Let’s Have a Real Conversation About Anxiety and Mental Health

Let's have a real conversation about anxiety #anxiety #mentalhealth

For all intents and purposes, I had a good day on Tuesday.

I woke up to an Etsy kit order after a 10 day dry spell. Work was productive, we had a Mardi Gras party with potluck food, and I crossed some big things off my to-do list. Then I went to a Galentine’s Day party with some friends and had more good food and good company. I came home early enough to package the Etsy order and give my skin some TLC. I prepared for the next day: clothes picked out, lunch packed, and workout planned. There is nothing that is stressing me out, or should cause me to feel uneasy.

Yet for the fourth night in a row I am overwhelmed with anxiety. Tonight I can feel it in my bones like a dull ache. I keep rolling my shoulders like it’s a soreness I can stretch out. Every few breaths it feels like I have the wind knocked out of me and my mind is hit with an incoherent panic. I am on my couch, which is theoretically my favorite place, but I am still so uncomfortable. I really want to pace just to move around but I don’t want to be that person who has to pace, you know?

I have given up that I will ever be “cured” of feeling like this. A few months ago my doctor said she thinks she’s done all she can do as far as pharmaceutical help, which was disappointing to hear. I know we get bashed for being a “toss a pill at it” kind of society but for years I still hoped I would find my miracle medicine that would offer respite from rough patches like this without totally making me feel like a zombie. I recently said to my mom that people who are addicted to drugs or try drugs get thought of as bad or weak people but I totally get it. There is an allure when you feel so crappy but there is something that can momentarily cure you. I’ve gotten drunk as a response to anxiety on a few occasions (and deeply regretted all of them, by the way, I don’t recommend it) but in the moment when it feels like the legal drug isn’t fixing it you wonder if something else would. When I start to feel like that I’m really glad that recreational drugs frighten me more than anxiety. Panic attacks are absolutely awful but at least I know I’ll always wake up after it.

Not only is anxiety uncomfortable, but at this point it feels hopeless as well. Maybe this is how I will always be. I can have fun to a certain extent but I will always be on a leash that I can’t unhook myself from. Sometimes I feel like a dog running free only to be expectedly snapped back by the neck. Even on good days I know that more often than not when I go home my mind will try to settle and this indescribable dread will set in. Sometimes it pretends to have a reason (“Did that joke I made sound too mean? Did my question at the staff meeting sound stupid? What if I don’t order enough lunches for the meeting next week?”) or it comes without warning and I drown in discomfort. And I honestly don’t know if I prefer one or the other.

I saw my first therapist in college before I knew what was happening to me. I described to him that I felt like I lived two lives: Bad Kelsey could not see the light and could not connect with Happy Kelsey or the things that brought her joy, and Happy Kelsey would look back at Bad Kelsey and think she was ridiculous for feeling the way she did when her life was so great. The two were not friends. Bad Kelsey sobbed in stairwells while on the phone with her mom while Happy Kelsey posted about how much fun college was on Facebook. I was 18 when first described this and was told that my “episodes” were anxiety attacks. Now it’s almost 8 years later and both Kelseys still fight for my attention.

This was all just a long-winded way of saying that I’m frustrated. I wish I had something uplifting to say but I am writing this with no solution or neat conclusion to sum up. I had a good day today, but still am ending it with deep breathing exercises and tears. I had a good day but it wasn’t a good day. And tomorrow might be a good day but could also not be a good day because I never know which Kelsey will show up. I wish they would RSVP so I knew what to expect.

To end this, let’s chat. Tell me about yourself. I want to keep talking about this because I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and feels alone sometimes. Let’s share and get these feelings off our chests.

  • Do you have mental health challenges? What are they?
  • How do you deal?
  • When did they first start? Has it changed?
  • Do you ever get angry or frustrated? How do you manage those feelings?

Or tell me something else mental health related in the comments, and reply back to another. Let’s have a real conversation, okay?

xo, kelsey (2)

The NEW Candidly Kelsey

Candidly Kelsey | Stichin' and bitchin' about lipstick and life

Annnnnd we’re back! Did you miss me?!

Things look quite a bit different here on Candidly Kelsey after months of total silence, but hopefully you think it was worth it. We’ve undergone a complete remodel on the blog but for a VERY good reason:

I’ve opened an Etsy shop

Candidly Kelsey Etsy Shop | Fun and Feminist Cross Stitch Shop

Can you believe it? I finally bit the bullet on my life long dream to open a creative business. After falling in love with cross stitch and creating my own cross stitch patterns last year I decided to just go for it and create my own Etsy shop. I quit my part-time catering job in September and opened my shop and new Instagram account (follow me!) in October. I am now Candidly Kelsey on Etsy with cross stitch patterns, finished pieces, customized pieces, and do-it-yourself kits for sale. Eeeek! 

However, as much as I love running a shop I missed blogging so much. It took some time to figure out how to merge the two together, but thanks to some help with branding from my incredibly talented friend Kayla  and some deep thought, I’m back and ready to take on 2018 with new goals.

So what will Candidly Kelsey Blog look like now? Pretty much the same but with new updates. There is an added shop in the menu bar that links directly to my Etsy shop and some new content that will be cross stitch specific. Adding my shop to my beauty/lifestyle blog might seem weird I’ve never wanted a “niche” for my blog anyway. I write what I want to write about, which will still include beauty, lifestyle, health, and pop culture commentary.

AKA: Stitchin’ and bitchin’ about lipstick and life. The bitching has always been there, especially about make up and other nonsense so we just added the stitching.

I’ll be posting once a week and if you desperately miss me between posts you can always find me on social media: Twitter, lifestyle Instagram, cross stitch Instagram, and Facebook page. In fact, I encourage it. I tend to make my best jokes there, TBH.

