Let’s Talk About Anxiety

I woke up this morning in a sweat. My heart was racing as I jolted awake from some sort of nightmare. I immediately started thinking about things that make me nervous about the future, and how the heck I’m going to get through it all. My stomach dropped deep down into my abdomen as my heart leapt straight through my chest. Apparently you sometimes can’t even escape anxiety in your dreams.

Anxiety is a cousin of depression. They’re close in the sense they both can be based on fear and uncertainty, but they give two very different feelings. Depression is hollow and dark. It feels like a rainy day in a swamp, with fog as far as the eye can see. You know it’s a wide open space, but you can’t muster up the energy to move around freely. You are curled up in a ball, only vaguely noticing that there is a world around you. I think often with depression, the person in the middle of the fog can really only see a few feet around them and can’t tell that there is light and beauty outside the dark swamp. In fact, there are still beautiful flowers and little glimmers of light while you are there, but they can be difficult to see if you give up and stay curled in your little ball. Rays of light come in the form of good friends, puppies, working out, and helping others. There is always a reason to keep fighting, but everyone understands if you need to take a break for awhile. It is exhausting when you feel like you’re alone and don’t know how to pull yourself up off the ground.

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Anxiety paints a different picture. Instead of being a more introverted feeling, anxiety is the craziest extrovert you’ve ever seen. It is wild and red, and hot to the touch. Anxiety makes you feel claustrophobic in your own body, and creates a strong desire to run away from yourself. With depression, you would rather be able to get back in to your own body and figure out how to find yourself again. Anxiety makes you want to forget everything there is about you and run away to create a new life. You want to turn your brain off to stop thinking about anything and everything and find a way to sleep again, but you can’t take a vacation from your thoughts. Both depression and anxiety can create a pit in your stomach, but they’ve often settled there for entirely different reasons.

I have tiptoed along the line of depression sometimes, but I think having some down days is part of the human experience, so it’s very different than it was being in the darkness I have only been in once before. Anxiety is a much more familiar feeling I let sneak into my heart. It starts by catching the door with its foot, then shoves its way in guns blazing. “You’re not good enough,” “You won’t be able to handle the future,” and, “You can’t do the thing” are all lies anxiety screams as loudly as it can. It makes up elaborate and unlikely stories of what your future is going to look like, but speaks them with confidence and as truth. It’s a lot easier said than done to choose not to believe the lies, as a simple, “just don’t worry about it,” or, “calm down” won’t ease an anxious person’s heart. It is possible to find peace, but takes a lot of swallowing your own pride, accepting help from others, and being gentle with yourself.


Anxiety and depression are both so prevalent in today’s world. I don’t know if the age of social media has caused a rise in mental health issues or we’re just more open about them now, but I’d say more people than not have had a taste of these feelings, even if they haven’t been officially diagnosed with anything. I think we underestimate how not-alone we are in the world and how similar our feelings are to one another.

Talking about anxiety makes me anxious. I still think people are quick to judge, label, and make assumptions about people they don’t know. Despite genuinely believing most people have a good headspace about talking about mental health, I know there is still ignorance and confusion in this space of the world. I know that therapy is still stigmatized, and that people don’t always love and support things they don’t understand. So many people, though, who you would never guess are fighting difficult battles by themselves. Sometimes the most beautiful, smiley rays of sunshine have a darkness that is clouding their heart, and I am so thankful that celebrities and people in the limelight who have platforms are speaking up about their struggles more. Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Mindy Kaling, and Stephen Colbert are all people who live to make others laugh, but struggle with anxiety. Jim Carey, Owen Wilson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Sarah Silverman have all been very open about dealing with depression. It isn’t just comedians who struggle with mental health, though. There is an enormous list of people who range from athletes to astronauts who have been affected by depression or anxiety. Even Abraham Lincoln is thought to have had severe depression and anxiety; they just didn’t have a word for it then.

My purpose in writing this is because I think it’s so important that we realize we are never alone in our thoughts or feelings. People need to be taught from a young age that it’s okay for everything to not be okay sometimes. People should realize that we all have battles we’re fighting, that we can share our struggles with our loved ones, and most of all, to be kind to everyone we meet. I am not “Instafamous,” do not have a large group of followers, or a particularly captivating life to share about, but I want to open my heart to the people who do read this in hopes it makes someone feel less alone. I see you, and care about you. We need you here, and you are important. Please don’t ever forget that.

