (knock on wood) I haven’t. While that moment taught me many valuable lessons it also took away a piece of me.

A few months after Jacob’s passing, I started High School. During those years, sports were my life. I lived and breathed the two-a-days, practices and games. Sports were a great outlet for me and my aggression but while the highs were high, the lows were very low. Again, I started to experience deep dark mental moments.

Once I’d graduated High School, I went through a period of transition. No longer was I a star athlete or Valedictorian, I was merely another college student. I still tried really hard to stand out in nursing school, but it just wasn’t the same.

My 4 years of college were full of academics and good grades, but they also consisted of a lot of parties and drunken nights. I had a lot of trouble adjusting to my new life as an adult. I’d never felt so lost in the crowd, and I really didn’t like it.

My late teens/early 20’s really tested my mental strength. I found myself very unhappy with my relationship, lost and confused about my purpose in life and just sad. My anxiety was at an all time high, and at that time I didn’t know how to control it.

After a while I settled in to my job as a Registered Nurse at the hospital. I was getting to work with babies (which I absolutely loved), and I started making friends that were a positive influence on my life. I felt accomplished, I felt happy. However, there was still this inner battle of discovering my true purpose.

Even though I was accomplishing all of the things I’d ever wanted to do, I faced a daily mental struggle. My mind wouldn’t just let me be happy in the present. I was constantly searching for the next best thing, the next life event I could check off my list.

I battled with my brain constantly and somehow found a way to keep the darkness out. I started focusing on my future with my boyfriend (at the time) and making plans for a wedding and kids. I thought I’d finally met my soulmate, but yet again I was wrong.

After almost 2 years of dating and living together, my boyfriend broke up with me. He told me he wasn’t ready for this life I’d been planning, and he left. That day was the single darkest day of my life.

I’d never felt that low, and I promised myself I would never go back to that level of devastation again. I didn’t eat for days. I laid on the floor and cried for a week before I could even semi function. I remember screaming at God, asking Him why he did this to me.

It was that point in my life, that level of darkness, that caused me to seek help from a therapist. I had no motivation for life, but I knew the only way I would return to the light was to let someone help me. Little did I know that finding my therapist was one of the best things to happen to me.

It’s been 2 years since I’ve began working with Megan, and my life has completely turned around. I’ve started this incredible journey of self discovery, and I’ve learned so many lessons about life.

Taking that huge leap to reach out for help benefited me in ways that I never even imagined. It showed me that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t crazy for feeling this way. It taught me that although no one’s darkness is the same, we all experience it at some point.

After 2 years of intense inner work and dedication, I’ve figured out how to stay in the light. I’ve learned how to embrace my little moments of darkness and then leave them to the night where they belong. I still have some shadows, but now I’m basking in the sunshine.

Working through the darkness is no easy task. It takes courage, dedication and strength. It’s a very uncomfortable process at first, but the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. If you’re struggling with darkness just know you aren’t alone. Even the happiest people you know have dealt with tough times.

No matter what you go through in life, you can survive. You can be broken down, lost, confused and still come out stronger than before. The light is a beautiful thing, but it takes work to bask in its glory. Keep on fighting and remember…until you’ve seen the darkness, you’ll never appreciate the light.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell💋