Why?

Questions someone living with anxiety asks every day:

Why can’t I cut people out of my life when I’ve had enough?

Why can’t I treat people in the same shitty way they treat me?

Why am I so trusting?

Why do I continue to care about people even after I’ve been used and thrown away?

Why do I feel so alone even when I am surrounded by friends?

Why can’t I have a relationship that I’m not scared of losing?

Why am I a giver, but don’t have the courage to take?

Why do I have a hard time asking for what I need?

Why am I not good enough?

Why does my life seem like an endless circle of confusion and frustration?

Why am I afraid of the future – the next day, hour and minute?

Why have I turned into someone I don’t recognize anymore?

Why can’t I be happy with what I have?

Why do people see love as just a word and not an action?

Why can’t I say No when all I want to do is curl up in a ball?

Why do I feel like it will never get better?

~Sophie

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An Open Letter to Teens

Dear Current and Future Generations:

As you grow into adulthood you will be faced with a lot of temptation, challenges, sadness and even the occasional happy day.  You will make and lose friends and be the source of frustration and joy for your parents every day. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes and trying to find your way in today’s world will be difficult – much more so than it was when I was a kid.

No, I didn’t have to walk 10 miles barefoot uphill in the snow to get to school every day, I didn’t have go outside to use the bathroom, and I didn’t have to fall asleep every night in a room right out of “Little House on the Prairie” – although I loved that show.  But I did have my own problems growing up; so did your parents and their parents, and their parents before them.

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The changes in the world as kids are growing up today has really bothered me.  There seems to be a lackadaisical attitude among our youth and an inability to be grateful for what they have.  At the risk of sounding “preachy” I want to offer some words of wisdom that I learned the hard way and whether you want my advice or not, I’m going to give it to you anyway.  So put down your phone and tablet, take off your headphones and listen up.  You just might learn something:

  1. The world does not revolve around you.  Believe it or not, when you leave a room life does go on.
  2. You are not entitled to anything, so don’t expect your every wish to be granted..
  3. Get a job the day you turn 16.  If you wait until you are in your 20’s to enter the job market, you will miss out on some vital experience and people skills that you will desperately need when you get older.
  4. Do not let your parents buy your first car.  Get it yourself with the money you’ll be making when you start working at 16.
  5. Pay your own way.  When you start earning your own money, you are old enough to take care of yourself – this includes (but not limited to) buying your own clothes and paying for your own cell phone bill.
  6. Open your own checking and savings account with your first paycheck.  Learning the value of money and how to budget early on will save you excessive stress and worry later in life.
  7. Be careful who you trust your secrets to – as they say, “not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.”
  8. Say Hi to the new kid in school, and the outcast and the nerd.  You are no better than them so don’t make them feel that way.
  9. Do not rely on other people to take care of you.  As you go through your teenage years, you must learn to take care of yourself.  You will eventually learn that YOU are the only one who can do this.
  10. Do not lose yourself in an attempt to follow others.  This is incredibly easy to do when trying to fit in and trust me, you will regret it.
  11. Work your ass off for what you want – becoming who you are meant to is a struggle every day; but if you study, pay attention and above all, LISTEN, the journey will be worth it.
  12. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted.  Just because you have it today, doesn’t mean it will be there tomorrow.  Life can change in the blink of an eye.
  13. Perhaps the most important lesson is this – Your parents did the best they could with what they knew at the time.  Love them, respect them and don’t let a day go by without telling them how you feel.

I’ve been through a lot in my own life, and I’ve made my share of mistakes.  But I’ve learned from them and hopefully changed for the better.  But I wish someone had given me the same advice I’m trying to give you. So take it to heart.  As Drew Barrymore said in the film Never Been Kissed, “You will spend your lives trying to keep others down because it makes you feel more important.  All of you people, there is a big world out there… bigger than prom, bigger than high school and it won’t matter if you were the prom queen, the quarterback of the football team, or the biggest nerd in school. Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.”

~Sophie

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Advice for Coping…

Happy Saturday Friends,

It’s finally sunny here in the South, although a bit cloudy, but hopefully the weather will brighten.

For those of us living with anxiety and depression, this Mother’s Day may be particularly hard so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a post from a couple of years ago. Maybe it will help a little.   Enjoy!

~Sophie

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Just Get Over It? – It’s Not that Simple

― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

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Anyone else shed a tear or two last night during Billy Crystal’s moving tribute to Robin Williams?  Although I wish they would have shown more footage of the talented actor, the message came across loud and clear – what we see on the outside has nothing to do with what is on the inside.   It is sad that it took the death of one of the funniest men in show business to finally bring depression out from under the carpet and into the spotlight, recognizing it for what it really is….a crippling disease.

Depression is one of the most prevalent and serious mental illnesses in the world today, affecting approximately one in four women and one in eight men and an estimated 121 million people around the world currently suffer from some form of depression.  Further, over 80% of people have symptoms of clinical depression but are not receiving any specified treatment, perhaps because they believe it will pass, or even worse, they feel ashamed.

