The process of finding yourself

Is there a part of you that feels like you don’t really know who you are?

As I read through old journal entries dated from childhood to adolescence, there is a common theme to them.

“Who am I?”

“What is my identity?”

This confusing sense of identity has been a constant in my life.

I know myself but I just feel like I’m missing something… who am I really?

The moment I “lost myself” is not an incredibly clear one.

My best guess would be the transition into teenage years.

When you are struggling to fit in, you keep trying on different masks until you find one that people like.

I never found that mask but I did find alcohol, which always took the edge off of the excruciating feeling of living in my own skin.

Tired of failing at being accepted for who I was, I stopped trying completely and pursued the next best option- numbing.

When I was 13, I achieved the feeling of being completely numb for the first time.

Alcohol became my best friend.

When I was drinking, I just didn’t care.

I didn’t care that I was ugly.

I didn’t care that nobody liked me.

I didn’t care that life was racing in a blur around me when I was supposed to be growing into a decent young adult.

The negative choices I made in my adolescence are what robbed me of my identity.

I freaking gave up on myself, gave up on finding my mask.

I chose to hide behind the emptiness of covering up my pain with substance.

Now in my adult years feeling a void in establishing my personal foundation.

I missed all of that and so now, that I’m mature enough to go and try on masks again, I’m figuring it out one mistake at a time.

Life is crazy you guys.

I took a risk when I chose to find myself.

Self reflection isn’t the easiest when you have a battered past.

“I want to go back and relive my worst traumas!” Said no one ever.

But those traumas are literal chains that will keep us bound until we face them.

In the process of finding myself, parts of the old me had to die.

The haunting shadows of the scariest memories of my life felt like a reality again for quite some time as I sorted through it all.

I got a lot crazier before I got better.

I’ll never forget my very first session with my anxiety therapist.

I was two months pregnant with my second child and had already gained 20 pounds.

It was the first time I had eaten like a normal person after an Exercise anorexia 8 month spiral.

I had stopped taking 4mg of prescribed Xanax a day cold turkey because I didn’t want to hurt my baby.

Every day was one big panic attack.

She asked me to say aloud,

“I am beautiful.”

And I couldn’t.

Instead anger and tears erupted in defense of my self deprecation.

We spent three years poking and prying, in which time I became completely nuts.

The first phase of finding myself was filled with anger and blame on others.

In that time I irrationally pointed the finger and blew up on my mom multiple times.

I would call her and be freaking out, sometimes even yelling, about something that I was understanding for the first time.

These memories stemmed from my grieving mind fiercely and emotionally believing that I had been done wrong.

It was a long going, deep seeded outburst of emotions I was just coming to terms with for the first time.

I found out that my Mom has Borderline Personality Disorder.

Her symptoms of the mental illness distorted my perception of myself.

I wasn’t actually “the ugliest kid in the entire world”, and if we are being real, I can’t blame her for the fact that I never found myself.

The first part of finding myself required facing some heavy shit so that I could live a better life.

The second part of finding myself was a beautiful blossoming into who I was always supposed to be.

Like a butterfly spreading its wings for the very first time, I broke free from the hell that had been consuming me.

The process of finding yourself is a journey of understanding that you are the only one who can change your situation.

The moment you decide to own responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you become a butterfly. 🦋

It’s worth the process.

Check out Project Identity for more inspirational content and resources. ❣️

Changing the mental health system

There is a major issue in our world that we are all very aware of yet nobody wants to talk about it.

What am I speaking on?

Mental illness.

Our society is built on the idea of “being perfect”.

Every day we wake up and put on our best faces for the world.

Our social media’s are filled with smiling faces and while I’m not disagreeing that our lives have picture perfect moments, I’m calling bluff on this “perfection” front.

We are human and we are flawed.

Though our reality is a planet full of people who are desperately chasing after perfection.

We are not Jesus.

Instead we have Jesus, to teach us the most raw lessons of forgiveness as we inevitably mess up, time and time again.

And then there’s this thing called life.

Life is not peaches and cream people.

Life is a journey full of ups and downs, heart beats and heart breaks, setbacks and stand ups.

As our broken souls chase this fantasy idea of being “perfect”, it’s understandable that we internalize every failure as a flaw.

Life gets hard and we are trained to pretend that everything is fine, that we are fine.

Mental health isn’t discussed in the way physical health is.

And why?

They are in fact, one in the same.

People are so accepting of any body part breaking down, except our minds.

When our minds are broken, nobody wants to talk about it.

Instead our society is still running on this stigma that views the mentally ill as monsters.

People who are mentally ill are weird, unpredictable, dangerous.

It’s the 21st century and the advancements being made decade by decade are monumental.

Advancements in the mental health system on the other hand have been minimal.

If you are genuinely unaware of how bad this situation is, check out An “insiders” opinion on the mental health system.

This is not an isolated incident.

Our mental health system is a freaking joke you guys.

It’s unacceptable.

For anyone who has never experienced mental illness, I hear you.

It has got to be confusing as hell when somebody “can’t just be happy”.

I get that you don’t understand.

Similar to the everyday battles someone with a physical ailment faces, yet also very different.

Our eyes can see why the man with one arm struggles in climbing the rope, our eyes validate this understanding.

When someone’s mind is under attack there is nothing to validate their behavior- nothing that screams “wow, I can’t imagine how hard it must be getting out of bed every morning”.

In turn this equals stigma and grave misunderstanding of the mentally ill.

When our brains are under attack we are left with a world of broken resources.

Mental illness is a tax on the poor.

If you can’t meet the price tag, genuine help is literally non-existent.

There isn’t a logical plan in place to actually help these people.

What needs to be done to change this?

Who are the mentally ill?

The bus driver, your next door neighbor, your best friends brother, your mom.

It’s not just the horrific individuals who commit mass shootings; the “crazy people” being tied down and shipped to an insane asylum in the movies.

Nobody is exempt from getting a mental illness.

Why are people in crisis being treated like animals?

Why are our publicly available crisis centers releasing people crazier than when they were admitted?

There is obvious room for improvement in the system and we need to do this to help our people.

Being suicidal in today’s world is like needing an emergency appendectomy in a world without doctors.

In my mind there are so many things that we could do differently.

Safe havens shouldn’t feel so cold.

I am coming up on one year of doing this blog.

It has been an insane process of self reflection and growth.

I’ve decided that I am extremely passionate about advocating for the mentally ill- people like myself.

It’s a cause that we are all too familiar with but refuse to constructively change.

It sucks being mentally ill in a world that views mental illness as abnormal.

And I’m ready to start pushing for changes.

Share this post if you want change in the mental health system.

If this post hits 5,000 shares, I will personally draft up a game plan and do everything in my power to get it to Colorado legislature.

Who better to brainstorm a solution than the people who know this battle all too well?

Together we can change the way the world views and treats mental illness.

Change starts here.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more empowering content. 💕💕💕

Who am I aside from “mom”?

Last week my Mother-in-law took both of my kiddos overnight.

As a stay at home mom for almost two years, it was a bittersweet feeling.

There was this ominous blaring of freedom along with an overbearing sense that I was missing a big piece of myself.

Waking up the next morning to a quiet house and calmly walking into the kitchen.

Greeted with a rush of confusing emotions.

How do I start my morning without my kids?!

The moment was surprisingly overwhelming, igniting a stream of tears down my cheek.

‘Who even am I besides Mom…?’

I’m not your average mom.

When I got pregnant the first time it wasn’t mapped out to happen according to my “picture perfect plan”.

I was 19 and a full blown alcoholic when I got my positive pregnancy test.

I didn’t know how to take care of myself at the time… let alone the life of a tiny human.

There wasn’t a house or a husband… it was indeed, very backwards.

January 2012

I posted this photo to announce the news.

The caption stating, “joining the mommy club!”.

The things that people wrote in response to that post were terrible.

In their defense, the thought of that person as a mom was rightfully baffling…

“That baby is going to be so messed up!”

Only God knew what I was capable of.

The pregnancy was a process of growth and change.

August 2012

I was learning how to navigate life sober for the very first time while also juggling the chaos of preparing for a newborn.

For me, pregnancy was the perfect distraction from all of my “crap” though.

Nothing else mattered besides the precious little life that was growing inside of me.

After my sweetie pie arrived everything literally started anew.

No longer was I the broken young adult, searching recklessly for love at the bottom of a bottle.

It’s like that person died and a totally different me was born- equipped with a baby.

My name is Mommy.

And boy, I could go on and on about her.

Happy mom, sad mom, mad mom, rushed mom, stressed mom, excited mom… to name a few.

Alexis on the other hand?

Literally doesn’t know how to start a morning without her kids.

That’s honestly about all I know.

Motherhood has this beautiful way of changing us.

