Because I’m Happy!


I started this blog in June of 2016 as a way to share what I was growing through. It was my hope that my blog & what I had to say would touch just one person…& let her/him know that she/he is never alone in whatever difficult situation that gets in the way. I’m grateful that I have accomplished just that, & if my story never touches anyone else, I truly believe I have fulfilled a part of my purpose in life.

 

But I’m sure you’re wondering how I got here. How did I go from not even being able to get out of the bed some days to being fully “functional”? How did I survive the depression I was experiencing? How did I survive the anxiety I was experiencing? How was I able to reach the place I’m at now–a happy, whole place. Well, I’m glad you asked, & here’s how:

First, I reconnected with God. 

I firmly believe that the sole reason I was able to pick myself back up again, is because I had God pushing me back on my feet. Once I started back going to church & bible study, I started to feel this immense sense of hope that I didn’t feel before. I started to believe that I could actually overcome my situation & get back to a happy place again. Prior to last summer, I did have a relationship with God–but it was weak. I was streaming church, & not actually going to a physical place of worship. I wasn’t reading the Bible, & my prayer life was lacking. It’s sad that it took me experiencing all the negativity I did to reconnect with God. However, God may take you through a storm to get your attention, & to let you know that He wants you to come back to Him. That’s exactly what I did. I found a church home where I live & made it a priority to go every week. I purchased a new study Bible & created a prayer journal. Having the comfort of knowing that there is this Person who knows every thought, every action, every flaw, but still loves me so made me feel so selfish for not even trying at times. If He took the time to create me & make me exactly who I am, who was I to not be grateful for life? Who was I to just give up on myself when He never gave up on me? Now this way of thinking may not help everyone, & I don’t encourage beating yourself up about having a bad day or experiencing depression. I simply want you to realize how blessed you are & start to make a change. Reconnect with whatever Higher Being you believe in & see what a difference the relationship can make.

Once I reconnected with God, I started talking about my situation.

For me, this meant going to therapy (& of course, launching this site). Therapy is such a taboo topic in the African-American community, but I am not ashamed that I needed help. Because of therapy, I have now learned that there is strength in asking for help when you need it. I initially looked for someone who could help me through the grieving process after my Granny’s death. I experienced losing a loved one before, but her passing took a toll on me, & I needed someone to help me figure out how to navigate through the grieving process. The first therapist I saw was great in helping me initially, but I realized I needed something different & began looking for another therapist. My current therapist completed an assessment for me to help me determine if I was even experiencing depression at all. (In a previous post, I encouraged readers to at least try therapy once & get an assessment, so that you are able to know what you are actually dealing with mentally. I still encourage this today.) During that assessment, we connected in a way that I usually don’t even connect with people, & I still see her to this day. Seeing a therapist doesn’t mean that I’m crazy. Seeing a therapist doesn’t mean I am even “depressed” or that anything is wrong. I continue to see her because she listens to me, with no judgments. She encourages me when I feel like I’m not making any progress. She let’s me be me, & she helps me find the tools I need to keep making progress in this journey. She helps me lay the foundation for processing through what ever life experiences I may be having, & I look forward to going to see her twice a month. If you have a friend that you call & vent to, no holds bar, then you would enjoy seeing a therapist. It’s the same concept. My therapist has become a friend. Try it at least once, just to have the experience, & see how it could benefit you. It can be a little uncomfortable at times, but the feeling you get afterwards is worth the temporary awkward moments. 

If you’re one of those people that just side-eyed me because I see a therapist, my blog is not for you. Don’t be a part of the problem & the reason why people are afraid to talk about their mental health. We are here to break this cycle, not contribute to it.

Then, I started doing the work.

I realized after hitting such a low, low that I never wanted to feel that way again. So I had to figure out what I needed to do to make a change in my life. This is when I developed my self-care routine & started trying out different practices. I started walking every day to get endorphins going & to get some sun/fresh air. I started exercising as well & eventually started my yoga practice. I talk about some of my self-care practices in “Self Care ’17” & “Take Care of Your Star Player“. I also began letting go of some unhealthy relationships, started a forgiveness journey, & made changes to my living space. What’s most important is that I simply started putting forth effort to getting back to a positive mental space. When it got hard, I still kept trying, & didn’t give up on myself or the process. Life takes work, just like everything else. You have to be willing to do the work to live the life you want. Eventually everything will fall into place & it won’t even feel like work anymore. 

Finally, I started accepting being happy.

