Today Is Hard.

“It is the hard days, the days that challenge you to your very core that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”  – Sheryl Sandberg

 

Today is hard. I’ve yet again had another door slammed in my face, another rejection that’s left me lost and confused.

I keep trying and holding my head up high, but the weight of disappointment is quickly dragging me down. I feel stuck in a pit of sinking sand that I can’t seem to escape.

I haven’t quite figured out the magic formula that will lift me out of these hardships, probably because in the back of my mind I know it doesn’t exist.

There is no magic cure for Mental Health Disorders, and honestly that pisses me off.

It doesn’t matter how many books I read, how many times I meditate or how many journal entries I write, my anxiety is always there. It’s always just waiting for the smallest of openings to creep back in.

Today is hard. I found myself struggling to merely get out of bed, and unfortunately this happens more that I’d like to admit. I have so many amazing things and people to live for and so much to do in this life.

Why does every morning have to be a struggle?

I numb my mind, my anxious thoughts, with TV or unimportant tasks just trying to not think about the judgements lingering in my head. I let my passions suffer because I’m too damn tired to fight the monsters in my mind.

The worst part of dealing with a Mental Health Disorder is that even when you have weeks or even months of good, you always know that the bad times are just up ahead.

You never know when they’ll strike, but trust me they’re there.

Today is hard. I feel like screaming and shouting at the top of my lungs merely to find relief from these feelings I’m holding inside, but I know that I have to keep it together. I don’t want to worry the ones I love and frankly I don’t want to let my anxiety win.

So instead of screaming and having a complete meltdown, I write this blog entry. I let my words speak for themselves so I can clear at least a fraction of my mind, so that I can maybe find some sanity.

It feels good to release all of these lingering doubts, fears and negative emotions, even if only for a while. It won’t be long until my mind is once again filled to the brim with worry, but for now I’ll cherish the peace and quiet.

Today was supposed to be a new start, a fresh beginning. I was hoping for positive news and an end to the mental suffering I’d been experiencing. Yet before I could even get out of bed, I received the complete opposite news.

It sucks, it really sucks to have such a hopeful, positive outlook. It sucks to think, this is the day when it all changes, when I break the chains that have been recently holding me down only to find out that my hope was naive.

Negative self talk immediately creeps in and again I find myself in a hole that I’d just escaped.

Each time I’m knocked down it makes me lose hope that things will ever change. It takes away the excitement of new opportunities because, what I’ve seen from the past few years is that excitement only leads to disappointment.

And once again I’m lost, looking for the next opportunity but not even sure of what I’m hoping to find.

All these doubts start to creep in and cloud my judgement. They make me take ten steps back in my progression towards mastering my anxiety, and suddenly I’m left to pick up all the pieces by myself yet again.

Today is hard. It’s hard because I constantly battle with the angel and devil on my shoulders. I know I shouldn’t let these refusals get to me. I know what I have to offer to the world, and it’s damn good.

I know I should push forward and take some of my own advice that I so freely give to others. However, I’ve experienced more rejection in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years, and I’m finding it really hard to deal.

I always say when the time is right, things will work out the way they’re meant to, and I truly believe that. The angel on my shoulder reminds me that I live a wonderfully blessed life, and I have so much to be thankful for.

However, the angel is meek, quiet and subtle. The devil on my other shoulder screams lies and insecurities to me, reminding me of my doubts and failures. He’s like a loud yet invisible sound that I find hard to ignore.

Eventually his words creep in my head and I’m left to deal with anxiety on top of anxiety. I wish he would just SHUT UP.

Today is hard. I’ve got self love and self hate, strength and weakness, doubts and reassurances all going through my head at the same time.

Welcome to life with anxiety.

Although this post seems like a negative narrative, it’s really not. By putting these words on paper I’m able to sort through these clashing thoughts. I’m able to think through the truths and the lies one by one.

Ultimately, my goal of each post is to show the true battle of Mental Health Disorders, to give you an real view of what happens inside an anxious mind.

We all have a devil and an angel. We all experience hard and good days, and in the end we’ve survived 100% of the bad ones. So never let that devil win, never let him take away that beautiful person that you are.

Listen for the quiet reassurances of the angel, and know that even though today is hard it’s not impossible. We will survive together.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

 

We’re Only Human.

