Timing Is Everything.

“And then it happens…One day you wake up and you’re in this place where everything feels right. Your heart is calm. Your soul is lit. Your thoughts are positive. Your vision is clear. You’re at peace with where you’ve been, at peace with what you’ve been through and at peace with where you’re headed.” – Anonymous

 

Timing is one of the most beautiful and most frustrating concepts in the world. When the timing of things works out perfectly, it restores our hope and makes everything seem like it’s going to be okay. Yet, when it’s not on our side, it can cause a darkness that we feel we may never escape.

Honestly, I find this to be a very interesting time in my life. Almost all of my friends are in serious, committed relationships, moving in with significant others, getting married and starting families (or even doing all of the above).

I mean, I guess this time in my life was bound to happen, after all, I am about to turn 29 years old. In this generation, I’m considered old for being where I’m at in my life, but hey it’s my life so it’s all good.

As I look at how my friend group has evolved over the last few years I can’t help but smile for them. I’m seeing more and more happiness entering their lives and watching them transform into amazing husbands, wives, parents, professionals and overall great human beings.

This evolution makes my heart so full of joy for the ones I love. Seeing the timing of their lives play out just the way it was meant to after knowing their struggles is simply beautiful.

Now, just because I personally haven’t checked off those boxes yet doesn’t mean I’m behind in life, it just means that my life has a slightly different timeline. We all live at our own pace, but one thing I’ve learned is that as long as we do what’s best for our souls and create a life we truly love, things will always fall into place (definitely easier said than done).

Now don’t get me wrong, anxiety frequently causes us Anxious Minds enormous amounts of grief by making us feel like we have to keep up with everyone around us. It can make us settle for less than we deserve, feel very unworthy and bring out our darkest fears.

The pressure to measure up with society’s norms is often overwhelming. If we haven’t accomplished certain milestones by certain ages, it starts to feel like the timing of our lives may be eternally off.

And let me tell you, society won’t let you forget that you’re falling behind by their standards.

Living in this day and age with anxiety is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. We’re constantly seeing others’ “happiness” being shoved down our throats on social media, being asked by family members when we’re going to find the one and getting little encouragement that doing our best is good enough.

I wish people would realize that every person is struggling with something, some more than others. A little positivity and reassurance goes a long way, especially when it comes to someone dealing with anxiety.

Of course I want all of those things that I listed earlier. If I had it my way, I’d already have them all checked off, but that’s just not the plan God has for my life. While I frequently get frustrated with not knowing why my path is different, all I can do is patiently wait for His timing.

Again, beautiful and frustrating all in one.

As I was dealing with the irrational, unending doubts in my head last night laying in bed something clicked in my mind. Why do I stress so much about stuff and people that I have absolutely no control over? Why do I allow society to dictate what is right and wrong about my life?

I so often forget that the story of my life has already been predestined, and as annoying as that can be throwing a tantrum about it will get me no where. Things have rarely worked out the way I thought they would and yet I’m still here, alive and breathing.

There were plenty of moments I thought I’d never make it through, yet as I sit here and reflect on them I’m so grateful that they didn’t work out the way I wanted. No’s are often God’s way of telling us that something better is in store for us.

It’s time to stop stealing the pen from the One who is in control of writing our stories. Only God knows what is truly meant for us and will make sure it enters our lives at the exact right moment.

His timing is always perfect.

Yes, I know it’s hard to wait. I struggle with patience every single day. No one can understand that inner battle more than me, but all we can do is continue to put one foot in front of the other and believe that our time is coming.

We have to believe that the timing of our life is playing out just the way it was fated to, and that one day all the trials and tribulations will make sense. One day we will have all we’ve ever wanted and so much more.

Until that day comes my Anxious Minds, we’ve got each other. For now, that will have to do.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

An Anchor In The Storm.

“Life has a way of testing our anchors and tempting us to drift. Nevertheless, if our anchors are correctly placed in the right hands they will hold. No matter the force of the wind, the strength of the tide or the height of the waves.” – Anonymous

 

If there’s one thing I’m sure of as a person who struggles with an Anxiety Disorder, it’s that life is full of storms. A lot of times, out of the blue, life decides to throw a kink in our plans and completely throw us off course.

Now, change is difficult for everyone in some way. Yet, dealing with change and a Mental Health Disorder can seem unbelievably scary and damn near impossible most of the time.

