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 💋

Cut The Cord.

“Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger. Simplify your life. Let go of the poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present … today.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Over the past four years, I’ve built up some pretty steep walls around my heart. The last relationship I was in showed me that letting my guard down is dangerous. My heart and mind had to find a way to protect themselves, hence the insane amount of mistrust and second guessing I constantly feel.

You see, when someone with a Mental Health Disorder goes through heartbreak, it’s a totally different process. Now, I understand that heartache definitely hurts no matter who you are, but these heartbreaks are catastrophic to us Anxious Minds.

The moment you break the trust of someone with Anxiety you’ve doomed them from trusting anyone else for a really long time. It takes so much damn courage for us to place our hearts in your hands that when you break it, we hit rock bottom.

Honestly, I don’t even think I realized how much past heartbreaks affected me until I began a new relationship that brought up feelings I didn’t even know were there. All of the sudden self-doubt, distrust and feelings of impending disappointment began to flood my mind.

I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop because it seemed too damn good to be true (which in my mind meant that it was).

I started feeling these emotions that I thought were long dead and gone. After four years my hope for true happiness had began to seem more like an impossible fairytale, the kind we dream of as children.

Until one day, the day that everything changed.

I think the most terrifying emotion that emerged from this new found happiness was the thought that it could end just as gut-wrenching and traumatizing as the last one. My heart wanted to let him in, but my mind kept constantly reminding me of what happened the last time I let my guard down.

I knew that he deserved 100% of me because that’s only fair in a relationship, but I was so extremely hesitant to even consider giving him a glimpse inside the real me. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if he didn’t like what he saw?

Anxious thoughts consumed my mind for weeks, and I just put on the show of the perfect girlfriend. I was constantly being who I thought I should be instead of who I truly am. That was a really tough act to keep up, but I honestly didn’t know what else to do.

I always felt like I had this one last string that was tying me to my traumatic experiences of the past. I had done the work, gone to therapy, journaled and worked through my feelings, but I never knew there was one last cord hiding somewhere that I couldn’t see.

This string was the final connection between what could be the happiest times of my life and the memories and feelings of the most crushing times I’d ever experienced. I knew what I had to do, but I was afraid to cut the cord.

Don’t ask me why because I honestly don’t know.

I knew the amazing and wonderful things that were sitting in front of me just waiting for me to let go of the past, but deciding to take that leap of faith again is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in a long time.

I knew that cutting that cord meant jumping in with both feet, no holds bar, no looking back. I knew that it meant giving 100% of myself and letting down all those walls I’d worked so hard to build.

It meant giving love another chance.

So for the next few weeks I pondered the idea and fought a battle inside my head. I listed the pros and cons, I tried to reason with myself, I explained the benefits of this new opportunity again and again.

And finally, after weeks and weeks of anxious thoughts and sleepless nights, I decided to cut the cord. I decided that no way, no how were my fears and past experiences going to deter me from what I feel like is the best thing to ever happen to me.

He is worth every risk. He’s worth opening my heart up at the chance of it being torn apart. He’s worth putting myself out there for rejection. He’s worth every possible thing that could go wrong because he’s everything I’ve ever wanted and more.

I’m not willing to let my fear and anxiety keep me from someone so wonderful.

So as terrified as I am to start this new journey with an open heart and an open mind, I’m also so ridiculously excited to see where it goes. Not only is this a new chapter as a significant other, but it’s also a new chapter for me personally.

In life, we can either continue to be afraid of the things that broke us, or we can rise from the flames like a phoenix from the ashes. We can take those lessons we’ve learned from past relationships and use them to improve ourselves and our future romances.

If we never open our hearts back up to love, we will forever be alone. If we’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, we’re going to push others away. If we can’t eventually let down our guards, we’ll never know what might have been.

As crazy as it seems, the moment we finally release all the fear, resentment and hesitation that’s been holding us back is the moment the enormously heavy weight is lifted from our hearts.

And let me tell you, it’s a remarkably wonderful feeling.