But I’m only human and I bleed when I fall down. I’m only human and I crash and I break down. Your words in my head, knives in my heart, you build me up and then I fall apart ’cause I’m only human…” – Christina Perri

 

So many things in life try to drag us down, constantly making us feel worthless, unloved and unwanted. Fears creep into our mind, along with our anxious thoughts, and those fears start to tear us down a little at a time.

There’s no warning, no flashing sign to tell us what’s coming our way. There’s nothing that can prepare us for the error of human ways, for heartache and deceit.

People are bound to let us down, I mean we’re only human after all. Yet, it’s how we react to those moments of heartache and misery that truly reveal ourselves to the world. If we over-analyze every moment or every word, we’re setting ourselves up for a let down.

So in those moments of sadness, when you’re tired of trying, I hope you remember that things will always get better. The moments of darkness will always be overcome by light. The pain will eventually fade and the heart will repair itself.

That’s just how we’re wired.

When you find yourself tired of trying, I encourage you to look inward and remind yourself of how you too are human. There have been times when you’ve been on the other side of the hurt.

You’ve probably done something unintentionally that negatively effected another. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that makes you human.

The difference between being human and being inhumane is effort. If you put in the effort to right your wrongs or fix what you may have broken, then you should rest easy knowing you tried.

If you think “tough luck” or expect someone to get over it then you are the darkness that fills this world. No matter what the circumstance, it’s up to us as friends, family, co-workers, people to acknowledge the error of our ways and try to make amends. Again, it all comes down to “try.”

All we can do in this life is try … try to be a good friend, a good person. Try to be strong, to be brave, to be tough. Try to keep it together, to not let them see you struggle. Try to put our feelings aside, to put others first, to listen without taking offense to their words.

We can only try to put one foot in front of the other without falling to pieces … to try to make the right decisions and do the best we can. All we can do is try our hardest in all things, and if people can’t appreciate our efforts then they don’t deserve our presence.

That’s another thing. When someone is dealing with a Mental Health Disorder, it’s imperative for us to practice self-preservation. We’re terrible at it because we want to believe the good in others, but ultimately if we’re unable to realize who truly does and does not belong in our lives then we self destruct.

After all, we’re only human.

This thing called life is a difficult journey filled with enormous amounts of pain, growth, happiness, sadness, regret, joy and decisions. Those who suffer from Mental Health Disorders encounter extra obstacles, but each struggle we face makes us stronger in the end.

All we can do through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns, is try to hold on for the ride and make the best out of each situation we’re given. If people let us down we have to find our voice and the courage to express our feelings.

If someone makes us happy, we have to conquer our fears of rejection and disappointment and give them a chance. We have to learn to quiet our anxious minds and remember that we only have one life to live so we might as well live it.

Heartache and pain will undoubtedly find us, but if we keep pushing on we’ll find either a lesson or a blessing in each situation. We can’t let the tragedy that fills our world keep us from spreading our light.

We may only be human, but we have so much to offer. We have love to give, memories to make and a short time to do it all. Therefore we can’t let anything, especially our anxious thoughts, hold us back from a wonderful life.

People will always let us down and that’s okay because we too are flawed. We too cause pain to those we love. No matter how hard we try we’re not perfect and never will be. Yet if we strive to be the best person we can be, we find that opportunity and happiness start to present themselves in our lives.

We need to remember that every single breath we’re given is a precious gift that should not be wasted because one day our breath will flee and our souls will vacate this world … we’re only human, after all.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

I Didn’t Think It Would Be This Way.

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers.” – Kathy Kinney

 

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought life could get so messy, so confusing, so out of control. I’d done everything in my power to live the “perfect” life. I’d gone to school, gotten straight A’s, participated in activities, went to church and tried to be a good human.

Yet it never felt like enough.

I thought all of my good deeds and careful choices would spare me of the heartache and pain that seemed to fill this ugly world. I thought my kind heart and gentle soul could keep me from sorrow, but I was wrong.

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought I’d lose my best friend at such a tender age or experience a gut wrenching break up with an ex that would leave me feeling paralyzed. However, I intimately learned the saying “love hurts.”

I never thought I’d hang out with the wrong crowd or do things behind my parents’ backs like some typical rebellious teen. I thought I was better than that. Yet I partied and made bad decisions sometimes for no good reason at all.

