About Be-loved and other musings

 

Okay, now write something inspiring. No wait, just be real. Right… that’s the point.

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The best creature that exists. totally unrelated

For whatever reason I landed back on an old video poem thing that I created a couple years ago. After the first few seconds of cringing at something so vulnerable that my slightly younger self had revealed to the world, I was startled to feel the emotion of it. I felt where I was when I made the video, where I was when I started this blog. And suddenly I realized that this blog was not as selfless as I’d like to have thought it was. It wasn’t just about trying to help other people feel loved. It was also about some part of me searching for something better. It was me expressing myself instead of keeping everything bottled up. It was a chance to be vulnerable. And it was an attempt to convince other people of a reality I was trying to convince myself of. That I was loved, that I was valuable, and that I mattered. For whatever reasons those ideas seemed ludicrous to me at the time. The blog was a way to start putting myself back together again, bring out the darkness in me and force it into light. It has been a painful, terrifying and extremely rewarding process to have this ol’ blog, and I’m so glad I did it.
Posts are getting fewer now mostly because I seem to have just enough time to pull myself together, and not so much contribute to this wonderful process that I often convince myself isn’t important. Also I think it started to get stranger and stranger to tell all this deep personal stuff to the Internet, even though it seemed to yield positive results.
I don’t really know what this blog is about right now, but I know these words are some of the few things I can find these days that isn’t trying to be perfect, or look it.

All I want to say is, it is cool to see how this blog helped me grow, learn, and come to love myself in the ways I have learned to, although I learn more each day. I guess maybe I’m not sure if I have as clear of a direction, or if I know what I have to tell lately. But maybe something will come to me. Or maybe whoever reads this could give me some advice on what I should write about. Or that my consistent rambling about life is something that I should keep doing. Or maybe I’m just tired and emotional and I’ll regret posting this in the morning.

Authenticity is hard to find these days, but I think we all know that it’s still important.

Peace and Love, thank you for reading to the bottom of this post during your likely busy day. I Hope you feel loved today

Emily

I Need Connection

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It’s so much easier to write the resolution than the journey. But sometimes, in the moment of clarity you can see in retrospect what you needed. We continue forward, with the idea that we know what we’re doing, but often we don’t know what we were looking for until we find it.

This past week was difficult. With multiple final papers due, my schedule is wiped clean so I can sit down and write, research, repeat. I have a mixed relationship with writing essays. On one hand, there are great things to be learned in forming an idea using other people’s ideas. But mostly, this week I have denied myself most of what makes me feel whole in order to meet deadlines. And sometimes, that’s life.

This week, and many others, I forget how incredibly important it is to simply connect with another human. To be able to express the confusion and sorrow that we are feeling, and to hear that someone else feels it too. To my dear friend Anna, thank you for reminding me of what I had forgotten.

I hate loneliness. I hate it because it fills so much of our lives. It’s the reason I’ll have music playing wherever I go. It’s the reason there is always a tv on, a phone in hand, or a computer screen open. We live in a way that praises self-accomplishment, and individuality. We pride ourselves on our uniqueness, but at the same time we are terrified of being different enough that people won’t want us around. I try to find the balance everyday of satisfying the parts of me that want to be expressed fully, while trying to be normal enough so as not to stick out too much. And it’s not because I don’t know who I am. It’s because sometimes I’m not always sure who to be in the world.

But I live within this paradigm as if I understand its purpose. To achieve, to succeed, to compete, to be the best.
Because nothing, absolutely nothing is more satisfying to me than sitting across from someone who says “Yeah. I understand. I’ve been there” Nothing beats revealing the parts of you that are scared, insecure, overwhelmed and exhausted and for someone to recognize that within themselves. To be with someone in the depths of life, not just the surface. I’m so tired of walking around acting like i’ve got my shit together, like I’m on a train of amazingness and there’s no stopping me!
Or, on the other hand, connecting with others only by means of complaining. Of how life isn’t giving me what I wanted, and how I’m annoyed, angry or indifferent. When I am unable to express my real feelings and experiences with others, they get bottled up in my head and I begin not to trust myself. With no affirmation, no outward processing, no connection, I become the enemy of my own mind. I think that I must be doing something to feel this way, or else I blame the only good things in my life that I could place blame (aka my partner). I’m left up to my own devices, and let me tell you they are limited. Because I am just one experience. I am just one perspective. And I can’t fix everything myself.