TJ’s Tuesday Fall Favorites

Alright, so I still have not done a pumpkin post, not because I haven’t been to Trader Joe’s lately, but because there honestly isn’t as much pumpkin stuff as I remembered in the past. Sure there are a few sauces and baking mixes, but I remember years before having a million pumpkin things I was excited to try. One of these weeks I’ll muster up the energy to find five pumpkin things I’d like to try, but until then we’re going to do a few of my favorite fall items.

1. Envy Apples
Envy apples are freaking amazing. Like, they’re the best apples you’ll ever eat. They’re super crispy and taste like a more tart version of their cousin, the Gala apple. Trader Joe’s is kind of cool too because they charge you by the fruit, not by the pound, so you can just pick out the best apple of the bunch and feel like you’re getting a great deal.

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2. Cinnamon Bun Spread
Have you ever smelled a candle and wished you could eat it? If candle eating resonates with you, this jar of cinnamon might just be your thing. The texture is almost like melted wax and if I could waft the scent around my home, it would smell like fall potpourri. I’ve read quite a bit about this cinnamon bun spread before, but never tried it until a couple of days ago. When I was at TJ’s contemplating this purchase, I saw that the first ingredient is honey, which I’m all for. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m kind of glad I got it and I have a feeling I’ll crave this spread anytime I light a fall candle in my home. It should last me the entire season. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a better way of eating it than on the back of a shortbread cookie!

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3. Organic Strawberries 
Fall isn’t necessarily known to be strawberry picking season, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I smelled how fresh the strawberries were from over a foot away. These ended up being so good that I ate the entire box in two sittings — and already went back for another bundle I’ve almost finished.

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4. Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Halloween is coming up, which means it’s time to break out the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Except these are even better. I sometimes get a stomachache from eating too many, so be careful how many you let yourself have because they’re addicting!

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5. Pumpkin Dog Treats
I think it was a real missed opportunity not calling these Pupkin Treats, but it is what it is. Jax and Macy both love these dog treats that are made with real pumpkin. As I was writing this I thought about how I was going to tell you that they smell just like a human pumpkin snack, and it dawned on me that I might be able to take a bite and tell you whether or not it tasted like one, too. I went to check the ingredients and here’s what I found:

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Okay, I know what wheat is and despite being gluten-free, a little won’t kill me. Pumpkin is fine, so is cane molasses. So far so good! Typical Trader Joe’s, making dog treats something good enough for humans to eat. Bravo. Canola oil is another check next to “human ingredient,” and so is ground cinnamon. I don’t know what citric acid is, but I’ve also seen it on my own nutrition labels before. What in the world is “Mixed Tocopherols?!” My laptop is recognizing it as a word, but I certainly don’t. First possibly scary ingredient, but I’m assuming it’s a pretty typical preservative (which, in anyone’s defense, can be scary in human foods too). Lastly, Rosemary extract. Something I am familiar with. Well, I guess I gotta go for it then! For the sake of the blog.

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I took a bite on my Instagram story earlier and it was totally gross. Despite smelling like a biscotti I would be happy to dip in my coffee, it tasted like crunchy, wheat flavored cardboard. I have no idea why Jax and Macy love these so much, but I see why in my 28 years on earth I’ve never had the desire to try a dog treat. I could have gone my whole life without making this weird decision.

Anyway, I know I posted a little late today, but I hope you find something new to try next time you’re at Trader Joe’s. Please don’t let my poor review of dog treats and candle flavored cinnamon goo deter you from trying something new or getting a treat for your pup while you’re out. I promise they’ll like it!


Read more about other Trader Joe’s favorites here

God Is Here, But Isn’t Telling Me Something

I’m in so much freaking pain right now I don’t know if I want to throw up or cry. Preferably both would probably make me feel better. I don’t feel like this nearly as often as I used to, as my health is improving, but it still feels like it’s going to last forever. I can’t focus on anything else and just want the day to be over so I can have a clean start with refreshed muscles.

