Hey you. You’ll be alright

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Life.

It’s pretty intense sometimes hey? That may be a severe understatement for you. Yeah I get it. Sometimes it knocks me down too. Sometimes it feels like everything we are thinking makes up the totality of our existence.

You ever feel the same?

Cool. That’s just one thing we have in common then, I bet there’s more.

See, the biggest battle is the one fought against ourself. How we respond to what we’ve been given, how we treat ourselves based on how valuable we think we are.

Forget the things you have to get done. Forget any expectations you have at this moment. Forget relationships, family, school, jobs, just forget it all for a second. Okay, maybe that’s not so easy, but for just a moment, try.

This is about you.

YOU. The real you. The one behind all of that other stuff. The one that longs for freedom, love, truth and joy. The you that grew up from being an innocent little kid and is now faced with a world that asks for too much.

You’ll be alright.

How do I know that? Because you’re not alone. We all feel that way. We all fail, we all don’t measure up, we all struggle, and we all give up. Don’t think I’m saying that makes you any less important. Because it doesn’t, it just makes you real. It makes you a part of this crazy thing we call “being human”. It’s the human condition. You were destined to think, feel, hurt, laugh and cry. Without these things nothing would have any substance. If you could only laugh, it wouldn’t differ from tears.
If you couldn’t hate, love would cease to exist. You can’t choose truth unless there is are also lies.

So what do you do?

Well, sometimes there is nothing you can do. Sometimes the things that will change your situation lie beyond your control. That’s a scary thought. But it also can be relief to know it’s not all on you. And it’s not. It never has been.

So just know that you’re doing okay. Right where you’re at. Whether you are in the midst of achieving your dreams, or whether you feel like they are permanently out of reach. If you don’t even know what they are, or if you are just used to telling yourself that you can’t do it. You’ll be alright.

Because somehow life goes on. It goes on for the people feeling joy, and it goes on for the ones in pain. It gets better right away for some, it takes longer for others. For some, laughter is the stranger and loneliness is all too familiar.

The faster you realize your life is never going to be perfect, the faster you can stop striving for it. I hate to tell you but you’re never going to have it all figured out, if you did you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

The crazy thing is, we’re all in this together. Though I may never have met you, I share your pain. I share your hurt and I share your joy. I’ve felt that happiness, and I felt the sting of those tears. We all have. If we could just admit to each other how similar we are, maybe compassion wouldn’t need to be learned and practiced because it would be second-nature to our existence.

Your life is unique, you are important and your story is one that no one else can tell. Yet at the same time you share the story of humanity, one that longs for good, for love and for belonging. None of us have it figured out, yet still we keep going.

You’ll be alright. Keep fighting because you’re part of a bigger story. No matter what your story, you are a living example of rising above adversity, no matter the kind.

Take in the joy, and savour the laughter. Love with everything you have and don’t hesitate to receive the love that is given to you. Let yourself fail, because it’s all a part of life, and being imperfect is what makes you alive. It’s what brings meaning to the joy.

You’ll be alright. Because we’re all in this together. And it’s not over yet.

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email: info@be-loved.net

Blog Photo Attribution: Hazlan Hamzah

End Photo Attribution: Live Life Happy

The Day I Stopped Seeking A Label

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For the most part, I despise labels. I don’t want to be labeled as the person who does “that” or is “that” girl. I don’t want someone to be able to condense my existence into one word as if that would sum up my personality. I think many of us feel the same.
How can they call me that? I am so much more than that!
If only they knew me, they would know that’s not the whole story.
We don’t want to be labeled by our jobs, where we live, what sports we play, who we talk to, because none of it could accurately describe our whole person. It’s just too easy to label.

But there’s one exception.

It only took two lectures into Abnormal Psychology for me to have an epiphany. Okay, that’s probably a bit of a stretch but I couldn’t stop thinking about this.

When it comes to my own problems, all I wanted was a label. For so long I thought that the only way to describe what I feel is a label. Maybe someone just needs to tell me I have some sort of mental illness or disorder, then it will all become crystal clear. I’ll get the right treatment, or talk to the right person, and I’ll be on the path to “normalcy”. But then there’s days where I don’t need anything, I just want to be myself and nothing else.

No one goes to the doctor hoping that they will label them with a disease, so why would I want the opposite of my mental health? Why would an answer to my confusion make anything change?
Maybe I thought I needed a clear-cut label to be worthy of talking about it. Like if I explain how I feel, other people might call me out because if I don’t have a label to associate it all, it’s not real. If I don’t have a note from the doctor, it’s not real. If I don’t have one word preceding “disorder”, than I have no right talking about my problems.

Perhaps I thought if I couldn’t get a label, then I was just struggling for no reason and I should just suck it up and do life better. Not take everything so seriously and figure it out myself.

In her book The Art of Spiritual Writing, Vinita Hampton Wright describes labels as somewhat dangerous:
“It’s so easy to affix labels to people or ideas or systems, and it’s easy because a label halts any further thinking on a matter”

When it comes to stereotypes and judgments, this can be all too true. Yet as a person, needing a label for your struggle may open you up to clearer paths of help, and not having a label can be confusing, not knowing what you need.

As the professor spoke of labels, I realized how wrong i’ve been. He claimed that the labels don’t explain everything. Mental illness is not fully understood. What is diagnosed by one clinician may differ from another. These labels are the best ways that professionals know to explain the unexplainable. There is no clear line between “normalcy” and “abnormality”. We are still searching for answers. Some things work for some people, and not for others. Some disorders are more clear-cut than others, yet at the end of the day there is so much progress to made.

I am fully aware of the realness and stigma of mental illness, and if you suffer from it, everything you experience is real and important. You deserve the right help and support, and the right to talk about it. In no way could I diminish the reality of illness that is so common.

Maybe there are other who can’t explain it. Who don’t know if we are worthy of a label, something to make sense of life. But what if a label isn’t necessary to qualify you? What if everything you feel matters regardless of what anyone tells you?

If you are struggling, you deserve the right to be heard.
If you can’t figure anything out, your confusion matters.
You’re not alone in how you’re feeling, even if you can’t explain it.
You don’t need to be able to explain it to feel it.
You don’t need to have depression to feel depressed.
You don’t need help only once you’ve reached rock bottom, everyone deserves the right to talk about their distress.

Just as you wouldn’t ask to be labeled with a physical disease, don’t ask for a label to legitimize your feelings. They are real, important, worthy, and you matter before you figure any of it out. Before anything gets better, it’s all important. So own your life, your journey is important regardless of how well you can explain it.

Note: If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, or even thinks they might be, it is important to seek help. There is help, and people care.

email me! I love emails from cool people – that’s you automatically because you read this. info@be-loved.net

Twitter: @Beloved_Blog

Blog Photo Attribution: Allison McDonald

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.

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 !