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 💋

Today Is Tough.

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” – Unknown

 

Today I just needed to cry. I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and separation. Being a 29 year old single woman who lives alone has been really hard in a time like this. Add to it that I’m a Registered Nurse, and the emotions and feelings of anxiety double, triple … hell they’re in a league all their own.

I’m usually a pretty grateful person. I do a gratitude journal every morning along with my Bible study and a few other things. I drink my coffee and thank God for the multitude of blessings He’s given me. I have so much to be thankful for and very little to complain about.

Yet, here I find myself in my living room floor crying because I’m so overwhelmed with life right now. It’s the most normal chaos I’ve ever experienced. Nothing outside is crazy, everything is actually quiet and still. There’s very few cars or people anywhere you look.

You’d think that this solitude would be a nice change from the normal hustle and bustle of living in a big city, a city that is usually full of life, but really all I feel when I look at my quiet, docile city is depression.

The world is a crazy place right now.

Never in my lifetime did I think I would see something as unprecedented as this Coronavirus Pandemic. I’m an Infectious Disease RN at a hospital so when this all started I couldn’t figure out why everyone was so hysterical. I thought, “man if only people could see the type of diseases I treat everyday, they wouldn’t be so scared of this COVID-19.”

But, not long after that I understood the chaos and panic.

Little by little I started seeing new statistics and information about what was happening in the rest of the world, and I quickly realized why they were so scared. To be completely honest, it’s not the virus that’s the monster in my mind, it’s the social isolation that has felt extremely crippling to my mental health.

Everyone who struggles with mental health has a certain way of coping with it because we know our disorder will never completely go away. So instead of living in fear of our anxiety and/or depression, we learn to adapt our lives to it.

For some of us, this means taking a lot of “me” time where we can stay away from crowds and chaos. For others, that means being around family and friends in social situations where we don’t have to listen to the constant chatter in our heads.

This is me, this is my strategy for dealing with my disorder.

Yet, when this new virus finally hit, the option to get out of the house and socialize was taken away from me. I fully understand the reasoning and purpose of the shelter in place order, and I’ve abided by it. Having said that, one of the biggest triggers for my anxiety is having my options taken away.

When I feel like my freedom has been compromised in any way, I lose my shit. As Americans we’re given so many luxuries like planning our days and (most of the time) doing what our hearts desire. We can eat where we want, go to the gym, get our hair done, hang out with friends, go to sporting events … anything and everything is at our fingertips.

When those choices are taken away, I feel helpless and stuck.

I never truly realized how privileged I was until everything was shut down and taken away. I’ve been taking advantage of the wonderful country I call home, and now I honestly realize how blessed I am to live in America. I now genuinely understand why so many people want to be here, it’s the land of freedom and opportunity.

Recently I’ve seen friends losing their jobs, people struggling severely with their mental health, businesses hanging on by a thread and the world trying its best to adapt to this temporary new way of life. There’s no way we will ever be the same after this.

So, life has been a constant inner battle for me.

The Nurse in me says, “You have to be strong. You have to be an example to all of those you care about, those with less medical knowledge, because they’re scared. You can’t show weakness or others may start to panic.”

The anxious human in me says, “is this ever going to end? I’m so tired of being locked up. I’m starting to feel claustrophobic. I can’t make it one more day in this house. Why do they keep extending the date? If I don’t get out of here I’m going to lose it. I can’t do this much longer” … and on and on and on.

Every day that I wake up, I thank God for another opportunity to live this beautiful life, a privilege not all are given (there goes the Nurse in me again.) I also prepare for a mental battle, the realist vs the anxious. I prepare myself for the never ending chatter that will undoubtedly fill my mind most of the day.

I have no doubt that things will get better. We are a strong and united nation. Our country was built on resilience and has overcome every obstacle thrown its way thus far. The real question is, “How long will this quarantine last? When will life go back to normal?”