I always try to figure out why I’m in more pain than usual so it won’t happen again. Often, there isn’t a big cause — it’s just maybe the weather (I SWEAR I get bad headaches more often on rainy days) or the fact that I was standing too long in a day my POTS was acting up. There are other times, though, that I know I’ll feel bad the next day. Taking an airplane or sitting down for long periods of time, being much more active than usual, or staying out late are all things that can cause pain. Writing causes pain for me. I wrote a lot today. I didn’t focus on my ergonomics the way I should have. That might be a big reason I’m at an 8 and want to cry now.*

Some people might take this as a sign from God that writing may not be their thing. After all, my hands become stiff and my pain creeps up my arms and shoulders the longer I’m writing at a computer, so the writing does quite literally hurt me. It isn’t comfortable the way it used to be, and you’d think if it was my calling I wouldn’t have to take breaks to pace myself so much. Writers can sit down at a computer and churn out words for hours on end without taking so much as a bathroom break. This thought has crept into my mind before. Why can’t I do what I love and what my heart desires most as a full-time job? Why did my trajectory change so drastically? Is it because it isn’t my destiny to be a writer and I should look for something else to dig in deeply?

I am reading a book right now that talks a little about “signs” and Christianity. It talks about how sometimes things that happen are not as monumental as we want them to be — they’re just little blips in the grand scheme of things. Not everything in the world is a sign from God, even though He is always here with us. My pain that is linked to writing is not a sign from God that I need to stop. I know I am supposed to be here in this little space of the Internet, and it isn’t some big selfish desire my heart has. It’s just a deep-rooted yearning I have to connect with others, share my stories, and help each of us feel less alone in the world. The chronic pain I’ve dealt with might just be yet another way to connect with people, but it isn’t a sign that I need to stop writing. Sometimes people wait too much to try to listen to what God wants them to do, rather than just strapping on their boots and trying. I think we sometimes underestimate God and don’t realize that if we’re going in the totally wrong direction, He can find ways to pull us back on track. The most important thing is to get up, and go for what we think can change the world. If we’re wrong — which people often are — we can keep trying until we get things right. After all, that’s an enormous part of what it is to be human, right? Learning from our experiences and making ourselves better from them.

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Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be feeling all better. Like I said, I was a little alarmed to feel this bad because I’ve had so many good days lately. I am grateful for that, and I hope to continue getting better and better.


*Those of you in the chronic illness community know we often rate our pain on a scale from 1-10, 1 being pain-free, to 10 being unbearable. It gives doctors a better way of seeing improvement and knowing how bad — or not — it really is.

TG It’s The Weekend

Man, I have a bad headache. I think it’s from my neck pain. Typically when it gets bad enough it goes straight up my vertebrae to the top of my head. Ugh!

I’m currently really in the mood to write, but not really equipped to sit at my computer that long right now. I also can’t think straight because of the aforementioned headache. I figured I’d tell y’all what I’ve been working on lately, though. I’ve been doing some more deep writing lately. I’m going to be posting about anxiety, social media, and how problematic I think Hollywood has become. Please hold me accountable to this. None of it is very fun to share, but I think it’s all important and there is a reason I’ve felt pushed to write about it.

I’m also working on creating a weekly email you guys can subscribe to — so I don’t have to do random little updates like this on here anymore. I am undecided between MailChimp and Constant Contact. Any thoughts on either?

Finally, I have a few recipes and shopping trips that are begging to be posted. Sadly, my local Trader Joe’s hasn’t gone crazy with pumpkin stuff this year and I’m just not feeling most of it. I got Jax some pumpkin biscuits the other day, but I haven’t gone crazy yet. There’s still plenty of time for that though, right?

My Proposal To The Bachelor Franchise

There is plenty of footage from The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise that we never see. We all know there’s a lot of editing done so that the producers can make people look however they want to add to the drama each season. My guess is, though, with a house filled with people all trying to date the same person, there is probably enough drama that you don’t really have to do that much to curate it. If the casting directors step up their game and really choose people wisely, problems will ensue, drama will happen, and the audience will eat. it. up.

Did you know football is on Friday, literally all day on Sunday, and Monday nights? That’s just the NFL. College football is probably on every day of the week, so you’re pretty much screwed if your significant other cares about all the sports. There’s also baseball, which feels like it’s on every day except Christmas, and the NBA preseason games start in the beginning of October. Like, what is the difference between preseason and the regular season? They’re all 2+ hour games that you want a specific team you’re rooting for to win, whether or not it counts. Hockey starts sometime in the next few months, and again, baseball is on basically year-round, so there is always something taking up space on the television at home.