My amazingly wise Mother told me, “don’t make someone in your present pay for the mistakes of someone in your past.” That really hit me. This new person deserves our everything. They deserve to receive every part of us, the good, bad and the ugly.

Every person’s journey is different. For some is only takes a few months to feel ready and willing to open up to another, and for others (like me) it takes years. No matter what your journey looks like the main thing is this … always be willing to give love another chance.

Be willing to cut the cord that is tying you to your past and holding you back from what could be the best parts of your life. We have one life to live and not much time to live it. Don’t let someone who didn’t know how to love you keep you from the one who was meant to love you all along.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

There’s A Reason That She’s Bitter.

“I usually become a ghost to those who no longer deserve my time. I’ve never seen a point in explaining my absent to someone who failed to appreciate my presence. You don’t owe any explanations to those who hurt you.” – R.H. Sin

 

There’s a reason that she’s bitter, more than one to be exact. It’s the empty words and broken promises she’s always told.

She used to believe them, to believe that one could actually tell the truth. She used to trust others without a doubt, open arms and open heart, yet all she got was let downs.

She used to have hopes and dreams that for once someone would follow through on their word, but those words were merely spoken. Those dreams turned to nightmares full of broken hearts and tear stained pillows.

She repeatedly got knocked down by blatant lies and knives in her back. She’d finally find the strength to get back up, to heal the wounds, only to find another knife and another heartbreak.

If there’s one thing she began to realize it was that the world is a cold, emotionless, selfish place. It’s a place where treachery and hate enormously outweigh good and love. A place where no one is truly safe.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter. Despite the darkness and countless disappointments she kept on trying. She continued to put one foot in front of the other just to make it another day. That’s the thing about her, she’s a fighter ’til the end.

Yet, even fighters have their low points. Even warriors have moments of weakness, and man do people love to exploit one’s flaws. Humans are like vultures waiting to swarm on wounded prey.

There were so many times that she dropped her guard to show others her real self, only to be hurt once again. There were so many times that she went against her gut and let others in, only to be wounded once more.

Eventually, her circle got smaller, and the wall around her heart was so tall that none could pass through. That’s exactly the way she wanted it. After all the tears and heartaches, no one was allowed in.

Most people couldn’t handle the rejection. They couldn’t accept the fact that from now on they’d only get a piece of her, never realizing that it was their own disloyalty and betrayals that caused her bitterness.

After a short while, most decided she wasn’t worth fighting for and went on their way. They never questioned their actions and never even looked back. What they ultimately did was prove her point…the world is a cold place.

At first it really hurt. Being abandoned by people you once loved is no easy thing. There’s no quick way to brush off the pain that comes with being disposed of like a piece of trash, but there is a way to make sure it never happens again.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter. After being tossed to the side and left alone to pick up the pieces, she decided to become so strong that no one would ever treat her that way again. She decided from that moment on to become a savage.

As time went on, she grew a little more rigid. She stopped letting people walk all over her which lead to plenty of arguments and nights home alone. Her friends became so few that she could count them on one hand, and that’s the way she liked it.

If someone had a problem with the new her, she didn’t care. They could walk out the door, and she wouldn’t blink an eye. She was done crying over people who didn’t value her worth or treat her with respect.

Some couldn’t believe how frigid she’d become. Most people saw the friendly, outgoing, sweet girl on a daily basis, but if you double crossed her you were done…easy as that.

Even to this day people don’t seem to get it. To some a promise is nothing but words, commitment is merely an idea, loyalty is a quality that is near extinct, trust is 99.9% impossible to build and love is thrown around like it’s nothing.

Sure it may have been one broken promise, one unreturned phone call, one ignored text message, but to her it means the world. The small things are what truly matter in this life, the little things show how much you value her.

While these morals seem meaningless to our generation, they’re extremely vital to her. She places them above all and won’t settle for anyone who doesn’t feel the same. She’s settled for far to long, and she’s done with it.

So if you plan on coming into her life, take a moment to realize exactly what that entails. Be loyal, trustworthy, loving and true to your word or don’t even bother. She’s an expert at realizing intentions from the beginning, and no longer will she be fooled.

