Think About Such Things β€οΈ

Philippians 4:4-8 NIV

For some, reading these verses may be very new, while for others this may not be a familiar selection. This verse has become a popular one for those looking for biblical guidance to help them through troubling times. Recently, I came across this verse in a book I read by Max Lucado; Anxious For Nothing.

I just want to say this before proceeding: Mentioning this book is not going to give me any kind of perks! These are just my thoughts and opinions that the book has inspired. Nothing I say here is in any way connected to Max Lucado, although I may use some of his quotes from the book. Lastly, even though I feel it’s rather obvious to declare, I am not a professional counselor or any kind of professional, I just make posts to try to reach others who may be going through some of the same feelings.

After reading this book, I felt like I should use some of my notes and quotes from the book, to make a blog post or posts that others may find interesting or helpful. As most of you know, if you’ve read some of my other posts, I have long struggled with anxiety, panic and depression. I have been very lost in them that I really became this lifeless blob for over a year. While a year is not even close to the length of time I have struggled with these issues, there was a year or a little more, where I was so deep in those issues that I became unable to live a “normal” life. In the midst of this terrible time, I would have never believed I’d be able to get out of the dark place I was in. I felt as if I had gotten so lost, I couldn’t possibly find the light again. Would I ever be the person I used to be again? Would I ever be able to enjoy my family or friends again? Would I ever be able to think about going to work again without breaking down and crying hysterically out of pure fear? Would I be able to walk outside, take a shower, sleep or even eat without the fear that I’m going to die doing those things?

It truly seemed irreversible at the time. It seemed like my anxiety, panic and depression had pulled me so far under, that I could never find my way out and in a way, I was right. I would never have found my way back, if not for my faith. I am aware that simply stating that my faith helped me through such a horrific time may not come across as very helpful, especially to someone who may be in the deepest, darkest depths of anxiety, panic and depression. To be quite honest, sometimes hearing something like that can make a person in the midst of such things feel even more guilty and cause them to sink lower into those feelings. I don’t want anyone reading this to feel as though they can’t make it out of their dark place without faith in God, but I want to tell you that I would not have. God isn’t just exclusively available to believers, He’s there for non-believers as well; He doesn’t turn anyone away. If you need Him, you only need to ask for Him, He’ll find you.

Back to the Bible verses I shared in the photo at the start of this blog. “Rejoice in the Lord always…” ALWAYS. Not just when things are going good in your life, maybe even moreso when they’re going horribly! Easier said than done right? To someone who is struggling, telling them to rejoice in the Lord may seem like a slap in the face! How can I rejoice in the Lord when I’m consumed by fear and worry? How can I rejoice when l find out I can’t have children or when I’ve miscarried? How can I rejoice in the Lord when I’ve lost my job, when my child is diagnosed with so many health issues, when my husband or wife is facing health issues, when I am in constant pain from an unrelenting disease, when I have lost my home and have nowhere to go, when I am going through a nasty divorce and custody battle, when I’m being abused (physically, mentally, emotionally or all of the above)- the list can go on indefinitely! How can we say REJOICE to someone who is drowning? If you have never been taught to swim, how is yelling REJOICE to you when you’ve fallen in the lake going to help? IT WON’T! We don’t have to use our words to tell someone to rejoice, we can simply lead by example around them. We can live our life with such transparency, that they will see things we have had to endure, and in turn, see how we have never stopped rejoicing all the while. Others will see how we handle our times of difficulty and wonder how they too can do the same. I have personally felt, growing up and even now, that you can get so much further with people when you’re not forcing your beliefs and religion down their throats, but simply planting seeds each time you’re near them and living your life authentically; they’ll notice, I assure you! Eventually, they’ll come to you looking for your “secret” and that’s when you’ll get to share with them that there is no secret at all, there’s only God! ☺️

The C.A.L.M approach by Max Lucado in a post found on Pinterest

In the Anxious for Nothing book, you’ll find this C.A.L.M. approach laid out for you. I don’t want to give away too much of this book, so I’ll also include a link at the end of this blog incase anyone is interested. Again I get nothing in return for promoting this book, I just believe it to be a good read.

