I’m not a bad person for cutting out a friend who chose addiction

I know I’m not a bad friend.

Still sometimes my heart and my mind collide.

It had been months of no contact when my daughter’s picture appeared on my ex best friend’s profile picture (read to the friend that isn’t a friend anymore).

My jaw hit the ground.

I had boldly and clearly expressed my wishes in this relationship… what did she want from me?!

A tone that sounds so cold but saying goodbye to that friendship was never easy for me either.

I made one of the bravest protests in my life by saying I wasn’t going to do this one way friendship anymore.

Then I just shut off the feelings completely so that I could learn to live with that choice.

It’s just as hard as choosing to leave the one who keeps cheating on you- not because you want to but because you need to.

I want the friendship back so badly but she isn’t in a stage where she’s going to chose to grow up any time soon.

We all have our limits.

This isn’t my rollercoaster.

But that wasn’t always the case.

You see, part of the freaking problem is that same annoying voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering, “you gave up on your friend… those are not your values.”

This voice sits and interrogates me until I’m blue in the face in conflict with myself.

A voice that’s so beyond false I can’t even believe it yet the power it still holds over me is so much more than I like to admit- even to myself.

This process has been constant battles of reminding myself of who I really am and the lengths I went to trying to save the friendship.

I wanted you back so badly and you still picked the drugs- again and again.

It was TWO YEARS of desperately searching for a way to fix this addiction.

I never compromised my values by refusing to enable her.

She mainly kept her distance and disappeared for long periods of time, leaving my mind to fester.

Boy did I make myself crazy in those two years…

I spent more time trying to fix her self-inflicted situation than I gave to my own family.

As a wife and mom to two young children, I feel like that in itself is why I did all that I possibly could have until it just wasn’t enough.

Instead of comforting my husband after a long day at work, I would obsessively google her name to make sure she hadn’t died yet.

While she was shooting up to numb the chaos she’d created, I was living all of it in full strength and it was freaking terrifying.

I did it because that is the type of friend that I am.

After two years of begging, pleading, making myself crazy, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I never wanted to lose her as a friend, but our lives have taken two very different paths.

How many friends from grade school have you grown apart from?

More than you can count probably.

As we grow and change the people that mesh well in our lives change also.

It is completely appropriate to grow apart from people- that’s life.

Putting needles in my arm and nodding out in a motel isn’t really my thing and I think that it’s fair for me to acknowledge that.

I would have helped her get clean but she didn’t want the help to do it properly because she doesn’t want to be clean.

Being fed by a household that enables her every need.

Call me insensitive but as a former addict myself, addiction is NOT a disease that makes you incapable of asking for help.

You have to want help and be ready to put in some insanely hard work… you have to OWN everything and everyone you ever wronged while using.

This requires a great deal of not so comfortable self reflecting.

There is nothing easy about looking in the mirror and doing some serious, heavy self reflection.

It’s not an easy process, and yes I would know because I’VE BEEN THERE.

I came to that dead end where I’d had enough of what I’d made of myself and so I changed.

Until an addict makes it to that road, they will keep hiding behind their “disease”- another reason “they’ve been done wrong in this world”.

This ball is in her court and her court only.

I’m genuinely sad that our story had to end this way.

When she stood next to me as a bridesmaid at my wedding, I never could have imagined this is where we’d be in four years.

I hate that I just wasn’t enough to make you want to get clean.

It kills me that I couldn’t be that friend who helped you get through this dark time.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t help you get back to the sweet person I first became friends with.

I genuinely pray that someday this will all make sense to you.

Saying goodbye was insanely hard for me but it was a choice that I stand behind.

No matter how twisted the story gets through the telephone line, I know who I am.

I’m not the person who just dropped their friend when they started using heroin.

I am a die hard believer in a person who is hiding behind drugs and I refuse to put myself through their negligent choices anymore.

I am a girl who loves her friends SO much that I will NOT bite my lip and settle for anything less than what’s best for them.

I will fight for what’s best for her, with or without her, until the day I die. ❣️

Check out my Project Identity for more empowering content! ❣️❣️❣️

To the person that doesn’t feel beautiful right now

I get it.

I know it’s hard feeling beautiful sometimes.

For many of us, genuine self confidence is a major hurdle.

‘Because I’m not beautiful …’

Says your mind.

Your mind is lying.

You can’t win the game it’s playing.

You’ve been chasing after perfection as if it’s obtainable.

But your eyes are lying too.

In this messy world with these cookie cutter goals…

The girl you see with what looks like everything, is living with a broken mirror as well.

She has her self imposed imperfections on display, yet none can see except the broken eyes that feel this way.

We are our own toughest critics.

Nobody sees us like we see ourselves.

Many of us are too busy shredding our own insecurities to have time to nitpick the invisible “flaws” in others.

I know that when you go out and feel like a spotlight is on you, like everyone is staring at your “flaws”, it’s hard to believe it.

But the streets are not filled with these materialistic beliefs that we are hammering into ourselves.

**eye roll**

Goes your mind.

