Mind Over Matter

So, I haven’t written on here in forever but I would really like to start actually blogging. Problem is, everything I actually want to write about is usually so personal that I write it in my journal instead. This issue, however, is something I feel I should share. I know it’s something that I would be interested in reading about, so hopefully someone else out there will feel the same.

Let’s start from the beginning. About five years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks, and put on Zoloft daily to help. After a few days on the meds I was having intense heart palpitations and severe night sweats. I was sleeping on the couch a lot of nights, as I was waking up soaking wet at all hours. I eventually decided that it just wasn’t worth it and stopped taking the medication.

Cut to two years later; I’m depressed, suicidal, having such bad panic attacks that I’m blacking out, and I haven’t said a word to anyone. Talking about my feelings hasn’t ever been my forte, and I only closed in on myself more after my mom died. My saving grace is that I got stupid drunk one night and confessed it all to my best friend. A few days later I’m in her car on the way to the mental health ER with her making me promise that I’ll be honest with the doctors so that they can help me. That day I was diagnosed with clinical depression and told that I will most likely deal with it in some way for the rest of my life. I was then put on Citalopram (generic Celexa), daily.

I won’t say that the medicine was a miracle drug, I won’t say that I felt 100% better, but I will say that it made it bearable. Any thoughts of suicide were gone, and I wasn’t crying at the drop of a hat, or having panic attacks at all. I still had ups and downs, but they weren’t as extreme. And for the time being, that was what I needed. I needed time to work through everything I had experienced, and everything that I was feeling without being bombarded by mental chaos all the time.

It’s now been about three years I’ve been on the medicine. I’ve tried to stop taking it a couple times, and usually after a week or so the panic attacks come back full force. But it was never in my plan to be on medicine the rest of my life. That plan may not work out, and that’s okay, but I feel like I have to try to cope without it. I love that it dulls the bad emotions sometimes, but I can’t stand that it dulls the good ones too. I can still feel happy, but just a little lower on the spectrum of happiness than I could reach before. One of my favorite things in the world before the meds was sad music. It doesn’t always make me feel sad, it just makes me feel something so intense and deep, and that’s something I haven’t been able to feel when I’ve been medicated. I can’t write well on the meds. My writing has been very matter-of-fact and lacking the emotion that used to make it special, and therefore making it much less cathartic for me.

I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been off my medicine at this point. I know it’s somewhere around 6 or 7 weeks. I haven’t had a panic attack. I haven’t cried all night or felt suicidal. What I am starting to feel is whole. I’m starting to feel a depth of emotion that I haven’t felt in years. I never made a conscious decision to stop my meds. I just kept forgetting to take them, and then I realized it had been over a week, so I thought I should just wait and see how I feel.

Last night I made a playlist of all of the songs that used to make me feel so much, and I’m loving listening to it as I write. Today I found pictures that I haven’t seen since my mom’s memorial service, and as I looked at them I felt so much that I thought I might explode. It feels amazing.

I’m well aware that there’s always the possibility of my mind turning on me again. What’s different this time is that I’m in a better place. I’ve grieved, I’ve accepted what’s happened in my past, and I’ve made a new life for myself in a place that I love. I feel confident that if I start feeling bad again, I know how to reach out to the people I love and ask for help.

Right now, all I feel is excited for this new chapter.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Last week I found myself texting my friend Abby “I really don’t have my life together. I’ve done nothing lately but go to work and lay in bed watching Gossip Girl.” She of course told me that my life is fine and maybe I just need some rest. But when I eventually realized just how close Christmas Day is looming, I knew precisely the reason for my decreased social drive and fatigue. My body knew I was depressed before my mind could even register it. It’s a funny thing. I didn’t even realize that Christmas is next week. Or that it was making me sad. Cut to 2 nights later, I’m up all night long crying and wondering where the time has gone and missing my family members with whom I may no longer share holidays.