C is for COOKIE…no wait, that’s not the right one! πŸ˜‚ C is for Celebrating God’s Goodness. Again, not to sound like a broken record, but during our most trying times, it can be hard to rejoice or celebrate. You’re not perfect, neither am I, so we won’t always be able to do it as we should, but we can do our best to be mindful about it. In our more challenging times, we can say our problems aloud or write them down and then we can voice or think about what we know is good in our lives at that moment, minus whatever negative issues are going on at the time. It may seem that NOTHING good is happening, but if your eyes are open and your heart is beating during your dwelling on your misfortune(s), then you already have something to celebrate! Thank God I am alive and I opened my eyes this morning, although today might be terrible, I am still going to celebrate my being alive to see another day! It’s more about not dwelling on the negatives of the day or week or month or even year. It can be extremely easy to slip down the slope of Negative Mindset Mountain and pretty hard to try to climb back up, trust me I speak from great experience! We can acknowledge the negative and then move our thoughts to what good there is in our lives, on that day, and celebrate those thoughts. It doesn’t matter how big or small the positives are, just as long as we shift our mind from acknowledging our negative and celebrating our positives. Don’t fall into the trap that is the negative mindset, it can quickly get out of hand. One minute you’re talking about one negative that happened to you today, then you’re talking about something bad that happened yesterday, then last week and it just keeps on rolling downhill until, before you know it, you’re discussing stuff that happened to you 10+ years ago! We need to be aware of who we talk to and if the conversation is serving us well. If you find that it’s not serving your mindset well, you have the ability to shift the conversation and if it keeps circling back to negativity, you can just end the conversation and pick up another day. Sometimes our days can be going just fine, then if we encounter someone who is not having such a great day, if we listen long enough, our emotions can take us to the same place they are. Entertaining too much negativity can cause us to catch the negative bug! This is why, when I know I’m having one of those days, I try my best to keep to myself either until I shift my mindset or until the next day! I still have some work to do on this, but I’m happy to say that I have improved pretty well in that area! We need to focus on one day at a time, acknowledging our difficulties of the day, dropping them off at the slippery slope of Negative Mindset Mountain, then keeping on our journey until we reach Celebration Campsite! This is where we can set up tent, take our shoes off and stay awhile!

A is for Asking God For Help. For some of us it can be easy to ask for help, but if you’re like me, you take the world upon your shoulders, never ask for help and then breakdown at some later date under all the pressure. Asking for help may not come as natural to some of us as it does for others, but anyone can feel the relief that comes from simply knowing someone is around if we need help or having someone tell us they’re nearby if they need us. We can call out to God when things have gone wrong, but why do we forget that He’s there from the beginning? Why do we wait so long to go to Him for help when He’s already told us time and time again, “I am right over here if you need anything!” Let us remember that God is this constant Presence and we can go to him at any hour for any kind of help! We don’t have to wait until we’re really underwater before asking Him for a hand.

L is for Leave Your Concerns With God. How many of us bring our backpack of burdens to God and forget to take it off before going on with our day? πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ We are encouraged, in the Bible, to bring our burdens to God and He will give us rest. He wants to take our burdens from us, so why can’t we seem to let go of them?

Photo credit to Pinterest
Photo credit to womenofnoblecharacter.com

I have stated many times that I believe many of us who deal with anxiety and panic have a bit of an issue with control. What I mean by this is, one way or another our anxiety stems from an issue with lack of control. Take myself as an example, all of the anxiety that caused my panic issues mostly had to do with death, in some way. Every single thing I did, I truly felt and believed I was going to die if I did it. I can’t eat because I’ll have an allergic reaction and my throat will close up and I’ll die. I can’t go outside because I may get bit or stung by something and die. I can’t go to sleep because I’ll die in my sleep. I also always felt I would have a heart attack and die. I would also like to add that I have no known allergies to any food or bites/stings. My anxiety and panic concocted all of these scenarios in my mind and I believed that in refraining from living, I would infact survive! Did you hear me? If I stopped living I would stay alive. In refraining from doing anything I used to enjoy doing or simple daily health habits, I believed I was controlling the outcome of my life. I believed that I was somehow in control or taking control of the situations. I can stop the danger before it happens! What’s wrong with this picture though? Are any of us in control of our lives? To an extent, I suppose we are. We are in control of our choices, we have been given free will. We decide where we go, what we do, say etc. Are any of us able to keep others from death? Do we determine when we die? No! We have no say in this. Age, race, gender, health none of this matters when it comes down to it. Someone could be sick for years and still be alive longer than a healthy person who loses their life in a car accident. The point I’m trying to make and the fact that can be hard to swallow is ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, we are not in control. This fact can cause anxiety and panic in people. If we can accept that we are not in control, we can learn to leave our concerns with the One who is in control! We can go to God in prayer, making our concerns known to Him. We can write them down in a journal or simply on a piece of paper. Once we have prayed or written down our concerns or done both of these things, we can then remind ourselves that we don’t need to pick those burdens back up before leaving, nor do we have a use for the burden backpack anymore. When we leave our concerns, we need to do just that, LEAVE them!

