As a woman in today's society, we are taught that you have look a certain way or be a type of person in order to fit in or to be accepted. Nowadays, we teach those who are younger that everybody is made in a unique and special way and that they fit in no matter who they are and how they look. This is how the issue of self-esteem comes into play in our lives. By definition, self-esteem is: A confidence and satisfaction in oneself; confidence in one's worth. I understand the satisfaction part, but I truly think that the dictionary is wrong when it comes to the confidence in one's worth.
I grew up exactly like the ugly duckling story, but so has about 85% of teenager girls. My high school story was nothing out of the ordinary. Yes, I had friends and people talked to me, but I was never confident in myself. I had low self-esteem; or at least that is what I thought. It wasn't until later on when I realized that I had suffered with anxiety my whole life, but never saw the signs. It wasn't until I started talking with my therapist that my past years weren't an issue of self-esteem, but of self-worth.
I consider myself a decent-looking person (after I have my coffee in the morning) and I know I am surprisingly fit. I have a natural talent of being athletic and I can be funny sometimes. This doesn't sound like a person who has low self-esteem, right? Correct. I can say that my self-esteem is pretty high. This is where I have a problem with the definition; although My self-esteem isn't a problem. I can walk around in daylight without any make-up, hair a mess and in an outfit where I really don't match. I KNOW have a high self-esteem, it's my self-worth that is close to none.
Self-worth has the characteristics of self-esteem but with one more added bonus, how you value yourself. I can be perfectly content with looking like a hot mess, but that doesn't affect my value as a person. Many people get these two meanings confused and put them in the same category because some people consider their self-worth ties to their self-esteem, but it does not mean the same thing.
When you don't consider yourself good enough for people, that is when your worth is depreciated. When you don't feel accepted as who you are, that is when your significance as a human being is questioned. Not knowing if you belong because of how little you think of yourself is the battle of self-worth.
Insecurities don't have a physical look. My insecurities lie deep within my outer shell of an athletic body and a well kept look. When I don't feel good inside is when I become uncertain about myself. Doubts about who I am as a person become real and affect my everyday life, but it has nothing to do with the way I look or how I carry myself.
I can truthfully say that the friends I have now will be the friends I stick with for the rest of my life. They are truly amazing and without a doubt, the most caring group I have ever met. My effort of friendship that I give them is the same that they give to me and they truly value me as a part of their inner circle. So why does it feel like I am not a part of that even though they have constantly proved to me over and over that I am? Why, out of ALL the people on this earth, did they choose to spend their days with me? What have I given them that they would allow me into their lives? There is a list of reasons why I am of value and worth to them, and I KNOW in my mind that those reasons are true, but why don't I believe in their responses?
Anxiety. The non-stop train to the bottom of the canyon, anxiety. The numerous pages of a never-ending story, anxiety. The broken faucet that no matter how many times you fix it, that drip continues, anxiety. I don't think there is a single solid definition of how anxiety attacks my life, but it has affected the area where my value is torn.
Self-esteem defines what I am, but self-worth describes the who I am. I can make you a list of the "what-I-ams" easily, but if someone were to ask me who I was, I don't think I would be able to answer that.
Knowing that I am loved and feeling that I am loved are two completely separate entities. I KNOW my family loves me. I KNOW my friends love me. I ABSOLUTELY KNOW God loves me, but it so hard to feel this love sometimes. My prayer is that I can constantly tell myself that I am worth the value that God has given me. It is such a work in progress because I have to believe it first and with belief comes feeling. Why don't I feel it yet?
John Mayer states it exactly how we can understand it: "But if I take my heart's advice, I should assume it's still unsteady. I am in repair." This is a work in progress, as my other anxiety obstacles. I do need help for this and it is not a battle easily won. Persuading your heart to feel what your mind is telling you is one of the hardest struggles I've had in my life. Yes, medication is helping, but it is not meant for healing. Only I can heal myself with the help of God by my side.
"The spirit bypasses the need for understanding through the brain and understands through the heart." Holy Spirit I need you now.
It seems like every time I take 1 step forward in my progress with anxiety, life seems to drop kick me so far back, all of the progress never mattered.