We take on this new role that nothing could ever prepare us for.

It’s the most fulfilling yet consuming title on earth.

In my case, motherhood literally took my old mess of a life and replaced it with a really good one.

Suddenly I had a reason to live…. my kids.

Motherhood gave me purpose in life so I established an identity around that role.

“Mom” was the new me, a foundation I’ve built from over the past 6 years.

But take away my kids for one morning and suddenly I’m completely lost.

There aren’t roles for “Alexis”, “wife”, “self“.

The problem lies in the fact that I can’t be my “best mom” if I don’t ever tend to my needs as an individual.

And what even are my needs?

I don’t know.

How do you even go about learning who you are…?

Baby steps.

Small observations while continuing on with everyday life.

A good starting place might be imagining my “perfect morning” if I lived alone and had nobody else to worry about.

Understanding how I’d prefer to spend my morning doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything, it’s simply establishing preference as an individual.

Personal identity is a vital part of life.

Our identity cannot rely solely on another person as our identity is what is true for us.

At the end of the day, I am the only person that I’m in control of.

Yes, “mom” is a piece of my identity…. a very important piece that I hold high in value.

But I’m more than just “mom”.

My name is Alexis.

I value God, balance, family, and routine.

I dislike chaos, drama, feeling rushed, and over scheduling.

I will do anything for the people that I love.

I thrive on taking care of others.

And someday, when my kids are grown and moved away, I will be okay with who I am as an individual.

Check out my blog PROJECT IDENTITY for more raw inspiration! 💕

Dissociation- “emotional numbing”

This past year has been the most extensive year of self reflection ever.

And with understanding has come more questions- a lot of them!

Like last week when I processed for the very first time that I in fact, leave my physical body, subconsciously, hundreds of times every day.

Don’t get me wrong.

This isn’t some kind of witch craft or wizardry.

It’s a mental illness called depersonalization disorder.

It’s also the only way I can remember ever functioning…. making it that much more confusing.

How would you react if you realized that you’ve spent over half of your life physically “zoned out” while being somewhere else completely mentally…?

“Whenever my PTSD gets triggered I get like, trapped in another world for awhile. I don’t know what happens there because my memory in that time period gets completely wiped. Nothing really gets done while the time is running.

Sometimes I realize I don’t know what’s going on when I’m literally in the middle of a sentence with someone. It’s super stressful being around anyone really, for that reason.

But most of the time I don’t even realize that I’d left. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember and until just recently, I thought that everyone experienced this.

I know that sounds crazy… am I dying?”

My best friend who is studying psychology, responded with this:

“If I’m understanding you right it sounds like dissociation or depersonalization. Which is common for people with PTSD. It sounds terrifying but you are not dying. It is something that many people with PTSD experience.”

Off to the internet I went, in attempt to learn more about this madness, aka my life.

The first thing that stood out to me was “a confusing sense of identity“.

Looking no further than the name of this blog to check that one off the list of qualifying criteria.

As I continued reading, the checks started piling up.

‘Man… I had no clue there was a name for this!’

Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sense of identity.

A child is more able than an adult to step outside of themself and observe trauma as though it’s happening to another person.

Children who learn to dissociate in attempt to endure a traumatic experience may use this coping mechanism, even subconsciously, in response to stressful situations throughout life.

The dissociative adult may automatically disconnect in everyday situations, leaving them “spaced out” and unable to protect themselves in the event of real danger.

Dissociative episodes increase in frequency with the severity of trauma and triggers.

Smells, sounds, colors, places…. anything tied to a traumatic memory can send you out from the drivers seat of your body in an instant.

Wow…Just wow!

The research I have done on this disorder in the last week has been redundant.

I am so beyond confident that I battle with extreme depersonalization disorder, it’s like they wrote it all about me.

This understanding has come with the bomb of a realization that I am transitioning in and out of my body hundreds of times every single day.

With this knowledge I’ve made a few reflections.

1) I have depersonalization disorder.

2) I’ve been living this way for so long that the transitions are usually unnoticeable.

3) It would be nice if I could just stay inside my body all the time.

4) How do I make this stop?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple.

Like the majority of my mental health madness, this is going to take a crap ton of hard work.

“Stuffing” is my most often used defense mechanism.

It’s a process of trying to trick myself that any undesirable emotion or sensation isn’t really happening.

This is a subconscious behavior that happens like clockwork.

Typically for me, the “stuffed” emotion presents itself as high strung anxiety or irritability.

To “cure” the dissociative episodes I’m going to have to talk to my emotions and actually feel themno more “stuffing”. 😳

As someone who has “stuffed” every foreign emotion for as long as I can remember, this feels like an overwhelming task to take on.

Dissociation is kind of like having your body and mind living on two different planets.

The first step will be simply increasing my personal awareness.

Mindfulness, sitting with my emotions… YUCK!

I need to practice the repetitive cycle of acknowledging my emotions as they arise and responding that they are valid for feeling that way.

I’d be absolutely lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind.

This entire situation is freaking terrifying.

I’ve been functioning emotionally numb for far too long and I need to do this for me.

Once I begin allowing my emotions to be a part of me, my body will start relearning how to function as a whole.

It will be an intense process of triumphs and failures.

And after all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Trying and failing until we reach our goal…?

I’m ready to embrace this life for all that it is, the good and the bad.

For now, this book is still being written.

It’s my journey and I’m ready to start living it.

In a perfect world, this pursuit will end in an alignment of my identity.

Who am I helping by continuing to live this way?

Certainly not myself.

Project accepted. ❤️

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

What I didn’t know about addiction

When I got sober it was a fairly unique situation.

The day I quit drinking was also the very first day I wanted to quit drinking.

A couple days of seizures on the bathroom floor was enough to start anew.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned how much my personal experience has clouded my opinion on addicts.

To me, alcohol was an escape from myself.

I hated myself.

I hated my life.

Numb was the only way that I could continue functioning.

Alcohol was that door to checking out from reality and entering a world where I just didn’t care.

With booze, life always seemed less real.

I didn’t annoy myself as much when I was drunk.

The bottle was my ticket to escaping the life I couldn’t bare anymore.

My brother had his own struggles with addiction.

It would be years after my new leaf of living that nightmare with him before things turned around.

The only thing more difficult than addiction itself is watching a loved one throw away their life for it.

Your life becomes a living hell while they are escaping this reality with substance.

“I promise you that life in sobriety is fun T!!! PLEASE just give it a try and find out!!!”

I pleaded, for years on end.

The best word to describe myself in this plea would be naive.

Naive to feeling that every addict is running from reality.

Naive to think that my brother just liked being drunk too much to quit.

A couple weekends ago we were visiting my now 20 MONTH SOBER brother for fall festivities!

It’s MY FAVORITE family tradition we’ve created!

Our life is so normal now.

We get together and do things as siblings and I swear those are some of the best memories of our lives.

Day one we went to the most badass park I’ve ever seen! 👇

Day two we went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch!👇

And day three, during family breakfast, we talked about where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

“Man T… I can’t believe you made it! I’m so proud of you!!!”

I professed.

“I had to stop or I was going to die. I’d wake up with ridiculous anxiety and start having panic attacks. It would feel like I was having a heart attack and the only way to make it stop was the booze. It was like a 24/7 never ending hangover.”

Tears started streaming down my face as I realized how much I hadn’t understood about his addiction.

Here I am, preaching to my brother about how cool life is when you aren’t confused all the time, and he wasn’t even confused…. he was sick.

He confessed the fine line of “sipping and driving”.

In other words he wasn’t drinking just to drink.

At just 29 years old, his body was beginning to show signs of long term alcohol abuse.

His body was reliant on alcohol and was literally shutting down without it.

Longer drives required greater focus and when he was “under-medicated” the withdrawal symptoms were so intense that he would end up pulling over for hours at a time in attempt to stop his heart from bursting out of his chest.

He wasn’t drinking to be drunk- he was drinking to stay alive.

He had punched the ticket but he no longer wanted to ride the ride.

“I was embarrassed with myself for how bad it had gotten. I would have died trying to detox on my own. There was a lot of shame in what it had become and the reality of those choices. It was like drowning and waiting for somebody to save you.”

The day his second niece was born was the day my brother amounted the courage to chase his lion.

“I need this to stop and I don’t know how.”

He admitted to a buddy of trust.

Thank you for hearing him, Carl.

It took ten days in detox before being medically cleared for inpatient rehab.

Detox from alcohol is a serious thing!

My brother put in some insanely hard work as he fought for his life.

**Did you know- detoxing from heroin isn’t deadly (though it feels like it), but detoxing from alcohol can be?!**

20 months later my brother is still prioritizing his recovery as an AA sponsor.

God gave me my brother back and I am beyond grateful for this.

