As I was driving on my way home today, I was captured by the beauty of the sunlight hitting the rustic colored leaves just right. I almost felt as if my breath was paralyzed from the stunning colors surrounding me. It was then that I was so grateful I made it to this day to experience this masterpiece.
Today is Mental Health Awareness day. Both of us, hold this day so close to our hearts. We both live each day with our mental disease living right along side of us. Tessa was diagnosed with anxiety at only 8 years old. She struggles leaving her family, going to friend’s houses and going on long car rides. As she grew older, her anxiety became more crippling and was effecting more of her day to day life. At age 15, it was time for medication to be implemented to try and control her attacks. Today, Tessa lives each day as it comes with the people she loves by her side. She is never alone in anything she does. Tessa is going to school at UVM studying Special Education. She conquers everyday with greatness and strength.
As for myself, I was diagnosed with anxiety only a year ago when I was attending Wheaton College. This was a trying time for both myself and my family. As it is for anyone who is diagnosed with a mental illness. I went to counseling for about 6 months and was able to start medication to calm down the severity of my anxiety during March of this past year. I have had ups and downs each day. But I choose to conquer my anxiety everyday. I am currently back at school after 8 months of a little mind, body and soul rehab. I attend Southern New Hampshire University and am majoring Elementary Education and Special Education as well. I am so lucky to be surrounded by my friends and family who support me. They help me defeat my illness each and everyday.
Anxiety presents itself differently for everyone. Anxiety disorder is different from that feeling of being anxious or nervous about something. It is crippling to us most days. It has taken both of us quite a long time to love ourselves regardless of our mental illness, but we choose to stand up to our anxiety and live each and everyday with passion, purpose and love!
You are not alone. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are YOU. And we love you for you.
How do you love yourself?
Wow. That's a big question. A question that I believe many of us ask ourselves as we look in the mirror each day.
All of my life I was so sure of who I was, who I wanted to be and who I wanted to surround myself with. I was a wild fire. I did everything I set my little mind to and more. I found myself filling my life with "oh I want to do this's" and "I NEED to be apart of that's." Well, that was all well and good for everyone else, but myself. I was volunteering for groups, I was leading groups, school clubs, student government, 3 sports, 3 jobs and music lessons. I filled my life to the brim with activities and "stuff'" that I left little to no time to really adapt and grow who I was.
I then went off to Wheaton College in the Fall of 2016. This had been my dream school since I was a little girl. I was so incredibly ecstatic to attend this institution. Yet when I got there, well a little over a month in, I found myself stuck. I wasn't the leader of any groups, I wasn't volunteering, I wasn't myself. Why? Because I had filled my time with "stuff" and "stuff" made me who I was, but without it, I had no idea where to even start when people would ask me to tell them a little bit about myself. Don't get me wrong, those experiences I had were WONDERFUL and they changed my soul for the better, but I still didn't know WHO I was inside. So when I decided to leave Wheaton College, I also decided to take a semester off to figure out ME; who I REALLY was, who I REALLY strived to be and what I REALLY wanted to do to change this world.
At first, I was a lump on a log. I felt defeated. I had left my dream school, I had no job, I didn't have anything to strive for, no goal, no aspirations; that left me binge watching movies on my couch only getting up to refill my coffee cup every once and a while. It wasn't until one sunny afternoon that I decided to get up, make myself some coffee (of course) and have a great day. I CHOSE to get up that day. I CHOSE to participate in life that day. That day, was the first day I started to find ME. From then on, I chose everyday, to do something that made me happy, something that made someone else happy or something that allowed me to reflect on my soul.
I'm not going to lie, these past 9 months have been some of the most difficult months of my life. I have had days where I didn't want to get out of bed, I have had days where I didn't think I was good enough, I have had moments where I doubted my faith, doubted my love for myself, doubted my existence on our Earth. But every day, every day, I decided to get up. I decided to be big, bold and beautiful. I have found my love for gardening again. Finding that every plant has a purpose on our Earth and for our bodies and minds. I have developed my all natural life style, loving my body with all natural products. I have begun to love my body that the Lord gave me in all it's glory; with every lump and bump. I have found passion and reflection in yoga and meditation where I reflect on my soul and who and what surrounds me.
I dedicate myself everyday to loving myself first. Loving who I am entirely with every piece, part and whole. I live in the moment, take each day one step at a time. I know, that because I love myself completely, that I am where I am meant to be. I know that because I love myself, anything is possible.