You see, as anxious individuals we love to plan. We thrive on the idea that we constantly have some control over our lives (totally not true, but it’s how our minds work). Therefor, when something destroys our carefully thought out plans, we panic.

We simply don’t know how to process it.

I recently experienced this exact situation where everything was going so perfect and then…BOOM, out of nowhere things took a completely different, unforeseen path.

And you can bet your ass I did nothing but panic for 4 days straight.

One of the most frustrating things about Generalized Anxiety Disorder is you have rational and irrational thoughts simultaneously. You know what you should be thinking or feeling, but your emotions are the complete opposite.

No matter how many times I say my mantras or meditate or journal or deep breath, this situation of change and uncertainty scares the shit out of me. It’s an uncontrollable, irrational fear that becomes consuming if you don’t get a grip.

I often get asked, “how do you make it through those times of mass chaos and uncontrollable change?” Honestly, it’s my anchors.

Now, anchors can be seen as a positive or negative. Sometimes your past can become like an anchor, dragging you down to the bottom. However, in Mental Health Disorders they  also represent those who make you feel steady in times of chaos and confusion.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my 12 year journey with anxiety is that surrounding yourself with people who truly love, support and care for you is the most important thing you can do.

While your friends or family may not understand exactly what you’re going through, just their mere support, listening ears and comforting arms can make all the difference in the world, especially when dealing with the waves of change.

I’ve been beyond blessed to have 3 solid anchors my entire life: My Mother, Father and Sister. They’ve been right there with me as I’ve struggled with the highs and lows, ups and downs of my Anxiety Disorder for the past 12 years.

I’ve called them at 3am during an anxiety attack, and I never had to wonder if they would answer. They’ve held my hand as I cried, laid beside me doing absolutely nothing and have celebrated every single thing I’ve achieved in life.

They are my anchors on which I am able to steady myself in the raging storms of life.

These 3 are my people.

They’re my safe place when things get too tough or life becomes too overwhelming. They are the rock on which I have built a foundation of never ending trust and respect. They protect me from the cruel and invalid lies that my anxiety places in my head.

These 3 saints have never judged me or made me feel less than extraordinary. I’ve received constant reassurance and guidance without biased opinions, mockery or pity.

When the seas get rough, they never waiver or drift. When I think I’m going crazy, they’re right beside me to tell me that everything will be okay.

It’s also been extremely nice to add a couple of friends to my list of anchors as well. We are continually building that trusting relationship that is free of any doubt or insecurity. It feels good to add more people to the tribe.

I honestly hope to continue expanding my circle to include my future partner and may another friend or two someday, but all things come to fruition at the perfect time.

If you struggle with a Mental Health Disorder, I seriously encourage you to find these people in your life (if you haven’t already). Surround yourself with a handful of individuals that you can undeniably count on.

Anxiety will always be a wolf in sheeps clothing. It will always try to make you think that it’s doing you a favor by preparing you for the worst case scenarios when really all it’s doing is taking us out of the present moment and stealing our joy.

Learn to build a bridge of trust with your anchors so that you can open up to them without fear or regret. Holding everything inside will do nothing but allow anxiety to consume you and take you away from the beautiful life you deserve.

With each passing day and each trial you make it through, you’ll begin to have more confidence in your ability/yourself and give less power to that anxious monster inside your head.

And when the waves start getting rocky and the storms of life appear out of nowhere, remember you are not alone. Find your anchors, hold on tight and watch the storms of this life pass you by.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Cut The Cord.

“Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger. Simplify your life. Let go of the poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present … today.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Over the past four years, I’ve built up some pretty steep walls around my heart. The last relationship I was in showed me that letting my guard down is dangerous. My heart and mind had to find a way to protect themselves, hence the insane amount of mistrust and second guessing I constantly feel.

You see, when someone with a Mental Health Disorder goes through heartbreak, it’s a totally different process. Now, I understand that heartache definitely hurts no matter who you are, but these heartbreaks are catastrophic to us Anxious Minds.

The moment you break the trust of someone with Anxiety you’ve doomed them from trusting anyone else for a really long time. It takes so much damn courage for us to place our hearts in your hands that when you break it, we hit rock bottom.

Honestly, I don’t even think I realized how much past heartbreaks affected me until I began a new relationship that brought up feelings I didn’t even know were there. All of the sudden self-doubt, distrust and feelings of impending disappointment began to flood my mind.