I’m thankful that I have a sibling to enjoy life with.

I’m thankful I’m not living in a nightmare anymore.

I’m thankful for his journey, and the new understanding it has given me about addicts.

We are all different so it makes sense that no addiction is the same.

Every addict is running- our differences lie in what is chasing us.

Thank you for using your story to help others T.

I love you.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️

Meet Heather, my anxiety therapist

Define “therapy” in a single, brief statement.

Was your definition associated with a positive or negative perspective?

We are all individuals who think, feel, perceive things differently.

For me, therapy is a lifeline.

I never imagined myself as someone who would be so “dysfunctional” that I’d need therapy for the rest of my life.

And I’m not that crazy.

I’ve simply found a therapist whom I trust and whose opinion I value.

The first time I sought anxiety therapy my assigned therapist was a man.

He was nice but we never really established that bond needed to make progress in my trauma saturated background.

Round two I was placed with Heather.

Instantly I felt right at home.

My personality needs a therapist who isn’t tiptoeing around political correctness.

I need someone who is real, raw and genuine.

Someone that I know I can trust with my deepest darkest secrets.

Heather has been that person for me.

As my therapist for a little over two years now, most weeks I couldn’t imagine my life without her.

Therapy is me time.

It’s the only time all week that I get to converse with another adult without a million kids hanging off of me.

I get to sit and unload all of my crap to someone that I don’t have to worry about offending… someone who has nothing but love and good advice to throw back at me.

Therapy is the place where I can navigate my troubled past while taking the necessary steps to improve myself.

A therapist is like that friend who has never done you dirty in the most one-sided relationship ever.

When I feel like bitching about stuff that’s stupid… there she is.

And the stuff that’s not stupid?

There again.

Heather is there to talk about everything.

She’s there and she cares.

Yes, I’d be lying if I said that therapy isn’t hard work at times.

While we’d all like to just pretend that our worst moments never happened…. they did.

If you never deal with your “junk” then it will haunt you in the form of panic attacks eventually.

We can’t run from trauma.

We must be courageous and face it head on- with those badass little friends called therapists in our back pocket.

And even when you’re feeling good, GO TO THERAPY.

Our mental health requires just as much conditioning and maintenance as our physical health.

If you quit your diet and started eating cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner then it wouldn’t be long before your health took a plunge.

All of the crap you put up with on a daily basis?

That is the “cake” of your mental health.

So one last time, define “therapy” in a single, brief statement.

Did your opinion evolve after reading this…?

For me, therapy is simply choosing to not eat cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

If you are struggling with trauma, mental health, or even nothing at all (psh…ha!), I encourage you to find a therapist who is a perfect match for you.

Find your Heather.

Take control of your mental health and reap the rewards of doing so. ❤️

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

Revisiting the memories I would rather have forgotten

“Maybe you should just stop doing the blog if you aren’t able to make any income from it. It’s just so negative….ha. You are always talking about about weird stuff. People must think that you’re nuts!”

This blog has been an absolute rollercoaster.

Some days I ride the high of feeling like I’m helping people while in turn freeing myself of my “baggage”.

Other days I feel like an idiot and wonder why I’m wasting all this time for nothing, until it spirals so far out of control that I about quit.

“Should I really post that?”

“How are people going to react to this?”

Will anyone react to this…?”

The truth is that it would be SO much easier to just go about my life and pretend like all the years of chaos never even happened.

Easier to pretend that I’ve been this “normal” person my whole life…

Easier to bury my skeletons than to go searching for them in attempt to resolve the trauma that they’ve branded me with.

My blog is called Project Identity because I hope to uncover what I feel are “missing pieces” of my identity through the process of this project.

In terms of adversity, I’ve had a very wide range of it.

Mental health, eating disorders, sexual abuse, dysfunctional families…. YOU NAME IT!

By revisiting these traumas, my goal is to sort through my life and figure out who I really am.

This is NOT in any way an attempt to glorify or normalize the things that I’ve done.

Im not sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with YOU to win sympathy or to place blame on others for things that have happened in my life.

My intention IS to help others by saying,

“this is where I was and look where I am now.”

An attempt to find the answers for survival after adversity– answers that I don’t necessarily believe that I have, yet somehow…. I made it.

And the story isn’t over.

People don’t just overcome something and live happily ever after.

With time, the book you just closed will start revealing itself in your next book.

Growing up in a home with a parent who has Borderline Personality Disorder left me runningself medicating with drugs and alcohol.

The consequences that I received for such behavior opened the door for a newfound battle of control with food (read Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself).

All of the above rooting me in distorted self worth and eventually leading to rape and suicide attempts.

Recovery from both addictions simultaneously greeted me with crippling anxiety and PTSD- symptoms I now have to face head on, without a crutch.

I don’t believe that God dealt me these cards by mistake though.

Why?

Because I shouldn’t even be here right now.

The moment my life turned around was also the lowest, darkest place I’ve ever been.

My desire to live was gone, but God had other plans.

Just weeks after multiple failed suicide attempts and hospitalizations, my polar opposite walked into my life and we ended up pregnant.

I wasn’t living for me anymore.

A tiny human who would love me forever was too good of an offer to pass up.

God took the life I couldn’t handle anymore and replaced it with one that I could.

He wanted me here because He knows my heart.

My adversity is God’s opportunity.

His opportunity to change more lives.

This is why I do what I do.

I write about my rawest moments because frankly, life is raw.

The world needs more raw people, too.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

Rain rain go away

Rain rain go away

The rain just won’t stop pouring

Rain rain go away

You’re so freaking annoying

Rain rain what did you say

I really must be going

Rain rain go away

The forecast calls for storming

Rain rain go away

I need some help please save me

Rain rain go away

I haven’t been behaving

Rain rain go away

God are you there I’m sorry

Rain rain go away

Is this really my story

Rain rain go away

Your light is there it’s glowing

Rain rain go away

By praying, You can show it

Rain rain go away

I need you Lord I know it

Rain rain go away

Together we can beat this

Rain rain go away

You’re all I ever needed

Rain rain go away

The voice of Jesus humming

Rain rain go away

The changes they are coming

Rain rain go away

My God, He’s so forgiving

Rain rain go away

My life is so worth living

Rain rain go away

My God, He’s always near

Rain rain go away

With Him I’ll conquer fear

Rain rain gone away

The sun is finally here

Check out my blog Project Identity ❤️ for more!

I hate meds

The other day I texted my husband and dropped the bomb yet again.

My meds aren’t working.

I finally freaking admitted it… to my husband and to myself.

Aren’t working like how?!

He wrote back.

Not working as in not being able to handle dramatic confrontations… not working as in telling you I hated you like a psycho…😔

My meds haven’t been working for awhile.

Finally, I’ve reached my breaking point with them.

If you’ve ever taken medication you are likely familiar with that terrible feeling when you begin noticing the meds aren’t a good fit.

You fight with yourself on if it’s even worth all of the stress and anxiety that comes with changing.

The last time I changed my meds I ended up in a crisis center on a 72 hour hold.

Since “regaining stability” on a new antidepressant, irritability and impulsivity have been the most noticeable side effects.

However, in comparison to landing in a crazy house, these side effects seemed manageable.

At least until I found myself shouting those insanely awful words at my poor husband…

“I hate you!”

In that moment I knew I’d have to bare whatever fate was headed for me as I gear up to make yet another switch.

I love my husband more than words and the fact that those terrible words could even come out of my mouth absolutely kills me.

Who is this crazy person I’ve become on these pills that are supposed to be making me “normal”…?

I hate everything about this.

I hate that this chemical substance, that I put in my body, is powerful enough to change my values… to change who I am.

I hate that I feel trapped as this person who I don’t want to be and I hate that there is no easy way out.

I hate watching myself destroy everything that’s important to me while sitting on the sidelines in my own life.

If you read Life sentenced to medication then you are already aware that I had my identity stripped of me as a child.

I’ll never forget that very first psychiatrist visit- almost 20 years ago.

Ironically, what I have lost sight of, is who I was before being signed up for this mess.

More than anything I want to meet myself.

I want to be able to wake up in the morning and just be normal like everyone else without taking a handful of pills that don’t even work.

I want to feel completely in control of the things I do and say.

I want to know who the hell I am underneath all of these stupid pills.

There are only two things that I’m sure of.

One- if I skip my pills for a day I feel like a hungover, quivering robot who can absolutely not function.

Two- I freaking hate medication!

YES, medication is definitely required for some people.

Maybe I am one of those people…

I just wish so badly that I could have made that decision for myself.

Having done so would make this lifestyle feel much less out of control.

As I sit here watching my life play out in front of me from behind a glass window, there is one thing I wish for my readers.

While my identity may be long gone, I hope it wasn’t all for nothing.