Almost every one of us has, at one point or another, felt “blue” due to a disruptive life event or day-to-day stress.  However, true depression is a persistent feeling of sadness that impairs our general functioning and lasts for more than two weeks.  Although the word “depressed” is often tossed around like a baseball to describe periodic unhappiness, depression is actually a biological illness that doesn’t disappear like a cold or the flu.  The sad thing is that a diagnosis of depression is not always believed by some doctors; therefore, a clinically depressed person who needs help will continue their day to day lives without any kind of treatment.  Our society has spent centuries blaming depression on the individual and creating excuses for those living with depression.

As someone who has suffered from depression in the past, and still struggles from time to time, I know how it feels.  The number of unfounded myths about depression is many; therefore, after a bit of research, I found a few that I have heard before and I’m ashamed to admit, have used on myself:

  •  Being Sad Leads to Depression – while sadness is considered a cause, anger is much more common. Feeling normal sadness due to a loss or disappointment rarely leads to depression.
  • Depression Symptoms are all Mental – nothing could be further from the truth. Mental symptoms such as sadness, anger, anger, anxiety, confusion, feeling of hopelessness and emptiness are present; however, physical symptoms are very common including lack of energy, changes in sleeping and eating habits, stomach problems, headaches and body aches.
  • Only Women Get Depressed – this one is such a crock! Men are told to tough it out and get over it; such advice is very damaging as depression can even more dangerous in men than women as they are more likely to avoid treatment because of the stigma attached to it.
  • It’s Just PMS, Not Depression – okay so women can blame depression on PMS, what can men blame it on? This is perhaps one of the stupidest misnomers I have ever heard.  Yes, PMS can affect their physical and mental state, but a woman’s cycle can last 5-7 days – true depression doesn’t go away when the period is over.

So what do you do when you have been diagnosed with depression?  The most important thing to realize is that you are not alone and you have people in your life who love you. Although the tips below are not a cure, they are a good place to start on the road to recovery.

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If diagnosed and treated properly, people can “live with” not “suffer from” depression.   Don’t lose sight of your friends and family as they will be your source of strength and guidance – lean on them in difficult times and let them help you.  It is amazing what one “I love you” can do.

Ref:

Dealing with Depression and Loneliness (2013).  Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/depression-pictures/depression-myths-debunked.aspx#/slide-10

Dealing with Depression – Self-Help and Coping Tips to Overcome Depression. (2014).  Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm

SB/2014

Good People Really Do Exist

Hello Friends,

As you know from my prior posts, the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me. The loss of my job, being down with a respiratory infection, wondering how in the hell I am going to pay my bills, eat and ultimately survive.  It’s a scary thing if you’ve never been out of work before and you begin to question the point of everything in your life.  My anxiety level has been through the roof and I have been living on Xanax in an attempt to keep myself from losing it – although I’ve come close a few times.  But yesterday, something happened that put me over the edge and confirmed that there was in fact somebody out there throwing darts at a picture of my face.

I had to go up to the drugstore to pick up a prescription refill – I hadn’t been out of the house in three days so I figured it would do me some good – even if it was cloudy and rainy here in the South.  I got in my car and as I backed out of the driveway I heard a loud snap in my right rear tire.  Thinking I had simply rolled over a rock or large stick, I kept going.  As I continued down the street, the clicking didn’t go away and started to sound like I had a flat tire.  “Oh SHIT!” I thought as I pulled over and checked out the tires.  All looked okay, no flats, so I got back in the car and started out again.  But the noise was still there.  I broke down crying in the car in the middle of the road, not caring that I was blocking traffic, listening to the horns honk at me as they passed.

Once I pulled myself together, I drove back home; with the luck I’ve had the last couple of weeks, I didn’t want to take any chances that I would increase whatever the problem was by driving it more.

When I got back home, I called the local Firestone, explained the problem and they told me to go ahead and bring it in.  My brother came over and followed me up there and I explained the problem again in detail to the mechanic.  I explicitly told him not to make any repairs until he called  to inform me what was wrong.  “I just lost my job,” I told him, “I have no money, and if this is going to be expensive I need to find some way to come up with the funds.”  He assured me no repairs would be made without first speaking to me.

A few hours later, the mechanic called and said my car was ready.  “The clicking sound is gone,” he said.  Thinking it was nothing more than a rock or pebble in my hubcap, I asked what the problem was. “Well, your rear breaks were worn down and the rear rotors were corroded and had to be replaced.”   I completely lost it, yelling that I specifically asked that no repairs be made without first speaking to me. “How in the hell am I going to pay for this?” I asked.  “I need my car to get around! How am I going to get a job without a car?”  The mechanic listened patiently, let me yell and cry and cuss –  the poor guy must have thought I was a total nut job.  After my venting rage, he calmly replied, “Ma’am, there’s no charge.”   What?  Did I hear right?  Did something good actually happen?  I couldn’t believe this man’s kindness and compassion – it overwhelmed me.

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When I went to pick up my car I hugged the mechanic and cried (yes, again.)  I thanked him so much for what he did and how much I appreciated this small gift among the cacophony of crap going on in my life.  He smiled, said “no problem” and wished me luck.  It was only when I got in my car that I noticed the invoice – this angel performed over $400 of work on my car and didn’t charge me a dime.

