Growth

8/30: Goodbye 20s.

The schedule is shot to hell but here we are; the night before the whole reason for all of this to begin with. I am roughly two hours away from my third decade and I have to say I’m not feeling as overwhelmed as I thought I would have. Being bathed in the love of my fiancee, family, friends and coworkers makes sliding into my 30th trip around the sun not so bad after all.

In the spirit of prompts, I’ve decided to write a recap of my 20s. I want to sum it all up, be thankful for what I learned and take the lessons learned into the next 10 years and beyond.

Previously on this episode of my life… my 20s,

I survived, it’s hard to believe it. It felt impossible but I am looking into the 3rd decade of my life and it feels pretty goddamn good but it’s hard not to reflect. The last few years have been about trying to be thankful for every moment and this is no different. Despite, it all I came out with wisdom, lots of hindsight, and general life hacks that have kept me alive.

The early years of my 20s were a goddamn mess. I didn’t know much about financial stability, what made a good job, how to act in an office setting, or even in life as a whole. I was slowly falling in love all the while trying to navigate who the hell I was at the same time. It was like trying to tap my head and rub my stomach, it took awhile to teach my brain to multi task but somehow I did that.

By 25, I managed to start to entertain the idea of multitasking. I found a stable job that would carry me into the next phase of my life and I was in love. She was a wild tornado that sweeped me off of my feet; made my question my every thought, made me want to find answers that made sense to me and not just what was told me, and made me want to better. By 25 she became an anchor to me around the wild seas that would be not just my life but what would become ours together.

26 brought me the shock of my life. No matter how many times I was told it was going to happen, nothing would ever prepare me for my parent’s retirement. It would be my first time on my own. It felt like a second puberty and I was shook as hell. My helicopter parents meant well but never in my life had I wished for precursed indepdence. I was a fish out of water trying to navigate my life and what it would be like for me without the watchful eye of my parents. My parents left in September, I spent maybe eight months on my own before she moved in. My girlfriend decided to take the step to be with me every single day and every night. She wasn’t thrilled with the neighborhood, still isn’t but she took a chance. For that, I’ll always be thankful. I became we, which brought us to the biggest step yet.

27 years old, I was standing in front of a frosted Cinderella’s Castle with a small crowd looking on as she asked me to be her wife. Never in my life did I imagine we’d get to that point. Our beginnings were rocky but all of the drama and immaturity came with a pay off. She wanted me to be her wife and I wanted her to be mine. We came home from Disney World that Christmas week engaged. It was now our time.

28-29 years were all about preparation, building and rebuilding. I came into a world of crippling anxiety. Self-discovery, a not kind job position were the recipe to finally bring what had always been there front and center. I became physically and mentally exhausted. October 2019, I was fired again; right in the middle of wedding planning, maintaining a home, and trying to provide for my family. I was a spiraling mess but like always I somehow managed to pull myself together. January of 2019 gave me a job and a perspective. I finally found a place where I could make money and learn about the possibility of a career. The beginning of 2019 finished my 20s with a big high. I feel settled, I feel ready, and I feel excited.

I was terrified to turn 30. It feels so final to my life as a young person but 30 also feels like a new beginning to what’s to come. Dreams don’t feel so far away anymore, I’m getting married, we’re planning for kids, and we figuring it all out together. While aging sucks, it’s a privilege denied to many and I think I’m going to lean into the wisdom and the new outlook and run with it.

Thank you 2nd decade. For the laughs, for the tears, and for the lessons; I promise I’ll use it all wisely into the next 10 years to come.

Prompt Series: 30 prompts for 30 years

We are knocking on the door of the 5th month of 2019 and it happens to be my birthday month. I am a May baby; a proud Gemini, a spring lover (even if I think allergies are slowly creeping in), and so very into having a birthday. I know a lot of people don’t like to celebrate theirs but I have never been shy about the celebration of mine, but this year feels a little mixed. On May 23rd, I will have three decades of life under my belt. Three whole trips around the sun! The Big 3-0! It feels so daunting to me because it feels like the official beginning of my adulthood. My 20s were a cluster fuck of still being a teenager through the early parts and a second puberty/finding myself in the later parts. Turning 30 is terrifying because it feels like I’m forced to put my “money where my mouth is” and apply all of the things I’ve learned in the last 10 years.

