High Anxiety

This is something I wasn’t sure I would write about but I feel like putting my experience out there may help someone who reads this.

I have anxiety. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time but it got the worse it has ever been about two years ago. I remember everything that happened when I had my first big panic attack. The night before, I had some friends over, nothing was different than what we would normally do but something felt off. A few hours in I had an overwhelming sense of fear, I didn’t know what was causing it but it was so encompassing that I excused myself from my friends to lay in my bed and try to fall asleep. That night was restless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

The next morning I got up and tried to shake off what had happened the night before, but in the afternoon I was hit with the most terrifying feeling I had ever felt. I was shaking, my heart was racing, I felt like I couldn’t breath, and I couldn’t stop crying. I’m not usually a crier, I spent most of my life pushing down how I was feeling and just trucking along and in that moment, I couldn’t stop. I felt like I was having a heart attack, and I was home alone. I called my grandmother and she rushed right over to take me to the hospital. When we arrived I was immediately taken back for an EKG because I said my heart was racing, when it was complete the nurse looked at me and said, “You said you feel like your heart is racing? It’s normal, you’re okay.”

How could I be okay? I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest, I was so afraid of what was happening to me. I felt like someone had zoomed out on my life and I was watching an out of body experience, I felt so disconnected from my reality and I was terrified. My mom showed up at the hospital and a nurse sat to talk with us to get an idea of what was going on. I was still crying and told the nurse how I hadn’t been eating or drinking much over the past week, my body was just rejecting everything. I also hadn’t been sleeping much and I felt exhausted. She looked at my mom and asked, “Is it normal for her to cry like this?” and my mom replied “No, I’ve never seen her like this before”. I spent another few hours in the hospital, I spent most of the time sleeping and trying to pull myself back into reality and figure out what was going on. I was given fluids and medication for anxiety, the doctor suggested I speak with my primary care. I went home and was in a haze. I needed to take the next few days off of work in order to get myself feeling somewhat normal again. Then started months of trying different medications and doctor visits. With all of this happening I withdrew from classes for my masters and decided to try and focus on myself.

What happened to me was terrifying, I felt like I was pulled out of my life and put into some alternate reality and couldn’t escape. How did this happen? How did it get this bad? Why did it happen now? A lot of things happened in my life leading up to this, I graduated college, finished a huge research project that I was going to be presenting, friends got married and I was helping other friends plan their weddings, and I was starting grad school. It felt like everything was going well and then the rug was ripped out from under me. I still fight this battle everyday, I have days where I am great and I don’t feel a bit of my anxiety but those a few and far between. My heart fluttering, my mind feeling foggy, nausea, crying at random, and feeling like something is wrong, are all part of my normal. Anxiety also effects my sleep, lately I have struggled more with staying asleep, I wake up in a panic most nights, feeling like I am choking and can’t breathe. I eventually fall back asleep and get up for work in the morning and function like everyone else. When my anxiety gets out of control it starts to trigger my depression more and more which causes me to not want to do anything. I can barely pull myself out of bed, I don’t want to go anywhere or see anyone, I just feel like I am pushing through my life with no real purpose. These feelings are all so familiar to me, as they are to so many other people who struggle like I do.

When people ask about my anxiety I have found the easiest way for me to describe what I feel. Imagine you smell smoke, it’s a strong overwhelming smell that instantly lets you know there is a fire, but there is no fire. You tell people you smell smoke and they can’t smell it but you KNOW that you smell it. It’s terrifying, you feel like everything around you is going to burst into flames but there is not actually anything on fire. So you move on with your life, smelling smoke, and not seeing any fire.

When I say to my mom that I don’t want to disappoint anyone and she reassures me that I have already accomplished so much and I’m not a disappointment, I’m smelling smoke.

When I need to constantly reassure myself that my partner loves me and is not annoyed with me all the time or just comfortable and that is why we are still together even though they have given me no reason to feel that way, I’m smelling smoke.

When I don’t hear from someone for a few days and thoughts fill my mind with how much they must hate me and that I am just a bother when in reality we both just have busy lives, I’m smelling smoke.

I know it is my anxiety making me feel this way, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel it. Saying things like “well you shouldn’t feel that way” or “you know I don’t think that” doesn’t help. I know it comes from a caring place but your words of reassurance do not make my anxiety just go away.

