Wind on my face, sunshine in my eyes

One of the best feelings in the world is that of a warm breeze flowing across my face and through my hair with the sunshine beaming down on me and filling me with warmth. Admittedly, this doesn’t happen very often in the winter months, but today the weather was beautiful and I got to enjoy a nice long walk without wearing a coat for the first time in months.

Going for walks while listening to music is something that I do once or twice a day almost every day. It relaxes me, makes me feel energized, and helps me cope with anxiety. Even on the cold winter nights of January and February I’ve been going for walks because I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed. The bitterness of the chilly nights is not enough to deter me from reaping the rewards of anxiety relief.

As anyone who has been closely following this blog would know, I’ve been going through a rough patch recently. However, today was different. Today I woke up feeling the same sense of being in limbo that I’ve been feeling for weeks, but after a few hours of watching TV and essentially wasting my day off I decided to go for a walk to get some exercise. This was probably the best decision I made all day. The temperature was warm and the sun was shining and as I walked with my face lifted up towards the sky and the breeze flowing through my hair I felt contentment. I felt peaceful and happy. I felt like everything is going to be okay even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. It felt as though all of my worries and stresses melted away just as the snow melted from the sidewalks.

I came home after walking for an hour but I decided to go for another walk after being home for a short time. How could I spend my whole day sitting at home when the world is so beautiful and alive just outside of my window? I FINALLY felt alive again. I saw so much beauty in nature as I walked and I felt compelled to get my camera out for the first time in months. I used to love photography but I’ve lost touch with the things that I used to enjoy.

Today was such an eye opening day. I’ve been spending so much time alone worrying about the future that I’ve forgotten to live in the moment and embrace the time that I have right now. Isn’t it funny how something so seemingly simple can snap you out of your own mental prison, even if only for a few hours? Feeling the wind on my face and sun in my eyes brought me back to life for a few hours. I hope that this feeling of hope, happiness, and contentment with myself will last longer than the breeze through my hair.

xo
Ayla

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“I refuse to be stressed today. It doesn’t go with my outfit”

Recently while browsing through my Instagram I came across a photo of one of my coworkers with a huge smile on her face and the caption “I refuse to be stressed today. It doesn’t go with my outfit”. When I saw this image on Instagram I was immediately touched by how optimistic my coworker’s attitude was for the day.

Everyone goes through difficult times and everyone faces stress. As I am fairly close to this coworker, I know that recently she has been going through stress that I would not wish on my worst enemy. This girl has been going through an unimaginable amount of stress and yet she has managed to put a smile on her face. Granted things have started to get better for her slowly but steadily; however, I still think she deserves mega credit for having such an optimistic outlook after going through such a difficult time.

The idea of refusing to let stress get to me is a bit of a foreign concept for me. I mean, how do you do it? How do you just refuse to let something stress you out? Stress is by default a very pervasive and impactful thing to experience, so how does one simply ignore it or refuse to let it be a prevailing feeling in a given day? I know it must be possible, but I don’t know how to achieve it. Stress management is a skill which I have yet to master.

Despite the fact that I have no idea how to conquer the pervasiveness of stress in my day, I wanted to share this story with my readers to let you know that it IS possible to overcome stress. It does not have to rule your life and it does not have to be something outside of your control. I think it is important to share stories like this because I want other people to realize that there are ways to manage stress even if it does not seem plausible in your current life.

While I am among those of you who have not yet mastered the skill of stress management I believe that this is something that we can all work toward in our lives. A less stressed life is a more healthy life, so why not give it a shot?

Do any of you have any pointers about how to control stress rather than letting stress control you? Let me know in the comments!

Xo

Ayla

What does a panic attack feel like?

What does a panic attack feel like?

It feels like anxiety magnified to an unbearable level.

It feels like a fire is burning in your chest suffocating you from the inside out.

It feels like you can’t breathe.

It feels like you are going to pass out.

It feels like you are dying.

It feels like fear.

It feels like you are going to have a heart attack even though you don’t know what a heart attack feels like.

It feels like your body is no longer under your control; it has turned against you.

It feels like you want to leave your body but you’re trapped.

It feels like shallow breathing when your lungs are screaming for air.

It feels like the entire universe is falling apart and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

It feels like everyone is watching you but nobody can save you.

It feels like you are going crazy.

It feels like it will never end.

It feels like fight or flight.

