Self-Care Series pt. 1: The Importance Of Rest

Rest is important.

Boom, bang, done. If there’s anything I want you to glean from this post, it is the importance of rest and taking the time you need to re-energize and re-fuel yourself.

For someone who is a rest advocate, I will confess I am not great at prioritizing time to rest myself. It is easy for my calendar to fill up quickly, to find myself running from here to there, and to realize I’m drained after it’s too late.

Take it from me — don’t be like me! Carve out time to rest. Whether it’s physically sleeping, or just sitting in silence, your body needs to rest.

Some ways I rest include:

  • Power naps (20 minutes or less, or else I feel groggy)
  • Putting away social media for a dedicated period of time
  • Cuddling with my pup Jack on the couch while listening to music

Maybe some of these resonate with you, maybe some of them don’t. I would encourage you to find what works best for you, find what makes you feel rested and what helps you reset mentally, physically, and emotionally.

It is easy for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of life — to get sucked into obligations and commitments and occasions. But let’s remember that in order to help and serve others, we also have to help and serve ourselves. And part of helping and serving ourselves includes giving our bodies the time they need and crave.

Let’s do it! Let’s do nothing. Let’s rest.

Healing: The Journey, Not The Final Destination

Healing is a process.

If there is anything bipolar has taught me, it is that healing is a process and a journey. There is no specific destination, no specific time and date that we are fully healed–not in my experience, at least.

When I look back five years ago to my diagnosis, I was devastated and confused and hurt. I did not understand what was happening and I faced severe depression and anxiety.

When I look back at the past couple of years, I feel encouraged and excited and whole. These years have been full of bliss and peace, they have been practically depression-free.

But I would not consider myself fully healed.

Even though I have come a long way from 2016, I still experience down days and anxious moments. I still feel over-exhausted and run myself thin. I still have to regularly assess my needs and habits and adjust them as needed.

My gut response is frustration and confusion, “Why don’t I ultimately and forever feel better? When will I be fully healed?” But when I think about my mental health journey, I realize it’s been just that: a journey. And with journeys, although sometimes there are final destinations, many times they are just an ongoing process of learning and discovering.

Honestly, I don’t want it any other way.

This journey mindset reminds me to learn and discover and work toward healing. It gives me hope and joy and pushes me forward. If there was a final destination, I would be wondering why I haven’t arrived by now. I’d be wondering when my emotional and mental fulfillment would finally come.

So if you have been hurting or lost or upset for a while now, if you feel like you’re running thing or scrambling for hope, I would like to offer you this bit of wisdom: healing is a process, a journey. You are doing a great job as you chug along and do your best. I’m proud of you and I’m rooting you on!

Come Together: On Celebration & Mourning

There is a lot happening right now, lots of emotions swirling around.

Some people are anxious and terrified of coronavirus. Some people are angry and infuriated by systemic racism in our country. Some people are sad, some people are mad, some people are feeling both, some people are feeling neither.

Responding to both the pandemic and heightened racism is a lot for me to process.

I feel anxious and overwhelmed regarding the pandemic. I feel a righteous anger and undeniably upset about white supremacy.

I believe there is a divine mingling between joy and sorrow.

Growing up, I used to think I had to be happy all of the time. I used to think sadness, anger, anxiety, etc. were bad emotions. But through plenty of therapy and many life lessons, I have come to appreciate my feelings–all of them and for all reasons and seasons.

Maybe it is because of my mood disorder, or maybe it’s just because I am a human, but sometimes in the sweetest of moments I cannot neglect a feeling of sadness and melancholy, too.

For example, leaving my adult job and starting a position at the climbing gym was perhaps the most bold and bittersweet decision I have made to date. I was excited to try something new, to pursue a passion, to leave a toxic situation. But at the same time, I was sad to leave familiarity, to close a chapter, to end an era.

These days, I think there almost has to be some bitterness simultaneously mixed in with sweetness. We cannot fully appreciate the highest of highs without experiencing the lowest of lows. We cannot feel pure delight without knowing utter sorrow.

Will you celebrate and mourn with me?

Advent is a season of hope and expectation: hoping and expecting a Savior to be born, hoping and expecting a King. But it is also a time of longing and craving: longing and craving our Savior to return; longing and craving peace on earth as it is in heaven.

The holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration, but also a time we miss a loved one’s face at the dinner table or around the Christmas tree.

I hope you feel delight in this season, I hope you feel peace and excitement. But if you do not, or if you do not entirely, I hope you know it’s ok to feel sadness, too. It’s ok to feel anxious and to struggle.

Let’s come together. Let’s build each other up, not break each other down. Let’s mend our hearts, heal our pains, and celebrate and mourn together.

Four Years Of Bipolar: On Hope + Expectation

Commissary

I was diagnosed with bipolar four years ago.

Four years!! That is four years of all sorts of mood swings, all sorts of both valley and mountaintop moments. That is four years of on-and-off depression and mostly-off manic moments (phew!).

My mental health journey has certainly been that: a journey.

Years and years ago, a mentor of mine Claire told me that my life is like a tapestry, this wonderful, brilliant, beautiful grandeur of a thing. She said that the hardest moments, the moments of doubt and weakness and trial, will only be a blip, a small stitching within an incredible, grandiose piece of artwork.

And she was right.

When I was first diagnosed, I thought my life was over.

I was afraid I would struggle with severe, debilitating depression the rest of my life. I was afraid of losing friendships and loved ones because they would not understand, they would not be able to empathize with my darkest lows.

I was afraid I would have to give up on my dreams, that the reality of bipolar would just keep me in the pits. I was afraid I would never fall in love, because who could love someone who was so unstable?

My fears were unfounded.

Yes, I have struggled with depression on and off and on again, but the past couple years have been surprisingly and wonderfully magnificent, practically depression-free. Most of my friendships have only strengthened as dear ones have stepped into my sadness with me, coming alongside me in the valley.

I have pursued my dreams harder and fiercer than I ever did before: chasing after this law school goal, taking the LSAT, actually following through with applications. I even fell for a guy who in turn fell for me for most of 2019. It was the most delightful surprise, and though we moved on, I am still abundantly thankful for what it was when it was.

I guess one of the biggest takeaways is this: goodness always lies ahead.

I have a lot of hope and expectation for the future. I have a lot of eagerness and readiness for what is to come. I know Jesus Man is good to me even during the darkest times, and I know His Father will surprise me with the best of things time and time again.

I know there are plot twists and turns and trials coming, too. I know the valleys loom ahead even though I don’t want them to — no one wants them to, after all. I know there will be moments of doubt and fear and weakness and mourning.

But there will also be times of joy and gladness and radiance. There will also be times of gratefulness and a heart that is overwhelmed with love and grace and utter peace. There will also be delight in its purest form as I give thanks to God Above as I am wrapped up in His merciful kindness.

So my friends, be encouraged.

Be encouraged that no matter what trials and tribulations you face, they are but a small blip in the grand tapestry that is your life. It may not feel like it now, but this too shall pass.

Be encouraged that you are not alone in your hardships or suffering, but instead remember you have a village of friends and loved ones who care for you, ones who will gladly come alongside you in the valley.

And lastly, be encouraged that good times and a hopeful future do lie ahead, no matter what your life may look like now: up, down, or in-between.

Hand It Over: On Giving Daily Anxiety To Jesus

We have a lot to be anxious about these days.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected each individual in different ways: people are losing their jobs, losing their health, losing their feeling of security. People are worried and they have good reason, because this is a very serious situation that has taken over our world and disrupted our livelihoods.

When I talk to my friends about the situation, a word that is commonly used to describe how we feel is “anxious.”

We say things like:

  • “I’m anxious about getting coronavirus or unknowingly giving it to someone I love.”
  • “I am anxious about going to the grocery store.”
  • “I am anxious about losing my job.”

I don’t know about you, but this whole situation has left me feeling afraid, nervous, weary, insecure, lost, unsettled. In many ways I have felt shocked, in other ways I have felt numb.

The other day I stumbled upon a sweet reminder.

1 Peter 5:7 says this:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Let’s hand our worries over to Jesus.

Jesus can take them, he can handle them, he loves to love us and he loves to take on our burdens. He cares for us deeply and radically and unconditionally, and he can uphold any anxiety we may struggle with or feel.