I pray that some way, some how, this post can reach a parent who is on the fence with treatment options for their child.

I pray that if possible, this post can be enough to convince someone to just let their child be a child…

If you feel like medication is the only option, DISCUSS IT THOROUGHLY WITH YOUR CHILD.

Allow them to have a voice in the decision making process.

Let them know all of the risks involved and that this could potentially, be a life sentence– as it was for me.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more ❤️

Difficulty saying “no”

On a daily basis I land myself in situations that I don’t necessarily want to be in.

How?

Because I don’t know how to just freaking say “NO!

I’m an interesting character.

Anxious, goofy, and don’t forget that lovely “resting bitch face”… 😐

But no matter how “odd” or “different” I may be at first glance, deep down I am one of the kindest people you will ever meet.

I’m an empath.

If you ask me it’s a double edged sword.

While I love being able to offer compassion to those in need, sometimes it can be hard keeping myself afloat when I’m constantly drowning in everyone else’s emotions…

As an empath I feel with people.

Some days I feel solely responsible for ensuring happiness in what feels like all of the world.

It’s not a duty that I was assigned but rather one I must accomplish for my own emotional well-being.

How does this play into everyday life?

In many ways, but today I’m addressing one in particular.

Difficulty saying “no”

Empathic personality or not, I think many of us can agree that saying “no” can be challenging at times.

I just recently learned that apparently, you don’t have to give people a reason of why you can’t do something…?

Wait, what?!

This realization won’t be changing anything over here though…

As refreshing as that seems, it’s not really my style.

I’m more of the, agree to do something because I don’t have balls to be honest then send myself into an anxious frenzy dreading whatever I just signed up for, type of person. 🙄

A couple weeks ago I was getting ready to prepare dinner when the doorbell rang.

Peeking out the window, spotting a woman who appeared to be around my age with a little boy.

My enthusiastic five year old selling us out from pretending to not be home.

It turned out to be our across the street neighbors who we had never met before.

The little boy was going to be starting kindergarten at the same school as Karissa (my daughter) this year.

How crazy that we had no clue about each other until just now!

As excited as I was about all of this the timing couldn’t have been worse.

I’d been talking myself off the ledge all day as my anxiety had been through the roof.

Also in the process of scaling back on an anti-depressant that was causing me to sweat excessively (… TMI sorry! But I have a point I promise!!)

It had been one thing after another that day and I was one wind away from completely losing it.

To make matters even worse I didn’t have a bra on.

My sweet neighbors unaware of when is a good or a bad time for me unless I of course would just verbalize that, right…?

Right.

Just not for ‘Miss unable to express how I really feel’…

Aka ME.

“Do you guys want to come in?”

😑

There I sat bra-less and awkwardly dripping sweat on the couch…

When I’m awkward, I’m really awkward.

Instead of clamming up I start “word-vomiting” to this stranger about every and anything.

I don’t know how long we sat there but it felt like nine days.

The finale was Karissa slamming her finger in the door while they were playing.

She was screaming at the top of her lungs for at least five minutes while we continued visiting with our guests….

Eventually we exchanged numbers and tentatively planned a play date for a couple days later.

‘Man why am I so weird…? 😣’

Spray painting myself with embarrassment and shame.

Internally fighting on how to handle this “situation” if we did in fact, confirm this play date.

She was so nice and the kids had totally hit it off…

The empath in me told myself to just, ‘be a good neighbor and mom’.

But my anxiety is selfish.

Every time I tried reasoning with myself my pulse would soar, skyrocketing until I was so freaked out I continued brainstorming my escape plan again.

The morning of our plans I woke up to a text from her.

Crap.

The plans were no longer tentative.

A panic attack draped over me as I impulsively began typing…

Stopping myself to focus on slowing my heart rate as a tear fell down my cheek.

My first impression was an absolute train wreck…

This girl was cool, pretty and sweet…

There was no way that I could show my face right now, especially with my meds so out of whack.

What if I started sweating again… or rambling AGAIN.

I’d already told this poor woman my entire life story while pouring with sweat and bra-less…

Everything about this situation sucked.

The stress of it all was too much.

I sent the screenshot to my husband as I began venting my frustration:

Be honest?!?

I had no one to be angry at but myself.

Simply saying “no” could have avoided this situation entirely.

He was right…

but I can’t say “no”… remember?!

So I prayed about it and eventually, this is what I wrote….:

Oh my gosh I was actually honest…😳

The moment I hit ‘send’ on that text I felt like 80 pounds was instantly lifted off my back.

It was the strangest thing.

I was honest….and nobody died.

Even better?!

HER RESPONSE! 😍❤️:

This simple display of honesty strengthened our friendship in such a special way:

You guys…

This experience taught me so much!

If you struggle with saying “no”, like I do, I encourage you to give this a try.

Honesty is in fact, the best policy.

Thank you Lord, for teaching me things. ❤️

Check out my blog Project Identity for more great stuff 💕

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Everything is a trigger

I have crippling PTSD and in some ways it defines me.

How my husband puts up with me sometimes is beyond me.

At times it feels like everything is a trigger.

My guard is always up, even when it’s down.

One “mispronounced” sentence leaves me emotionally distraught- the situation is suddenly “serious” and I have to protect myself.

Shutting down, completely dissociating, walking away.

It’s certainly not an easy way to live for anyone involved.

What are my triggers?

I don’t even know.

In the middle of a seemingly normal conversation I’m suddenly running away, thinking my entire life is ruined.

TRUST ME I don’t mean to be this way.

Everything inside of me wishes that my mind didn’t dissect every single thing it ever hears.

Talking to me can be a trigger.

NOT talking to me can be a trigger.

My PTSD makes me feel like people are always trying to manipulate me even when I know that they are people I can trust.

I grew up in an environment where I was constantly being manipulated.

Because of this, my brain has this distorted way of looking at people… looking at the world.

I was able to numb these emotions for a long time with drugs and alcohol but now that I’m a responsible adult….

How can I live without making myself crazy?

My husband knows me better than anyone on this planet.

We have our moments as any relationship does, but I know that he always has my best intentions at heart.

Yet no matter how much I am aware of this it doesn’t change the result when I’m triggered.

This unintentional panic rushes through me as effortlessly as blinking.

It’s like I’m on auto-pilot and the broken little girl in me takes over.

Usually I end up literally walking away in an effort to “escape the conflict”.

I feel out of control in those moments.

Torn between my heart and my head.

In the time alone I sit and negatively pick apart my brain.

This never ends well.

PTSD constantly attacks my sanity.

Is my husband going to get sick of me?

Sick of my baggage?!?!

If you are a regular reader of my blog then you are likely aware that I am quite the optimist.

I do what I do in an effort to help people.

When I begin writing an article I almost never have the answers for my conclusion worked out.

Writing has been a process of solving my own problems.

By doing this blog I am slowly healing myself.

This article is a tricky one though.

How do I change the messed up way my brain thinks?

“Children react. Adults respond.”

Said my brother following a heart to heart we had a couple months ago.

I’d asked him how to keep myself from rambling all the time- something that he has perfected.

Anxiety and attention deficit disorder are not a good combination.

My anxiety has me in a heightened state of awareness all the time.

My ADD has me all over the place.

All. The. Time.

I’ll remind myself before going somewhere to stay quiet… to just focus on something and be an observer instead of the annoying person who never shuts their mouth.

It has been years of attempting without success.

Silence is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

I can’t do silence.

Silence is a trigger.

Hence, why I ramble about stupid stuff all the time.

How do I respond when my brain can’t even figure out how to be quiet long enough to listen?

When I think of that quote I can’t help but feel like it may be useful in managing my PTSD.

If I take a moment to respond then I should have a second to remind myself that my husband isn’t a manipulator- before reacting and falling into crisis.

I’m clearly not a good listener.

I think that in this moment God is wanting me to practice what I preach.

To take a deep breath before responding.

To bare silence.

So I will practice, Lord.

I will push myself even in the moments that it’s uncomfortable.

I’ll be aware of myself and my surroundings.

And with God I can overcome this.❤️

Anyone have good remedies for PTSD?!

I’ve made leaps and bounds with this treatment ➡️ The miraculous treatment for anxiety that’s being kept secret

BUT, I feel like I’m stalling out on this manipulation issue.

Every session I completely dissociate and haven’t been able to truly put in the work!

I’d love to hear any tips and as always, would gladly accept any prayers!! ❤️

Thank you for stopping by and for being my wonderful blogging community!

You guys are THE BEST!!

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Surviving with broken self confidence

“Hi. I was just calling to see if you can tattoo permanent makeup on my face… skin color… to hide my freckles?!?!”

Yes I literally called a tattoo parlor and asked that very question.

Tired of the skin I was born in.

Desperate to change myself.