It feels like you are running through a forest that doesn’t exist to escape a tiger that doesn’t exist.

It feels like life or death.

It feels like dizziness.

It feels like dread.

It feels like your body is burning hot.

It feels like uncontrollable shaking.

It feels like you have fallen into a black hole and nobody will ever find you and pull you back to safety.

It feels like there is something wrong with you.

It feels like you cannot save yourself.

It feels like a panic attack.

What does an eating disorder feel like?

Bulimia. Anorexia. EDNOS. Call it whatever you want; but what does it feel like?

It feels like I have control.

It feels like I have no control.

It feels like I’m succeeding at SOMETHING.

If feels like I’m failing to live.

It feels like I’m chasing perfection.

It feels like hunger.

It feels like self-hate.

It feels like self-love is unrealistic and impossible.

It feels like I’m “just eating healthier”.

It feels like starvation.

It feels like progress.

It feels like I’m falling into a pit of despair.

It feels like nobody can save me from myself.

It feels like empowerment.

It feels like self-destruction.

It feels like I am shattered.

It feels like every calorie causes a war in my mind.

It feels like every piece of food is a life or death decision.

It feels like slow death.

It feels like feeling something is better than feeling nothing.

It feels like emptiness.

It feels like exhaustion no matter how many hours of sleep I get.

It feels like weakness.

It feels like strength.

It feels like will power.

It feels like self-starvation is the only logical choice.

It feels like lying to myself every single day.

It feels like isolation.

It feels like I am alone in this world.

It feels like nobody could possibly understand my pain.

It feels like my disorder is a choice even when I know it is a disease.

It feels like hopelessness.

It feels like the number on the scale is more important than health.

It feels like I am drowning.

It feels like every thought revolves around food.

It feels like cancelling plans because I am afraid that I will have to eat.

It feels like I am a disappointment to everyone who cares about me.

It feels like I am a disappointment to myself.

It feels like pain.

It feels like dizziness.

It feels like I am cold all the time.

It feels like my body is screaming for nourishment.

It feels like anger.

It feels like mood swings.

It feels like exceeding my calorie goal for the day will be the end of the world.

It feels like food is not fuel; it is a number.

It feels like reaching my ever-decreasing weight goal is the only light at the end of a dark tunnel.

It feels like no weight will ever be low enough.

It feels like weight gain is a threat.

It feels like shame.

It feels like thinking that weight loss will make me love myself but it never does.

It feels like hiding my body beneath layers and layers of baggy clothes to hide my disease from my family.

It feels like wishing someone would save me while simultaneously wanting to hide the illness.

It feels like starvation is the only way to cope with the pain.

It feels like starvation will solve problems but it only creates more.

It feels like guilt.

It feels like lies.

It feels like hate.

It feels like recovery is impossible.

It feels like an eating disorder.

Xo

Ayla

What does anxiety feel like?

Anxiety. What does it feel like?

It feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

It feels like I’m suffocating even as I feel the air passing through my wind pipe and filling my lungs.

It feels like nothing will ever get better but it could surely get worse.

It feels like I’m screaming internally but nobody can hear me.

remedies-anxiety-400x400It feels like every single day is another mountain to climb.

It feels like that moment when you miss a step on the stairs and your heart skips a beat.

It feels like every single thing needs to be resolved RIGHT NOW or my whole life will fall apart.

It feels like worry but it is magnified ten, one hundred, one thousand times over.

It feels like losing control.

It feels like nobody could possibly understand what I’m going through.

It feels overwhelming and isolating.

It feels like I’m going crazy.

It feels like the worst case scenario is always reality unless proven otherwise.

It feels like even the smallest failure or mistake will destroy all hope for the future.

It feels like hopelessness.

It feels like stress.

It feels like self-blame.

It feels like anxiety.

xo

Ayla

Do I need a diagnosis to be “depressed”?

When I was younger I used to believe that people would only believe that my suffering is real if I had a diagnosis to back up my feelings with. I knew that something wasn’t right since I was 14 years old, but it wasn’t until a psychologist diagnosed me with various mental illnesses that I felt as though I had a right to feel the way I was feeling. Thankfully, I know better now.