The realistic answer is, I don’t think it will go back to how it was. I believe we will come out of this situation with a new normal, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. I imagine a lot of people will have a sense of gratitude that they never had before (including me). I think that businesses will thrive, and we will be a little more inclined to help our neighbors.

I truly believe so much good will come out of this. Once the storm passes, we will see our lives in a whole new light. We’ll be thankful that we have a job to go to, that we can hug our family and friends, that we can once again plan our days as we wish.

I trust that those of us struggling with our mental health will once again restore the balance in our minds, and I pray that all of these positive predictions will come true …

But for now, today is tough.

 

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

 

Without Me.

“Tell me how’s it feel sittin’ up there, feeling so high but too far away to hold me. You know I’m the one who put you up there, name in the sky does it ever get lonely? Thinking you could live without me…” – Halsey

 

This is a letter to those who’ve hurt me, discouraged me, threw me away like a piece of trash. This is a message to those who’ve trampled on me repeatedly and made me feel like I was worthless.

This is a note to those who’ve taken advantage of my genuine soul, those who’ve ripped my heart to shreds and those who’ve kicked me while I was down. This is to you who’ve made me forget my greatness, who’ve watched me drown all while holding a life raft.

This goes out to those who’ve caused me pain and misery, who’ve brought me to my knees in tears. This is to those who’ve made me question who I am and all I have to offer.

This is for those who were disloyal, unfaithful and straight up assholes. The ones who couldn’t truly love if their lives depended on it. This is for those who’ve led me on and repeatedly gotten my hopes up.

All I have to say is … get used to life without me.

My kindness will no longer be taken for weakness. No longer will I ignore the red flags that I so often turn a blind eye to. There’s no more free passes or repeated chances to be given. You’ll have to learn to live without me.

From now on I will be strong. I’ll spread my wings and fly like the goddess that I am, and I’ll rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. I’ll doubt myself and my abilities no more. I’m never letting anyone make me feel bad about who and how I am ever again.

This I promise to you … you will miss me. You’ll miss my friendship, my love, my never ending supply of compassion. You’ll miss my forgiving heart and my ability to see past all the pain you caused me.

You’ll miss me bending over backwards to make you happy and the constant effort I put in to you. You’ll miss having someone you never had to worry about, someone who was loyal to a fault.

You’ll miss the comfort of having someone so dedicated to you by your side, someone who would’ve taken a bullet for you. You’ll begin to realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and that losing me didn’t fix the problems in your mind.

One day, you’ll realize that you destroyed and threw away the best thing you ever had, and you’ll finally see that you made the biggest mistake of your life. You’ll search and search, but you’ll never find the things I could offer you in someone else.

You’ll never find another me.

But when that day of realization comes, I won’t be there to wipe away your tears or even see your pain. I’ll be long gone, on to the next, living life to the fullest. I’ll be so wrapped up in my new life that I won’t have time to see (or care) how you’re doing without me.

I feel sorry for you. I feel so bad that you couldn’t appreciate what you had when you had it. I pity you because I know you’ll never be truly happy with yourself. You’ll forever be fighting the demons in your mind because instead of fixing them you run away.

Maybe one day you’ll realize that no one is perfect, that everyone struggles with something. Maybe you’ll see that life is better with someone in it and that you never had to face your problems all alone.

Maybe one day you’ll understand that life is a journey with twists and turns, ups and downs, but true love is worth fighting for. Maybe one day you’ll look in the mirror and see how you aren’t perfect either.

I hope one day you can understand that you placed unrealistic expectations on everyone else without holding yourself to that same standard. Maybe one day you’ll realize that you were selfish, conceited and narcissistic.

Maybe one day you’ll comprehend all of these things, but again I won’t be there. I’ll be long gone, on to bigger and better. I’ll be in the arms of someone who understands my worth and values me as a person.