I was just telling a friend recently that I’ve reached a point where I can say I’m the happiest I’ve been in years. I feel good most of the time, my attitude is positive, I no longer feel as though I have that dark cloud over my head all the time. That’s all true, but the crappy thing about depression is that it doesn’t care whether or not you’re doing well. It loves to creep up and blindside its victims. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love decorating my house, picking out the biggest tree I can fit inside, watching Christmas movies, the music, the family get-togethers, all of it. Unfortunately, it’s also the most bitter-sweet time of year for me. No matter how amazing it is, no matter how excited I get about it, I can’t ignore the fact that the reason I love this holiday so much is because of my mom and my great-grandmother, and they aren’t here. It’s always in the back of my mind. And so many mixed emotions are exhausting. From Christmas to February there is a noticeable change in pretty much every aspect of my life. First Christmas, then my birthday, and then my mom’s birthday. I either throw myself into work and my social life, or I withdraw from it all. This year I’ve taken the more anti-social route and spent a lot of quality time with Netflix and my pillow. Thankfully, I’ve reached a point where I no longer beat myself up about it. I accept that this is just my state of mind right now, I tell myself I’m not going to let it ruin anything for me and that it will pass, and I go make a bag of popcorn and continue on to the next episode of Gossip Girl.

So to anyone feeling down, sad, or outright miserable,you are not alone. It does gets easier. It is OKAY to feel this way. Just take a step back and understand that nothing lasts forever, not even this. Know that you are loved. Embrace the way you’re feeling, accept it for what it is, and then keep living your life. Lean on your loved ones, treasure what you do have and forget about what you don’t for a little while.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a lovely new year.

Let It Be

Tonight has been tough. I was in a great mood all day. I spent the day with a girlfriend searching for our new apartment, I had a great night at work, and then I came home to my sweet puppy. But then I found myself feeling down. This happens to me a lot. After I’m happy for an extended amount of time, I find myself feeling down all of a sudden. Usually there’s no trigger, it just hits me. It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost comforting. It’s like…I can’t count on a lot of things, but I can always count on sorrow to come around some time or other.

Sadness is something I’ve dealt with a lot, and I feel like I’ve finally learned to just sit with it, to let it be, and to let it teach me. I think most of us look at it as a very negative emotion. We hide it, we don’t talk about it (at least not honestly), and there is a lot of stigma associated with depression. But I do my best thinking, my best writing, and my best reminiscing when I’m down. I appreciate my life and the blessings I have because of the sadness I’ve experienced. I think it is a key part of life, and the most important factor in understanding the human experience. I used to hate my depression. I fought it, I tried to medicate it, ignore it, but I can no more ignore it than I can ignore that I am alive. Now I welcome it in, let it be, and let it go. And I’ve found that in doing so, it comes around less often. I know that no ones experience with depression is the same as anothers, but in my case I have found what works for me most of the time.

My mom always repeated the words “This Too Shall Pass.” It was somewhat of a mantra for her, and has also become my own. To me it means that whatever happens is going to happen, a lot of times there is nothing we can do about it, and we must remember that eventually we will find our way past it. For me, that is the main thing that helps me through a panic attack; remembering that it is only temporary.

Speaking of my mom, tonight I pulled out a box where I keep a lot of her letters to me. I’m very lucky that she was a writer and loved to write me cards and notes and letters. I find them all the time. But I have a few very special ones locked away that I don’t really ever read. Tonight I just felt like I needed to see her writing, hear her words in my mind, and hopefully I could draw some comfort from them. And I was right. I want to share a bit of the letter she wrote me on the day of my high school graduation.

“As you end one chapter in your life and begin another always remember to work hard for what you want and treat people well along the way. I believe those two things are key to a successful, happy life. Do what you love and always love others.”

