Suicide Hotline and Parent Support

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Parent-to-Parent 24-Hour Support: 1-888-358-3622

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Old Friend, Anxiety

The other night I woke up feeling very strange. I first noticed my chest tightening, then my racing heart, quickening breathe, and frantic mind. I felt like I was under attack.

And I was.

What I realized later was that I was having a panic attack. Now, you're probably thinking this is the part where I wake up Mom and Dad and tell them there's something wrong. But I was only half awake and so groggy I had no idea what was going on. Eventually, I fell back to sleep (though to tell you the truth, I really don't remember much of that night).

The next morning I mentioned to my mom that I felt really weird the night before, and as I was relaying what I remembered, she told me that sounded exactly like a panic attack. And as we were trying to determine the cause of it, I conveniently remembered that I was having a dream/nightmare that my youngest sister was being kidnapped. Not fun.

So from then on, I began to realize how much anxiety I still have. You might recall that I had severe anxiety from riding in a car after the crash, which gradually reduced as the months passed, and I eventually forgot what it's like to feel that way.

Until now.

However, there's good news. Because I'm now aware of this fact about myself, I can start to work on it--one little way at a time. I mentioned a while ago that I'm taking parts of my life that need improving and spending forty days focused on one at at time. Right now, I'm still working on my habit of picking at myself, which is an unhealthy way I calm down when I'm anxious. I'm not always successful (you'd know if I were in a stressful situation if I went in with long nails and come out with none), but I'm working on it.
My traveling buddy

I also realized I still feel a leftover anxiety in the car, though it's not nearly as bad as it was. So what do I do? I bring nail clippers every where I go. So when I feel the urge to pick at my nails, I clip and file them instead of damaging my fingers. It's surprisingly calming.

And speaking of fingers. When I don't have some quiet alone time during the day, my anxiety goes through the roof. A great way I found to help me is to play my piano--definitely my favorite way of coping ;)--and I also use pure lavender oil, which is supposed to help me relax.

It's not all easy, though. My mom realized a few weeks ago I was having trouble falling asleep and having nightmares. And unfortunately, we're pretty sure that it's from my beloved sci-fi/fantasy books I spend quality time with at night. So no reading stressful books at bedtime for me. That's hard. And I mean difficult. But it's actually helping me get restful sleep.

The reason I'm sharing this with you is that no matter what challenges we face, there are ways to overcome them. Sometimes those ways are intensely difficult, or seem to take forever to be effective, but there's always a solution--even if it takes lots of tries to find the right one.

I'm on that journey right now. 

Let's support each other.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm Driving

Now, don't be alarmed. Perhaps I should explain the title of this post.

The courts never restricted my driving privileges. But as you can imagine, my parents were very cautious about having me drive again. Even though I knew that I will never again purposely cause another crash, we weren't certain if I would experience flashbacks or other residual effects from the trauma of what happened.

A little more than a year after the crash, my parents started asking me if I was disappointed that I wasn't driving when many of my friends were. I told them no, I wasn't in a hurry. And I wasn't. The memories of having panic attacks as a passenger in the car after my crash were still fresh in my mind. I was perfectly happy taking life slow and being lovingly chauffeured to all my activities. I was alive and had no complaints.

In addition, the insurance rate with our carrier was exorbitant due to the circumstances of the claim. We'd have to wait years before it went down to a reasonable level.

However, near the end of last year, my mom told me that we switched insurance carriers and could now afford the premium because the new company handled permitted drivers' claims differently than the first one. 

So she gave me the news: I could drive if I was ready.

You probably know I'm all about moving on from your past and not letting it hold you down, and so it was then I decided to take a leap of faith and start a new page in my future.

Which brings us back to the present. I'm driving.

I have my permit and have driven a few times, which went reasonably well (you don't realize how courageous your parents actually are until they brave a drive with their learning teen). 

This would look great on my bumper.

I'm asking for your prayers and support during this chapter in my life. So far, I haven't had any panic attacks, flashbacks, or anything like that, but the brain is a complicated organ. I know enough to know that I can't predict if the impact of my attempt will come flooding back one day.

And I give you this as one more example of how your life can turn around, too. Although it can be a nerve-wracking and scary experience, I'm consciously choosing to ignore my past that threateningly lurks behind every corner trying to ruin my future. I won't let it phase me, even if it's always in the background like a bogeyman whose sole purpose is to cause me to lose focus of my goals.