I used to wear A TON of makeup.

It would take THREE hours of painting my face every morning before being able to walk out the front door.

Never feeling satisfied with the end result.

I don’t know what I was trying to paint…

Just anything other than myself and this terrible face I’d been given.

High school has a weird way of structuring us.

We finish very different people than when we started based off the people and experiences we encounter.

So much time is spent in school.

Time that is crucial in building the foundation of who you are.

If that experience is a negative one, you may find yourself grown and left picking up the pieces.

Graduation was a time of undeniable relief for me.

No longer would I have to walk down those halls and be crucified.

I was free in a world where maybe, just maybe, people would love and accept me.

That freedom did not come without a price tag though.

In the real world,

My lack of self confidence was evident, making me an easy target.

My coping mechanisms were unhealthy, leading me to the wrong people.

(Read Running🍸)

When your core beliefs about yourself have been completely damaged how do you move forward?

For the longest time I was literally unable to repeat the words “I am beautiful”.

Even in the comfort of my own mind… I couldn’t think it.

Part of me felt like it was easier being ugly if everyone knew that I knew that I was ugly.

What does that even mean?!

There is this sense of security in hiding behind “being ugly”.

“At least I’m not one of those in denial ugly people…”

Have you ever done that?

When you have been against yourself for so long you eventually lose sight of how you got there.

I couldn’t say, “I am beautiful”, because I was so completely convinced that I was the farthest thing from beautiful and genuinely unworthy of saying otherwise.

I’d forgotten that my “ugliness” was a belief that had formed in response to my negative experiences in school.

It’s so much easier to take what we are being fed and run with it than to stand up and correct ourselves.

Easier to believe the evil words that people throw at you instead of just loving and accepting yourself for who you are.

As soon as you start believing in yourself nothing else matters though.

My “freeing” moment came when I realized that if I am the only person that is on my side, I sure as heck better make sure I’m an advocate for myself.

The quote, “if you can’t beat them, join them” rings so entirely false in this situation.

Joining them is what we always seem to do…but WHY?!

Why step aside and watch yourself rot…?!

I don’t care how “ugly” you are… you don’t deserve to do that to yourself.

We each have a choice on how our story ends.

The fact is that I am me.

This is who I am.

The only way you can move forward with broken self confidence is by joining the same team as yourself.

Love yourself even when you’ve been given every reason not to.

Accept yourself piece by piece- note that accepting is different than liking.

Make a list of what you are instead of what you wish you were.

By saying, “this is my face” instead of “I hate my freckles”, you are accepting the fact that you were given a face and this is what it is.

When you allow negativity to define you, you are giving up on yourself.

Don’t give up on yourself.

Love yourself.

Encourage yourself.

Strengthen yourself.

At the end of the day, “you” are all you have.

Treat yourself the way you wish other people would treat you. ❤️

Check out my blog for more goodness💝

Project Identity

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Plagued with panic attacks

It was like any other day until it wasn’t.

At work, mid-sentence with a customer when in the snap of a finger my entire world flipped upside down.

I didn’t know where I was or what was going on.

This “wave” slammed into me, clothing me in a dreamlike fog.

It was the most foreign, alarming, out of control feeling I’d ever experienced and I completely panicked.

The customer left abandoned in confusion as I took off running.

Holding my chest to try and keep my heart from exploding out of it.

I was so disoriented, sweaty, and confused.

How would you react if suddenly you just were not in your body and you couldn’t get back in?

“Am I dead?!”

I kept wondering as I raced away like a penguin being preyed.

The black and white checkered floor felt like it was coming out from beneath me.

Finally stumbling outside where unfortunately, “a breath of fresh air” wasn’t enough to bring me back to reality.

I remember literally slapping myself in the face repeatedly attempting to “wake up” from this horrifying experience.

It would be more than three hours and an entire pack of cigarettes before I finally felt like I was back in my body again.

What in the world just happened?!?!

Life from that moment on consisted of constant obsessive worrying that this was going to happen again.

The complete terror of that experience had me in chaos mode.

Life felt like trying to walk around land mines.

Later that evening as I sat down to take my shoes off…

“WHOOSH”

there I was again… back in the “fog”.

I transitioned in and out of this mental state at least once a day after that.

“I’M DYING!!!!!!”😭

I confessed to my psychiatrist at our next appointment.

“The ground keeps coming out from beneath me and I’m all the sudden out of my body and I can’t get back in and it’s terrifying!”

😭😭😭

Her expression lacked the frantic concern that I was anticipating…

“It sounds like you are having panic attacks.”

My rap sheet of mental illnesses just grew.

(Read Life sentenced to medication)

Eight years later and anxiety remains at the forefront of my mental health complications.

I’m convinced that once you experience a panic attack you are “sentenced” to having them forever.

Panic attacks are so unbelievably traumatizing that you will never be the same person after walking away from one.

Consumed with the fact that your world could get turned upside down at any moment, completely unannounced.

You start having panic attacks in fear of having panic attacks.

People with panic disorder live in a heightened state of awareness at all times.

There is a constant excruciating fear that you’ll be ambushed by YOURSELF and unable to take back control.

It’s a terrible feeling.

How can you be of help to a loved one who is having a panic attack?

  • Never tell someone who is having a panic attack to “just calm down”.

If they could calm down, they would. Trust me. Understand that they are completely out of control in this moment and don’t need additional reminders of it.👍

  • LISTEN!

It is challenging to be compassionate about something you don’t understand. Don’t minimize something you have never experienced. Someone who is having a panic attack may ramble and be all over the place. Just listen and offer empathy. Questions and concerns may be addressed once the situation has resolved.

  • Respect boundaries!

Everyone has their own way of handling things. When my panic attacks get really bad I need to be alone. There is enough going on in that moment to handle the presence of another person. Some people might need you to stay. Listen to how you can be of help and be respectful in those wishes.

  • Try to remain calm.

This one might be hard as witnessing someone having a panic attack is not an easy thing to go through. Be the strength that they are so desperately needing in this moment. ❤️

  • Come up with a game plan.

If someone close to you experiences panic attacks have a conversation. Coming up with a game plan is SO IMPORTANT as it will allow these “moments of crisis” to pass less catastrophically.

  • Pray for them with them.

Nothing is more calming during a panic attack than that moment of redirection to God’s voice! Pray a strengthening prayer for them with them. Be genuine. This prayer will make them feel understood in a moment when nothing makes sense. God will help you through this.❤️

If you have panic attacks:

THIS IS A MUST READ!!! The treatment discussed in this article has been absolutely life changing for me! 😬❤️

  • SHARE THIS to your inner circle! 🙌

Awareness is key. Everyone needs to be on the same page! Start the conversation with your loved ones by sharing this article.💌

  • Let’s be friends!! Follow my blog

Project Identity- An inspirational blog❤️ for more tools! 😊 Hang in there!!

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Freedom from trauma

After experiencing trauma certain aspects of life will never be the same.

For someone who was assaulted in a yellow room that smelled like pine needles… the color yellow, the smell of pine needles, both could potentially be enormous triggers.

Trauma can be anything.

While rape and assault are the most commonly talked about the possibilities are literally endless.

If you’ve had a severely disturbing experience you may be carrying around the burden of trauma.

How do we move forward after experiencing trauma?

Read on to find out ⬇️❤️⬇️

Sometimes the most unlikely memories are the ones that mess us up the most.

The first significant trauma that I can remember was when my childhood “best friend” woke up one day and decided she didn’t want anything to do with me anymore.

I never even knew how badly that experience affected me until just recently…

My brain had literally convinced itself over time that we just grew apart.

Until last summer when my family made a trip back to my childhood vacation spot- Grand Lake, Colorado.

Our previous visit there was over fourteen years before.

The “best friend” I just mentioned came along with us on that last year.

Casually talking to my mom about memories from this beautiful place as we grabbed an ice cream cone at a familiar shop.

“I remember when we got back and Tori wouldn’t talk to you at all. She was completely ignoring you.”

No…I didn’t remember that actually…

As ice cream dropped on my shirt I responded,

“What are you talking about?!?!”

With the transition into middle school we just grew apart.

Or so I thought…

“I came up to her after volleyball practice and her dad ran up and yelled at me to stay away from her.”

Suddenly this memory, which my brain would have clearly rather forgotten, was piecing itself together.

The sounds…the smells….all of it came crashing down on me.

The distant memory suddenly felt like it was yesterday.

One minute I was just a kid without a thing to worry about… the next I’m left with only questions about people… questions about the world.

How could I have possibly forgotten that?!?!

I’d like to introduce you to the human brain.

Capable of so many things… including shielding us from trauma.

It’s not uncommon to completely blackout a traumatic experience in fact.

That is our brains way of “protecting” us.

