Thursday, 28 April 2016

How To Conquer Worry

I wrote a post of my favourite well-being books, and I included a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. It's a book for not only those who suffer with anxiety, but everyone who has a tendency to worry. Worrying is not only really unproductive, but it is horrible to your health. Not just mentally, but physically. Having anxiety only makes worrying worst. This book has several different sections, all containing tips on how to stop worrying. There was one that stood out to me, and it was a step by step way on how to conquer worry. I wanted to share it, considering a lot of my readers suffer with anxiety, or know someone who does. Having an anxious mind, it is really hard to follow steps, and to stop yourself from overthinking. I haven't mastered this technique yet, but I'm positive that once I do, I will worry a lot less than I do now. If you'd like to read the book, I have inserted the Amazon link here.


For the purpose of this post, I'm going to make up a hypothetical situation in which I might be worried. Let's say I lied to a life long friend about something very important, and I'm scared she might find out.

The book states that there are 4 questions you should ask yourself when you're in a worrying situation. What am I worrying about? What can I do about it? What am I going to do about it? When do I start? I believe this is a good way to figure out if what your worrying about is legitimate, or your anxiety. The following is a formula to use if you have a worry problem, that Willis H. Carrier, an American engineer created:

  1. Ask yourself "What is the worst thing that can possibly happen?"
  2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
  3. Calmly proceed to improve on the worst.

So let's apply that to the hypothetical situation I created.

1. What is the worst thing that can possibly happen?
If my friend finds out that I lied to her from hearing it through somebody else. She can become angry with me. She becomes so angry that she decides she wants to end our friendship, despite us knowing each other all our lives. 

2. Prepare to accept it.
Doing this will make the situation a lot less worst if it happens. If I were to accept that because of the lie I told, I might lose a close friend of mine, then it won't be a crazily drastic thing. It's something that I expected.

3. Calmly proceed to improve on the worst. 
I know that the worst possible situation is a falling out with a friend. I accepted the fact that it might happen, but what can I do to prevent it? I can tell her I lied to her myself. This way, she would find out from me, and not from somebody else. This might help her regain trust in me, and not jeopardize our friendship. So, now I've accepted the worst that could happen, and tried to improve on it. Because I accepted the worst possible outcome, working on bettering the situation will not only prevent worry- but help you be more productive.

I'm sad to say that this will not cure your anxiety (boo). But, if you are worrying about a particular situation, this is a good way to be productive about it. There is nothing worse than being so distracted by worry, that you can't focus on anything else. This formula might take some practice, but I think with enough willpower, it would be easy to perfect. I'm trying to accomplish this technique at the moment, and I'm looking forward to a more peaceful mind. I hope this post helped anyone who worries as much as I do. I really wanted to share it, because I thought it was really good advice, and that some of my readers would benefit from it. If you have any further questions, leave a comment, or message me on any of my social media platforms! Although I'm no expert, I'm happy to help.







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Monday, 25 April 2016

My Support System


While thinking about what to write about next, I was reading through some of my old blog posts for some inspiration. I realized how often I talk about the amazing support system I have, yet I never took the time to talk about how great they are individually. This post is to show how amazing the people I have in my life are, and to thank them for everything they have done for me. There are a lot of people I appreciate having in my life, but I unfortunately do not have good photos with everyone. Here's a little collage I made of the people who make me feel special. To those who didn't make this post but think they should have, know that I love you, and acknowledge the positive impact you have made on my life. Writing this has made me a bit nervous and scared that I have missed some specific people, but I hope you understand!



My Family: Mom, Dad, Holly & Karl
My Friends
The Keegan Family
The Lawlor Family
The Inness Family 
The Samuel Family 
Extended Family in Ireland


Love you all. Thank you for everything.