I never thought I’d struggle so heavily with anxiety and depression as a teenager. I didn’t think I’d battle with self confidence or self love either. On the outside I appeared so confident, so in control, but on the inside I was drowning.

I could’ve never imagined the struggles I’d face in college. The sleepless nights, the drunken disagreements and feeling like I might not make it through nursing school. I remember asking myself what the hell I was doing putting myself in these risky predicaments…

Yet I could never bear to hear the truthful answer to those questions.

I never thought I’d be so cruel to myself. I truly was my own worst enemy. I never thought I’d look in the mirror and be hateful to the reflection staring back at me. Despite all the good things I’d done in the world, I was never good enough in my own mind.

I never knew I’d be single into my latter 20’s. I figured I’d follow the pattern of my hometown and be married with children by 24 years old. I thought I’d grow old in my tiny Texas town and never leave. I thought that was the only life I could live.

I never knew I’d be given such opportunities by simply moving away from home. I didn’t know I would find so much happiness in recreating myself…new town, new me. I had never realized just how claustrophobic I felt in that place.

I never realized realize how much I missed out on by giving in to my fears. I was terrified to start over away from my family, and with this fear came tons of missed opportunities. I’d never comprehended how much my wings were bound until I broke away and flew.

I didn’t think life would be this way. I never thought I’d have moments of complete emptiness, moments when breathing seemed like an unimaginable task. I didn’t know that anxiety would be something I’d deal with my entire life, a problem that I could never permanently fix.

I didn’t think it would be this way. I thought I could get through life without ever losing a family member. I thought they’d all meet my future spouse, attend my wedding, and hold my future children while we shared stories around the table…and then my Grandpa passed away.

Yet another dream crushed.

I never thought I’d experience the rollercoaster effect of feeling so lonely while also feeling happiness. I never thought it was possible to find joy in the pain and light in the sorrow. I never thought I’d be one to feel weak and alone.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m extremely pleased and grateful at how my life has played out. While I didn’t understand the struggles and grief in the past, I’m beginning to understand them now.

I now see that through pain and heartache comes growth. I realize that losing someone makes you hold onto others a little tighter. It forces you to realize the amazing people you have in your life and reminds you to never take them for granted.

Through heartache we learn to love again. We find that our heart can repair itself and become even stronger than before. We may put up a wall, but it allows us to see who is willing to break it down to be in our lives. It teaches us that our hearts are indestructible.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, each and every experience has made me who I am today. Each trail and tribulation has shaped me into the kind yet wise soul that I am now. While I still try to find the best in others, I’m no longer naive to those who try to hurt me.

I’m stronger than ever before, full of scars but also full of wisdom.

Life really does have a funny way of working out. While things that try to break us may hurt like hell in the moment, their meaning ultimately comes full circle in God’s timing. We don’t understand the pain we initially feel, but later on we often see its purpose.

And while I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m forever grateful for this crazy life I’ve been given. I’m truly thankful for every high and every low, every victory and every defeat. Now I know that although life’s struggles might knock me down, they will not keep me there.

Our lives are our own, and the choice is always ours. Will you choose to dwell on your shortcomings and grieve what you thought life would be, or will you choose to rise each morning with a grateful heart and a fierce perseverance? The choice is ultimately yours…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Your Death Gave Me Life.

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this…” – Unknown

 

It amazes me that 12 years have passed since that tragic day. I still remember every single detail in my mind. I remember spending that hot Summer day with my (then) boyfriend, simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

I remember my Mother answering the phone and the look of sheer terror in her eyes as she approached me. I remember feeling like something was horribly wrong but not being able to figure out what it was.

I remember hearing those words, “Jacob has passed away in an accident” and immediately falling to the floor. I remember feeling completely numb and overcome with grief. How was a 14 year old teenager suppose to understand the magnitude of what had happened?

I kept telling myself “get it together,” but all I could manage to do was crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t function. I was in such shock at what I’d been told. We were kids. We were suppose to live forever not die a few weeks before our Freshman year of High School.

I remember laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed like eternity. My family continuously tried to comfort me, but nothing could take away the immense pain I felt. My best friend was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I remember picking up the phone and calling all of my friends. Each phone call ended the same, in heartache and grief. None of us could understand why God chose you, why you had to be the one to leave us.

