Monday, October 17, 2016

My Old Friend, Anxiety: Part 2

So remember that amazing trip I took last month to Poland and Rome? If you don't, that's okay. I had a great time!

But something you don't know is that on the plane ride home, I was suddenly seized by a massive panic attack.

I was sitting next to my friend, minding my own business (I think was eating at the time), when all of a sudden I felt an overwhelming pressure. You know in movies how they focus on the person and the sounds around them just become background noise with their heartbeat taking over? That's what it felt like. I got out of my seat and tried to walk it off, but then it all came crashing down on top of me.

I rushed back to sit down as my breathing and heart rate quickened. I was barely able to speak to my friend, but I managed to say, "I'm having a panic attack." He looked shocked, immediately grabbed my hand, and starting asking me what I needed. But by that time, I was in full panic mode. The plane around me became a blur. I couldn't think, couldn't speak, and couldn't react. I was shaking, I couldn't catch my breath, and my heart was beating out of my chest.

I felt like I was about die.

Most of what I remember was just clenching onto my friend's hand as tight as possible. About 10 minutes passed before I told my friend, "Give me your phone. I need to write down my symptoms so I'll remember them later." This was by far the worst panic attack I can ever remember happening. Time grew to be meaningless. A flight attendant tried to help, but it had progressed to a point where my limbs became numb and my joints were locked solid. All I could do was hold my friend's hand tighter.

After about 30 minutes, the feeling ebbed, and I became more relaxed. I thought it was finally ending. But unfortunately, that calming only lasted for a minute or so. Eventually, after about 45 minutes of this wrenching torture, my mind and body slowed down. And after that, I was fine. I still have no idea what caused it. I haven't had a panic attack in years, so this really shook me up.

Now writing this, I'm shivering just recalling the event. I haven't had another episode since, so it must have been some combination of a severe headache (I got sick the first day in Rome #thatsucks), the long trip, and maybe some other factor I didn't notice. And if you know me, you know I always look at bad situations and try to find the positive. So the good news is that I was reminded what the teens who suffer from anxiety are going through, my friend now knows how to help me and others who experience the same symptoms, and all of you get a taste of what a full blown panic attack is like if you've never experienced it yourself.

So I tell you this not to scare you or garner sympathy, but simply to demonstrate that healing is a lifelong journey. And while this journey is extremely daunting, boy is it handy to have a friend by your side.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Yep. I'm twenty years old.


For all of you awesome email subscribers, click here to see the full blog post with the video.

So I want you to make a 20 second friend. Today!

Now go be a difference-maker and stay unashamed.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

I'm Turning 20!

I know, I can't believe it either. But as you might remember, I like you giving presents on my birthday. However, I don't want you to give them to me. Instead, I want you to give birthday presents to the people around you. What do I want you to give? Tune in on October 1st at 9am when I'm going live on Facebook to tell you what I'm asking you to do this year for my 20th birthday (I'll also be posting a blog post about it). Let's make this epic!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Great Bend, Kansas, Here I Come!

You may remember last year when I was able to impact the attendees at the Catholic Family Conference in Kansas by giving two talks and sharing some knowledge on a speakers' panel. Well, I must really love the beautiful state of Kansas because I'm going back this week!

From September 13 through 15, I'll be in Great Bend, KS, speaking a total of five times to different groups of high schoolers, middle schoolers, and parents. I can't wait to touch the more than 1 in 4 of teens who are suffering from mental health challenges to share my story of hope and redemption with them and to give them concrete tips on how I overcame depression and suicidal thoughts. And of course, friends and family have a huge role to play as well. One of my greatest joys to witness is when people realize how they can help their friend or child understand that he or she makes an indelible mark on the world.

I'd love to speak to the parents and youth in your community as well! All you have to do is email me at for more info.

Unashamed. Period.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Support Group Format (aka, We're Going Hiking!)

As you may know, our support group has been operating for more than a year now. Lately though, I've wanted to do more with the awesome people who attend. And a little while ago, a thought came to me. Instead of meeting inside a room, why not go outside, instead, and do something? Not always just for ourselves, but something for other people, too (more on that in a later post).

Those in the group who heard the plan were in favor, so this leads me to my big announcement.

Introducing UPlift.

And for our first activity, we're going hiking! We'll be taking the Lake Calavera Hiking Trail and meet at the address below at 4:30 p.m. The hike should take about 2 hours (we also might be able to catch the sunset). I've read great reviews about this trail, so I'm super excited! Afterward, we'll head over to In-N-Out nearby with anyone who's available to join. I hope to see you there!

Lake Calavera Hiking Trail
Saturday, September 10, 2016, 4:30 p.m.
Calavera Nature Preserve
4028 Peninsula Dr
Carlsbad, CA 92010

The view from a section of the trail

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm Back!

Hello, my friends!

It's been a wild few weeks. Spending a week in Poland with two million other teens at World Youth Day and then jumping over to Italy for a week in Rome and Assisi was an amazing experience. Besides the camaraderie with the others in my group and the beautiful landscapes and architecture, my favorite activity in Poland was interacting with peers from all over the world.


This picture was taken after singing at the top of our lungs with teens from Italy and Australia. I only wish that I took pictures for the many other times this happened with people from Portugal, Spain, Poland, and countless other countries. I love being with peers who are on fire!

This is what inspires me. And now that I'm back, I'm more determined than ever to reach out to my peers who only need a spark to set them on fire as well.

Disconnected from technology for the most part, this trip turned out to be a great time to think. I'm formulated a lot of thoughts, and if I'm able to weave them into words, I'd love to share them with you. And I have an interesting experience I'll be writing about, so stay tuned.

Talk to you soon!

P.S. Italian gelato is even more amazing than it sounds ;)

Our first sunset in Poland

From the California desert to the Poland rainstorms

Yes. We slept in a giant field with two million other people. #epic

I want to live in Assisi...'s absolutely beautiful

Of course, St. Peter's Basilica was one of the highlights.
I almost got lost in there.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I'm Going Traveling!

Hey everyone,

Starting today (Friday, July 22nd), I will be out of the country.

Yep. You read that right. THE COUNTRY!

I know. I'm still having a hard time believing it myself. I'm going to be in Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day and then Rome afterward. I'll get back the second week of August.

I'll have limited access to email and social media, so if I don't respond to your messages, it's because I'm not able to see them. I've written ahead for some of my social media and scheduled to post them on certain days so we can still feel connected. And, my mom has been so generous to step in again to answer any questions or just talk to you--because you know how much she loves posting on social media (sarcasm there). If you'd like to email her, please send your message to and write "For Carol" in the subject line.

I'll do my best to update y'all while I'm abroad, but for now, I must bid you a farewell.