I knew going into 2017 it would be a rough one, but I had no idea how scary it really is so far. We are only in March and there have been issues that if I didn't have therapy, I would most likely have been dangerously unhealthy and worn out in every way manageable. As I am writing this, I can feel my anxiety picking up a bit (Bianca, where are your feet?). It seems like every time I make progress to overcoming my anxiety, another part of life sneaks up from behind and drags me backwards.
Skip to September...
I had a tough time trying to figure out how to write this post; all my words kept stepping over each other and wouldn't allow them to form sentences. What are the chances that I open this post right as another one step forward, two steps back event appeared in my life yet once again. I keep asking myself what I did to deserve the feeling of accomplishment only to have someone punch me in the gut and feel the same way I did before, usually even worse. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but I just wish that there was a map to show me what is coming up ahead so I can prepare.
But that's not life; that is not what God wanted us to know. I do believe that God wants us to struggle (and not in a horrific way where he's punishing us) and he wants us to work to climb out of this hole. As I type these words out, I still fight with the fact that God puts us 2 steps back because he doesn't think were strong enough yet to go forward; He is protecting us. I know God doesn't put us through anything we can't achieve, so why would he push us through the storm if we are not ready for the end of it? many people have been stuck in a storm for years, and that is because God knows that they need to prepare themselves and work to get out of it. God will be there the whole way, but it is up to us to push ourselves through. Whenever God sees us going forward in a direction that we may think is right but really isn't, He will push us back and re-route us. He is doing it for our own good. The problem we have is that we are so focused on the step forward, when we take a step back we only get angry because we thought we were going the right way. Instead of focusing on the progress you came from, focus on getting back up again and going in the direction God wants you to go.
This is a tough lesson to understand and is a lesson I currently am working on and until the lesson is learned,
It took some more counseling sessions and a talk with my pastor to really understand what it meant to have an identity, especially to have an identity in Christ. I understand it, but I am still struggling on how to apply it to my life and myself. What I understood was this: God made you. Simple enough. He made you exactly how you are. You may not be perfect, but to God you are because you are his creation. God made me suffer from anxiety. Did he do it to punish me? Absolutely not. He did it because He loves me and knew that whatever trials He gives me, I can overcome them. I am not mad at him for making this way, if anything I love him even more for putting me through something that will make me stronger in the end. Does it suck? ABSOLUTELY. There are times where I don't know when this storm will pass or if it will ever pass. There are days where I don't want to leave the house because an irrational fear that makes my heart beat extremely fast and causes my mind to race at a million thoughts per second. There are days where feelings and caring for people become a burden and I no longer want to feel anything at all. We are all human. We feel, we fear, we fail. But God is so loving that he sees through your fears and failures and uses those times to help you heal and grow. He made me the way I am so I could use that to share my story, to learn from my anxiety, to be a better Christ follower and to be a light to others. He allowed me to have anxiety to help me find who I am.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him - John 9:2-3
Don't think that I am writing all of this because I am totally healed and want to share how you can overcome this and you will be cured! I still suffer with anxiety, although I have found ways to accommodate with it, I will always carry it around with me. I am not cured in any way. As I am typing this it is hard for me because I am trying to tell myself that it will be okay, and I know it will be, but my anxiety likes to decide for my body not to believe that. I know God made me this way for a reason and I know he has a plan for me. Not sure what, not sure when, and definitely not sure how, but I can't wait around for him to tap me on my shoulder and let me know what the deal is. I need to keep living my life, with the roller coasters of anxiety and learn to give it all to Him because he ultimately controls everything and he made me who I am.
You're probably wondering whether or not I figured out the answer to who I was. Not going to lie, I wouldn't be able to give you a straight answer. I would love to figure out that exact definition, but I am unclear of it right now. I know I am taking the right path to figure it out, but I have a way to go to really define myself.
My life is a constant battle. My anxiety is something I am still fighting every time I get out of bed. I don't write these posts about what happened in the past and how I overcame anxiety, I write them here in the moment. Here still fighting. If you are looking for a clear answer on how to survive the struggles of anxiety, I cannot help you out. I can share my life though. I can be with you and empathize with you. I can understand you to the best of my ability. I can cheer for you and ride this storm with you. I can love you and tell you that maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday... you will be okay.