I remember bits and pieces of the following days. Our school was encouraging everyone to see the counselors they provided to help us “process our grief,” but I refused. Instead, I decided to work through things on my own, a process that I’m still working on to this day.

I remember going to the funeral home to visit you one last time. Walking through that door is an image forever burned in my mind. I remember seeing your hat, the one you always wore, sticking up a little bit as I walked down the isle to you. It was a strange relief to know you’d be buried wearing something you loved so much.

I remember seeing your face, so peaceful, as if you were merely sleeping. I kept praying I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare, but I never did. I took a moment and placed your “friends” necklace in your hand. To this day I still have the matching “best” necklace that I wear to remember you.

I remember writing a poem for your funeral, determined to write the best poem ever. I remember walking in to the auditorium, my final chance to say goodbye to you. There were so many people there because you were so incredibly loved.

Each of us took an orange rose (our school color), and one by one we placed the roses in your casket. I stayed strong the entire time until I got up to read your poem. Suddenly, the fact that I’d never see you again hit me like a ton of bricks. Somehow I managed to get through it.

We placed you gently in the ground at your burial and took a moment to grieve together. I never knew that walking away from that cemetery would change everything. I never knew that your death would ultimately give me life.

I’m sure many of you are confused by that statement, but hear me out. Losing Jacob truly showed me how precious life is. It taught me that our teenage thoughts were completely wrong, we weren’t invincible after all.

Experiencing the death of a best friend at such a vulnerable, tender age made me appreciate the small things. I took my time and friendship with you for granted in so many ways. To this day, I try my hardest to be a good friend and value those around me.

Your death encouraged me to fiercely pursue music. The last time we were together you were teaching me the guitar so I vowed to continue on that path. I went on to write many songs about you and how you changed my life.

Your death increased my desire to take care of others and lead me to care for the sick and dying as a nurse. It gave me the courage to hold the hand of someone passing into the afterlife. It gave me the strength to support their family in such a trying time because I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one.

Your death put my faith to the test, but it ultimately strengthened my relationship with God. In the months following, I was so angry that He took you from me too soon. Yet, over the years I began to realize that we each have a purpose, and I guess you had already completed yours in a short time.

Your death made me create closer bonds to the people in my life. I learned that no one lives forever and tomorrow may never come. I learned to love hard in all relationships. I learned to move forward in life with an open heart and to accept people for who they are.

I learned that although being a good person doesn’t make you invincible, it does make you memorable. Not only were you incredibly good at everything you did, but you always had a smile on your face…a smile that was contagious and unforgettable.

Your death taught me to be the light that this world so desperately needs. It taught me to count my blessings instead of my shortcomings. It taught me to give back to others and expect nothing in return. It encouraged me to carry on your legacy of making the world a better place.

So while you were taken from this world 12 years ago, your legacy remains alive and well. On this day each year, I hear stories and see posts about you. Even after all this time we still miss you, we still think about you, and we still remember the beautiful person you were.

While this day never gets easier, it does continue to enlighten me. Each year I’m amazed at the discovery of another emotion, another layer of my feelings towards your death. I’m amazed by the fact that time continues to pass so quickly. I guess the process of healing is truly never ending.

I’ll never fully understand why you had to leave us, and although I can’t comprehend your passing, I’ll forever cherish your life. I’ll cherish all of the many wonderful memories we made and the best friend I was fortunate to have, if only for 14 years.

I know there will still be days ahead full of sadness, tears and pain because true heartache never fully goes away. However, I want to say “thank you” for inspiring me to be the person I am today. Your death gave me life. Keep watching over me my guardian angel…until we meet again.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

*RIP – Jacob Aaron Skinner
(September 21, 1990 – July 25, 2005)

62387_10200877846133308_1919816184_n

 

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 💋

Dear Anxiety: An Intimate Letter

“And sometimes it hits me out of nowhere, all of the sudden, this overwhelming sadness rushes over me. And I get discouraged and I get upset and I feel hopeless, sad, and hurt. And once again I feel numb to the world.” – Anonymous

 

Dear Anxiety,

I thought I had you under control. I thought I’d found the magic potion that made you disappear forever. I always knew you’d be lurking in the shadows just waiting for your opportunity to consume me again, but I thought I’d found the shield to defend myself against your unwanted presence…I was wrong.

