To The Person Unsure Of Facing Their Fears…

Hi You,

I know we haven’t formally met, so – Hey, I’m Ellie, and it’s nice to meet you virtually! 🙂

I recognize that look in your eyes. Come on. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that you can fool pretty much anyone else with to lower any suspicion of not feeling well. The shield you put up to keep others at bay, for you think if you were to say how you felt, an avalanche would ensue. The one that makes you think you’d be letting others down for admitting that you don’t feel okay. If the look had a name, it would be Fear. Not Fear of being a wimp, but the kind of Fear that paralyzes you. Fear that keeps you from reaching your highest potential.

You may or may not be familiar with the George Addair quote, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” And really, what is Fear, anyway? defines it as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” This definition explains impeccably well why you push off facing your fears. This is because it is a distressing emotion aroused by evil, danger, or pain that does not sound inviting. You do not generally want to endure risk or discomfort; however, if you knew what would result, you may think twice. 

Eleanor Roosevelt advised, “Do one thing a day that scares you.” Scary and Fear are related, so why would Eleanor suggest this? She suggested it because once you conquer that Fear, you free yourself from it. Stepping outside your comfort zone is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your growth. You will feel accomplished and encouraged to keep going. Do not be a prisoner to your fears because often they are scarier in your head. 

Finally, if all else fails, take it from Yoda, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Translation (for my non-Star Wars folks): Quit while you’re ahead because you do not deserve to suffer. That is no way to live; it will beget a miserable, bitter life. You’re braver than you know, and sometimes it takes overcoming an obstacle to show your strength. Do not give up, and never let fear win.

That Therapy Thing

Hi! I’m Ellie, the creator of this website and blog. I am a Star Wars lover, an avid reader of psychological thrillers, classic movies, positive quotes, fast food, coffee, and pretty much anything sweet! I have struggled with my mental health “officially” since middle school. However, I could make a case that it has been longer. I officially started therapy when I was about 12 years old. Unfortunately, my therapist recently needed personal time off, but I saw her until I was about 23, about 11 years total. I began going to therapy because I deeply feared going to sleep at night. I was anxious about something happening (burglars, murderers, kidnappers, etc.). When I stop to think about that anxiety, it is not surprising because when you turn on the news – it can seem like that is all you hear about. It almost felt like my ears perked up when I heard about news like that because then I could be on the lookout for my family. However, it caused my family more harm than good. I would keep them up for hours with anxiety. I would not sleepover anywhere for fear of being in a house I did not know as well.

I was lucky to have such attentive parents who saw this problem and addressed it: Cue, the wonderful therapist who walked into my life. As a 12-year-old, I was apprehensive about starting therapy. How was that going to help me sleep better? Well, it did. My therapist specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). For those who are unaware, Psychology Today defines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as:

A form of psychotherapy that focuses on modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts by interrogating and uprooting negative or irrational beliefs. Considered a “solutions-oriented” form of talk therapy, CBT rests on the idea that thoughts and perceptions influence behavior.

Once you identify these perceptions as negatively influencing your life, the work to rewire your brain and change your behavior(s) begins. This is not easy, but it can be done. We created steps to change my sleeping behavior and the thought patterns that made me anxious. It helped familiarize me with the facts – how likely is someone to break in? I began to challenge my anxious thoughts logically. After the hard work, I got better sleep and had sleepovers, which at 12 is a big deal!

What is my point? That you should all go to therapy to sleep better? No, my point is if there is something in your life that is bringing you down or a habit you cannot seem to kick, whatever it is – therapy can help! We live in an age where getting help is OKAY and, in fact, healthy. It is admirable to see people working to better themselves. I have always thought that it would be a much more loving and peaceful world if everyone went to therapy. It wouldn’t be perfect, but many animosities, anger, pain, etc., would be dealt with, which can change how you feel about yourself and how you treat others. You realize you are human too. You make mistakes, and that is okay, even part of the process, but what will you do the work to rectify the mistake? Work through it! It’s kind of like a knot in your back; it might not come out immediately, but eventually, with time, if you keep working on it, it shrinks, and voilà, it is gone! Have a great week, friends!