I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop because it seemed too damn good to be true (which in my mind meant that it was).

I started feeling these emotions that I thought were long dead and gone. After four years my hope for true happiness had began to seem more like an impossible fairytale, the kind we dream of as children.

Until one day, the day that everything changed.

I think the most terrifying emotion that emerged from this new found happiness was the thought that it could end just as gut-wrenching and traumatizing as the last one. My heart wanted to let him in, but my mind kept constantly reminding me of what happened the last time I let my guard down.

I knew that he deserved 100% of me because that’s only fair in a relationship, but I was so extremely hesitant to even consider giving him a glimpse inside the real me. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if he didn’t like what he saw?

Anxious thoughts consumed my mind for weeks, and I just put on the show of the perfect girlfriend. I was constantly being who I thought I should be instead of who I truly am. That was a really tough act to keep up, but I honestly didn’t know what else to do.

I always felt like I had this one last string that was tying me to my traumatic experiences of the past. I had done the work, gone to therapy, journaled and worked through my feelings, but I never knew there was one last cord hiding somewhere that I couldn’t see.

This string was the final connection between what could be the happiest times of my life and the memories and feelings of the most crushing times I’d ever experienced. I knew what I had to do, but I was afraid to cut the cord.

Don’t ask me why because I honestly don’t know.

I knew the amazing and wonderful things that were sitting in front of me just waiting for me to let go of the past, but deciding to take that leap of faith again is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in a long time.

I knew that cutting that cord meant jumping in with both feet, no holds bar, no looking back. I knew that it meant giving 100% of myself and letting down all those walls I’d worked so hard to build.

It meant giving love another chance.

So for the next few weeks I pondered the idea and fought a battle inside my head. I listed the pros and cons, I tried to reason with myself, I explained the benefits of this new opportunity again and again.

And finally, after weeks and weeks of anxious thoughts and sleepless nights, I decided to cut the cord. I decided that no way, no how were my fears and past experiences going to deter me from what I feel like is the best thing to ever happen to me.

He is worth every risk. He’s worth opening my heart up at the chance of it being torn apart. He’s worth putting myself out there for rejection. He’s worth every possible thing that could go wrong because he’s everything I’ve ever wanted and more.

I’m not willing to let my fear and anxiety keep me from someone so wonderful.

So as terrified as I am to start this new journey with an open heart and an open mind, I’m also so ridiculously excited to see where it goes. Not only is this a new chapter as a significant other, but it’s also a new chapter for me personally.

In life, we can either continue to be afraid of the things that broke us, or we can rise from the flames like a phoenix from the ashes. We can take those lessons we’ve learned from past relationships and use them to improve ourselves and our future romances.

If we never open our hearts back up to love, we will forever be alone. If we’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, we’re going to push others away. If we can’t eventually let down our guards, we’ll never know what might have been.

As crazy as it seems, the moment we finally release all the fear, resentment and hesitation that’s been holding us back is the moment the enormously heavy weight is lifted from our hearts.

And let me tell you, it’s a remarkably wonderful feeling.

My amazingly wise Mother told me, “don’t make someone in your present pay for the mistakes of someone in your past.” That really hit me. This new person deserves our everything. They deserve to receive every part of us, the good, bad and the ugly.

Every person’s journey is different. For some is only takes a few months to feel ready and willing to open up to another, and for others (like me) it takes years. No matter what your journey looks like the main thing is this … always be willing to give love another chance.

Be willing to cut the cord that is tying you to your past and holding you back from what could be the best parts of your life. We have one life to live and not much time to live it. Don’t let someone who didn’t know how to love you keep you from the one who was meant to love you all along.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

Chasing After Happiness.

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”― Henry David Thoreau

 

We’ve all been on the journey of chasing happiness in one way or another. Some of us think we will find it in our careers, our family or by becoming famous. We are constantly searching for that missing piece, the thing that will make us truly happy.

However, the more we search for it the further away it seems. It’s a never-ending game of catch-me-if-you-can. While we’re going after that “happiness” we so desperately seek we often forget to appreciate the present, the very moments we’re given.

We forget to be thankful that we have a job, a family, a home, a warm bed and food on the table. We take so many of life’s blessings for granted because we’re always looking for the next best thing.