I woke up Friday morning and automatically knew something felt off. I’d had this uneasy feeling before, but I thought it was just a fluke so I went about my day. The day was okay, nothing special, but I could feel your presence stalking me from a distance. I thought that by ignoring you I could make you disappear.

I continued on into the night trying to hold it together, trying to act like you weren’t there. I started to feel you drain my soul and emotions out of me a little at a time like a leach. I tried to stop it, I tried to keep your darkness from creeping in and taking over, but my efforts were futile.

I went to bed at a decent time that night, merely trying to fall asleep before you could tear me apart. In that I succeeded.

However, Saturday morning when I woke I found you to be in control. From the moment I woke up I knew I didn’t stand a chance. I tried to complete my morning routine of gratitude, meditation and prayer, but everything I did only made things worse.

I told myself I wouldn’t shed a tear, that I wouldn’t give you that satisfaction of seeing me broken. I tried with all my might to keep my emotions buried deep down, someplace that you wouldn’t find them. Yet, once again you won.

I spent half of the day crying for no reason, and I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so depressed. It’d been a long time since I’d felt these overwhelming emotions. I hated feeling so vulnerable, but I knew you were loving the sight of me in pieces. I hate you beyond words for that.

I cried nonstop for hours  for no reason at all. For feeling so empty, I was full of so many tears. After a while my sadness turned to frustration, and I lost my cool. I was literally having an inner battle all because of you. You lit the match and watched the fire burn.

I was struggling to turn off my anxious mind. All I wanted was a minute of silence from the continuous irrational fight going on in my brain. It was like having an angel and devil on my shoulders that wouldn’t shut up. I just wanted peace and quiet, but you wouldn’t give me that.

I tried to continue on with my daily routine, but my frustration started boiling over and before I knew it I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think (rationally) and couldn’t function. I sat there in a daze, afraid to breath. That was the worst feeling in the world, losing control to you.

An hour went by before I was able to move, but it felt like forever. When I finally stood, my body felt so heavy that I found it hard to walk. That was the weight of you and all of your misery on my shoulders. You felt like a ton of bricks.

I finally walked over to my purse and grabbed my medication. At that point I was desperate to get away from you, if only for a little while. I took my pill and a few minutes later all of your stupid, ridiculous, pointless, annoying noise went away. I finally found my moment of silence.

I knew your absence would be short lived so I took advantage of the quiet while I could. I made a few calls to my family, unsure if I’d have another opportunity once you returned. You knew I couldn’t function with you around, and you relished in that fact.

I managed to somehow fall asleep that night, and I promised myself tomorrow would be better…it had to be. I couldn’t take another day of you and your misery.

Sunday morning I woke up with a whole new mindset, determined to keep you away. I’d been invited to church by a friend, and I was so excited to have some distraction from your tightening grip.

I went to church and heard the most perfect message. The sermon seemed like it had been written just for me. I was so thankful that God heard my struggles and gave me a sign that He was listening. I started feeling hopeful, and man was it refreshing.

My friend and I went to brunch and had a great time. We talked and laughed for about an hour, and then I headed home. Little did I know you were waiting patiently for my return.

As soon as I walked in my door, your heavy cloud started to dampen my uplifted spirit. I felt you slowly dragging me back into your darkness. I resisted your pull the best that I could. I didn’t let you knock me all the way back down, but my day was definitely ruined.

I once again sat in my living room crying for some unknown reason. My willpower and strength wasn’t enough to keep you away, and I hated myself for that. How could you so easily break my soul? Why was I so defenseless against you?

I decided I’d had enough of you and that I was done letting you control me. I stopped the tears, stood up off my couch, closed my eyes and told you to go away. I had nothing left to give you, nothing left to feel. You’d drained me of everything I had.

Sunday faded into Monday which faded into Tuesday, and eventually I started feeling better. I’d somehow made you crawl back into your eerie cave, at least for now. I prayed you’d never come back out, but I knew that was unlikely.

In those few days you threw every trick in the book at me, and I fell for them all. I tried to stay strong, but you beat me down until I had nothing left. Why did you have to do this to me? Why am I plagued with your darkness?

