Facing an Anxiety Attack

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It’s Labor Day and I’m coming into work in a positive mood as I usually am in. The store is booming with hungry customers and I get into uniform as quick as possible so I can get myself on the line. My general manager, Ashley, greets me kindly and so does the rest of my team. I’m all smiles as I start painting mayonaise and mustard on a canvas of bread. I love making sandwiches- it’s a form of art. The busiest of days are my favorite because I’m completely absorbed in my work. My fingers are moving at record speed as I jump from station to station, cutting pickles, making shakes, and handing money back to guests. I am in my element until a wave of emotions rushes through me. I’ve familiarized myself with this state because this isn’t the first time I shake its hand. Anxiety takes over my body and suddenly cutting pickles, making shakes, and painting sandwiches becomes an almost impossible task. My body shuts down as I enter my personalized danger zone. This piece is for others who struggle with anxiety- to feel less trapped and more at ease- and primarily for myself so next time I feel this way I can conquer it instead of fail.

  1. Talk to Someone
    Usually anxiety attacks don’t happen at home. They happen at school, the workplace, on centerstage. Wherever it hits, find comfort in someone you trust. Anxiety attacks are so much easier if you aren’t battling it alone. Talk to someone and  explain your situation. Usually people will either empathize if they struggle themselves or sympathize if they don’t. Either way having someone else to bounce back your worries on provides a cushion for your emotions. If no one is around you call a friend or family member. Sometimes all you need is someone to listen.
  2. SAM
    SAM is actually a mobile app. It works as an anxiety toolkit and has everything you need to conquer an anxiety attack including tips, breathing exercises, and an anxiety tracker. One of my favorite features on the app is an exercise called “picture peace” where you drag your finger over a pretty picture to unveal it. Something about the act of decoding a picture calms the mind. This app was created by the University of the West of England and backed up by science.
  3. Breathing Exercises
    The first breathing exercise is called “CO2 Rebreathing”. It’s effective for when your anxiety causes you to hyperventilate. Cuff your hands over your mouth and breathe slowly. The idea is to prevent the banishing of carbon dioxide and get it back into your lungs in order to regain the balance of CO2 in your system. Deep breathing includes sitting in a chair with your back straight and taking a 5 second breath in through your nose, holding it for a few seconds, and breathing out through your mouth for a duration of 7 seconds. Repeating this 10 times will leave you feeling more relaxed and balanced.
  4. Essential Oils
    Essential oils are natural remedies you can try out for anxiety. They include lavendar, rose, chamomile, ylang ylang, and bergamot. They all help reduce anxiety and even promote cheerfulness, courage, and optimism. You can use essential oils in many ways including through a diffuser, applying onto the skin, and massaging onto beads.
  5. Journaling
    I’ve always been a fan of getting my thoughts out on paper. Recently I started a journal called “brain dump”. It’s a little different from my organized method of journaling because it focuses on more unfiltered writing. My “brain dump” inclues pictures and captions, charts, and short paragraphs or bulletpoints about what I’m feeling. It’s like free verse poetry where you don’t have guidelines to follow and can just pour your heart out on paper. I bring my journal with me everywhere I go and jot down ideas whenever they come up. This method works for me but journaling is so personal that if you prefer to a more structured method you can absolutely stick to that.

I’ve failed. I left work and went home after trying to combat an intense anxiety attack. I lay in bed pitting myself for an hour or two until I realize that doing that won’t get me anywhere and writing an article about it will. Hope you enjoyed!

Abraham, Micah. “3 Effective Anxiety Breathing Exercises.” 7 Strategies for Dealing With Work Anxiety, Calm Clinic, 28 Sept. 2017, http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/treatment/breathing-exercises.

Boldt, Ethan. “The Top 7 Essential Oils for Anxiety.” Dr. Axe, Dr. Axe, 9 Mar. 2018, draxe.com/essential-oils-for-anxiety/


How I Live My Best Life

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I’m writing this post primarily for myself as a reflection of my everyday progress in living my best life- one full of positivity and opportunity. I would also like to alter at least one person’s mindset with what I’m about to say and hopefully reach out to even more. These changes didn’t happen overnight. I spent years battling demons and living under a fog of chronic depression so yes I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to find life worthless and the days darker than the next. It takes multiple steps backwards to finally see the light and a desire to change. I no longer pity myself for what I’ve experienced- no longer wallow in my past with addiction or mental illness. I’ve made it to the other side and never going back. Here’s how I did it.

