Meet my Mind

Upon first meeting me you might think of me as a slightly shy but mostly friendly and talkative person. What you would never guess is that while you’re talking to me my heart is racing and my legs are bouncing to keep my hands from shaking. Once our conversation ends I will then retreat silently away or most often into my headphones to calm my mind and to keep the shaking at bay. If I don’t I’ll over think what might have been a very simple conversation from what I said to how I said it and what I should have said instead.

Meet my anxiety. Yup. Like most 20 year olds in North America I have been blessed with the monster that is anxiety. If you know me personally, however, you will either never know this about me or only have found out about it after knowing me for a while. I don’t really like talking to people about it, in part due to me being a very personal person in general, but also because I fear that people will misunderstand me or begin to walk on eggshells around me. Always fearful that what they say might set me off.

My anxiety has been around since I was young but even still I always felt very comfortable with myself and the people around me. I did gymnastics for 13 years competing in my last four and partook in countless theater performances in and outside of school. By doing performance acivities how could I ever be anxious? Surprisingly, I could.

2011 is where I have the sharpest memory of experiencing a panic attack. I had had them before but never knew that that was what they were exactly. I remember standing in front of my French class full of everyone I knew and all of whom I had stood in front of before. I should have been fine but I wasn’t. This time something was different. My heart raced and my mouth went dry as I dreaded my turn. Once I stood facing the people I had known for four years, something clicked in my brain and told me I couldn’t. It told me my French was awful and my topic was ridiculous. Just as my teacher turned to me to start my knees buckled and my nerves shook in every inch of my body. I collapsed into a ball on the floor in front of my entire class crying and shaking. From that moment on I have been utterly terrified of doing presentations and to this day, I have still never done one.

In early 2013 my anxiety peaked with panic attacks almost every other day. At this time, it had been 2 years since I had moved 2 hours away from home to a big city where I knew no one and was wrapping up my college (CEGEP) diploma while in the process of applying to university. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, and I wasn’t happy. I lost interest in the things I used to love and I hated school. All I was capable of doing was sit on my computer for hours after I got home late at night because I hated being alone and the silence was dangerous.

It was also around this time I met a boy. He was tall with dark hair, strong facial lines, kind eyes, and an adorable accent. For a while my monsters left me as I slowly fell in love. Life was great, life was happy. I’ve read books and I’ve seen movies and I’m a sucker for a good ending and a good romance. So love fixes everything, right? Wrong. Without warning my monsters came back at full force, tired of being ignored and replaced by ridiculous emotions called happiness and confidence.

For another year and a half I tried and failed to make the monsters go away. At this point I was in my second year of university just coming out of academic probation. I had gotten into my last university of choice in my 3rd program of choice and had been failing miserably. In an effort to save my academic career I switched programs into something I was much more knowledgeable and interested in. But my monsters were still wild and just as strong as ever.

Eventually I had had enough. I was now so far retracted into my mind I was depressed. I was still not sleeping properly, I was eating either really poorly or not at all, I never hung out with friends and I never left the house unless I had to. Tired of this shadow that had crept into my life I decided to seek help and turned to the counsellors the school.

So it was. In the summer of 2015 I began this long road to learning to manage my anxiety and panic attacks. I would be lying if I said it has been easy and I would be lying if I said it fixed me quickly. Unfortunately the nature of this mental illness is that it will probably never go away but thankfully it can be managed. I still get anxious and I still have panic attacks from time to time. The difference now is that I know how to handle them better and on most occasions calm the attacks before they take on full swing. I still hate crowds and socializing but I’m finding ways to get through them without incident. I have new friendships and I’ve rekindled old ones. I’ve gone to Europe on my own for 10 days, something my 2013 self never thought capable of and now I will be starting my master’s degree in September.

Anxiety is a strong emotion, but I am stronger. It has taught me more about myself, my capabilities, and ways to love myself including my flaws. I’m a very personal person and talking about this part of me makes me feel extremely vulnerable but I’m choosing to share my story because I want more people to be aware of the realities of anxiety.

In an effort to continue this conversation I have started a new blog in which I will be talking about how I manage my anxiety. The focus will be primarily on my journey of doing my master’s degree but I can guarantee that in a lot of ways it will also be about how I’m managing my anxieties while doing my MA. I will also give a few tips on how to succeed and do well in university and other useful tips to get you through it. So if you are interested you can find my blog here.

 

Thank you for reading! ♥

Quick Late Night Post!