It is through his grace and mercy that we can find a radical peace and rest for our anxious, unsettled hearts. It is through his grace and mercy that we can approach him on our knees crying out for a sense of comfort and security during these uncertain times.

These truths calm me.

The truth of God’s love and goodness and ever-kindness calm me. The truth of His loyalty to His children, His pursuit of their hearts, His gentleness to them make me feel less overwhelmed and more at ease.

We can rest on these character traits of The Lord, the promises He makes, the sovereignty of His kingdom. We can rest on His love, His goodness, His faithfulness. It is time to hand our burdens over to Him, for He cares for us.

The Monthly Update: April

Well friends, another month has come and gone.

It is hard to believe May is upon us! Quarantine days seem to blend together, making the weeks feel slow and foggy. The entire month of social distancing was long and hard, but also good for me–or at least I’d like to think so.

Let’s hop into this month’s recap!

April highlights:

  • I started fostering a dog, Jack, and he is the cutest little thing. Being a dog mama has brought me so much joy. And the daily snuggles and walks are giving me life!
  • As of just a few days ago, I have officially heard back from all of the law schools I applied to. Now it’s time to make some decisions!

April lowlights:

  • Unfortunately I didn’t get answers that I’d like from all of the schools I applied to, but I am just trying to be thankful for what I have and the yeses I did receive.

This month, I was filled by:

  • Video calling my friends and family has kept me sane and filled my heart. Even though I can’t see them in person, it is nice to connect with them virtually.
  • Similarly, I was able to have a video call with my therapist, Chelsey. The conversation was helpful as we tried to process law school and future decisions.

This month, I was emptied by:

  • Living in quarantine has been hard for me, as I am sure it has been for all of us. Even though I’d like to think my mental and physical health is going well, this experience has still been heavy on my heart.

In May, I am looking forward to:

  • Life going back to some sense of normalcy. I feel encouraged as businesses and restaurants start to open up again, although a bit anxious as well. I am hoping the gym will open up soon, as I miss climbing and my workout buddies!

Be Kind To Yourself: On Practicing Self-Care In Quarantine

My world is upside-down at the moment.

And I bet yours is, too.

Due to the coronavirus situation, both of my jobs are on pause and I am holed up in my studio apartment alone. I have had some extra time on my hands, which has been nice but also strangely intimidating.

During this whole social distancing experience, I have made it a priority to be extra aware of my mental health and to practice self-care accordingly. Sometimes alone time can lead me to feeling isolated and down, so it is particularly important for me to check in with my thoughts and feelings, and to practice a little self-love.

Self-care for me during quarantine has looked like:

  • Sleeping in— something I rarely got to do during my regular routine, it has been nice sleeping into the morning and laying around in bed before I’m up and at ’em.
  • Going on walks— now that the sun is out, it has been so good for my soul to let Vitamin D sink into my skin and bones on walks around my neighborhood.
  • Calling Sweet Denise— mothers know best, right? Extra down time has meant extra time to talk to my sweet mama and check in with her, and let her check in with me.
  • Heck, calling everybody else— in the past couple weeks, I have caught up with old roommates, friends who have moved away, friends I rarely see even though we both live in Dallas, and it has been so life-giving to emotionally connect even during physical isolation.
  • Spending time alone with God— my quiet times pre-quarantine were looking few and far between, but social distancing has freed up more time and space and energy to reconnect with my Heavenly Father.
  • Working out— even though I can’t climb right now, I have been participating in live stream workouts like core, yoga, and bodyweight classes. It has been good to get my heart beating and blood pumping.

I asked my friends on Instagram what their self-care routine has looked like. Some of them are taking baths, reading books, napping, meditating, and doing yoga, among other things. It has been encouraging to see that others are trying to care for themselves during these strange times.

Here’s some guidance I have for you: think about your needs, write them down if it helps, and take steps to meet those needs.

Maybe you need verbal encouragement, then reach out to a loved one. Maybe you need rest, then carve out extra time to sleep in. Maybe you need physical activity, then find a workout online. Maybe you need spiritual uplifting, then reach out to your church friends.