I’ll be with someone who never makes me question their love or loyalty. I’ll be with someone who thinks I’m beautiful just the way I am, someone who treats me like a Queen. I’ll be with someone who never wants to live without me.

Deep down, I really wish you well. I’d be lying if I said I never cared or wanted anything but the best for you. I just hope that you find the life you always wanted … without me.

 

 

XOXO,

Someone You Could Live Without

 

 

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 Me, It’s You.

“If your heart hurts a little after letting go of someone, that’s okay. It just means that your feelings were genuine. No one likes ends. And no one likes pain. But sometimes, we have to put things that were once good to an end after they turn toxic to our wellbeing. Not every new beginning is meant to last forever. And not every person who walks into your life is meant to stay.” – Najwa Zebian

 

Everything was going so perfect, so right, and then one day everything changed as fast as a flash of lightening. What in the hell happened? What did I do wrong?

All I ever did was try to be the best person I could be, to love without fear, to let go of every lie that my anxiety constantly told me. I tried to be better, I tried to finally let down my walls.

Yet, nothing was good enough, and the end result was once again the same.

Many of us have experienced this all too real feeling of heartbreak and disappointment. Unfortunately, it seems like most of us are forced to go through it more than once in life.

Anxiety will always try to tell us that the heartbreaks and struggles in our lives were our own fault. If only we’d been better, prettier, stronger, more … anything, then this wouldn’t have happened.

It sends us down into a rabbit hole of darkness and self-doubt (a very scary place to be). Once we’ve fallen, it’s nearly impossible to find our way back out.

We spend hours, days and weeks trying to figure out how things could’ve been different. We search for every possible clue that could point us to some sort of resolution and closure for the pain we’re enduring, though we never seem to find it.

Anxiety will always make us feel like the failure in the situation no matter what, even when we had absolutely nothing to do with the decisions that others made.

All of this, in turn, results in weeks and even months of questioning our worth, criticizing ourselves and hitting rock bottom. We can’t understand what happened, and we get angry when we realize we can’t fix it.

You can’t change someone’s mind when the decision had nothing to do with you.

So instead of simply letting go, moving on and doing the whole “I know my worth” thing, we harp on every single detail of the past. We over-analyze every memory until we’ve gotten ourselves back into that dark place.

I totally understand this relentless cycle because I’ve been there many times before. Yet, today I generated a new perspective of heartbreak and negative situations.

IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU.

This is my new mantra. Screw the stupid anxious thoughts in our heads that make us put the blame on ourselves. We did absolutely nothing wrong. The way others treat us is only a reflection of themselves, not us.

If something was meant to be, it would work out without question or doubt. I don’t know about you, but I have no more time for bullshit.

Words are now merely words, it’s all about actions.

I don’t want to hear, “You’re seriously amazing, I just need to figure things out” or “you are the best thing that’s happened to me it’s just not going to work” or whatever other cheesy movie lines can be thrown at me. Forget that BS.

If someone really means the world to you, you do everything and anything to keep them.

Anyone who tries to tell you that it’s just not the right time or maybe things will work out in the future, leave them behind because they are making excuses. They’re trying to let you down easy so that they won’t have to feel so bad about breaking your heart.

I’m here to tell you that each of you are warriors. We all face invisible battles every single day, and somehow we still show up. Each day we put one foot in front of the other and make it through.

We rarely receive sympathy or understanding from others because if the world can’t physically see it, it’s as if it doesn’t exist (aka Mental Health Disorders). If only people knew the inner struggle we battle every day.

But back to my point.

Ladies and gentleman, never let someone’s decision to turn their back on you or leave you behind define you. Don’t let it send you down that dark rabbit hole like it has in the past.

The older we get and the longer we deal with a mental health disorder, the stronger we become. Have faith in yourself. Love yourself as deeply as you love others. Look in the mirror and realize that you are a diamond.