So here’s a little secret–among other things, I am afraid of being happy. My fear of being happy is decreasing as the days go by, but there are days where I resort to old habits & ways of thinking…honestly, I was so used to living a life that was dysfunctional. I wasn’t always unhappy, that’s not what I’m saying, but I had grown accustomed to having drama in my life. Bad things always happened, eventually, so I anticipated them even when things were going well. I was walking around with this dark cloud over me, & I didn’t even realize it. There were times where I felt like my brain was working against me, tricking me into thinking the worst. (Anxiety.) So I am learning how to get through those moments without letting the anxiety take control. I’m in a really great place now, & I am so grateful for this happiness. I appreciate it a little more because I know what it is like to be unhappy. I appreciate life & am striving to take advantage of each & every day. I’m learning to live in the moment–to not always have to take a picture or rush through eating my food because I’m “starving”. I’ve realized that being so focused on “timing” will have you missing out on a lot of things. Timing is never perfect. Tomorrow is not promised & you just have to go for it (whatever “it” is). Be happy.

What progress have you made in the last year? Looking back on this past year has shown me that God is still in control, & His work is amazing. I never thought I’d be in this place–happy, whole, loving Anaston. There were days where I never imagined I’d be openly sharing my story & giving others advice on their own self-care journey. But look what’s happened in a year! I’m here, doing all of those things! I’m excited for what will happen in this next year & the years to come.

Stay tuned.

 

 

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” x Frederick Keonig

 

 

Authentically, Anaston.

Over the last few years, I have been taking steps to live an authentic life.

Looking back on my childhood/middle school experience (& probably even some high school & college years) I tried to hide parts of myself out of fear of what others would think of me. In elementary school, I was teased because I have big lips. My head was big, I was small, and here I was with big lips to top it off. I remember my first grade teacher sat my entire class down & told them how they would all regret not having lips like mine & how people got surgery to get them (we see how that trend has progressed, right?). Even though I was young, I think that was my first introduction to the lesson: it is important to be proud of everything that relates to who you are.

So what does it mean to be authentic, exactly? Well, according to Merriam Webster, it means:

  • Real or genuine : not copied or false
  • True and accurate

Hiding parts of myself to make others feel comfortable cost me a lot, & it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college where I first began my battle with depression (I didn’t recognize that I was experiencing depression at that time, but years later I believe some of my experiences that year triggered it) that I realized just how much. The trade-off for trying to make others comfortable was that I was uncomfortable. I was insecure, anxious, & I often felt alone & misunderstood. 

Once I realized what I was doing to myself, I began taking small steps to ensure that first, I was comfortable with me; & second, that I was able to just be myself, no matter who I was around.

So here we are today–I’m 23 years old, & I am still on my “authentic journey”. I’m still figuring out the ins & outs of Anaston & still learning that its okay to be transparent about who I am. This blog is a way for me to be transparent. Those who cannot accept me or handle the things that come with me will lose out on me, & that is something that is out of my control.

As I am progressing on this authentic-self journey, I try to remind myself to focus only on me & the talents God gave me. I stay in my own lane. In a society that is full of IG models, lifestyle bloggers, & fashionistas, it’s easy to want to change things about yourself to fit in with other people. It’s also easy to get discouraged when you see other people doing things you are doing or want to do. The reality is, there will always be someone better. There will always be someone doing something similar. But what sets you apart, is you. God made one you, & anything you do will be special because of who you are. 

I’ve also learned to not let people convince me that I need to change things about myself. Although I am a flawed person, I try to not let negative opinions about my personality sway me. If there is something that I really need to work on, I know exactly Who to turn to & how to do the work. For example, most people suggest that I am too outspoken. I tend to be the person that talks about things others are too afraid to, & over time, I have realized that I have to own it. I remember sitting in chapter meetings in undergrad., being the person who would say the things no one else wanted to, & feeling like sometimes I said too much…but I later realized that I actually gained respect from my sisters because I spoke up. As long as I am respectful & cognizant of the things I say, I see being outspoken as a huge asset. If everyone is too reserved to say the things that need to be said, do you know how many people’s stories will never be told? 

So what can you do to start living your life as your authentic self? I think the first step is to “have a little talk with Jesus”. God created you to be exactly who you are & He makes no mistakes. Whatever & whoever you are came from Him, so why not turn to him first when it comes to you? Are there things about yourself that confuse you? Ask God about them. Are there things you want to change? Tell God about those, too. Once you’ve consulted Him, it will become much easier, but it takes practice every day. The next thing you can do is be honest with yourself. If you can’t be honest with your star player, then it will definitely be hard to be honest with other people. Once you’re honest, just accept who you are & be open to growing as a human being. Before you know it, you’ll be living your life as your true, authentic self.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” -Nelson Mandela