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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Personal Post: Artistic Journey

I usually don't like writing personal posts, because they can seem uninteresting, and unhelpful to those who actually read my blog, but I thought I'd take a look back. I just spent hours looking through my old portfolio and reminisced about the time when art was my life. I know I still talk about my passion for art, but every since I was a little girl up until a couple of years ago, I would spend all my free time creating. It started out as little sketches I would do when I was bored, into something a lot bigger. I learned and taught myself so much, and I was so excited to turn something I loved into a career. While looking through my old art pieces, I remembered the roller coster of a journey I was on during the whole process. I think it's a pretty interesting story, so I thought I'd share. Writing about the past is something I love doing, I really enjoy getting to relive my experiences so I can remember how it's evolved me into the woman I am today.

I was artistic for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I was always drawing. I was always called an artist by my family, even though I know my drawings sucked. Of course they did, I was only a toddler. I was happiest when my parents brought my sister and I out to do creative activities. There was a place called the Clay Room on the Danforth, I don't know if it's there anymore, but it's basically a place where you pick out a clay object, and paint it. They had little ballerina boxes, clay figurines, all that jazz. I think I remember my visits to this place so vividly because it's what started my love for painting.

Every little girl needs a ballerina box. This is me painting myself one at the Clay Room.

I think I was 10 when my parents got me an easel for my birthday. I unfortunately don't have a picture of it, but it looked something like this. I didn't know I wanted it at the time, but once I got it, my easel was the best thing I could have gotten as a present. Along with the easel, I got a whole set of paints, paint brushes, a huge sketchbook that was safe for acrylic paint, and a book teaching the basics. I remember the easel being in my room, beside my bed, and across from my TV. I painted while watching Lizzie McGuire or listening to the CD's my dad used to burn me. I also remember this being the first time I sat down to really teach myself something. I read that book, and always had it open when I was painting. I learned about all the different strokes, colours, brushes, absolutely everything.  I'm surprised I was able to teach myself a lot about acrylic paint, I have always had a very short attention span. I don't know how I didn't get frustrated learning all these new techniques on my own. I also had a crazy number of sketch books, and would always be drawing in them. My favourite thing to draw was really badass looking women.



My drawings and paintings continued all throughout elementary school, but it's when I went to high school that things became more serious. I started getting interested in all things art. I continued to paint, but turned to YouTube to learn about watercolour. Knowing I wanted to get into photography, my parents bought me my first DSLR camera for Christmas in 2010. It was a Canon T2i. Admittedly, I did not know how to use it. My mom and I would always talk about signing me up for photography classes, but for some reason it never really worked out. At the time, my camera was my most prized possession. Even though I didn't know how to work the thing, I brought it everywhere. I used to bring it to Ireland all the time, the beautiful scenery made it easy to take nice photos. Luckily, I have an uncle who is also really into photography, so he taught me how to use it a bit.

Photography Club 2013
In grade 11, I took a class called Communications Technology. I had no idea how much this would change my life. I was exposed to all kinds of creative outlets. I found a passion for graphic design, film, animation, and even more photography. I absolutely loved cinematography, and I loved created beautiful images using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. My teacher had such a huge impact on me, and opened my eyes to so much more. He taught me about simplicity, and how to properly use a camera. I specifically remember him lecturing me, saying to never keep it on Auto mode. It was this class that made me decide I wanted to be a graphic designer. This was also around the time I was diagnosed with anxiety. Art became therapy. On bad nights, I'd listen to music and draw or paint whatever came to mind. I was also preparing for my portfolio which I new I needed for art school. 

In grade 12, I was very involved with my school. I took Communications Technology again, and was also on the Yearbook committee as a designer, in photography club, and working backstage for a theatre competition the drama department was having. At the same time, I was working on my portfolio. This is when my anxiety was at it's worst, so stress just drove me crazy. Not only did I need graphics, but I needed paintings, advertisements, sketches, basically everything you can think of. I was up crying while painting for the specific pieces I needed for my portfolio, and art just wasn't fun for me anymore. Even though I was stressed, I felt lucky that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life at such a young age, when my friends had no idea what they really wanted to go to school for. One exciting thing I did, was create my first "commission" piece. I put commission in quotations because it wasn't paid, it was more of a favour. It was the poster for the show I was helping back stage for (see below). It was something I was extremely proud of, and it's something I keep in my portfolio to this day.