If you really want to know her, love her or be a part of her world…be honest. You’ll get all of these things and more in return, for those who are guarded are the most loyal. If you can break down their guard, the reward is exceptional.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter, more than one to be exact…

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

5 Traits An Anxious Mind Needs In A Friend.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” – Bessel Van Der Kolk
If you’ve ever been a good friend to someone that suffers from anxiety, you probably know that it’s a lot of work. You have to deal with their constant mood swings, fears, emotions and insecurities all while being their rock. It really is a tough gig.

There are probably an enormous amount of times that you want to scream, pull out your hair and simply tell your friend that they’re being irrational. You may get insanely frustrated that they can’t just shut off their anxiety. Yet, you often sit there quietly and listen to every word.

Sometimes you give them words of encouragement while holding them in a tight knit hug, merely letting them know that they’re safe. Other times you may yell and give them tough love because you don’t fully understand their disease which frustrates you even more.

You may sit and cry together in silence when the world just seems too overwhelming for your anxious minded friend. You cry because you’ve never dealt with such pain and aren’t sure what to do or say. Sometimes you may even cry tears of joy when they’re having a good day because you’re ecstatic to see them happy.

Despite all of the craziness that comes along with loving an anxious mind, you stick around, and your mere presence means more to us than you could ever know.

While being a friend to someone that struggles with anxiety can be quite overwhelming, I imagine it’s a love-hate relationship. There are a ton of positives and negatives that come along with loving us, things that we rarely control.

However, I hope you know that if an anxious mind chooses you as a friend you should take it as an extreme compliment. We are extremely selective in who we allow into our lives. Our anxiety tries to isolate us from everyone and tell us that we are unworthy of love.

If you are chosen to become a part of our inner circle, know that it is a big decision for us. It takes everything in our being to truly let people in and see the real, flawed, messy us…the sides we often hide.

We have to silence the constant ruckus going on in our heads in order to focus on another person. We not only have to learn to let our walls down, but we also have to stand up to our anxiety and tell it that we refuse to be alone. That, my dear, is no small feat.

So while your friendship means the world to us, know that there were certain traits we found in you that let us tear our walls down and silence our anxious minds. There was something we saw in you that made us feel safe and willing to open ourselves up with the risk of being hurt.

There are a few things that we saw in you, a few things that the friend of an anxious mind must possess:

1.) Trustworthy

We need to know that no matter what we can trust you with our deepest, darkest secrets. We need to feel like we can trust you with our feelings and that you will never do us wrong. Trust is crucial in any relationship, but we value it more than most.

2.) Patience

We know we’re not the easiest people to be friends with. We have so many mood swings and “irrational fears” that many people don’t understand. When we’re having an anxiety attack, you won’t be able to relate to us. Yet we need to know that you will be patient with us as we work through things.

3.) Loyalty

As our friend, it’s imperative that we know you’re loyal to us. Insecurities go hand-in-hand with anxiety, and a disloyal friend makes our insecurities unbearable. Constantly worrying about where you stand will only make our anxiety worse and ultimately end our friendship.

4.) Understanding

We need you to understand that we aren’t making things up. What we are telling you is really how we feel, even when you can’t relate. While you may have never dealt with anxiety in your personal life, we need you to understand that everything we feel and say is very real to us.

5.) Strength

Lastly, we need you to be a strong person. We understand that everyone has moments in life where they get broken down. However, we need you to be our rock. Many times in our anxiety filled lives we need someone to be strong for us. We need someone that can help us through the really dark times and tell us that everything will be okay.
While each person has something different they look for in a friendship or relationship, these tend to be at the top of our list. It may take us a while to let you in, but once we do you’ll be happy you stuck around.

Although we seem to have a lot of baggage that comes along with us, we are the most loyal people you will ever meet. A friend with anxiety may take a while to warm up to you, but once they do you’ll see the amazing soul they possess.

While anxiety is a part of us, it’s not all of us. We still have so many traits that you’ll fall in love with like being extremely clean, always on time and super organized (to name a few). You’ll start to realize not to judge a book by its cover and that life with anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.