As I re-read the post I wrote exactly one year ago today, I realized one thing: everything that I braced myself for happened. I wrote about it in a very broad way, but the issues with my anxiety, with losing and making new friendships and knowing that 2016 was going to kick me in the butt all came true.
As cliche as it sounds, 2016 was a struggle. Don't get me wrong, there were many joyus moments throughout these last 12 months, but I learned and grew alot to only come to realize that I have so much more growing to do. I have decided to take you on a journey of some of the most important parts of this past year.
I could tell that my friends were feeling their moods completely shift from "She is just going through something for a bit." to "oh no, something is really wrong." based on how I was acting (or not acting) around them. Even though I was seeing a therapist about my issues, I still didnt understand what I was going through. The tough part about that was I didn't know how to vocalize how I was feeling and what I needed from my friends. It is something I still struggle with to this day. I pushed them away because I didn't understand myself and I felt like such a burden on my friends. I wasn't allowing them in not because I didn't want too, but because I didn't know how.
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
As great as my birthday was, it was merely a weekend escape from the true matter at hand; My anxiety. I never thought how trapped I really was until July came. My anxiety completely took over my entire body, took over to the point where I went through a state of depression. I would wake up and feel so numb. My days seemed to all clump together and I didn't want to do anything or see anybody. I completely isolated myself from my friends and family. For some reason I felt like I was trapped in a bubble and couldn't escape no matter how hard I tried. I would have random panic attacks where I would cry uncontrollably for hours, I lost my appetite which caused me to lose a serious amount of weight to the point where I would pass out. Something physically was clearly wrong and my therapist told me to get my blood levels checked and to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. When I got my blood results back, I found out that I had this rare genetic disease called Gilbert's Syndrome. Don't ask me what it is because even my doctor was unsure on how to describe it. This disorder was causing me to feel extremely fatigued, stressed and all the other fun things that come with anxiety. Basically, the chemicals in my body weren't what they should be. I knew that I needed something else to balance all my physical reactions to my anxiety.
The Process of Medication
And that leads me to here. Right now, writing this post. Like all of my previous writings, I am nowhere near cured of this anxiety issue, nor may I ever be cured. I have learned and grown so much in 2016, but it is not over. I am excited for what is to come in 2017 just as much as I am scared. My anxiety has played such a huge role in 2016 and I have now gained the knowledge to apply myself and become who I really am.
2016 was rough, and I don't except 2017 to get any easier... I just know that I can handle it better.
God give me strength because 2017, I am coming for you.
The sun has probably gone down and you're laying in bed trying to shut your eyes tight and forcing yourself to go to sleep, but your mind is racing at a million miles per second. Your muscles tense up and can't feel anything, yet somehow seem to feel everything. All the tension is then released and it feels like your body just ran 15 laps non-stop.
You probably didn't have much to eat all day because your appetite just all of a sudden disappeared. Even the thought of eating makes you extremely nauseous. It's not like your friends will notice if you skip a meal or two. Soon two skipped meals turns into 4 which turns into 8 which turns into days with just enough to keep you barely standing during the day.
You are CONSTANTLY afraid. Fear is your middle name. Too scared to leave the house, too nervous to drive a car, too frightened to be involved with everyday life. This irrational fear has taken a hold of your mind and doesn't seem to put your thoughts in order correctly. All your "what-ifs" come into play and everything turns for the worst in your head. It causes you not to do anything. It causes you not to be.
You don't know how to explain what is wrong, even to your closest of friends. You want them to help but you can't seem to figure out how they can do so. You decide push them away because just the idea of somebody thinking something is wrong with you causes your anxiety levels to raise. You suddenly feel self-conscious about everything. You feel like you're not valuable enough to them, as if they will get bored or tired dealing with your issues. you're screaming for help on the inside, but nothing except "I'm fine" comes out of your mouth. Why? Why is it so hard to surrender?
You wonder what it is that makes you feel this way; your not so perfect family, your not so simple heartbreak, or your not so ordinary failures. You don't know how to react, you don't know when to react. You feel too much. Enough to make you so tired and drained that you eventually don't feel anything at all. Enough to make you feel numb.
You start to think as yourself as crazy. Crazy enough to think you're not worth anybody's time, anyones love, anything at all.
But you're not.
It's okay to not be okay.