  1. My morning ritual

Counting your blessings isn’t overrated. I count my blessings every morning. Literally push my hands straight out in front of me and list what I’m grateful for on all ten fingers. It can be hard to do at first when your mind hasn’t been conditioned to ruminate on the positive things but I promise it will get easier with time. I also like to open my blinds every morning and look out the window. I’ve gotten to accept the beauty in all types of weather conditions-the rain, the snow, the fog- all of it. I recommend you start to pay tribute to the weather. Nature has a way of continuously going on no matter what comes its way. Mornings sculpt the rest of your day so pay much attention to what you fill it with. Wake up thirty minutes earlier and enjoy a cup of coffee or your favorite TV show. Call up a friend. You’re in full control so use that power to your advantage because you’ve been blessed with it.

2.  I found myself in music

There’s a lot to discover about 4 minutes of melody paired with beautiful words. I’ve always enjoyed listening to my favorite artists but never in the amplitude that I do today. It’s not rocket science to say you focus best on just one subject- one song, one album, one artist. I like to choose one artist at a time, or a single album and listen to it in its full form. I look up the lyrics online and read through them as they sing. It’s all about the full experience. Music can get you there as you dive into it with your headphones in and the world tuned out. I’ve found songs that resonate with me on levels deeper than I could once imagine. I’ve found strength in artists like Drake, Tyler the Creator, and Childish Gambino. Music is my scapegoat. It gives me power and pleasure. It’s helped me get my head straight when I was in some serious shit. Just like life, music always grows and evolves and as long as you open your mind, it will always be in your heart.

3. Yoga and Meditation

This is definitely not my area of expertise but one that I’m working towards unraveling. When you practice yoga and meditation, your third eye begins to open wide. The third eye is access towards higher awareness. The way I see it- if there’s a daily ritual you can perform that awakens you in ways you don’t yet know, why not implement it into your life. I practiced yoga for a couple months every day and I instantly noticed changes in my focus and intentions. I was performing better outside the mat and became more aware in the kinks and strengths of my body both physically and in the mind. I salute all that have made both yoga and meditation part of their daily practice and am working on weaving it into mine.https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjg2b6n3tbaAhWr54MKHbeYA1kQjRx6BAgAEAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.puttingonthenew.com%2F2015%2F06%2F25%2Fhappinessvsjoy%2F&psig=AOvVaw2A3RWsvE3FR_9T2r73BkEx&ust=1524790744980928

4. The world is playing in your favor

This was probably the hardest thing for me to learn to accept but I finally did it. Religion aside, the universe is working towards helping you reach your highest self. I used to always think that the world was out to get me and things didn’t happen for the best. But after living out 22 years of this life I’m starting to better understand how it works. It’s all about mindset. I tell myself that somethings not over until it ends towards my favor and I whole heartedly believe in that fact. If something bad happens I  jump to the conclusion that something good will ultimately come out of it. My mama said “if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.” That deems true as long as you believe it to be. You have the given right to hold onto hope.

5. Friends

The five people you spend the most time with define who you are. That’s definitely a controversial statement but there’s truth in it regardless. Surrounding yourself with positive people will rub itself onto you. Smiles are contagious and so is positivity. I’m the kind of person that finds it difficult to let go of people in my life. But when I learned how important it was for my growth and self worth I ripped off the band aid and just did it. You don’t have to completely toss people aside, just distance yourself enough to keep things in perspective. Not everyone is worth a permanent spot and some friends can really be toxic. We face enough toxic things in life that we don’t have control over. Friends- you do.

6. Connect with family

Family is blood- that is completely irreplaceable. I’ve always been close to family but never fully understood how lucky I was to have them. I put in effort everyday to strengthen my connection with family. Not only does it make you feel good, it makes them feel good. There’s enough positive energy to go around.

This is a small list I’ve compiled. The list goes on and grows as I grow. Positivity is a choice and today you can choose to turn your life around and make it into your most precious gift. It took hard work to get to where I am today mentally but let me tell you- I wouldn’t change it for the world.



Speed By Location

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The Good / Uncategorized

I associate new places with the speed in which time moves. I’m in Miami and my drink is on the table before I come back from the bathroom. The couple to the right are talking in Spanish. Speaking so quickly it sounds like violin. He asks us how our food tastes. The flavors didn’t sit on my tongue long enough for an opinion. He’s picking up my empty plate and I’m feeling tipsy. Everything moves so fast in Miami. Blurry photos.

Skokie moves slow.  I’m making phone calls at the coffee shop as I wait for my order. The afternoon drags like its own day. I catch myself listening to my breaths in silence. Eggs cook and I’m sitting by the stove reading a book. I appreciate villages because they don’t race past you like cities do. You could hold on to each moment without it slipping through fingers and you can’t see the end of a conversation before it’s begun.

