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

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.

Vulnerability

At first, I thought to be vulnerable meant sharing the awful and miserable parts of life. The ones that we often refrained from sharing. I believed that by sharing these stories, I was the most vulnerable I could be.


But that’s not how vulnerability works.


We are vulnerable when we share our emotions. Stigma has conditioned us to believe we should keep our feelings hidden, and those who choose to talk about their emotions are looking for sympathy or attention.


We are vulnerable when we talk about our hopes and dreams. When we share goals and desires we have not yet accomplished, we are putting ourselves out there and being real.


We are vulnerable when we share our work.


I feel most vulnerable when I share the thoughts I hold and the content I have created. I am aware that others may not understand or disagree with what I create, but regardless, I am putting myself out there.


While vulnerability can be opening up about a dark time or situation, it is not limited to.


Vulnerability is sharing your authentic self with the world, knowing that not everyone will be accepting of what you have to say.

As a Child

I needed help when I was in 3rd grade, so my parents found me a therapist. Her job was to help me control my intense fear of well, everything. First, it was going to school. I only remember a little bit of my childhood, to be honest, I think I blocked a lot of it out when my thoughts grew dark.


Going to school is something many children hate, myself included, but I think most children handled better than I did. I remember waking up every Sunday, full of worry. Sunday was the weekend to everyone, but for me, it was just a whole day full of worrying about school tomorrow. I’d wake up bright and early Monday morning feeling slightly ill and a little on edge, I was worried about something relating to school, but I had no idea why. I always said I couldn’t go to school, not because I was sick, but because I just couldn’t go.


To others, this made no sense, but my mom understood me well. She knew I was an anxious child from the beginning, and this was a common occurrence. I would still have to go to school; my mom was a teacher of all things, so she would drive me when this happened.


Panic is all I remember feeling. I recall my mom having to drag me into school and meet with someone from the ‘stop and think’ area would pull me from her. I was transferred from my mother to a staff member. Often, she would ask me questions such as: why are you so scared, is someone in school being mean to you, is everything okay at home, etc. Everything was okay, so I would just nod and say I didn’t know why I was so upset.


Adults around me didn’t understand how I felt or why I was so scared, but neither did I. It was like being terrified of green and having no logical explanation for why you’re afraid of green. The anxiety of being afraid, but not knowing why. I always just told everyone who asked that I didn’t know what was wrong or why I was scared. They would just stop asking, and when I would eventually calm down, I would be lead into my classroom to begin my day.


In addition to school anxiety, I hated being away from my family when I was young. The idea of being away from my parents would trigger an anxiety attack. Sleeping at friends’ houses was only an idea for me. I wanted to stay over, and I would even make plans, but when it came bedtime, I would call home and beg my mom to pick me up. I felt a mix of guilt and relief as she drove me back home, but I didn’t have a choice, I truly believed I couldn’t stay over at someone else’s house.


Then there was my moral compass. I lived each day, fearful of doing something wrong because I viewed the world in black and white. Making a mistake was always on my mind, and when I felt that I had made one, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of guilt. To this day, I can say that I don’t think I will ever feel as guilty about anything than the constant, but unnecessary guilt I felt as a young child.


Power of a Positive Mindset

Having a positive mindset will not cure, fix, or prevent depression. Optimism and positivity may not always help someone who is struggling. However, a positive mindset can enrich the good days and bring hope for the future.


I used to be very pessimistic and I believed that doing so released my stress and frustration. It was not until recently that I discovered the internal and external dialogue, matters.


Assuming and anticipating the worst makes it convenient to both perceive and experience negativity. The reason I was not feeling joy was because I rejected all the happiness around me. I was preventing myself from enjoying and appreciating life.


Now, I begin each day with an open mind. It may be a wonderful day or a difficult one. Regardless, I will accept it. I no longer want to confine myself to solely bad days.


Mindset matters, that is something I understand now. If I tell myself everything will work out, I may not accept it at the moment, but my subconscious hears this. Often I will later reflect and recognize how everything did work out.


On my bad days, I can recognize that there is room for improvement. I also know that tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity.


A positive mindset will not prevent bad days from occurring or remove one’s pain and suffering. What if will do is enrich your life and improve your overall outlook of life, the world, and happiness.