I, myself, am guilty of this. It seems that most of my adult life has been overshadowed by this daunting task of finding happiness, of achieving perfection. That’s no way to live.

Even if we achieve our dreams, the joy of that moment is fleeting, and before long we’re looking for the next thing that will fill the void.

What if instead of searching for happiness we focused on our blessings? What if we used all that time and energy to improve ourselves and to live our lives?

The funny thing I’ve learned about happiness is that we could search for a lifetime and not find it because happiness is not out there in the world. True happiness comes from within.

 

Chasing after happiness
Trying to find some peace
Trying to find something
To put my mind at ease
I’ve searched and wandered far and wide
Tracking every lead
But by the time I get there
Joy’s eluded me
I crawl back to the darkness
And make another plan
I really need to find it
For this dark I cannot stand
I try again, I search for light
But all that I can find
Is disappointing misery
That fills my wounded mind
As days go by and time drags on
I continue on my quest
The never-ending, daunting task
Of finding happiness
I’m weak and worn and at my end
I’ve got no more to give
I guess this dark and sadness
Is how I’m meant to live
But as I lay my head to rest
I slip into a dream
I find what I’ve been looking for
The light it starts to beam
And suddenly I see…
It was always inside of me.

 

I wrote this poem thinking about my own journey chasing happiness. I hope you all know that no matter what’s going on in your life, we are all in charge of our own happiness. We just have to find it within ourselves and let it shine.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

We’re Only Human.

But I’m only human and I bleed when I fall down. I’m only human and I crash and I break down. Your words in my head, knives in my heart, you build me up and then I fall apart ’cause I’m only human…” – Christina Perri

 

So many things in life try to drag us down, constantly making us feel worthless, unloved and unwanted. Fears creep into our mind, along with our anxious thoughts, and those fears start to tear us down a little at a time.

There’s no warning, no flashing sign to tell us what’s coming our way. There’s nothing that can prepare us for the error of human ways, for heartache and deceit.

People are bound to let us down, I mean we’re only human after all. Yet, it’s how we react to those moments of heartache and misery that truly reveal ourselves to the world. If we over-analyze every moment or every word, we’re setting ourselves up for a let down.

So in those moments of sadness, when you’re tired of trying, I hope you remember that things will always get better. The moments of darkness will always be overcome by light. The pain will eventually fade and the heart will repair itself.

That’s just how we’re wired.

When you find yourself tired of trying, I encourage you to look inward and remind yourself of how you too are human. There have been times when you’ve been on the other side of the hurt.

You’ve probably done something unintentionally that negatively effected another. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that makes you human.

The difference between being human and being inhumane is effort. If you put in the effort to right your wrongs or fix what you may have broken, then you should rest easy knowing you tried.

If you think “tough luck” or expect someone to get over it then you are the darkness that fills this world. No matter what the circumstance, it’s up to us as friends, family, co-workers, people to acknowledge the error of our ways and try to make amends. Again, it all comes down to “try.”

All we can do in this life is try … try to be a good friend, a good person. Try to be strong, to be brave, to be tough. Try to keep it together, to not let them see you struggle. Try to put our feelings aside, to put others first, to listen without taking offense to their words.

We can only try to put one foot in front of the other without falling to pieces … to try to make the right decisions and do the best we can. All we can do is try our hardest in all things, and if people can’t appreciate our efforts then they don’t deserve our presence.

That’s another thing. When someone is dealing with a Mental Health Disorder, it’s imperative for us to practice self-preservation. We’re terrible at it because we want to believe the good in others, but ultimately if we’re unable to realize who truly does and does not belong in our lives then we self destruct.

After all, we’re only human.

This thing called life is a difficult journey filled with enormous amounts of pain, growth, happiness, sadness, regret, joy and decisions. Those who suffer from Mental Health Disorders encounter extra obstacles, but each struggle we face makes us stronger in the end.

All we can do through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns, is try to hold on for the ride and make the best out of each situation we’re given. If people let us down we have to find our voice and the courage to express our feelings.

If someone makes us happy, we have to conquer our fears of rejection and disappointment and give them a chance. We have to learn to quiet our anxious minds and remember that we only have one life to live so we might as well live it.

Heartache and pain will undoubtedly find us, but if we keep pushing on we’ll find either a lesson or a blessing in each situation. We can’t let the tragedy that fills our world keep us from spreading our light.