Maybe you don’t feel beautiful because a toxic relationship stripped you of every sense of your worth.

As much as you try to remember who you really are, those pieces feel as if they are fading away.

Maybe a hurtful comment has branded truth into your negative feelings about yourself.

‘It must be true because someone else said it.’

So, SO false.

There is truth in the statement, “you will never be happy if your happiness is somewhere else”.

We feed these inner voices that are constantly compromising our happiness.

What if we really didn’t “need to just lose five pounds”, or “get a littleeee bit of Botox”, and we could just love ourselves like God loves us, simply?

What if instead of drowning in a pool of everything we hate about ourselves, we worked towards silencing those thoughts with the things we like about ourselves?

What if we tried “nurturing ourselves beautiful” instead of continuously failing at “hating ourselves pretty”?

Such a profound display of self love could be the key that unlocks your prison.

Every day is as beautiful as you choose to make it.

While day dreaming of your perfect physique may seem innocent enough, it’s not a healthy place to linger.

The fact is that you are not “that girl you’d die look like”.

You aren’t “shorter”, “blue eyed”, “skinny”.

By dwelling on the idea that your happiness lives in these things, you are setting yourself up for a long life of discontent.

What if the secret to feeling beautiful was way more obtainable than you thought…?

I know that telling you to love the person that you hate is the last thing you probably want to hear.

And that is the problem.

The truth is my dear, you are so beautiful.

You don’t need to change yourself, you need to change your mirror.

Check out Project Identity for more inspirational content! ❣️

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. ❣️

Self validation

“Stop it Alexis, you are such a hypochondriac!”

I’ll admit, I’m definitely on the dramatic side.

My animated personality and high functioning anxiety have unintentionally given me this reputation of being a complete hypochondriac.

A lifetime of being told that every inner intuition was a joke has taken from the grace I give myself.

Sinus infections have been a major part of my life.

I genuinely can’t even remember when this all started as that moment was likely silenced with the distrust I’ve developed towards my own sensations.

I’ve been muddling through life, neglecting chronic facial pain by reaffirming to myself that I’m “just being dramatic”.

I don’t feel fine.

I’ve had a sinus infection for as long as I can remember.

Every day begins with a blaring sinus headache.

Attempting to focus on anything is an impossible task.

It feels like living in a perpetual grogginess.

‘Stop being so dramatic.’

Drowning my thoughts with this message as I attempt to pull through another day.

The frustration lies in the fact that I can’t just turn it off.

No matter how much I try to convince myself that I’m fine, I don’t feel fine.

I’m playing a constant game of manipulation with myself.

It’s a confusing way to live.

Trips to the doctor happen as time and patience allow.

Usually this looks like long periods of not wanting to deal with it until it gets so bad that I cave in.

This past year, as symptoms became increasingly unbearable, I received at least five separate six-week trials of antibiotics and steroids.

The medications provide some minor relief but the problem always returns abruptly.

Over time, I’ve convinced myself that this is just “normal”.

And it is normal, for me at least.

2019 has been a year of taking back control of my health.

I’m tired of feeling like crap all the time… this isn’t normal!

I got a new psychiatrist who actually wants to work as a team.

I broke it off with my anxiety therapist after we couldn’t come to an agreement on proceeding with EMDR.

And finally, I had a CT scan done on my sinuses.

The results were one big wake up call.

“Your CT shows some major changes in your sinuses due to chronic inflammation.”

The doctor then began walking me through the imagery.

First he showed me an example of a normal CT scan of the sinuses.

The image showed air pockets throughout the sinus cavities.

My images were almost a complete contrast.

The right side appeared to be completely blacked out.

The left side, a close runner up, with only tiny pockets of air visible.

“How have you been functioning like this…? You have got to be miserable.”

He said, with complete empathy.

Words that were absorbed like a foreign language.

“I don’t know… I guess I just thought everyone felt like this all the time.”

I was referred to ENT to meet with a surgeon, whose remarks on my CT weren’t much better.

He stuck a scope down my nose to take a peek.

The good news?

I don’t have nasal polyps, which could require recurrent surgeries throughout life.

The bad news?

My sinuses have been inflamed for so long that some of the sinus cavities are swollen closed.

The right side has 3 of 4 nasal cavities completely sealed from inflammation.

The left side is narrowing and bacterial fluid has begun stockpiling.

Both sides will require surgery.

The surgery I’m having will require “cutting out bone” to reopen the sinus passages, allowing them to drain for the first time in years.

Multiple doctors commenting that this surgery could potentially be life changing.

I’m ready to experience this new normal.

April 3rd is the big day and it honestly can’t come soon enough.

I’m ready to experience life at my full potential.

In the meantime I’m left pondering a powerful lesson on self validation.

You see, if I had just listened to my intuition, this could have been taken care of a long time ago.

I have nobody to blame but myself for such neglect.

“Something in my body feels off.”

Is a statement that isn’t up for discussion.

You are the only person who knows how you feel.

Yet society has us trained to value the opinions of others above our own; To practice self care the way in which we were taught, which may not even be the best method for us personally.