I’ve found ways to cope, my art is the most helpful. Drawing and detailing my art helps me tune everything out and allows me to just focus my energy into something beautiful. Crying has been helpful too, its a physical release of all of the anxiety building up inside of me. Working out has been another large help for me, my heart races when I’m anxious and when I’m working out so in a way it justifies why my heart is racing. Being with certain people calms me down most of the time, my partner and my niece being the two that help me the most. All of these coping methods, and finding the right medication, have helped me get a better handle on my anxiety.

I get asked a lot what others can do to make me feel better. The one thing I can say is, ask. If you are close with someone with anxiety and they mention they are having a rough day, ask if there is any way to make them feel better or comfort them. That is one of the most comforting things to me, when me partner asks, “how can I help?”. It shows they care and want to do something to help me feel more calm.

I wrote a lot about what anxiety has done to me and how it makes my life more difficult, but I do my best to not let me be defined by my anxiety. I fight it a lot, when I go out to dinner or to a movie, or go places by myself, when I travel without my partner, when I speak up on my opinions (which happens a lot), all of these things can cause my anxiety to spike and I live with the realization that I could have a panic attack at any moment but I cannot just quit. I have to keep moving forward, I’m going back to school, I go where I want with whom I want, and I make an effort to always speak my opinion, even when it can lead to an argument, I do these things because I cannot live my life if I let my anxiety win.

I have discovered something else to help with my anxiety and help me calm down a bit and that is CBD gummies. I will write another post on this but I will say they have helped me relax when it comes to some of the physical symptoms of my anxiety.

I want to hear from others, how do you cope? What makes you feel better? What tips do you have for others struggling?

If you made it this far, thank you.

Until next time.

A Fork in the Road

Lately I have felt like I am at a fork in the road. A few months ago I had a definitive plan on what I would be doing with the next 5 years of my life and now I am not so sure. I’ve always had a love for the legal field, and have had a goal to get into politics since I was younger. So since September 2018 I have been planning for law school because it seemed like the best way to reach that long term goal of becoming a politician. I took a job in the legal field so I could gain experience, I studied tirelessly for the LSAT and took the exam, I wrote my personal statement, and gathered letters of recommendation. Now here I am, a month from the deadline for my application and I am unsure if attending law school is what I want.

Law school is a huge commitment, I’d be enrolled in classes for the next 4 years while continuing to work full time then I would have to prepare for and complete the BAR exam. Reflecting on this commitment I feel that 2 years ago I would have no reservations. I would have happily pushed through the next 4 years and not looked back. So what is different now?

I’ve taken a lot of time to think that question over and I’ve some to the realization that I do not need to take a traditional path to become a politician. In light of recent elections I feel there are other paths I can take to achieve this goal without putting myself into over $100,000 (yes, $100,000) in student debt and giving up the next 4 years of my life. My reasoning for going towards law school was that I wanted to use my education to help change the criminal justice system. Criminal justice reform is an important step towards mending some of the broken systems in our country and I thought becoming an attorney was the best way for me to help push the importance of these changes. Now I am just not sure if it is the right path for me. I have been considering other plans and paths that will still allow me to move forward in my career and make a difference in my community, as I think them over I am realizing that there is another reason I am so hesitant to start law school.

My life has seen a lot of changes in the past 2 years…

I graduated, I moved back home, my niece was born, I fell in love, I experienced loss, and I have started a new career path. All of this is making me realize the importance of cherishing the moment. Do I really want to give up the next 4 years of my life when I can earn a masters in a year and a half and move on?

I am realizing more each day that I want to start a family, I want to work on remodeling the house, I want to spend time with my family and friends, I want to enjoy celebrating the milestones of those around me. For so long I took advantage of the wonderful things happening around me, I didn’t take the time to really process the joy others around me were feeling and I went through life with blinders on. Now that I have realized that there is so much more to life than my education I don’t know if I want to put those blinders back on. I by no means want to settle where I am now, but I am unsure if the long term commitment of law school is really for me.

Everyone I have talked to in my life about this has been so supportive but I have a constant fear of disappointing those around me. The Capricorn in me is telling me that I can do it, I can juggle law school, remodeling a home, working full time, starting a family, and still enjoy my life. The feminist in me is screaming about how I shouldn’t have to decide between starting a family and going back to school.

The reality of it all is that I don’t want to put myself through all of the stress. I have an amazing support system that would help me in any way if I decided to take all of this on but they cannot do it for me. I have to put myself through school, I have to miss out on events if I have class or if I need to study, and if we decide to start a family within the next 4 years I am the one that needs to carry a child and give birth while trying to finish law school.

I’m still not sure what decision I will make, but I am lucky enough to have family, an amazing significant other, and friends that will support me no matter what decision I make. I just know that I want to use my education to help people and make a difference.

