Outgrowing Relationships

Whenever I meet someone new, I immediately believe I will always feel the same way about them and they will forever be a part of my life. I have big feelings, so I often accept quickly and love hard. I also struggle to be around others, and I require a lot in my relationship. Often my needs change first and my feelings follow.

In my heart, I never let go of people. If I’ve cared about you in the past, I will forever care about you, no matter the circumstances.

I now understand that it is normal to go apart in relationships, specifically friendships. It is also normal to grow closer to some friends and grow distant from others, for no other reason than life or distance.

I’m currently in a stage of transition in my life. I’ve grown comfortable with after college life, but things continue to change, and I wonder- what’s next? As my life circumstances begin to change, I’ve noticed that I’ve slowly grown closer to some friends, have made unexpected new friends, but overall have distanced myself from others; spending more time with myself and family.

This change is something I used to fear, but now I find it cleansing. I know it’s okay to outgrow relationships, even when it’s hard. It’s also okay to stay close with others but see them less often. I’m enjoying more alone time in my life, something I used to be unable to have. So I want the time I do spend with others to be meaningful and uplifting.

Be around people who make you feel good about yourself, the world, other people, your beliefs and values, and everything that makes you, you.

Confidence

I’ve been struggling with my self-confidence recently. I know it is a symptom of my depression, a period that I am currently going through. Even though I understand the source, I still feel the effects. So I will recognize each feeling of self-doubt, but I refuse to accept and internalize these doubts and fears

I fear my time is not as valuable as others.

I worry my writing is a waste of time.

I fear I am not enough.

I worry I won’t be able to handle future challenges.

I fear others won’t accept me if I put myself out there.

All these negative thoughts and self-doubts have been damaging my confidence. It leads me to a dark place I’ve been to before. A year or two ago this would have made me stuck. Now, I know the pattern, and I recognize what can get me through it.

While depression lingers, I’m still experiencing self-doubt. I’m hearing the thoughts and then pushing them awaybecause these unhelpful beliefs are not going to control me. I am filling my time with things that do increase my confidence: reading, writing, yoga, running, being around kids, talking with someone who understands me, and organizing my space. The thoughts may continue, but I’m going to keep living and fighting.

Reframing Thoughts


Initially, most of my thoughts are negative. I can thank the chemicals in my brain for that. I spent most of my life believing these thoughts, and the awful things I told myself.

This process impaired my health and functioning in a few ways. First, I always thought very little of myself. I had no confidence, I was unstable, and I could not experience joy. I took my negative thoughts as truths, and it almost killed me.

These thoughts affected my relationships as well. I viewed distant friends as intentionally ignoring me, and I took their actions personally. I believed that if I hated myself so much, others likely did too. So I distanced myself before others could first.

The thoughts lead to fear of abandonment within my relationship. I couldn’t be alone because of my negative thoughts. They ate away at my mind and spirit, and I felt trapped inside my own dark mind.

I continued to listen and believe these thoughts, and I questioned why my mental health still was not improving.

Slowly, I began to challenge these thoughts. At first, it was very intentional and it took a lot of willpower to reframe what my mind told me. Over time it became more natural, and I no longer had to work through each thought I had.

Now, I will talk to friends and family and they comment on how I am the voice of reason or how I always find the positive of the situation. I don’t do this to be that bright bubbly person we might associate with positivity. I do this to save and protect myself. Negativity is one of my worst enemies. I’ve had to distance myself and cut off relationships due to negativity, so I try very hard to stay positive.

I always thought I was being a realist by acknowledging and listening to negative thoughts. In reality, though, I didn’t believe in myself and what I could overcome and accomplish. I couldn’t recognize the strength and light that was hidden underneath these thoughts.

I will continue to reframe my negative thoughts. It is essential to my recovery and my health. It might seem impossible at first, but thoughts are just that, thoughts.

New Year, Same Me

Another year has passed, and I’m looking forward to a fresh start. But each year, I’m reminded of how most people view a new year.


Most New Years’ resolutions relate to change. We analyze our life and pick out all the things we don’t like about our lives. There are a couple of issues with this method of growth.


First, a New Year’s resolution tells us that who we are currently, isn’t good enough. To become a better person, we need to change what we don’t like about ourselves. If we do this each year, we will never be accepting ourselves for who we are currently. We will always see what needs to be changed, instead of learning to love who we are.


Secondly, making a positive change in one’s life does not need to occur only once a year. I am all for making positive changes: eating healthier, exercising more, or incorporating healthier habits in our lives. But as we know, most resolutions don’t last. So, if we want to change something, just do it, and don’t wait till a new year to help ourselves. If something is truly important, stick with it and make the change.