I know you’re gone, but I also know you’ll be back. Lucky for me your attacks only happen every now and then, but I’m already dreading the next one. No one would even know of your torture if it wasn’t for my willingness to share.

So until our next unfortunate meeting I’ll continue living my life like you don’t exist. I know you’re patiently waiting for me in the shadows, but for now I’ll act like I don’t know you’re there. That’s the only way I’ll be able to live the happy life I deserve. Thanks for the reminder though, I haven’t forgotten your everlasting presence.

With Hate,
Myka Shantell 

 

The thing is we all put on a smile, but you never know what that smile is hiding. We all have pain and struggles, and even those who seem happy have demons they fight. I live a beautiful, happy life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments (or even days) of weakness and vulnerability.

My point in writing this is to show everyone what anxiety looks like at its worst. I decided to snap the pictures of myself above so that people could SEE what it does to a person, even one who has a wonderful life.

Sometimes we can feel its eerie presence among us, and other times it’s sprung on us out of the blue. I feel fortunate that I only have to deal with this from time to time, but other people out there aren’t as lucky. 

If you know someone who struggles with anxiety, please be supportive of them. Don’t turn your back or tell them they’re irrational, that only makes things worse. All they need from you is comfort and encouragement. They need to know they aren’t alone.

You don’t have to understand anxiety to be a good friend, we don’t expect you to. However, I hope writing this has given you a brief look into our reality. This is what we deal with, this is what we fear, and unfortunately this fear is permanent. For we always know anxiety is lurking in the shadows, just waiting to strike again.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Residual Feelings. 

“I plant roots so deeply in the people I love that I always lose a piece of myself when they go.” – Beau Taplin

Residual feelings…those pesky little pieces of the ones we loved that are left inside of us after they break our hearts. You’d think someone completely ripping your heart out and stomping on it would be enough to get rid of any feelings you once felt for them, but unfortunately that’s not how we humans operate.

No matter what kind of messy breakup we go through or how hurt we’ve been, we’ll always have that tiny, microscopic part of us that cares…even though we probably won’t admit it.

We like to pretend that once a relationship is over we can just move on without a second thought. We go out with our friends, throw ourselves on a dating app and search for the next one, all the while pretending that we no longer care.

Sure we may think we’re fooling our family or friends with the masks we put on each morning, the ones that make the world think we’re totally fine, but we’re so wrong. People, especially those close to us, recognize this behavior and know that it’s all just an act.

Why do we try to pretend like we’re indestructible, like our feelings are made of stone? We put all this pressure on ourselves to immediately get over the gut-wrenching pain we feel. We punish ourselves for having emotions, for feeling the loss of someone we thought we had a future with. Why?

What we often don’t tell ourselves is that it is okay to cry, to lash out, to feel pain. It’s okay to scream into our pillows or burn pictures of memories we once cherished. It’s okay to to be vulnerable, lost and sad.

Some days we may lay on the bedroom floor, unable to move or think. We may live on auto-pilot for a while or even cut ourselves off from the world. We may wallow in self-pity and overanalyze the situation, wondering what went wrong and how we failed.

However, eventually the days begin to turn into weeks, and it starts getting a little more tolerable to wake up each morning. It get’s a little easier to climb out of bed and face the world, if only for a few hours. We start to remember how we were before our world came tumbling down, before our lives were completely shaken.

After a while, the weeks become months, and we turn off our auto-pilot mode. We start to reach out to family and friends, the ones we cut off during that devastating time. We begin to genuinely smile and venture out of our cave that we kept ourselves in.

We begin to see that the sun still shines and that, while time seemed to be standing still the past few months, the world has kept on moving. We start to feel hopeful and optimistic about life, and we realize that we now have a chance to start brand new.

At some point, maybe months or even years, we find the walls around our heart starting to slowly come down. We feel the ice start to melt from our wounded soul, and we notice the pieces have magically been put back together. We find that our heartbreak was only temporary, and the pain we once felt so deeply has slowly faded.

In this process we learn to heal, we learn that not even the toughest heartaches can break us. We feel empowered, invincible and ready to take on the world. If we can get through this, nothing can stand in our way.