I don’t remember what happened in the following days or weeks but I do remember that life got really hard after being abandoned.

Moving forward I had a difficult time making friends.

People were so mean.

From there it was what seemed like an everlasting downward spiral.

I guess it’s easier telling people that you “grew apart” from someone than saying “my best friend didn’t want me anymore and she never told me why”…

While this memory was immediately available to me it changed over time like a game of telephone.

Regardless, the awareness of my trauma would be a major step in my healing.

Life after trauma 💔➡️❤️

A twelve year old is blindsided by her best friend, abandoned without an explanation.

If you were the twelve year old, what beliefs do you think you would form about yourself and others as a result of that situation?

  1. People will leave me without reason.
  2. People I trust are going to hurt me.
  3. I am not in control.
  4. I am unwanted.
  5. There is something wrong with me.

Trauma almost always comes tied with a negative core belief(s).

You are no longer physically reaping the pain of the traumatic event… instead the pain you carry is the baggage of the negative belief this trauma gave you.

Trauma is the event.

Negative belief is the result.

My “best friend” left me when I was 12.

I’m almost 27 now.

“Learning” this new information about my childhood filled in a lot of the puzzle pieces that I thought had been lost forever.

In the years following the abandonment, I’d turn to alcohol and drugs to try and fill the void that my friend left in me.

Like dominos, I would face trauma.

Eventually leading to “textbook traumas”, assault and rape.

As ridiculous as this sounds, sometimes I feel like the abandonment was the worst trauma of them all.

Maybe if it had happened a couple years later….after I’d already successfully finished transitioning into a young woman…. maybe it wouldn’t have been so catastrophic.

But the way it all ended up playing out was the perfect combination to completely damage me.

It is so important to deal with our traumas.

Until you deal with them they will ruin you.

There is a sense of peace in the clarity I have now of why I am the way I am.

My marriage has grown in this knowledge as well since my husband is aware and involved in this reconditioning process.

While it will be a long road of re-training my brain and my beliefs about myself, at least I’m on the right road.

Below are the steps I’ve taken to experience freedom from trauma⬇️❤️⬇️

1) Identify the trauma.

This is the experience that negatively affected you. The “what”.

2) Identify the negative belief(s).

WRITE THEM DOWN- they are much easier to correct that way!

3) Correct the negative belief(s).

FACT CHECK YOURSELF!

Trauma leaves us with unrealistic beliefs about ourselves.

Often times our negative beliefs are exaggerated.

See below how I corrected mine from the example above.

⬇️❤️⬇️

Negative beliefs

  1. People will leave me without reason.
  2. People I trust are going to hurt me.
  3. I am not in control.
  4. I am unwanted.
  5. There is something wrong with me.

Corrected statements

  1. SOME People willmay leave me without reason.
  2. People I trust are going tocould hurt me.
  3. I am not in control OF OTHER PEOPLE.
  4. I am not wanted by ONE person.
  5. There is something wrong with me. I am uniquely me.

It’s literally crazy how changing a couple of words can completely alter the quality of your life.

I totally get that sometimes you feel too broken to accept the fact that it’s not your fault that this happened to you.

This is a process and as any process it will have ups and downs.

I’m definitely more sensitive than the average person when it comes to feeling like people may abandon me.

That sensitivity is a whole lot better than the years I spent convinced that everyone would leave me though.

Invest in yourself and your well being.

Be courageous and tackle your traumas.

I promise that there can be freedom after trauma.❤️

Check out my blog for more inspirational goodness⬇️❤️⬇️

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Loss by suicide 💔

Nate was a lot like me.

Loud, goofy, awkward.

Thoughtful.

We went to high school together but never really got to know one another until a job at Starbucks landed us together six years later.

It was nice to see a familiar face on the first day of a new job.

Nate took me under his wing and within no time our shifts were spent in tears from laughing so hard with each other.

I thank God for those memories.

I’d only been working at Starbucks for a couple months before Nate left the company to focus on Uber and his dog walking business.

Every so often one of us would reach out through Facebook and discuss meeting for pedicures.

We never got the chance to do so.

It pains me that I didn’t know how much he really needed me.

My career at Starbucks lasted another year before leaving to have baby #2 and be a stay-at-home mom.

Being a barista was getting increasingly unbearable thanks to preeclampsia!

Every shift my feet would swell painfully HUGE and I wouldn’t be able to get my shoes off when I got home.

Finally in my last week at Starbucks-miserable was an understatement.

There were not many things that made me smile at that point.

And then, in walked Nate one day with a pink gift bag in one hand and a box of diapers in the other.

The super pregnant barista was finally smiling.❤️

That’s just the person that Nate was.

He was the sunshine.

The silly friend who always went completely out of his way to make other people smile.

I was leaving church when I opened the message nobody wants to receive,

“Hey girl I hate to tell you this but Nate is gone. They found him face down in a parking garage with a single gunshot wound in the front of his head.”

Excuse me what did you just say?!?

So many emotions pulsing through me.

What was going on?!

Where was I?!?!

In an instant my world went black and white.

Battling with my mind while searching for answers.

A murder?!

A freaking murder?!?!

I was in such a state of shock that I literally tried convincing myself that it was all some kind of social experiment or prank.

My mind just couldn’t believe it.

Until I walked into his funeral service and instantly shattered.

This was all for real and I couldn’t deny it anymore.

I wish he could have seen how many people came to say goodbye to him…

People who loved him overflowing into every inch of the large room.

His brother’s speech would kickoff the service and offer some answers in this tragic madness.

“Nate had depression.”

Confessed his brother, speaking at the start of the service.

Wait what?!

Depression?!?!

You couldn’t be talking about my Nate?!

No way!

Absolutely not!

He was always so happy!!!

And then it hit me.

Every person has their own way of trying to keep their head above water.

Severe depression is a serious condition.

It’s a debilitating kind of loneliness.

Nate… I’m sorry.

Sorry you were hurting. 💔

Sorry that the pain was too bad to continue on suffering the blow.

I had no idea you had depression… and I’m sorry for that too.

I’m sorry that you’re gone.

And I’m sorry for the finality of all of this.

I miss you.

I love the moments when you say hello as the sun blanketing me… the snowflake landing on my nose.

I wish your story could have ended differently.

Rest In Peace my friend.❤️

In loving memory of Nathan Flanagan💐

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Running

Burnette’s pink lemonade vodka was my drug of choice.

My painkiller.

Escaping is exhilarating…

So we run.

We escape.

The first time I got drunk I experienced feeling accepted for the first time in a long time.

Things got really hard when I started middle school.

Everybody hated me and I could never figure out why.

Constantly seeking out “imperfections” to correct so people would just be nice to me.

Alcohol and drugs filled that void when I couldn’t fill it myself.

So I chased it.

Associating my behavior with “just being a teenager”.

Normal teenagers don’t get DUI’s or spend months of their senior year in treatment though…

The emotional freedom I experienced while under the influence quickly developed into a need.

I needed to be accepted.

I couldn’t take another day, another minute, of this life in full strength.

It was miserable.

Draining.

Impossible.

“Running” became an obsession.

The deep seeded need to feel loved and accepted would eventually lead me to drugs and just about anything I could get my hands on.

Marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy.

All were used regularly by the age of 16.

I always told myself that meth and heroin were where I’d draw the line because they were “crackhead drugs”.

While I never tried either of them, I’m sure if the opportunity would have ever presented itself, I would have snagged it in an instant.

The escape was worth any consequence at that time.

I remember an instance when I couldn’t get anything but was so desperate to be numb that I attempted getting high by smoking oregano.

In case you were wondering, it didn’t work.

Today I’m happily clean and sober!

Read more on how I got here by clicking the link below ⬇️❤️😊❤️⬇️

My untraditional fairy tale❤️

Today I’m left only with the debris of my bad choices.

My PTSD is through the roof.

Traumatized by the person that I used to be.

What could I have done differently to avoid all of this?

Operating properly today because of preference.

I prefer calm.

I prefer safe.

But I can’t say that the “safety net” I have today applied to my 14 year old self.

I didn’t feel safe then.

Middle and high school were a living hell for me.

Every day waking up with a pit in my stomach knowing I’d have to deal with people and the evil that they threw at me.

That pain was only temporary and I am safe now.

While it may have seemed like too long to hang on at times… I survived.

I don’t think I would enjoy life the way I do today if I hadn’t been through what I’ve been through.

If you’re running on empty right now because of bullying or addiction,

Please take the following letter to heart.

…This could be you too.❤️

Dear 14 year old self-

Things will be okay.

Eventually.

They are going to get worse before they get better.

A lot worse.

Hang on.

Remember that you control how this story ends.

Never rely on other people for happiness.

Learn to love yourself and one day you will have the world in your hands.

