Just Breathe



Today; A Day In The Life

Today was a good day until it wasn’t. I woke up tired this morning (I’ve been working a LOT lately) but aside from that I was great! Went to Barre, had a great class, grabbed a vanilla almond milk latte from my favourite coffee shop and caught up on a couple shows. Then I napped and my day shifted. I had an awful dream and woke up really anxious. Since anxiety plays such a big role in my daily life I didn’t realize just how anxious I was until I was getting ready to leave the house. I was moving slowly but figured it would pass since I was looking forward to hanging with some cool people and checking out a new local brewery in the process.

I lasted an hour and a half. I was restless the entire time, quiet as ever, and very uncomfortable. I had about 3 sips of beer while I was there and decided I had to call it. So I’m writing this from under a pile of blankets, in the comfort of my home, trying to calm my anxious mind.

I always want to fight my anxiety and prove it wrong, but I’ve learned that this isn’t always the best route to take. As much as I need to overcome a lot of things relating to anxiety, sometimes I need to listen to the messages my body is sending me. Right now I’m very overwhelmed in life and I’m aware of that. I have too much going on but I can’t do much about that at the moment – I also might be fighting what I call ACTUAL sickness. These can lead to anxious outbursts that seem to creep in for no obvious reason.

Since I usually react to anxiety by feeling sick in various ways, as a kid I used to call it “my sickness” which therapists immediately made me stop doing. Though as an 11 yr old kid who threw up multiple times every day and continuously felt nauseous, I can’t blame my young self for dubbing it a sickness of sorts. Even my 27 yr old self agrees – it will always be my sickness. But I also agree with the therapist in that I should be more positive about it. So in my life there’s anxiety sickness and actual sickness.

I really struggle with fighting my anxiety vs. listening to it. I think I did well this evening, staying for a while and then deciding the best thing to do was leave. It was a weird situation because usually when I’m anxious in a social gathering it’s due to a person there or a situation that happened there. But this evening it was just that I happened to be anxious in that space. This helped me not feel guilty about leaving – I knew I needed to get to a comfortable place physically so my mind could hopefully find that comfort as well. On the other hand whenever these things happen, even if there’s no reason to feel guilty, I do. And it never helps the situation. I considered staying a little longer and fighting it, but after the long week I had I knew I needed to leave. As soon as I sat in the car I noticed I was shaking and called my mom.

My mom and I are extremely close and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know my anxiety has a lot to do with it as well. She’s the only person in my life who has been with me since the very beginning of my anxiety journey that began with not knowing what was wrong with me, to sitting beside me in the hospital through multiple tests, to getting diagnosed and finding me a therapist. I’m so thankful and happy that my mum has always been open minded and understanding towards mental health. I don’t know where I would be in this anxiety journey without her but it certainly wouldn’t be this far. (Happy British Mother’s Day Mum! Xo – we’re British, it counts).

So I called my mum. And I kind of talked, kind of cried, and listened to her tell me about the dogs and the new fast water boiling feature she found on her 2 yr old stove today. And then she expressed her frustration with my anxiety because after years of helping me with it to the best of her ability, she knows there isn’t anything she can do. And she hates that. Because she’s an amazing Mum.

I had a conversation about my frustrations with anxiety last week with one of my all-time best friends. She’s also asked me many, many times if there is anything she can do to help.

Today, a couple of people at the brewery that knew I didn’t just “not feel well” asked if they could do anything. One of them, someone who has become dear to my heart, was even offering to rub my back in case that would help to calm me down so I could stay. Another amazing human offered to be someone to talk to if I ever need it. And another was just the most understanding, calm, beacon of support and comfort from the moment she sat in my car and I told her what was going on.

These offers of love, support, and help make me speechless. My answer is always so thankful and appreciative, and I always have to say “No, there isn’t anything you can do to help, unfortunately.” But this kindness being thrown at me in shaky or smiling times are so appreciated. I’m sure I can speak for many anxiety warriors when I say that while I wish there was something you could do to help, knowing that you’re there and that you care enough to offer help means the absolute world. Just being there has me forever grateful for you.

Even I lose track of how often I feel anxious because the reality is that it is my normal. But you people who care – for me or anyone else in your life that has similar struggles – you’re the ones that get us through. You call us strong and you call us brave, and while I usually don’t feel this way, when I do it’s because of you. That strength, that courage – it’s from your hugs, your kind words, your empathy, your support.