Costa Rica barely moves. The breeze doesn’t rock the trees. A man is strumming his guitar near the ocean. I sit with him and we watch each wave fall individually onto the shore. Something about the stillness makes me want to be here forever. It’s the thoughts-they don’t race. Strangers stop to talk to each other. I breath in as my lips curl onto the end of the joint. It’s been rolling for hours.

I travel looking for the speed that makes me feel most alive. I keep moving because no place will ever truly feel like home. Home is within you. A heart pulses in your chest. It has a rhythym and that rhythm is home.

The Meaning of Life at 22

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The Good / Uncategorized

Life starts the moment you hear that phone ring, that bird chirp from outside. The moment you step into the bathroom to brush your teeth. The ball then begins to roll down a meadow of dandelions and marigolds. I’m running barefoot with my hair undone skipping down every hour like it’s a destination on a map. Life’s made up of all those moments in the day when things go wrong. When things go right.  Nighttime has arrived and seconds drag on longer than words do. The city is turning off their lights but you stay up because you’re too happy to give this up for a night’s rest. . That feeling you have when life’s too exciting is the meaning of it all.

Life’s taught me that nothing matters if the people in your life don’t. God must grant you just one person. One human mind besides your own that you understand. That person mustn’t always come in the form of a lover. Mine is my sister. She loves life and paints pure innocence with bright colors. Her intentions are pure and dreams widespread and I understand her in ways she wouldn’t know. The meaning of life is not to be surrounded by all the people- just the right ones.

Aristotle claimed that the ultimate meaning of life is happiness and all else falls under its umbrella. I must disagree, for life isn’t about only the good times. It is just as much made up of the bad and the ugly. As much as we long for happy times, we don’t only do the things we do to achieve a fruitful outcome. We sacrifice, we fall apart, we break hearts, we dissapoint ourselves. We do so because we go about our days trying to do what’s right which doesn’t always coincide with what makes us happy people.

The meaning of life is to live now and only now. I feel the grass in between my toes as I run down the meadow and catch each skip in its path. When you’ve lived many years and choose to look back at life your memories will come out of all the “then’s” that were once “now’s”.


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The Bad / Uncategorized


I’m laying in bed at two in the afternoon unwilling to get up
My phone is buzzing by my side- calls from friends who worry.
Eventually they stop ringing and I’m left alone in my bedroom having to care for myself
Myself is a dark cave afraid of the daylight

You ran into my room thinking something terrible had happened to me
Threw off the covers from underneath my head
There I was eyes closed like sleeping beauty
There’s nothing beautiful about being uncomfortable with being awake

You tell me I’m wasting my life away by sleeping so much
I agree
Yet the day is so tough on the body
Breakfast tastes like cardboard eggs and the house is so lit I have to squint my eyes
When I am awake I shake
Bugs crawl inside my skin
My mind thunders with regret for letting him go
Guilt for making you cry yourself to sleep
You’re my mother who’s given me this life I don’t want
You want more than anything for me to see the beauty in the sunshine yet I avoid it

My apologies for being a daughter you can’t talk about at parties
I want to be better but I am tired
We can talk about the ways I deem to disappoint
But first let me sleep for one more hour



The Ocean

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The Good

I feel weightless as my body drifts further away from shore. My toes stretch tall enough to keep my face up over the water. Breaths shorten. Waves start tickling up my lips. Snippets of us are flooding my mind. I am covered by water in all directions but it feels like you. The current is sending me deeper into your arms. I can make out the grooves of your face in the horizon. It’s sunset here in the Pacific.

We are standing side by side losing touch of reality in each other’s eyes. Our hands intertwined like pink ribbon. You whisper sweet things in my ear. Look down at me as if it’s  the last time. You’re scared to lose me because you know I don’t stay long in one place. We stand for a while. The cool breeze is fluffing my hair. Sends shivers up my nose. My heels cramp back up as I blink back the salty velvet blue. This ocean feels just like home and home feels just like you. Minutes later I’m met with another wave passing overhead.

Snippets of back then crash against my body. I’m running around a field of flora. Feet are waltzing through the grass in rapid pace. Faster than the mind could tell them where they’re going. My mom waits for me to finish up playing but time feels endless when you’re a young kid having fun. I catch glimpses of her smile following my body. I remember catching twelve flowers that day. I picked the yellow ones because they reminded me of color of the sun. Another wave is heading towards me. My mom yells out that it’s time to go home.

I lean my neck back onto the swaying tides. My face bakes golden brown against the sun. The world becomes still. My legs float up towards the surface and my chest pushes up off the water. I’m laying atop the ocean-on a bed in what seems like home. My eyelids are shut and everything is silent. I catch a glimpse of life free of thought. I missed the sunset turn to dark.

