By Cherie Faus Smith
After being diagnosed with a panic disorder in 2006 and by the suggestion of my physician, I quit my job. It wasn’t easy for our family since we were a two-income household.
I felt embarrassed knowing I was letting my husband and our family down. Because of my panic disorder, I became agoraphobic and couldn’t leave my home for a full year. So, I began searching for jobs which allowed me to work from home.
When major shifts occur in our lives, we are given an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
Since my career as an administrative assistant spanned many years, I found that I was already prepared to offer the same services online. I was fortunate to find a virtual assistant who lived about 30 minutes from my home who was willing to chat with me and share a book she’d written about the field.
I took a leap and started my own virtual assistant company. I’ve been going strong ever since 2007. The work was comfortable, my clients were happy, and my work ethic and accomplishments have brought in plenty of referrals and new work. Yet after 13 years of providing support for my clients, I was yearning to find an outlet for my creative side.
My husband and I were returning home from the grocery store and as we drove through the gorgeous mountainside, I told him that I wasn’t happy in life anymore. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with him or our marriage but instead unhappy with MY life.
He was receptive to hearing why I wasn’t happy. After talking it through with him, I realized that I was looking for a purpose. I was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, and now a business owner.
BUT I was 49 years old at that time and staring 50 in the face.
Instead of dreading midlife, I wanted to do something different and fun!I remember sitting in our backyard on a swing, closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and embracing what life would look like after I turned 50. I’m an extrovert and absolutely LOVE helping other women so it was only natural for my mind to tune into that part of me that wanted to celebrate being a midlife woman and supporting other women who are going through the same things in life.
At that moment, I knew that something better was coming my way.
I’ve learned two things since that day:
As I’m stepping into midlife and taking risks, I invite you to join me. Let’s embrace fifty together and support one another.
Because I have a passion for supporting women, I created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
By Karima Leslie
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay
The Problem: Science Says We’re Kind of Suckers for Pain
Our brains are wired to seek out- and pay more attention to- unpleasant news. Termed “Negativity Bias” in Psychology, this pursuit of knowledge of negative things has helped us survive life threatening situations for generations.
But as our society evolves and the accessibility of information grows, we become bombarded by everything that’s going wrong in the world which can leave us thinking that the world is an awful place.
But I Have Good News:
In reality, the world is filled with just as much beauty & compassion as it is with ugliness & hate. It’s all a matter of what we pay attention to and what we’re fed. Reporting on positive news is rare in occurrence because bad news sells, not because there’s less of it. The world is still a wonderful place, the end is not nigh, and our planet is not past the point of saving.
Step 1: Be Realistic
If we want to be informed, then we have to open ourselves up to the good as much as we do the bad.
Having a “realistic” view of the world does not equal cynicism or skepticism but a balanced understanding that both good and bad events occur all the time. Be mindful of your thoughts this week and be honest about acknowledging if you’re biased towards negativity.
Try This Exercise to Find Out If You Have A Bias
Read the following scenarios and close your eyes as you think about your reaction. Really envision each scenario and go through possible thoughts & emotions that you would have:
How did the above scenarios make you feel? Were your thoughts & emotions mostly negative, positive, or neutral?
The happiness, love, & beauty in the world can be overshadowed by the anger, darkness, & sadness which has a bigger platform. Because of this we must be diligent in seeking out joy. Below are some great resources to get you started and remember that for every bad news, there is good. Check in again next month for the next step you can take to make 2020 your best year yet!
By Holly Miller
As someone who lives with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), there are some days I have to convince myself that I do indeed know how to be a person. If you don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder, I acknowledge how strange that sounds. When I open my eyes, many days I have to convince myself that I am physically able to get out of bed, brush my teeth, shower, make a breakfast (that I usually feel too sick to eat), drive to work, and function at my job. I force myself to stand in front of large groups of teenagers and teach math. I grit my teeth and lesson plan, grade papers, and drive home. And the whole time, there is a voice that whispers or sometimes screams “you can’t do this.”
GAD is something that I have learned how to live with. I have learned techniques to quiet this nay-saying voice and strong-arm that voice into submission. But some days, I’m just too tired to fight it. Sometimes these wrestling matches only last a few hours but they can go on for days or even weeks. And unfortunately, the only way out of these anxious spells is to push through them. I just have to “keep on keeping on”, armed with the knowledge that I won’t feel this way forever. It will eventually pass.