M stands for Meditate on Good Things.

Screenshot from bible gateway.com

Now we revisit Negative Mindset Mountain, where avalanches of what ifs, doom and gloom, worst case scenarios, fears, anger, frustrations, resentment, jealousy, hatred, comparison and the like, happen on a regular basis, 24/7! You would think that not many people would come to visit this place with the frequent avalanches, yet you’d be surprised at how many people have a vacation home here or worse yet, have moved there permanently! I don’t have a vacation home or permanent residence here, but I have been known to visit and it’s not a place I like to be. Sometimes, I have managed to get to this place without wanting to go or without even knowing I’m there, but once I realize I am and I don’t know how long I have been there, I feel such disgust, embarrassment and shame. I feel disgusted because I am someone who is often viewed as the positive one to other people. The one who listens to others, gives great advice and makes everyone laugh, yet in my own personal life, I can be the opposite. I don’t often listen to myself, although I can give sound advice, I can’t give myself that same advice. I don’t extend myself the same grace I do to others. I must admit that I can make myself laugh πŸ˜‚πŸ€ͺ I feel embarrassment because I don’t like to be around negativity or negative people and the thought that I have been that person to others can not only leave me feeling disgusted, but embarrassed as well because, I am wondering to myself how long have I been projecting negative vibes? An hour? A day? A week? You see, at Negative Mindset Mountain, you can lose track of many things, one of those being time. In addition to feeling disgusted and embarrassed, I previously mentioned I feel shame. I feel shame because I have forgotten to leave my concerns with God. I have forgotten to ask God for help and I have forgotten to celebrate any good in my life. Much like the person who has had one too many to drink, I have blacked out and somehow woken up in this place. I don’t know how I’ve gotten here and I am not sure when I arrived. I don’t know if there is anyone else I have affected by my journey. If I’m in this place, I most likely haven’t been the example that I want to be to others. I feel shame because I have fallen down that slippery slope and been swept away by the avalanche. We tend to make it to this place because we let the wrong kind of thoughts bombard our minds. We forget to protect our hearts and minds and, in doing so, we nonchalantly open the door and let all the negativity on in to what will later become our very own pity party! Somewhere down the line, we stopped acknowledging all the good or positives in our lives and started solely focusing on all the negatives. So how do we make it back down the mountain?

We use Philippians 4:8 as our cheat sheet! If you take a look at that verse, it maps out the entire way back down! Let’s look at the verse and break it down. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true; not what ifs, not worst case scenarios that may never come to be. Whatever is noble; thoughts that can promote honesty, generosity and things of that nature, not thoughts of jealousy or lies. Whatever is right; thoughts that are morally right are considered reasonable or ethical. We know the difference between right and wrong and this is what is meant when we are told to think of “right” things. Immoral thoughts would be the opposite of right thoughts, such as thoughts of evil or wrongdoing. Whatever is pure; again, untainted thoughts, free from evil. Thoughts that are true and uninfluenced by the wickedness of this world. In our minds is where the evil would start first. The thief, the murderer, the liar, the adulterer, they all have something in common…they first thought of evil before carrying out evil. The thief saw something he did not have and thought to himself that he should have it, so he would take it. The murderer let anger, resentment, hurt and whatever other evil thought control his mind and he thought about bringing harm to someone else and how he could hurt the other person. The liar uses his mind to weave his web of lies before speaking them to others, to come across as believable. The adulterer looks lustfully at others who are not their spouse and has thoughts of how they will become closer with this person(s). They engage in sex with this person, cheating on their spouse not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. Whatever is lovely; these thoughts are rooted in love and affection. They are thoughts that can celebrate the goodness in not only your life, but in other’s lives around you! Jealousy has no place here! Whatever is admirable; thoughts of admiration or respect of others, especially God. Thinking on the goodness in your life can bring about admirable thoughts towards God. We look in wonder and astonishment at the world God created for us and the children He has blessed us with and the family. We see every day miracles and our minds admire the work of God! If anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

If you didn’t notice, most of these words are synonyms of each other. They work together! Meditating on good things is all laid out for us in that one verse. Instead of thinking about what others have that you don’t, think about what you’re thankful for in your life and what you have or have worked for. Instead of thinking about the worst possible outcome of a situation or what MIGHT happen if you do this or that, think about what is more likely to happen. Is it more likely that this whole Final Destination type of scenario will play out or is it more likely that you’ll have worried and stressed yourself over nothing and then miss out on a greater time. Think of all that can go right. This is my hardest challenge, because my mind seems programmed to only see the worst case, but with a little rewiring, I believe I can improve upon it! Instead of dwelling in resentment for how people have treated you in the past, think of what you’ve taken away from that and how you use it for good in your life now. Don’t get so blinded by hatred, anger and resentment, especially from the past, that it hinders your living now. Don’t think of how you can get back or get even, use it as fuel to do better and be better. Nothing that has already happened can be erased, but it can used for good! As Max Lucado said in his book, “There is a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror. Your future matters more than your past.”