The Gateway

As a kid, I remember a classmate’s mom (a nurse) coming to my third-grade class to talk about the effects of smoking tobacco. She showed the class a pair of healthy lungs and compared those to the lungs of a smoker—the pretty drastic difference, as one can imagine. She showed pictures of celebrities smoking cigarettes’ to show us that companies will try to make it look “cool.” They even said the classic line, “It’ll be your best friend who peers pressure you.” I am sure many of you have participated in a similar presentation. Did it work?

While the attempt was noble, it was a bit dated or perhaps even sheltered. Where were the high school presentations on opioids and other hard drugs? Non-existent, which upsets me as someone who has lost multiple friends to overdoses. We may have referenced and defined drugs in health class, but that is not enough. I am not saying it would have changed anything, but what if it did? What if we showed the younger generations the life cycle of someone on drugs? We must show the unglamorous side of drugs and highlight that it is not uncommon for addicts to suffer from mental illness.

The tried and true answer is no, it did not. Why? Because while yes, cigarettes are nasty, they have become antiquated. They are not as “cool” as they once were. The evolution of technology has dated yet something else. What is popular now are e-cigarettes’ (ever heard of Juuling?) which are just as bad, if not worse. However, I am not here to talk about cigarettes.

Many addicts start to like you and me, just trying to get by and lessen the noise and evil in the world. However, when you get knocked down a few times and are unsure where to turn – drugs can feel like a viable option, but I promise you it is never worth it. It can help you escape from your feelings in the waking hours. People turn to drugs to numb the pain from undiagnosed or untreated mental illness and unresolved issues. Man, that first time is supposed to be as euphoric as they come, but after that, you constantly chase that same high for the rest of your life. Trust me; you have way too much to do in this life to go down that rabbit hole. This is not a healthy way to address those feelings or an undiagnosed mental illness.

If you haven’t watched Dopesick on Hulu, I recommend adding it to your queue. It explicitly spells out how Purdue Pharma relentlessly advertised Oxycontin, knowing it was highly addictive and fatal. They promised to reformulate – how do you think that went? Every year roughly 100,000 people die from opioid overdoses. That is disgusting, and there will never be an excuse for that. Purdue Pharma and other companies should have undoubtedly been at fault. Purdue Pharmacy even knew there was a history of abuse with opioids, and they covered it up to sell and make billions off of others’ pain and sadness. That is not humane, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Purdue Pharma and other companies – I am calling you out – you owe these loved ones a huge apology. It won’t make up for the loss, but it’s a start, not to mention the right thing to do. What is Purdue Pharma doing to help curb the opioid epidemic? Oh, that’s right, continuing to produce and push opioids. Pathetic.

To our friends who left us too soon, I am so sorry. I am sorry that you were lied to by a company like Purdue Pharma or felt you needed to seek solace from drugs. I wish I had let you know and made you feel like you could come to me without judgment. I’m sorry life was so hard on you that you thought you had no other option. I’m sorry. I miss you and will never forget you. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to opioids, please, visit this resource for immediate help. You are not alone, and we do not judge; we want to help you see that there are other ways to handle your mental health. We see you, and we are here for you. Remember, the most intelligent person in the room asks for help.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines United as “combined; produced by joint action; agreeing. According to the National Constitution Center, the United States of America’s name originated at the Second Continental Congress, stemming from the “United Colonies.” On Monday, September 9, 1776, Congress approved some significant resolutions. The fifth resolution said: “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words’ United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States'” spoken by John C. Fitzpatrick.

Let’s back up a second, however. As you may remember from your American History class (or if you googled it like me), the colonies formed to be free from the British crown. Thus, escaping the monarchy and creating the beginnings of what would become the United State’s democracy. Allowing the people to elect officials to represent their country. Fast forward about 245 years through the invention of the telephone, two World Wars, the Civil Rights Movement, the landing on the moon, the British Invasion, and the birth of the Internet, among many more. Over 200 years forward, yet we are still fighting the same battles. Will we ever learn to lay down our weapons? We know a divided house cannot stand, as we have seen that movie played out in history repeatedly. Is power more important than human life? I sincerely hope not, but in today’s world, and it is easy to question.