So THANK YOU! Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to admit that it is SO FUCKING HARD to live with anxiety. I always undermine it, and it’s probably a pride thing. But it feels good sometimes to let that wall down and admit that it’s a life that is often terrifying and involves constant worrying, physical sickness, panic attacks, and tons of doctor visits and question marks.

And thank you so much for reading this and understanding a little more about me and the world of anxiety. Thank you for the hugs, for the kind words, for reminding me that I’m strong, that I’m brave, that I’ll get through this each time. Thank you for offering to rub my back, to talk, for putting up with my texts asking if you’re mad at me (without any reason for doing so aside from my own worry), and for being so understanding. Just, thank you.


Patience is hard


Allow me to backtrack. 

Life is hard. Adulting is hard. Social media gets tons of negative attention because it’s all so unrealistically positive. I do think it’s silly to portray life as something so perpetually happy when in reality it’s not. But at the same time, it’s nice to see people happy!But we also can’t assume that everyone isn’t going through something personal that they’re not sharing. We all have our shit! I like seeing friends post pictures of them smiling and doing fun things. It’s nice to celebrate the positivity in life, and I think it’s something we should all make a point of doing. Posting positivity on social media (including a ton of animals & food) is certainly something I do. But anyone who knows me, knows that I’m real. I won’t compliment you if I don’t mean it, and I won’t do anything that I don’t agree with or that makes me uncomfortable. I’m real and genuine 24/7 and I’ll never live life another way.

That being said, here I am complaining that being patient is hard. 

I’m 26, soon to be 27 (in November), and MY LIFE IS NOT TOGETHER! I constantly joke about it, but it’s genuinely how I feel. I think about 80% of the time I think I’ll be a crazy cat lady except with tons of different animals, and that I’ll never own a house, I’ll never figure out exactly what I want career-wise, and I’ll never conquer certain fears. So to deal with this sad fate, I joke. Because no matter what, though it may be easier said than done, smiling and laughing is key in life. A valuable lesson I’ve learned in my 26.5 yrs.

I also feel perpetually poor. I work one job Monday to Friday, 9-5, and I now work a second part-time job on evenings and weekends. And let me tell you, it is fucking exhausting. 

I live on my own because I’ve always been independent, but also because when I moved into my own place my roommates at the time moved out of Hamilton. I didn’t know anyone that needed a roommate and I didn’t particularly want to live with a stranger (roommate horror stories aren’t exactly the ones I want to tell). So that leaves me paying for rent & utilities on my own. I have amazing housemates and therefore split internet with one of the apartments below me, but then there’s my car payments, car & house insurance, laundry fees, phone bill, groceries, that gosh darn student debt, & gas. Never mind having a social life. Prices only go up, and goodness gracious life is expensive. My parents are both self employed (so proud of them for it) with no pension, and mom lives 2.5 hours north, while dad lives 2.5 provinces East, so I can’t exactly crash their houses for a meal, or temporarily move in to save money. 

It can be pretty overwhelming at times, it I feel like I can’t POSSIBLY be the only person feeling this way – but no one talks about it. It’s like, being poor is socially acceptable because without mentioning it we all know that life costs suck, but then everyone goes to fun events and out for meals, proceeds to post it on social media, and that’s what we see them do. We see them wearing a gorgeous new dress at this year’s coolest music festival. But what we don’t see is that she worked over time for months so that she could pay for those tickets, and her dress was $5 at the local second hand store. 

Though I’m supposedly an adult, the advice I keep getting from REAL adults is to stay strong, persevere, suck it up, and this stage in life will pass before I know it. 

I feel like I’m not the only “adult” that KNOWS these things. What sucks, and what is truly the hardest part isn’t the million work hours or the not sleeping properly and guzzling coffee the next morning, but finding patience. And gosh darn it, being patient is hard. 

This difficult, crazy, weird time is exactly what it means to work for what you have. I was lucky to grow up in a very wealthy town and in a middle class family. I can appreciate wealth, I can dream about having no debt and taking friends out for dinner and covering the bill no problem, but what I have right now that can never be taken away from me is wealth in working, in knowing that nothing comes easily but that once you achieve something you appreciate it so much when you’ve worked so hard for it. 