I want to re-label “anxiety” with “need connection”. Because then I wouldn’t be able to cut myself short by saying “I’m going to stay in because I’m feeling anxious”. What’s really happening is I desperately need connection, but maybe i’m scared to be vulnerable. Maybe I’m convinced that I’ll figure it out on my own.

No. That’s not it Em, stop trying to be your own therapist.

I NEED CONNECTION. I need to joke about the ridiculousness of trying to write about the history of a marginalized group, as if “they” have one, a complete and documented story that can be told within 500 words. I need to talk about how I can’t stand walking into a classroom to sit beside one another to learn about how to show “empathy” when we could be connecting with one another and actually experiencing it. I need to talk about how I’ve been so emotionally overwhelmed that I try to control it by telling my partner he’s being selfish. I need to talk about how I want community, how I want to know people. I need to talk about how I don’t know how to navigate a world of “how are you” “fine” because all I want to say is “I am so freaking overwhelmed right now.”

I need connection. I need people. I need someone to say “Hey, it makes sense that you’re feeling that way, sounds like you have a lot on your plate”. Because yeah, I have a LOT going for me, and life COULD be worse, BUT THAT’S NOT A REASON TO DENY YOUR FEELINGS.

Because I am feeling. I am always, feeling. And I’m tired of just thinking about it. Labeling it “in my head” or “my mind is racing” and trying to push it away. Maybe our erratic minds and constant need to be doing something is because we are terrified to face the fact that we are lonely, and everybody else is busy.

I know people make a lot of empty promises these days. We make plans and cancel, we put that we “might” go to things on Facebook, and we settle for harmless, easy, conversation. But if you feel like talking about what’s really happening in you life, or what you’re feeling, or what you just realized, or what you’re really excited about, and you don’t know who to tell, I would really love to hear it. My email is emily.scott93@gmail.com, and since I am a university student, my computer is open almost all hours of the day. Feel free to email me the real “how are you” and I’d love to chat.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel like talking to me because a. you don’t know me b. you don’t want to email your feelings to someone on the internet… then please, if you need connection like I do, find the people in your life that care about you and let them know you need them. I don’t think we are good at needing people these days, but I’ll be the first to say that I do. And every area of my life starts crumbling down when I forget that.

Battling anxiety: facing fears

back in the day when I wasn’t afraid of anything

“Let Life race you out beyond your own boundaries over and over again until you are comfortable with watching the map of normal’s edge disappear behind you.
Let Life show you that it is safe to exceed your own expectations and reputation and prove that the only danger in following her into the wilderness is a loss of your own fear.
This is when we gain the warrior’s heart, the master’s eye, and the student’s mind. After that, Life holds our hand in every adventure and shows us things not possible before.”
– Jacob Nordby

The first time I talked to a therapist she basically told me I needed to confront my anxiety or it would continue to get worse. I thought she was crazy and had no idea what she was talking about. I wasn’t there to be challenged, all I wanted in that moment was to be told that I was important and my problems were valid. I wanted her to give me an answer for why I was struggling so much. Her suggestion seemed offensively simple, and impossible at the same time. I believed that instead what I needed was a diagnoses, maybe some medication, and a lot of solitude. I continued to opt out of social events, maintain minimal communication with those I lived with, and went on living life according to the roller coaster of my emotions. I let a negative voice boss me around, telling me that even eye contact with a stranger on the street was not something I could do. I convinced myself that I had just become someone who needed to be alone a lot, that my environment was toxic, it wasn’t what I wanted, it was all wrong. I let myself believe that when I didn’t hear from someone for a while, it must mean they weren’t interested in our friendship anymore. Bumping into familiar faces meant I would shuffle through small talk like it was a four-piece puzzle. Ask about school, midterms, offer some light compliments and depart.

I am aware that everyone sees anxiety a little differently, and each of our experience is unique. If it is causing significant distress in your life, please seek out professional help. In no way do I assume that my experience will look like yours.

I hate to say it, but I think she was right. Maybe she could have waited until a little later to say but it was true. I needed to face my fears. I just didn’t want to hear that yet. Because it wasn’t the fears that were the problem, I believed that I was unable to face them. I needed to challenge the negative, and question its validity. Was it providing support, or simply sorrow? Was it enlightening me, or just preventing me from trying? I can see a pattern that my mind follows, one that has led me down dangerously lonely paths. I enter without hope of a light at the end.