On Unreturned Love

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The Bad / Uncategorized

I walk down the same shore we went that one night you told me you didn’t love me. The birds are louder and the sun has traveled light years to touch my skin. This is the shore with the front row view of the city.

It was just us running through the lights. They lit up your face with my favorite angles. I was laughing so loud I couldn’t hear the car fly right past my hip. The city was your favorite place so I made it home. I’ve always hated the city.

You wouldn’t peel your eyes off the computer the night I told you to come here with me. I waited by the door long enough to remember the wait. I recall the crippling itches creeping up and down my face. I wanted to scratch away all my makeup but I had just put it on. You held my hand like it was the first time. I led you to the place that made me feel alive like the city had made you. You asked why it was so dark. I knew you weren’t talking about the lake.

I couldn’t hear a single bird. My skin was cold. We let go of each other’s hands like we had just become strangers or something. I need to dehumanize love sometimes- you felt like a stranger and that’s what I needed. The feeling was mutual but unlike me you didn’t like it. Things were always on your terms.

I close my eyes through the lights in fear of seeing angles of your face. In fear of my fingers crawling into your palm. I can still hear “I don’t love you” rolling off your tongue. I’ve always hated the city.


Life Of The Party

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The Ugly

The Outside

“Hold on guys, Grant’s calling.” Esther turns the music down and answers the call right away.
We all sit there, eyes gleaming towards one another as her ear sits pressed tight to the phone.
“Ok sounds like a plan. We’ll be there soon.”
End call.
Esther throws her phone back into her purse and turns the volume back up. We all look to her for a response, but she swings her body up out of the sunroof instead. The Hispanic hip hop thumping through the speakers barely drowns out her roaring screams. She’s got her hands up over her head and long blonde hair flying free. As free as I’m feeling sitting in the back seat of the Honda cooper with my sister right beside. She’s smiling at my failing attempts at rolling an ‘R’ as I smile back because hers is contagious. Marta belts out lyrics from the drivers seat, one hand stretched out through the window above us.
A boy of around five foot nine with red hair greets us outside the house. His eyes appear quite glassy when he moves his glare in our direction.
“The party’s here,” he runs over to Esther, twirling her around once in the air.
“Sure is,” she laughs looking back over at us.
We all laugh back.
The house smells like the picture I had in my head- one with beer and cigarettes. The banter of young adults and clinking of cans seems too familiar. There’s a case of beers in the corner of the kitchen kind of like that one house I was at years ago. I look down at  Marta pouring me beer into a cup. She slides it in my direction. I could feel my face getting hot as the drink bubbles down my throat.  Mali’s on her second and Marta just chased tequila with some salt and lime. The room shifts around just a smidge as a group of guys walk over to us. They seem about our age and have that aura of cologne that used to hold my attention. They’re all tall and lanky with a white complexion. My eyes move up to their youthful faces.  I’m keeping up with the second round of drinks.
We’ve all moved to the living room where Grant’s friend begins to set up a game of “King’s cup.” I’ve never played this one before so I turn to Marta and Esther.
“Quick, how does this game go?”
“Everyone goes around in a circle, drawing a card from the middle. Every card has an action to it. If you fail to do the action you have to drink. You can’t break the circle when removing a card. If you break the circle you have to chug the beer in the middle of the table and the games over.”
Marta was on my right and one of the boys on my left. I watched carefully as Esther’s friend, Grant, started off the game. It played out in front of me like a movie reel- all these actors picking up cards and folding them under the cap of the can in the middle. Music was playing in the background but I can’t recall what kind.
There was a boy sitting right by Grant- almost directly across from me. I didn’t get his name. But he was tall, lanky and white like the rest of them. His eyes were dilated- pupils large enough to match the gauges in his ears. They were tunnel gauges just like the ones I had. He kept looking over at me. I caught him every time I’d laugh or smile.
I moved through the game. with surprising ease. Even still, I ended up breaking the circle of cards and had to chug the beer in the middle. Once I delivered, the crowd went wild. After my moment of fame, the boy with the dilated eyes came over to me.
“What size are those?” he pointed at my ears.
I was alarmed at his attempt at conversation.
I hesitated- I didn’t know what size my gauges were.
“Mine are a double 00,” he continued.
“I don’t remember my size. But I want to go up to the ones you have,” I tapped at his ear lightly.
I don’t recall who ended the conversation, but I was now back at the corner of the kitchen with my friends where the beer had been. He was at the ping pong table with his.