On the surface I seem like a stereotypical Oakville kid – wealthy, put together, confident, outgoing, traveled, lulu lemon & latte lover. But really, I drive a car that I rent and struggle to afford, I luckily didn’t inherit my mother’s resting bitch face (love you, Ma!), and for every flight I’ve stepped onto, I’ve worked my ass off to get it there. And I’m proud of it all and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

To you, reading this as a fellow twenty-something year old, or as someone who is going through the work-your-ass-off phase, I FEEL YOU! And so do so many other people, no matter what you might think based on their social media accounts or how they seem. Inner demons are cruel and we all have them, but understanding that we all have them is what’s key.

How will we ever be able to build each other up if we constantly make assumptions based on little snippets of a life we aren’t living.

And this thought brings me back to the fact that we are all patiently struggling with something. We may all be at different stages of our struggle, and we may not be able to completely relate with someone else’s specific situation, but we are ALL just trying to be patient and get through. 

It’s been a really rough year for me, to put it plainly, and tonight I sat on my couch with someone else’s cat, streamed reality tv, and a glass of white, and I couldn’t help but be so thankful for the people I have around me who are always there for a hug (please hug me anytime – my favourite!), a drink, a slumber party, or popping up in snail mail when I least expect it. So go make a pen pal out of someone you love, give your people some hugs, and keep joking and smiling. Together we’ll get through, because patience is HARD!! 

Let me tell you a story

I usually live an extremely busy life. I love it and I know it will never change. It’s part of my personality; who I am. I get restless quickly and keeping busy is fun to me. However, it’s only natural that every once in a while I need to take some time for myself and just be. I don’t usually realize how busy I am until someone points it out to me. I also don’t do it on purpose – I just love using all of my non-working time to do things that I love. This to me is living life to the fullest. But it’s not always so easy.

When I take time for myself it gives a chance for some weird emotions to surface. It’s also when I’m even more hard on myself than normal. I’m sitting here writing this in what feels like a super weird emotional state – almost ready to cry, a little inspired, angry at myself, laughing at myself, but also relaxed and a little anxious.
When I have “lazy” days, evenings, afternoons, or mornings, I get really anxious even if there are no apparent triggers. Aside from being a very energetic person, this is a huge reason why I stay busy – as much as I want to, I won’t pretend it isn’t. But it also makes sense, think about it: when you go through something traumatic like a break up, or death, advice that’s almost always given is to stay busy and it will help you get through. This is true. It works. But only temporarily. It only works until you need that few hours of chilling on the couch – and then your brain has the opportunity to go nuts!
I’m sure we all know by now that anxiety is a daily struggle for me. It’s part of who I am, and I accepted that a long, long time ago. But this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with or handle. Much of what makes me anxious is a mystery, but a major trigger for me is relationships. Because boys are dumb.

Ha! I wish that was why. The real reason is that I’m terrified. I’m terrified all the time about a lot of things. Like relationships – mainly with potential boyfriends, but also with friends and family members.

Let me tell you a story. About three years ago, I was talking with this guy online (from one of those many apps we all know of). We talked for a while and I avoided meeting up with him twice. My anxiety was so bad that when I even thought about meeting him I couldn’t eat, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I gave in on the third ask to go out, and my thoughts going into it were this: “This guy seems like someone I would like. He’s athletic, smart, seems potentially funny, and he’s cute too! I’m going to make myself go on this date with him so I can prove my anxiety wrong, and win.” I’m not sure trying to beat my anxiety like it was a game was such a great approach, but to this day I’m proud of myself for following through.

On the day of, we were to meet at a restaurant at 2pm and I was great with this time knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to eat, so I could say I already had lunch and wasn’t hungry. Already planning and worrying ahead. I stayed in bed all morning because my anxiety levels had shot through the roof. The date was fine, nothing amazing and nothing awful – and it turns out I wasn’t really attracted to him after all. However, mid-date he asked if I wanted to walk around… I said “Sure” – no emotion because moving sounded like an awful idea to me since I had JUST shaken my nausea. Not for long though! We proceeded onto the escalator and along came a huge wave of nausea. As if it were in slow motion I had this full vision in my head of me throwing up right on him, in front of tons of other people and being completely mortified. I stepped into the escalator, stepped off, and when he asked if I was ok, I stepped back on and said “yeah!”. We both (I’m sure) knew I wasn’t exactly ok. I immediately asked where the washroom was and beelined to it as soon as I stepped off the escalator.

