If you’re lost and alone or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on.

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Lately, I’ve been finding a lot of deeper meaning in the lyrics of songs. While this isn’t really anything new for me, it has been happening a lot more frequently and I find myself being even more analytical about song meanings and passages from books than I usually am.

b46247d0223a5fdf2df81738814a2713One song that recently stood out to me is the song “Carry On” by Fun. I’ve been struggling a lot to get through the days minute by minute, hour by hour and one of the thoughts that gets me through this is the idea that I just have to keep going. I have to keep moving forward and with each and every day I am making progress. Towards what, I don’t know; but progress nonetheless.

I think one of the reasons that I’ve started relating more to the lyrics of songs–more than usual I should say–is a result of the amount of self-reflection I’ve been doing in therapy. The therapeutic method that my psychologist and I are currently working through is rigorous and extraordinarily exhausting mentally and emotionally. I spend so much of my day thinking about even the most mundane aspects of my life and how those elements of myself are impacted by the traumatic experiences of my past. It feels as though everything can be traced back to the trauma in some form or another if I spend enough time thinking about it. So, perhaps this is why I hear a lyric and it immediately makes me think of something in my own life. Maybe the fact that I’m spending so much time in a self-reflective state is making me prone to applying everything to the context of my own existence.

Of course, this is not to say that my analytical thinking is inherently bad. In fact, I’m quite enjoying the insightful moments. The fact that I can relate the lyrics of artists to my own experiences makes me feel less alone because there is some sort of a connection there; the author of the lyrics has been through something similar and therefore, I am not alone in my experiences. It’s comforting in a weird way.

On the flip side, being overly analytical about everything can be exhausting. I find myself frequently thinking about things that I don’t want to think about when I am listening to the radio in the car or at work. In these moments I often feel trapped, as if I cannot escape from the past. It can sometimes feel as though the past is taking over the present and future. But I know that this is not true. In reality I am in control of my present and the traumatic experiences of my past are not. It’s just difficult to re-assert this for myself when I am continuously being drawn into thoughts about the past as a result of song lyrics, a poem, or a novel.

Critical thinking is a double edged sword I suppose.

xo

Ayla

I Found Myself

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I’ve been a fan of Anna Clendening for quite a while, but I only recently discovered this song by her. The song, appropriately titled “I Found Myself”, tells the story of her struggles with self-harm and mental illness (or at least that is my interpretation of it knowing her past experiences dealing with these things).

The lyrics that really stand out to me are:

“I was broken, torn apart.
Scars line my arms, on my sleeve I wore my heart.
They remind me of what is real.
No longer needing pain to feel.”

I guess the reason that these lyrics stand out to me is a result of my own experiences with self-harm and the scars that line my own arms. With the one year anniversary of being self-harm free approaching I find myself relating to the line “no longer needing pain to feel” because I have been able to go so long without resorting to self-injury to cope. I still struggle with the urges, but I know that I don’t need the pain to get through whatever I’m dealing with. I can get through it without relapsing.

I hope that some of you will find meaning in the lyrics of this in the way that I have.

xo

Ayla

Happy Music Monday!

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Do you suffer from a serious case of the Mondays? If you answered “yes”, then you obviously know what I’m talking about: the urge to turn off your alarm, roll over, and extend your weekend just one more day. Unfortunately for most of us, this isn’t an option. However, there are ways to make your Mondays a bit more enjoyable, even if you are spending it at work or school.

For me, music has always been a great way to boost my mood. As a result, listening to great songs is an awesome way to make my days better. Personally, I enjoy listening to acoustic covers of my favorite songs because I play guitar so I can almost visualize myself playing the song as I listen to it. In a weird way it’s almost like I can kind of escape into something that I really enjoy without even being anywhere near my guitar.

Anyway…I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do!

xo
Ayla

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life” – J. K. Rowling

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rock-bottom-became-the-solid-foundation-on-which-i-rebuilt-my-life-quote-1Have you ever heard the saying “it’s all looking up from here”? Or perhaps “there’s no way but up from here”? I’ve heard these sentiments reflected in the optimism of many individuals throughout my lifetime and I feel as though this is a really important idea to take into consideration, especially when you feel as though you’ve hit rock bottom.