My Communications Technology teacher chose me to compete in Skills Canada. If you don't know, Skills Canada is a competition for students to compete in different art categories. A lot of students went, some for animation, some for film, I went to compete for graphic design. I was terrified, since I was the only student who went that was working by themselves. We were called Team iOS- "Institute of Swag". It was a funny inside joke our class had. I was so excited for the opportunity. While competing, I had a panic attack. How convenient, right? I was crying, and my teacher told me to just do my best, and not to worry about the outcome. I definitely don't think I was prepared for a competition, considering my anxiety levels at the time. Despite the panic attack, it was a really fun day. 

Left: My first "commission" piece. Right: Team iOS the day of Skills Canada
Ironically, the portfolio review for the school I wanted to go to was the next day, in the same building. If you have panic disorder you might know that going to a place you once had a panic attack causes sever anxiety, and usually another panic attack (don't ask why, our brains are tricky). Nervous is an understatement. I was terrified. I walked into the room with my tea and portfolio, ready to be evaluated on my art work. Three very scary people came in and said there was an assessment we had to do while they looked through our portfolios. I handed mine in and picked up the assessment. It was basically to test the knowledge that we had on graphic design, then we had to draw our hand, holding our eraser. I was surprised to see my drawing coming out very realistic, and how simple that test was. After a couple of hours, they handed back our portfolio's and I left feeling confident. You can imagine the excitement when I got the email saying I was accepted into the program. The summer before school was amazing. I was anxiety free for months, and I was excited to start.

I didn't know what to expect on the first day. I was 17 years old, stepping into college for the first time. I was doing really well in school, but after a couple of months, I just couldn't stand it anymore. My anxiety rocketed. After having panic attack after panic attack in between classes, I told my mom I hated art and that I needed to drop out. She was confused, "but Megan...you love art". I was in denial. I convinced myself that I hated art, despite doing it my whole life. In reality, I wasn't mentally ready for school. That might sound stupid, but I wasn't. If I were in graphic design now, I know I'd love it, I was just going through a really hard time. I dropped out of all my courses, except for my drawing one. I kept that because I thought I was going to switch into game design, I needed drawing and I thought I'd might as well transfer that credit. I was in school once a week, and still feeling horrible. After that semester was over, I still wasn't ready to go back full time. My mental health was at it's worst. I got so depressed that I threw out all of my paintings. Please, never do this. Even if you're angry and you feel as if you don't care, you might in the future. I'm so upset I threw out all of my canvases. I wish I still had them. I worked so hard on those paintings, and just because I blamed my anxiety on art school, I lost all of it. 

We all know what happens next, I've mentioned it so many times. If you don't, read my mental illness journey here.

So after all that horrible stuff happened, 2 years later I'm in a Public Relations program, which I'm happy to be in. Turns out, I still love art. It's still a huge passion of mine. I was just at the right place at the wrong time. I miss graphic design so much. I don't regret anything though, I love my program, and I've met amazing people. Plus, I'll be graduating when I'm 23 years old, I will still be so young. There's no such thing as too much education, so I plan on doing a post grad in graphic design or film studies.

As for now, I don't need a certificate to consider myself an artist. I do a lot of work for friends. I make graphics for others blogs, podcasts, posters, anything. I even designed my whole blog by myself, and create all of my graphics. If you'd like me to make a graphic for you, you can find my contact information here. I'm still very active with Photoshop, Illustrator, and photography. I want to find more time to draw and paint again, but unfortunately I'm always drowning in school work. I continue to add to my portfolio, by all the graphics I make for myself, and friends!

I didn't anticipate this post being so long. Thanks for sticking around to read the whole thing if you did. I hope you found my story interesting, and took something from it. Don't let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you love. Thanks for reading,




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Friday, 15 April 2016

ONE YEAR OF BLOGGING: THANK YOU! ♥

I looked back to see when I showed my first blog post to the public, just out of curiosity, and realized that on April 7th 2015, was when I built up the confidence to share my blog, and finally start doing something I was scared of, but wanted to do for a very long time. I missed my Blogiversary!



