An Anchor In The Storm.

“Life has a way of testing our anchors and tempting us to drift. Nevertheless, if our anchors are correctly placed in the right hands they will hold. No matter the force of the wind, the strength of the tide or the height of the waves.” – Anonymous

 

If there’s one thing I’m sure of as a person who struggles with an Anxiety Disorder, it’s that life is full of storms. A lot of times, out of the blue, life decides to throw a kink in our plans and completely throw us off course.

Now, change is difficult for everyone in some way. Yet, dealing with change and a Mental Health Disorder can seem unbelievably scary and damn near impossible most of the time.

You see, as anxious individuals we love to plan. We thrive on the idea that we constantly have some control over our lives (totally not true, but it’s how our minds work). Therefor, when something destroys our carefully thought out plans, we panic.

We simply don’t know how to process it.

I recently experienced this exact situation where everything was going so perfect and then…BOOM, out of nowhere things took a completely different, unforeseen path.

And you can bet your ass I did nothing but panic for 4 days straight.

One of the most frustrating things about Generalized Anxiety Disorder is you have rational and irrational thoughts simultaneously. You know what you should be thinking or feeling, but your emotions are the complete opposite.

No matter how many times I say my mantras or meditate or journal or deep breath, this situation of change and uncertainty scares the shit out of me. It’s an uncontrollable, irrational fear that becomes consuming if you don’t get a grip.

I often get asked, “how do you make it through those times of mass chaos and uncontrollable change?” Honestly, it’s my anchors.

Now, anchors can be seen as a positive or negative. Sometimes your past can become like an anchor, dragging you down to the bottom. However, in Mental Health Disorders they  also represent those who make you feel steady in times of chaos and confusion.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my 12 year journey with anxiety is that surrounding yourself with people who truly love, support and care for you is the most important thing you can do.

While your friends or family may not understand exactly what you’re going through, just their mere support, listening ears and comforting arms can make all the difference in the world, especially when dealing with the waves of change.

I’ve been beyond blessed to have 3 solid anchors my entire life: My Mother, Father and Sister. They’ve been right there with me as I’ve struggled with the highs and lows, ups and downs of my Anxiety Disorder for the past 12 years.

I’ve called them at 3am during an anxiety attack, and I never had to wonder if they would answer. They’ve held my hand as I cried, laid beside me doing absolutely nothing and have celebrated every single thing I’ve achieved in life.

They are my anchors on which I am able to steady myself in the raging storms of life.

These 3 are my people.

They’re my safe place when things get too tough or life becomes too overwhelming. They are the rock on which I have built a foundation of never ending trust and respect. They protect me from the cruel and invalid lies that my anxiety places in my head.

These 3 saints have never judged me or made me feel less than extraordinary. I’ve received constant reassurance and guidance without biased opinions, mockery or pity.

When the seas get rough, they never waiver or drift. When I think I’m going crazy, they’re right beside me to tell me that everything will be okay.

It’s also been extremely nice to add a couple of friends to my list of anchors as well. We are continually building that trusting relationship that is free of any doubt or insecurity. It feels good to add more people to the tribe.

I honestly hope to continue expanding my circle to include my future partner and may another friend or two someday, but all things come to fruition at the perfect time.

If you struggle with a Mental Health Disorder, I seriously encourage you to find these people in your life (if you haven’t already). Surround yourself with a handful of individuals that you can undeniably count on.

Anxiety will always be a wolf in sheeps clothing. It will always try to make you think that it’s doing you a favor by preparing you for the worst case scenarios when really all it’s doing is taking us out of the present moment and stealing our joy.

Learn to build a bridge of trust with your anchors so that you can open up to them without fear or regret. Holding everything inside will do nothing but allow anxiety to consume you and take you away from the beautiful life you deserve.

With each passing day and each trial you make it through, you’ll begin to have more confidence in your ability/yourself and give less power to that anxious monster inside your head.

And when the waves start getting rocky and the storms of life appear out of nowhere, remember you are not alone. Find your anchors, hold on tight and watch the storms of this life pass you by.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Always Remember.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

 

Some days you’re going to feel like giving up, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’ll feel like that weight is crushing you and that you no longer have the strength to stand tall.

You’ll have moments where you doubt every single decision you make, constantly wondering if you made the right choice. You’ll doubt your self-worth, abilities and who you are as a person.

No matter how great life is going there will always be moments of darkness, moments when the storm seems like it’ll never pass. The winds will howl, the rain will beat down and you’ll begin to wonder, “Why me?”

You’ll have days when you view the world as a blank canvas full of opportunities. You’ll set out for adventures and begin to learn that this enormous planet is full of more beauty than you ever imagined.

