World Mental Health Day

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.

Around 450 million people currently suffer from mental health related problems.

Mental health disorders are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide (World Health Organization).

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Over the last couple years, the issue of mental health has become a prominent subject matter in the public square. Celebrities have raised awareness for those who suffer from mental illness and websites like Twitter have allowed more people to have a platform to spread information about the importance of mental health. People are starting to realize that mental health is just as important as physical health—and slowly, the stigma attached to mental health struggles is beginning to fade.

Thus, with it being such an important and widely spoken about issue, I have decided that to write a post about mental health for my blog to help raise awareness for this issue.

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you may know that I’m no stranger to this issue. For years now, I have struggled with OCD and anxiety, which can at times can be crippling—making it difficult to handle situations that most people would be completely comfortable in. I struggle with both stressful, unwanted thoughts and quirks such as not wanting to touch a doorknob and checking my cups to make sure they’re clean.

Nonetheless, over the last few weeks, I have made a conscious decision.

I have made a decision to be healthy.

By choosing to be healthy, I don’t mean that my OCD has gone away entirely or even that I believe it will go away entirely. In some way, shape or form, I’ve suffered with it since childhood. When I was in grade school, I used to arrange my crayons by color and run to my mom whenever I had a thought that I considered “mean” or “bad”.

Nonetheless, I have recently discovered that there are steps that I can take to cope with it and intentionally lessen it; and I believe that many of these things can help those who struggle from other forms of mental health as well.

Pray

To clarify, I don’t believe mental health problems are a sign of a weak faith or not trusting God, as some suggest. However, I do believe we serve a God who cares about the well being of His children. James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” The Bible encourages us to pray during times of trouble, and I believe that if we ask, God will give us peace during our storms—and the strength to get through them

Eat right

Before I tried it myself, I used to think that people who touted healthy eating as the answer stress and anxiety were crazy. Nonetheless, after changing my diet and implementing more whole foods and vitamins, I’ve noticed that my anxiety and even my acne has decreased tremendously. It is obviously not the answer to every problem, but it can help you feel better and more at peace. Eating less processed foods and more foods with vitamins shown to treat anxiety has helped me leaps and bounds in my journey to mental and physical health.

Exercise

I’m going to be honest—I am a complete and utter bookworm. Given the choice, I would much rather read a good book than hop on a treadmill. However, despite the fact that working out isn’t always fun for me, I have begun to take more initiative to exercise. Exercising naturally increases serotonin levels in our brains, which is often something that people with high levels of anxiety tend to lack. Through exercising, we can increase our serotonin levels while staying fit in the process.

R&R

In a world as fast paced and intense as ours, it can be hard to force ourselves to relax and unwind. There’s always something we need to do or that we can worry about. However, God didn’t intend for our bodies to work like this. As finite creatures, we cannot keep going without facing some serious burnout.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, or worried, take some time for yourself. This isn’t selfish—it’s healthy. Read a book. Soak in a bubble bath. Watch your old favorite movie. Do whatever it is (within reason) that helps you relax and calm down. Don’t be afraid to slow down and let yourself rest. If you do this, you’ll be refreshed and ready to face those tasks when you return to your daily to-do-list.

Self-talk

Oftentimes, our worst stress is caused from out-of-control worry and stress. When our minds get out of hand, sometimes it’s best to try to talk ourselves down. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Sometimes we can be nicer to others than we are to ourselves, but according to the Bible, we are called to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:30-31). It’s important that we show the same kindness to ourselves that we show to others, and part of this is remembering that things often aren’t as severe as we imagine them to be.

Talk to someone about it

Sometimes, one of the best ways to stay mentally healthy is to talk to someone—whether it be a pastor, a counselor, or a friend. Maybe you have something you need to work through, or maybe you just need another person to tell you it’s all going to be OK. There’s no shame in seeing a counselor or asking for prayer and advice. We weren’t meant to do this life alone—God has placed other people in our lives and our paths for a reason. Never be too prideful to ask for help. Furthermore, if you feel it is serious, never be afraid to contact a professional.

Note -– If you’re in a moment of crisis and you’re in emotional distress right now, don’t hesitate to talk. Call 1-800-273-8255.  https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

How about you? Have you ever struggled with mental health? And do you have any advice for those who do? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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A Life Update And A Lesson Learned

Hey everyone, sorry for the long-time-absence. I promise that nothing has been wrong, other than my sheer busyness and procrastination. Nonetheless, there has been a lot that has been going right lately, and I wanted to share it with you guys.

Recently, I have made a career change and I feel really good about it.

