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Depression is a very common mental illness that is quite harmful to your mental health. It may destroy your feelings and corrupt your thoughts day by day. You may lose your self-esteem, work energy, motivation and even lose focus on every important thing in your life.

The immense effect of depression can create problems in your love life. Due to severe depression, it might become difficult for you to maintain an emotional and fulfilling relationship.

If you are getting depressed due to several reasons, it may cause you to pay less attention to your partner. Whenever you become less involved, or become more irritable, or have issues while spending time together, it may cause your relationship to falter.

Here are a few common signs when depression impacts your relationships and ways to get out of the situation.

Sign #1. You are having self-doubt

Depression creates self-doubt, and that may change how you are seeing your partner and how you think he or she thinks about you. As per psychologist Shannon Kolakowski, PsyD, in her book When Depression Hurts Your Relationship: How to Regain Intimacy and Reconnect with Your Partner When You’re Depressed, “Someone with lower-self-esteem and depression may have a bad time with their partner and think, She doesn’t really care about me. I knew it wouldn’t last, whereas someone with a healthier sense of self-worth may think, Right now, we’re going through a tough time, but I know our relationship can withstand this. We’ll work it out.”

The best way to get out of this situation is to feel secure within yourself and cultivating self-compassion, added Kolakowski. Self-doubt can portray yourself as defective, worthless and filled with flaws. As per Kolakowski, self-compassion says, “It’s okay to have failures, setbacks, and to be disappointed. It’s part of the human condition. Everyone feels this way sometimes.”

Then how do you possibly overcome this paralyzing situation? Kolakowski advises looking for such moments when the victim felt empowered. “Look for small ways to affirm that you are capable of affecting your path in life.”

Yes, you must take action and do anything that makes you feel better. You can do it anytime, anywhere, and without hurting your partner. This might be anything from cycling, cleaning, mowing your yard, cleaning your car, and even bathing your pet. Keep doing these things to stay happy.

Sign #2. Your life is lacking sex drive

Miami marriage and family therapist Lisa Paz, Ph.D., explained that due to the depression 75% of common people report a lack of sex drive.

In our regular life cycle, it is quite common and natural to have sexual desires in a marriage. It is something that many humans desire in which is a gift from God.

But whenever you have a lack of sexual connection between you and your significant other, it clearly denotes that there is something fishy going on in your relationship. Your non-existent sex life may signal that you are having severe depression.

Lack of sex drive can generate from multiple issues related to depression. Normally these symptoms may look like common problems. But if you can notice, these are deep psychological issues which are originated due to depression. These issues are:

Sexual dissatisfaction

Shame about sex

performance anxiety

Feeling exhausted while having sex

Taking medications without consultation, etc.

To solve this situation, you need to communicate with your partner and tell him/her that while your sexual desire has reduced, it’s not the reflection of your feelings for him/her. You still have the deep feeling and faith upon your relationship.

If your doctor advised some antidepressants, ask him if you can take medication that may reduce depression without lowering your sex drive more.

Sign #3. You are criticizing your partner too much

Depression reduces the positiveness in our life and increases the negativity. So if you feel that you are getting too much annoyed with your partner and criticizing him/her badly, even if he or she isn’t guilty, it is a solid sign of Depression.

When depression triggers criticism, as per Kolakowski, your partner might experience that they are standing on a glass floor barefooted and worry about being condemned.

To get out of this situation, you have to notice your spouse's positive traits and realize that they have much more positive qualities than their mistakes.

So, you won’t consider those mistakes as a crime. List up 5 to 7 his/her positive traits, and show your appreciation. This may help you to cure the bad impact of depression on your relationship.

Kolakowski has given a good example on this topic: “He sometimes leaves clutter around the house, which bugs me way more than it bothers him. He also is caring and considerate most of the time, like when he offers to help my mother go to the store and buy groceries or when we decide to go to the movies and he’s happy to see whatever film I pick.”

Sign #4. You are being unrealistic and squabble more

Have you started nagging recently, or acting short-tempered, impatient and making unrealistic demands, which leads to fights?

As per Kolakowski, as an impact of severe depression, you might have an internal script that tells you - “you are right, and he/she should obey/support you”. You might think it is ok, but the problem is your partner doesn’t know anything about it, as he or she isn’t a mind reader.

Kolakowski stated in her book - “When the other person inevitably deviates from your script, the depressed part of you may react with dissatisfaction, disenchantment, or feelings of failure.”

You have a clear solution to that problem. Start to communicate more directly and clearly with your partner. Let him/her know what you are thinking about him/her. Tell your partner about your inner script and ask him/her about what he or she thinks about you.

