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

 

 

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 💋

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 đź’‹

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 Shantellđź’‹

 

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’‹

Comfort In The Panic.

“I don’t like my mind right now, stacking up problems that are so unnecessary. Wish that I could slow things down, I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic…” – Chester Bennington 

 

Silence, a sought after treasure that’s rarely found in our world today. Our world seems to be filled with so much chaos that moments of silence are priceless. I guess that’s why they say, “silence is golden.”

However, when living with a Mental Health Disorder, silence can feel deadly. I don’t want to listen to my thoughts, the never ending battle that’s constantly raging in my head.

I’m a casualty of an invisible war that no one sees and few understand.

Some may wonder how panic can bring a sense of peace. Heck, I myself question that statement every day. I long for serenity yet when I get it, it terrifies me.

If you personally know me, you know that I constantly have some sort of music playing and that I have to fall asleep with my TV on. My thoughts, no matter what time of day, become almost unbearable when they aren’t being stifled by some sort of noise.

When I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and the 10 years that followed), I couldn’t muster up the courage to confront my anxious thoughts. They were overwhelming, terrifying and insufferable.

It took me many years of hard work and therapy to confront those dreaded monsters in my head. How can mere thoughts hold so much power?

That’s the unexplainable part of Mental Health Disorders such as Anxiety. I can’t explain it fully. I can only type out my thoughts on this page in hopes that it will give people even a fraction of understanding.

Panic is defined as “uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.” How ironic it is that I often feel more comfort in such chaos than in stillness.

Anxiety is a twisted, vicious disorder.

I think the most relevant reason that Mental Health Survivors, like myself, thrive in panic is because it becomes the norm. I constantly hear the thoughts in my head, and this is my daily reality.

I think that in some ways I create my own chaos which fuels my anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle that I can’t seem to escape. I constantly push myself to do more, be more, achieve more, and ultimately that pressure turns into uncontrollable anxiety.

In my mind, if I’m not achieving something I’m useless. Don’t ask my why my brain is wired that way because I have no clue. The need to do, to accomplish, fuels my reason for existence. It gives me purpose.

The fact that I thrive in a panic-driven environment only causes my surroundings to become more chaotic. Eventually, I’m neck deep in madness that starts to suffocate me. I cry and I question, “why can’t I just feel normal?”

I’ll never understand how a Type A, OCD person (myself) can even function in such an environment. The frustration of dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is something that, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to fully explain.

Anxiety Disorder is living with a set of constant oxymorons. I’m anxious so I need quiet, but the quiet makes my anxiety worse. I long for calm, but I desire chaos. I want to find my special person, but I also need to deal with this alone.

I want someone to comfort me, but I want no one around. I need order and structure, but my mind is a constant mess. I can get through this, but I don’t know how I’m going to live the rest of my life dealing with this.

I’m sure you can see what I mean by frustrating.

Even though life with Anxiety can seem overwhelming and unbearable, I constantly find a strength inside of me to go on. I look around at my family and friends, and they bring me calm in my panic.

There has never been a day where I’ve thought about giving up, but I know some can’t say the same. I understand the suffering that accompanies a Mental Health Disorder and the shame that comes with it.

There is still a stigma associated with Mental Illness, and I’ll never understand why. The world wonders why people don’t seek help, but it’s because of the labels that come with reaching out.

They wonder why we continue to live in our panic, our chaotic surroundings, yet never have the courage to talk about such controversial issues. I refuse to let society label me in a negative way. I refuse to sit back and not use my voice.

People fear what they don’t understand, and Mental Health is unfortunately still extremely misunderstood.

So if, like me, you have a messy mind, remember that it’s okay to thrive in panic. It’s okay to live your life how you’re able to manage it. If chaos brings you serenity then let your life be a crazy masterpiece.

The more I’ve explored my Anxiety, the more I’ve come to learn about myself and what works for me. Sometimes that means chaos, and sometimes (rarely) it means silence.

There’s no manual for this thing called life, and there sure as heck isn’t a manual for living with a Mental Health Illness. Never let anyone make you feel bad because of the things that make you, you.