If any piece of her letters could describe her accurately, that would be it. She loved everyone so wholeheartedly, and yet she was also sad, just like me. I think it’s impossible to love everyone so much and not be sad. The world is a sad place, bad things happen to good people all the time and it can be disheartening. The thing that gets me through is focusing on what I believe to be our purpose here; to love one another. Any time I think of my mom, the thing I think of first is love. Her love for others, her love for me and my brothers, and that is exactly how I want to be remembered when I’m gone. I can’t think of a more beautiful legacy to leave behind. It makes me so happy to know that she is remembered that way, not only by me but of tons of people who knew her.

And just like that, I’m smiling again.

 

Tough Times Never Felt So Good

Hello all! Hope everyone is doing well! Just wanted to check in and share some of my life. Things have been pretty good in the grand scheme of things. Not long ago, I realized that I was entirely too focused on surviving and keeping my head above water instead of living and remembering how much I love to swim! So I’ve been trying to embrace a more positive attitude, instead of focusing so much on the things that are negative or difficult.

So, this past weekend I went to Boone to see one of my favorite people in the world (who happens to live in one of my favorite places in the world). It was much-needed escape from the city and all of the stresses that come along with living in it. Luckily, the forecast for rain all weekend was incorrect, so not only did we get to party, but we also got to do some hiking and see some beautiful sights. On my second night there my sweet boyfriend and friends came up and made a wonderful weekend even better! I have felt so refreshed this week afterwards, and am so thankful for all of the amazing people in my life!

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I also recently have been getting to see my little brothers a little more. Any time I can get with them is so precious to me, and I wish I had more of it. Hopefully when they’re out of school this summer we can spend a lot more time together. But for now, I take what I can get and love it!

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As for work, it’s slow. And frustrating. I work so hard for what seems like so little. But I have made new friends which I so badly needed here, and I’m keeping my sights set on finding something full-time and more sustaining. I just keep trying, and praying, and hopefully something amazing will come my way soon.

 

I also want to share with you all my new favorite movie ever. I could watch it every single day, and I’m slowly making everyone I know watch it with me. If you haven’t seen About Time, you need to check it out. Now. It’s a beautiful reminder of what’s really important in life, and looking at Rachel Mcadams’ beautiful face never gets old.

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Love to you all!

 

Get it together, Navey!

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty down on myself. I’ve been actively job hunting for months with absolutely no luck. I started criticizing myself endlessly, and as a result I started feeling like a failure. Then, something clicked. I’m not a failure. I’m out on my own, in the city I’ve been talking about living in since high school. I have my own apartment, (with roommates of course), my own car, I pay my own bills and I’m (mostly) happy. I’m stressed, but I’m happy. I only get down on myself when I start thinking about what everyone else thinks. I’m so tired of people measuring my life up to their own timeline. My life is just that, mine. I don’t have to do things on anyone else’s schedule. It’s okay that I’m still figuring things out. I’m still working in a restaurant. I’m still not married. I haven’t gotten my bachelor’s degree yet. And that is OKAY. My life has progressed a lot differently than everyone else I know, so it’s no surprise that I’m in a different place in life. I have to remember to measure my life against my own standards and not those of others. Yes, I still work in a restaurant, which means I have tons of experience and knowledge about the industry which will come in handy when I own my own place someday. No, I’m not married, I have thoroughly enjoyed my twenties. I don’t see any reason to rush into a decision that I will be stuck with the rest of my life. I want that decision to be the right one, and that takes time. No, I don’t have a bachelors degree, but I do have an associates, which is more than I thought I could do at that time in my life, and I’m proud of it. I’ll get where I need to be eventually. In the end, I’m the person who needs to be most proud of me and my accomplishments. My relationships with my family and my friends are probably the best they’ve ever been. My relationship with myself is the best it’s ever been. My anxiety is manageable without medication, and that is a huge accomplishment that I’ve worked hard to achieve. Sometimes I just have to sit back and remind myself that it’s okay. I’m okay. I just need to keep working hard and moving forward. Just take a deep breath and believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

 

Also, I wanted to share a site I found for prayer. I’ve also been working on my spiritual life, and it helps to know that others are praying for me. If you need someone to pray for you, or would like to pray for others, this site http://spiritinspiration.org/prayers/ is wonderful. You can submit your request anonymously and you will receive an email every time someone says a prayer for you. If nothing else, it can help lift your spirits a little.