1. I get invited to an event, to a party, or I think of someone who I really want to see. A quiet voice states the possibilities, the opportunities within the invitation. But a louder, more familiar voice says “no”… it always says that. It grabs hold of each positive thought and twists them until all I can think of are excuses for why I can’t go. So I decline from attending with some sort of justifcaiton, or I refrain from even responding, shutting out the opportunity at the source.
2. I affirm the belief that I’m unable to go out, by not going out. By not making the first step, by hesitating. The hesitation only builds with more thought, more reasons why I was justified in saying no.
3. Anything that creates discomfort is met with agreement, and arrangements are met so those discomforts are dealt with in solitude. In an attempt to stay safe, I also manage to avoid connection.

This path is a familiar one, but I am realizing it’s never too late to change it. You can always stop, get off, and have a look around. Maybe analyze the scene a little more, maybe begin to look for something different. Maybe decide that you are worth the effort and discomfort that comes with risk.

So this is a new pattern, something that I challenge myself with almost everyday. It can be exhausting, and there are many days when I don’t have it in me. But more often then not, I am met with a reality that doesn’t match the anxiety story in my mind.

1. I think to myself, I’d really like to get to know people in my classes.
2. As I sit down next to a stranger, I’m met with familiar discomfort, an inner critic saying “don’t say anything, it will be awkward”. But this time I don’t listen, and before I have the time to build up an imaginary scenario in my mind, I start with something simple, small talk, “How’s it going?”
3. The conversation usually progresses just fine, names exchanged, and sometimes small connections are made with interests, other classes, or shoe brands, who knows.
4. The fear of introduction is no longer present, because I acted on it and demonstrated that it was not enough to stop me from living my life. It has no place anymore, it has been conquered, even if just for that single moment.
5. The next time it arises, I have a past experience to draw from, knowing that in reality I am in no danger, and I will most likely be just fine. Once again I take power away from the voice that wants me to be safe, and not to take any risks.

I never wanted to believe that the way to conquer my fears was to actually conquer them. There must be another way. Maybe I’m just not meant to be social, or to achieve the things I thought I wanted. Maybe I need to look for other options. I wanted a way out, but I didn’t want to think that the way out was the way in. That everything I have told myself I couldn’t do was only doable when I… did it. It still seems too simple sometimes, too obvious to be a real solution. But as I say yes to opportunities, as I engage with people and lean in to the discomfort, I can see a difference. Instead of trusting in the fear instinct, I trust in the one that wants more. I begin to see that I have a choice in every situation, not of my circumstances, but of my perspective. I can choose to see the possible catastrophes, or I can choose to believe in success. I can choose to believe that I am capable of whatever I want. I can choose to focus on other people, rather than fearing their perception of me. I can do what I want, and not be filled with “what-ifs”.

It’s exhausting sometimes… okay lots of the time. But as long as I remember how exhausting it is to see the world as a terrifying unpredictable place, being exhausted from taking risks is a better option.

I recognize that this has been my experience, and your story looks different. But we all have fears, and sometimes they are what hinder us the most. And the worst thing we can do is simply dwell on how much we fear them. So maybe we can begin to face them, one thought at a time.

“We change our behaviour when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” – Henry Cloud

Changing Perspectives

485504631_f743212a70_oYou are on your way to a family gathering. As you stare out the window wondering who all is going to be there, the ones you know and the distant relatives you’ve never met, your sibling pipes up with their shred of knowledge,
“Agh, Susan is going to be there. She’s the worst, all she ever does is talk about herself.”
You consider the statement, not having any prior experience with Susan, you side with this story, and plan for a meeting with your “self-centred” cousin.
When you are eventually introduced, all you notice are the things Susan does, particularly her choice of conversation topics. As the evening moves along, you now have a reservoir of all the things she has said about herself, further confirming your hypothesis about her, though based on outside opinion.
Now what if someone had told you that Susan was the most fascinating person you will ever meet? What if they said she was funny, interesting and caring? Maybe you would have looked for those things, maybe you would have something to support that idea.

We all have a perspective. We have a way that we are interpreting our world. A way that we see the past, present and future. Just like someone who colour-blind sees a banana differently than you, so everything in your world receives a similar variance in interpretation. Sometimes our interpretation comes from our curious interest, like a child discovering that the hot stove is red for a reason. Other times, our interpretations are shaped by what others have told us about life.