I must say although my circle is extremely small, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They’ve seen me experience my highest highs and my lowest lows, and they’ve loved me through them all. They each possess the 5 qualities I listed above and so much more.

So if you befriend an anxious mind just be ready to commit for the long hall, because once we let you in there’s no turning back…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

You Will Bend But Not Break.

“Like a tree, you have to find your roots and then you can bend in the wind.” – Angela Farmer

This last year has seemed like a never-ending uphill climb. Every time I felt like I was starting to get ahead, another obstacle was thrown in my way. I’ve had to fight, push, pull, endure and face some of my toughest battles yet…but here I am, still standing.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons in the past few months, but the one that really stands out to me is that as humans we bend but don’t break. We get pushed to our limit time and time again, and yet we somehow survive.We endure heartache, loss, devastation, denial and regret, and yet we keep on living.

The more I’ve delved into my “new age spirituality” journey, the more I’ve begun to realize just how amazing humans are. We’re capable of finding love after heartache. We possess the ability to trust after being deceived. We can get broken down over and over and somehow get back up. It’s fascinating.

The incredible thing is I know all of this from personal experience. What really pushed me to take the leap of moving to a new city was heartbreak. I was so low, so lost, so confused about life. I’ve always felt like God created me for a special purpose, but at the time I couldn’t figure out what it was.

I tried so many times in my 25 years of living to figure out God’s grand plan for my life. Every time I thought I was making progress, some tragedy swooped in and started me back at square one. My faith was tested to say the least, and there were many times that I asked God, “Why? Why won’t you show me what I’m meant to do?”

Little did I realize that’s why they call it faith. It isn’t something you can see or figure out, it’s just something you have to trust. I continued to fight God, to question His goodness. I felt like, “hello, I’m 25 years old. When are you going to show me my path?” I’ve realized now that every day is a small step toward His bigger plan for me.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I could overcome some of the hardships I faced in my life. When I was 14 years old, my best friend died in an accident. You want to talk about devastation, that’s it. It completely influenced who I am today. I have trust issues, I don’t like getting super close to people, and I have a daily struggle with the fear that someone I love is going to die.

As I got older, the pressure I put on myself began to amplify. I always was (and still am) my own worst critic. No one could punish me for the mistakes I made because, trust me, I was already punishing myself. I hated myself, and I always thought I should be better than what I was.

It’s taken me 25 years to truly love myself. It’s taken me all this time to realize that I am worthy, I am special, I am not perfect and that’s okay. I finally realized that the struggles, the bending, that we endure in life is simply God molding us into who we were meant to be.

Once this important life lesson finally sunk in, I realized that everything I’d gone through was leading me to where I am now. I’ve achieved my dream of becoming a Pediatric Oncology RN, I’ve started a blog and I’ve had a successful 9 years with my band. I’ve accomplished so much that I never gave myself credit for until this year.

The most rewarding part of all my accomplishments is seeing my hard work appreciated by others. Every time I see a patient smile or receive a message from someone who’s read my blog or see someone singing along to my song at a show, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of purpose. Knowing I’ve made a difference is what fuels me.

I somehow learned to stop condemning myself. I finally realized that criticizing yourself does absolutely nothing but bring you down. The world will always be judging you so why judge yourself? If you aren’t rooting for yourself then who will? Be your number one supporter, and learn to recognize your worth.

All of this has definitely had a negative effect on my anxiety. When I start going through a rough patch I start to feel like it’ll never end. My mind starts running wild, I start having heart palpitations and I just get in a really bad place. However, I’ve learned some amazing techniques to bring myself back to reality.

The moral of this story is to embrace the struggles and the growing pains. Realize that those moments are shaping you into who you were meant to be. They may seem impossible and never ending, but I promise you will make it through. One day you’ll look back and realize it was all for a reason.

Eventually we all find our purpose. I wouldn’t say I’ve had that big ah-ha moment of clarity where I see every detail of my chosen path, but I’m learning to take it a day at a time. Sometimes we get so caught up in the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey. I hope you realize that no matter what you face you may bend, but you will not break.
XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

[Miss]Trust.