I did not want to share my blog when I first started it. I was scared of what people would think, and I was terrified of putting myself out there. Suffering with anxiety really made me stop doing what I really wanted to do. It was Lynn, my amazing aunt who first pushed me to share my blog on Facebook, and start up a page for myself. Thanks so much, Lynn! 

I also want to thank my amazing boyfriend, Karl. There have been times I got extremely anxious and thought I wanted to stop blogging all together. I'm grateful I have him there to say "you're being ridiculous, you love blogging, shut up"  whenever I have the urge to delete all of my posts.

It was when I published my first post on my anxiety when I got an overwhelming amount of feedback (in the best way possible). The amount of personal messages and comments I got, amazed me. That's when I realized that I can use this platform to help people. I want to continue to write about mental illness, but also many other things that will inspire, and comfort people who take the time to read. I started this blog as a hobby, but then it kind of turned into something so much more. I have family in different countries who I haven't even met before, but connected with through some of my posts. That itself really made me happy I started blogging. My public relations program has also taught me a lot about writing, which has made a huge improvement on some of my posts.

I guess what I want to say, is thank you. Thank you for sharing, thank you for commenting, and thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. But most importantly, thank you to everyone who has sent me a personal message regarding my blog. Honestly, the amazing feedback is the best feeling in the world. I also have inspired some friends to start blogging, which is also kind of nice.

One year later, a lot of blog designs from being awful to amazing, and some new blogger friends. Thank you for sticking with me.







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Monday, 11 April 2016

How I Overcame my Agoraphobia


Let me start off by saying agoraphobia sucks. It completely took over my life at one point. Since I'm bad at descriptions, Mayo Clinic describes agoraphobia as a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. I developed agoraphobia from having multiple panic attacks in public. I remember being at a subway station once, walking up the stairs, when my throat suddenly closed up and I started panicking. Thankfully, I was with Karl which made the situation a little better, but having everyone stare at me while I was hyperventilating, crying, and freaking out, was humiliating. Not to mention, being in a public area while having a panic attack is not the ideal situation, especially when everything's louder, walls close in, and being in any sort of inclosed space freaks you out. I've missed out on so many opportunities and events because of agoraphobia, and it's upsetting to think about everything that I backed away from, just because of my fear of having a panic attack. I got extremely nervous every time I had to leave my house.





I remember 3 years ago, having a panic attack for no apparent reason walking up the stairs in a mall. Because of that panic attack, my brain marked these set of stairs as a dangerous place, even though I was in no danger at all at the time. But because of that panic attack and the flight-or-fight response, this was registered as a harmful environment, and every time I got on those stairs, I panicked. It's amazing how our mind can do these things without any intent, but it's also frustrating to have no control over what locations my body perceives as dangerous, even if they are not dangerous at all. 
http://www.trauma-informedpractice.org
The fight-or-flight response is a psychological reaction we all experience when we are in a harmful situation. Whether we intend it or not, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. Basically, when we are in danger, our body sets ourselves up to either approach (fight) the problem, or run away (flight). The fight-or-flight response will kick in if your body thinks you're in danger, whether you are or not. Us who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, usually just have a much weaker sympathetic nervous system. 
Because of this, I secluded myself and thought it would be best for me to not to risk a panic attack by avoiding everything. I would turn down invitations, events, and basically every opportunity handed to me. This was all because I was scared I was going to have a panic attack. Living a life in fear is not the way I wanted to live, and the fact that I was too scared to do anything really took a toll on me. There is no way you can have a happy life, while being afraid of everything. Of course, doing this causes deeper issues such as depression, but I won't go too deep on that subject here.
If you suffer from agoraphobia, you're probably going to hate me saying this, but the best thing to do is to honestly get yourself out there. Whenever I was about to turn down a proposal because of my agoraphobia, I would say to myself, "you can't live a life where you are afraid of everything". Once you get yourself out there, you might realize how much you've missed out on, and it will slowly, but surely make you more comfortable with accepting offers that are given to you. You'll definitely surprise yourself with the amazing things that will come your way just by pushing yourself.  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has also helped me overcome agoraphobia. It's a type of therapy which changes the way you think, so you don't see the world as such a scary place, and I also got a lot of tips on how I can calm myself down before a panic attack. If you can't receive CBT for whatever reason, there are a lot of books that also give advice on how to stop a panic attack before it starts. I think back about how I was too scared to apply to school, and go to my portfolio reviews and interviews, but I wouldn't have gotten accepted if I thought about having a panic attack the whole time. Taking the initiative and finding the power in yourself to open up to situations you might perceive as scary, is how you achieve what you want. Also remember to find the right coping mechanism to calm yourself down before a panic attack. Everyone is different, and something that works really well for someone else might not work for you, but you will definitely find something that will fit your specific needs. 
I know that I might get an anxiety attack when I go out, that's just something that usually happens to me, but I'd much rather know I can calm myself down, than just totally miss a chance I will never get back because I'm too scared. I hope this helped anyone who suffers with agoraphobia. I know how horrible it can be, but you can overcome it, and you will be impressed of the amazing things that will come your way.