I’ve learned that the opinions of others are irrelevant when addressing my personal feelings.

What are your self care habits?

Are you an exemplary advocate for your inner intuition?

Or is your shadow trying to tell you something…?

Check out Project Identity for more empowering content! ❣️

The story that changed my opinion on suboxone

Suboxone- a prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction.

The furthest my education on the substance has stretched is from tv shows where people use it to get high.

Wait what?!

They are treating heroin addiction by replacing one high for another?!

When a former heroin addict is using suboxone, are they even really clean?

It all sounds like a pretty dysfunctional system to me.

Or is it…?

I hate heroin.

Heroin took my childhood best friend and changed her into a person who made my skin crawl.

Two years of lies, anxiety, and HELL before I had to close the door on that friendship for good. (Read To the friend that isn’t a friend anymore.)

But it still hurts.

It hurts that a drug can completely change a person like that.

I know it’s an illness but as a former addict myself, there comes a time when you have to look your crap in the face and grow up.

Did you know that less than 10% of heroin addicts achieve remission?

Instead the majority of heroin addicts will die as compulsive liars who wronged you time and time again… “victims to a self inflicted illness”.

Heroin changes people.

My friendship used to be the most natural thing on earth and the new relationship, with the addict, gave me panic attacks.

When you start using heroin your entire vibe changes.

As one of the most loyal friends on the planet, it took so much strength to say goodbye, especially to someone with our history.

But controversially, I had to.

I had to choose me.

And that is why I despise heroin with every bone in my freaking body.

God has a way of putting people in your life at the right time.

Simultaneously to the loss of one friendship, a brand new one began to blossom.

In no time at all, my new friend and I were attached at the hip.

I admire the way she carries herself.

She holds herself to this radiating sense of accountability- she owns her crap!

As a single mom who works full time overnight shifts, WITHOUT A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE, she still schedules play dates multiple times a week.

She’s an incredible mom and amazing person all the way around.

She doesn’t use her situation as an excuse.

The friendship has just been easy.

Our values are so aligned and in no time, God had affirmed my decision.

When she told me that she was a former heroin addict, I was shocked.

“What?! NO WAY!!! But you are so normal?!?!

That is when I learned a powerful lesson about suboxone.

After a long, eye-opening conversation, my stance on suboxone has changed entirely.

Here are some of the points that helped me get there.

1) Generally addicts aren’t the most reliable sources, however, wearing your faults in regards to addiction like clothing is assuring when speaking to your sobriety.

2) Anything has the potential to be abused. Benadryl, dust off, laundry pods. When you use something in a way other than it was intended to be used, it becomes abuse. Just because some people choose to eat laundry pods, doesn’t mean we should stop selling them for the reason in which they are intended– hence why they are still on the shelves.

3) Addicts are obviously more likely to abuse anything, making suboxone treatment a slippery slope. This also plays a large part to this stigma surrounding suboxone- including my own opinion at one time. The 90ish percent of heroin addicts who aren’t able to achieve remission ARE likely abusing their suboxone.

4) Withdrawing from heroin won’t kill you but, it’s not for the faint of souls. Until a person is ready to stand up and start fighting for themselves, nothing is going to change.

5) When you use heroin, the drug triggers dopamine (what the brain receptors ignite as “pleasure”). American addiction centers explaining the effects of heroin use on the brain in simple terms. “Opiates, especially opiates as potent as heroin, activate the brain’s receptors to an incredibly dangerous degree, far greater than anything the brain can produce by itself. For this reason, heroin is abused as a recreational drug. Then, it is consistently abused because there is no other experience that can compare to blast of bliss and subsequent contentment that come with shooting up.”

6) American addiction centers citing, “repeated exposure to heroin is not only habit forming; the constant bombarding of a devastatingly powerful opioid on the brain’s receptors changes the structure of the brain itself, which in turn affects its neuronal and hormonal systems. Heroin erases the brain’s ability to produce dopamine and instead takes over how the user perceives pleasure and satisfaction.” Heroin use literally rewires the way your brain operates.

7) Suboxone, along with a couple of other rx drugs, are available to treat these changes in the brain. Suboxone.com stating, “known as a partial agonist, it (the active ingredient in suboxone) can attach to the same receptors as other opioids and reduce their effects by blocking them from the same receptors.”

8) My friend admitted that if you haven’t used opioids in awhile the initial use or two as directed might give you a little “kick”. After that, it just takes away the feeling of drowning in your new brain chemistry. Clean for just over 6 years when she moved to Colorado. She said that until she was able to find a new prescriber out here, the cravings were ridiculous. She couldn’t focus. All she could think about was heroin.

I held her through tears, realizing that without this prescription drug that I naively put a label on, I wouldn’t have my angel friend right now.

Instead my perfect little friend is functioning like super woman; Fighting to keep her life on track.

If you asked me a couple weeks ago what I thought of suboxone, it wouldn’t have been an enthusiastic answer.

Today I’d tell you that I endorse suboxone treatment because the 9-10% of heroin addicts who decide to choose life MATTER!