As hard as it is to believe that you are, you're not. As you are reading this you are probably agreeing with how sane you know you actually are, but your feelings are telling you something COMPLETELY different. Your constant battle with your head versus your heart is back in full swing. It's okay. Keep trying, keep working, keep striving towards becoming better.
But, don't let it define you. Don't allow yourself to believe that you have anxiety. It comes. It goes. You come. You go. You live. You move on.
On March 8th I had reconstructive surgery on my eardrum due to a jet ski accident last year. It has been a rough 9 months, but I can say that I am working to be in a better place now. My eardrum is fully healed and I have not only my doctors to thank for that, but God and the friends He put in my life to help me through this season.
We all carry burdens. God knew we couldn't take on this world alone. He required us to rely on Him and I wholeheartldly know he put friendships and relationships in our lives to help us with our daily struggles.
Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings. -Galatians 6:2
Before, during and after my surgery, I had an AMAZING support system from my friends. Loving text messages, intentional prayers, and all the chocolate I could think of. (Milky Way Midnights are my favorite) I was extremely grateful for people who actually cared about me enough to go out of their way to see how I was doing. Effort is such a simple word that we sometimes don't really focus on the meaning behind it. The definition of effort means a vigorous or determined attempt. A determined attempt. I always tell my lacrosse girls "If you walk off that field and you gave 100% effort, I don't care if you win or lose, It's a win in my book." I thank God for my friends and the effort they make to show how much I mean to them, yet I still can't wrap my head around the weight of how much my friendship means to them.
Not only are my friends caring and thoughtful people, they are also talented. a couple of my talented friends are in this band; The Anchor Collective and they wrote a song called "Keepers". Probably my favorite song of theirs, not because of how amazing the song is, but more to the deeper meaning to the lyrics.
"We are knit together, we will fight each other's demons..."
"We're all for us all, We're each other's keepers."
Basically this song stems around a quote that one of the band members, Adrian Gibbs saw: "Then when God asks [Cain], 'Where is your brother Abel?' he arrogantly responds, 'I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?' In essence, the entire Bible is written as an affirmative response to this question."
We are meant to be each others keepers. We are meant to help carry each others load. We are to do all of this because we need God and he gave us these people in our lives to walk with us so we don't have to do it alone. To remind us that He is here for us.
I have struggled with so much this past year, and only by the grace of God I have been pushing through this storm. I haven't been pushing through alone though. There are a few people who have really made an impact in my life and have truly saved me from drowning. Some of them are still around and are helping me, while some, (a significant smaller amount) have helped when I needed it, left, and moved on. Even though broken friendships hurt, there is enough love covering me by all the other friendships to outweigh the brokenness.
So this is a thank you. Thank you to all my friends who have been there for me. These words cannot even begin to come close to how grateful I am for you. You may not read this but I love you. Each and every one of you.
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
This blog wasn't intended for me to pour my heart out looking for someone to read it. There's just something that feels good about gathering your thoughts and feelings and putting it on a tangible surface. Although a pen and paper is my choice of weapon, my handwriting is quite subpar. So yes, I do write out my thoughts and I do allow myself to share it with people, but I do not expect to receive feedback from anybody else other than myself. If you do happen to be reading this, then welcome to my life. Feel free to share with me. I do not mind your company at all. In fact, I love your company. Thank you. And if no one is reading this, then I am having a very awkward conversation with myself (which is still okay).
As cliché as some Bible verses may sound, God has placed those words in The Bible for a reason. They are meant to be read over and over again. They are meant to be quoted in our everyday lives. They aren't meant to become dull and meaningless. The Bible is what God uses to communicate to us. I love when I read a book for the second or third time and even though the words never change, I seem to find things that I missed the first time. It makes reading the book again more interesting. That is how The Bible should be to us. Although there are different versions, God intended His words to never change and we always learn something new each time we read it.
One verse that I have been trying to keep constant in my life right now is Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." DO NOT WORRY. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. A person like me worries. A lot. My understanding of this verse is to not worry and to let God take your worries for you, but my feelings say otherwise. This is something that I have been currently working on. Prayers, reading The Bible and doing devotionals have put me at a place of peace. There are some times during the day where my worry comes back and it turns into anxiety. That is why I need to different tools (like the ones stated before or others) to help me achieve a level of worrying in which I can control.
