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.

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.

All That Glitters

I haven’t done a ton of updates on wedding planning, mainly because I’ve just been so busy actually doing it. You know how fun and amazing the movies make everything seem? Parts of planning one of the most special days is just like that. Sharing the experience of finding the perfect dress with my mom and best friend was magical. I didn’t cry when I first found my dress — until I stepped onto the pedestal in front of the mirror and my mom started to. It was the only one that made both of us tear up, and that was the moment I knew I had found my dress. Going back to get the final seals of approval and choosing a few accessories was just as much fun. I’ve loved going to wedding expos, touring venues, and being silly and saying, “I wonder what has happened to my fiancée? Oh, I have lost my fiancée!” while I still can. I’ve loved looking at bridesmaid dresses, figuring out what colors will go with my shade of white (Who else knew there are like, ten different words for “White” when planning a wedding?), and daydreaming about what Robert will look like in a tux.

The hardest part of wedding planning isn’t the actual idea of planning, though. I love researching and chatting with people, I love thinking about little details, and I love getting to hear how passionate the vendors are about their craft. The hardest part about wedding planning is all the freaking chronic pain that’s been getting in the way. I hate to complain, but I do want to keep everything as real as I can for all of you as I go through the ups and downs of life. This is, after all, a lifestyle blog. I have so many things to check off of my list every day and mentally I can fly through them, but when I sit down to send emails and scroll through pages of ideas on my Pinterest boards and wedding message threads, my arms fatigue a lot faster than anything else. Ever since I’ve gotten in gear my arms have been bad again. I have knots and tender trigger points, and I have had the burning sensations I haven’t experienced in over a year now. I don’t know if the crunchy stuff in my elbows is still leftover scar tissue or something else, but my lacrosse ball doesn’t ever fully relieve the pain anymore.

I’ve had to take a step back and ask for more help. My mom has been incredible throughout this entire thing, and she’s gotten several of the big things checked off our list. I’m kind of in awe at how wonderfully she puts things together and has researched to figure out what vendors we can use to make our day a little easier and more carefree when it gets here. My mom is a cross between an angel and a superhero; I’ve always known this, but getting sick with a chronic illness at 22 confirmed it for me. She’s taken care of me throughout the entire time of being sick, and always puts my needs above her own. I couldn’t imagine doing any of this without her, and am so thankful that she’s doing this alongside me. If it weren’t for her, I know we couldn’t have pulled off a fall wedding.

I think the frustrating part of planning is that I so badly want to be able to craft and write down every single thing I do and learn. I want to blog about it all, I want to have a really snazzy wedding website to share all the details with all of you, and more than anything I want to be able to create so many special moments for everyone who is coming to our wedding. I wrote a little draft about my dream wedding when we first got engaged, and the most important thing is that I want everyone there to feel really special and joyful too. This is all such a Krista-y thing, and I want every moment that day to be filled with a new surprise and something that will make everyone really happy. There are about seven million things I want to do, but I have to be choosy because of my energy level and pain. Surprises and events take a whole lot of planning to just get the basics done, and I never would have anticipated so much work is put into one day!

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So, now that I’ve shared the hard part about wedding planning, I’ll be excited to share all the things that have brought me so much joy. At the end of the day, this date is so much more than just a wedding. It’s the start of the rest of my life with Robert, and it’s just a really great way to celebrate with people we love and care about. I already know that there will be hiccups, I will be nervous to be the center of attention for a short bit, and that not everything will go according to plan. I know everyone says that a wedding is something a girl dreams about her whole life, but my dreams go so far beyond this beautiful fall day. Once September has come and gone, I know the real adventure has just begun. 

No Longer Single In The Suburbs

As y’all know I haven’t been single for a long time now, and when I first created this website I thought I wouldn’t be in a relationship for a pretty long time. The joke was on me, though, because I met someone really great a lot faster than I anticipated.

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Guys. This is us on a date… IRL!! It’s seriously so nice living right down the road from one another.

Single In The Suburbs is always going to be a part of my brand, but it’s time for me to change to something that’s going to reflect my life today and for years to come.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, as I’ve been resting on my new domain, and I finally finished saving all my drafts and posts just in case something terrible happens when I change websites… Which is probably good because I’m having so much trouble trying to figure out how to get my darn WordPress site to connect to my new URL (I’d like to give a shoutout to my blogging friend Rosie, though, for giving me some encouragement with this big change, as she just did the same thing last week!).

So if you’re having trouble accessing my website, you’re definitely not the only one. I can’t see it anymore either, so I am going to bring in the big guns and get my brother to help me with this mess later this week. My site might be down for a couple of days, but I will absolutely be back! After that you won’t find me on the “Single In The Suburbs” WordPress anymore… You’ll be redirected to my new Dating and Lifestyle website, KristaLauren.com. 🙂

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Valentine’s Day With A Player

As I’ve mentioned before Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. I’ve been prepping for the big day for weeks now. I made a million cards and heavily assisted in keeping the USPS in business this year. Sadly I gave Robert his present early — a New England Patriots jacket — as I felt like he needed as much gear for the Super Bowl as possible, but I’m still going to give out a few presents and cards on Tuesday. My boyfriend is always my official Valentine, but I usually have a dozen others (I bully my friends into saying they’ll be my Valentine); and my mom is always my #1!