Regardless, there is a reality inside of our head, all of what we believe to be happening. This “reality” creates experience, memories, regrets and ideas. Sometimes, the reality that we see isn’t so favourable to us. Like when you walk into a room and it seems like everyone is staring right at you, sending mind bullets of disapproval right into your brain. When everything in your day seems to be going against you, or you are lost in the confusion of what to do. When pain arrives, when pleasure dissipates. When your heart beats faster, and your lungs expand quicker and quicker. When the noise is loud, and the lights are bright.

You are always experiencing something in a certain way. But when you are certain about how it is being experienced, then life seems to only have one hand of cards dealt for you.
So why do we often believe only the negative things about ourselves and our experience? Why do we allow our perspective to be one of guilt, anxiety, fear and insecurity? Somehow we have been convinced that the way that we see things must be the way that they are, but maybe they are not that way at all.

What if we could see our perspectives for what they are? Simply…perspectives. One side of the story, one flip of the coin. One grain of sand, a drop of rain in a thunderstorm, a star in the sky. Believing this, could we decide that we want to see things differently, and allow the flow of infinite sight into our lives? Could we set ourselves free from the traps of “this is always the way it will be” and open up to a “how will I see this?”. What if we questioned everything, especially whatever it is that tells us we are anything but amazing?

People will always tell you what is. Because, as A. Hughman would say, “It is the certain who stop searching”. And maybe a lot of us don’t always want to be searching. It is scary territory, to say the least. But when you search you have agreed that there is more, you have decided that what you know now can’t be all there is. And maybe we need to remind ourselves of the uncertainty of all that we think we know in order to let go of the ways that we are stuck. All the ways we let ourselves think that we are not capable of seeing more.

Are we only seeing one side of the story, yet writing the script like we know it all? Everything we do is from our perspective, and our perspective shapes everything we do. Why not change it for the better?

Photo Attribution

Letting Go of Bitterness and Facebook Friends

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I never thought clicking ‘unfriend’ could be so liberating. Until I understood why.

Sometimes, when there isn’t much else to do, I will scroll through Facebook, as many of us do. Over the past little while, I began to notice how many unfamiliar faces were popping up, and eventually, I began to recognize an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Seeing faces of people along my journey, I could feel a ball of negative energy building up inside of me. For a long time I never understood it, nor did I give enough spotlight to deal with it. I had had a few casual conversations about the amount of “friends” I had accumulated on Facebook, and how I wished it wasn’t such an arduous task to whittle it down a little bit.

Nevertheless, one night I took to my Facebook page, and began scrolling through this 900+ list of people that I shared my internet self with. What I thought was going to be a quick clearing of old acquaintances, turned into something remarkably liberating.
As I began scrolling through images of familiar faces, I started to feel that familiar gut energy bursting with negativity. A face from high school, a face from camp, a face from an old job, a face matching a friend of a friend that I met at a party one time. Seeing all these faces at once made me feel one thing: bitterness. But how could I feel bitter toward so many people? What if they knew I felt this way about them? Had they really done anything to harm me, or create this ugly sensation in my mind?

Once I started the train of questions there was no turning back. What was happening?

I was matching faces to my own life experience. When I was in a period of doubt, confusion, and anxiety, anyone with a shred of certainty around me earned the privilege of deserving my emotional weight, all the stuff I never said out loud. When I was insecure, the people I was surrounded by became confident, and I hated them for that. Now hate is a strong word, and often we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we hate someone or something. So I would justify that bitter feeling by putting an easier term to it. Thinking to myself “I hate them for being so certain, they’re so full of it” or “They only THINK they’re happy”. As much as I don’t wish to admit it, the amount of bitterness I could simultaneously hold for various people was astonishing. Even worse, these may be people who see me positively, yet I would never be able to believe that behind my thick wall of blame.

Think about how you can listen to a song that reminds you of a certain time, and before you know it you are met with the same emotions you had once felt.  the same thing happens with people, but we fail to label it as the feeling and instead we label the people as the source for our hurt.

I saw pictures of different people, I also saw pictures of my life where I was lost. Finally, I stopped ignoring the truth that was staring me right in the face.

First, I began to feel an immense amount of guilt. How could I blame all of these people, as if they are the source of my problems? I desperately hoped that my internal resentment had not reached the surface and made its way into anyone else’s consciousness. But I couldn’t be sure. Though I feared the thought of someone feeling rejected by my ‘unfriending’ I put aside my own pride, and took to unfriending like it was the last thing I would ever do.

I will not deny the reality of betrayal, lies, abuse, all of the things that do occur. The times where we need supernatural strength to forgive.