If you are anything like me, you, too, are having a hard time standing idle. I remember learning about WWII as a kid and thinking about what was wrong with all the Americans for not helping (before we joined the war). Right, wrong, or indifferent was the choice of the country at the time. Nowadays, we as individuals have more power than we know what to do in the age of smartphones and social media. Why not put that overcharged power to good use? If you feel down or helpless, know that you are not alone. Despite the politics of it, human nature kicks in, and it is horrific to watch our fellow human beings treated so inhumanely. While we may not be able to pick up and go to Ukraine to help, there are other ways to contribute. The saying “be the change you wish to see” applies here, as change starts with just ONE person. I have linked resources to nationwide organizations like United WayYMCAHabitat for Humanity, Doctors Without BordersWorld Health OrganizationSalvation Army, and Direct Relief. Please read about the different collections and donate to the one that most speaks to your heart. Now, it does not need to be a pricey donation, even $1 helps! Please give what you can. You’re assisting countless refugees and citizens of Ukraine during this trying time. Treat others how you want to be treated.

To The Person Who Thinks It Is Too Late…

I have never been a fan of the term late bloomer. Late has a negative connotation attached to it. People generally tend to look down upon “being late” and wasting their valued time. True, people’s time is valuable, and you should not intentionally destroy it. That said, I’m a self-proclaimed late bloomer.

Regret over lost time. Whether you hoped to be a millionaire by age 30 or let the “one” slip away, there are thousands of choices we could spend our entire lives ruminating over. However, if you regret wasted time, then why would you choose to waste more? I know you are not intentionally wasting time, but by staying stuck in the past, you are not allowing yourself to move forward. So you’re different from where you thought you would be at this point in your life? Welcome to the world. One of my favorite song lyrics applies here (which I have referenced previously), “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” from “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon. We all have a hope or dream of how our life could turn out, but we have to remember those are not blueprints. Life is infamous for its countless, unexpected twists and turns. It is okay not to be exactly where you thought you’d be.

In my life, I have had several plans turn out completely different than I ever could have imagined. One example is college. Man, I could not wait to go off to college. I had conquered my high school mental health challenges, so I had no doubt that college would be the same, right? Boy, was I wrong? “Adulthood” hit me hard as I braved the cold Wisconsin winters at Marquette University. Like many young “adults, ” I fell into the temptations of the college “party” scene. I felt I had worked so hard in high school; wasn’t it about time I gave myself a break? And, yeah, that was probably right. However, I should have stopped then and there and said I was not ready for this, but I was a kid, and hindsight is always 20/20.

I downplayed my mental health as if that were something that could afford to take a back seat in my life. It was not. Treatment became inconsistent to non-existent, and I wondered how far I had come from where I had once been. I knew the concrete answer – partying heavily and stopping treatment don’t mix well. To me, that was a no-brainer, but the real question was, why? Why was I choosing that life? People typically do not desire that life unless they use it to cover up or numb their unresolved issues. I had a hard time admitting to myself that was what was happening. I tried to blame it on being a young college kid. I’d tell myself, “Well, everyone else is doing it, so it must it’s fine.” However, it was because I was too afraid to admit I was hurting. I knew it would open up a can of worms I could not close back up.

Days spent in bed, tears dried to my face, and the feeling of rock bottom crept in. I had lost all confidence in myself. What did I do? The only thing I knew how. I went home. I went back to my roots to figure out where the problem started. Back to therapy, medication, and a less thrilling lifestyle. Yes, at the ripe age of 22, I moved back in with my parents. (Talk about not being where you thought you would be.) As I watched most friends close out their senior years of college with diplomas and job offers, I knew I had my work cut out for me if I ever wanted to feel that same sense of pride. I applied to a local school and began with general education courses I had yet to take. What did I choose? College Algebra. Folks, I hate math. I know hate is a strong word, but it applies here. I will never be able to explain why I chose a class I hate. However, it helped me get my “groove” back (for lack of a better term). It reminded me of how I used to study. Slowly but surely, my work ethic began to settle back in.

I remembered how good it felt to work hard for something and obtain the desired result. This was mentally rewarding and made my self-esteem begin to increase again. I had to remember that I held the key to my success the whole time. It was not a matter of whether I could do it; it was whether I wanted to. Hard work can be draining, and if you do not give yourself proper time to relax and veg out, you might run into a wall, like me. Taking time off and putting your work away is okay and honestly healthy.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and am pursuing my master’s degree. Whatever it is in life you aim to do, know this: you can do it, it is not too late, and the only thing in your way is, well, you.