Since I’ve been slacking a little on posting lately I decided to do a kind of different pre-Valentine’s Day post. I chatted some with one of my good friends, Will, as he has a great head on his shoulders when it comes to love and dating, but is also kind of hilarious. As much as he talks the talk about being a player, he is actually one of the sweetest guys I know, and I kind of can’t wait for him to eventually get a girlfriend, as I know he’ll treat her really well (Yes, ladies, he is currently single!). Read more to get the scoop on what basketball superstar “Will The Thrill” is up to tomorrow.

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Single In The Suburbs:
What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Will The Thrill:
Well I’m taking out a lucky lady after work, then quickly dropping her off so I can take out another girl I’m talking to.

SITS:
How many girls will you take out?

WTT:
I will take out two on Tuesday. I took out one on Friday and two on Saturday. I might take out a few the following weekend as well; it depends on what I feel like doing at the time.

SITS:

How do you keep your dates from finding out about each other? I would hate to see you stuck in a John Tucker Must Die scenario.

WTT:
Ideally you’d want the women to live at least some distance away from each other so they won’t find you with another girl at a nearby restaurant when they’re out with friends. If anyone wants to employ this dating strategy, I’d highly recommend getting a car with great gas mileage.

SITS:
How do you keep their names straight?

WTT:
Fortunately for me, I’m pretty good at remembering names. I guess being an attractive female helps in that regard as well… And if you’re not good with names, you’ll learn quick.

SITS:
Are you bringing your dates anything special for Valentine’s Day?

WTT:
I’ll bring a box of chocolates to my last date on Tuesday, since that’s the girl I’m most interested in. It’s basically like a professional sports team and the ladies are fighting for roster spots. The girls who don’t go out with me on Valentine’s Day are on the bench, the ones that do are the starters, and my favorite girl (who earns the prestigious title of “Baby Girl”) is the star player.

SITS:
Aren’t you afraid the other girls will think you’re a cheapskate if you don’t bring them anything for Valentine’s Day?

WTT:

Well, some of them are going to be first dates, so that would be weird. If I’ve been talking to a girl for a while I guess I’ll bring them some chocolate too. I am a nice person.

SITS:
Any tips for those who don’t have a Valentine yet?

WTT:
Keep grinding. Go to the gym, watch some funny movies, and hang out with other friends without dates. I had plenty of Valentine’s Days where I didn’t have one, it’s not that bad.

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Will is known for his killer charm, stunning good looks, and wicked sense of humor.

Disclaimer for those of you who know Will:
This is for humor purposes only and Will the Thrill does not really endorse playing women like that, as he loves them all too much.

Boyfriends And Birthdays

I think by now I’ve written enough that you all know I am a flawed human being. I make mistakes on a regular basis, and I sometimes own up to them on here.

Today I am going to write about something I actually am kind of ashamed to admit. I used to measure how much my boyfriend loved me by what he would get me for my birthday… Or Christmas, or Valentine’s day. Yep, that’s about it.

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You see, I haven’t dated the right kind of guy for the way my heart loves in the past. I’m someone who feels loved when someone spends time doing something for me. Some of the best gifts I have given and received from loved ones have included scrapbooks, beautifully written letters, and such perfectly tailored “Krista presents” that I just know the person spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to get me. One of my biggest love languages is gift giving, and it’s never about the money spent, but it’s all about the thought put behind the gift (Or — my favorite — the words written in a card).

This year is different, though. This year I am with someone who I absolutely positively know from the bottom of my heart cares about me and loves me to my core. He shows me in his actions and tells me every day how much he cares.

Instead of (cringe) having my best friend “help” my boyfriend pick something out because he didn’t know my style or would wait until the last minute to make a Target run otherwise, I was 100% genuine when I told Robert that he didn’t need to get me anything this year, and that I just wanted him to come home. Even though he did end up mailing me something (Which I will still wait to open until tomorrow!), I would have been completely happy getting a Skype call and a sweet note on December 3rd. My heart has never felt so content with someone the way it feels with him.

I’ve learned that if you’re with a person who really gets you and knows how to make you feel loved, that the whole “love language” thing isn’t such a big deal anymore. It still matters, but doesn’t dictate the entirety of your relationship because you feel safe and secure. You know your person is thinking about you, even if you can’t talk every single day or do the whole “good morning” and “goodnight” texting. I used to think that I needed a man who would do those things for me every single day. After all, sending a text only takes about a minute, I would reason to myself. My boyfriend should certainly be able to do that for me every day!