If you find that negative thoughts are trying to creep in, immediately recall the words in Philippians 4:8. Let this verse serve as a reminder to all of us, to shift our mindset from acknowledging the negatives, to celebrating the positives!

A quote from Max Lucado’s Anxious for Nothing

Dear God, I pray that someone who needed this message finds it. I pray for everyone who comes across this blog, whether they like it or not, that maybe they could just take away one important thing from it. I pray that anyone struggling will find peace that only You can give. May at least one person read this and be able to make that mindset shift. Please use my words to show others Your grace and unconditional love. Let us remember the words in Philippians 4:8 and do our very best to think those kinds of thoughts. I thank You for working in me and through me so that I may not only better myself and my relationship with You, but help others to come to You as well. I pray all of this in Your name, AMEN!

I will leave the link below to anyone who would like to check out the Anxious for Nothing book. He also offers a DVD and study guide, if any small groups are interested in that. I bought the study guide thinking maybe I could still use it with the book, and while I can use it for notes and such, I personally feel it is much more geared towards the DVD. The link below will be just for the actual book. I GET NOTHING FROM SHARING THIS LINK! Please don’t view this blog to be any kind of promotional gain! Much love and God bless! ❀️

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0718074211/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glt_fabc_CXWBGCDVJZDARV8JKT6Y

Turn The Tables On Evil!

As most of you who read my blogs can tell, my faith plays a big role in my life; it always has. It helps me through even the darkest of times because I am confident in God and His love for me. I truly believe those words, speak those words and yet on some days I can’t help but feel like such a contradiction.

I know it’s days, like today, when the enemy gets the better of me and invades my mind. Satan loves to use my anxiety/panic disorders against me and he can be so relentless and ruthless. As strong of faith as I believe I have, I get so ashamed of myself when I lose those daily battles in my mind. I am aware that the enemy’s plan is just that; weaken me bit by bit until he gets the majority control over my thought process. You would assume being so aware of those facts would make it easier to fight back, yet sometimes I never see it coming until it’s too late!

After enduring anxiety and panic most of my 30 years, I can still be ambushed. It may not come as easily as it once did, as I have learned to fight back and hold my own, but still it happens more than I’d care to admit. I feel like a walking contradiction because here I am always speaking words of hope and encouragement to others who are in need of them, and yet I can’t even take my own advice when I truly need to! I also can sit and hear myself ask, “How can you call yourself a true believer if you let so much doubt consume you in certain times!?” The doubt, in any form, is probably what causes me the most remorse. You can try to call it anything else, but in all honesty it is doubt. If I have so much faith in God, why then do I allow the enemy to get me to ask myself questions like the one previously stated or to fill my mind with nothing but worst case scenarios? It truly is frustrating.

I pray quite a bit, especially in my most anxious moments. I ask God to guard my mind and allow only good and pleasing thoughts in. I often pray for overall protection, both physically and mentally. I honestly don’t know where I would be without my faith because many times I feel as if that’s all I have on my side; definitely not a bad thing to have God on my side though! When you have anxiety/panic not many people can relate personally, so you feel even more isolated. When you’re often viewed as a person of positivity, you feel like a fraud when you become lost in the disorders you have. It can truly be disheartening.

I have so many worries, fears and stresses currently that I have become overwhelmed and Satan has been lurking in the corner waiting to take advantage. Today has been a tough day for me and I contemplated what I could do to turn it around, if only just for a moment. How could I turn the tables on Satan and his lies? Blog. Share your raw feelings, emotions and thoughts with your readers and let them see you vulnerable. Allow them to see that faith in God does NOT mean you get an easy pass in life; it does not mean you will not have to endure hard times, but it allows you peace, comfort and hope for the future!

My mind can be an extremely cruel and merciless place at times and obviously I can’t just get away from myself. I have to focus more on God’s words and promises and trust that He is already ahead of me and has protected me and carried me through! He is working all together for good and He will lead me where I need to be and allow all to unfold just when it needs to, I need only to be still.