You’ve been through tough things, and yet here you are still standing. If someone can’t see your worth and all that you bring to the table then let them go. If they’re willing to release you and risk losing you forever then tell them “goodbye.”

With anxiety, when we love we love hard. When we drop down our guards, it’s a huge deal to us. When we fall, we fall completely. This is both our greatest strength and our biggest weakness.

One day that person who left you behind will realize their mistake. They’ll see that they let go of someone who understands the struggle, someone who would’ve supported them no matter what.

They’ll look back with regret of losing someone with unwavering strength, loyalty and undying love. But by that time, it’ll be too late.

Once you’ve shown an Anxious Mind your true colors their trust is forever broken. Not saying it can’t be earned back, but boy is that a tall mountain to climb.

My dear Anxious Minds, please always remember your worth. When people let you down (and unfortunately they will) never forget that the darkness is only temporary.

The sun will shine again.

You will heal, you’ll become stronger and eventually you’ll find that one person who will never turn away. You’ll find the one who will love you unconditionally and never make you doubt yourself again.

This person will hold sacred every milestone that you reach together. They’ll do everything in their power to keep you, to be your safe place from the monsters in your head and to show you a life of love that you truly deserve.

Hang in there my friends, and remember it’s not you it’s them.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Hard To Love.

“I know I’m not easy to love. I’m a chronic over-thinker, I overreact more than I should…And every once in a while, I might be a little insecure. But if I’m in love with you, I can promise you wholeheartedly that you will be loved with so much passion and intensity. That you’ll forget what life felt like before I came along. You will always be cared for, and you will always have someone in your corner. Maybe I’m not the best at being loved – But I like to think I’m pretty good at loving.”  — Chelsea Carroll

 

I’m hard to love. At the first sign of a red flag or the first glance of your fear of commitment, I’ll bolt. I don’t have time for games, not anymore.

There was a time when I was patient with love, willing to bend and mold myself to be who I was told I needed to be. I was full of insecurities because of all the late night rendezvous, lame excuses and shady behavior.

I’m hard to love, not because I want to be but because that’s the way life has made me. My DNA is woven with never-ending thoughts of worst case scenarios. What may seem like a simple conversation to you is dissected by my brain until I’ve picked apart and over-analyzed every single detail.

This is the curse of an anxious mind.

I’m hard to love. I’ve been bruised and scarred by infidelities, lies, secrets and words that cut me to the core. I’ve been the one who was blamed for their transgressions and the sad thing is I thought it was my fault.

I tried to ignore all the warning signs, just chalking it up to my over-active imagination, but come to find out my gut was completely right. Ultimately, it was me who paid the price for not listening.

Stupid girl.

If only I would’ve been better, smarter, prettier, funnier, more charming … then they wouldn’t have thrown away everything like a piece of trash (or so I thought).

I’ve laid on the floor for hours, sobbing and feeling numb to everyone and everything, unable to eat or move or breathe. My brain couldn’t comprehend the destruction that had just ripped through my life like a tornado.

I’m supposed to be smarter and stronger than that. I’m not supposed to let anyone bring me down, but I did…repeatedly. I took the pain over and over again because that’s the only kind of love I could seem to find.

I take things personally, even when they aren’t meant to be. I find fault in myself and sometimes when the going gets tough, I break down. My mind shifts to overdrive and can’t make sense of the chaos, and at that point I pull away.

I’m hard to love because the moment I feel like you’ve got one foot out the door, I’m done. One time cheating, I’m done. Unwillingness to admit fault and work on things, I’m done. Shady lies and excuses, I’m done. I think you get the point…

I now have zero tolerance for bullshit.

I know I’m not easy to love, and that’s not a challenge that everyone can or is willing to take on. It takes a lot of time and patience to love someone with a Mental Health Disorder, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t worth it.

They say to “trust the overthinker who tells you they love you because they have most assuredly thought of every reason not to.” This quote couldn’t be more true.

