Monday, March 31, 2014

Anxiety: I am Flawed

I had a realization the other day...I am flawed. There are some things I don't do very well. My bathroom is a mess most the time (bobby pins, contact cases, q-tips, toothpaste, you name it!), I don't sweep my kitchen floor as often as I should, and my husband finds my colorful-looks-like-a-six-year-old-should-be-wearing-them socks...everywhere. Sometimes I am a good cook, but it is often that I have to turn on the fan above the oven because something boiled over. I procrastinate a lot. I am slow to respond to text messages (ask my family, friends, and visiting teaching companion). Sometimes I look at my phone when people are talking to me (I'm working on it!) and I am often a few minutes late to functions. I am very forgetful sometimes.

My flaws are things that I think about often. "I didn't put that dish in the dishwasher," "I haven't vacuumed for a while," "We have had tacos for dinner three times in the last two weeks."

Anxiety/Depression gives me some flaws. Sometimes I need a few minutes to relax before I feel like I can handle life again. Sometimes I get really down on myself. Sometimes I don't think about others as much as I should.

As a teacher, you are constantly picking out things you aren't doing as well as you think you should. "I should've taught this better," "I should've made sure Sammy was understanding that concept," "I forgot to put those grades in the computer!" (This happens to me more often than I would like to admit).

Then, I had another realization. My flaws and imperfections make me who I am.

My bathroom is a mess because I usually go to bed late (because I want to hang out with Jordan, read, blog, etc.) so I sleep in until the last possible second in the mornings. This causes a rushed morning. This means, when I get ready, there is only time to get ready. There is no time to clean up the mess that getting ready makes!

Sometimes the food I make boils over or burns, but I am learning!

I can laugh with my friends and family about my forgetfulness.

I am not a perfect teacher, but hey, my students are learning things! And, more importantly, they know I care about them.

My house isn't always ready to be on display in the "Museum of Cleanliness," but it is a beautiful home, that I strive to keep tidy, where I hope people feel comfortable.

Having an imperfect life helps me laugh and relate to others.

So, the next time your anxiety or depression is reminding you of all your flaws, remember, they are what make you, you!

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our BRIGHT Blue Wall

Remember my goal to decorate my family room? Well, the process is going pretty well! After looking at this DIY blog, I was encouraged to be fearless in my decorating. So, my wall really speaks who I am.
First, we painted the wall BRIGHT blue. It's awesome. Next, I decided to add some things that make me happy...

  • I got the cute umbrella printable on this blog. It says the classic quote, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." I LOVE rain. And, I love the quote. Win-win! 
  • I got the cute "Love You" printable from this blog. (What would I do without pinterest!?)
  • The America printable came from this blog (are you tired of links yet? I hope not! I just want to give credit where credit is due!) When I was thinking of things to hang up, I really wanted something that expressed my love for America. I feel so blessed to live in this country and I pray God will bless it. (and I know He does!)
  • Elsa and "Let it Go." I know some people are sick of this movie/song, but I don't think I ever will be. I found so much in the movie that I love and wanted it displayed somehow in my home. "Let it Go" for me is sort of like a personal anthem. (Read about it here.)
  • The little bird on the bottom left is actually a thank you card from Trader Joe's. I thought it was darling (and I have some other birds in my decorating...some people mock me...but I like them!) .
  • The cute Minnie and Mickey cartoon says, "You make me happy." It is a really sweet drawing, and it makes me think of Jordan.
  • Last, but not least...what is that big square in the middle? It is a map of Disneyland, with our tickets on the side. I love Disneyland! When we went there with my family, we had a blast. I thought this was one way to help me remember what a fun time we had as a family. 

Now you might be thinking, "This is an anxiety/depression blog, not an interior design blog! What does this have to do with anything?" Well, I want my room to be filled with things that make me happy. These are some of the simple things that bring a smile to my face and help me feel less anxious about life. They remind me to be happy and to not take life too seriously. So, I guess I would just encourage you to surround yourself with things that bring a smile to your face, even if they are a bit out of the ordinary.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Music and Anxiety: "I Can't Listen to that Song!"

Whenever I hear Phil Collins, I am six years old again, dancing to my dad's favorite song. I remember the song that was on the radio the first time a dumb boy made me cry.  I can still sing every word to the Backstreet Boys "Millenium" CD that was so very cool in the 90s. I rememebr the first time I heard my favorite song and how it made me feel. I remember the songs I listened to that made me think of Jordan when I was falling in love with him.

I am amazed by how our minds and memories respond to music. We can listen to a song we haven't heard for years and still have every song, harmony, verse, and bridge memorized. A certain song can take you back to High School, childhood, or Christmas morning. It can bring back thoughts and feelings you had forgotten. It can bring up intense feelings of happiness or spirituality.

So many songs bring happy memories, but there are also songs that may do the opposite. There are a few songs that I will change when they come on the radio or up on my iPod. These are songs that I listened to when I was very depressed. The songs themselves aren't necessarily depressing, but they were songs I listened to frequently when I was struggling so much. Right when I hear these songs, I start to have feelings of anxiety, because that is how I felt when I used to listen to them.

I remember when one of my sisters was going through a hard time, and we were listening to a CD together. She had me skip almost every song because of things she associated with them. I didn't understand it then, I thought she was so silly. Why couldn't we listen to these songs? Now, I totally get it.

The other day, a song I have a hard time listening to came on the radio. I have skipped over it countless times before, simply choosing to avoid it. The song has nothing to do with being sad or depressed, it is actually a love song, but, since I listened to it so much when I was feeling so low, that is what my mind associates it with. When it came on the other day, I went to switch it, like I have so many times before, but then I thought, "No, I can listen to this song. It's a good one." As I drove, I listened. It was hard at first, but as I continued listening, I remembered why I liked the song so much. It is a really touching piece of music.