Despite, the weight of the number I still find myself looking for ways to celebrate. Every day above ground is a gift, but every birthday is an even better one. Age is a privilege even if it feels scary and I will be so thankful to make it to my 30th year. While the little mid-life crisis is on the top of the radar of my mind, I will be experiencing so many positive things in turning 30 too. Getting married being the biggest accomplishment. A happy and healthy relationship to celebrate that I hope sustains me for the rest of my days. When I think about it like that, 30 doesn’t so scary.

My wish is to grow further as a wife (almost there!), daughter, friend, and writer. My passion for learning and growing will never end. With that being said, I am going to challenge myself to a series of 30 prompts to celebrate 30 years. Writing has been taking a front seat on my mind’s list of things to do so I am hoping that by putting myself to the test, it’ll give me a chance to learn and you all a chance to see my writing and see me a little better. Ideally, I would love to self-publish before 31 (speaking that into the universe) so every chance to explore myself I’m going to take head on.

I will be pulling prompts from the collection of books I’ve accumulated over the years and a few websites I’ve found. However, all prompts are welcomed and appreciated. Please feel free to reach out to via Twitter @JMWeberWrites or in the comments below.

DARE: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks (Review)

“The only way out is through.” That’s one of the many positive affirmations given to the reader in this book and it’s the one that stuck with me the most. Last year was probably one of the worst of my life professionally. I was in constant conflict with my managers, always having to look over my shoulder in professional settings and my anxiety was at all-time high. I saw a therapist for a little over six months but my insurance was no longer accepted at the facility. I was out of options and too anxious to try and get to know another therapist. That’s when I found DARE by Barry McDonagh. Social Media keeps me in touch with people from all parts of my life and a friend from high school was posting excerpts of the chapters of this book and I knew I had to read it. Everything on his Instagram stories felt like it was talking directly to me. After doing more research, I found out that author and founder of the program DARE, Barry McDonagh also suffered from debilitating anxiety. Knowing this made me feel less alone and less suspicious about opening my mind to his new suggestions. He had applied his program to his own anxiety and it had worked so I took a chance and hoped it would work for my own.

The book introduces something called the Dare Response, which is a new way to view your relationship with your anxiety. The key points of the response are defuse, allow, run toward, and engage. Defuse shows the mind that you are not in any real danger when you take on a blasé approach to anxiety, “Who cares”, “So what” are phrases that the author uses to allow anxiety to take on a smaller form rather than feel unstoppable. By using the act of diffusion, it replaces worry with power of the situation when anxiety makes you feel powerless. Allow is the means of letting the anxiety come as it wants to. Resistance can make anxiety seem bigger than it is. By allowing anxiety to just come and flow naturally through you, it takes away the fear of what could happen or what is happening to you. You have the control of the outcome. A funny line from this step’s section for me was when McDonagh says to sit down your anxiety and invite it in for tea. The visual created in my brain was exactly what I needed to see that I was in control of my anxiety and my anxiety didn’t control me. I was the one calling the shots and deciding what, when and where anxiety can appear. Run towards is the next step. McDonagh suggests that by running toward your anxiety you can change the perspective of it. He explains that fear and excitement are often the same and when the mind readjusts the feeling toward anxiety, it can reduce its power and change the way the brain views anxiety. A negative can quickly become a positive and instead of looking for the “boogeyman” over your shoulder, you can embrace the present world around you. The final step is to engage. Engage in something that takes up your full attention so the anxious feelings can no longer reel you back in. This felt like the most important step because it encouraged me to focus on my life and stay in the present versus stay in my head with the fearful anxiety. Furthermore, the book details ways to apply the response to several different aspects of anxiety such as panic attacks, health anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and fear of being abnormal. Each section details how to apply the response to the situation but also provides thoughtful insight on his experience with the situation or the experiences of others that he helped. I found several different scenarios relatable and have returned back to these chapters for guidance and help.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Self-help books aren’t for everyone but this method got me through a time in my life where I feared there would be no way out. Applying the DARE response to my life allowed me the confidence I needed to take back control of my anxious mind. While I still have issues with health anxiety from time to time, I have since gotten a new job and thanks to the DARE response I am able to contribute my experience with an open mind and heart to my position and have had a very successful three months at my firm because of that. I think any kind of positive outlet can help mental health issues and I would suggest this book to anyone who wants to reach with themselves and learn to navigate ways to better themselves.