I pray tonight for anyone out there who is struggling with anxiety, panic, fear, worry, stress, depression etc, whether they’re reading this or not, may they find comfort in knowing God is on their side and He will go with them wherever they go. May we all realize, no matter how alone and isolated we feel, we are never alone!

Much Love and God Bless ❀

P.s. Use your struggles as weapons of good against evil. Use your dark times to help reach more people! Don’t be silent about your hard times; be open so that others know they aren’t alone in how they feel!

Doubt: Another Thief of Happiness.

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Doubt: A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.

How many times have you felt so confident in something and then doubt slithered its way into your mind? Doubt can be a product of our own thought process OR it can be placed there both intentionally or non-intentionally by others. No matter how doubt is produced, it has one main objective…steal/kill happiness or contentment. When we are on the right path in our lives and all is going well, that is when doubt likes to feed. I personally believe doubt to be yet another manipulation sent out by Satan himself. Who else gets more enjoyment out of dismantling us? He’s like a vulture who waits to pick us apart slowly, piece by piece.

To me, doubt can come hand in hand with anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, worry and the like. It can be just as hard to rid yourself of as well. I once said, someone telling me “don’t worry” is equivalent to telling me not to breathe; it seems simple, yet it can be hard to reprogram how we think. Doubt is another thing that does not do us any good, yet we can’t help but open the door and let it on in. There are so many quotes about doubt that ring true and I will add a few.

“Over thinking kills your happiness.”

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”-Elizabeth Elliot

“The doubters are just dreamers with broken hearts.”-Atticus

“Not every thought you think is TRUE, and not every thought you think is YOU.”

We may be prone to doubt because we have been let down or our hearts have been broken too many times. We may be very untrusting and doubt arises from that. We may have doubts about many things we do because family, friends or even acquaintances along the way have planted seeds of doubt in our minds. Some individuals purposely plant doubts in our minds out of jealousy; they see great things happening for you and that’s their way of trying to bring you back to their level of unhappiness. Again, no matter how doubt forms itself in our lives, we have the power to throw it out. It usually strikes at times when you are on the right track and have things figured out and when your faith is strongest; don’t let it steal that joy and peace you have! Kill doubt with more positive thinking!! The more thoughts of doubt that begin to pop up in your mind, counter them with positive thoughts and affirmations. It reminds me of something I tell my son about fear…tell it to go away, and that it’s not real! Our God is bigger than any issues that come into our lives, we just have to do our best to rely upon Him and not be shaken! Let us keep out feet firmly planted in faith! Let us know that we are confident and doubt cannot take it away unless we let it!

I pray for all of us feeling any kind of doubt in our lives…whether it’s doubt about school, career paths, parenting, faith, appearance, capabilities, health etc. I pray all of us find our peace and let that and our inner confidence overcome our doubts. Fear likes to feed us doubt and I pray we continue to recognize that most of our worries and doubts are caused by fear and the majority of the time, they have no merit at all! May we stay strong in our faith and know that God is for us, not against us. He is there to have a personal relationship with us and is willing to help us out in any way.

Much love and God Bless πŸ’š

Yes Can Mean No

Late post today, I know!

The day is almost over, but I keep feeling pulled into a specific topic direction. It involves a personal subject that I was vague about in a previous post. I have never really spoken on it openly before, but I do know I am not the only one it’s happened to and there is not much awareness out there; so sharing would help way more than not sharing, although it puts me in a super vulnerable position.

Everyone has heard of rape, it’s something we have always known existed yet recently it’s been widely emphasized and many more people now have a much better grasp on the subject. Everyone is taught “no means no” we all understand that, but no one ever mentions when “yes” can also mean “no”…sounds confusing and made up, but just hear me out.

Have you ever heard of the term sexual coercion? This can take on a violent form such as several types of rape, but it can also take on a non-violent form. There is not much awareness with this as there is with rape, but I have read that it can affect some people (mentally and emotionally) in similar ways as the more well-known rape. People who have been subject to sexual coercion can suffer from anxiety, depression and even PTSD. I don’t want it to seem as if I am comparing it to rape, because although both are horrendous acts, I personally find rape (especially violent acts of rape) to be much more traumatic. I also do not want to seem as if I am down playing sexual coercion in any way either. When I share these blogs, I never desire to be seen as a victim in any way. I want my experiences to speak to someone else in a similar predicament and offer them peace and understanding. I already feel the anxiety trying to creep on me for attempting to write this, but maybe that’s just a sign that someone is trying to stop me and I should go forward and not be afraid.