This year, I’m going to be the exact same me as I was last year, and the year before, and the year before that. I will continue to be worthy, unique, kind, and strong. I will continue to be honest with myself and my needs. I will keep making positive changes when they arise, and I won’t wait till a new year to change something about my life that I’m unhappy with.


For me, this fresh start of a new year is simply an opportunity to let go of all the negativity and stress that I’ve been holding onto this year. I am not becoming a new or improved version of myself, because I don’t need to. Who I am right now, is more than enough.

With Love

This will be Tyler and I’s first Christmas together as a married couple, and I can’t help but reflect on our relationship.


When Tyler and I got married this past October, I felt many emotions. Excitement, joy, love, strength, and a strong sense of peace. And as I stood at the altar, looking at my best friend, I thought to myself- we did it.


From the outside, most relationships appear perfect and straightforward. Others can see love and devotion, but others cannot see many aspects of a relationship.


The odds have been against us, and we have worked incredibly hard to stay together.
The beginning is always easy. You find that perfect match, and you believe things will continue to be blissful—That’s how I felt when I met Tyler.


Then life happened. My illnesses worsened, I developed a personality disorder, I questioned my future, and I fought to stay alive. Tyler attempted to juggle supporting my mental health, being in a relationship, and transiting from college to career. We both tried to survive the world and simultaneously love and grow with each other.


I struggled with maintaining expectations and communicating my thoughts and feelings with Tyler. I also worked to grow individually and found myself unhappily stuck in an unhealthy life.


Tyler struggled to balance, supporting me as a partner and as an individual with severe mental illnesses. He also found it challenging to balance his own life with our life.


We both needed to learn how to be our own people, and at points, we were holding each other back.


At times our future seemed uncertain, but in my heart, I knew I would never stop trying. That’s really what matters most. We find love, and we never stop trying to keep it.


Tyler, I love you with all my heart. I am so proud of you, us, and what we have overcome and accomplished together. I cannot wait to keep learning, growing, and being happy with you.


With love,
Ashley

Therapy

I have a love-hate relationship with therapy. Honestly, I hate going; I dread it. The reason why is it makes me uncomfortable. For one hour every other week, my life is put under a microscope. I have to talk about myself and admit my struggles and weaknesses. Yet, that discomfort is precisely why I go. That discomfort is insight and growth.


Therapy teaches me to be the best possible version of myself. I am forced to be honest about my health and current lifestyle. The more truthful I am to myself and my therapist, the better support I can receive. In other words, you get out of it what you put into it.


Therapy has taught me how to take care of myself, understand my needs, interact with others, and ask for help and support.


I wish therapy was normalized. I honestly believe everyone should go to therapy. Mental illness or not. I go to therapy to survive in a world where others are unaware of their actions, how their actions impact others, and how to live a healthy lifestyle. I believe we all need that insight into our lives and that having insight truly makes us better people.


I’ve seen my fair share of therapists. Some were very skilled, and others no so much. Some were the right fit for me as a person, and others showed me what I didn’t want out of therapy and how I didn’t want to be supported. I’ve also grown out of a therapist. They may have been a good fit for where I was, but I discovered I needed more target support as I grew. So, in reality, what I learned from one therapist taught me it was time to find a new provider. What I’m getting at is there is a therapist for each and every person. If someone has tried therapy and didn’t like it, find a new therapist, there are options. One wouldn’t see the first person off the street and claim them as a best friend. We try out people like we try on clothes, and when something fits, you’ll know it.


I will continue to go to therapy, even though I am stable. I will continue to go because it’s good for me and those in my life. I know that I dread going because of the spotlight it shines on my weaknesses, but that same spotlight leads to awareness and, later, change. I’m just trying to be the best possible version of myself.

Welcoming Change

I’m incredibly stubborn and often fear change. I feel comfortable in a routine and am hesitant to try new things. Yet, welcoming change has only made my life healthier and better suited for me.


I often think about the future, so I’ve had many thoughts about what my life would be like. The thing is, my life is nothing like how I imagined, but I’m also happier than I ever had been or could have imagined.


I used to view change as a failure. Things don’t work, and I try something new, but instead of accepting that it wasn’t the right fit, I told myself I failed. My internal dialogue matters, and how I view changed affects how I view the situation.


My dream job was to be a therapist, but I now understand that allowing myself to do that would likely kill me. Instead, I chose my health and caring for myself. Since then, I’ve tried many things: nannying, dog walking, and blogging on Instagram about my mental health. None of them was a good fit. I quickly got burnt out, and my day to day was not suitable for maintaining my health.