Yet, there is a kind of bitterness we (I) hold on to. It’s the one that makes people raise an eyebrow as we vent about all the ways the world is against us. Its the gossiping and the insulting and the anger that we attribute to all of the people who, as we believe, are causing us pain. It’s the blame we place on authority, institution, religion, systems and people. Not because what they are doing is wrong (though it happens), but because we are convinced that they are hurting us intentionally, and we want them to feel the pain that we feel.

We just don’t want to feel how we do, and so we try to project it onto other people, hoping that they can bear the weight of it. Most of the time we don’t intend to actually communicate this, or else we fail to recognize the problem, and allow a face to bring up all these emotions. Instead of seeing the pain we see a criminal, someone who played a part in life being difficult.

You see, I realized that there are a lot of people who have been in scenes of my life. The good and the bad. And it just so happens that some were there when I needed a hand but couldn’t ask for it. Eventually, it took a Facebook friend purge to help me realize that there was no one to blame for it all. And the more I held onto that blame, the more I would cause old wounds to resurface.

Healing has begun to take root and change the way I see my relationships. The more I can see someone as their own person, trying to find their way through life, the less I need to place on them the extra burden of all the ways that my life hasn’t exceeded my expectations.

Are you holding on to bitterness? Does it surface when you see your old high school friend, your old teammate, your uncle, classmate or co-worker? Do you let yourself shrink back into safety mode every time you see someone who was a bystander in the chaos of your life?

There are enough things in life that we cannot control. There are times when we will get angry, when we will feel betrayed. But if we let our skewed perspective of other people build a mountain of bitterness inside of us, something needs to go.

I get it, we don’t want to carry that weight ourselves, we want it to go away. But it’s not an effective strategy, and you will pay the price that you think someone else is supposed to.

Let go of bitterness, because it’s not doing you any favours.

To anyone that I may have blamed for my own battles, whether you could see it or not, I am sorry. And if you got unfriended, all clichés aside, it truly is not you, it’s me.

When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

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When I’m studying for an exam, the only time I feel really confident in my knowledge is when it makes sense.

When logically, in my head, what is happening makes sense.
When the name of something relates to its function, when one thing causes another.
When I can make connections because it makes sense, it comes together, I feel ready and prepared.

But a lot of the times it doesn’t make sense. No matter how hard I try it just doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t follow my pre-existing set of logic, and I struggle to figure out how to remember it or explain it.
And when I try to memorize the concepts and pretend like it makes sense to me, come exam time it just doesn’t work, the information is gone and I can’t logically think through the subject. It sat momentarily in my short term memory, but come exam time it just can’t withstand the pressure.

This happens with everything, not just school.

It happens when we are trying so hard to understand everything, because we need to know how to beat it.

There must be a reason why this is happening right?

There must be a reason why this is happening TO ME. I did something wrong, or I deserved it, there has to be an explanation.

But sometimes, I just don’t think there is.
Logic is good, it is important, but if we are always trying to logically explain something, then when we can’t we hit a wall, because we are setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. When we need to be in control all of the time, that feeling takes over and then something happens that is confusing and scary, and we can’t handle it anymore.

Life is confusing, things are just messed up sometimes. The outcome doesn’t seem to match the input. What’s experienced doesn’t fit with what we predicted.
And it doesn’t make sense, maybe it never will.

Sometimes, it just won’t make sense.

It doesn’t have to make sense to you for it to be real, it doesn’t have to be logical or have a reason for you to have to conquer it. With the help of others and with coming to peace with the fact that it doesn’t make sense, I think we can put it at face value and let it be what it is.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to someone, or that until you make sense of it you’ve failed, it means that we need to stop pretending like everything makes sense to us when it doesn’t.

If you don’t know why you can’t seem to do anything right,
If you don’t know why you’re upset all the time
If you don’t know why you’re not where you thought you would be
If you don’t know why you had to lose a loved one
If you don’t know why you can’t figure out what is going on in your life
If you don’t know why they said that, why they did that, why you weren’t a part of it
If you can’t fix it yourself

It’s okay. Maybe someday you will know the reason, maybe someday you won’t. Maybe you don’t know because there isn’t a reason.

But if we take what comes at us, we realize that it doesn’t make sense, we can ask for help and develop ways of being okay with the confusion.