This is a lifeline for recovered heroin addicts; a chance to really have a shot at life again after a bad choice that they can’t ever take back.

I’ve seen the complete terror of heroin addiction; Now I’m pleased to see a beautiful success story involving suboxone.

Similar to an antidepressant, suboxone treatment could potentially be a lifelong commitment.

“I don’t care how long I have to be on it if it keeps me clean.”

Touché.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more! ❣️

Exercise anorexia

**WARNING: Some of the content/images in this post may be triggering for individuals in recovery from an eating disorder! **

It was time to get back on a diet.

My eating disorder makes it difficult to lose weight without going extreme…

Even when I’m making every effort to not be obsessive, I find myself subconsciously testing the boundaries.

In 2015, I found a new way to “cheat the system” and have an eating disorder without “having an eating disorder”.

It started as a semi-innocent attempt to lose a little bit of weight and quickly spiraled into a full fledged eating disorder- but not the type of eating disorder that people talk about.

Although I wasn’t quite “clinically” overweight…yet, I was the heaviest that I had ever been and I felt like I needed to take control of my health.

November 2015

Losing weight freaking sucks.

I swear that you are never more “hangry” than when on a diet.

In 2009, I was hospitalized for anorexia and bulimia. (Read for more on that experience in Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.)

Whenever I think “lose weight” my brain goes immediately to starvation.

Starve yourself = get skinny.

When I’m serious about something I want results and I want them quick.

With the help of my Fitbit activity tracker, some low calorie/ high protein drink mix, and a food logging app, I had everything I needed to go full on eating disorder for almost a year.

I struggle with severe anxiety.

Many days it about controls my everyday life.

At the start of this new “diet”, I experienced the relief from my anxiety with an endorphin high achieved by high intensity exercise.

It also just so happened to fit right in with my new “healthy lifestyle”.

The statistics on my Fitbit were THRILLING- driving me to push myself beyond my limits.

The next piece to my master plan was the PERFECT protein powder.

Researching like crazy to find the best low calorie, high protein, powder.

Eventually choosing a brand that offered an 130 calorie serving while packing a whopping 30 grams of protein.

The original plan?

Substitute a couple meals with the protein shake.

The actual plan?

Protein shake with water for breakfast- 130 Cal

Protein shake with water for lunch- 130 Cal

Regular dinner with the family- max 300 Cal (typically consisting of a bite or two that I would chew very slowly to trick myself that I was eating more.)

Days that I didn’t have to cook I’d drink a third shake for dinner and skid through the day with 390 calories.

This new “diet” allowed myself a measly maximum of 560 calories a day.

Before I knew it my eating disorder was out of hand.

The initial adjustment was insanely hard.

I would think about food every second of every day.

It was miserable.

The only way to distract myself from the hunger was by exercising… all. day. long.

It wasn’t abnormal to have 600+ “active minutes” every single day.

There wasn’t time for anything else anymore.

My days literally revolved around trying to exercise the hunger out of me.

This was explained to loved ones as, “the more I burn, the more I can eat!”

Though the calorie allowance never actually adjusted.

Exercise became the most important thing in the world to me.

I withdrew from friends because I knew they wouldn’t be “up” for what I did all day- and I had to do it.

There were no exceptions, there were no “breaks”.

I clearly remember dropping out of anxiety therapy because I didn’t want to sit down for a full hour and not be burning calories.

But oh no, “I didn’t have an eating disorder”.

I was just “being healthy”- which also happens to be much more socially accepted.

Don’t get me wrong.

Exercise is indeed very healthy and an extremely important aspect of health.

This wasn’t just exercise though, this was an eating disorder.

February 2016

Exercise wasn’t healthy when it began taking priority over every other thing in my life.

390-560 calories a day is totally unacceptable- certainly not adequate fuel for 15+ miles of exercise a day.

Exercise anorexia is still not clearly recognized as an eating disorder, though some developments are being made in that direction.

I’m writing this because I know loud and clear that these behaviors were just as deadly as my anorexia/bulimia hospitalization in 2009.

Even though I weighed 100 pounds more this time around and was practicing what our society views as “normal healthy behavior”, it was equally valid as an eating disorder.

Eventually I plateaued and the extreme behaviors weren’t making me any skinnier.

By then, I needed to be skinnier… a lot skinnier.

If you have an eating disorder you can understand the feeling of never being skinny enough.

You could die as a pile of bones and still believe that you left this world “fat”.

And that’s what fuels this sick addiction.

I continued trying to amp up my workouts.

‘5 more pounds!’

One day, literally waking up from the kitchen floor.

Instead of feeling scared and ready to throw in the towel, I felt an overwhelming rush of pride.

I had starved and overexerted myself to the point of literally collapsing and this was something I accepted like a trophy.

My “out” came when I became pregnant in June 2016.

No way was I going to harm my baby trying to achieve the perfect physique.

My body quickly packed on the pounds after months of starvation.

I had zero energy, was hungry all day long, and embraced this change in protection of my pregnancy.