I wrote a post and mentioned how ignorant we can be when we’re younger and naive and think we have a better grasp on life than we do. When we’re younger we tend to follow feelings instead of following our hearts. We sometimes find ourselves in situations that we know we shouldn’t be in but we’re there already. When I was younger, I found myself believing I “loved” someone and was willing to alter almost anything about my personality or my appearance to draw attention from this individual. It’s ridiculous, sad and pathetic…things I’m not, but for some reason allowed myself to be. At a time it seemed as if maybe I had caught the attention of this person…believing maybe it was just me getting older or the time I foolishly put in trying to be “good enough” but I thought I had reached that point. I was very wrong. We talked, we hung out, seemed like the norm for our age, but was maybe leading to the more formal “dating” where maybe you’d finally gain a title of girlfriend…or so I was led to believe. I was invited along to a movie one evening and how excited my younger self was believing I was maybe good enough for someone to be interested in. I went to this movie, even after receiving emails prior to basically setting out “expectations”. In my mind I thought if I agree I can go on the “date” and if I don’t feel comfortable with my decision I can always change my mind. I shouldn’t have gone out at all, but I did. My dumb decision. After this movie had ended, I was driven out to a secluded area where I guess would be more private. We all know what was expected of me that night. Leading up to that night I was sent messages such as you better not be lying to me about what you said would happen; if you don’t do what you said I will be mad, I won’t forgive you and I will never talk to you again. A lot of pressure was put upon me, especially leading up to that night. It was basically do what I’m telling you to do or asking you to do or we won’t be friends anymore, we won’t talk anymore, we won’t date at all and it would go back to acting as if I didn’t even exist. This person knew good and well how to manipulate, that was clear. What angles to work to achieve his goal. Sadly, out of fear and what I felt as obligation, I consented although I didn’t feel comfortable and I am absolutely sure this individual knew I really, truly did not want to go through with anything. I would have assumed the individual would have respected me enough to just stop the whole evening and take me home…then again, if he had respected me, he never would have sent all the messages he did trying to keep the pressure on and use manipulation to get his way. All of this from someone I thought was a friend. You can see why that betrayal cuts even deeper. In cases like these, when consenting out of fear or repercussions of things either said or implied you are now subject of sexual coercion. I always felt everything about what happened was wrong and something was off, although I tried to hide it or play it off as no big deal, I knew in my heart and mind that it wasn’t right. It’s not about regretting something later on, this was an entire process. This was a scheme. To add insult to injury, all the things that would have been taken away had I not agreed, they went away any way. Although I consented out of fear of what would happen if I didn’t, it happened any way. As if I was a ghost. Again, all of this from a so-called friend.

Although I never talked about it and how it affected me emotionally,Β  or events leading up to that situation, I knew something was just off about the whole experience…before and after. I never would have said it was rape, but after a routine check up at a doctor, having him ask if I was ever raped due to the way my body can react it was a bit eye-opening. I started researching because I often just blamed myself for letting it get to that point, for putting myself in that situation but the more I read the more it became clear that I was sexually coerced. I know many people go through similar circumstances and never say anything because “technically” they have no case because they weren’t “raped”…so we are left to sort out the emotional and physical effects on our own. If we talk about it we are viewed as trying to gain sympathy or attention and we are “playing victim” and trying to place blame. That’s not at all what we’re trying to do. We are trying to understand the issues we have as a cause of that instance or with some people instances. Sexual coercion, just like any other abuse or harassment, is wrong. We all know “no means no” but maybe now maybe you’ll think twice about telling someone they consented because they simply complied. If you don’t have all the facts, don’t assume that just because they may have shown interest in the person or “liked” the person, that their going through with anything was because they felt they wanted to.

I pray for anyone who has gone through similar circumstances and felt they couldn’t talk about it at all can find comfort, peace and healing. I pray you have courage to confide in someone you trust and I also pray for anyone affected my any type of abuse or harassment, especially those shrugged off or not believed. The more we talk, the more we bring awareness and the more we can all heal, together. Much love and God Bless xo

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“What Ifs” and Worst Case Scenario Mindset

I’m sure this can correlate with my fear post, but totally unintentional.

I can tell you I live in the world of “what ifs” and I am always thinking ahead and trying to plan for the worst case scenario because, to me, it WILL happen. This can most definitely go hand in hand with the anxiety and panic disorders, but I know others without those disorders who also relate.