Find your comfort in the panic, and be proud of your unexplainable, beautiful, messy mind. The most chaotic thoughts often create the most amazing things.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

 

 

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! **

 

 

SomeOne. SomeDay. SomeHow.

“One day someone will walk into your life and get it right where everyone else got it wrong. One day you won’t have to wait for a call or a text back. One day you won’t be the only one giving your all …” – Anonymous

 

They say that someone, someday, somehow will come into our lives and change us forever. We’re told that everyone has a special someone, a soulmate with whom they spend their lives. Supposedly this person is predestined.

We’re told that someday things will all start to make sense. That all of our pain and heartache, laughter and tears will finally reveal their purpose.

While I can’t wait for this day, I also have doubts about the accuracy of these stories, unfortunate doubts that this evil world has put in my head.

Can someone really change your life to that capacity?

You see part of living with anxiety is being impatient, doubtful and unable to totally deal with the ebb and flow of life. We’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We find it hard to get excited about people or things because most of the time people only let us down. We battle with our constant highs and lows so often that most times we feel like we’re riding a damn roller coaster.

This is a mere glimpse into the surface an anxious mind and heart.

They say one day we’ll discover the meaning of our journey and that all of God’s plans will be revealed to us. We’ll finally understand why we had to go through all our trials and tribulations.

In a way that terrifies me. What if I don’t like the answer? What if God’s plan isn’t what I envision for my life? Despite the anxiety that comes along with discovering such an enormous truth, I wish that day could be today and that time could be now.

Honestly, I’m starting to run low on faith.

I’ve heard it said that someday you’ll find the love of your life, that special someone that makes you feel complete. In movies we see it portrayed as fireworks and ooey gooey romance.

I know that’s not reality, but just finding that someone has to bring a level of comfort and bliss.

I have a really back and forth mindset about love. Somedays I want it more than anything else. I truly want to find that one person that’ll be in my corner and have my back no matter what.

I long to find that someone who will love me for exactly who I am without judgement or expectation. I want to explore the world with them, plan my dream wedding and eventually have a family.

I often find myself fantasizing about these magical moments, but then reality hits and I can’t even imagine ever finding my person.

It also doesn’t help that I’ve never had a stable, healthy relationship so I’m not sure I’m going to know what to do when I find the one. I’m hoping there’s truth to the “you’ll know when you know” saying.

I guess you could say fear of the unknown goes hand in hand with anxiety. We’re doers, planners, list makers … we don’t like things being out of our control. However, this is one aspect of my life that I’m powerless, and I hate that feeling.

I feel like I’ve been let down so many times in love that each time a fragment of my heart (and hope) is chipped away. I fight hard not to let myself fall for someone, but in the end I always fail.

My heart only has two settings: love completely or not at all. Because of this, I find myself picking up the pieces of my heart over and over again.

I want nothing more than to find that someone that will someday and somehow come into my life and unexpectedly sweep me off my feet. I yearn for the day when I can love full force without risk of tragic heartache.

I just wish someone could prove to me that this fairytale love truly exists.

To top it all off, society makes us feel like we should be married and having children in our early 20’s. If you aren’t in a relationship people start to wonder what’s wrong with you. They question why you’re single.

This is so frustrating to me. I’m a human with feelings, hopes and dreams. Do you think I want to be single? Do you think I like being alone? Yet the questions never seem to end, and after a while you also begin to think something’s wrong with you.

I’ve had to dig myself out of this self-doubt hole a time or two. It took me years of therapy and inner work to realize that I’m worthy of true love and that I have a right to wait for the man of my dreams.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being picky.

If anything waiting for that someone protects my heart from being shattered yet again. It shields my emotions and strengthens my independence. I’ll never need a man, and that my friends is power.

I feel as if love is just another roller coaster in my life, full of ups, downs, twists and turns. However, this is one instance where my anxiety has been an asset to me. You see, roller coasters no longer scare me for they’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

With the highs, lows, loops and adrenaline comes adventure and thrill. While my anxiety doesn’t exactly love the excitement and stimulation, the rush reminds me that I’m alive. It reminds me that I have so much to life left to live.

So I’ll continue on the unpredictable ride of life until my someone makes it to me someday, somehow.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