At the end of the day, this exam exists whether I like it or not, and pretending all the material makes sense isn’t going to help me.
If I work hard, learn it and memorize it, get others to explain it, I might have a fighting chance, but first I have to be okay with the fact that it doesn’t make sense and it might never make sense. All I can do is work with it, and seek to do the best that I can.

Wherever you are at,
If you are confused and lost, let me tell you it is okay.
It’s okay to not have it figured out, it’s okay that you don’t have the answer.

Keep going, keep living, keep learning, keep seeking truth knowing that it might sometimes elude you.
The best sense you can make of something is the best you can do. That is good, it’s okay, you will grow and learn more.

Confusion is not where you fail, giving up is. Don’t let confusion or lack of logic keep you from moving forward.

You’ll get there.

Until then, here’s to being confused.

 

thanks for reading! email me at info@be-loved.net, and follow this blog for more posts each week! 

Photo Attribution: Nick Humphries

This is me admitting I struggle

I had a post written ready to share, which I probably will do soon enough, but I was blown away by the honest words of this post I read today so I wanted to share it first.

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Many of you are aware of my obsession with To Write Love On Her Arms, I love everything they do and stand for, they have greatly impacted myself and others in so many ways. They speak out against the stigma of mental health, and provide support and hope for those struggling.

In this blog called A Present Struggle, Brandi Mathis talks about hers. About how she’s not there yet, and how easy it is to just talk about the things we’ve already recovered from. How it’s easy to encourage others to embrace their struggle, but harder to do that yourself.

That’s me. When I write I have to consciously remind myself that even though the words are meant for others, it’s important that I believe them to be true for myself.

But if what I wrote didn’t have a personal attachment than i’d probably run out of things to say pretty quickly.

It’s so easy to talk about what you’ve already overcome, what you’ve beaten, and the part of your story that’s been dealt with or “fixed”.

It’s harder to say that where you are right now isn’t where you’d like to be, or that you currently struggle and don’t have all the answers.

Present tense.

What if we took action in the present tense instead of waiting until it was all resolved?

What if we were honest enough with ourselves to be in the struggle with the ones we are fighting for?

So present tense, here goes.

Presently, I struggle with anxiety, and with trying to convince myself that it’s not real most of the time.

I spend a lot of time focused on how people see me, or how they don’t.

Some days it seems real, some days it doesn’t, and they each exist separately which makes for a roller coaster of emotions.

I avoid talking about it if it means i’ll have to do something about it, and i’d much rather help others with their struggle. I’d much rather speak hope over others rather than myself.

But I also realize that in order to create community, we need to be honest and transparent. And that’s what I desire this space to become: community. A loved community.

So presently I struggle. Present not meaning just today, yesterday or tomorrow, but meaning that my story continues. As does yours.

Wherever you are at is important, even if it’s not where you want to stay. What your current struggle may be is important, just as your current victories are important.

The more we speak of these things, the easier it gets to talk about. The easier it is to know you’re not alone and people care about you. And the more we can understand each other, love each other, and be real with each other and ourselves.

Present tense.

comment below or email info@be-loved.net with your story of the present tense.

You can read the full blog post by Brandi here:

http://twloha.com/blog/present-struggle

and visit www.twloha.com it’s awesome.

Also, I’m Thankful For What Sucks

Image I’m sitting here trying to write something about being thankful. because it’s Thanksgiving. And that’s what we’re supposed to do right?

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful. Very thankful. For all the things one might assume to hear while passing the stuffing around the table.

I’m thankful for my family because they are awesome, sarcastic, loving and supportive.
I’m thankful to be in school and have the chance to learn even though I complain about it most of the time.
I’m thankful that people actually read this blog, and make me feel like the words I write are important and not just a bunch of my random thoughts on the screen.
I’m thankful to even be able to groan about overeating on this holiday, because i’m aware that is not the case for many around the world.

BUT (there’s always a but isn’t there?)

It’s easy to be thankful for those things. Because they are good things. Anyone can be thankful for good things, and even though we can take things for granted, we are probably thankful for those things not just during one holiday feast.

If I think about it all in terms of being loved (ie the whole point of this here blog), I begin to think about how important it is to be thankful for what sucks. Even though we try so hard to live a life outside of misfortune, I have learned this year why I can be thankful for the worst of it.