I may be hard to love, but when I love someone I love deep. If I truly love someone, I go full force and do everything in my power to make them happy. I’m a people pleaser, and making others happy brings me joy.

However there’s still this other side of me, the wounded side, that won’t completely let down my guard until I’m sure of someone. Unfortunately, I haven’t been sure of anyone in a long time, and during those years my wall has grown taller and nearly impenetrable.

Now, I’m not sure if anyone can tear it down.

I know it may not seem fair to be so unforgiving when it comes to finding love, but you can thank the world for that. You can thank all the losers who have done nothing but prove my point time and time again.

I’m hard to love. I make no excuses for this fact, and I know I’m far from perfect. I’ve made mistakes and let people down. I’ve had one foot out the door and been unable to let my guard down before.

But what do you expect when all you’ve found in your attempts at love is heartache and misery?

I’m hard to love, but there are reasons. I’ve learned to be my own knight in shining armor, to never depend on anyone else and to not be trusting of others. I’ve removed all the gullibility I once possessed and replaced it with unrelenting strength.

There’s nothing wrong with being hard to love because ultimately we have to be our own savior, our own warrior. We have to love ourselves before we can ever truly love someone else.

We have to work past our demons and decide that we’re ready to truly give someone a chance. We have to be open to change and willing to slowly surrender ourselves to that person, all while bringing down that wall.

So be hard to love and wait for the right one who will tear down your walls, erase all your fears and prove your past experiences wrong. Be strong, be you and be patient. The right one will be worth the wait.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

 

Today Is Hard.

“It is the hard days, the days that challenge you to your very core that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”  – Sheryl Sandberg

 

Today is hard. I’ve yet again had another door slammed in my face, another rejection that’s left me lost and confused.

I keep trying and holding my head up high, but the weight of disappointment is quickly dragging me down. I feel stuck in a pit of sinking sand that I can’t seem to escape.

I haven’t quite figured out the magic formula that will lift me out of these hardships, probably because in the back of my mind I know it doesn’t exist.

There is no magic cure for Mental Health Disorders, and honestly that pisses me off.

It doesn’t matter how many books I read, how many times I meditate or how many journal entries I write, my anxiety is always there. It’s always just waiting for the smallest of openings to creep back in.

Today is hard. I found myself struggling to merely get out of bed, and unfortunately this happens more that I’d like to admit. I have so many amazing things and people to live for and so much to do in this life.

Why does every morning have to be a struggle?

I numb my mind, my anxious thoughts, with TV or unimportant tasks just trying to not think about the judgements lingering in my head. I let my passions suffer because I’m too damn tired to fight the monsters in my mind.

The worst part of dealing with a Mental Health Disorder is that even when you have weeks or even months of good, you always know that the bad times are just up ahead.

You never know when they’ll strike, but trust me they’re there.

Today is hard. I feel like screaming and shouting at the top of my lungs merely to find relief from these feelings I’m holding inside, but I know that I have to keep it together. I don’t want to worry the ones I love and frankly I don’t want to let my anxiety win.

So instead of screaming and having a complete meltdown, I write this blog entry. I let my words speak for themselves so I can clear at least a fraction of my mind, so that I can maybe find some sanity.

It feels good to release all of these lingering doubts, fears and negative emotions, even if only for a while. It won’t be long until my mind is once again filled to the brim with worry, but for now I’ll cherish the peace and quiet.

Today was supposed to be a new start, a fresh beginning. I was hoping for positive news and an end to the mental suffering I’d been experiencing. Yet before I could even get out of bed, I received the complete opposite news.

It sucks, it really sucks to have such a hopeful, positive outlook. It sucks to think, this is the day when it all changes, when I break the chains that have been recently holding me down only to find out that my hope was naive.

Negative self talk immediately creeps in and again I find myself in a hole that I’d just escaped.

Each time I’m knocked down it makes me lose hope that things will ever change. It takes away the excitement of new opportunities because, what I’ve seen from the past few years is that excitement only leads to disappointment.