And then one day we meet someone new. We start to have feelings we weren’t sure we’d ever experience again. Those butterflies that were dead and gone have suddenly reappeared. After years of being dormant, our cheeks become flushed and our hearts begin to race.

We start the process of falling in love all over again, but this time is different. This time we know the signs to look for, we know what we deserve and what we will and will not tolerate. We know our worth and that our happiness is a priority. No more putting our needs on the back burner for someone else. This is our chance to get it right.

Throughout the process of exploring new love, we think about the heartache we encountered last time. We think about that person that once made us so happy yet broke us at the same time. We begin to feel things that we’d buried deep inside, things that we thought we were over.

We once again start to punish ourselves for having residual feelings, but the truth is those feelings are completely normal. When we truly love someone, a piece of them stays with us forever. At some point in our lives we’d put our hearts and souls into another. Love that deep never fully goes away.

Honestly, residual feelings can be a good thing. Through all the tears and hurt and devastation, we learned a lesson. We learned that we can fully love another. We learned our self worth and how resilient we truly are. We learned that we’re human and that even the strongest people break down.

This is all part of the process, even the lingering feelings. We must first grieve before we can ever even think of moving on, and even after moving on we can’t expect ourselves to act like it never happened. It did happen. The smiles, the tears, the happiness, the pain…it was all real.

As time goes by, the memories and pain fade into the distance. They become a mere blur of the past, and we learn to move forward in life. We learn to love again. We learn to forgive ourselves and others for the pain we’ve endured. We start to accept that those leftover feelings are okay, that we’re allowed to have them.

And in this moment of acceptance, we are truly freed from the pain and heartache of the past. Our residual feelings blend into our souls, and with our new love by our side we learn that this is the new us…the capable, loving, strong, deserving person we were always meant to be.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell đź’‹

 

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 💋

 

How My Pain Brought Me Closer To God.

“Many times when God isn’t changing your circumstances it’s because He’s mostly concerned with changing YOU within the circumstance. Your character, your inner strength, your integrity matter to Him because they are everlasting qualities. The wisdom, the strength and the maturity that grows within you are all things you’re going to need to sustain the calling God has on your life. Know that there is purpose in your pain.” – Brittney Moses

 

I’d like to think that I possess a lot of good qualities, but one of my biggest flaws is patience. I’m probably the least patient person you’ll ever meet thanks to my anxious mind and never ending search for perfection. While I completely love this amazing journey I get to call my life, I’m always looking for the next milestone to occur (a mindset I work to fix every day).

One of the many downfalls of having anxiety is that it always causes you to look to the future instead of enjoying the present. Anxiety tells us that we must plan for things to come and never focus on what’s right in front of us. As annoying as this is, it’s a really hard habit to break.

Something I’ve yearned for in life is to get married and start a family. As I look back on my life, I’m incredibly grateful that God didn’t allow that to happen with my previous relationships because I would’ve been completely miserable (I guess He does know what He’s doing after all). So many times I questioned Him and wanted to know when my turn would come.

After a few heartbreaks (especially the last one) I started to doubt God’s plan. I thought I’d finally found “the one,” but my heart was merely shattered yet again. My doubts started to turn into frustration, and before I knew it I began to resent God. All I could feel was pain and defeat.

After that breakup I began acting like a toddler, thinking that God owed me a happily ever after. I stopped reading my Bible, stopped attending church and quit praying. I felt like if God wasn’t going to give me my happy ending then He didn’t deserve my time or praise. Looking back now I see how ridiculous I was being, but in the moment my heart was shattered.

I tried the whole “I-can-do-it-on-my-own” thing for a few months, thinking that nothing would ever change and that I was doomed in the love department. I started to live life on auto pilot, merely going through the motions to get me to the next day. I figured that maybe I just wasn’t meant to find that immense love I’d always wanted so much.

During this time of rebellion, I was extremely conflicted. I’ve always felt like God has a big plan for my life, a plan that I can’t even fathom. While I wanted to believe that, even during this rough time, I wouldn’t allow myself to. I began to question if I had fabricated that feeling of a big purpose in my childhood, and needless to say I was seriously confused.

A few weeks went by after my Earth shattering breakup, and I decided I wanted to do something I’d never done before. I wanted to go out on a limb and surprise my own damn self but wondered what I could do.