Well, it was a good thing I didn’t have an appetite earlier because I threw up the contents of my stomach and then some, and came out pretending to be freshly powdered, if that’s a thing. To this day I have no idea if he thinks I was running away from him, if he knows I threw up, or if he thinks I took a poop.

I couldn’t handle any more of this and after another 10 minutes I (more bluntly than it sounded in my head) asked where he parked. And thus ended the first date I ever puked on.

Maybe you relate. Maybe you’ve been through this exact thing. Maybe you think this is hilarious.

I’ve told this story plenty of times before and every time without fail it comes out like I’m a comedian standing on stage telling a funny story to the crowd. That’s how I want it to sound. Might as well make it funny, right? I truly do believe that laughter is the best medicine, but this digs a little deeper than that. So this version is more matter-of-fact than funny.

I joke all the time that I’ll just be a crazy dog lady and travel the world whenever I can, and eventually build a life with adopted kids. In all truthfulness, this is the worst case scenario of my future that runs through my head to make myself feel better when I’m feeling down or off or out of sorts. It rolls off my tongue like a well-oiled joke when I say it out loud, but in reality I’ve thought this through and come up with the idea that this wouldn’t be such an awful life so I need to chill out and stop worrying that I’ll puke on every potential suitor. Easier said than done.

I share this because I was just sitting here thinking pretty negatively about myself and then the angel on my other shoulder chimed in and said “Hey! There’s NO WAY you’re the only one who is a) going through what you’re going through, and b) struggling in the same areas of life.” And I think the angel has a point here. So rather than sitting here dwelling on things that I wish I could be courageous enough to do, I choose to share my thoughts, feelings, and struggles with the hope that someone reading this will relate. And whether you relate with a grin and a nod as you exit this webpage, or whether you relate with a message to me, it is a relation nonetheless – and that is two thirds of ‘relationships’.

At the least, enjoy the things you may find easy or stress free. These are the things we take for granted and it may not be so easy for others.

What the actual fuck

What the actual fuck is going on in this world. I’m just over here in Canada sitting on my couch with my favourite blanket missing my cat – and the world of social media is exploding.

Of all the beautiful and awful articles I’ve read about the election, the thing that has been repeated many times and has stuck in my mind is “hate won”. Hate can only win if you let it win. Sure, things went awry, not the way a lot of people wanted it to. It’s truly sad, and emotions and feelings are more than allowed. But hate will not win unless hate is given the chance to prosper.

Between the U.S. election, the first 80 pages of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, this cold I can’t shake, missing my little fluffy companion of 17 years, and other pieces of life’s haunting bullshit, I sit here and think “What the actual fuck”. No period, no exclamation point, no semi colon to finish the thought.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

That is probably the universe’s biggest fear of all – the unknown. You can only say that knowing is worse than not knowing if you know. But if you don’t know, the unknown is worse. There are no facts, no one to blame, no one to champion, nothing. Everything is in question. There are only possibilities, ideas, thoughts. Nothing is set in stone.

I sat here on this same couch a few nights ago with mint tea in hand and thought about my life and my future. It’s not an easy thing to think about – I think a lot of us (myself included) are guilty of keeping ourselves busy to avoid these ‘big questions’. Because after about 3 minutes of contemplating my choices, thoughts, state of mind, finances, job, friends, family – I thought “What the actual fuck”.

Then today happened. Which actually started yesterday because yesterday I woke up with a cold. It progressed throughout the day to the point that I taught an evening yoga class through a haze of Tylenol cold and too much tea, and hit the couch as soon as I got home. Today I stayed home from work because I felt awful and needed the day to mend. I forced myself to rest, forced myself to stop thinking about work, forced myself to consume all of the vitamin c, ginger, juice, tea, water, and soup.

Earlier today, I was laying on this same couch about to take a much needed nap when my phone dingled with a new text. This is what it said: “Hey babe, just wanted to tell you that I miss your face. It’s been a horrible two weeks here for me. Out of all the people I know you would understand most. Been having daily panic attacks, feeling so beaten down. I just wanted to let you know that thinking of you and your strength with your own anxiety is literally what has gotten me out of bed every morning.”