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Something I think is VERY problematic, is the timing of the bachelor franchise. Football started this week and on Tuesday Bachelor in Paradise ENDS. Like, who even comes up with this?! WE NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER, BIP. I was looking forward to having my own game nights where all my friends come over for pizza and baked goods to cheer on the Nicoles and Clays of the season, and wonder what the heck Caelynn is going to do with Dean coming back when she’s already begun a new relationship with Connor.

Honestly, life isn’t fair in a lot of ways, but this is something human beings can change. We can fight to get ABC to play more of the trashy TV we have grown to love and leave other networks to host sports. I tried to create a petition that people could sign. to get The Bachelor on our television screens on football nights, but I guess Change.org only really accepts petitions for things that really matter.

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I’m sorry, but I need this every night football is on. I want someone to cheer for, and people to root against when they’re sleeping with a handful of the franchise girls at Stagecoach. I want to find out if Hayley and JPJ are meant for each other and can somehow make things work, despite all this inner conflict about falling for Tayshia first.

If Fleiss and friends are scared of the competition of sports, I say, bring it. The franchise has a big enough following that dedicated fans like me will turn on ABC instead of ESPN, and even if they lose a few people along the way, at least the diehard fans are happy, right? We’re the ones who will keep the show going, even through the Arie Luyendyk and Jake Pavelka’s of it all. We stick around during the boring seasons so that we know everyone going into the next show and can root for our next bachelor or bachelorette to find love.

Please consider my plea. I seriously need some sort of break from watching men hurl an oval ball back and forth, and would appreciate all the drama I know you can create for me. Take a page out of the Big Brother handbook, and have live feeds for us. If nothing else, at least put The Bachelor on a few nights a week whenever there are big sporting events. PUT MY ENTERTAINMENT ON MORE OFTEN! It only seems fair to add an emotional competition to all the physical ones we have on television every night, right? Will you accept this proposal, ABC?

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TJ’s Tuesday feat Cotton Candy Grapes

Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places on earth. I’ve been going since I was a kid, and I think just about every single one of my friends in college was forced to try one thing or another from this divine grocery store.

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I text friends on a pretty regular basis what all of my new Joe’s finds are, so I figured I might as well make a weekly blog post about it. This week we’re in for a real treat too, because they happened to have my favorite fruit in the entire world. You guessed it:

1. Cotton Candy Grapes
I tell everyone about CC grapes. They literally taste exactly like what you would get at the circus or the fair, but aren’t unhealthy! The coolest thing is that they are still organic, despite being some sort of weird hybrid grape. I eat them by the pound, and hope they’ll still be around in a week or two so I can get another giant box.

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Protip: Freeze them for an extra special summer treat!

2. Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds
That name is a mouthful, and you’ll definitely want to take one of these dark chocolate almonds once you try them. I got hooked on these when I was in college, and they were a great breakthrough to how amazing dark chocolate can be. Even my husband — who hates dark chocolate — eats these by the fistful. They have a perfect sweet and salty mix, and are wildly addicting.

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3. Movie Theater Butter Popcorn
Speaking of college, you could always find me studying with a snack, particularly the perfectly buttered bagged popcorn from Trader Joe’s. It’s almost as good as the real thing, and is way too easy to eat an entire bag in a sitting. I still always keep a bag or two in our pantry because my chocolate lab, Jax, and I enjoy splitting it while watching Big Brother or a goofy Hallmark movie.

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4. Sparkling Watermelon Juice
PLEASE make this a staple, TJ’s!! It breaks my heart that this is a seasonal item because I would like to have these year-round. There came a point where I stocked up on 6 boxes of juice, but sadly I am down to one can now. Hoping they’ll bring it back soon, but if not I’ll be stocking up a lot better next season so they’ll last me at least a few months.

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5. Vitamin E Oil
This is a very recent discovery, but I’m already obsessed with it. You can get this serum for about $5, and it’s amazing to create hydrated and smooth legs after shaving. It felt really great and I would never use it on my face, but it’s really nice for a little extra body shimmer. Just be careful about how much you put on, because it becomes a little greasy quickly.

