I Won’t Apologize

Lately, I’ve been doing some reflecting on what’s right for me (in the sense of relationships), the type of person I wanted to be and what I stood for. This person, the new one whose emerged from all of this reflection, is someone whose both confident and set in her ways. And I’m not sorry.

Yeah, you heard me. I won’t apologize.

Sometimes, whether you’re in a relationship or even friendship, you sometimes encounter someone who makes you budge on things that you might not otherwise think about budging on. This can be a good thing, like if someone is trying to get you to try something new to eat. However, sometimes this can be a bad thing, like if someone was pressuring you to try things that you weren’t ready to try. It then becomes up to you to decide whether or not that person is someone that you want to be with or have in your life, especially if they won’t let up about it.

However, I’ve decided that if someone ever asks me to change, then I’m going to ask them to leave. I am me, take it or leave it, and am not going to ever change because someone has a problem with the fact that I read a ton of books or spends too much time taking photos for Instagram. I won’t apologize for my quirks, for my insecurities, and for my loud music. I’m not going to move faster or slower in relationships, just because someone wants something from me that I’m not ready to give. I know what’s right for me, and that’s much more important to me than keeping someone in my life that may not deserve to be there in the first place.

And, I won’t apologize for it.

Counting My Blessings

On 3 a.m. Sunday morning, I woke up to my car alarm blaring. As I raced to check out the outside scene through my window, finding nothing, I thought nothing of it and went back to bed.

Later on that day (or morning), I got a phone call from my mom, who had left the house to embark on some errands. She said she thought someone had hit my car and ran off. I jumped out of bed, put on some shoes and raced outside to find the front driver’s side tire completely dented. Having just taken my collision off of my car (as it was 15 years old), you can say I felt like I was screwed, not to mention upset. What was I going to do? How was I going to pay for this? (Also, keep in mind that I had also just went to get my car serviced only the day before)

My car post getting hit.

After a police report was filed and my mechanic was called, I was finally able to relax. And then, I soon realized that I was lucky (or as lucky as one could be in this sort of situation). I wasn’t in the car when it happened, nor was I hurt. My car, even though it’s going to cost a bit of money to fix, was still drivable, and wasn’t severely damaged.

While the situation isn’t exactly ideal, at the end of the day, I count my blessings and realize that I was as lucky as one could be in this sort of situation.

And, that’s a blessing.

Why I Won’t Let My Anxiety Define Me

I remember when I first deal with the symptoms of a panic attack. It was on a Tuesday afternoon in early November, and I was having a stressful day at school where I had to pile on multiple class assignments, in addition to balancing working at a newspaper and a library. After a fight with my friend a few minutes after class, I literally snapped. Tears flowed with no sign of stopping, just like the rain that poured onto the rooftop of my Honda Civic. I couldn’t control the tears, nor could I control the crushing feeling that was in the pit of my stomach.

That night, I was lucky to have a place to run to and a person that could comfort me-my good friend Kari. As I sat on the couch where she worked at the time, she embraced me and whispered words of comfort and support.

However, I knew I had a problem.

At the time, I was seeing a therapist at my college’s campus. However, I would always find a reason not to go, because whenever I did go, I constantly would hear the same things: you should take medication, you should do this, etc. I felt like there was a strategic plan, however, this plan was just a checklist, not something that was tailored to me. It made me not want to go.

I thought this problem would go away once December break came, as panic attacks came and more emotional outbursts. I couldn’t be more wrong. I was not happy-in my job, in my love life, in anything. So, I decided that it was time for me to change something.

The first thing I changed was my therapist. When I first met with her, she sat down with me and helped me come up with ideas that would benefit me to help combat my anxiety, such as rubbing lotion on my hands to help me focus on something other than whatever was making me feel that way, or allowing myself to take a break.

The second thing I changed was the job that I was working. Although it was a bit rocky at first, I decided to go from working at a library where I was constantly unhappy, to the accounting office at my campus. The change gave me a chance to work for a boss that was both understanding and drama free, but was a much more relaxed environment for me to work in.

For much of the spring semester, I still experienced panic attacks, despite seeing a reduction in my anxiety. I still saw my therapist, who was working on me to help change my thoughts patterns and methods of dealing with anxiety.

However, the real reduction of stress didn’t occur until May. At this time, I was done with school, and was able to finally get down to learning about how to truly manage my anxiety. And thanks to the support of my therapist, family,  friends, my boyfriend at the time, I began to notice a true change in my anxiety, it reducing to almost nonexistence. During this time, I began to learn about myself, what works for me to calm me down, and just made changes to improve my general way of life. I further learned how to talk to myself, and worked on changing my self talk. Soon, the panic attacks became further and further apart.