Avoidance is one of the worst things you can practice when it comes to anxiety and panic, it only feeds that fear or anxiousness more. You want to familiarize yourself with your fear and in most cases even doing whatever action scares you or causes these “what ifs” and worst case scenario thinking. I will need something as simple as groceries, but I tell myself I cannot go today because my husband isn’t with me and what if I get into an accident on my way. My husband will want to take the interstate to get somewhere faster, but we can’t because some type of Final Destination-type accident will occur. I’ll think one of the semi trucks will hit us or a gas truck will explode near us or when we go over a bridge we’ll go off the side and how will I get both my sons and myself and possibly my husband out. It truly can be a vicious cycle…if you let it consume you and dictate where you will go and what you will do. I myself am still very much a work in progress, so please don’t feel like I am speaking as someone who is “over it”…you’ll never be over it, but you can be in control of it. There are just so many examples I could throw out there…avoidance of dental work because of what may go wrong (but most likely never will), avoidance of doctor check ups because you may find out something is wrong, avoiding going certain places because someone may go on a shooting spree or a bombing may happen. It’s stuff we worry about more so now because we see it on the news ALL the time. Should we let it control our lives though? It goes back to us wanting to be in control, convincing ourselves we’re in control, but we aren’t. That’s the truth, not one of us can control what happens to us. In some cases we can be, to a point, but only God truly knows what will happen before it happens.

Here’s a nice “what if” question…what if, in your avoiding accidents and the worst case scenario, you actually cause the worst to happen when it wouldn’t have? So many times this happens; something worse happens trying to avoid something that probably never would have even occurred! We focus so much on avoiding potential danger that we don’t live and experience. It truly seems like a waste when you sit and dissect it, doesn’t it? How many people are out there have serious illnesses with no cure or have serious disabilities yet they are living more than people like me, or maybe even like yourself?

I know I am so adamant on my children not learning from my anxiety, my fears, my avoidance, my worries etc. That gives me a special drive I wouldn’t have without them. I do the best I can to mask myself at certain times, but when you’re a stay at home mom and home schooling mom as well, the kids are always with you and sadly there are times they see you at your worst. In some of those moments I try to explain to my oldest about what’s happening and what are some ways to help someone else if he ever knows anyone with anxiety or the other conditions we have discussed. I don’t want to completely shield them, because maybe one day they can help someone who needs it. Maybe they will have that extra patience, empathy and love as their father does. However, I do not want them to fall into the same patterns. I wish for them to recognize and break the pattern. I want them to live without letting fear or anxiousness guide them.

It’s not only avoidance. There are times I can sit and be lost in thought of something bad happening to someone so close to me. I envision these horrible accidents and even death. It’ll bring you to tears, but it’s a bit like torturing yourself. It’s something that just happens, I’m not sure why, but people with a mindset like me can fully understand and relate.

Why do we let these thoughts in? Do we not have control over our own thoughts and mind? The beauty is, we do! We can choose to not let our thoughts drift to the doom and gloom. We can recognize it happening and turn it around, get our minds busy and refocused on something else. Much like with anxiety, refocusing exercises can be so helpful! I often pray in times that my mind starts to go over to “the dark side” and ask for my mind to be filled with things more positive and uplifting, knowing that He is working for me and has my best interest at heart. It can be like a boulder being lifted off your shoulders. Rejuvenating. You can also practice yoga, meditation, coloring/drawing, writing/journaling, going for a walk outdoors, exercise…something that refocuses your energy and helps you re-center. It can be easier said than done, but give it a shot and maybe not immediately, but over time you will start to see a difference. It’s very similar to trigger recognition in anxiety and panic; you start noticing the start of things that cause you to spiral and you can more quickly reverse them as you learn more about them and their origin.

My prayer for all of you today is that you all find solace in God and any one or all of those activities to refocus and re-center your minds. I am a huge advocate for the power of prayer; it has helped me tremendously, along with my faith and I cannot stress enough how without them, I would not be here today! I want all of you to live your lives to the fullest every single day, without letting your fears, your what ifs, your worst case scenario mindsets to dictate your days, weeks, months or years. I desire all of you to have confidence enough to step out of your comfort zones and explore the world around you, even if it means exposure to a fear or avoidance. Baby steps start off small and shaky, but as time progresses they get stronger and more steady. Please feel free to comment and let me know a fear/avoidance that you chose to face after reading this! I would love to hear about it! Much love and God Bless!

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FEAR. The underlying culprit of many conditions!

FEAR.

Fear is something I will most assuredly discuss off and on for as long as I have this blog running. Every single person out there has at least ONE thing they fear or are afraid of. For some of us, like myself, we have a plethora of fears. I know there are people out there who claim not to be afraid of anything; they fancy themselves immune to fear. But here’s a question, what does fear look like? I can guarantee that when asked about fear, most of us think of phobias…spiders, darkness, snakes and it’s usually either childhood type phobias or all that is creepy and crawly. What if I told you fear is less obvious than your basic phobia. What if I told you it was the underlying culprit to many conditions?