HELLO THERE! Long time no see…

So what’s been happneing? Well, I just wrapped up my Bachelors degree this year and graduated last Monday which was very exciting and very hectic. Now I’m on summer break until September when I got back for my masters. AhahawhathaveIdone! Towards the end of 2016 I pretty spontaneously decided to apply for a master’s degree and got accepted! I’m very excited now that it’s the next clear step for me but I’m also very nervous for the work load and intensity of it. But I’m sure I can do it!

As it is summer now I intend on posting a bit more and this time I mean it. I have posts already lined up and more ideas coming every day. Maybe it’s the new chapter on the horizon or maybe I’ve simply managed to revive something that I was missing these past few months. Either way I’m going to take hold of it and run with it!

What you can expect: some DIYs, more journaling, and hopefully some more of my photography! Maybe I’ll be able to bring back my captured moments project? I have also managed to come out of a reading slump I’ve been in for a few years and plan to do a post about it. In the meantime, I’ve opened a goodreads account and installed their widget in the right-hand sidebar of my blog if you were curious to see what I’m currently reading.

Until next time (which will be very soon)!

Losing my Second Tongue?

I don’t know if this is a saying in English but in French a literal way you could translate the word “language” could be “tongue”.

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One cool thing about me is that I understand 2 languages, French and English, and I used to proud myself in saying that I was bilingual. Nowadays, though, I feel as though I’m not as capable of saying that as I did when I was younger.

I went to a French immersion elementary school where the whole day was conducted in French up until second grade where we started to get about an hour of English lesson a day (if my memory serves me correctly). Had it not been for my parents I would have learned how to read in French before English. I did, however, learn how to write in French before English, which is kind of funny now because my writing skills are horrible.

I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t understand French; it’s just always been a part of me. Lately though, I don’t feel as confident and it both scares and saddens me. I always hated that I was forced to learn it when I was younger because I never really saw a point. My parents only spoke English and I lived in an English speaking province. Sure it is an advantage for Canadians to know both languages but as a naïve child I thought I could do better without it. That is until I moved provinces to where the main language is French and English is practically frowned upon. It became an advantage to know what people were saying around you and to not stand out as being “that English person”.

I soon grew to like the language even though my new classmates had begun pointing out my weird pronunciations and sentence structure. I quickly adopted their dialect and felt like I fit in better even though it was a bit of a struggle because I felt like I had to re-learn my second language.

I had been LOSING A PART OF ME, and I didn’t even notice

Since growing older and moving to a more bilingual city within that same French province I have pretty much given up on French for the past 4 years. I have managed to get by with taking up an English speaking job, going to an English university, having English friends, and answering sales people with “hi” instead of “bonjour” when they greet me.

It has been only recently I’ve been put into situations where I’m being forced to speak French. First it was my art classes, where in the beginning my teacher was conducting them in English but by the 6th class he pretty much switched to French. I quickly adapted and now feel relatively comfortable to converse with him in French. Second came when I went for a job interview and I stumbled through it.

On my walk home while playing back the interview in my head I felt discouraged as I realized that I was losing my French. I had been losing a part of me, and I didn’t even notice. By avoiding it I was losing it and in turn a piece of who I claimed to be.

People tell me I just need to practice and it should come back in no time considering I learned it when I was really young. But I don’t know where to start. Do I read easy books? Think more in French? Watch more French television? It’s this uncertainty that I feel is preventing me from actually starting, that and a sudden self consciousness about my dialect.

It’s a strange feeling to notice something that has always been there begin to slip away, particularly a language because they really are a part of a person. And when you do you find it slipping you suddenly want it back. French is such a beautiful language (which is sadly butchered by the dialect of this province) and is one I’m proud to say is within my repertoire.

So take it from me. If there’s something you truly love about yourself, be a language or another quality… Hold onto it, because if you let it slip you never know when you just might need it again.

Just let it Happen

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Everyone has bad days but for me when it comes to waking up on the wrong side of the bed I tend to handle it really poorly, and I mean really poorly. I’m mad at everything and everyone and it’s always best just to avoid me to. But there’s one person who doesn’t hide from me and that would be my boyfriend.

If I wake up in a bad mood and stay in a bad mood I get really snippy and I give up on any hope on what I had for the day and sit on my computer. Even if it’s only 2 o’clock in the afternoon my mind decides that the day can’t be fixed. Thankfully I managed to land someone who is a lot more optimistic and hates seeing me so sad and gives it his everything to help me fix it. I love him.

Yesterday I woke up sad and grouchy and after having lied in bed for an hour, eaten, and showered for half an hour I still didn’t feel any better and I gave up on the day at only 1 in the afternoon. After a lot of refusing (and slight annoyance at slightly matching), my boyfriend finally managed to convince me to go outside and walk with him. No need of destination, who cares if it rains, and fuck the time.