The Importance Of Being Kind

I have never been able to tell if it is good or bad that we, as humans, are shocked by acts of kindness. That always meant that kindness was rare enough in our world for people to slow down to marvel in awe. Rubbernecking, if you will. Kindness was the exception in an otherwise cruel world. Kindness should never take a backseat.

In Mother Teresa’s Anyway poem, she said, “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” I always found that odd growing up. Why should I be kind to someone who thinks I am selfish? No thanks, I’m good. However, as I have grown older, the meaning has shifted. It became less about my feelings and more about the unkind person’s feelings. There is always a reason someone acts unkind, which usually stems from a lack of kindness and love. I was lucky enough to learn the meaning of kindness and love from my family. Not everyone is that lucky, and we must remember that. You have no idea the impact your kindness could have on a person. Similarly, we have yet to learn the inner battle someone else is fighting.

I’d love to sit here and tell you that it has become easy to be kind to those who are unkind. But I am human, and I fail sometimes. However, I can tell you this: Being unkind never makes me feel the way it does to rise above it and treat that person kinder than they treated me. It helps to know that failure is part of the process, and it is never too late to make amends. It is actively choosing to be kind instead of our innate “eye for an eye” human nature. I know my worth and am confident, so why not help someone else along in their journey?

An Ode To The Homies

This time of year, it’s hard not to get swept up by Danielle Steel novels and Nicholas Spark film adaptations. However, the focus is romantic love.

My mom was my favorite person to celebrate Valentine’s Day with. To be honest, she still is! Don’t get me wrong, I love my significant other, but we celebrate our relationship throughout the year in different ways. It is nice to have the time to be thankful for other loving relationships that bring value to your life.

Another favorite Valentine’s day celebration of mine is not a romantic dinner for two but a girl’s night with my favorite gals. (Inspired by Galentines Day from Parks and Recreation). Do you know why? It is because I can always count on them when I feel lonely or am in a pickle, and that has always been the case. 

As you grow older, your circle becomes smaller; quality takes precedence over quantity. In other words, growing up was about seeing how many friends you could make, but as you grow, you learn it can be hard to have fulfilling relationships with too many different people. Not to say you cannot have many friends, but I am talking about that close inner circle. The circle that has held you up when you felt at your lowest, seen your ugly cry, and probably held your hair back a time or two. They are your 3 A.M. friends you know you can call no matter what, and they will be there for you. Those are the relationships worth celebrating on Valentine’s because that is also a form of true love, right?

So this year, ditch The Notebook and watch something like BridesmaidsSleepoverSisterhood of the Traveling Pants, etc.; need I go on? Find that movie that speaks to your close relationships or makes you downright belly laugh. These holidays can seem daunting, but truthfully they are what you make them. You can spend your time on the couch crying it out (I’ve been there, girl. You don’t want to do that!) or spring up and take control of the situation. I know you’ve got this! Check out our resources page for more help! Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

You Can Quote Me On This…

As I sat down to write this week, with the ever-so dreadful “Writer’s Block” set in. Instead of having a plan, I let the week take control and lead me to a topic. As a control freak, it was tough to “let go” and not completely take over the situation. However, I am happy to report that I stayed true to my word and finally found my topic.

While scrolling through my Twitter feed, I came across a tweet from one of my favorite accounts, Power of Positivity, “Without naming the film, what is one quote that gives it away?” Game on! I consider myself to be a “movie buff.” As far as quotes go, there are thousands to pick from, so I thought I would submit two. One was a huge hit, and the other not so much. The first, which was not as popular, was the classic “No, I am your father.” It was only the biggest cinematic reveal of ALL time, but it’s cool, whatever, people! 🙂

I chose a quote from my favorite 80s movie for my final tweet. I will give you a hint, Cue “Oh Yeah” by Yello. For those unfamiliar, it is from the 1980s John Hughes classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you have not seen this movie, we highly encourage a watch party for you this weekend. In his senior year, Ferris Bueller decides to go for his ninth sick day and convince everyone he is sick to the point that they created a “Save Ferris” fund. He grabs a couple of pals, heads to downtown Chicago in a Ferrari, and even headlines a parade! The story’s moral is to “Seize The Day”; however, I think Ferris puts it better: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop looking around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I love that quote because while it is a bit cheesy, the sentiment holds. Life does move fast, and it is easy to get caught up in the details and forget to take a step back to appreciate it all. There are specific points in our Life where we are a bit more aware of that than others. One of those times, at least for me, was my senior year of high school. What a time of Life, you are just beginning to spread your wings and start your “adult” life. It is also a very reflective period of your Life as your look back on your 12 years as a student. As you pack up your car and say your last goodbyes, you begin a different chapter. Don’t let us fool you; college flies by just as fast, if not faster. No matter where you are on your journey in Life, remember to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the ride because it sure is beautiful.