February 2017

Thankfully, I have been able to maintain regular eating habits after a short relapse postpartum.

I still haven’t lost all of my baby weight… and that’s something I’m learning to be okay with.

I’m blessed to have a husband who loves me just as much at a size 10 as he did at size 0.

You guys, these superficial standards that we all feel the need to chase after are so ridiculous.

God didn’t create food so it would give us panic attacks.

You are beautiful exactly the way you are. ❣️

Freedom from my eating disorder has been incredible.

I’m not confined to superficial desires anymore or the disappointment that comes with them.

Instead I’m choosing happiness, self love, and confidence.

You are all you have.

Be kind to yourself.

Self love looks beautiful on you! ❤️

January 2019

Check out my blog, Project Identity for more inspirational stuff! 💕

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, check out the links below!

Meet Nikki, my eating disorder. talks about who is really in control when you have an eating disorder.

Understanding Bulimia for more info on Bulimia.

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself. my hospitalization for Anorexia/Bulimia.

Through the ears of my eating disorder for loved ones of someone struggling!

Drop a comment or send me message for additional help! ❣️💕❣️

❤️

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. 💕💕💕

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!

To the friend that isn’t a friend anymore

I’ve had enough.

While I work on bettering myself, you continue choosing to make all of the wrong choices.

The easy thing and the right thing are hardly ever the same.

You’ve been stringing me along like it’s part of your game.

You were once a friend… that is true.

Not anymore.

Looking back at the childhood memories when we were both on the same page…

The laughter, the love, friends for life without a doubt.

We had our whole lives ahead of us then.

Sadly only one of us would make that life count.

I hate that you just don’t care enough to make a change- I’m tired of rooting for a team that isn’t even playing.

What I want for you is very different than what you want for yourself.

You were once a friend… that is true.

Not anymore.

We are grown now.

Though only one of us has truly grown up.

Sorting out my past mistakes as you refuse to let yours go.

Left standing alone trying to plant a garden with your pile of dirt.

I can’t make you be a garden.

You were once one… that is true.

Not anymore.

So here I stand alive and I’ve decided it’s been overdue.

Friends are the family we choose.

And I’m no longer choosing you.

When you change your mind again and want friends instead of drugs

Remember that I’m praying for you, in the place of hugs.

I won’t be there to wipe your tears.

I won’t be there to share your cheers.

This is the end to the childhood friendship that we could no longer sustain.

Whether you choose to get better or not, gone is where I’ll stay.

I’m living in my garden.

Where you wouldn’t come to play.

The gates have closed, the sunshine glows, I finally can see.

That after all we’ve grown apart, I’m better off just me.

We were once friends… that is true.

Not anymore.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more inspiration! 💕

When toxic relationships turn violent

“They give you heaven and they give you hell.”

After graduating high school I moved to Florida to experience life away from home.

A couple months into this experience I crossed paths with a guy I went to middle school with in Colorado.

Jumping into a relationship, the passion grew like fire.

Dysfunctional was an understatement.

It started as little battles with control.

We fell hard and we fell fast.

I drank myself stupid every single day.

I had a history of picking guys that became obsessive- The red flags disguised in familiarity.

His burning desire to sustain this dysfunctional relationship resulted in a tightened grip on me.

I worked at a kiosk in the mall and he would creep around upstairs, watching me.

Everyone else could see the madness, but I was blind.

The first time he got arrested was because I wanted to go tan.

He hated when I tanned because they wouldn’t let him go in the room with me.

He couldn’t watch me for 15 minutes of the day and it killed him inside.

“YOU ARE MEETING A GUY IN THERE AND CHEATING ON ME!!!”

He roared.

As the grip tightened, I repelled.

This first incident started with my attempt to to sneak out the door and tan.

He came racing after me, jumping in his car, without shoes or a shirt on.

At the stoplight he put his car in park and started banging on my car window screaming.

A bystander called it in.

“SHOOT ME! JUST SHOOT ME!!!”

He yelled at the police officers as they took him into custody.

After being released from jail he moved right back into my apartment.

Looking back I know I should have recognized the signs.

But lust blinds us…

The next time the cops were called came after a dispute on rent money.

He couldn’t hold a job with his full schedule of stalking me and once again I was left to come up with all of it.

I was almost an entire bottle of Burnette’s in, but no amount of alcohol could erase what happened next from my mind.

Enraged and heated, substances amiss, he snapped.

He grabbed my throat and slammed me against the wall.

Using his grip as leverage he began to lift me up.

I went numb.

The next thing I remember is the way the carpet felt on my face.

He was gone, I was shaken and impulsively called the police.

In the minutes it took for the police to arrive though, I had changed my mind.

I wanted to erase the phone call for help and resubmit to this hell.

So I crawled underneath my bed trying to hide.

BOOM BOOM

“POLICE! OPEN UP!!”

It took close to 30 minutes and threats to break down my door before I surrendered.

I was hiding to protect someone who tried to kill me… like how twisted is that?!?!

I’m writing this because I know that someone reading it will resonate with domestic violence.