Setback happen

Last week disappointed me greatly. I have been trying to stick to a weekly schedule for posting but my mind just went blank. My mood has been all over the place and my muse had nothing to give. However, I’m back this week to explain where my head is and hopefully give a little insight to anyone who has experienced a setback. My current mind state isn’t a total setback but I have definitely felt an unpleasant shift from where I was before. I will get better though.

Just like exercise and healthy habits for the body, the same applies to the mind. Since January, I have been over-the-moon happy professionally. I am learning every day, I am in a positive environment and in turn I am flourishing in my new position. My work life was a main point in my anxiety and mood levels so since that’s been good, I have been slacking on the maintenance that I worked so hard in the months before I was settled into this job. Well, that has to change.

The past two weeks have been up and down for me. One day, I feel okay and the next I find myself plummeting. The anxiety isn’t as prominent as it used to be when I’d hit these speed bumps but the negative mindset is roaring up like an engine at NASCAR race. Knowing my mind, if I leave that alone too long it’s going to trigger every other dark emotion that comes with it; anxiety, self-hatred and just overall terrible behavior. I am a very empathic person and I find myself easily affected by the emotions of others. If the environment that I’m in is blah, it’s very contagious for someone like me. Admittedly, it makes me feel highly vulnerable being such an emotional being because no matter how much logic I’ve tried to apply to situations, it doesn’t always prevent this embarrassing snowball effect.

In situations prior to my therapy sessions and DARE Response application, my symptoms would manifest physically with a vengeance. I would get dizzy, tired faster, and feel lethargic. When I feel any physical symptoms I turn to breathing exercises, lots of water consumption, ice on each of my cheeks, and DARE audio if it’s truly inconsolable. Each of these combined with the DARE Response of taking anxiety head on has allowed me to be in power of my reaction versus my reaction having power over me. I am no longer a prisoner to anxiety but rather have accepted that anxiety is like an old friend that needs a piggy back ride along the way. I am bigger, faster and stronger and am merely allowing it to tag along. “The only way out is through,” A positive affirmation that I picked up from Dare and have turned to a lot for hard times. I’ve learned when you run from something it gets bigger than you but when you face it head on it minimizes like a bully on the playground. For anyone further interested in the DARE response books, I’ll link the amazon page here but I am also going to be reviewing the book and my experience with it further tomorrow.

All in all, it has been a shitty few weeks in my brain but I am doubling down on all the things that keep me focused. I am attempting to sleep earlier, eat a little better, drink as much water as my body will allow and be more consistent on my 5 minute daily journal. Nothing is going to stop me from maintaining a healthy brain, not even myself.


Therapy on my own terms

Mental Health is a slippery slope to navigate in general. But, when it comes to treatment it gets even trickier. No one case is the same so what works for somebody else may not necessarily work for you and guess what? That’s okay! There are many different positive ways to deal with mental health and no one way is right or wrong.