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Well, that’s all for now, friends. Next week I’ll be posting five new pumpkin things to try at Trader Joe’s, in honor of them bringing out their fall collection. Last year I bought a bunch of pumpkin pancake mix at the end of the season so we could enjoy them year-round. You never know when seasonal items at TJ’s might sell out, so it’s always good to stock up when you can.

Am I Worth Less?

One of the hardest parts about having a chronic illness is feeling like I have less value because I am not contributing as much to the community as my peers. Before I got sick I was working toward pursuing a career in journalism. I took internships, worked part time at a newspaper, and was excited to continue my journey working at Seventeen magazine to hopefully impact young women in a positive way. I have always felt that words are one of the most powerful tools we have, and all of us have a wonderful opportunity to lift others up and make them feel less alone in this big world.

I always dread the question, “So, what do you do?” when I meet someone new. I hate explaining right off the bat, “Well, I got sick when I graduated from college, so I’m trying to get back on my feet and am working on getting my health in line.” Over five years later now I have made leaps and bounds in progress, but I still am figuring out how to manage what I’ve begun to accept as my new normal. Not only is my answer incredibly awkward, but I also just feel so lame not having a cool job or anything to show for my life. I worked so freaking hard before I got sick and have absolutely nothing to show for it anymore. The internship I had at a national news company isn’t relevant anymore, and my job at Seventeen wasn’t able to materialize into what it could have because I couldn’t even walk down the driveway to the mailbox when I first got sick. My illness didn’t just take my body away from me; it took away every sense of normalcy I had ever worked to create. I have nothing to be proud of, and feels like I can’t make an adequate contribution to society anymore. I have relied on others to take care of me, when all I have ever wanted to do was be able to take care of others.

If anyone who had a chronic illness told me they felt worthless, my heart would feel completely broken and I would try as hard as I possibly could to show them what an enormous, ugly lie that was. People shouldn’t feel like they don’t have worth in this world just because their body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Our value does not reside in what we do — or don’t do — for a living, and people can still change lives when their bodies don’t work properly.

Whether or not you are a Christian, I think the Bible has a really beautiful sentiment about our worth as human beings. Psalm 139: 13-14 says, “For You [God] formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” This doesn’t say that we have value because of our job or what we do; it says we were born having value. We are made in God’s image, and He only creates beauty for the world. I think it’s very powerful knowing that even before ever doing anything in the world we have irreplaceable value. Just ask a mother of a newborn baby; she will say that her child means absolutely everything to her, and that is merely for existing, it isn’t anything he has done to make her feel this way.

I am a firm believer that everyone has a purpose in the world and can make a difference in a way that no one else could. Just because you are bedridden or need to be taken care of absolutely does not mean you don’t have value in the world. You have qualities to offer people that make you absolutely irreplaceable in their lives, so we need to stop telling ourselves the lie that we aren’t as valuable because we are different.

On the other hand, I understand the ache that is in your heart for the opportunities you have missed and feeling like some of life has passed you by. I don’t have the resume I would have had if I hadn’t gotten sick, and there are a lot of experiences I missed out on. It’s weird listening to my friends all talk about what they’re doing at work and how comfortable they are there. I still remember working at the magazine’s office like it was yesterday, but I also think that experience was so different because you’re the lowest on the totem pole. Dealing with an illness does teach you what is important in the world, though, and gives amazing perspective people often don’t have until much later on in life. It teaches you to hold on to all the amazing blessings you are given, because sometimes they can be fleeting, and to be thankful for the people closest to you. It teaches lessons of patience, hard work, and resilience. You learn what it’s like to be empathetic with people, rather than just offering sympathy, and you are given an opportunity to be a light for others who go through the exact same things you deal with on an every day basis. Chronic illness builds beautiful warriors who have such important lessons they need to share with the world.

I understand questioning your worth as much as anyone else with a chronic illness, and I am right there with you trying to find my own purpose. The words I wrote on this page make sense to my brain and I know that my life has incredible value, but my heart sometimes has a hard time making the connection. I feel lost in a big world that doesn’t understand me, and I am getting swallowed up in the lies I tell myself at night. Being sick has taught me I’m a fighter, though, and I’m not going to stop searching until I figure out what I’m here for. Deep down I know I have an important role in the world. I just might take a little longer to figure out what it is and that’s okay.

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