I'm in the army of the undefeated.

Will you join me?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Anyone Interested in Being Interviewed?

I need your help.

The National Catholic Register, published by EWTN, is writing an article about my ministry. This is an amazing opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) in print and online.

The reporter asked to interview someone who has been helped or impacted by my website or by hearing me speak. I know there are many of you out there because you or your parents have contacted me, but I keep everything confidential, so I won't pass along anyone's name without permission. If you're a parent of someone who has been helped by my ministry, I'd like to hear from you, too. You don't have to be Catholic, and if you want, the journalist will publish your interview anonymously or with an alias that he will state is not your real name.

If you're interested, please send me an email using the contact form to the right. Or private message me on Facebook.

This is your chance to save lives.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Resolutions? Oh, yeah. Those.

It's only been a week since New Year's Day, and already, those who made resolutions are either feeling really good about keeping them or really sick of having them. And many who are sick of them will forget about those promises. So I don't want you make New Year's resolutions. But I don't want you to forget your resolutions either.

Confused? Let me explain.

When I came home for the first time after the crash, I wasn't healed, but I did feel better. However, even though I felt better and continued to heal, I still had all these bad habits (mental and physical) following me around. So I started working on them. I made resolutions, you could say, to not think negatively about my family, be more respectful of others' feeling, etc.

I will tell you something about me and fixing problems. I'm very impatient (especially when it comes to my own issues). I want to fix them now. And if not now, then tomorrow or next week. That doesn't happen, of course, so I get frustrated with whatever defect I'm working on.

But I learned something helpful while on a retreat in December. The leader exhorted us to set a period of a month (or forty days, depending on how difficult it was), and during that time, focus on one challenge in our lives. If we overcome it, great! If not, okay, we shouldn't get discouraged, but take another month, instead. And then continue this cycle.

It might take a year to overcome a challenge. But that's okay. Someone once said, "If you obtain one virtue a year, think of how soon you will reach perfection."

So having resolutions is great. They can be self-motivating to help you achieve goals. But each one should be small and manageable. Keeping a commitment for an entire year can be a bit too much to handle. That's why I say I don't want you to have New Year's resolutions. Just have regular old resolutions. 

And here's a little tip: be super specific. I want to get rid of my habit of picking at my fingernails to relieve my anxiety. So even though I do my best not to ever do it, my specific resolution is to not do it in the car. I've been working on it, but I definitely need another forty days. However, I can look back and see that I have made progress. Even if it's just a teeny bit.

And that's the best goal--to make progress in your life. Because we all can improve on something about ourselves. We're constantly growing and changing. 

So take baby steps. And don't feel defeated. Because there's always another day.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Two More Steps into the Wilderness

It's the New Year, and I've done something. Some (namely myself) might call it foolish, others (my fellow teens) would laud my deeds. But disregarding how you feel on the issue, I ask you to take action, and join me on this frightening trek through the wilderness I have entered.

Facebook was my first step.

And I'm pretty happy with it.

Google+ was my second.

And I'm very happy with it.

Twitter's is my third step.

This one's new for me. And I might get used to it. But the possibilities are very very slim. (Can I say, #only140characters?!?!)

Instagram is my fourth.

And I'm not even sure if I like it or not.

So follow, add, circle me, or however these things work. And as much as I don't like social media, I know that it makes everything so much simpler. All it takes is a click of that share button to give hope to someone who has none.

(Check back in a few months and I might have all this figured out.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Keep Them in Mind

Christmas is here. You probably noticed. How could you not miss all the lights and hecticity (no, that's not a word)? And I know that you're probably very busy, so I'll keep this short.

Many of us are so blessed to have family, friends, and feasts on these holidays. Yet there are people in the world who will be alone this Christmas and New Year's Day.

What I ask of you is to not forget them. Of course, don't be all moping around and everything. But maybe say a quick prayer or think about how you can bring the joy of Christmas to someone. Even if it's in a tiny way. 

You know I don't spout platitudes at you, but I'll give you this one: All it takes is a spark to light a fire.

Be that spark.

Merry Christmas to you and have a fabulous new year.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Public Schools, Here I Come

I'm SO excited to speak at my first public high school venue in February! Thank you, Principal Dana Moen, for caring so much about the 700 students at Classical Academy to have me speak to them and their parents.

Spreading my message of hope and healing to a live audience is one of the best ways to reach out and make a difference.

I can't wait!