Until next time.

The Right Kind of Fat

This is something I think about often, how can I be the right kind of fat? When we think about the body positivity movement we think about beautiful plus size women wearing crop tops and high waisted shorts, living their best life, and not giving a fuck. How did this become the right kind of fat? Now, I find myself falling into this idea more often than not but it seems like this is another way to separate the body positive movement. The movement that all bodies are good bodies seems to be overshadowed by just another way to make us questions ourselves, “am I the right kind of fat?”.

I’m here to say that not every plus size person wants to wear revealing clothing in order to love themselves. I have been guilty of pushing this idea, my friends will say they do not feel comfortable in something and I say, “you look great in it” or “don’t worry about what people say”, and I forget to consider what they want and what makes them comfortable. Loving your body does not happen by just putting on certain clothing, it takes hard work to dismantle the hate that has been instilled in us our whole lives. The body positive movement I want to promote doesn’t stick to the thought that there is a right kind of fat. It promotes acceptance of all bodies, trans bodies, bodies of color, disabled bodies, hairy bodies, female bodies, male bodies, queer bodies, and every body in between. When we talk about body positivity we need to break the stereotype that in order to love ourselves we need to conform to what society views as acceptable.

So how do we do this, how do we promote body positivity for everyone? How do we show just as much support for those who feel this movement isn’t for them? The people who dress modestly or who lean towards the masculine end of the spectrum deserve to be lifted up and represented as well. So lets try something this weekend, tell a plus-sized babe in your life that they look nice, you like the way that shirt fits them or they are killing it in those pants. Let them know that you appreciate them and that they are beautiful. Loving yourself doesn’t mean that you need to show off your body for everyone to see, it means being comfortable and confident in your own skin.

Let me know how you practice self love. What makes you feel best when you wear it? What do you hope people notice about you when you go out? I’d love to hear what makes everyone feel like their best selves.

Until next time, babes.

“Do I look okay?”

I’ve considered writing a blog for a while but then I would think, “who care’s what another fat woman has to say about her life”. Lately I’ve been realizing that maybe more of us should tell our stories. We should take up space, say what we think, call out the micro-aggressions we hear daily, and take the time to discuss how we are learning to love ourselves. I’ve been so inspired lately to share my experiences and learn from others. Of course I want to write about self love and body positivity but mostly I want to write honestly.

It’s not easy to practice self-love and body positivity, especially when you’re often told how you would be “so much prettier if you’d lose some weight” and “you have such a pretty face, but…”. It’s heartbreaking when a common conversation topic is how how you are trying to lose weight, or that you are active just to see others roll their eyes at you and think “yeah, okay”, or when you are more conscientious about the food you eat in public or bring to the office because you don’t want to be judged or lectured for eating something that may not be healthy. We think about these encounters everyday and how they effect the way we see ourselves.

When I was younger I would always hide my body, I would wear tank tops under every shirt I wore because I didn’t want to risk my stomach showing at all. I would do anything to be accepted by others because I thought I had to makeup for being fat and I fell into this other persona that lead me down a dark path. I didn’t love myself, I wasn’t happy, and I didn’t feel loved by others. I thought that being the funny fat girl that never said no would help me love myself more, and be accepted by others, but it just pushed me further into the self loathing I had already known too well. It wasn’t until I started to care more about how I felt, as opposed to how others saw me that I started to really learn who I was.

Now, if you know me, you know I am no stranger to a crop top and I will where a bikini anywhere (I don’t even own bathing suits besides them). I try my hardest to preach body positivity to those around me but I am by no means the epitome of self love. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am now and I still struggle often. I have days where I try on 6 different shirts before I leave the house, because they all make me “look fat”, then I have to remind myself, I am fat. No matter what I wear I will still be fat, and the people that see me everyday know I am fat. So why do I feel like I need to hide who I am? Why is it so important that I wear something that makes me look thinner or more curvy or fat in the right places?

Think of that when you are getting ready, when you try clothes on, or buy clothes online (because we know how hard it is to find cute plus-size clothes in stores, but that’s for another post), why do we put so much weight on what strangers think of us? Why do we ask so often, “Do I look okay?”

Wear what makes you comfortable.

Eat what makes you happy.

Do the things you love to do, and don’t let your fear of what others will think hold you back.

I have a lot of ideas for this blog, but I mostly want to start a discussion. I want to learn from other people like me, I want to hear your experiences and what you do to practice self love. Leave a comment, message me, share with your friends and lets keep this conversation going.