 I have realized that God is calling me to become a teacher. 

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Interestingly enough, this was my original plan all through high school—and truth be told, I’m honestly not sure the desire ever went away completely. I watched shows like Glee and imagined how cool it would be to leave an impact on the lives of others—the way Mr. Shcue does in his Glee club.

I also thought back to my own high school years (which honestly aren’t that long ago) and how much the classes I was in affected the person I am today for the better. I went into high school shy and insecure, but left confident and with a group of friends better than I could have ever imagined. I would love to the chance to play a small part in helping other students grow—and create the kind of classes that they’ll remember for years. Though you can make a positive difference in journalism as well, I realized that as an extravert, I really need a career where I’m around people—as I’m pretty sure I’ll go crazy otherwise.

Since I’ve made this change, I’ve been feeling much better about life and the direction that it’s taking. Furthermore, I realized a mistake that I made for most of my freshman year of college—I realized that you can’t live your life by another person’s script.

Because I was in the midst of such a drastic change, I fell into a pattern of looking to others for what I should do in life. I wanted some kind of direction or path from those who have gone before me.

In doing this, I failed to see the beauty in my own story, and my own unique journey.

I switched to journalism because one of my favorite authors became the successful fiction writer I wanted to be through that career. I was down on myself for not yet having a license to drive on my own—when I was sure I’d be further ahead by now. I felt like something was wrong with me because I didn’t have a boyfriend (or an interest in getting one, for that matter) when literally everyone I knew started dating—even though I was in the process of getting over a really long-term crush.

Now, with that year behind me, and a few lessons learned, I’ve realized that my story isn’t the same as everyone else’s and neither is yours. God has different plans for each one of us, and that’s OK. We should never copy someone else’s path because it worked for them—we have to find our own path, and stay connected to that still small voice in the process.

As much as I sometimes long for a step-by-step checklist, life doesn’t usually work like that—and sometimes we have to find our story one piece at a time—trusting that God is writing something beautiful with our lives.

If we do that, than we might just be on the right path after all.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Back To School Anthem

This year, let us strive to be world changers.

Let us be people who make a difference, one locker at a time.

Let us be the change we want to see, spreading love and hope to those around us,

Let us stand up for the bullied, reach out to the outcast, and show kindness in our actions and words.

Let us live as our best selves, and live this year with confidence and grace,

It’s a new year, a new day,

We cannot live in the future, and we cannot live in the past, but we can live in the present.

Let us choose joy.

Let us embrace every day with optimism, as if we’re looking through the eyes of a child.

Let us hold to our faith, and let it carry us through the changes and trials of the year.

Let us never forget that we’re not alone,

That thousands of people have walked through those same hallways, and that thousands have been where we are.

Most of all, let us love,

Let us love others, through our actions and words and friendships,

Let us love ourselves as we strive to be the best we can be,

And, last but certainly not least, let us love God, the One who will carry us through every joy and sorrow we encounter

Let us make 2017-18 the best school year of our lives. 

Feel free to use this anthem on your own blog – just be sure to post the link and name below. 

https://1timothy412girl.com/

Courtney Whitaker 

Undefeated

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always loved stories. I love the feeling of getting inside a character’s head. I love watching them overcome battles and struggles. I love seeing their hopes and dreams unfold at the end—as they get the happy ending we were rooting for all along.

We all have our favorite stories. Some of us enjoy romance movies/novels, where we wait for the guy to get the girl. Others enjoy action, like the Marvel series, where we watch the good guy defeat the bad guy. We each have unique tastes when it comes to stories, but regardless of the various differences between them they all have one very important thing in common.

The protagonist always has an obstacle standing in their way. 

Like these stories, we each have our own obstacles that we face on a daily basis, and as Christians, we have a common villain set on our destruction. A common enemy who wants to see us fail. Most often, the battle is within.

As an OCD struggler, I am no stranger to the reality and difficulty of internal battle. Most people tend to associate OCD with being a neat-freak, but that’s only part of it. The thing that drives people to struggle with this condition is unwanted thoughts that cause nothing but harm. It’s an internal battle, which manifests into controlling the things we can—like obsessive cleaning or tidiness. Nonetheless, slowly but surely I’m learning to gain better control over my OCD and better fight this battle.