Every Day’s a Lifetime Without You

Tomorrow, (well, tonight really), would have been my mom’s 42nd birthday. It’s the third one I’ve spent without her. Overall, I’m doing much better. Lately, I’m the best I’ve been in years. My struggle with depression and anxiety has lessened, and I’ve been in a really good place. Then, this date comes around and the panic attacks come back, and I fall into “the pit.” I know it’s just a day. Just like any other day. But to me, it’s a day that I should be spending at home with her and my little brothers. It’s a day when I should get to hug her, and see her smile, and hear that loud laugh of hers. But instead, I now spend that day grieving for all of the lost years. I try to think about all the wonderful memories that I have with her, but instead I can’t stop thinking about the ones that I’ll never get to make.

I won’t say that it hasn’t gotten better. The pain does eventually fade a little, and it gets easier. But it’s still the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this loss, and I can see that for some reason this was God’s plan for my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t spend a lot of time asking WHY. I do ask that, all the time. I’m hoping that one day I’ll have an answer. As for now, I just take it one day at a time, and count my many blessings.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, hug your loved ones while you can. Make them feel loved. Say what you need to say. Don’t waste time being mad at each other over stupid things that won’t matter in a year, or a month, or an hour. If I could get back all the minutes with her that were wasted, we’d have another lifetime together.

Be Here Now.

I can’t sleep. Ever. I think too much. So last night while I was busy thinking and not sleeping, I was thinking about how excited I am for this year. I have a new job, a new apartment, many new friends, a new book club, a new man in my life, and I’m closer with my family than ever. So many things to look forward to. I’m trying to this new grown-up thing where I like to keep my private life private, but I do want to brag on my guy for a second. So far, this is the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in, and I am crazy-happy. I keep thinking of all the new things we get to do together. I also have my best friend back after a long hiatus, and I’m insanely happy about that and I can’t wait for us to travel the world together. And thinking of that made me realize something. I’m no longer living in the past. I’ve lost so many people in my life over the last 5 years. Not only to death, but to growing apart, breaking up, moving away, etc. So I’ve spent a lot of time grieving, living inside the memories I have, and wondering what all new ones I’m missing out on. For years, I’ve lived more inside my own head than in my current life. Now, all I can think about is the future and how great it’s going to be. That’s a really refreshing realization. So my New Years Resolution is to keep this healthy mindset, nourish myself and my relationships, and really live in the moment.

Hello Again!

I really stink at keeping up with this blog, but I swear I’m going to try to be better.

Just a quick update for y’all. I FINALLY moved to Charlotte! Well, Pineville really. And I love it!! I’m 2 minutes from my Aunt and Uncle, 2 minutes from my best friend, and I have 2 amazing roommates. I’ve made so many wonderful friends up here, and I couldn’t be happier. I really feel like I’m in a good place.

I’ve cooked some awesome food lately, so don’t worry. The recipes will be back very soon when I can calm my ADD enough to sit down and work on some more posts, and as soon as I can put down all these books I’m reading! I love getting into a good book phase. I stopped reading for a while, but now I’m back in the groove and loving it.

I just finished book 1 of the Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones.

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If you’re like me, and enjoy a good teen vampire, otherworldly suspense type novel, check this one out. I couldn’t put it down! I’m so glad that there are 4 more for me to read!

Next up, I recently bought The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass. Considering my camp kids all called/still call me Sassy, this book seemed pretty appropriate.

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Finally, Mandy Hale tackles the notion that girls should be married by their mid-twenties, and she does so with humor. Although I’ve found it a little cheesy, it’s nice to feel like there are plenty of other girls like me out there who want to enjoy their twenties, and who aren’t interested in settling down until it’s absolutely right.

