Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Baby Steps

What About Bob is probably one of my favorite movies and it is one I would recommend to anyone, especially to those struggling. The 'baby steps' premise is shown in a comedic way in the movie but actually helped me out tremendously in my life in the past 12 months.


I made multiple of these post-it notes and placed them in my room at home and in my apartment at school so I would see them everyday as constant reminders. A major part of my struggle has been overcoming my anxiety; I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Panic attacks were not all that uncommon to me and my GAD was so crippling that it used to take me more than an hour just to send a simple email or text message.

I began to see completing these little baby steps as accomplishments. They weren't accomplishments that garnered a reward, but they were things I became proud of. Before, I would be terrified to send that message, talk to that person, or get behind the wheel (the latter actually has a real reason) by acknowledging my accomplishment I realized that I was a small step closer to what I referred to as 'functioning in normal society'. These little accomplishments would add up into a major one that I could look back on months later and see exactly how far I had/ have come since I hit rock bottom.

To this day I haven't taken these notes down, in fact, I have added more with other sayings such as, ''Learn from the past but don't dwell on it''. I believe they serve as a reminder of how far I have come in my life but also as a way to keep pushing and that I still have so much further to go.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Accepted to Go Abroad

I'm going to London. Cue Chandler Bing dance.

In January, I am heading to London for the spring semester. To say that I am thrilled to going would be an understatement. Studying abroad has been something I have been dreaming about for a long time. Ever since I got to college, I began researching how to study in London. When I met with an advisor to see what I had to do, I was way far ahead of the game already. Then when my application was finally open for spring 2014, I immediately began to apply. To be honest, it almost became an obsession.

And now it's official and I almost can't believe it.

My preparations have already started (actually they started long before I was accepted… yup I am that girl) and I cannot wait to find out more in the coming months. I know as it gets closer I will likely feel much more nervous than I currently am, I mean come on I have never even left the East Coast before let alone go and live in a different country for 6 months. And with my history of anxiety and depression there is a slight worry about how I will cope with the shock to my system that is studying abroad. Unlike being at Penn State, when I am in London, I'm not going to be a mere 3 hour drive away from my family to come home for the weekend if I need a break. I will have to rely on those around me and Skype.

But I want this. No, I need this. After everything I have been through, this could be the ultimate test to see how strong I have truly become. It's a test I think I'll pass because I think my fears will outweigh/ be overtaken by desire to learn and experience the world beyond my comfort zone.

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why So Blue?

A few months ago, I made the ends of my hair blue. I had been thinking about adding some color (i.e. blue, purple, pink) for a while and finally just said to hell with it and did it.

And people who knew me were stunned. I've always been a pretty conservative girl; I never wanted to make myself stand out by doing some of the "crazy"/ "standout" things I would think of in fear of being judged. This ranged from my hair to my clothes to my makeup to my actions.

But seeing has how I have recently learned to embrace the true me, back in April I made the plunge and went blue! 

Blue applied now waiting for it to set. No turning back.

In the car right after it was done. A little hard to see but I was thrilled!

Here's a better picture in the light. 

I'd so do it again in a heartbeat! I actually kinda, sort of, really want to dye my hair lavender. I've just gotta work up the courage! 

What fun things have some of you done that would be considered out of character to others?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meaningful Music Monday #1

One of the things that has helped me pull through the tough times was music. I may not have any musical talent whatsoever, but I love my music. A slow, relaxing song could help calm me down while an uptempo song could make me want to blast the radio and dance around my room leaving my troubles behind me for a few minutes. Basically, any kind of song with a meaning that can be inspirational or uplifting.

And as much as I love almost all kinds of music (except metal and screamo stuff...) the stuff that really helped me were ones similar to my situation and had positive messages. Love songs are great, but sometimes it was just nice to hear a great tune telling you you'll pull through.

As cheesy as it may sound, and I know it does, I wanted to share songs on my positive playlist that helped me personally that others may enjoy.

'Life's a Dance' - John Michael Montgomery

"Don't worry 'bout what you don't know, life's a dance, you learn as you go."

This is one of my favorite songs of all time, obviously since I named my blog after it. It's country (my fave genre), upbeat and is all about how life is constantly changing so you have to adjust to whatever situation you are in. Life is a dance that is different for each person and every step you take in life is a step in your own personal dance. And sometimes you are in more control than you are in other times when you have to follow/ be guided. No matter what portion in life you are in though, you are always learning. Every event in your life is something to learn from, whether it was positive or negative.

'Love Who You Love' - Rascal Flatts
''Love who you love with all that you have and don't waste the time that flies so fast.''

My Zadie, my great-grandfather may he rest in peace, was the most important person in my life. When he was in the hospital dying, I chose not to go and visit him one last time because I couldn't handle seeing him in such a state and did not want those to be my last memories with him. To this day I am torn; I know that I would make the same decision again if faced with it but a small part of me wishes I had gone and seen him. This song has always reminded me of him and how part of the reason I was able to pull myself out of my depression was knowing that I wanted/ want to make him proud. And no matter how alone I was feeling, and believe me I felt alone, he is was/ is always looking out for me and providing me with strength.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Escape from Reality

"Cause everybody needs to break free from reality." Kenny Chesney - Reality

Everyone needs an escape. Whether it is from work or school or whatever, there is a time when you just need to get away from it all. But more often than not, you can't always just up and leave your reality. So you need to find something that is easy but effective.

While I was struggling with my depression, I desperately searched for just one escape. I needed to get away from the constant sadness and loneliness that was my everyday life. Finding an escape allowed my to stop wallowing in my own self pity and to stop over-thinking every little aspect of my life. (Note: My darkest days of my depression came last summer while I was not in school and jobless, so I basically did nothing all day)

An escape isn't supposed to be for an extending period of time or something that is harmful to you, but something that makes you happy and forget about your struggles even if only for an hour.

Here are just of a few of the things that helped me:

1. Reading
I am a bookworm. I love to read. I am also a bit of a Potterhead. The first thing that I found that helped me escape was rereading the Harry Potter series, not watching, reading. It allowed to immerse myself in another world and let my imagination run wild, seven big books made that really easy. There are a few other books that I can do this with too (Pride and Prejudice and A Song of Ice and Fire). My engaging my imagination I could leave my troubles and enter a place I where I was happy and free.

2. Exercise
It may not always be fun while you do it but Elle Woods said it best, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." And it is true. Some of the best feelings I've had have been after a tough workout. It may have hurt and I may be sore in the morning but damn I feel good and I know it will help me look good! Focusing your energy on your workout can help you bring yourself out of your bad state because exercise is not only healthy for your body but for your mind as well so it is a win-win. It does not matter what kind of exercise it is. It can be running, walking, Zumba, Yoga, BodyStep (a personal favorite), just be active!

3. Meditation
I tried it; I'm not very good at it. My therapist recommended I try it so I did. And I will still do it occasionally but only for a few minutes since that is all I can actually do it for. Deep breathing and focusing on nothing but my breathing is actually very relaxing. And as someone who has anxiety and as someone who used to suffer from panic attacks, this is definitely something I would recommend at least trying.

There is an endless list of things that could go here: music (listening or playing) or cooking/baking or whatever floats your boat. The key is to find something that you enjoy an that makes you really happy. And then to just do it and let your mind stray away from your troubles. If you catch your mind coming back to those troubles, take a minute to refocus on what you are doing. You deserve to be happy, to enjoy yourself, and to escape from your troubles for the time being.