As a child and teenager, I was always the awkward kid; the bullied, quiet, keep to herself kind of girl. My mother for many years thought therapy was the answer for me to help me deal with issues but each experience ended up crazier than the next. I had guidance counselors who deemed me crazy, I had multiple therapists blame my parents, and I had some dude who could easily be mistaken for the janitor of the building. Each interaction did more harm than good and every time she further suggested it, I found myself more in a reclusive state. I wasn’t ready to talk to a stranger about my problems. I wanted to handle things by keeping myself close to family, friends, and people I trusted. For years, I denounced therapy because each time felt like more of a burden than the issues I was dealing with. Talking to people I trusted was hard enough, talking to a stranger felt impossible.

However as an adult that changed for me. I was working for a job that kept me stressed every day. I was learning but I wasn’t happy. The work culture was toxic and nonproductive and it started to take a drastic toll on my mental health. I could feel the weight of my anxiety for the first time since getting let go from college and I knew if I didn’t do something about it, I was going to be in bigger trouble than just the stress was causing me. I found myself a therapist close to my job and that luckily took my insurance. The fear for the first appointment was intense. What would I talk about? What would she think? Would she tell me I’m crazy? Worse, would she blame my parents like everyone else did? I had a ton of anxiety about the appointment but I pushed myself to try. I was tired of exhausting my venting sessions with my inner circle. I needed an unbiased opinion so therapy was the best option.

The first appointment completed shattered my fears. The woman I saw reassured me that I wasn’t crazy, that everything I was going through was a lot more common than I believed and I would be okay. For a few months, it felt as if I was talking to a friend or an oracle who had a lot more advice to offer and a much bigger ear to lend than most people. I spent six months in therapy before they no longer accepted my insurance. Despite, its untimely end I know I’m better for it. Having the time to talk to a trained professional and obtain tools I didn’t know how to use prior was a great help to me. With the combination of the tools given to me in therapy and the self-help outlets I’ve found, I manage my anxiety a lot better than I ever have.

At the end of the day, I was going to get anywhere without the will to do it. The first step to getting a hold on any situation is actually wanting to. I came to a point in my life where I could no longer be stubborn and blame past bad experiences on why I couldn’t help myself in the now. I took the bull by the horns and did therapy on my own terms and I am much better for it today. You control your recovery entirely. It’s very important to do the positive things you want to do in an effort for a calmer and peaceful life. 

Positive Affirmations (Validating myself)

A large root to the self-esteem issues that I have, I’ve found is looking for validation in others instead of myself. I would seek it at home in my fiancée, in my mother, and in my employment. The need to be validated became almost an obsession for me. I have been a people pleaser since I was a young girl. I have put a large amount of my self-worth into the opinions of others and it’s been the biggest hurdle for me to climb over. The journey to find worth in me hasn’t been consistent but the effort has grown a lot in recent months.

Positive affirmations on paper seem like a bunch of optimistic thought. Initially, it felt as if I was just looking at something and reading it and reflecting on words. Positive quotes while helpful were getting lost on me. It was a brief moment of “Yeah, I get that” or “Yeah, I feel that”, and it was gone. While I still turn to the quotes on Instagram and the positive meme posts, I have found that the best result lived in the positive affirmations I wrote or thought for myself. Society says that it takes 21 days to make a habit. I have been writing and in turn, thinking of positive affirmations about myself for over 31 days. Even when things feel redundant in thought or word, I have pushed myself to write it down. Sometimes the thought and especially the physical manifestation make the difference. The source was not some empty internet post or from a person who’s feelings can change in an instant, the source was me. I became the validator and in turn, no longer have to search for something that can’t always be found in others. The realization and practice of this idea have been life-changing for me.

I control my consciousness of thought about myself and my choices in life. I have a lot to be proud of and grateful for. While I am still happy to hear the approval from key sources it is no longer the sole source that drives me. I’m not going to stand on some soap box and pretend to be healed. I have bad days just like everybody else. However, it is a hell of a lot easier now to get back onto the saddle and try again knowing and feeling better about myself from my perspective instead of someone else’s. I am now the validator and the source of good thoughts for my being. I am now the driving force to my own feelings. Positive affirmations may not work for everybody but I’m really glad that they worked for me.