You guys, toxic relationships DON’T GIVE YOU HEAVEN!!!

It’s the devil distorting every ounce of sense from your mind.

If just days later my roommates wouldn’t have robbed every last thing I had, I possibly would have remained in the relationship.

I know for sure that at times when things got lonely, times before I fell in love again, that I would have gone back for sure.

That is so ridiculously messed up that it’s not even funny.

Thankfully, I made it out of the relationship before it was literally the death of me.

Don’t settle for toxicity in relationships!

Don’t be blind to red flags!

GET OUT BEFORE IT GETS BAD!

You may be in a toxic relationship if your partner is:

  • Overbearing
  • Abnormally controlling
  • Obsessive
  • Stalking
  • Manipulative
  • Verbally abusive
  • Physically abusive

You deserve someone who treats you like the worthy, incredible, person that you are.

And they ARE out there!!!

Not until you escape your prison, lock the door, and throw away the key… will you find them.

If you or somebody you know is in an abusive relationship, feel free to send me an email!

If love to assist you in getting through this! 💕❤️👇

Alexisvw.projectidentity@gmail.com

Or DM me on Instagram at:

alexisvw.projectidentity

Or drop me a comment below! ❤️👇

Check out my blog, Project Identity for more articles on overcoming adversity! 🌤

Through the ears of my eating disorder

My relationship with food will honestly never be normal.

A lifetime without relapse wouldn’t be enough to change the way I hear the words,

“Wow! What a healthy meal you are eating! Good job!!”

Because instead of hearing you compliment me on my discipline I hear,

‘You are fat so you should be eating healthy.’

And from there it spirals into countless unhealthy thoughts.

I knew that many challenges would come with recovery from an eating disorder but I never thought the way that I hear things would be one of them.

Last week I was talking with my best friend who is also in recovery from an eating disorder when this realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

‘I’m not the only one!’

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if every person who has ever had an eating disorder experiences this to some extent.

Having an eating disorder is like playing a constant game of telephone with yourself.

Your mind is so good at feeding you crap by now that it enjoys manipulating the game.

When living with a brain that is constantly obsessing about food and weight, it can feel like everything is a trigger.

Food is a necessity for survival so you can’t “avoid it” as you can with recovery from most other things.

Multiple times a day EVERY SINGLE DAY you are being tested.

Eating in general can become an anxiety provoking situation entirely.

You are at war with yourself.

And like a sick and twisted death sentence… you must eat to live.

If you have a loved one who has an eating disorder, I’m writing this for you.

Life requires learning other people so that we can all better coexist.

An eating disorder is just another one of those REAL LIFE things to navigate.

Below are some examples of life through the ears of an eating disorder.

Take a moment to intercept this as your loved one.

“Gross! She obviously eats cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”

‘My worth is determined by a number on a scale…’

“You were too skinny before I’m glad to see you’ve gained some weight.”

‘You are fat now.’

“Exercise is really good for you!”

‘You should be exercising because you’re fat.’

“I’m doing the #%* diet!”

‘You should be on a diet!’

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for doing your part to better coexist!

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. ❤️

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 ❤️

When our parents fail at being our parents

The broken child is now an adult.

Finally amounting the courage to seek healing for pain that still affects them to this day.

Disappointed when their parent falls short in mending such wounds.

I’m not sure which hurts worse…

Your mother saying she would choose a boyfriend over you OR her justification when you seek an apology many years later.

I guess the second option just further validated that she in fact, meant what she said all along.

Why can’t our parents just set aside their egos for a minute if it means the well being of their child?

Countless hours have been spent pondering that very question.

Hours spent angry.

Hours spent hurt.

Hours spent beating myself up, trying to figure out what’s so wrong with me that my own mother can’t say sorry for something that brings me pain.

Family members can hurt us way worse than anybody else because they are our blood.

We hold our parents to a different set of standards and expectations.

When they fail to meet those expectations we can’t help but blame ourselves and feel flawed.

“Maybe if I was prettier my mom would love me….”

There is a pit deep in my heart wanting this to just be resolved before one of us dies.

I know that we have had a lot of great times in our relationship…

It’s just,

you broke me

I know that I was a terrible person growing up.

I’m unfathomably sorry for every waking second you had to spend in complete terror because of me.

It genuinely kills me thinking back to the times where I was embarrassed being out in public with you.

I’m sorry for that too.

I am so unbelievably sorry that I’ve corrected myself and am living the admirable life that I am today.

I’ve said I’m sorry and I wish that you could too.

While I don’t believe it is an intentional lack of parenting it creates an emotional barrier until it’s been genuinely dealt with.

We can forgive… we can forget…

But the broken pieces in us will still remain.

In my head it just seems so easy.

Easy to be completely vulnerable for five minutes and say sorry even if it’s uncomfortable.

I’m not looking for a justification of “why” you did it,

I just want to know that you didn’t mean it.

Am I the only person who feels like “I’m sorry but” apologies are sometimes worse than no apology at all?

If you are justifying what you just “apologized” for then are you sure you’re really sorry…?