Sign #5. You are lacking energy and isolating yourself

It would take a lot of energy to keep going with a relationship when you are in a normal state of mind. So, think about that what you may have to do when you are in a severe depression. Depression drains out your three important resources - physical, mental, and emotional energy. You may feel broken, disheartened, and unmotivated. So, apart from being moody and irritated, you may lose your energy and lose interest to engage in any related activity.

You might feel ashamed of yourself and make yourself isolated from your partner and from others too. You have to remove this bad impact of depression over your relationship at any cost.

Interaction in a relationship is very important to win over the depression. Don’t hesitate. If you can’t talk face-to-face, send messages or leave notes for your partner that say I love you, or I trust you more than my life, or Thanks for your patience, etc. Try to live nearby, so that you be with him/her at any point in time.

Depression affects 20 million people every year. If you are one of them, there is still hope to make things better. You can rebuild your relationship easily, the only thing you need the most is patience and faith upon yourself. As Maya Angelou said - “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” So, give yourself that chance again, and again, and again, and again. In the end, everything will be alright, trust me.

Author Bio: Ralph Macey is associated with the SavantCare.com which is a mental health clinic in Los Altos where his job is to look after those people who are suffering from chronic mental disorders. His motto is to focus on the integrated interventions to improve mental health conditions and the other alternative approaches to healing.

picture: @priscilladupreeze

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“Ixchelle, would you please read the next chapter for the class?” asked my first grade teacher. I remember looking up at my teacher with great dismay and instantly felt as if my heart were about to explode out of my chest. Suddenly my mind began to flood with fears of stumbling over my words, sounding slow and being laughed at. This was the first time I can distinctly remember experiencing social anxiety but certainly not the last…

For the majority of my life I have feared both big and small social settings especially speaking in front of others and being in the spotlight. Even with family or friends I would feel as if I needed to rehearse what I was going to say before I said it to avoid sounding stupid or “slipping up”. Any time my anxiety has been set off from being in a social setting, nine times out of ten it’s due to a lack of confidence in that particular social setting and/or in general.

Personally I do not believe that it is exactly normal to be so worried over what people will think of you before you say something that you freeze up and can’t say anything at all. I also don’t think that it’s normal to excessively sweat over the idea of being around other people even those who are close to you. These are clear telltale signs of social anxiety. It is also important to note that social anxiety is different than being shy. I wasn’t all that shy, I did have an outgoing side to me but I still was very fearful of being judged, scrutinized, humiliated and embarrassed by others that I avoided many social situations all together (or dreaded it if I couldn’t avoid it).

I was almost envious over the people who seemed so calm and poised when present in front of others- they seemed to fully embrace who they were and portrayed such confidence. I envied how others were attracted to these people, how they were always invited to things whereas I rarely was because well, what can I say… I was awkward. I truly thought I would never be able to obtain social skills.

But enough about what social anxiety was like for me then… let’s get to how I began to overcome and started feeling more comfortable with my own presence and existence.

Note: the following tips I am going to give took me years to figure out...

Hang with the people who are different...

In time I was blessed to meet people who helped pull me out of my shell and inspired me to start laughing, having fun and living- God knew I needed to loosen up a little! I totally recommend anyone who has social anxiety to hang out with spirited, outgoing and adventurous people! Not only will they inspire you to start living your life freely but they can also show you that it’s okay to be yourself even if you sound stupid and weird.

Reflect!

I also recommend reflecting on why you have social anxiety to begin with. I guarantee you...in fact I would like to bet money that you weren’t born with social anxiety. Most likely something happened to you or something was said to you that really affected you and made you question your value in which took a huge shot at your self esteem. According to my research on this topic of social anxiety, most people who have social anxiety or who have had social anxiety have also been sexually abused, been bullied or experienced family conflict. As soon as you can recognize where these fears come from, the sooner you can choose to shut those lies off in your head and replace them with truths…

Example:

Lies: I feared sounding and looking stupid in front of other because people who I loved and looked up to called me stupid.

Truth: I am not stupid, I am smart and forever learning.

(maybe not the best example but I think you get my drift here…)

Practice, practice, practice.

Just recently I got over my fear of talking in front of the camera. I HATED talking in front of people in person and on video but the more I practiced being myself and being genuine, the better I got. Granted, I would say I still have a ways to go as far as speaking skills seeing as I actually want to be a motivational speaker one day but as far as the level of anxiety I have as opposed to what it used to be is nothing short of a miracle!

Do something bold.