It may sound silly, but I felt a little victorious as the song came to an end. I listened! I listened to it all the way through, for the first time in a long time.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

How to Help a Loved One Going Through a Panic Attack...

We all have panic attacks at one time or another. We may sleep through our alarm and wake up 5 minutes after we were supposed to be somewhere, or we lost our debit card somewhere between the store and home. At these times our heart may speed up and our palms may get sweaty.

There may be times, though, that you or a loved one has a severe panic attack. These are over things much greater than being late or your debit card. These are over things that someone has made so big in their mind (usually thanks to anxiety and/or depression) that there is an absence of all things good. There are many symptoms, some of which may be: heavy (or shallow) breathing, sobbing, shaking, feelings of absolute helplessness, tight muscles, feeling 'outside of yourself,' etc. In my experience, it has felt like I am in a deep, dark hole and I don't think I am ever coming out. It feels like I am doomed and there is nothing I can do about it. It feels like the complete absence of hope and the only thing I can do is cry. If you or a loved one has experienced this, you know that we all experience them a little differently, but I think we can all agree they are not easy to go through.

When a loved one is feeling the stress and fatigue of anxiety, you may have no idea who to do. What can you say to make it better? How can you get them out of that dark place? The truth is, the only thing you really need to do is be there. I found an example of this in the book, "The Princess Bride." This particular part was left out of the movie, but if you have seen the movie, you will understand when it happens (how convenient!).

Buttercup and Westley are traveling through the dreaded Fire Swamp which has three things that are major issues: the snow sand, the R.O.U.S.'s, and the fire spurts. In this scene Buttercup gets trapped in the snow sand which drags her under before she can even scream. Westley, being awesome, quickly ties a vine to a tree and heroically dives in after her. After a few minutes of an awful and blind search, he finally finds her (a little bit earlier he thought he had found her, but turns out, it was a skeleton. Gross.). They miraculously get out of the sand and Buttercup eventually "comes to." It is then that her panic hits. She is (understandably) unable to control her emotions, the book states:

"'No need-' [Westley] was going to say 'No need for worry,' but her panic struck too quickly. It was a normal enough reaction, and he did not try to block it but, rather, held her firmly and let the hysteria run its course. She shuddered for a time as if she fully intended to fly apart. But that was the worst. From there, it was but a few minutes to quiet sobbing. Then she was Buttercup again."

I haven't been rescued from snow sand, or trekked through a fire swamp, but I have felt similar things as to what Buttercup goes through in this section. I love what Westley does, he just holds her. He holds her while she shakes and cries. He holds her even when it seems like she is going to "fly apart." He holds her while she calms down, and eventually, she is "Buttercup again." I loved how the author wrote this. When I have been in a panic attack, I am not Chelsea. After a panic attack, there have been times I have opened my eyes and thought, "I'm back."

Jordan is the most patient man in the world. He has had to, at times, simply hold me, sit by me, comfort me, etc. until I am myself again. Having him there makes all the difference in the world. He doesn't need to say anything, he just needs to be there until I come out of the deep, dark hole.

If you have a loved one who goes through panic attacks. Just be there for them. If it is a child or spouse, hold them while they cry. If it is a friend, hold them or sit next to them while they come out of their struggle. Pat their back, and tell them everything is going to be okay. Just let them know you are there. That will make all the difference in the world.

So, what can you do to help your loved one going through a panic attack? Just be there. See them through it. When they come back to being themselves, they will be more than grateful to yo

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PS, Have you or a loved one had a serious panic attack? What got you (or them) through? I would love to hear about it in the comments or a message! <3

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Singing the National Anthem: (New Year's Resolution...check!)

If you remember, I had a New Year's Resolution to perform somewhere. I wasn't sure where, I just wanted to do it.

About a week ago, I received an email that was sent out to all the teachers letting us know there would be an assembly coming up. A thought popped into my head..."Maybe I could sing the National Anthem at an assembly sometime..." Then, of course, I started to doubt myself. The new thoughts were, "I'd probably forget the words," "It would be dumb to ask," "I'm brand new here, would people think I'm crazy?" "I'd be so nervous!" Then, I thought of this quote from the movie/book, "We Bought a Zoo,"

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”  

I decided I could have twenty seconds of insane courage. So, I sent an email to the teacher over the SBOs. I said,

So, I’m a little shy about this, but I thought I would email you. I’m not sure how you choose to do people for the national anthem, but I thought I would volunteer if you ever need anyone. If you don’t, no worries! I just had a new year’s resolution to perform somewhere and thought this might be a chance.
Thanks so much!

I seriously cringed while I sent it. I don't know why! I just didn't want to seem too forward or anything. But, I sent it with my "twenty seconds of insane courage," and believe me, I felt like I had "embarrassing bravery." The teacher emailed me back, said she loved the idea, and that she would talk to the officers about it. I felt a little better, but I was still shy about it.

A couple days later, a student came into my room to ask if I would sing it. With excitement and slight hesitation, I said, YES.

The performance was yesterday. Seriously, I know it wasn't a huge audience or anything, but I love singing for people. I felt really good about it, and it was so fun. I have a passion for America and for singing, so it was a perfect thing for me. was REALLY fun! (I love microphones).

A big realization I had was that I would never have been able to do this a few years ago. My anxiety would've been too much. Not even necessarily about singing, but about life in general. The idea to volunteer to sing wouldn't have even crossed my mind, because it would've been filled with fears about anything and everything in life. I still deal with it, but I am learning to live with it so much better

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to sing and that this simple quote helped me to achieve one of my new year's resolutions.    

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