My next choice is called The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.

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I’ve have heard about this book non stop on Tumblr lately. And every single thing I’ve heard has been incredibly positive. Well, some are more “I hate this book for making me bawl my eyes out, but I’m going to read it again everyday.” Which is exactly my style. I’m just starting it this evening, so I’m terribly excited to see what I’m getting myself into.

Now I’m off to watch some football with the cousin, and then I’ve got a weekend full of fun planned 🙂 ❤

If you have ever, or will ever go out to eat, read this.

Hello again! I really stink at keeping up with this blog. But I thought of a post that really needs to be made, so here I am. This past week has literally been one of my worst (money wise) as a server. LEARN HOW TO TIP/ACT AT A RESTAURANT, PEOPLE.

1. Tipping. A standard tips these days is SUPPOSED to be 18-20%. If your server was good, and the food was good, that’s what you should tip them. If your server was good, and the food sucked…you should still tip 15-20%, because 99% of the time, the food quality is not the servers fault. If your server was AMAZING, and the food was AMAZING, feel free to tip more than 20%. No server I know would ever have a problem with that. If your server wasn’t good, you should still tip them. Maybe not as much as you would have, but we are people too. We have bad days just like everyone else. We have days where we feel like crap, just like everyone else. We have days we really don’t want to talk to anyone, just like everyone else. The only difference is, our job is to talk to people, and act cheerful, and put up with other people’s crap all day. We’re supposed to act not only as waiters, but as babysitters, maids, therapists, eye candy, stand up comedians, and remember a thousand things all at once. Some days we aren’t on our A-game. It happens. Unless your server is purposefully doing a horrible job, you should still tip them. Tips are what we live off of. Servers make less than $2 an hour. And sick days? HA! The majority of the time, servers don’t call in sick. Unless there’s a high risk that we will make a customer sick, we come to work, because if we don’t, we don’t make any money that day.

Another thing, if you are at a restaurant that is completely packed, with a 45 minute wait to get a table, people are standing around everywhere, and the servers are going full-speed, chances are your server is extremely busy. Cut them some slack. Understand that you are not their only table. Be polite. If you’re just drinking alcohol, you still need to tip! I had a table that ordered $180 worth of drinks recently, and tipped me $10. Not only is that a 5% tip…that is a 5% tip on a difficult check. I had to fight my way through the big crowd to get the order, fight my way back to the bar, and then manage to get 5+ drinks at a time back through the crowd without spilling them. I had to do this at least 4 times, and I got a 5% tip for it. All this, when I could have been taking care of other tables that actually would have tipped decently. If you have that much money to spend on alcohol, you need to have the money to tip, or don’t go out. Period.

That being said…here are some real life examples.

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^Doing it right. This is a little more than 20%, and a nice comment never hurts. 🙂 We love to hear good feedback from our customers.

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^Wrong. 12%…If you have %40 to spend on dinner and drinks, you should have at least $8 to add as a tip.

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^”Keep the change” -_-

 

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^My personal favorite…Merry Christmas! Along with a terrible tip. Don’t be that guy.

2. Etiquette. If you come in with your child, and that child makes a HUGE mess and screams the whole time, TIP EXTRA OR CLEAN IT UP YOURSELF. If you finish eating, don’t order anymore drinks and sit at my table for 3 more hours talking, TIP EXTRA. Say please and thank you. Do NOT snap your fingers or shake your empty glass at me. Don’t blatantly hit on your server, or ask her to sit on your lap unless you are at a strip club. If you leave your number on your credit card slip because your server is cute, you’d better make sure you leave a big tip or you DEFINITELY aren’t getting a call. Don’t seat yourself unless there’s a sign that tells you to do so. Don’t assume that bar tables are first come, first serve. Don’t fight! Don’t trash the bathroom. Don’t treat your server like crap because you think you’re better than them. I could go on and on about this for hours. People are so incredibly rude sometimes. Being a server can really make you hate people. And honestly, it makes you realize that stereotypes are there for a reason. 99% of the time, we can pinpoint who’s going to tip and who isn’t…and we REMEMBER that. We also remember if you’re super annoying. If you come in and are rude, and leave a huge mess, and tip terribly, chances are you won’t get great service the next time you come in, because we will point you out to everyone we work with. If you come in and tip well and are nice and wonderful, we will also point you out. And we will probably remember what you drink and that you like a lot of extra napkins, and we will try to put you at your favorite table.