“Trusting you is my decision. Proving me right is your choice.” – Anonymous

Throughout life we undergo a series of psychosocial developments that occur from birth to death. We’re all taught about Erik Erikson’s developmental theory which describes each phase during a person’s life and how these stages shape who we ultimately become.

It’s said that the first stage of the theory, Trust vs. Mistrust, is the single most important phase a person will go through. This single length of time (birth to 18 months) molds our entire future.

When thinking about  this I discovered that while I had an amazing upbringing, I’ve begun to have issues with this certain psychosocial element. It just so happens that my problems occurred later in life and for good reason.

Over the past few years, I’ve slowly stopped trusting others. The guard around my heart has become tougher than I ever imagined, and that makes me extremely sad. Growing up I always had such an open, honest soul. I would give and give and give until I couldn’t give anymore. If people would hurt me I’d brush it off and get back on my feet. This has significantly changed in my adult years.

Honestly I trust maybe a handful of people, and I think some would be surprised by who’s on that list. I’ve never had a problem making friends or being in relationships mainly due to my outgoing, bubbly, loud personality. Yet for some reason I can’t find the kind that stick. I so badly want to fill my life with others who I feel I can trust, the ones that will be there no matter what.

It’s so frustrating to know that no matter how much love, time and sincere effort you put into relationships (romantic and friendships) they almost always turn out the same. Over the past few years my trust issues have gone through the roof. It sounds so depressing, but I would rather be alone than have to go through another failed relationship or friendship. I seriously can’t take it anymore.

I know that people say “no one is perfect” and “you just have to keep putting yourself out there,” but I’m tired of being the one to put myself out there. I feel like I’ve been let down for far too long, and I refuse to do it any longer. I’m far from perfect, but no one can ever say I didn’t try.

I sincerely feel bad for the next romance that comes into my life. I’ve changed so much over the last two years, and when it comes to trust and commitment I don’t even know where I stand anymore.

A common misconception is that commitment issues are specifically appointed to those who can’t be with one person. What people don’t understand is that they also apply to those who aren’t sure if they can finally let their guard down. Unfortunately, I now fall into that category.

All of these issues I now possess seem to have flourished at the lowest point in my life. I’ve never really talked about it in detail, but I feel like it’s necessary to understand how much letting someone down can truly affect them. Some may say that using “lowest day of my life” is dramatic, but they weren’t there and this isn’t their story.

I remember I’d just gotten dumped by the person I thought I was going to marry, and it was out of the blue. I remember feeling so incredibly shocked and numb that I couldn’t move.

For a few hours I laid on my floor unable to speak, unable to comprehend what had just happened. It got to the point where my mother had to come to my house, literally peel me off the floor and make me eat. I felt so paralyzed. It went on for about a week, and by the grace of God I somehow found the strength to pick myself back up.

Two years later I’ve finally moved past the pain from that time in my life, but trust me the scars are still there. I feel sorry for the next person to come along because someone from my past has forever affected my future. My heart now has a very tough wall surrounding it, and the journey won’t be easy. Nonetheless, I promise the reward will be worth it.

I feel like I’m a pretty good person. I’m truly caring and compassionate. I have a great career, and dabble in many different things. I’m independent, trustworthy and loyal to a fault. Now this doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I have plenty of flaws, and I won’t always get it right. Yet I will say that I’m not afraid to work on myself which is why I did therapy for two years.

Although my lowest of lows is tied to a romantic relationship, I’ve had plenty of friendships that have done some major damage as well. I’ve had plenty of friends that only want to be there for the good, that used me for my compassionate heart and those who weren’t there when I needed them the most. It all hurts, just in different ways.

My point in writing this is to remind people that their actions really do affect others. What may seem like a small let down to you could be something major to someone else. Always be honest with your friends and significant others, don’t blindside them or minimize their feelings.

Trust is a very powerful thing that is extremely easy to lose and very difficult to get back. If your friend or loved one needs you be there, don’t flake out and make up excuses. “Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned.”

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell💋