Normally I have a hard time with spontaneity and not knowing where I’m going but I’m slowly opening up to the idea of it. Looking back on days like yesterday I realize how caught up I am in needing things to be orderly and planned when details aren’t always necessary. Sometimes the unplanned can be a lot more fulfilling than the planned.

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In the end I did feel better and in the end it did rain but I was okay with that. We had walked to the local mall, ate noms, bought Laura Secord chocolate, and just wandered!

On the way back we did get caught in the rain with no umbrella and at first I started feeling miserable about it. I started worrying about how much he hates wet socks, and how I had a white shirt on, and how my hair had JUST finished drying. Then he looked at me smiling while shaking his head and said “just let it happen”. I thought for a moment, and then I did. I just. Let. It. Happen. I let the rain soak through my hair and my clothes and it felt so goddamn good.

I ran out into the open space under the rain and let the world happen. Behind me I could hear him laughing and calling me silly and I laughed with him. In the pouring rain I let the world happen. I loved how much we accidentally matched and I laughed at how we tried so hard to beat the rain only to end up getting caught in it.

What I think I’m trying to say is that when the world has got you down you just have to let it happen. You can plan all you want but sometimes you get caught in the rain without an umbrella and there’s nothing you can do except get rained on.

The Summer List

9556 sgI think I’m a person of seasons, meaning that depending on whether it’s warm or cold outside my mood and personality shift. Winter is the quiet but restless feeling of staying indoors, spring is the excitement for everything to live once more, summer is the calm and the free, and fall is the return to routine. In these feelings I act grumpy, then hopeful and giddy, then carefree, and then relaxed but disciplined.

Summer has always had a sort of magical feel to it ever since I could remember, maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s the countless lazy days that accompany me for weeks. I love feeling the sun on my skin, walking in the rain on a hot day, laughing, relaxing, living… I was always afraid of getting older in fear that these feelings would change or fade because of the responsibilities that came with being an adult but they didn’t; they are still there.

I know that the official first day of summer isn’t for another couple of weeks but the weather is starting to tell me otherwise. The days are longer, the air is thicker, and the nights are deeper. In spirit of it all I have decided to do something motivational that will make this summer different than my others.

If you have read some of my older posts you will have seen that I made a list in the fall that involved doing fall inspired things. I had mentioned that I wanted to do one for every season but seemed to have skipped winter and spring (I blame university). I decided that if there was any season that I wanted to make sure I did it was summer.

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When making this list I wanted to make them more personal while also remaining fun. Like I mentioned, summer feels more calm and carefree so I wanted the list to also reflect that. Too often I find myself wrapped in countless worries of anything that’s thrown my way and tend to find myself burning out a lot and quickly. I’m in a constant state of what my dad likes to call “a full cup”. I don’t like this state and don’t want to spend my summer with that feeling and have decided to change it.

And so the summer list was born! Looking at it it might seem vague but really that’s the point seeing as it’s a personal one but I still wanted to share it so I’ll explain it generally.

  • Walk, Learn something, write inspirationally, improve languages, and create more. These are things that I classify as “actively doing” because they are stimulating in the creative sense while also being calming. During school I often find I don’t have time to do a lot of these things or at least do a lot of these things for myself and not for assignments.
  • Explore the new and the old, focus myself, adventure the unkown. Like I said, I wanted to help with my full cup problem so I chose specific focuses for myself. If you have been reading my “Chronicles of a wannabe artist” then you will see that even in fun I hesitate and worry. These three points are targeted to help me to try and relieve some of that.

Looking at it now I feel inspired, excited, and scared all at once. A part of me says I’m way too ambitious while another part of me is reminding me that I don’t have to complete or change everything by the end of the summer. For now I will just take every day as it comes.

A Return to Familiars

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Two weeks ago I was hit with a strange case of homesickness and decided to take a trip home for a few days last week. One thing to know about me is that I moved away four years ago and have since become relatively comfortable in my new city so homesickness has become almost non-existent. When it does make itself known though it’s one I can easily move past. This one came with tears instead. I longed for familiarity and wanted out of the chaos.

The thing I have come to realize with visits home is the return to familiars, a return to streets I have driven on many times and places that carry unforgettable memories. For me, home is a reminder of who I once was and who I said I wanted to be. In a big city with a new set of friends and more freedom than I think should be allowed for a person, it’s easy to lose yourself especially if you’re used to a slower life in a quieter city.