3. Be nice to the hostess. This kind of goes along with ettiquette, but people seem to be 10x worse to the hostess. The hostess cannot control how long it takes for people to eat and leave so that you can sit down. She cannot go ask tables to hurry it up. Don’t ask her/him to bump you up the list. Just sit patiently and wait your turn, and if you don’t want to wait then go somewhere else to eat. It’s a pretty simple concept, yet I see people unable to grasp it every single day.

If you would like to learn more about what we servers go through on a daily basis, I would definitely suggest the book Waiter Rant. It is hilarious, and so very accurate.

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I suppose that’s all I have to yell about for now. Have a great week, and be nice when you go out!

Hello, April!

Good afternoon! I hope you’re all enjoying this lovely Spring day! I know I am! Sitting on the porch, having some coffee and soaking up some much-needed sunshine. It’s been a nice, relaxing couple of days, and I am so thankful!

Yesterday, I spent the Easter holiday with my family at my Aunt Robin’s house. It’s always so nice to catch up with my family, and to be involved in all the hectic-ness that comes along with so many people in one house. That’s honestly one of my favorite parts of the holidays. It reminds me so much of having everyone crammed into my great-grandmothers little house at Christmastime.

After leaving there, I met up with my sweetheart for a photo op…he looked so handsome I couldn’t resist!

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After we changed out of our Easter clothes, I cooked a super easy, super delicious teriyaki chicken dinner, (cut up chicken and broccoli and cook in teriyaki sauce, cook rice in soy sauce and voila!), and we watched a movie called “Seven Psychopaths.” If you’re into action type movies, and/or comedies, I would definitely recommend this one. It was a little too much killing for my taste, but I really enjoyed it aside from that. I was laughing so hard I was crying at a few different points. I was pleasantly surprised, as action movies aren’t really my thing.

We also took the dogs and went on a little hike at Crowder’s Mountain this weekend. It turned out to be a little too chilly for me to make it up, (I don’t function well in the cold), but we did hike a couple miles, and it was beautiful! I took Little Bear along, and I also brought one of Jenn’s herd, Dylan, whom I am in lurrrve with. The dogs did really well, aside from Dylan being terrified of Jeff’s altitude mask. For anyone who is interested in these things, Jeff got one a couple weeks ago and he loves it. It’s made to basically cut down your oxygen intake to a level equivalent to that of a higher altitude, therefore giving you a more intense workout and strengthening your lungs. Just be prepared for people to stare a lot when you’re out in public.

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This post is jumping all over the place in terms of time, but another good thing that happened this weekend was all of my friends getting together at our old hangout, and having a great time together! It’s been way too long since we had a night like this! We all have busy lives these days, and we all seem to be scattering in different directions, but I love when we get the time to get back together and just enjoy a good time. AND GOOD HOT DOGS! Haha I don’t care what anyone says, or what kind of healthy diet I’m on…it is impossible for me to turn down the dang hotdogs from the street cart outside Joes!

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As for my fitness plan that I told y’all about a while back, I’ve been so busy these past couple weeks I have completely forgone the gym, and now I have to start all over. I’ve lost all of the progress I made. =/ But oh well. It’s a constantly ongoing process, I just need to stay motivated and make time for my health. Anyone who wants to join me ANYTIME, let me know! I always love to take someone with me, and help them achieve their goals as well.

 

Y’all have a wonderful week!!