We unfortunately do not have the power to make people apologize to us.

The pain that comes out to scare us every once in awhile is out of our control also.

If you are reaching for a void from a parent who told you they are “never going to give it to you”…

Take a moment to sit with yourself and grieve.

Physically grieve the pain that this brings you.

A few minutes after you’ve successfully released it ⬇️

Accept the pain for what it is.

And here is the thing,

You are not the problem.

There is nothing wrong with you just because you have a toxic parent.

Deep down our parents love us.

No matter what they’ve said or what they’ve done {or not done} … they love us.

We are all human and have our own ways of living in this world.

Instead of running with the pain try silencing it with the positives.

Be the energy you would like to attract- even when you aren’t receiving it.

Human as we are, it will be a process.

Accept the pain for what it is as it arises in the future.

Don’t prevent yourself from feeling a certain way.

Find a time and a place to step away for a moment and redo the grieving process as needed.

Pray to God and ask to see yourself in His eyes…

It’s incredible I promise.

Remember that your life doesn’t have to end waiting on someone else’s apology.

You are not a reflection of your toxic parent.

Be free from the chains that have you bound.❤️

Your sanity will thank you someday.

Check out my blog for more inspirational goodness ❤️⬇️❤️

www.project-identity.blog

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Depression episodes

My life is pretty freaking close to “perfect” yet I keep having these episodes where I feel like I’d be better off dead.

All of my reasons for living get sidelined and I have the worst kind of tunnel vision.

In the middle of these depressive episodes I surrender control to complete negativity and genuinely feel that I’m not worthy of help.

Positive thoughts are rejected one after the other in an attempt to completely drown in my misery.

The problem with self help tools is they are often difficult to access when you are in crisis.

We are not our best selfs while in crisis.

We are scattered, broken, distraught.

The thoughts pulsing through your brain are so ridiculously foreign to your values yet they won’t go away.

Depression opens its big mouth and swallows us whole.

If you’ve never experienced a depressive episode then first of all… you are one lucky duck!

Depression is not an easy thing to go through.

Imagine your mind being hijacked as a dark cloud moves over you.

Suddenly the impulsive, totally not “you” thoughts take over.

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“This is too much to overcome.”

“Death is the only way out.”

At times this helplessness can feel like too much to bare.

You guys, how do we fix this?!

If you’ve read (An “insiders” opinion on the mental health system) then you already know that I won’t come within 100 feet of a crisis center… “our system”.

Never again will I submit to such insanity.

Instead I will handle these moments of crisis on my own.

Recently, I added a new “tool” to my “belt”.

In a moment when things were calm I identified my number one ABSOLUTE reason above everything for why I could not lose this battle with depression.

What was it?

I pictured my husband telling our children that “Mommy had to go to heaven because she was very sick”.

I felt the pain that they would feel as they grew up without a mother.

That experience was the most gut wrenching, terrible, unbearable feeling ever.

I could never do that to my children if there was ever an option to choose differently.

Depression freaking sucks.

While I can’t completely avoid these episodes, I can enter them prepared.

In the moments when every sense of logic is completely unavailable to me because of my depression and I’m mentally incapable of helping myself…

That image of my children broken into pieces is much more readily available than a list of things that “I’ve got going for me.”

All it takes is one moment, accessing the image tied to my reason for surviving and suddenly the pain that I feel for my children is greater than the pain I’m feeling in the current moment.

For me, it’s helpful that my image isn’t about me.

Depression makes me feel unworthy… unworthy of living…. unworthy of helping myself.

No matter how unworthy I may be, my kids are the most worthy of things in the world to me.

I would do anything to prevent the pain they feel in my foreseen scenario.

ANYTHING.

Including suffering this “hopeless low” so that their hearts never have to break like that.

It’s important to find a “reason” that fits for you and your life.

FIRST–> Tie that reason to an easily accessible image or “snapshot”.

THEN—> Tie that image to the overwhelming emotion that it brings you…

For example, don’t stop at “my kids need me.”

Instead, validate this statement by feeling what your kids would feel if you gave up on them.

Make it something that is deeply meaningful to you.

If you are struggling on coming up with something pray about it.

I’m praying for you too.❤️

I promise you that there are so many reasons for your survival even when your depression is destroying you.

Once you have your reason tuck it safely in your back pocket.

Every so often take it back out to refresh the emotions that are tied to it so they remain raw– do this as often as necessary for yourself.

The next time you are greeted with a dark cloud it may come in handy. ❤️

Love and prayers for those battling this tough illness…

YOU ARE STRONG!

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

It was my senior year of high school and I was in rehab.

My mom had finally reached her limit of sleepless nights trying to find me.

Give me a curfew? I wouldn’t come home at all.

Ground me? I’d leave anyway.

Age 17 was a rough year to say the least.

I was an absolute mess.

“No you are NOT putting her in a foster home!”

My brother shouted as he barged into my room, hanging up the phone, telling me to hurry and pack my stuff.