A beautiful family.

A husband who loves you.

Invaluable knowledge and strength.

A story that could potentially change lives.

❤️

This situation is temporary.

Don’t fight it!

Embrace it to the best of your ability.

Know that it’s worth the wait.

The ones who are ripping you to shreds will go through their own loneliness while you prosper.

Forgive them.

Pray for them.

One day you may even help them.

Two wrongs never make a right.

Be the energy you would like to attract even in the times you aren’t seeing results.

God won’t ever give you more than you can handle.

These years are a “boot camp” for the path you will lead someday.

As terrible as this very moment feels right now, it will all be worth it.

Your adversity is God’s opportunity 🌪🌪🌪🌈

The harder the training, the greater the “role” in God’s plan.

Unfortunately for now, you’ll have to wait it out.

Don’t give up.

There is a Man upstairs watching over you.

I love you.

Hang in there❤️

What is God training YOU for?!

Channel your adversity❤️

Follow my blog for more! 😊❤️😊

Project Identity

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Life sentenced to medication

“The doctor says I have depression.”

My eight year old friend stared at me perplexed as I gulped down a handful of pills at our sleepover.

It was rather confusing to me as well.

After my dad “disappeared” one day, things changed.

My mom had to go back to work.

She was terrified that the end of her marriage would somehow destroy the lives of my brother and I.

But I wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last eight year old dealing with a broken home.

One day my mom loaded us into the car.

Even my wildest dreams couldn’t imagine the importance of this day.

It was a day that would affect the rest of my life.

Following a long drive we arrived in front of a quaint little office building tucked neatly behind trees.

The interior was decorated like a cabin home.

It was quiet.

I sat innocently in the waiting room and began flipping through a magazine.

Eventually a man emerged from the large oak doors and after speaking with my mother, it was my turn.

“So… How are you?”

He offered.

“Good.”

I said quietly.

“What brings you in today?”

An odd question for my eight year old self.

“Ummm. I’m not really sure…”

He continued,

“Your mom informed about the situation at home. I can only imagine how hard that must be.”

“Ummm. Yeah I guess.”

“What are your thoughts on your Father’s drinking behaviors?”

He solicited.

“It can be scary at times. But he’s gone now.”

“Yes. Can you explain to me what’s happening…?”

“Ummm. I don’t know. My parents don’t love each other. They never did really. I was sleeping over at my friends house and when I came home my Dad was gone.”

“Mhmm. Yes. And how does that make you feel?”

At last he had poked me hard enough to unleash the stream of tears he’d been seeking all along.

“It’s fine.”

Responding as he handed me a box of tissues,

“It sounds like you have depression. You can manage your symptoms with medication. I am writing you a prescription for some today.

And that was it.

Looking out the window on the drive home- completely oblivious to how that prescription would change the way I lived my life forever.

These trips to the doctor became routine.

Every visit resulting in a new handful of medications intended to “fix” me.

In a matter of months I was “diagnosed” with three more “conditions”.

The doctor was constantly adding medications and never replacing them.

Each visit solidifying “I am crazy” and “I am broken” in my little head.

Eventually it reached a point when I was taking thirteen prescription medications.

If I wasn’t broken to begin with, I surely would be now.

I was a pharmaceutical guinea pig.

Maybe that’s the reason that to this day I have this deep seeded belief that I’m not normal.

That I’m defective.

That I need to swallow pills to function like other people.

18 years later I still take medication.

I have a handful of mental health conditions which vary based on the doctor you ask.

Currently I take 4 different medications which keep me right at the edge of sanity.

I’ve established as much of a “freedom” from medication as possible.

My body has been relying on meds for so long that I need them to just feel “okay” now.

I don’t know who I am without medication.

There are times I still wish I could get the chance to meet myself.

My real self.

Times I feel that I’ve been robbed of my true identity.

How would my life would be different if my adversity was categorized as “life” instead of a “flaw that needs fixing”?

Maybe I would end up with the exact same prescription cocktail after all, even if I’d never become dependent on meds as a child.

The problem is that I’ll never know.

Parents- If your child is going through a rough time PLEASE weigh ALL of your options before jumping into a treatment plan.

Don’t commit to a permanent solution for a temporary problem.

I’m not disagreeing with medication.

I’m not blaming anyone.

I’m simply giving a voice to my eight year old self who didn’t have one.

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Project Identity

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An “insiders” opinion on the mental health system


I was in crisis.

Suddenly the seemingly perfect life I’d been living was in total havoc and I just freaking lost it.

I needed help.

Time away where I could sit and talk with someone to work through my problems.

That is what happens at those inpatient mental health places…right?!

Clothing & Accessories ❤️

This actually wouldn’t be my first experience with the mental health system.

In 2011, I was put on a 72 hour hold after firemen broke my window to rescue me following a suicide attempt.

You can read more about that experience by clicking the link below ⬇️⬇️⬇️

https://project-identity.blog/2018/04/02/my-untraditional-fairy-tale/

This story leaves you hanging however in regards to the system.

The only thing I really remember from that experience was sitting in a dark room, completely isolated, only to be released in my hospital gown three days later.

There may have been other issues in protocol based on the severity of my condition at the time.

That was also 2011.

By 2018 they surely had new measures in place to give those in crisis a safe place to go….

“Alexis. Are you a danger to yourself?”

Well knowing that my response would decipher my freedom, I finally amounted the courage to say the word.

Yes.

Life as I knew it was suddenly out of my control.

The walls melted beside me as the EMT’s laid me on a stretcher and wheeled me out of my doctors office.

You guys I’m a pretty normal human these days.

I don’t go out.

I don’t get in trouble.

I’m a mom to two beautiful little girls.

Call me basic.

Yet however “basic” I may be, I still managed to land myself in a crisis center on a 72 hour hold.

This could be anyone.

So what exactly happens to you once you get turned over to the system?

Is our mental health system enough to “fix” people?

See if my experience changes your opinion.

2018 inpatient mental health experience

After completing a gene test, it was determined that my antidepressant wasn’t a very effective choice for me.

Ready for better management of my depression I decided to make the switch.

The catch?

I’d have to ween off my current antidepressant for three weeks before starting the new one.

This is actually protocol as taking multiple SSRI’s increases your risk of developing serotonin syndrome.

Two weeks in and I was feeling just fine!

“Maybe I don’t need this antidepressant after all!”

Until on week two, day five, when “life” happened.

Laying on the bathroom floor staring into space.

Every once in awhile reminding myself that I’m a mom and I need to get my butt out there and suck it up.

Only to inevitably explode tears in front of my children and end up back on the bathroom floor in effort to shelter them from my “crazy”.

Terrified of the system after my first experience, I attempted to sleep it off.

Fast forward to the admittance of needing help at the beginning of this article.

Here is what the next 72 hours had in store for me.

10am: EMT’s come to my doctors office to take me to the hospital.

10:30am: I arrive at the hospital. A guard is placed at the door of my ER room to keep an eye on me. Sitting still, sobbing quietly, trying to not distract the nurses from tending to actual emergency care.

12pm: A urine sample and blood work are finally collected and sent to the lab. I still have yet to talk to a therapist. Regret starts sinking in.

3pm: The medical tests came back normal. I’ve now been cleared from medical and an order has been submitted for me to speak to a counselor for placement.

9:30pm: Just shy of TWELVE hours in the emergency room staring at a wall. What did I sign up for? AT LAST the counselor is here to do the assessment. Following a stack of paperwork, the decision is made to send me to a crisis center. Now more waiting while they search for an available bed. The nurse said this can take up to 24 hours.

11:30pm: A surprisingly short (2 hour) wait time until I found placement. But wait there’s more…. time to submit the pre authorization for insurance. I was told once again this could take up to 24 hours. Please get me out of here.

1am: Once again I’ve “lucked out” as insurance only took an hour and a half to respond. How people could be stuck helpless in the ER for DAYS possibly… I can’t even begin to fathom. Can I speak to a therapist yet?

1:30am: EMT’s arrive to transport me to my new “home”.

2:15am: I have finally arrived. However, it is the middle of the night. I guess I won’t be seeing a therapist today.

Note: This entire ridiculous day was enough to make a person crazy. I was over it. This definitely was NOT what I was expecting. There were not therapists on duty to help me through it. The panic attacks were unbearable. I had missed the window for medication distribution so I’d have to manage without the pills that help me sleep at night. I felt so trapped and out of control. Everyone was sleeping so I couldn’t even cry it out like I so badly needed to. Choking on my tears, hyperventilating, trying to be quiet.

It was the ultimate depressive low.

5am: Finally I decide to try and sleep after my attempts at escaping were unsuccessful.