One random night as I was sitting in bed, I opened my computer and started looking for nursing jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I’d always told myself I’d never move away from Wichita Falls because it was home, and I told myself I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own.

However, despite my doubts, I started searching the website. One of the first things I found was a listing for a hospital I’d wanted to work at my entire life. Although I felt completely under qualified, I decided to apply (what’s the worst that could happen, right?). At that point in my life, I was just throwing out a line to see if there was even a sliver of hope at happiness.

Long story short, a few days later I received a phone call to come in for an interview. My mind was blown! I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. A week later I was in Fort Worth, TX interviewing for my dream job, and I got hired on the spot! Two weeks later, I packed my bags and left behind the only home I’d ever known.

Once I got settled in Fort Worth, I began to reevaluate my prior suspicions. I felt like everything that happened in those few weeks were only made possible by God. Although I was still full of pain, I began to realize that I’d been blaming the wrong person. God has always and will always only want the best for me.

I used to tell myself all the time that it’s all part of God’s plan, but I don’t think I ever truly meant it. Words are only words until we give them significance. The icy shell I’d put around my heart started to melt, and I began to realize just how big of a fool I’d been. God had been with me all along, even while my back was turned to him.

Over the next year, the pain I’d been holding on to started to turn into gratitude. I was so thankful God had put me through all of those hard times because it pushed me to take the leap of faith that I would’ve never taken on my own. I was thankful that God hadn’t allowed things to work out with my ex because I never would’ve known true happiness.

As I look back on my journey of the past two years, I’m simply amazed at all of the personal, spiritual and emotional growth I’ve experienced. I thought I was a good person back then, but I never took the time to work on myself or to find my self worth. I’d been naive to the fact that God’s plan was bigger than staying in my hometown.

While I’ve made quite a bit of progress, I still have a lot of work to do. Now, each and every day I’m striving to be the best Nurse, Daughter, Friend, Sister, Human and Christian that I can be. Sometimes that means being uncomfortable and feeling pain. Sometimes it means enduring losses and going through things that I don’t quite understand.

I’ve learned that instead of getting angry about not understanding, it’s my job to trust that God has it under control. Instead of letting pain take over, I simply pray for patience and peace. Instead of being upset about not having a husband or family, I understand that it’s only because I haven’t met the right one yet.

I now have no doubt that God has a big plan for my life, and although I don’t know that plan quite yet I have full faith that it will be magnificent. They say that God’s plan is bigger than our imaginations can even fathom. So instead of trying to figure out what that plan may be, I’m sitting back and enjoying the journey…God’s got this under control.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Struggles. {Poem}

“No matter how much it hurts now, someday you will look back and realize your struggles changed your life for the better.” – Anonymous

 

I believe that everyone has a unique story and that some tales are darker than others. We all struggle with something, and we all handle those struggles in different ways. Sometimes we turn to people or things that we know aren’t good for us, but we don’t know how to cope otherwise.

This simple poem was one I wrote back in 2010 (©) after hearing so many stories of hardships and trials. So often we forget that no one is perfect, and even the most “perfect” people have their battles.

One thing I’ve learned with anxiety is that no one sees or handles it exactly the same. Each journey to understand and control it is unique. That’s why leaning on others and hearing their stories is crucial to us who face the anxiety battle.

I myself have struggle with many things, yet I’ve gotten through them all. Please remember to never give up hope because we are all facing demons. Learn to rely on those around you for support, even when you feel embarrassed or unworthy of love. Finding strength in others is how we survive our crazy, anxious lives.

 

 

No matter what you’ve been through
Or what you have endured
The pain, the lies, the hurt, the scars
The crazy and absurd
The breaking of your fragile heart
The crying of your tears
The cuts and self-inflictions
The addictions over years
The tearing of your family
The rumors spread by friends
The destructive bond to drugs
The attempts to make life end
The break-ups and the make-ups
The punches and the kicks
The hurtful words and arguments
The bruises, scratches, nicks
The sudden loss of loved ones
The Doctor’s painful news
Starting life all over
The alcohol and boos
The ending of a dream
The being all alone
The constant money struggle
Having nowhere to call home
It happens more than thought of
To more people than you know
If another door will open
Another door must close
And through all of your struggles
You’ll find your happy place
The place that you belong
That puts a smile on your face
Your true amazing grace.

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