Do something so bold and so out of your comfort zone that you will always reference to the next time you feel anxious in a social setting. For example, sing or dance to your best ability in front of the camera and post it to your social media. Act as if the camera is not even there and you are alone in your room just doing your own thing. The next time you are anxious you can look back on it and remind yourself that you have done more humiliating and embarrassing things in public than what you are about to do.

Don’t forget who you are!

You know you better than anyone else does. You have a lot of great qualities and sides to you that so many people have yet to see! It’s time to let your light shine and forget what people think of you! If they like you and support you, great! If not, that’s great too- you don’t need to waste your energy dwelling on why that is however.

P.S If you currently have or in the past have experienced social anxiety, it doesn’t qualify you as broken or any less of a person in fact it really just means that you have something to overcome and when you do you will be so grateful you did as you will have had overcome an adversity in which provided you great courage, strength and wisdom.

Something I remind myself of often is to be yourself and go out and do you despite what people might think! You have nothing to lose anymore!

XOXO,

Ixchelle


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Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction isn’t as simple as just staying sober but it also includes achieving a fulfilling life. Most people in recovery will tell you that their journey has not been linear rather full of learning lessons, setbacks and new discoveries. Hence, it is crucial for those who are in recovery to find a support network of people who have great insight on how the journey is. Family and old friends who will support you are great to have around of course, however in many cases they may not fully understand the recovery process or know how to support you like recovery based peer support and coaches can.

Peer support during and after treatment has become more prevalent and effective these days because it presents benefits in which are practical to the people who are doing the not-so easy work of reconstructing their lives. Peers can be of help to eachother in several different impactful ways:

  • Emotional Support: Coaches and peer support are great people to turn to as they know the process of recovery, how to provide proper advice or feedback, and how to speak in such a way that can best empathize with you.

  • Informational/Resource Support: While someone is learning how to live life without drugs and alcohol, resource and information on how to go about this is crucial. Often times people who are in recovery based peer support groups and/or has a coach will be educated on how to take on life’s new responsibilities living sober and/or pointed to great resources that will help them get to where the individual wants to be.

  • Practical Support: Peers and coaches can support eachother through offering practical help learning new skills and coping mechanisms that can be shared. As a result of this, an individual will have improved self-esteem.

  • Affiliational Support: A sense of belonging is crucial for a recovering addict to feel. Without it, it is more probable that the individual will relapse due to feeling isolated and lonely when the going gets tough while in recovery. Peer support groups and coaches are safe places/people to go to when dealing with the ups and downs of recovery without risking feeling judged and shamed seeing as they understand and want to help you through it all.

Peer support recovery groups work! From my own experience, I have been in several different types of recovery groups and some I like more than others yes, but overall I feel safe to share my experiences without the one thing I dislike- judgment. Instead I receive support, understanding and empathy in a time that I might be feeling vulnerable or looking for new wisdom and insight. Another thing that I really enjoy is that it helps me improve my social and leaderships skills which is something that I always struggle with while in addiction.

My advice to anyone who is unsure of recovery peer support groups or coaches- try it out! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! It is proven that the chances of relapsing with a support network versus not is far more slim as opposed to doing the deal alone. If you don’t like one group/coach, try another until you feel comfortable but don’t give up on the idea that other people can help you because you would be totally amazed at what benefits will come out of taking a leap out of your comfort zone and surrounding yourself with people who can relate to you on these deep levels as you get yourself freed from the bondage of addiction.


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Ixchelle Lowell by Ixchelle Lowell - 6M ago

I wanted to write a blog post today that is a little bit more personal instead of a self-help entry like I have been doing a bit more of.

I wanted to talk about abuse. Sexual abuse. Emotional abuse. Physical abuse- any type of abuse. I want to talk about this because so many of us have experienced it whether that be from our family, friends, peers, bosses, in our romantic relationships, etc. As many of us know (but I feel a need to reiterate anyway), abuse is painful while it is happening of course, but what often times seems to be the case is, the abuse is more painful once it is all said and done and you are left feeling emotionally, mentally and spiritually wounded- emptied and weak. This right here is exactly what I want to talk about…

I remember my abuse still to this day- fortunately the memories have seemed to fade over the years, but what still seems to linger within are these issues and voids ultimately stemming from the abuse. I have noted to myself the things in which I still struggle with to this day, to name a few; resentment towards my abuser(s), fear of abandonment, difficulty developing healthy relationships, trusting others whom care about me, feelings of worthlessness, and I could probably list a few others but I will save you from reading me air out my dirty laundry ;).