We may only be human, but we have so much to offer. We have love to give, memories to make and a short time to do it all. Therefore we can’t let anything, especially our anxious thoughts, hold us back from a wonderful life.

People will always let us down and that’s okay because we too are flawed. We too cause pain to those we love. No matter how hard we try we’re not perfect and never will be. Yet if we strive to be the best person we can be, we find that opportunity and happiness start to present themselves in our lives.

We need to remember that every single breath we’re given is a precious gift that should not be wasted because one day our breath will flee and our souls will vacate this world … we’re only human, after all.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

A Single Pringle Valentine’s (Self Love 101).

“Self love is an ocean and your heart is a vessel. Make it full, and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.” – Beau Taplin

 

Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite holiday and has been for as long as I can remember. Some people have asked me “why,” and the answer is simple…it’s a day dedicated of love.

Every year I get to see happy couples sharing their love for one another and celebrating love. The stores are filled with pinks and reds of every kind, and honestly just seeing all the mushy gushy stuff puts a smile on my face. What can I say, I’m a hopeless romantic.

While I am well aware that I’m single, I don’t let that dull even one moment of this heart-warming day. Why sulk instead of using this holiday to celebrate self-love? Who says you can’t buy yourself a gift and acknowledge how amazing you are?

There’s a few different stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day, but they all have one common denominator … love. Each story ends in tragic death over love (how romantic, right?) led by none other than St. Valentine.

While Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to express your love and gratitude for the important people in your life, it’s also a great day for single people too. This year I’ve decided to buy myself a present and take myself out on a date, and I can’t wait!

This idea may seem silly to some, but taking care of yourself (mind, body and spirit) is more important than we even realize. We’re so quick to project our love to others and place them first in our lives, never truly understanding that this is wrong.

Love of self is not just a concept, it’s a necessity. When we don’t fill our souls with positivity and validation we end up feeling empty with nothing left to give. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, you can’t pour out love from an empty cup.

With this being said, I believe getting to truly know ourselves is crucial, but it’s also uncomfortable. We go through our lives with our day-to-day routines often forgetting to stop and evaluate where we are inside.

I always thought I was super confident until I took a minute to look in the mirror. I had been dealing with a few self-esteem issues so my therapist told me to look in a mirror and say “I love you. I never imaged that saying those three words to myself would be so tough.

In 25 years of life I’d never taken just one single minute to really look in the mirror at myself. I’d always been in a hurry to put on my makeup or do my hair before starting my day. I never knew that all that time I’d been staring at a stranger.

Once I realized how disconnected I was with myself I decided to start the journey of self-love. I started researching exercises, books, anything I could do to learn who I was and how I could love that person in the mirror.

A few years and countless hours of staring in the mirror, reading inspirational books and seriously focusing on positive self talk I was able to say those three words. Not only did I say them, I believed them, and man it was the best feeling ever.

It was like something inside of me awakened from a 27 year sleep. I felt more alive than ever and suddenly realized that all of the things I’d been searching for in others I’d had inside all along. This moment catapulted my evolution into the strong, independent woman that I am today.

It’s crazy what happens when we really start to love ourselves. We become more confident, more aware, stronger, braver and more alive than ever before. We start to see things from a whole new perspective and finally learn our self-worth.

This new sense of self becomes a building block for not only our relationship with ourselves but with others as well. We learn what we will and will not tolerate in a romantic relationship or friendship, and in turn we build healthy connections that positively impact our lives.

So as silly as it sounds, self-love is the foundation of our lives. While being single is tough in our generation, we can actually use it as a positive to get to know ourselves. The world tries to tell us that we need to be married with kids by 23 years old. I’m here to tell you that is a lie.

If we take the time to learn who we are and work on becoming the best possible versions of ourselves, we open the door to healthy relationships that are usually more beneficial in the long run.

If someone tries to tell you that self-love is selfish, they are sadly mistaken because those who have gone down this path know it’s not selfish but imperative to our well-being. Keep strong in your path and don’t let anything others say affect your journey.

This Valentine’s Day if you’re alone and a single pringle like myself, take it as a blessing. Recognize it as the amazing opportunity that it is and learn to honestly love yourself. Nothing good comes from self-pity but something wonderful can come from inner work.