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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A Simplistic Lifestyle

My very first lesson while being taught graphic design was that simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. I have always applied this to art, as you can probably tell by my plain blog design, but I hope to implement it into everyday life. I wrote a blog post including a book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which is all about how having a decluttered life = a decluttered mind. Clutter is not the same as mess. I'm someone who likes a clean space, and I tidy up almost everyday. What this book says cleaning up does, is hide clutter. If you were to get rid of everything you do not use, there would be no need to clean up. Along with reading this book, I have been following a lot of blogs that focus on simplifying your life, decluttering, minimalism, and all that fun stuff. I hope to reach a point where I own less than half the items I have building up right now. I want to be more minimalist, and focus on passions and experiences, rather than material possessions. I have four months off of school which means when I'm at home, I don't have homework or projects to be focused on. During these four months, I plan on doing everything I'm going to list in this post. I guess my main goal is to write everything I have to do to live a minimalist life, so I can feel really bad about myself if I don't reach my goal by the time school starts up again (hah). Also, inspire anyone reading to do the same. With all of the money I have spent on clothes, makeup, and products, I could have probably gone on such amazing trips. Experiences trump material items, especially being so young, and having so much more to discover. What I'm going to do is break up all of my tasks into different sections, and talk about each specific thing I need to do in order to achieve my goal. If you are interested in this lifestyle, or on how I plan on carrying out simplicity, keep reading!


Products: Makeup, Body, Nails, Hair - I think I have the entire store of Sephora in my room. No joke. The amount of makeup and products I own is ridiculous. I just keep buying and buying, I have at least seven different lotions in my room. I have a pretty big dresser, and it's covered in hair, skin, and makeup products. I also bought a set of three drawers at Walmart to keep all my makeup in, which is full. On top of that, I have a huge makeup bag where I keep everyday makeup, and an even bigger makeup bag to hold all of the items that don't fit on my dresser, or in my makeup drawers. I also have a box in my closet of things I don't use regularly, but didn't want to get rid of.
  • There is absolutely no way I use all of my makeup. It's going to be hard, but I'm going to throw out every piece of makeup I do not use on a monthly basis. I will throw out my set of makeup drawers to stop any temptation of buying more makeup than I need. The only time I will purchase something, is if I run out of it (or Kat Von D releases new shades of her liquid lipsticks...no one's perfect). This is probably going to be so hard for me to do, but I know I'll feel refreshed after I'm done. I bought an acrylic makeup organizer on Amazon,  my new rule is all my makeup has to fit on it. No more than that.
  • I have multiples of the same product. I will buy a new body lotion just because I like the way it smells, even though I have a billion others at home. Again, I will throw out (or give to a family or friend, if hygienic) a lot, so I only have one of each product. There's no need for multiple hairsprays, hair oils, body oils, and lotions of more than one brand. 
  • After working at a beauty supply store with an amazing employee discount, I have a shite load of nail products. Polishes, oils, files, you name it. No exaggeration, I have probably 15 red nail polishes, all with slight colour changes. Again, something that's going to be really hard for me to get rid of, but there's no point in keeping all of this if it's impossible to use. I only need one of every item, and definitely don't need all that I have. 