For me, it was last year.
First year university, so many expectations, so much confusion and so many insecurities.
I was a pretty confident person going into it, and I had a good idea of what I wanted it to look like, and who I wanted to be.
Soon enough, that all fell apart. 
I wanted to fit in without being like everybody else. I wanted people to care that I was around, and not just ‘sort of’ know hundreds of other people. 
I wanted to ‘do university well’ and be able to go home and tell everyone how much fun I was having. Tell them I met awesome people, got super involved and was establishing my independance.

But really I was lonely. I abandoned who I wanted to be pretty quickly and instead just tried to be what I thought everyone else wanted. I desperately wanted real conversations, but wouldn’t let anyone in that actually tried to have them. I tried so hard to enjoy the life that was being lived all around me, and it was satisfying for the moment sometimes, but everytime I went home for the weekend, a part of me wondered if anyone would notice if I didn’t come back. 
I was pretty good at putting up a happy front, and I spent most of the year hiding my real emotions. 
I’d never experienced the roller coaster of anxiety, loneliness and doubt like I did last year, and I had no idea if it would change, or if I had now just become this person.

There’s lots more to say there, but I’ll stop to say this:

I’ve been able to become thankful for it.

Why?

Because it got me here.
After a while of thinking about why it was so crappy I began to realize how it has got me to this moment.

My inability to be real then now moves me to tell others why it is so important, and causes me to always look beyond the surface.
My experiences of loneliness and anxiety now makes my heart ache for anyone else that has felt that way, and many things I didn’t understand about others, now I get it. The conversations I would have feared to have, I can have them.
My desire to be perfect, showed me that there is never any permanent satisfaction in attempting to achieve perfection.

I’m not always thankful for it, because sometimes it still sucks. And that’s a part of life.

But I HAVE found beauty in the brokenness, and while I know that life is never going to be perfect, the other stuff matters too. 
Not just once it’s over and you can look back at what came out of it, but it matters RIGHT NOW, because in your persistence you will too see beauty in it.

Today I am thankful for all the blessings in my life.
But I am also thankful for all that other stuff, because without it i’ll be bold enough to say life might just be a little too easy.

And without it I can say for certain this blog wouldn’t exist.

I want to hear from you!
What is it you are thankful for that’s not so easy to be thankful for? Or What do you hope one day to be thankful for?

To those who celebrate it, I hope you had a great thanksgiving, and to those who don’t I hope your turkey-less weekend was also fantasticly full of love.

I’m Not Perfect, And I’m Okay With That.

dogs for blogThis is the story of a good friend of mine. I have been incredibly blessed to know her and to be a part of her journey. I had asked her if she wanted to share her story and was blown away by the honesty and hope that are so present in her words. I hope that by reading these words you will be able to better understand what depression and eating disorders can look like, and how important it is to share your life with others. She loves dogs, so I thought the photo of mine was appropriate.

Here is her story.

I’m 21 years old, I’m finishing up my third year at the University of Guelph, I absolutely love dogs and I am in recovery from an eating disorder, self-harm and I have depression. I was diagnosed with depression 7 years ago and an EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) a couple years ago.

My experience with depression has been a long, hard battle that has been filled with a lot of darkness, frustration, shame, guilt, and hopelessness. But despite the darkest moments that I have experienced, there have also been moments of hope. By speaking up about my depression and getting help, I have been able to shine a light on the darkness, and where there is light, there cannot be darkness. To this day, I still have days where I struggle….some days I can barely get out of bed in the morning and the thought of getting through the day is too overwhelming. Something I have learned is that I can’t let my depression keep me from pursuing my dreams. So I try and do the opposite of what my depression is telling me to do. I reach out to friends and family when I can’t seem to see the joy in things or the point of fighting it any longer. I speak truth to myself, when the lies begin to creep in. And when I can’t see the truth, I have people who will speak truth over me and fight for me when I can’t.

Having an eating disorder has not always been pretty, it never is. I have struggled with characteristics of both anorexia and bulimia but didn’t meet all of the characteristics, which is how I ended up with the diagnosis of EDNOS. When I was first diagnosed with this, I thought to myself  “great, another failure to add to the list. I failed at an eating disorder”. This is not to say that I was striving to have an eating disorder, I definitely was not. But I had not heard of an EDNOS before and I had just assumed that I was both anorexic and bulimic. So when my doctor told me, I felt a lot of feelings of shame, failure, guilt, confusion, frustration. I didn’t understand and I felt like I was the only one with an EDNOS. I now know though that I’m not alone in my struggle and I want you to know as well that you are not alone. That there is hope and recovery is possible. It’s important for anyone that is in recovery to see it as a process and not a destination. I have accepted the fact that I may struggle with an eating disorder for the rest of my life, there will be periods of time where I will be doing really well and will experience freedom from the lies. But I also still struggle and some days are still really hard. There are days where I can barely get through my meal plan but I do it anyways because I know that it will get easier. One of the most important things that I have learned throughout my recovery is to be patient and gentle with myself. I am not perfect, and I never will be. And I’m okay with that. All I can do is my best and that’s okay.