And once again I’m lost, looking for the next opportunity but not even sure of what I’m hoping to find.

All these doubts start to creep in and cloud my judgement. They make me take ten steps back in my progression towards mastering my anxiety, and suddenly I’m left to pick up all the pieces by myself yet again.

Today is hard. It’s hard because I constantly battle with the angel and devil on my shoulders. I know I shouldn’t let these refusals get to me. I know what I have to offer to the world, and it’s damn good.

I know I should push forward and take some of my own advice that I so freely give to others. However, I’ve experienced more rejection in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years, and I’m finding it really hard to deal.

I always say when the time is right, things will work out the way they’re meant to, and I truly believe that. The angel on my shoulder reminds me that I live a wonderfully blessed life, and I have so much to be thankful for.

However, the angel is meek, quiet and subtle. The devil on my other shoulder screams lies and insecurities to me, reminding me of my doubts and failures. He’s like a loud yet invisible sound that I find hard to ignore.

Eventually his words creep in my head and I’m left to deal with anxiety on top of anxiety. I wish he would just SHUT UP.

Today is hard. I’ve got self love and self hate, strength and weakness, doubts and reassurances all going through my head at the same time.

Welcome to life with anxiety.

Although this post seems like a negative narrative, it’s really not. By putting these words on paper I’m able to sort through these clashing thoughts. I’m able to think through the truths and the lies one by one.

Ultimately, my goal of each post is to show the true battle of Mental Health Disorders, to give you an real view of what happens inside an anxious mind.

We all have a devil and an angel. We all experience hard and good days, and in the end we’ve survived 100% of the bad ones. So never let that devil win, never let him take away that beautiful person that you are.

Listen for the quiet reassurances of the angel, and know that even though today is hard it’s not impossible. We will survive together.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

 

Life Through The Eyes Of A Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

“They ride tricycles in the hallway, not in the park. They know the names of treatments instead of their classmates. Their central lines have names. Nurses and doctors are their new family. They think hair is overrated. Their laughter can make a heart melt. Their strength will make a grown person cry. If you have ever seen a child fight cancer, it will change your life forever!”

 

My alarm goes off at 5:10am, and I slowly drag myself out of bed. It’s time for another day of work at the hardest job I’ll ever love because I’m a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

As soon as I’m up and around, my mind is filled with anxiety. I’ve had a few days off of work so I’m not sure how the unit has been lately. I start to worry that I’ll have a terribly hard assignment or that I’ll end up losing one of my favorite patients.

Still, I push through the worry and get ready to go.

On the drive to the Children’s Hospital I listen to my favorite Christian radio station, trying to get some motivation and encouragement for what is undoubtedly going to be a tough day.

There’s never an easy day as a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I pull up to the hospital, and my anxiety starts to quickly climb. I park my car in my favorite parking spot, grab my bag and head inside. I walk to the other side of the hospital, and as I start to near my unit my fear reaches an uncomfortable level as I wonder what assignment I’ve been given today.

I’m scared that I’ll be taking care of the dying child or maybe even the difficult family. Will I get the kid who needs 5 chemo’s or the 3 year old patient who hates me and everyone around?

I start to wonder if I’ll be taking caring for one of my favorite patients or get a newly diagnosed patient. Will I have the uncooperative teenager who wants nothing to do with me or the family who frequently reassures me that I’m a great Nurse?

I think all of these things before it’s even 7am.

My heart races as I get report from the night nurse who’s obviously had a rough night. I find out there’s 2 end of life patients on the floor that could pass at any minute and 2 newly diagnosed patients whose families have a million questions (rightfully so).

You see, most people have this preconceived notion that, as nurses, we simply give meds and take vital signs. They have no clue what life looks like through our eyes, the eyes of a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I say “Pediatric CANCER Nurse” instead of Oncology because it makes it more real. Oncology is an elaborate way of saying the dreaded “C” word, the word that no one wants to hear.