God works in mysterious ways, I know.  And I know that my timeline is not his, and he has a plan for me, etc.  But everyone once in awhile he sends a reminder that he is with me and that the way my life is now is not the way it will always be.  Who knew my reminder would be in the form of gray-haired man missing a front tooth, wearing glasses and a grease-covered Firestone shirt?  If he is out there and reading this – you gave me a gift I can never repay – Faith.

~ Sophie

The Daily Post

The Beach
 

A book, a beer, a towel and a chair –  I have all I want.

As the sun shines down on me, not a cloud in the sky, I feel the warmth of those I have lost surrounding me – protecting me.  I think of my mom and dad and how much I miss them – wishing for just one more hour or day with them.

I run the sand through my toes and my fingers, as I think of the difficulties in  life and how quickly everything can fall out from under you.  Like a mound of sand – nothing is solid; however, as water is to sand, friends and family are to life – creating a solid foundation from which to survive and grow.

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I stare out at the ocean, watching the waves – the whitecaps as the children play at the edge, laughing as they dodge the cold water when the tide comes in.  The peaks and valleys of the waves are akin to the ups and downs of life. There will be times of peace and joy as the ocean is calm; but the troubling winds will come again to create pain and turmoil, throwing me against conflict after conflict.  I do my best to tread water and hold on, as I remember my mantra, “When you’re tired of fighting the current, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, for in the blink of an eye, the current can shift and things are calm again.”

A book,a beer, a towel and a chair – I have all I need.

~ Sophie

 

The Bracelet

It’s amazing the types of things that comfort us in difficult times. The day we buried mom was perhaps the worst day of my life. When I lost dad that was bad enough, but mom and I had been inseparable since dad passed and I had lost a very large piece of my heart that day. I remember standing in the chapel at the funeral home looking at her in the casket, memories of her flooding my brain as I cried, feeling so alone and wanting to just crawl in there with her. What was I going to do without her?

The funeral director called us to come together in the family room so I touched mom’s face one last time and said my final goodbye. As I tried desperately to put one foot in front of the other, I saw something out of the corner of my eye; I turned my head and laying there on the empty pew was one of those bracelets that we used to make when we were kids – you know the kind with the different colored string wound together to make what was then called a “friendship bracelet.” It was pink and black and white and was a bit big so I had to double it in order to put it on my wrist. I haven’t taken it off since.

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Why – when the chapels are cleaned daily and hers was the first service of the day – would this have been left there? Surely, someone on staff would have picked it up and thrown it away or put it in the lost and found after the final service the previous day? The answer is simple – I’ve come to believe that mom left this bracelet there for me, just so I would know she was okay. Because I had to double the bracelet, it feels as if I have mom’s arms holding me, keeping me safe. I know the day will come when I won’t need it anymore, and I am leaving that decision to fate. One morning I will wake up or I’ll be at work and look down and it will be gone. I’m not looking forward to that day because as simplistic as it seems, this bracelet has become a part of me and is a reminder that mom is still with me. It has become a “security blanket” of sorts and like a child with a pacifier, it keeps me calm.

Mom told me when I was three years old, we were in the car riding down Broad Street and all of a sudden, I threw my beloved pacifier out the window. When she asked me why, my response was “no want.” I never used a pacifier again. Perhaps the day my bracelet leaves me will be the day I “no need,” but I’ll cherish it while I have it.

Hope – Is It Worth the Time?

As Emily Dickinson said,

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

No offense to Ms. Dickinson, while the above is a beautiful stanza to her famous poem, comparing Hope to feathers is not altogether accurate.  In my life, and for those of us struggling with anxiety and depression:

“Hope” is the thing with tentacles
Grasping me everso tightly
Until the act of breathing becomes impossible
And I am lost – scared to death –

Personally, I think the concept of Hope is a scary one – it is paralyzing and has prevented me from acting on things I should have.  I continually “hope” that something will change in my life to create less anxiety; I “hope” I will have enough money to pay my bills each month; I “hope” I will be able to find a job and that my fear of screwing up won’t get in the way; I “hope” I can learn to love myself and get it through my thick head that I am worth more than I give myself credit for.  But lately, “hope” has become “hopeless.”   How does such a small word create such a large physical and emotional reaction?  The heart palpitations, the shakes, the lack of focus and above all,  the ability to overlook the good in one’s life while “hoping” for what may or may not come?”

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Perhaps it is because I am a planner – I admit it, I have an irrational fear of the unknown – I have to know what will happen – and the uncertainty of what the next hour or day may bring ignites thoughts of worry and frustration.  Is this how “Hope” is supposed to feel?  Unfortunately in my case it does, and I’m sure it does for others who struggle on a daily basis.
Before I close, let me say that I applaud those of you who have lived positively with Hope and are able to be excited about what the future has in store for you.  That is the way life is supposed to be – as the saying goes, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”.  Unfortunately, in our anxiety-filled world, the saying has become, “Expect the worst and prepare for the inevitable.”

~Sophie