I encourage you to get dolled up, buy yourself a gift and treat yourself how you’d want a future partner to treat you. It may feel silly at first but when we learn to date ourselves we learn exactly what we want in a future spouse.

On February 14th you’ll find me wearing my best dress and drinking a glass of wine at my favorite restaurant at a table for one. I may get questionable looks from the couples next to me, but I don’t care because I’m confident and love myself. Can you say the same?

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

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 Shantellđź’‹

 

I Didn’t Think It Would Be This Way.

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers.” – Kathy Kinney

 

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought life could get so messy, so confusing, so out of control. I’d done everything in my power to live the “perfect” life. I’d gone to school, gotten straight A’s, participated in activities, went to church and tried to be a good human.

Yet it never felt like enough.

I thought all of my good deeds and careful choices would spare me of the heartache and pain that seemed to fill this ugly world. I thought my kind heart and gentle soul could keep me from sorrow, but I was wrong.

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought I’d lose my best friend at such a tender age or experience a gut wrenching break up with an ex that would leave me feeling paralyzed. However, I intimately learned the saying “love hurts.”

I never thought I’d hang out with the wrong crowd or do things behind my parents’ backs like some typical rebellious teen. I thought I was better than that. Yet I partied and made bad decisions sometimes for no good reason at all.

I never thought I’d struggle so heavily with anxiety and depression as a teenager. I didn’t think I’d battle with self confidence or self love either. On the outside I appeared so confident, so in control, but on the inside I was drowning.

I could’ve never imagined the struggles I’d face in college. The sleepless nights, the drunken disagreements and feeling like I might not make it through nursing school. I remember asking myself what the hell I was doing putting myself in these risky predicaments…

Yet I could never bear to hear the truthful answer to those questions.

I never thought I’d be so cruel to myself. I truly was my own worst enemy. I never thought I’d look in the mirror and be hateful to the reflection staring back at me. Despite all the good things I’d done in the world, I was never good enough in my own mind.

I never knew I’d be single into my latter 20’s. I figured I’d follow the pattern of my hometown and be married with children by 24 years old. I thought I’d grow old in my tiny Texas town and never leave. I thought that was the only life I could live.

I never knew I’d be given such opportunities by simply moving away from home. I didn’t know I would find so much happiness in recreating myself…new town, new me. I had never realized just how claustrophobic I felt in that place.

I never realized realize how much I missed out on by giving in to my fears. I was terrified to start over away from my family, and with this fear came tons of missed opportunities. I’d never comprehended how much my wings were bound until I broke away and flew.

I didn’t think life would be this way. I never thought I’d have moments of complete emptiness, moments when breathing seemed like an unimaginable task. I didn’t know that anxiety would be something I’d deal with my entire life, a problem that I could never permanently fix.

I didn’t think it would be this way. I thought I could get through life without ever losing a family member. I thought they’d all meet my future spouse, attend my wedding, and hold my future children while we shared stories around the table…and then my Grandpa passed away.

Yet another dream crushed.

I never thought I’d experience the rollercoaster effect of feeling so lonely while also feeling happiness. I never thought it was possible to find joy in the pain and light in the sorrow. I never thought I’d be one to feel weak and alone.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m extremely pleased and grateful at how my life has played out. While I didn’t understand the struggles and grief in the past, I’m beginning to understand them now.

I now see that through pain and heartache comes growth. I realize that losing someone makes you hold onto others a little tighter. It forces you to realize the amazing people you have in your life and reminds you to never take them for granted.

Through heartache we learn to love again. We find that our heart can repair itself and become even stronger than before. We may put up a wall, but it allows us to see who is willing to break it down to be in our lives. It teaches us that our hearts are indestructible.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, each and every experience has made me who I am today. Each trail and tribulation has shaped me into the kind yet wise soul that I am now. While I still try to find the best in others, I’m no longer naive to those who try to hurt me.

I’m stronger than ever before, full of scars but also full of wisdom.

Life really does have a funny way of working out. While things that try to break us may hurt like hell in the moment, their meaning ultimately comes full circle in God’s timing. We don’t understand the pain we initially feel, but later on we often see its purpose.

And while I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m forever grateful for this crazy life I’ve been given. I’m truly thankful for every high and every low, every victory and every defeat. Now I know that although life’s struggles might knock me down, they will not keep me there.