Since it’s been awhile let’s introduce ourselves, shall we? I’m Kelsey, a 25 year old gal living in Chicago. I have a cat and an unhealthy obsession with caffeine. My favorite color is yellow and my favorite nail polishes are reds and creams, particularly the KL Polish brand. How about you? In the comments below tell me about yourself and share your blog URL. Let’s be friends (again)!

xo, kelsey (2)

How to Trick Yourself Into Being a Morning Person

How to become a morning person / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

I have mixed feelings about mornings. The physical act of waking up is damaging to my soul, but mornings generally = coffee (and I LOVE coffee) so you can see my problem here. What I do not have mixed feelings about is being a morning person. I go back and forth on loving/hating mornings, but have landed on forcing myself into being a morning person makes the whole thing a lot easier.

But Kelsey, how in the world do I possibly become a morning person? Oh my gosh, thanks for asking. I happen to have quite a few tips and tricks for area. After several years of working the opening shift at gyms (hello, 4:30am alarm clocks!) I feel as if I have mastered the morning routine. And lucky for you, I am going to share them today:

  1. Give yourself something to look forward to. Other than the fear of being fired, the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is the promise of my coffee. I prep everything the evening before so the first thing I do when my alarm goes off is head towards my coffee. I take a drink before I even go to the bathroom.
  2. Remove all roadblocks. I prep everything the night before: outfit, lunch and breakfast in my lunchbox,  and having my purse and keys ready to go. Doing this in the evening massively cuts down on how much you need to think in the morning– and gives you more time!
  3. Make your commute fun. I use my 45 minute bus ride to listen to podcasts, read, and look at fun things on Pinterest all while drinking my long awaited iced coffee (this post is not sponsored by coffee, I swear). The commute sucks but is also a good way to relax before you get work.
  4. Keep your home tidy. This is a bigger one, but oh so important. Imagine waking up to a messy kitchen, bathroom or bedroom and trying to wade through it all when your brain is most vulnerable. Take 10 minutes before you go to bed to tidy up and save your morning mood. And I don’t mean mop your floors and dust the bookshelves, I just mean putting your clothes in the hamper, clearing off your sinks and counter tops, and having the room look generally put together.
  5. Look cute. This one might be controversial but I swear it helps. There is a reason why people who work from home also say that getting dressed and ready for the day makes a big difference. Build a few moments into your morning to style your hair, put on some make-up, and make yourself feel put together. If you still feel like you’ve rolled out of bed then chances are you will feel like you still are in bed. So put on some mascara and feel the difference this makes.

If all else fails, you can try bonus #6: Dunk your head in ice water! It probably works just as well as thinking ahead and planning for your days. You might not have such a smooth day afterwards but it’ll wake you up, that’s for sure.

Do you have any morning tips? Are you already a morning person and I sound like I’m speaking Spanish? Let me know, and share those tips in the comments.

xo, kelsey (2)

Stitchin’ Mad

"A woman's place is in the revolution" cross stitch, pattern from Pinterest, stitched by Candidly Kelsey / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.comOops I have another new crafting hobby. How shocked are you? Probably not at all. And if you follow me on Instagram then you know exactly what my new hobby is: I’ve learned to cross stitch!

My creative skill arsenal includes knitting, crocheting, very mediocre hand lettering and painting, and gluing sh*t to other sh*t, usually with glitter.  Obviously because that’s not enough, I decided I need to add cross stitch to the mix. And now we can add this to the list of reasons that I am really a middle-aged woman living in a 25-year old’s body.

This all started innocently enough. I was growing bored of knitting (or, really, how expensive knitting is) and wanting something else I could do while I sat on the couch each night. Plus, who can resist cross stitch patterns with potty-mouth language and a whole lotta sass?

Hint: not me.

So I bought a premade kit online and had some fun. I sent oodles of pictures to my friends as I went, as if I was the first ever to make tiny Xs on fabric. I was Cross Stitch Queen, hear me roar. Everyone needed to look at my tiny Xs and how they made shapes and words. I was Picasso but with both ears.

But that wasn’t enough. I needed to do more. When I start something new I have to throw myself into it. In the words of Jenna Marbles, I have the “Too Much” gene. And, having found no other kits that really that tickled my fancy I started creating my own patterns. It’s been really fun, and I’d never realized how much fun coloring in tiny boxes to make one giant picture was. It’s like using an Excel document but not awful! Now these are MY tiny Xs.

"YAAAS QUEEN" cross stitch original pattern by Candidly Kelsey / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

(Psst, special thing just for YOU reading this: I just added my YAAAS QUEEN pattern as my first Etsy listing– I haven’t even officially announced my shop yet! Be the first to get it here!)

"Relax, we're all gonna die anyway" cross stitch original pattern by Candidly Kelsey / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

And then creating my own pattern escalated. Suddenly I have a box full of aida cloth in different stitch counts, and I am in 12 different cross stitch Facebook groups. I really don’t know how this happens. I just blinked and now my coffee table is covered in DMC Embroidery Floss and tiny needles. My couch has tiny stray floss pieces all over it. I pulled yellow floss out of my hair at work last week. It’s a sickness and it’s overtaken me. Send help (except don’t because I’m having a great time.)

Long story short, this is a thing that is now part of me. Kelsey the Crafter lives on (which would have also been a great alternative blog name, if I could also somehow fit “cosmetics” in there too). As today is World Cross Stitch Day, it seemed like a great time to officially come clean about this new thing I do.  I have officially added “cross stitch” into my monthly budget. G*d help us all.

Have you been obsessed with any new hobbies lately? Let me know in the comments.

xo, kelsey (2)