What have been the most helpful things that anyone has done for you throughout your journey?

What has helped me the most has been to talk about what I’m feeling or having a hard time working through and I share it with my treatment team or my friends and family. They support me and love me. They accept me where I’m at and don’t judge me when I’m struggling or having a bad day. They treat me like they used to before I was diagnosed with depression or my eating disorder. My diagnoses have not changed who I am. They should not define the way that people look at me or treat me. When my family and friends look at me, they don’t see my depression, my self-harm or my eating disorder. They see me for me…the loving, caring, strong and fun girl that they have always known.

What do you dream of for your future?

I dream of being able to share my story with others in hopes of it helping even one person. I know that if my story can help someone, then everything that I’ve been through will be worth it. I dream of working in a treatment centre one day for women struggling with eating disorders and other mental health issues. I want to be there for them, to care for them and love them and provide these women with hope when they feel like there’s nothing left.  I dream of a future filled with joy and freedom. I know that I will experience freedom, I have felt it before and it is worth fighting for.

(Anything that I say below is from my own personal experience. I hope I can provide some insight and maybe some clarification around depression and eating disorders)

So, what is depression?

Some of you may wonder what depression is or maybe you’ve experienced it yourself or know someone who has. Depression is a medical condition. There are many different forms of depression. Like many types of cancer, there is likely a genetic predisposition combined with certain environmental factors (life experiences) that set the stage for the onset of depression. For many people (including myself), depression can run in the family. Depression is treatable and should be taken seriously. It is a mood disorder and not something that people make up or can snap out of.

Some signs and symptoms of depression:

  • hopelessness
  • loss of interest/enjoyment in activities that you would typically enjoy
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • guilt
  • trouble concentrating/making decisions
  • lack of energy
  • thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • sleeping too much or too little

What is an eating disorder? What is EDNOS?

An eating disorder is considered a mental illness. There are different kinds of eating disorders. When people hear that someone has an eating disorder, they may think of anorexia or bulimia. Anorexia and bulimia seem to be the most recognized forms of eating disorders however there are other forms of eating disorders such as EDNOS and a Binge Eating disorder. EDNOS and binge eating disorders are just as dangerous as anorexia and bulimia. Whether or not someone struggles with restricting, bingeing, purging, or over exercising they are equally important and should be dealt with and treated accordingly.

Eating disorders consist of a preoccupation with weight, food and eating-related behaviours that end up taking control of a person’s life. The behaviours used in an eating disorder are used as a coping mechanism. Some people with an eating disorder have looked to food, weight, and body image to avoid having to deal with traumatic events that may have occurred in their life. Maybe you’ve been bullied, or your parents are going through a divorce. Maybe you’ve experienced some form of abuse, or you feel like you are never good enough and are striving for perfection and think that the ‘perfect body’ will make everything better.  Whatever your case may be, I want to encourage you to speak up and talk to someone about it. Someone you trust. Maybe that person is a sibling, a parent, a teacher, or your coach. I want you to know that what you are feeling is real and should be taken seriously. Eating disorders are very dangerous and if they are not treated, they can lead to serious medical complications. Here are some brief descriptions and a few signs/symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa: starvation/limiting your food intake, experience extreme weight loss, fatigue, dizziness/fainting, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stop getting your period, osteoporosis, etc.

Bulimia Nervosa: a cycle that consists of bingeing and purging. Bingeing is when you consume a large amount of food in a short period of time and purging is getting rid of the food that you have consumed either by throwing up, over exercising, laxative abuse, etc.

EDNOS: (a few examples) you could meet all of the criteria for anorexia except you’re still getting your period regularly or you’re considered to be in a ‘normal’ weight range despite the excessive amount lost.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED): frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, feeling out of control over eating behaviour during the episodes.

If you or someone you know is in need of support visit:

http://camimh.ca/mental-illness-awareness-week-english/about-mental-illness/need-help/

If you have  a story to share pleas email me at emily.scott93@gmail.com, I would be honored to hear it !