You’ll find a refreshing sense of peace while escaping the every day routine of life. You’ll explore places you’ve only read about in books, and while you’re gone you’ll feel on top of the world. Yet, when you return you may feel a sense of sadness, for the joy of adventure has faded and the mundane routine has returned.

You may fall in love, a love that turns your world into rainbows and sunshine. Eventually, however, you may find that love can quickly turn to heartbreak, and that pain may flip your world upside down.

You may start to once again doubt yourself. You may question why you were even put on this Earth if only to experience heartache and pain. You may question your relationship with God, wondering why He chose you to walk such a tough path.

You may lose a friend or loved one tragically and begin to question life itself. You may feel like you’ll never be able to overcome the grief and pain you feel. Death is such a permanent thing, and you’ll never know why they had to leave.

In this life, you’ll undoubtably experience heartache and happiness. You’ll have moments of debilitating weakness and tremendous strength. At moments, you’ll question the purpose of life, but other times you’ll admire its unfailing beauty.

There will be times when you may cry yourself to sleep, unsure of what the future holds and anxious about the times ahead. There will be moments of unexplainable joy, happiness and accomplishments. Life may start to feel like a rollercoaster of emotions with alternating highs and lows.

Yet in those moments of doubt, fear and pain I hope you always remember this…

Always remember that your mistakes do not define you, and your past does not dictate your future. Remember that in times of struggle you are never alone and that the pain won’t last forever.

When you’re feeling broken, wounded and unsure remember to reach out to those around you. Look for guidance and reassurance from those who love you most. Never stop relying on your friends and family because they will help you through even the toughest of times.

Remember to cherish your time with loved ones because nothing is guaranteed. Tell them and show them how much you love them. We never realize how much someone means until they’re gone, and regret is a horrible thing to live with.

Always remember that this life is what you make it. If you don’t like how your life is you ALWAYS have the capability to change it. Change is scary but so is living an unfulfilled life. Don’t wait until it’s too late to live the life you deserve.

Always remember to give love another chance. Our hearts have this amazing way of healing themselves even after they’ve been torn to shreds. Don’t let the wrong person from your past defer you from the right person in your present. Give love a second chance.

Remember to guard your heart, for from it everything flows. Be willing to allow someone to break down the walls you built from previous heartache, but don’t give your love too freely. The right person will be patient and willing to remove the bricks one by one.

Always remember to learn from your mistakes and to take a leap of faith. Nothing good comes from playing it safe. Even if you fail, you tried…and in the end that’s what matters. If you fall, always get back up. Nothing in this world can keep us down unless we let it.

Always remember to put yourself first. It may seem selfish, but you should always be your first priority. You deserve the love and attention you so freely give. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. You can’t pour from an empty glass.

When anxiety begins to consume you and the darkness closes in, always remember to fight. You deserve to be here, to take up space on this Earth. If you have trouble staying strong for yourself, remember those who love you. They need you more than you know.

Always remember to allow room for change. You may not see the purpose in it right away, but God has a much bigger plan for our lives than we can even imagine. Sometimes change leads us to the things we always wanted but were too afraid to try.

Always remember to chase your dreams. Nothing in this world is impossible, it’s all about mind over matter. If you really want something you will make it happen. Even if it takes a while, continue to fight for your goals. With fierce determination comes success.

Remember to do what you can to help others because you never know when the roles may be reversed. This world is full of people seeking love, acceptance and support…be the person willing to freely give those things. The small act of giving goes such a long way.

Lastly, always remember to be yourself. There is only one of you in the world, and that is your super power. We were each put on this Earth for a reason so never stop searching for your purpose. Make your mark on the world, and it may just leave an everlasting impression on others.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Finding Balance In An Unbalanced World. 

“Balance is key. In everything you do. Embrace all sides of who you are and live your authentic truth! Be brave and bold and spontaneous and loud and let that complement your abilities to find silence and patience and modesty and peace. Aim for balance. Make your own rules and don’t let anybody tell you how to live according to theirs.”Rachel Brathen

 

For most of my life I felt like I was constantly walking on a tightrope, always scared to lean too far to the left or right. I was always afraid to fall, afraid I would be unable to pick myself back up. Let’s just say balance has never been my forte.

Growing up I always jumped from one thing to another whether it was sports, academics, friends or hobbies. I’ve always had a gypsy soul that never let me focus too hard on one thing for too long.

I used to think that was just the way life was suppose to be, a never-ending cycle of things to keep my mind busy. Sure, I’d find myself completely exhausted each day, but it was so much better than sitting in silence with my thoughts. All these years later I realize that was the unwelcome work of my anxiety.