Even if we don’t all struggle with OCD, many of us deal with intrusive thoughts on a regular basis—thoughts of insecurity, fear, and worry. All which are lies of the enemy. However, as we have the ultimate weapons to fight against these plaguing thoughts—through God and the Bible. We can’t always control the thoughts that go through our head, but we can control how we react to them.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Meanwhile Romans 8:37 tells us that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We might not be strong enough to face these battles and internal struggles on our own, but through the blood of Christ we are warriors destined for victory. Those anxious thoughts that come through our heads and our hearts are nothing but lies of the enemy, and through God’s strength we can resist those lies and stay strong and courageous. We can take those unwelcome thoughts captive and rebuke them with the truth of God’s Word—God loves us, God is leading us, God has a plan for us, and we are characters destined for a life brimming with purpose. 

We each face trials as we travel through this world—but through Jesus, who has already won the battle, we can live victoriously. 

Defeating any arrow that might be shot our way. 

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Just The Way You Are

“You just have to be yourself and go full with confidence and be courageous.” – Gabby Douglas

If you’ve been around the world of the internet and inspirational quotes for a while, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard the story of the goldfish. Goldfish, as we all know, were meant to swim. They have the God-given ability to live within water and breath through their gills. Nonetheless, there’s one thing a goldfish cannot do no matter how hard it tries. Fly.

To fly would go against a goldfish’s very design. They have no wings. They’re not wired to fly. A goldfish has wonderful tasks it was created for, but if it’s told it’s whole life that it should fly, the poor fish will eventually get beyond discouraged.

For many of us, that goldfish is relatable—a symbol, if you will. Many of us have spent huge portions of our lives trying to be something we’re not, only to deny the person God created us to be. 

For me, this was a battle that I faced during my early years of high school. During this time, I was on a journey to find myself. Nonetheless, as hard as I searched and as much as I tried to forge my own identity, I always felt like there was this girl I was “supposed to be”. This girl who sat on a bench inside my brain and constantly told me one thing.

Something’s wrong with you.

In retrospect, I couldn’t exactly tell you what caused these bouts of insecurity, or the exact moment it started. Likely, it was a mix of a bunch of things—perhaps partly stemmed from culture and my own perfectionism. I felt like the girl I was supposed to be was different than the girl I was becoming. And this scared me. 

During this time, I did what most young Christian girls in my situation would do. I prayed. I listened to music. I bounced back and forth between trying to be perfect and rebelling in small, retrospectively insignificant ways. I wanted to be myself, and I wanted to be confident in that person. 

Little by little through small baby steps, I slowly began to become that person as I got to my older teenage years. I found a different church to attend with my family. I began to own my faith a little more, and be honest about my thoughts, questions, and doubts. I read a book by Emily P. Freeman called Grace For The Good Girl that impacted me in a big way. I began to find friends and role models who weren’t afraid to be themselves. I started a blog. I sang two songs in front of a crowd senior year—one that I wrote myself and one by one of my favorite singers.

Somehow, through it all a realization hit that helped me find myself and confidence in the way God made me—”Maybe God was OK with me just the way I was”. 

In Psalm 139:13-16, it says “For you 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. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God created each and every one of us exactly the way we were intended to be. He created us uniquely, with individual passions, hopes, dreams, and personalities. When we find life in Him, He doesn’t intend for us all to look the same. He wants to use each gift that he’s given us to bring glory to His name, and hope to a broken world. 

We weren’t all created for the same purpose, and we aren’t meant to all look the same, but we do have this one thing in common—we were each created for something wonderful.

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And God loves each of us in the midst of our personalities, our beauty, and our flaws just the way we are.

Fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. 

How To Have With A Crush (Without Going Insane)

It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? The first butterfly. The sinking realization. The late nights agonizing over them.

The person who has suddenly taken up space in our mind and left us with one-too-many love songs on our playlist.

The person who it could never work out with, yet who leaves us with shreds of hope that someday, somehow, maybe it could.

The whole thing can be absolutely maddening sometimes. 

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We’ve all dealt with the agony of a crush at some point or another. It’s one of the few experiences we as humans deal with that’s nearly universal. It has been the topic of songs, books, movies, and TV shows. Ross’s crush on Rachel (Friends). Corey’s feelings for Topanga (Boy Meets World). Practically every Taylor Swift song ever. We have dealt with the pain of an unrequited crush.

Nonetheless, as stressful as it can be, I do believe there are some things we can do to make the whole thing a little less agonizing.