When I was assessed for mental illnesses I was told that I had depressive symptoms, but not enough to warrant a diagnosis of clinical depression. At the time I agreed with the assessment; while I had been struggling with anxiety I did not think I was depressed. Recently though I’ve been feeling like things have changed. I’ve started to feel that sense of hopelessness creeping into my mind during every waking moment of my day. I’ve isolated myself from people who care about me and while I have no intention of ever acting on the thoughts, I have been struggling with the idea that maybe things would be easier if I just didn’t exist.

Wow. That was hard to write.

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I’ve always told myself that I would never let myself reach the point where I have lost my will to live, but I think I’ve learned that this is not something that I have abundant control over. And the thing is that if you asked me “do you want to live?”, my answer would 100% be YES. I do not want to die. I just want to stop experiencing so much pain. It’s like every single light in my life has dimmed  or burned out to dull embers and I’m left wandering around in the dark searching for something, ANYTHING, that I can cling to and pull myself back to the safety of the light. But the problem is that it feels like there is nothing to cling to and even if there was I’m not sure that I would have the strength to hang on.

The only feeling that I have experienced that was more painful than this current feeling of sadness, isolation, and self-hatred is the feeling of grief. But at times this pain is so overwhelming that it reminds me of the pain that I experienced while grieving the loss of a loved one. It feels…indescribable. If you’ve never experienced the pain of depression then I honestly don’t think you could ever understand how crushing this illness is physically and mentally.

While I have never been officially diagnosed with depression I believe that I am living through it right now. I don’t think I need a doctor to tell me what I already know. This feeling is not normal, it is not okay, and I do not need the validation of a doctor to tell me what I am feeling.

What I need to know is how do I escape this bleak, hopeless battle zone in my mind? How do I get better when I essentially have the support of one person aside from my therapist and that person is so far away that she is only really present in one or two text messages a day? How do I stop myself from giving in to the self-harm urges when my roommate/ex-best friend does everything in her power to make me hate myself and my life every single day? How do I think positively when it feels as though everything is falling apart? How do I stop hating who I’ve become? How do I hold onto hope for anything when it feels as though every ounce of hope is being drained out of my mind day by day, second by second?

I don’t know how to beat this.

xo

Ayla

 

February Favorite Reads (so far…)

Lately I’ve been seriously considering joining a book club in my local area to get myself out of the house more often and engage with other people who share similar interests. I love reading and I was involved in book clubs when I was younger so it might be a great way to meet people now that I’ve graduated from university and don’t see people much outside of work.

In the spirit of possibly joining a book club, I’ve decided to write another post about two books I recently read by Megan McCafferty.

The books are entitled “Bumped” and “Thumped” and essentially revolve around the lives of two teenage girls who happen to be twins separated at birth.

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Without going into too much detail, the book portrays a futuristic dystopian society in which human beings are unable to reproduce after the age of eighteen (known as “obsolescence” in the book) due to a virus which has infected the majority of the human race. As a result, teenage girls are essentially prostituted out by their parents in order to “bump” (have sex) with a “RePro” (reproductive professional) of the opposite sex to create a “Pregg” (pregnancy) which will then be carried to term and immediately delivered to the buyers after the girl has given birth.

In the book, teenage girls and boys are ranked in a Darwinian system which scores individuals based on the desirability of their traits (ie. height, intelligence, etc.). Depending on how well these individuals score in the ranking system, they can either become Reproductive Professionals and contract themselves out for preggs, or amateur preggers who sell their offspring for a much lower profit than those who score high enough to be contracted professionals.

Sound a little messed up? That’s because it is. As with any good dystopian literature, the book carries themes which seem outlandish enough to seem unlikely, yet similar enough to the practices of our own society that it is believably foreboding.

While reading the two books I felt the same urge to compare the books to current societal practices that I felt while reading George Orwell’s 1984. This is not because the books cross paths in terms of content, but rather, the books both seem to be predicting how certain aspects of our society could become dangerous. Orwell was certainly not far off in his surveillance predictions if you consider how much of our online activities are monitored, tracked, and sold. Is it possible that McCafferty is depicting a society which will not be far off from our own in a few decades down the road?

Obviously, it’s impossible to know what the future holds, but I certainly appreciate a book that can make me think about things like this. Bumped and Thumped have definitely done this for me. I’ve been thinking about the novels ever since I finished them, which is probably why I decided to write about them here! If you’re a book worm like me and you enjoy young adult fiction, dystopian fiction, and/or books that will change the way you think about society and societal issues you should definitely consider giving these books a read!

xo

Ayla