Now I see my dream job as being the best daughter, friend, wife, and someday mother I can be. Because if I don’t put my health first, I cannot fully be present in my relationships.


I still work because it keeps me busy and allows me to somewhat feel like a functioning member of society. I resell clothing that is either donated to me or I have rescued from the thrift store. It may not be what I envisioned for my life, but I see the importance of what I do. Reselling keeps me productive, gets me out of the house, and brings me joy. I feel good about my work because it reduces waste and extends the lifetime of clothing. How I’m currently living fits, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s what I thought id be doing or not.


I wish I’ve reached the point in life where I can readily welcome change, but I understand it’s a lifelong process. Change feels uncomfortable, but what comes from it is often right.

Reconnecting

This year has been stressful, to say the least; slowly, I stopped doing what made me feel healthy and like myself. Now I’m reconnecting with myself, my body, and my mind.


It’s easy for me to float through life, not present and numb. If I don’t take care of myself, time passes without me, and I lose touch with who I am.


I now know myself well enough to understand my needs and how to reconnect when I’m feeling lost. I have a list of things I need to do daily to stay healthy and connected. As requested by my new therapist, I am tracking these behaviors to keep myself accountable.


Each day I write, read, move, and take my meds.


Writing helps me process my thoughts and emotions. It clears my head of all the unhelpful thoughts that have been ruminating through my mind. My life feels more purposeful after I process, and because of this, I journal daily.


More recently, I have incorporated reading into my daily routine. I often read before bed as a way to relax and clear my mind. Although, I have noticed the more frequently I read, the greater my desire to read. I now find myself taking breaks throughout my day to read a chapter or two. Additionally, reading strengthens the brain, supporting healthy brain cells, unlike watching TV, which kills brain cells.


Movement is also an essential part of my routine. It connects my mind to my body and releases the endorphins I desperately need. Running and yoga are my go-to activities, but something as simple as a walk has the same benefits.


Taking my medication may be simple, but it is a prominent part of my routine, but it is also the most important. My meds stabilize my mood, making it easier for me to accomplish what I need to and can for myself more effectively. Even missing one day can offset my whole week.


Even with the weather getting colder and the amount of sunlight decreasing, I feel stable and comfortable. Not every day is a ‘good day,’ but I also don’t expect it to be. I no longer sit in my feelings; instead, I complete my daily routine, even when I don’t feel like it. Every day seems to have a purpose, no matter how small it may be.

I Lost My Light

I knew we were close, but I didn’t realize how deep the connection was until he was gone. Part of me broke when I lost him, and the light inside of me was darkened. It has been more than difficult, and at times I wanted to give up. It has been frightening and exhausting. Yet, it was also a period of self-reflection and a chance to grow.  I’m choosing to find the good because if I don’t, what is the point of all this pain?


I’m connected to and so much like my grandparents. I lost my grandma 11 years ago, and my grandpa 7 months ago. After my grandpa passed away, I realized I was processing both of their losses. I have always felt particularly close to my grandpa; I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality and meaningful time with him. I lost my grandma at a much younger age, and i was not able to fully understand the relationship and loss. During this time of self-reflection, I began to realize how much of me, comes from them.


It feels natural for me to care for people, animals, and nature. I feel more deeply than most, and because of it, I struggle to find my place in the world. These deep emotions have made me stronger. My life is challenging, and I cope with it by nurturing others, maintaining my surroundings, and creating. I share my feelings through my creative work, a chance to express myself.


Recognizing and processing this has been healing. I feel as though I have a more stable identity to cling to, something I lose touch with often. Now, this identity is true. It comes from what I come from, my family.


I’m feeling better each day, even on the difficult ones. I am continually observing my health and my life to determine what is best for me. Asking for help and relying on others when I need to, advocating for my mental health, discovering new ways to earn money, and taking a much-needed break. Slowly and steadily, I am healing and growing.

One Day

One day you’ll look at your life and recognize that you’ve reached a point in recovery that you have been working toward all these years.


Last year was a year of change. I considered moving, left grad school, got engaged, built jobs I feel capable of handling, and began to write about my experience with mental illness.


A year ago, I would not have imagined this growth. I can fight through my bad days and still have good come from it. I can process and talk about my thoughts and emotions without believing them. I have healed, something I did not see possible.


I hope you recognize your strength and growth. I hope you understand that you can fight. One day you will look at your life and realize you have reached the point you have been waiting for – health and happiness.