At the end of the day, we are all living in unprecedented times that challenge us for varying reasons. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to get by. So my final encouragement for you is this:

Be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home.

 

We Will Not Be Changed: On Constancy + Coronavirus

Four years ago, life was easy in Nashville.

I had just graduated with my PR degree and I was working at an adoption-focused nonprofit. As a young 20-something adoptee who always dreamt of leaving my home state of Texas, I was living the dream.

I was going to a job I loved, working with people I loved, living in a city I loved. Everything was new and thrilling and adventurous and I felt like I had the whole world in my hands.

But then my world was rocked.

I went a week hardly eating and barely sleeping. My thoughts became disjointed and irrational. My mood became unpredictable and unstable. And I wound up back in Texas with a bipolar disorder diagnosis.

And (almost) everything changed.

Life was easy last week.

I was going to two jobs I loved–nannying and working at my climbing gym–with people I love, in a city I have grown to love: Dallas. As a mid-20-something with a heart for climbing and community, I was living the dream.

But this week rocked my world.

The coronavirus has taken over quite literally the entire earth: invading bodies, terrorizing economies, parting seas of people. It has violently taken over our thoughts and feelings and actions. It has threatened our lives and well-being.

It’s changed (almost) everything.

Bipolar changed my life, but it didn’t change me.

It changed the way I approach my feelings and emotions, it changed the way I process my thoughts, it changed the way I care for others. But I have always felt things, thought things, and cared for others. And that will never change.

It changed the way I understand mental health, it changed the way I practice self-care, it changed the way I see others’ hurt. But mental health has always been important to me, I have always tried to look out for myself, and sympathy has always been a part of me. Those things will never change.

This virus may change our lives, but it won’t change us.

A lot of us are physically keeping to ourselves these days, but we are still making (virtual) connections. We are still loving others as best as we can. A lot of us are feeling fear, but fear is just an emotion that we will always feel in moments throughout our lives.

Our lives are looking a lot different this days than they have in weeks past. We are holed up in our houses and apartments. We are establishing space between us and others. We are cancelling trips, homeschooling children, streaming church services.

But our identities, our beings, our inherent selves will not change.

I do not know if that encourages you or disappoints you or instills fear in you. I do not know what you are feeling or thinking or doing right now. But there is no concrete, definite right way to feel or think right now.

We are all just trying to do the best we can do. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. And remember, we will not change.

Feelings Are Feelings: On Feeling Things

I’ve never been a touchy-feely person.

I have never been one to give hugs, to cry in front of friends, or to even cry in a room by myself, for that matter. I have never been the one to say “I love you,” whether that is to friends, family, or significant others.

But when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago, everything changed.

All of a sudden, I was faced by an onslaught of emotions. Emotions toward my disorder. Emotions toward my Heavenly Father. Emotions toward myself and to others.

It seems like all I do these days is feel.

When I started going to therapy nearly four years ago, my sweet therapist Chelsey challenged me to “sit in your feelings.” When I first heard this, I am pretty sure I laughed–audibly and loud. “What does that even mean?!”

Soon after I learned what “sitting in feelings” meant.

It means allowing myself to feel and to dig deep into whatever I am feeling at that moment. It means accepting the seemingly “bad” feelings like sadness and anger and dwelling in them, even when I don’t want to. I only realized that these “bad” feelings are not bad at all, but only feelings themselves.

It’s not a bad thing to feel.

I used to perceive that showing feelings made me look weak. I thought I could not cry in movies or with my friends because others would think less of me, they would think I was too sensitive or feminine.

But these days, I realize that feelings are feelings are feelings. And we all face our feelings each and every day, whether we acknowledge them or not. Sometimes we sit in them. Sometimes we ignore them. Sometimes we face them head on. But we all have them, that is just how we are built, and that is okay!!

Here is my challenge to you:

I dare you to sit in your feelings at least one time this week. Whether you feel sadness or anger or absolute joy, I dare you to dwell in what you are feeling and allow yourself to feel that emotion. I dare you to be thankful for whatever feeling it is.

Because you are built to feel things. You are made to feel elated and down and worried and excited and sad and every emotion in between. Feelings are just feelings, and we are wired to feel things, and that is a beautiful thing.