I know it can be difficult to think positively when you’re going through a really hard time, but J. K Rowling definitely shares some wisdom in the latter quote. What if we all started thinking about rock bottom as a place to rebuild ourselves and create a foundation for the future rather than focusing on the reasons why everything could go wrong? I know that it is a lot easier said than done, especially if you’re stuck in a rut of hard times and tough breaks. During these phases of life, I know it can feel as though nothing will ever get better. You might feel as though the whole world is against you or think that nothing will ever get better. This is where the positive thinking will come in to play.

If you’ve hit “rock bottom”, what do you have to lose? Why not take a shot of self-improvement and building a better future rather than focusing on staying rooted at the bottom? Why not give yourself a chance to build yourself up from the bottom? Maybe life knocked you down so that you could have the opportunity to work on building a solid foundation before creating a strong, successful, happy life for yourself.

Again, I know that this seems impossible when you’re looking at life from that hard, cold rock bottom place in life; but if you truly have reached rock bottom, then isn’t it worth giving yourself a chance to improve?

I am not naïve enough to believe that I have hit rock bottom, but I do know that I’ve hit quite a few road blocks and setbacks in life. It’s hard to overcome and I can imagine that starting to rebuild your life from rock bottom would be even more difficult than dealing with the setbacks that I’ve experienced. However, what I do know from these setbacks is that they provided me with an opportunity to become a stronger, more independent and self-aware individuals. I was given a chance to work on my issues and make connections with the right supports. If I had not experienced the setbacks that I did, I would never have met my therapist and therefore, I never would have had someone to inspire me to chase the dream which I previously believed was impossible for me to achieve.

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I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe the setbacks of my past happened because I had made a wrong turn in life. Maybe I needed those setbacks to take me back to the crossroads where I made the wrong choice for my future. Maybe the setbacks in my life were actually blessings in disguise which brought me back to a place which would enable me to become the person that I am meant to be. Although it definitely did not feel like it at the time, I truly believe that everything that happens to us in life has a purpose which will eventually become clear to us. Or maybe not—maybe you will never know why something bad had to happen; but maybe you don’t need to know. Maybe having faith in the idea that there was a reason for it and that the reason will have (or had) a positive impact on your life in some way or another is enough.

Again, I know this is easier said than done, but maybe thinking about your own experiences will help you make these connections. An example from my own life occurred when my car died. I was dependent on my car to get to and from university which was an hour away from my home. At the time I was living at my parent’s house with my parent’s, my eldest brother, and my abuser. When my car died it felt like a huge blow; a detrimental life altering blow. Looking back though, I now believe that this was a blessing in disguise. If my car had not died I never would have moved out of my parent’s house and escaped from the environment which was destroying my mental health. I never would have achieved the level of independence which I currently enjoy (at least not as early on in life), and I never would have had the strength to open up to my parents and explain why I hate the individual who abused me for years.

What felt like a tragedy at the time turned out to be a life saver (quite possibly in the literal sense). When my car died I was forced to move away from my home which was hard; but it also gave me the opportunity to discover my own strength and it meant that I was no longer living under the same roof as my abuser. Not surprisingly, my mental health drastically improved after this point and I am so glad that I moved out and gained freedom from the person who destroyed my life time and time again.

It’s seems horrible to be thankful for such an awful turn of events, but in a weird way I am. I am thankful because even though this was a rough patch in my life it gave me the opportunity to become a happier individual.

It took me a year to really come to terms with this realization and while it doesn’t necessarily make the hard times easier to bear, it does help me bounce back faster and stronger. I will not deny myself the chance to grieve a loss or feel upset when something bad happens, but I think that I’ve started to understand that when something bad happens it might just be the start of something good.