The Inside

Stepping foot into that college house felt like walking into an abandoned building. I had recognized its walls but everything inside seemed empty. I hadn’t been to a house full of college students since the February of last year. Let alone a party. This gathering tonight wasn’t a big one- maybe 15 kids in total. But walking up the stairs to two girls in heels and cocktail dresses was a gut-wrenching wave of discomfort. Roaming by groups of frat boys holding beers was a sight that had me feeling like a ghost.
Marta was pouring my beer into a cup. I could see its frothy bubbles creeping off the edges. I had almost hoped it would flow out of the cup and onto the floor. But it didn’t. It was full as it slid in my direction. I could instantly sense the sadness in my head clouding over me like a coastal front.
Not a sip had entered my throat when  I already began to taste those nights of last February. My feet unsteady, I held the cup to my lips and took a swig. I was waiting for the sensation to hit- for that familiar desire to run. I was waiting for the feeling to commence- the one I had right before slitting my wrists in that L.A hotel bathroom.
I was a stranger standing by my best friends. Forcing conversation physically pained and escaping only seemed like running into closed arms. I was now sitting around a table of King’s Cup. Everyone knew how to play this game but me. I should have just taken that middle beer and chugged because I was already the loser. But no, I had to wait until after the game.
One of the boys sitting across the table kept looking at me. This was the first time since my ex that I recognized someone else. I had forgotten what it felt like- for a boy to eye me from up close. I looked back at him for a second and then right back to my feet. It made me think of Jimmie and my heart dropped.
I was slowly reverting back to my old intoxicated self. I was remembering my body sitting there on the toilet with bloody arms stretched out in front. The complimentary hotel razor laying on the floor.
Mali, Marta, and Esther were having the best time. They were laughing and talking to all the boys. I was along for the ride, smiling through the conversation. I fit right in. They’d have no idea.
Morgan is sitting on the carpet beside me, wads of toilet paper on her lap. Her hands are moving quickly. The trash had overflowed, and the pieces are now scattered across the floor. She is crying with me. 911 is pulled up on her phone. She wants to protect my privacy but also knows she has to do what’s right to keep me safe. Morgan leaves the phone untouched as she holds me. She held me for a long time that night. For hours.
My laughing hadn’t disappeared as we all continued to play the game. My smile showed up in every photo. The night was long. I’m not sure what part of me stayed sitting there at the table. What I was sure of was that another part of me had ran away at the first sight of life in that house. The girls with the heels and cocktail dresses.

For My Future Love

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The Bad

If I could tell you one thing and one thing only it would be that I never thought you would happen. I’d tell you that not even my dreams would predict you. I was never a girl to have dreams about boys. Not at nighttime at least. I dreamt about killers decapitating my friends and a monster chasing me through the woods. But I’ve never dreamt about you.

I will doubt you more often than not. And stay up hours finessing reasons to not trust you. No matter how pure your heart I’ll still find things. And you’ll be woken up in the middle of the night to cries about those doubts of mine. They’ll physically hurt you but I won’t see it because I’ll feel like my pain is always stronger. Don’t carry my fragility on your back.

If I could tell you one thing it would be to ignore me sometimes. Don’t wallow in the shit I say. I recognize that it’s not fair for me to have those accommodations. But please. Please understand that my impulsive confessions have sent so many people running. Sometimes I think I should just not talk anymore. Silence has broken less hearts than words have. When I keep you up at night over everything I wish you were, believe me that those aren’t your weaknesses. They’re mine.

Don’t let me go  because you can’t gulp down that feeling I give you. Of not being enough.. You’re more than enough and I’m just inevitably damaged and a monster chasing me through the woods seemed to me more believable than the idea that I’d ever fall deep in love.

I Get Called a Hippie

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I get called a nature freak and/or hippie quite often these days. The thing about name-calling- it’s mostly used by those who don’t know you past your surface. Those who scroll through your photos without recognizing the locations. The ones who have yet to see you outside paved streets where the nature really lies.

Don’t get me wrong- call me what you will. You’re not hurting anybody. But before you chuck a name at my direction pull up the map. For it’ll show you that those streets written in grey all lead to homes that look the same. You can point a finger at the house my body sleeps in but that’s not where I truly live. It sure locks in my residence but my real home lies beyond that spec on the street.

The “home is where you heart is” spiel isn’t hippie nonsense. It’s been passed from generation to generation. That pretty much means it’s fact right? My heart lies in the spot by the water that I’d sit those days I didn’t want to be alive. And the woods I’d walk through when I wasn’t looking to be found. My heart lies in the stream passing by my favorite city. And those rocks by the lake I rest on with my friends.

So call me a nature freak. Call me a hippie. But you’ll have to find me first.