7am: Time for breakfast. I was able to fall asleep for a little over an hour. 😫

8am: Medications are given. If you haven’t seen the doctor yet, no meds. Even if you brought your own medication in the original bottles with your name on them. My body is literally so used to taking my medications that if I miss a dose my skin gets all flushed and I feel like I’m dying. These symptoms adding to my already full load of problems.

9am: Group therapy. Essentially, working through coping skills. It’s incredibly hard to focus while I’m still overflowing with the problems that got me in here and the fact that I still haven’t been able to talk to ANYONE about them.

10am: Free time. Either read a book if you brought one, color if that’s your thing, or lay in the dayroom and sleep like 90% of people did.

12pm: Lunch.

1pm: Group therapy.

1:30pm: THE DOCTOR FINALLY CALLED ME! Andddd, my visit with her was a whopping 5 minutes. At least the order had FINALLY been put in for my meds. I’d have to wait until evening medication distribution to get them though.

2pm: Free time. More day sleeping…

4pm: More group therapy… still can’t focus.

5pm: Dinner.

6pm: Visitation.

7pm: Group therapy… again.

8pm: Medications. Which thankfully included me this time.

9pm: Bed.

This routine was the same schedule every day. The only difference the following day was that I FINALLY SAW A THERAPIST. For a ten minute one on one session. ONCE.

So, if I ever found myself in a mental health emergency again, would I make the same choice in asking for help?

As much as I hate admitting this, absolutely not.

The mental health system failed me.

I 110% left feeling WAY worse than I did when I got there.

You guys, how is this our system?

How is it that treatment for someone who is suicidal doesn’t involve any quality one on one time?

Why was the day filled with free time and taking naps (which is terrible for depression) while activities involving exercise (great for depression) didn’t exist?

Shouldn’t it be a priority to get severely mentally ill patients their medications in a timely matter?

Our broken system has psychiatric patients using emergency care rooms as waiting rooms… potentially for DAYS based on some of the wait times I was given. Is it really the best idea to tie up our EMERGENCY ROOM nurses with mentally ill people they can’t help?

I’m not sharing this as a salty ex-patient trying to make something out of nothing.

I’m sharing this because this could happen to anyone.

Depression doesn’t discriminate.

This is the system your children, your grandchildren, THEIR grandchildren may need to use some day…

I’m sure that there are options, for extremely wealthy people, to fly somewhere and have an actual therapeutic experience.

But what about the rest of us?

What about the suspects in these shootings that we keep saying need mental health treatment?

This is OUR mental health system and if people are leaving crazier than they came in, IT’S NOT WORKING

If you are appalled by this article SHARE IT!

Not enough people are aware of this sad reality.

Let’s expose the system for what it is.

It unacceptable.

Make your voice heard.

Follow my blog for more great stuff! ❤️

Project Identity


The miraculous treatment for anxiety that’s being kept secret

Anxiety.

Just hearing the word used to make me uncomfortably anxious.

At last, I’m able to type those seven letters in sequence without becoming completely unhinged.

Before I get to the WHAT, I’d like to address the process of getting here.

The one “miracle” treatment that gave me emotional freedom took eight years of misery to even hear about yet it’s been around since before I was born.

Anxiety affects SO MANY people in this world.

What are all of them doing to maintain their sanity?

My first panic attack was the most foreign, AWFUL feeling I’d ever experienced.

After the first one they just kept on coming.

All. The. Time.

I was having panic attacks because I was so afraid of having panic attacks.

(More on that story in- Plagued with panic attacks ❤️)

“The floor keeps coming out from underneath me”

I confessed to my psychiatrist one day, anxiously awaiting my death sentence.

“It sounds like you are experiencing anxiety”

Anxiety?!

You mean I’m not dying?!?!

I was given a prescription for anxiety medication and left the office feeling relieved that this chaos would stop happening to me.

If you’ve dealt with crippling anxiety like myself, I’m sure you’re laughing with me at that last comment.

Boy did I have a lot to learn about anxiety.

Eight years later here is what I’ve got.

Anxiety medication is a double edged sword.

Unlike many other medications, benzodiazepines, or “anxiety meds”, are only short term treatment options that build tolerance with regular use.

Symptoms are decreased initially but before you know it, the dose is no longer effective.

In turn, your doctor bumps up the dose.

Again. Again. And again.

You will reach a point when the dose needed to treat your symptoms is more than a doctor can write for you.

I found this out the hard way when my daily 1mg of Ativan reached a whopping 3mg of Ativan AND 4mg of Xanax a day.

Clearly an insane amount of benzodiazepines for someone to be taking on a daily basis.

Most doctors would not even go that high today except in extreme cases- like mine.

My anxiety was so bad that even at that ridiculously high dose of “benzos” I was still in and out of the emergency room for “heart attacks” on a monthly basis.

So when the day eventually came that my doctor told me I’d have to make this ineffective dose effective, I panicked!

Surely there were many other options to treat people with anxiety after the inevitable medication cap…

Kind of.

It took a long time before I could find options for coping with this madness.

Eventually I was referred for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Basically a therapist who you vent to and work through coping skills with.

CBT isn’t very effective in treating the panic attacks that you don’t see coming

In my case, exactly what I needed help with!!!

I wasn’t making any progress and after a couple months of it I decided the time and money spent going there just wasn’t worth it.

I was sentenced to a lifetime of panic attacks and there weren’t any options to cure me.

Over a year was spent in complete agony.

Every day was consumed with trying to stop my body from telling me I was dying.

Trying to find the right way to spread out my now ineffective medication to keep me from freaking out.

There were days when I dreaded waking up because I knew I’d have to try and manage my anxiety all day.

Eventually I ended up getting pregnant with my second child.

Benzodiazepines are not recommended during pregnancy

In total panic of hurting the baby I stopped taking all of my anxiety medications cold turkey.

Getting off benzodiazepines is absolute hell

Days were spent on the bathroom floor SCREAMING.

Stopping benzodiazepines gives you intense withdrawal symptoms including increased anxiety and panic attacks

At my wits end, popping Benadryl like candy to try and keep my head above water, I decided some crutch was better than no crutch.

Back to CBT I went.

This time around I had a new therapist who after reviewing my background recommended something called EMDR.

If you’ve never heard of it then join the crowd.

“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” is what it stands for.

Apparently it’s been around forever and has a ridiculously high success rate (as high as 100% success in some trials) in treating trauma.

Originally developed for veterans suffering from PTSD, EMDR works by filing traumatic memories PROPERLY into the brain.

My anxiety therapist said that the panic attacks that hit you like a bus stem from traumatic events shoved deep in our subconscious, resurfacing to be properly dealt with.

Traumatic events are well, traumatic.

It’s not uncommon to partially or completely blackout a traumatic event.

Even if you do remember most of what happened, you probably keep that memory far, faaaaar away!

That is our brains way of shielding us from the trauma.

A past trauma can cause a great deal of discomfort to revisit.

Successful completion of EMDR desensitizes such memories along with their symptoms.

So how does it work?!

Bilateral stimulation is used in a therapeutic setting while revisiting these horrific memories.

There are a variety of different mechanisms for the bilateral stimulation.

I use a light bar along with the hand buzzers, similar to the one pictured below- minus the headphones.

A buzzer gripped in each hand.

The light moves from side to side, on lightbulb at a time, coordinating vibrations with the side the light is on.

Sessions are very intense.

They always conclude with “containing” the disturbing memories and settling calmly in your self made “safe place”

This safety is reinforced in a few shorter sets of EMDR.

You leave the appointment calm.

That’s it.

Your brain does the rest of the work on its own.

After a couple sessions, the once cringeworthy event becomes nothing more than a memory.

It’s like magic.

While still currently undergoing therapy to cover my extensive trauma saturated past, I am 110% confident that once I’ve completed every target I will have COMPLETE control of my mind again.

The progress I have already made is absolutely mind blowing.

I HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM FOR A PANIC ATTACK IN OVER A YEAR.

I have an emergency supply of 1mg Xanax that I rarely need to use.

This much progress with so much to still work through is absolutely incredible.

Once hopeless, now flooding with hope.

It should not have taken 8 years for me to hear about EMDR.

With such high success rates you’d think doctors would recommend EMDR over the short term solution of medication.

That wasn’t the case for me.

Let’s work together to get the word out and change the standard.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE and give a voice to those who need real long term help.

Use the hashtag #EXPOSEEMDR ❤️

SO MANY lives could be reclaimed if people KNOW THAT THIS IS OUT THERE and it works!

If you feel like your life has become prisoner to anxiety I encourage you to find a therapist who does EMDR asap!

Freedom from anxiety is possible.

I never thought I’d say this but I’m proof of it.

For more information on EMDR click the link below ⬇️❤️⬇️

EMDR Institute

❤️

Follow my blog for more goodness 😊❤️😊

Project Identity