This text that dingled my attention away from napping, really got to me. Again, I found myself thinking “What the actual fuck”. How could someone so amazing, someone who everyone loves and wants be around, someone who is so strong and happy all the time be a) so down on herself and going through such a rough time, b) inspired by MY strength, and c) so oblivious to her absolute beauty through and through! I was so shocked. I mean, DUH we’re all humans and we’re all way harder on ourselves than we should be. But seeing someone who is basically family to you go through a rough time is just as hard if not harder than going through a rough time yourself.

There were many loving things shared, as this is one of my dearest best friends, but this last bit that I said to her is what I need to share with all of you:

“You’re the definition of a beautiful human, an amazing friend, selfless, hilarious, sensitive. Never doubt your own amazingness – it may seem (to you) to falter at times but it’s still there. It’s just hiding behind the fear, anxiety, uncontrollable awful that some of us, like you and I, have to deal with on the regular. As long as you believe your strength can pull your amazing self back through that veil, you can and you will. Every single time. Don’t forget that.”

Don’t Forget that! You’re beautiful because you’re YOU. You’re beautiful because you fight, because you’re strong, and you’re funny. You’re so much more beautiful than you think you are.

I know in my soul that that this beautiful human I speak of is being brought down by some sort of negativity around her. The same as this Western world right now since the election (perhaps it’s just my friend groups who are angered and sad and depressed by the results, but this is what I see). The same as women trying to live their every day lives in the “fair and equal” place we call home. The same as my cat’s passing after 17 years of companionship broke my heart and left me lonely. The same as society’s beauty standards (for males and females) existing. How can I help this negativity disintegrate?!

A few nights ago when I was sitting on this couch and thinking “What the actual fuck”, I proceeded to take a sip of tea, stare at the wall and think “I don’t know what this feeling is but I know I don’t like it and I need to fix it. I need to work on myself as a person so I can grow and accomplish and feel sure. So that is what I will do. I will work on myself. Starting now.” – Period. End point. Decision made.

And then today I receive a simple text message in the middle of my day that inspired me to be BIG. To think big. To do big. To want big. To make big things happen, to not settle. Because in that moment I received that text, I had accomplished a huge ongoing life goal of mine. I want people to feel genuinely loved. I want people to feel inspired. When found in a bad situation or experience, I want people to find the positive side of things. I want people to believe in themselves and their strengths. I want the definition of beauty to be about the whole person, not how much that person looks like a model from a (photoshopped) magazine.

Ultimately, I want to spread love, strength, and light.

And that happened. This person who I see as such a beauty – such a genuine, beautiful, intelligent, hard-working, funny, caring person – she believed in herself because she was inspired by me. She felt loved and never judged by me, and she felt the magnitude of her own strength.

And then I knew. I thought “What the actual fuck?! I did it!” Somehow I helped someone see their light. I couldn’t be more happy that she is coming out of this dark time and that I had something to do with helping her through it. I’m humbled and honoured, and still in shock but mostly just so happy I had a positive impact on someone who so completely deserves it.

I wouldn’t even know it if she hadn’t taken the time to tell me. I’ve always been a communicator. I write, I’ll talk your ear off, I’ll text you, e-mail you, always update you – and I know, oh boy do I know, that not everyone is like this. But if we could all take a little moment to share with someone our positive thoughts about them, I truly believe we can all benefit. In small ways, in big ways, it could save people’s lives in ways that we can’t begin to fathom.

By working on myself as a person – which I think is a never ending journey – I believe I’ll be able to inspire more, spread kindness further, help people believe in themselves more. I vow to reject hate.

This world needs a whole lot of things, but as humans, as a species we all need love to survive.

So let’s not let hate prosper but instead be beautiful, share your positive thoughts, always search for the brighter side of things, and let your light shine which in turn will help light up others.

In the meantime I’ll continue sitting here on this couch thinking “What the actual fuck” at life, at people, at this world. But most importantly, I’ll take a sip of tea, read a book and try to believe in my beauty as much as I want people to believe in theirs. And I will work on myself…whatever that means.

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