Three years ago I felt like something was just off in my life. I couldn’t explain the feeling, but it was definitely real. I felt like I would achieve a milestone I’d worked so hard for (like getting my first apartment, achieving a Bachelors in Nursing, having a real relationship, etc) but it was never enough. I was constantly searching for the next goal to check off my list.

One of the biggest ways I used my anxious energy was by giving back. I’d become a Registered Nurse because I absolutely loved helping people. I loved volunteering with various groups and doing what I could to help others. I also loved putting my all into my relationship. These things filled my soul and gave me purpose.

One day as I spoke to my Therapist about my constant need to pour myself into others, she said something that stuck with me. She told me, “you can’t fill the cups of others when your own cup is empty.” I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant at the time, but one day the lesson just clicked.

I’d been trying to do things for everyone else without ever taking care of myself. I’d never focused on my physical, mental or emotional needs and eventually my cup ran dry. I learned in that moment that my life had been completely unbalanced for far too long.

Once I experienced this epiphany, I set out on a journey to find balance in my life. However, I realized quickly the road would be tough because our world is so unbalanced. Sadly, our society is filled with enormous negativity which made it really difficult to try to make positive changes in my life.

Although the journey was tough, I stuck it out. I began searching out ways to find peace and balance in my life. I started practicing meditation, started exercising more and started making more time for God. I started doing things that I thought would bring me instant stability, yet something was still off.

I continued to speak to my Therapist about the tiny progress I was making and how frustrated I was that I still had this uneasy feeling. I still felt like I had pieces of my puzzle missing, but I couldn’t figure out what they were. I thought I was doing everything right, so what was the problem?

At that time she encouraged me to get back to things that made me happy, things that I possessed a unique gift for. She encouraged me to write about my feelings and to start doing things for myself, things that made me truly happy. Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to begin.

I’d had my own band for years, but once I moved to a new city our concert schedule had become somewhat  non-existent. I loved music, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind at that time. I’d just moved to a new city with a new job, and that was all I could handle with my anxiety.

After thinking about my conversation with my dear Therapist, I decided to dust off the mic and start writing/recording music again. The mere joy I felt by simply picking up my guitar and playing a song was incredible.

I started booking gigs at different venues along with making connections with some people in the industry. A spark had been rekindled the moment I brought music back into my life, and I felt like I’d found one of my missing puzzle pieces.

I started integrating music back into my everyday life. I began to learn how to balance my professional job as an RN with my fun, expressive musical career. It was a small step, but it was a step in the right direction.

After a few months of playing music, I began to have that dreaded, uneasy feeling. I started feeling the aches of my other absent piece. I couldn’t understand why this feeling wouldn’t just go away. I gave in and started exploring what else was missing in my life.

One day as I sat at my computer, I began thinking about my past struggles and my long time battle with anxiety. I’d always loved to write, and suddenly a thought came to my mind. It was in that moment that I started this blog to help myself, along with others, know that they are not alone in their hardships.

My blog took off and before I knew it, it had become a huge part of my life. I got so much joy from hearing the comments about my writings. I was able to work through my own issues while also helping others. It was a win-win that I could’ve never dreamed of. I’d finally found my last puzzle piece.

Ultimately I learned this important lesson, that we have to put in the work to find balance in our unbalanced world. With balance comes happiness, peace and tranquility. Balance allows us to find our purpose in life and live it out full force.

Some people may have that one special thing that fills their cup, and others (like me) may have several diverse pieces that make them whole. Each one of us is unique and original. There is no one in the world like you except for you.

Although the journey is never easy in achieving such tranquility, it’s never impossible. In order for us to find our harmony, we have to find the things that make us happy and use those in our everyday lives. We have to locate those missing puzzle pieces that make us whole.

Balance is something I fear our world will never completely find. There will always be tragedy, always be suffering and always be sadness. There will be negative stories and heinous crime. However, we can’t allow the world to dictate the type of life we live.

Someday you will find all of those things that make you into the complete, unique individual you were meant to be. My happiness comes from balancing my life as a Nurse, a Singer/Songwriter and a Blogger. It comes from expressing myself and helping others.

I finally learned how to fill my cup, and now I’m able to fill the cup of others around me who are struggling. I’m able to give back and encourage those who need it most, and all of this is possible because I found my balance.

So don’t be afraid to take the leap. Find the things that set your soul on fire and give you purpose. Discover the things that allow you to refill your cup over and over again…and someday you’ll be walking on the tightrope without fear of falling.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