In the meantime, I just have to fake it until I make it. Navigating the terrifying voids of anxiety and grappling with your own mind can be so isolating. You are convinced you will never feel normal again. The ordinary is confusing and the normal-every day functions that others seem to be able to perform are somehow impossible for you to carry out.
I, however, am very lucky because I have an amazing husband who helps me through every terrifying episode as well as family and friends who strengthen my will and help me push through. This month’s blog is dedicated to all who support me when my world doesn’t make sense, when I must wrestle myself. These are tips that you can use when someone you love is struggling through a rough anxiety-induced patch.
Most people tend to do this naturally with those they love. When I feel anxious, it helps SO MUCH to hear someone else tell me “everything is going to be ok.” My husband is really good at recognizing my anxiety patterns. When my grades come due four times a year, he will remind me that “You feel this way at the end of EVERY marking period. It’s normal for you to feel anxious around this time of year”, and knowing that my anxiety has a pattern is somehow comforting to me. It helps me understand my anxious feelings that don’t make logical sense to me. I KNOW everything is going to be ok, but when my brain is waging war against me, it helps to have someone else on my side reassuring me of this.
2. Listen/don’t be dismissive
I am the FIRST to admit that when I get anxious, it doesn’t make logical sense. And that is what is so maddening about it all! But my friends listen to me when I am having a hard day. They don’t make me feel invalid for having illogical feelings. They do all they can to make me feel accepted and listen to me when I want to talk about my anxiety. My husband has the patience of a saint. He will solve my illogical problems with no judgement and a sense of ease. Here is an example of a recent conversation - Me: “I know we don’t have food in the house right now, but I feel like I will actually die if I go grocery shopping.” Him: “How about I pick up stuff to make dinner tonight?” He doesn’t tell me that I sound crazy. He will just solve the problem. My husband makes me feel like a valid part of our team. There are days when I just can’t seem to function. He understands that and the leadership shifts to him that day on decisions. We share all errands, chores, and housework and he helps out even more when my brain convinced me that I can’t do something simple, like cook dinner or wash the dishes that day.
3. Help set and keep boundaries
I tend to give too much of myself to others in my life. Before I learned how to set and keep boundaries, I would go into work at 6 AM and stay until 9 PM. Friends who needed me for one thing or another would call at all hours of the night and I was always available to talk. I would say yes to every social obligation, not wanting to let others down. Most of my family lives over 2 hours away from me, so I would drive every single weekend to ensure I didn’t miss time with them. And then I started getting really sick. After many tests and doctor visits, I found I was having panic attacks. I was giving too much of myself and I was getting physically and mentally ill from it. After years of experience, I have learned to set boundaries to keep my mental health in check. I’ve made these boundaries much clearer to others over the years, and my loved ones know and respect these boundaries. Learning to say “No” to loved ones was so hard for me. But when they let me know they understand and respect my boundaries, it is much easier to keep myself healthy.
4. Let them feel what they feel and don’t try to fix it
When I am having a hard time with my anxiety, well-meaning people who don’t know me well often try to solve my problems for me. “Aw, cheer up. It could be worse.” “Go for a run, you’ll feel better.” “Make a to-do list and accomplish it! It helps ease your mind.” While these are all great suggestions, I know my anxiety best and I know what I need to do to feel better. Those who offer to just listen or ask me what I need to do to feel better and offer to keep me company until I feel more myself are the ones who help me the most with my anxiety.
Every time I make it through a rough patch, I cling to the gratefulness I feel for my support system; people who love me despite my GAD. I am so thankful for my husband, family, and friends who love me unconditionally. There were points in my life where my anxiety felt too unbearable to live. But my loved ones helped shoulder my burden and got me the help I needed. I know there will be rough times in my future, but knowing I have people in my life who ‘get it’ helps me carry on.
If you are reading this blog right now, know you have the ability to help those you love who may suffer from any kind of anxiety condition. Just educating yourself about mental wellness is the first step. There is a wealth of information out there. Although anxiety disorders are the most common of mental health conditions in the United States, many people are unwilling to talk about it. I am hoping that people who are telling their stories just like me are helping break that silence. We need to normalize anxiety conditions because each year, we lose too many people who are too exhausted to keep wrestling themselves. Being there for someone who is wrestling with themselves is a priceless, life-saving act.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached email@example.com