Although short it was still long enough to feel as though I was able to hit the reset button on myself. I got to spend endless hours chatting with my Dad catching up and talking about nothing. I got to walk around my city and see how it’s changing and what still remains. I visited an old friend who took me to her boyfriend’s farm where I was also reminded of how beautiful my country is.

At the farm all that surrounded us was open fields and trees with a small river a little ways away and I was left with the feeling that nothing else existed except us and the ducks. I felt as though time had stopped and I did not want it to stop.

As I sit here back in my new city a week later reminiscing about that short but refreshing time I can’t help but smile. I got to see home, I got to see my Dad and spend time with one of my closest friends whom I had not realized how much I missed until I saw her. I would be lying if I said I have remained in that reset state after all this time but it does still linger.

I guess what I want to say is that the return to familiars can be good, in that it can remind you of what once was and what is yet to be. You realize in your time away from familiars that life does not stop or stay the same just because that is how remember it but rather it grows and changes. You see this in the people you meet or the people you already know, you see this in the places that once were there but now are not. For me home reminds me that I too have changed just as these familiars and it forces me to question whether I am happy with these changes in myself. I don’t want to get lost in the chaos and these trips home are just what I need to ensure that I stay on the path that I want for myself.

The Fall List

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Fall has to be my favorite season by far, with spring following close on its heels. I just love the change of color that surrounds my city and the crisp air that smells of fallen leaves. I love bundling up and finally being able to start breaking out the cozy sweaters and scarves. I love the late nights or lazy afternoons spent with friends or loved ones drinking tea or hot chocolate.

With all this comes the side of me that wants to do all the cliché things one can do during fall but I always end up talking myself out of it. Well not this year! This year I am making a change and I am going to TRY and do some things that I consider to be stereotypical of fall.

I feel like in writing it down and personalizing it, it gives me more of a motivation to actually do some of it.

I feel like in writing it down and personalizing it, it gives me more of a motivation to actually do some of it.

So I looked for a fun way to motivate myself to go about this on the handy dandy Pinterest. (Side note: Yes, I have a Pinterest, all of my boards are private but I have started one for this blog, so if you want to check it out or follow me you can click here to go to my Pinterest.) I found a cute pin by someone who made a small list of things that they want to do during fall. There were actually a lot of lists people had done but I liked that particular list because of its simplicity and no flowering of fall symbols or overdose of fall colors.

So I decided to make my own list! It’s simple, it’s short, and my points aren’t hard to accomplish if I really put my mind to it. I also don’t want to limit myself to this being just for the month of October so I will say that this is only affective until the first snowfall. Snow starts early here, so sadly I’m sure this list won’t stick around too long.

I think this might be something I want to do every season. Who cares about clichés and what people think, if I want to do I, I am choosing to do it. Maybe some of you will find this inspiring or motivational and make a list of your own. Happy fall!

I feel it helpful to have the list on something I look at a lot of times during the day and serves as a really fun reminder.

I feel it helpful to have the list on something I look at a lot of times during the day and serves as a really fun reminder.

The Backyard Market

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Cheery tomatoes ready to be picked!

Just as I do every summer I come out to eastern Canada to visit my grandmother (my Dad’s mother for those who care to know the specifics) and just like every summer, without fail, she keeps a garden. Normally when I make it up here nothing is ready to be picked yet, but this time we made the trip out in August and I was able to help out a little in the garden.

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Onions and two tomatoes.

As I squatted there in the garden today, picking green beans and smelling the fresh onions popping up from the soil next to me and my grandmother tossing me the occasional cucumber, I had foggy memories from my childhood begin to creep into my head.

They were memories of running along the fence looking for raspberries that had magically popped up from the other side as well as some of picking the ripened red tomatoes and bright orange carrots from the garden. I always enjoyed picking the tomatoes because they had that particular earth smell mixed with green and earth to it that I always enjoyed smelling right after picking.

This year my grandmother chose to plant cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and beans and I got to help pick all of them! She said that the bees must be on her side this year because she ended up with so many cucumbers! She also ended up with a fair amount of beans, which apparently my uncle had grown tired of eating over the past few weeks but sadly I did not get to eat on this visit.

I enjoyed working in the garden with her today, not only for the time spent together, but also for the act of actively picking the food you’re going to eat. It’s one thing to get fresh veggies from the market or the grocery store but it’s another to pick them yourself fresh from the vine. I will also mention that as I washed the dirt off the cucumbers later on that afternoon I couldn’t help but want to eat all of them but in the end had to resort to eating only one. There’s always tomorrow!

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Today’s pick.