It has also put life in perspective for me. Why worry about tomorrow? It hasn't happened yet. What is being anxious about things of the past going to do? It has already happened. You can reminisce on it, but move on. I say these words, but they are words that I am still working on. Worry and anxiety are words that I understand, but it is now matching how I feel with what I already understand to get over those words and be able to focus on the NOW.
So here is my challenge for you: "__________, where are your feet?" Where are they right now? I encourage to use that tool if you are ever in a state of worry. Ask yourself that question and perhaps pray for peace and for God to take that worry of yours and carry it for you. I can tell you He is more than happy to do so.
Until next time,
So not saying that my New Years resolution is to write more posts, but I really want to be intentional about doing so. I am going to try to find time to read and write more. As much as I LOVE Netflix, I think it is time to stop watching re-runs of The Office and Parks and Recreation. In my first post I made it a point that I was going to be more intentional about life; about what decisions I make, who I talk to, how I live my life. I also want to be intentional about sharing all of that. I have come to the conclusion I am not going to sugar-coat anything. You see, (most, not all) blogs post about all things good in peoples lives; about how amazing their trip was or their stories about exciting events. I plan on posting a bunch of those, but I also want to write about how sucky life can be sometimes. I thank The Lord above for my life and I do thank him for my struggles because they do make me a stronger person, but life sucks sometimes.
I know this isn't really a "New Year, New Me" type of post. I don't want to kick off the new year saying that I am going to be happy and become a better version of myself. I want to say that I am going to struggle with a lot this year. I am bracing myself for changes in friendships, relationships (or lack of), and family issues. I am clenching tight for the punch that 2016 is going to give me. I am desperately taking 1 Peter 5:7 to heart this year because it is something that I really need to remember. "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." Now I don't want to diagnose myself but I this past year has been filled with anxiety. I have been mentally, emotionally, physically and sometimes spiritually drained from so many issues and struggles that I went through. It affected the way I ate, it kept me up at night, it changed my behavior towards friends and family. I would be happy and excited one minute and then out of the blue I just wanted to sit in a corner by myself with a blanket because the entire room was closing in on me and I didn't know why. I pray every day for my anxiety to be a thing of the past. New Years Eve proved me wrong.
If you were to ask me if I would ever run into someone I knew from back home while being 2,000 miles away I would tell you not in this lifetime. I was so very wrong, but extremely happy I was.
This is Sydney. Harry Potter enthusiast, dog lover and by far, the clumsiest person I have ever known besides myself. We have been best friends for 9 years and I could go on about her forever, but for the sake of this blog I will stop there. Sydney recently got promoted at her job to Director of Social Media at Chewy.com; an online pet store. She is in charge of all of their social media as well as their blogs. She gets flown all over America to go to pet conventions and shows. On July 20th, 2015 Sydney flew out to a pet convention in... (get this) to Las Vegas, Nevada! What are the odds my best friend and I would be across the states at the same place at the same time. She was even staying at the hotel right next to mine. Of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend time with her. Day 2 was dedicated to Sydney.
On July 19th I embarked on a 10-day road trip with my family to Las Vegas, Arizona and New Mexico. This was the first trip we have gone on as a family together since perhaps I was in middle school. It was a much needed trip. I decided to take these ten days to reflect on issues going on in my life as well as brush up on my photography skills. Each day was completely different that the next and thus, our #DiazAdventures begin...
"Come Fly With Me"
Once we arrived in Vegas, we set our bags down and began to explore. We started off by going to a cute coffee place called Sambalatte. Lately I have hopped on the craft coffee train (which I am totally okay with admitting) and I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone and actually try new things. This was the first of many brews that I tried. after coffee we decided to all of the most tourists things in Vegas; walk the strip and take photos every 25 seconds. I will be the first one to admit that I LOATHE tourists, but I decided to try it out (especially with our incredibly awesome camera).
Later that night we went to see Michael Jackson ONE: CirqueDuSoleil. Hands down one of the best performances I have ever seen. If you ever go to Vegas, I highly recommend you go see that show.
Day 1 was extremely eventful and definitely one that I will remember. One thing for sure is that I did not get the amount of sleep I desperately needed in order to do so much in such a little amount of time. Thank you coffee.