I can only image that hearing “your child has cancer” is like stabbing someone with a knife and twisting it.

You see, the families and patients are the ones directly affected. Their lives are forever changed by those few short words. Parents bring their child to the hospital for a nosebleed only to find out that they have Leukemia.

Everything around them quickly changes, and they’re brought to the Hematology/Oncology unit where they’re given an enormous amount of information all while trying to process this life-altering news.

It has to be scary, overwhelming and painful to say the least.

And while the families and patients are the ones most affected, no one ever hears the experience from the Nurse’s point of view … until now.

You see, when a patient and family come in for the first time I’m terrified. I wonder if the family will like me, if we will get along or if the child will approve of me. I question if I’ll be able to help them process this terrifying news or if they’ll even let me in.

I become so attached to my patients that I can’t even explain the love I have for each of them. I would do anything to make them smile or to make them happy for even a mere second.

I’ve been a part of brutal nerf gun wars between patients and the nurses. I’ve pretended to be a princess, power ranger, dinosaur and race car driver. I’ve gotten down on all fours to play with my patients and let them squirt me with saline syringes just to get them to take their medications.

I’ve held patients as I rocked them to sleep, rubbed their backs when they were hurting and talked for hours on end about absolutely nothing at all. I’ve cried so many tears and shared so many laughs with them that I’ve lost count.

I’ve watched patients break out of the Bone Marrow Transplant unit and attended parties to celebrate the smallest of accomplishments. There’s no small wins in Pediatric Cancer.

I’ve seen the strongest children imaginable fighting a terrifying disease without any fear or worry. I’ve watched their hair fall out and their little bald heads emerge, and I’ve reassured them that bald is beautiful.

I’ve seen kids who were never supposed to make it beat the odds like it was nothing. Their courage constantly motivates and inspires me. If I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is see their face and instantly I am okay.

I’ve also watched patients dwindle away to nothing and held their hands as they slowly drifted off to a final sleep. I’ve sang songs to patients with tears streaming down my face as I watched them take their last breath.

I’ve held it together as I completed postmortem care and completely broke down when I got to my car. Somehow I learned to keep it all inside until I was alone, and then the floodgates break.

I’ve cried with families and hugged them for hours on end, just letting them know I was there. I’ve attended too many funerals and spoke of my favorite memories of past patients with my co-workers and families.

You see, being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse has changed me forever. It has shown me that life truly is short and that time is precious. It has reminded me that things can always be worse and that life is beautiful.

I started to see life through a totally different perspective, and I still carry each patient that I lost with me in my heart. I can tell you every name of every patient I’ve been close to. I can remember how they took their meds, their favorite TV show and what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse opened my eyes to the big picture in life. As I watch my patients battle a tough opponent without fear, I am constantly reminded to be strong, resilient and unwavering in my faith.

As Pediatric Cancer Nurses we love hard, we celebrate big and we try our best to bring a glimmer of light in some of the darkest times. It’s a privilege to be able to do what we do, to hold the hand of a dying child and to celebrate the victory of another.

We comfort the grieving and celebrate the ones who beat the odds. We remember those whom we’ve lost, and we look forward to visits from those who are now cancer free.

I’m forever grateful for the perspective I was given by choosing Pediatric Cancer Nurse as a career. No one will ever understand how or why we do what we do, and that’s okay. It’s not meant for anyone else to comprehend.

This job is a calling, these patients are unforgettable, these families are remarkable and these memories are ones that I will cherish forever.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋 

 

 

** September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood Cancer only receives 4% of the national budget from the National Cancer Institute. Our kids deserve MORE. This month be sure to #GoGold for Childhood Cancer Awareness and spread the word. Check out http://www.EraseKidCancer.org for more ways you can help! **

 

 

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💋

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 Shantell💋