Our lives are our own, and the choice is always ours. Will you choose to dwell on your shortcomings and grieve what you thought life would be, or will you choose to rise each morning with a grateful heart and a fierce perseverance? The choice is ultimately yours…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

5 Traits An Anxious Mind Needs In A Friend.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” – Bessel Van Der Kolk
If you’ve ever been a good friend to someone that suffers from anxiety, you probably know that it’s a lot of work. You have to deal with their constant mood swings, fears, emotions and insecurities all while being their rock. It really is a tough gig.

There are probably an enormous amount of times that you want to scream, pull out your hair and simply tell your friend that they’re being irrational. You may get insanely frustrated that they can’t just shut off their anxiety. Yet, you often sit there quietly and listen to every word.

Sometimes you give them words of encouragement while holding them in a tight knit hug, merely letting them know that they’re safe. Other times you may yell and give them tough love because you don’t fully understand their disease which frustrates you even more.

You may sit and cry together in silence when the world just seems too overwhelming for your anxious minded friend. You cry because you’ve never dealt with such pain and aren’t sure what to do or say. Sometimes you may even cry tears of joy when they’re having a good day because you’re ecstatic to see them happy.

Despite all of the craziness that comes along with loving an anxious mind, you stick around, and your mere presence means more to us than you could ever know.

While being a friend to someone that struggles with anxiety can be quite overwhelming, I imagine it’s a love-hate relationship. There are a ton of positives and negatives that come along with loving us, things that we rarely control.

However, I hope you know that if an anxious mind chooses you as a friend you should take it as an extreme compliment. We are extremely selective in who we allow into our lives. Our anxiety tries to isolate us from everyone and tell us that we are unworthy of love.

If you are chosen to become a part of our inner circle, know that it is a big decision for us. It takes everything in our being to truly let people in and see the real, flawed, messy us…the sides we often hide.

We have to silence the constant ruckus going on in our heads in order to focus on another person. We not only have to learn to let our walls down, but we also have to stand up to our anxiety and tell it that we refuse to be alone. That, my dear, is no small feat.

So while your friendship means the world to us, know that there were certain traits we found in you that let us tear our walls down and silence our anxious minds. There was something we saw in you that made us feel safe and willing to open ourselves up with the risk of being hurt.

There are a few things that we saw in you, a few things that the friend of an anxious mind must possess:

1.) Trustworthy

We need to know that no matter what we can trust you with our deepest, darkest secrets. We need to feel like we can trust you with our feelings and that you will never do us wrong. Trust is crucial in any relationship, but we value it more than most.

2.) Patience

We know we’re not the easiest people to be friends with. We have so many mood swings and “irrational fears” that many people don’t understand. When we’re having an anxiety attack, you won’t be able to relate to us. Yet we need to know that you will be patient with us as we work through things.

3.) Loyalty

As our friend, it’s imperative that we know you’re loyal to us. Insecurities go hand-in-hand with anxiety, and a disloyal friend makes our insecurities unbearable. Constantly worrying about where you stand will only make our anxiety worse and ultimately end our friendship.

4.) Understanding

We need you to understand that we aren’t making things up. What we are telling you is really how we feel, even when you can’t relate. While you may have never dealt with anxiety in your personal life, we need you to understand that everything we feel and say is very real to us.

5.) Strength

Lastly, we need you to be a strong person. We understand that everyone has moments in life where they get broken down. However, we need you to be our rock. Many times in our anxiety filled lives we need someone to be strong for us. We need someone that can help us through the really dark times and tell us that everything will be okay.
While each person has something different they look for in a friendship or relationship, these tend to be at the top of our list. It may take us a while to let you in, but once we do you’ll be happy you stuck around.

Although we seem to have a lot of baggage that comes along with us, we are the most loyal people you will ever meet. A friend with anxiety may take a while to warm up to you, but once they do you’ll see the amazing soul they possess.

While anxiety is a part of us, it’s not all of us. We still have so many traits that you’ll fall in love with like being extremely clean, always on time and super organized (to name a few). You’ll start to realize not to judge a book by its cover and that life with anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.

I must say although my circle is extremely small, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They’ve seen me experience my highest highs and my lowest lows, and they’ve loved me through them all. They each possess the 5 qualities I listed above and so much more.

So if you befriend an anxious mind just be ready to commit for the long hall, because once we let you in there’s no turning back…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

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 💋