The Persistent Hero

What did The Little Engine That Could, Hercules, Harry Potter, and Elle Woods all have in common? Well, yep, you guessed it, perseverance and persistence. When things became difficult, they braved their fear and conquered their obstacle, whether it was a mountain, Hades, Voldemort, or Law School. We are constantly being told these incredible stories of inspiration, and don’t get me wrong, I love a good hero, but could the levels be hindering us? These stories start with a regular person like us. First, the person faces a great challenge, and then they try to conquer the challenge before they are ready, they fail, they have inspired again, and then conquer the challenge—the end.

However, what about when we need more time to conquer the challenge? Are we not heroes, then? Are we unrealistically expecting to meet these challenges? Then when we do not, do we let it hurt our confidence? If this resonates with you, know you are not alone. It happens to so many of us. Now what? Should you give up? Is life meaningless? NOT!

Who is to say that was the right path, anyway? Have you considered that perhaps what was behind that door was harmful and life pointed you in a better direction for a reason? Plus, there are many lessons to be learned from mistakes. If we constantly conquer our challenges, we narrow our chances to learn. Sometimes enduring failure is part of the process. Understanding the lesson of failure is essential to a greater appreciation of winning. We like to believe we have our entire lives figured out “I will be a doctor, get married at 28, have three kids, and have one million dollars by 30.” If only we were able to predict the future that easily. John Lennon said it best, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…”.

I’d be remiss if I told you I always succeeded. That is nearly impossible, but if you know the secret trick to guaranteed success, please let me know. However, I have learned not only how to accept failure but also to learn and grow from it. This is not to say you should always aim to fail, but when it happens, know there is value to it.

The truth is that no one has more insight into what tomorrow will bring than you. This gives us all a level playing field. Feeling sad or let down when you fail is okay, and you should let yourself think that. However, remember that the sun will rise again, and the next day is full of new opportunities. Dust off your clothes, get up, try again, or change your course. Whatever you choose to do, know that by moving on, you are persevering and persisting through it all. At this point, you have become your hero, and that, my friends, is beautiful. Channel inner that Mariah Carey!

Music Can Heal

They say that one thing brings us (humanity) altogether. That thing is music. Music has transcended time, languages, distribution methods, and more to become what it is today. Since I was young, music has been a part of my healing. It is not meant to therapy or medication but rather to aid depression/anxiety alongside other treatments. If I feel particularly sad or angry, sometimes blasting sad or angry music in the car does just the trick.

The thing about music is that it lets us know we are not alone in our emotions. It shows us that even celebrities like Ariana Grande or The Weeknd understand how we feel (because they likely have experienced the same sentiment). This helps us as humans to feel connected as opposed to feeling isolated and alone. Feeling connection naturally increases feelings of belonging. When we feel connected, our emotions are understood and validated.

Take the playlist below with a grain of salt. It is a modge-podge of songs I have compiled over the last few years, encapsulating many of life’s emotions/feelings. I like to put it on when I am in our feelings (sad, happy, angry, etc.). There is truly something for everyone on here. Please don’t hold it too much against me, but there are multiples oldies; but hey, like I said, it transcends time! If you hate a song on here, that’s cool, don’t listen to it, then. There are a couple of religious-ish songs on the playlist; if you want to skip them, please do. This in no way, shape, or form is meant to influence you or your beliefs. This is just what has helped us in the past. I hope you get something out of it too. If not, try to create your own. Be sure to share it with us! You never know who you could be helping in the process.

Music affects us all differently, and what could be meaningful for one person may not have any meaning for another. That is OKAY! That is the beauty of it, the unique connection. If you have time to give our playlist a listen, please do. If not, no worries, and cheers to you anyway!