Holy crap is it amazing not worrying about little things like that anymore! Until I started writing tonight I haven’t realized in the fourteen months we’ve been dating* Robert doesn’t typically send me those texts — yet I know that every morning when he wakes up he’ll think of me, and the same goes for falling asleep at night. I no longer need a set routine to feel loved, and I don’t  read into every little thing my boyfriend does or doesn’t do to know that he cares about me. I just know. No matter what happens, this is the kind of relationship I want for my future. I want someone who makes love feel easy, and someone who makes me feel secure in our relationship so that when little things fall out of place they don’t rock us. Life is long, messy, and has its fair share of ups and downs. Why make something like love more complicated than it needs to be? Forget about the rules Cosmopolitan creates to “make your relationship fulfilling,” and find someone who makes love seem so easy that when times do get hard you have a solid foundation to stay afloat on.

Today’s lesson: If little things like not getting a “good morning” text every day bother you immensely, please take a minute really think about your relationship. Is he treating you the way you would like your best friend to be treated? Is he treating you the way you treat the people you love? Do you feel loved in this relationship — not just on holidays and special days, but on sick days, and on Mondays? If the answer is “No” to any of these, sit down and take fifteen minutes to really think about whether or not this seems to be a satisfying relationship. This is one of the scariest things you can do when you love someone and are attached to them, but if they’re not the right person for you letting them go sooner rather than later opens a door for the kind of love you do want in life. You never know when your person might pop into your life. Don’t be taken by someone who won’t be in your future to miss meeting someone who would be great there.


*I don’t know how long to say I’ve been dating Robert! Our first date was fifteen months ago, but we weren’t exclusive until a few months after that.

Fifteen Fun Facts

Our little Single in The Suburbs family has grown quite a bit lately, so I thought I would do a fun little list to help introduce myself to all of our new readers (Thank you, Kalika, for inspiring me to narrow my number down to 15!).

Without further ado, here are 15 fun facts about me:

  1. I love all things Thomas Rhett. I love his music, his Instagram feed, and his relationship with his life Lauren. I think they’re adorable and despite it being hard to judge from social media, I do think they seem like really genuine people.
  2. Writing is literally one of my favorite activities. Sometimes I would rather write than go out with friends on the weekend (But I’ll usually take someone up on an offer to hang out if I’m free).
  3. Every time I cash a check I go shopping to find someone I love a little present. Giving gifts is probably my biggest love language, which can be tough since I don’t have a “real job.”
  4. Sometimes I play a game with myself to see how many grumpy-looking strangers I can get to smile back at me.
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    This is what I think I look like…

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    This is probably closer to reality.
  5. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. Actually, it’s probably even my favorite day of the year despite hating the cold weather February brings. I’ve always loved it, even when I was super-single, because I feel like it’s a day you can kind of go crazy in writing cards and giving gifts — my two favorite things. Oh, and it’s a good excuse to eat a ton of chocolate — not that I need a specific day to tell me to do so.
  6. If I could be friends with any celebrity I would hands-down choose Selena Gomez. I think she’s beautiful, talented, and a great role model even with the mistakes she’s made… And I feel like we have a lot in common — especially now that she’s been diagnosed with a chronic illness as well.
  7. I don’t feel comfortable eating things when I know they’ve been genetically modified. Sadly I think the majority of packaged things you’d get at the grocery store — and even fruits and veggies — are GMOs, but I am hoping we’ll eventually follow  Europe’s lead and ban them. It just doesn’t seem healthy, and ever since I got sick without knowing why I wonder what in the environment could have caused my sudden illness.
  8. I don’t like cats, and they don’t like me. Just because I’m not a fan, though (Would you like things that scratch and bite you nonstop?!), doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for them. Growing up we rescued 2 cats from the street, and I think every animal deserves a loving home.

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  9. I get really embarrassed when I have to order things at restaurants or Starbucks because I hate being high maintenance, but I developed several allergies as an adult — apparently that’s a typical thing for POTS. Who would have known?!
  10. That being said, my order at Starbucks is a grande salted caramel hot chocolate made with soy milk and with half the amount of syrup. And if they ask, I can’t say no to whipped cream!
  11. This shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone, but I absolutely love letter writing. I keep all the cards and letters friends give me, and still have every love note I’ve been written. Along with gift giving, I show my love for others through words on paper.

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  12. The thing that impresses me most about people is the ability to be kind to others — especially when it’s a really hard thing to do.
  13. I do most of my shopping online because I often get too tired to go to a bunch of stores at the mall. I just signed up for Ipsy, and am stoked to get my first box next month. I’ll be writing a review on it later, but if you want to join me feel free to sign up under my account. My next venture is going for the Fab Fit Fun box, but I don’t want to splurge that much on myself all at once. Subscription boxes are just so darn fun since you are essentially paying other people to buy you a present!
  14. If I could be good at one thing I would choose being musically gifted. I would love to have a great singing voice, as singing is one of my favorite things to do! Sadly I don’t have that gift, so unless we’re crazy-close you’ll probably never hear me sing.
  15. Instagram is my favorite social media site. I love that you can share your life with strangers and that you can share a story with a fun photo. I’ve actually made a few friends on the site who have been a huge support system for me, too, which is awesome!