Bookshelf - My bookshelf is full of stuff I don't need. Aside from books I read for enjoyment (which I plan on keeping or donating), I have so many old text books from previous semesters. The only excuse I can think of why I have kept them is that they were expensive. I have to accept the fact that they are no use to me anymore, and the damage has already been done, whether I keep them or not. 


Clothes - I find myself donating clothes every week, but I'm constantly running out of closet space. I have been blessed with a big closet, and a set of six drawers, all completely full. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have too many clothes. Not to mention the huge collection of purses sitting at the top of my closet. 
  • I like the idea of a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is essentially owning only 30-40 items of clothing, including bags and shoes with the exception of workout clothes and underwear. The clothes you own should be classic, timeless pieces. This way, you spend less time getting ready, but still look good.
  • Being the huge shopaholic I am, I know it's going to be nearly impossible for me to stop buying more clothes. My solution: every time I buy a new piece of clothing, I have to donate an old one. I'm hoping this stops me from over stuffing my wardrobe again. 

http://stylizimoblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Omkledningsrom_Vinkelveien21.png


ETC
  • The "junk" drawer. Everyone has one. Everything in there has to go, no exceptions. I don't even open it because of how much anxiety it gives me, there is nothing in there that's important if I don't even have to urge to go in it. 
  • All of the papers I find throughout my room; stuffed in my shelf, under my bed. If it has had no relevance to me in months, it's going to be recycled. If I need it, I have a file where I keep important papers. But, that file is going to be the only space I allow myself to keep them. So I have to decide what's worth keeping.
  • CD's... I've kept them because of memories. I don't even own a CD player anymore.
  • Being the nerd I am, I have a lot of...toys. Action figures, replicas, all type of memorabilia. At first, I had no idea how I was going to go about this. I decided since collecting these is a hobby, whatever can't be displayed properly will be given away. 
  • I'm going to paint all of my walls white. Not only is it simple, it's timeless. Right now, I have two white walls, one dark grey wall, and one wall that has a Victorian style wallpaper on. As cute as it is, I've had it since I was 14, and I'm ready for something new.
  • Buy white sheets. Same reason, simple and timeless. 
  • Use less tabs - one of my favourite minimalist blogs proved how much time you save only having one tab open. Something about less distractions. 
  • Remove any file or graphic on my computer that I don't need anymore. I'm making new graphics every week, my desktop can get a little cluttered. 




I'm hoping by the end of this huge lifestyle change, I own a lot less stuff and learn to appreciate everything I do have more. If you are interested in becoming a minimalist, I highly recommend The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Not only does it inspire you to live a much simpler life, but it does a much better job than I did on explaining the benefits of living that way. Here are some of my favourite blogs that expand on the subject:


If you're up for it, try decluttering, and downsizing to become more minimalist. I know it's going to be a long, difficult process, but I'm excited for the refreshing feeling once I'm done. I already know that I'm going to feel so light and fresh. I'll probably be back with a result post, to show if I've succeeded, and how the whole journey was.




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Saturday, 2 April 2016

March Favourites


I can't believe it's already April. It feels like I just started my new program, but I'm finished my first year in a couple of weeks. This year is going by way too fast. I wanted to do another monthly favourites post, because I really enjoyed writing one for February. Here are some of the things I loved during March:



Tom Clancy's The Division/$79.99 
Graphic Design: The New Basics/$55.00 
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter/$22.00 
Kill Bill Volume 1 & 2/$8.00
Two Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Melted Nude/$25.00 
Ro's Argan Body Conditioner from Lush 
Clarin's Stretch Mark Minimizer/$54.00 
ALDO Alize Flats/$80.00 


Thanks for stopping by!




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