  1. Talk To Someone – One of the worst things we can do when we have a crush is to keep the whole thing bottled up inside. Oftentimes, talking with a close friend can help lessen the intensity of the situation, giving you the chance to talk through it and get some of those bottled-up-feelings out in the open. It is not always wise or feasible to confess your feelings to the person you like, but it is smart to have someone to confide in, who can help you walk through the very difficult and awkward situation of having a crush.
  2. Pray for them – One of the best way to deal with feelings that you don’t know what to do with is to channel them into something productive—and what’s more productive than prayer? It can also be wise to pray for yourself, and ask God to lead you through your circumstances with wisdom and guidance. He’s always someone we can confide in and though He may not magically make the crush disappear or bring you to a relationship with this person, He will make the whole thing easier to deal with.
  3. Trust God – God knows the entire course that our lives will take before we’re even born. He knows how many hairs we have on our head and He knows each and every one of our hopes and dreams. He also has plans for us when it comes to relationships—whether it’s a marriage and family or a call to celibacy with lots of close friends around, both which He will equip us for and give us the strength to live out. If it’s God’s will for you to be with this person, He’ll orchestrate things for you guys to be together. If it’s not, trust that He has something better for you down the road. No matter what path life takes us down, God always has our best interests at heart.
  4. Be their friend – As hard this can be when we have strong feelings for someone, sometimes it’s best to just be their friend for the time being. As much as the ‘friend-zone‘ is bemoaned as the worst situation to be in when you have a crush, I believe it is still better than nothing at all. It gives you the chance to get to know the other person on a deeper level, and if the circumstances someday allow it, it creates a great foundation for a future relationship.
  5. Don’t loose focus – One of the most frustrating things about having a crush is how distracting it can often be. It can be so easy to spend time wallowing in self-pity, watching movies, and listening to dramatic songs on replay, but it’s important to stay focused on other aspects of your life besides your crush. You have and always have had more in your life besides just them and it’s important to remember this fact. Go out with friends, accomplish some goals, and read some good books. You still have one life to live to the absolute fullest, crush or no crush.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

How about you? Do you have any on dealing with a crush? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! 

Real

“Oh craaaap, why did I just say that?”

“Is it seriously that late? I’ve gotten nothing done!”

“Please tell me I took my phone out of my pocket. Please tell me it’s not in the wash…”

Let’s be honest. These aren’t exactly phrases you’d typically utter on your average Instagram post or blog. They’re not the kind of thoughts you want to tell the whole blogosphere. As humans, we typically don’t stand on street corners with a megaphone yelling “Hey—guess what?! I’m a hot mess!”

But this is the stuff of real life, isn’t it? They’re the kind of thoughts we think in our everyday real-as-can-be-lives. They’re the kind of things we vent to our best friend about, but not the whole world. And they’re sure-as-heck not the moments we put in a scrapbook to remember ten years from now. They’re messy. They’re embarrassing. They’re the kind of moments you’d find on AFV.

A few weeks back, one of my good friends and I were taking note of this. She noted how on social media, our lives look perfect even if our real lives are falling apart. We post about the relationship but not the breakup. We post about the success but not the failure. We post about the final product but not the hours dying with a glue gun ready to call it quits. We like things photoshopped and auto-tuned. We like things to be perfect.

Now, to be clear, this is not a urge to post your entire life online. Many of us are private people would prefer to keep things between just a few close friends. That’s perfectly fine. Normal even. Nonetheless, there is one person who we should never keep our most embarrassing and painful blooper moments from.

God.

Unfortunately, this can often be far too easy to do. For many of us, being real with God can feel vulnerable or even downright scary. We worry whether we sound church-y enough. Whether we have the “right” kind of problems (as if there are any). We worry God will end up face palming and shaking His head as we give our whole laundry list of all the things stressing us out. But the truth? God already knows.

God knows about that dream you’re worried will never come to be. God knows you’re worried about schoolwork and grades and getting into a good college. God knows about that guy that’s been on your mind more than you care to admit. If you’re older, he knows about your marriage, your finances, and your children. He knows us at our high points and He knows us just as well at our lows.

If you look to the Psalms, it’s clear that David, who was “A man after God’s own heart”, was brutally honest with God. He showed a full range of emotion—from praise, to frustration, to sadness, to anger, to joy. Psalm 69 is a perfect example of King David’s honesty, as it reads…

Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help my throat is parched. My eyes fail,
looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.” Psalm 69:1-4

Throughout Scriptures, those with the strongest faith were the ones who were the most real with God, as Paul laments “doing what he does not want to do and not doing what he should do” (Romans 7:15) and Thomas outright asked Jesus for evidence of His Resurrection (John 20:25).

There’s nothing that we can ask or express to Gd that He doesn’t already know.

He is always someone we can feel safe to be real with—even with our most un-instagram worthy moments.🙂Unknown-1