A few months later, that boyfriend broke up with me, and I had resigned from that job that was giving me stress. You can say that I felt the symptoms of a panic attack brewing. However, instead of fighting them, I allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel. I knew that although right now I wasn’t happy,  I would eventually find it. I also decided to do what I needed to do to find that happiness on my own. I made a playlist to listen to whenever I felt the crushing sadness, to help pull me out of that bad mood. I purchased some self help books to help me learn more about myself. And the best part of all? I told myself that I am a strong woman, practically Superwoman, who can handle almost anything.

I’m celebrating nearly two months of not having a panic attack. And the person that I have to thank is none other than myself. Anxiety has taken over my life, but I know that it’s now a losing battle. I am not the label. I can handle the symptoms, I allow myself to do what is right for me, but most importantly, I learned to love myself, and am now leading a semi happy life with people that truly are there for me. For the first time in years, I can honestly say that I am happy and content with my life.

And that’s all matters.

I’m going to leave you all with a quote I found on the Internet: “I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her.” And I fought to become this strong, confident woman. I fought to be happy, and know that I deserve it. But, most of all, I learned that anxiety is just a small part of me, and something that I will no longer let dictate my life.

I am not my anxiety. I am Natalie.

And that’s so much better, don’t you think?

Ingredients for Happiness?

It seems like everyone out there has a recipe for how to  achieve happiness. In fact, there’s literally an entire wing of the bookstore that is devoted entirely on how to make yourself happy, on how to get from blah to wow. However, who has the magic word to get there?

The answer? You.

The truth is that you can read all of the self help books in the world, and you can still not achieve that perfect level of happiness. Happiness, at least I think, is different for each and every person out there. For example, what makes me happy isn’t necessarily what will make my friend happy, or my mom happy. Just like we are all different in personality and in temperament, we are all different in  what exactly makes us happy.

With that being said, I still think that each and every one of us out there closer to happiness is spending some time to figure out the puzzle.

That means taking the time to read the books and try out their suggestions. That means going to a therapist and learning about yourself. That means taking long walks, eating lots of good food, and writing in journals, if that works for you.

It means finding yourself.

At the end of the day, happiness is something that is achieved, just like a college degree or something else. It’s a journey, one that we must embark on our own, however, once you get there you will feel on top of the world.

So, to whoever is reading this, how do you strive to achieve happiness? Let me know in the comments below.


Blog Goals

Now seems like a good time to discuss my goals for this blog. It’s been a while since I’ve kept a blog, so I wanted to take the time to discuss my blogging goals.

For about a year now, I’ve dealt with the symptoms of anxiety, as well as experienced numerous panic attacks (I’ll share my story in a later post this week). The cause, as it looks to be, was a result of working three jobs while being a full-time student. Needless to say, it was easy to fall down the rabbit hole of endless tears, feeling stressed and other emotions associated with anxiety. I felt like I lost control, of myself, of what I was feeling and of my life.

It was an awful feeling. However, now I am so happy to say that I’m doing a thousand times better thanks to the support of friends and family, as well as going to a therapist on a pretty much regular basis.

With that being said, one of the reasons why I wanted to start this blog was not only to share my story, but to also talk about issues related to mental health. My goal is to make my readers much more aware of anxiety, as well as its’ effects, as I know several people including myself who experience its’ symptoms. I want to also inspire others who may be feeling the same things I have/do, and let them know that in the end, it will be okay.

Besides being a journalist, one of my main goals in life is to be a role model. This I believe is one way I can do this, and spread not only awareness to those who may not have that much information, but also promote positive thinking.

So, stay tuned folks!


Emotional Relapses?

With any kind of physical ailment, you’re told to basically “take it easy,” by basically resting and limiting your physical abilities until you’re healed. And if you don’t do that, you basically make that wound or injury ten times worse than it was originally.

When it comes to an emotional wound, however, things are slightly different. You’re expected to “bounce back” from whatever happened to you almost immediately or soon after. And, sometimes that expectation can lead us down a dangerous path, a path I would like to call “emotional relapse.”

This happened to me recently.

As mentioned in my last entry, I’m going through a breakup. One of the only ways that one is able to move past it is to truly be patient with yourself and allow you to feel the emotions that you need to feel. When going through something that is as challenging as a break up, it’s important to move slowly and be careful with yourself. Otherwise, you can easily relapse, and the result can be awful.

This means taking a break to make yourself stronger. In my case, that means taking a break from the dating world. However, the question still remains on when is the right time to get back into the game.

And that’s a tricky question.