I didn’t know what was in store for me but I sure as heck didn’t imagine it would be almost five months until I returned home.

I spent a week at my brothers house while we waited for the news on my fate.

He was instructed to deliver and watch me swallow my Antabuse- as my mom typically did.

Antabuse is a prescription medication for alcoholics.

If you consume any alcohol while taking Antabuse you will get violently ill.

Neither of them knew that I’d swapped the real pills with a lookalike I had found in my Mom’s closet when she forgot to lock her door one day.

Inpatient rehab would eventually be the verdict.

Before I knew it I was stripped of my belongings and sitting in a treatment center.

Everything was out of my control.

Something inside me was burning to act out and the options in doing so were limited.

At mealtimes I would sit at the table in a daze with only a glass of water.

Some days I would feel guilty for drinking the water and purge it back up.

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

I was 13 years old when I first purged.

My best friend left me… my boyfriend broke up with me.

Life got hard and something in my head told me to go to the bathroom and throw up my food.

The rush it gave me became a staple stress reliever.

Prior to checking into rehab I was already underweight.

In my head writing it off as “not being hungry” or “forgetting to eat”.

Whenever I did consume food, the stressful situation at home would almost always result in purging.

It didn’t really get out of control until everything got out of control.

Subconsciously I was becoming addicted to this relationship with food.

The feeling of my skin tightening around my bones was like a high.

(*actual photo of myself three months after treatment*)

I was alone in rehab while my peers were working on their senior projects and letting out for Christmas break.

That Christmas was hard.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I just felt so unwanted, abandoned, and alone.

I was the only kid in the center that was there without a court order.

“What is going on???” filling the pages of my daily journal.

Life felt like a never ending nightmare.

At the time my brain could never understand that it was my actions that landed me here.

Instead, I spent over a month saturating myself in feelings of worthless shame.

It was a dark time….

Five weeks into rehab and I’d lost a significant amount of weight.

Every day looking more like a skeleton and less like a human.

Tightly fastening my size 0 jeans with a belt so they wouldn’t slide right off of me.

On New Years Eve we were offered a slice of pizza.

This was a real treat and I wanted to participate so badly.

Eventually accepting a piece and racing off to the bathroom immediately after.

This time one of the counselors had followed me.

I’d been caught.

There I sat in the office as the counselor called my mom.

Thankfully it appeared I’d be discharged early and finally able to go home.

Or so I thought…

Instead of my driveway we parked at an office building in the heart of Denver.

“Where are we?!?!”

I asked perplexed.

“You need to talk to someone about this food thing.”

The Eating Recovery Center would be my new home.

At intake the feelings of abandonment began to drown me.

“I don’t have an eating disorder!!!”

I pleaded.

“My mom just doesn’t want me so she’s trying to put me places!! Please!!”

It was time for my “moment of truth” on the scale.

My 5’11” frame weighed in at a whopping 102 pounds.

Considering how tall I am this put me at a BMI (body mass index) of 14.2.

If you are unfamiliar with BMI, 18.4 or lower is considered underweight.

In diagnosing anorexia nervosa they follow this chart:

Mild: A BMI of >17

Moderate: A BMI of 16-16.99

Severe: A BMI of 15-15.99

Extreme: A BMI >15

Nothing I could say or do could get me out of this situation with a BMI of 14.2.

Extreme like everything in my life seemed to be by that point.

At my height, I’d have to weigh in at a minimum of 133 pounds to make the lowest possible “healthy weight”.

That meant I’d have to gain at least 31 pounds before going home.

Suddenly out of every sense of control.

Mealtimes were spent with hands above the table.

The food was fairly good but there was A LOT of it.

Three massive meals AND three snacks a day.

If you didn’t finish every piece of your meal (including butter) in the time allotted then you had to drink a Boost nutritional drink.

Bathrooms remained locked and you needed to be accompanied by a staff member to use them.

On the bright side though, this center was a huge upgrade from the last.

We were able to keep the majority of our belongings.

Meals were prepared by chefs and served on silver platters.

We got to go outside for fresh air multiple times a day.

We could even turn off the lights at night.

I knew that if I didn’t cooperate, I was never going home.

The gig was up (at least for the time being).

Three and a half months later I completed treatment.

Today marks just over nine years since checking out of recovery.

In this time I’ve had more slip ups than I could possibly count, including an excessive exercise phase that deceived me for months.

(Exercise anorexia post coming soon❤️).

BUT I’ve had way more successes than failures and that is something that I’m extremely proud of.

CONTROL played a major role in my eating disorder.

Which is actually sort of crazy to think about because when I’m active in my eating disorder I am not in controlmy eating disorder is.

It’s so easy to forget this.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a lifelong process that requires daily maintenance.

It’s a process that I’m willing to work at!

My life is worth so much more than a number on a scale.❤️

If you are battling an eating disorder I encourage you to read this post ➡️ Meet Nikki, my eating disorder ❤️

Understanding Bulimia sheds a unique light on the complicated illness.

For more on addiction read Running 😊

Check out my blog for much, much more!❤️

⬇️😊⬇️

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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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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