I have anxiety, but more than that, I have anxiety disorder. I have panic attacks, but not just panic attacks, panic disorder. I have also endured depression, which anyone who has depression knows it doesn’t magically disappear, but it can go dormant as I refer to it. Just to reiterate, I don’t make posts like these for sympathy, I make them for one simple reason: to help others. Now, with that said, I want to touch on something for a moment before continuing on to fear. Over the last few years I have noticed many people saying they have “anxiety”. While they may feel the “normal” feeling of nervousness or uneasiness associated with your average person, the simple fact is it’s not consuming them. It’s not debilitating to them. It doesn’t affect their daily lives and paralyze them. It doesn’t morph them into a person whom they can’t even recognize in the mirror. I am not trying to judge another in any way, but when you actually have anxiety and panic disorders, it’s easy to recognize the authentic from the ones who nonchalantly throw the terms around. I’m very confident in the near future I will blog further about my experiences with anxiety and panic disorder, but let me get back on track to fear. The reason I brought up anxiety, depression and panic is because they all stem from fear in some form or another. In my case, lack of being in control is also a factor. Think about it for a minute, those of us with anxiety and panic disorder have many fears. We fear losing control/going “crazy”, others being able to tell something is wrong with us, things happening to us that are out of our control, having some sort of serious illness, no one believing us and our feelings and the list goes on. For myself, at an extremely bad time with my anxiety, I was like a zombie…lifeless. I sat there with no emotions on my face at all, no matter who talked to me or attempted to, I just looked off and never even acknowledged their presence. I wouldn’t eat because I believed I was allergic to anything and everything. I feared going outside of the house because all kinds of things could potentially happen to me. I missed many days of work because I feared leaving the couple of people I deemed my “safe people” who I found some sort of comfort in. I thought every day was my last day. I hardly slept at night because I was convinced I would die in my sleep. My body would go into uncontrollable shakes which weren’t as severe as seizures, but resembled them in certain small aspects. Fear plays a significant role in panic and anxiety disorders. Depression, in many cases, can be caused by fear. Some fear speaking up for themselves or speaking up about their past traumatic experiences and that can cause them to fall into depression.

I was asked, “What if you woke up tomorrow and all your fear was gone, what would you do?” My answer was, “I would live.”

It seems like an odd answer, considering I am literally alive…but often times I am not living. Many times I am controlled by fear; I let it dictate my life. It tells me where I will go, what I will do. In certain times it becomes all-consuming and I lose myself. I become a shell of a person, unrecognizable to those who know me best and love me most. When you’re in those hours, weeks, months or even years, you can become so discouraged. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re “crazy” and “broken” and you’ll “never be the same” and you’re not “normal” (whatever normal is!) kind of look at that last one as a positive πŸ™‚ None of those are true statements. You have the ability to come back from all of it. I don’t want others to live in that constant struggle every single day. It’s like having to be a fighter every single day, whether you want to fight or not and you have no choice. It gets to a point where you just say, “I don’t want to fight anymore” and that is when you start to lose yourself. It’s not easy at all and it’s not “all in your head.” I quote movies A LOT and when referring to anxiety and panic I will use a quote from Titanic, “All the while I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a crowded room screaming at the top of my lungs, and no one even looks up.”Β  People feel like if they cannot see physical signs of your condition, you don’t really have any issues. They are conditions that others cannot fathom because they have never truly felt them.

The most important message I want to put out there is that there IS hope! You can come back and learn how to control your fears. I am not saying you will be “cured” or you won’t have times where you revert back, but you’ll have more confidence in your fight and in the end you’ll be the one still standing. Personally, I would not be where I am today without my faith in God and actually, I would not be alive at all. God has protected me through so much in my life, and it’s amazing to look back on certain situations I have been in and realize I made it out. God does not want us to live in fear, but to come to Him with anything that is troubling us.

I’m not sure if any of this was very cohesive,Β  hopefully it made some sort of sense πŸ˜‰ I would urge all of you to think about you fears and how big of a role they play in your life. Try to learn more about the triggers of your fears and work on getting to know yourself more. The more you learn about yourself and your fears, the more you’ll be able to work on them more effectively. I believe in the power of prayer as well. Take time to bring your worries and fears to God and watch how He works in your lives and uses you to help others. Much love and God Bless. ❀

 

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