And the answer? Well, it’s really when you feel emotionless towards the event/person/whatever. It’s when you’re done eating your cartons of Ben and Jerry’s, and you’ve cried your last tear. It’s when you have forgiven that person for all that they have done for you. And, most importantly, it’s when you’ve properly healed.

This doesn’t happen overnight, folks.

On Sunday, I thought I was ready to dive back into the Tinderworld, so I booted up my profile and began to swipe “right” and “left” for guys. It was all going well-until, I saw a familiar face-my ex. This was six days after breaking up.

Needless to say, the feelings that I thought I was done with slowly crept back and I felt a knot in my throat, signaling the tears that would soon come.

I called my best friend, who reminded me this: taking a break after a breakup needs to be something that lasts longer than a week. And, when you do decide to go back in the game, it’s when you know you feel ready. However, it’s going to take time to get to that initial point, so it’s important to give yourself as much time that you need.

Otherwise, then you’ll relapse and those same feelings came to haunt me.

So, I deleted the app, and began to focus on all of the emotions that I was feeling, allowing myself to feel them instead of repressing them. One day, I’ll be able to take on the world of Tinder, but for now, it’s just too big of a step.

When going through things, whether it’s grieving the death of a person or a relationship, it’s important to not jump back into the way of life beforehand. For relationships, it means taking a few weeks off from the dating world before going into the treacherous seas of Tinder. For grieving a death, it means allowing yourself time to really come to terms with the loss, without the people telling you what you need to feel. At the end of the day, it will be the only things that can truly prevent an emotional relapse such as the one that I experienced.

In The End, It’s a Beginning?

This past week, I’ve experienced numerous endings, as both my relationship and a one of my jobs had ended. Actually, past week is an understatement, as both endings have occurred in the span of an hour.

Yeah, you can say that it was an interesting week.

In the past, having that all happened to me at once would have signaled the symptoms of a panic attack and anxiety. However, I remained pretty calm, and in control. (Well, I started to cry, but that’s pretty normal for a breakup) Then, I put in a phone call to my therapist, asking her to move my appointment to the next day.

In her office, I replayed the events that happened over the past 24 hours. I told her that I was allowing myself to grieve, so I can feel the emotions that I needed to before I decided to move on from my relationship. I told her that I knew that I knew that the overwhelming sadness  I was feeling (and currently feeling) will eventually go away, and I will never say that my now ex-boyfriend is a terrible person, despite how hurt I felt at the time.

From that, we transitioned to discussing how I transformed from my first intake session to the person sitting in her chair today. That person, she said wouldn’t have looked at things in the same healthy manner that she did. That person would have given up, and have fallen apart.

I am proud to say that I am not that person. I am proud to say that I’ve grown, learned to take care of myself, learned to stand my ground, and learned to love myself. I’ve surrounded myself with friends that not only cheer me on, but (especially in the last five days), have become people who I know can lean on.

And that’s pretty freaking great.

And that’s why this ending is just a beginning. Right now, I’m healing. I have good days, and some bad ones too. That is to be expected. However, now there are so many opportunities headed my way and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve accepted a new position at a new newspaper. As for the boyfriend thing, I’ve decided to take some time and really work towards living a life that makes me happy. This means surrounding myself with people, exercising the ever-so important self care practices and really getting to know myself. I’m taking the time to heal from the wounds from my previous relationship, and realizing that not all guys out there are bad (even my ex, who isn’t really a bad person). With that, I’m going to grow into a stronger individual.

I’m going to close this entry with some lyrics from a Kelly Clarkson song that I’ve really enjoyed listening to these past few days, and hope that readers find some sort of inspiration from it as well: “you know in the end, the day you left was just a mild beginning.”

Here’s to mild beginnings and the start of new blogs.

How Do You Adult?

When I thought of myself at this age, I thought of myself as having it all together. I would be polished and refined, and have all of my ducks lined up in a row.

Now that I am this age, I can safely say that I’m not.

Being an adult means that you have to balance and often do the more responsible thing in life. This means making sure your bills are paid, ensuring that you work enough to support yourself, and making sure that you are responsible all of the time. Adults often have to budget, make sure that they have enough in the bank in case of a rainy day, because it’s up to them to be responsible for themselves. And not ask for anything from your parents.

I’m still trying to get this adult thing down. I’m trying to juggle school, multiple jobs and trying to not stay sane. However, I believe that I’m doing a great job. And, like all things, it’s a learning process. With that being said, I’m still learning. I think as long as I’m willing to learn, it will be okay. I’ll get it down eventually.

So, how do you adult? I’m still getting that part down, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t be trying to.