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What are your thoughts on this? Do any of you have similar experiences or outlooks on life? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Xo
Ayla

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone” –Shannon L. Adler

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One of the most difficult feelings that I have ever experienced is the feeling of being completely, utterly, totally alone.

Even the most difficult tasks can seem feasible when you have the support of others. Even if your support network is small, the support is still there. Conversely, when you feel alone (although I’ve discovered that this is rarely ever the case despite the feeling) even the simplest of tasks can seem like too much.

Feeling alone is like a road block; a cement barrier; a barbed wire fence threatening to harm you if you even so much as think about climbing it. Feeling alone creates a sense of hopelessness and inability. Metaphorically speaking, feeling alone makes the idea of completing simple tasks feel like trying to cross an ocean without the help of a life jacket to keep you afloat; it’s exhausting, daunting, and the end goal seems impossibly far away.

Personally, I believe that one of the best (albeit, hardest) ways to learn how tremendously something impacts an individual’s life is to go through it yourself. As a result of my personal experiences dealing with the feeling of having no support, or not enough support, I’ve discovered that having people in your life who care about you and support you is one of the most important elements of success. Therefore, I believe that one of the most important things that we can do on earth is to show others that they are not alone, even on their hardest days.

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In an effort to support others, I started volunteering with various organizations about two years ago. I joined 7 Cups of Tea to provide online support to people who are suffering and I also started volunteering at a few cancer support organizations. While my passion is for mental health, I didn’t feel as though I was mentally stable enough at the time to help others struggling with mental health issues, and cancer has touched the lives of so many people around me. Showing support doesn’t just have to involved people struggling with mental illness. Everyone goes through hard times and I think it’s important to get involved as best as you can in the fight to help people feel less alone.

I don’t think people realize how important this can be; one conversation could mean the difference between life or death for someone who is feeling alone.

In the spirit of showing support I challenge YOU (yes YOU, the one reading this RIGHT NOW) to do something today that could make a difference to someone who is feeling alone.

Let me know how it goes!! I would love to hear the results!

Xo

Ayla

If I asked you to list all of the things that you love, how long would it take for you to list yourself?

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If I asked you to list all of the things that you love, how long would it take for you to list yourself?

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Self-love; it’s something that many of us struggle to achieve while others simply cannot even begin to fathom the existence of such a thing. How do we begin to love ourselves? How do we overcome years of self-hatred and self-destruction and wrap out minds around such an elusive concept?

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For me, I have good days and bad days with this. Sometimes I have days –although few and far between—when I value my own worth and I believe that I have a lot to offer the world and a tremendously bright future. But then there are other days when my anxiety takes over. I know that I have been successful in the past but I fear that I won’t be able to continue having success in the future. These are the days when it becomes difficult to keep fighting to make my dreams and aspirations come true.

If I was to ask myself the question entitled above, I’m not sure when I would list myself, if at all. I mean, surely I must love myself on some level because I force myself to put food in my body, I get myself out of bed every morning, and I continue living my life. These are all signs that I care on some level; I know that I do. But “love” seems like such a strong word. Such a foreign concept when applied to myself.

When I think of love, I think of my family, my best friend, and my dog who was –and still is, despite his passing—like a brother to me. I think of love when I see my eldest brother holding hands with his beautiful fiancé. I think of love when I think back on the times when I was younger and my Dad would cuddle with me until I fell asleep after a rough day. I think of love often when I think of the actions of others, but not when I think of my own actions toward myself.

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To me, love should be automatic, not forced. And by that definition, I have a difficult time ever applying the concept of love to myself. My automatic reactions are self-loathing. My actions are self-destructive. My thoughts are self-deprecating. These things are just as automatic as the love that I see in others, but none of them demonstrate a love for myself.

The image above perfectly demonstrates how I feel about self-love. It’s like there is a huge bolder blocking the path and even if I try to go around, there are still boulders and hurdles to overcome. There is no smooth path to self love…at least not yet. My hope is that once I achieve recovery I will also be better able to attain self-love.

Thoughts? Leave them in the comments below!

xo

Ayla