I can’t help but wonder… how is it that we can deeply be affected from traumatic and abusive situations for life? How is it that we allow an hour, a year or a decade plus years of abuse affect the way we carry out the rest of the 40+ years we live (generally speaking)? What is keeping us bonded?… I know. I know exactly what keeps abuse survivors bonded because I myself have been working to be delivered from the chains of my past… what keeps us bonded is the painful memories that we keep replaying over and over again in our minds, the resentment, the fear of the abuse happening repeating itself, the feeling of shame and guilt- that it was all our fault or we deserved it and last, feelings of worthlessness due to believing the lie that it was our fault. It is interesting because as I write this, I also feel like another feeling I experience(d) is grief. I feel as if I personally (maybe you can relate) grieve my parents who were mentally, emotionally and sexually abusive. I grieve them because I still long to have a relationship with them but by having a relationship with them right now, it hurts me. There have been times even where I felt as if they were dead to me as it was a means to numb myself from the pain I felt from not having my parents there for me in the ways I wish for them to be.

So, let’s think of some possible solutions to this circular, seemingly endless cycle of pain because if you think about it… the sooner we are willing to heal and be delivered from the bondages of our past, the sooner we can walk in freedom.

First thing I can think of that I too have to remind myself of is that the abuse I / we endured was NOT our fault. We are not held responsible for the wrongs of others. Most likely you have been told that you were abused because you did this or that but the fact of the matter is, there is never an excuse for someone to hurt you in such evil ways. The next thing I can think of is that the abuse has nothing to deal with you but everything to deal with the evil and sin in the abuser. Remember that the next time you start feeling ashamed or guilty when reflecting back on the abuse.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness is a tough one because in our human minds, we think, “why should I forgive someone who took so much away from me?” The answer to that is, because why allow them to take any more from you?

I heard a saying in AA (alcoholics anonymous)… resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the person who hurt you to die. Isn’t that beautiful? Think about it… when you are so consumed with anger, resentment and fear how are you supposed to live in peace and freedom? You can’t. Do you actually believe that the person who hurts you cares about how hurt you are anyways? I mean some people who have a good heart or who have turned from their evil ways might but when we are talking about people whom carry abusive tendencies habitually, a smaller percentage of people care about their actions than those who don’t. Quit expecting an apology. Quit expecting for them to change. Walk away and walk on forward! You have a life to fulfill and you might as well do it in peace.

Here’s to healing!

What is keeping you bonded to your past? What is you action plan to move forward and walk in freedom?

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“Who am I?”... The question we all have come to ask ourselves once or... a couple thousand times throughout our lifetime. This question can be one of those uncomfortable questions to reflect upon at times, especially when we are being faced with hard truths and realities. But at the same time, it is a very necessary question to ask ourselves no matter what type of season we are in- a ‘down’ season or an ‘up’ season.


I think some people might find it a bit easier to identify themselves while for others, it may be a rigorous journey to true self-discovery. This can be because of multiple factors including low self esteem, having gone through trauma, abuse, struggles with mental illness, etc. Regardless, it is crucial to know who you are in this world because if you don’t you may find yourself always feeling stuck by the influences in which seem to control you, confused and conflicted as to who you want to be versus who you actually are, and last, you most likely will be walked on if you haven’t been already. Please trust me when I say this, you deserve to freely be YOU and you deserve to be loved for YOU as well.


When you ask yourself who you are, do you ever stop to really think about it? If not, I definitely encourage you to do so only because the more you reflect, the more aware of yourself you will be. The more aware of yourself that you are, the deeper you can dig within.


Typically when I ponder this question, I ask myself things like this:


-Are you warm hearted and friendly or are you distant and cold?

-Are you selfless or selfish?

-Are you happy and content or are you ungrateful and bitter?

-Are you passionate or dispirited?

-Do you feel accomplished or are you lacking the feeling of accomplishment?

-Are you confident or are you insecure?

-Do you live in faith or do you live in fear?

-Do you make responsible decisions or do you struggle with impulsivity?

-Are you happy with yourself and your life or are you longing for a change?


For the longest time I had no idea who I was. I couldn’t even tell you that I asked myself who I was at the moment because well, for one, I felt an immense amount of pressure to conform to who I was told to be growing up. So, I guess you could say I was told to be this person that I later in life found that I wasn’t at all...  two, I never valued myself enough to figure it out until I finally wanted to know who I truly was.


Key words to remember here: You have to want to figure out who you are. This I believe is step one to the search of your identity. You can’t please everyone and be totally you at the same time. You have to sacrifice one for the other. If you really want to know who you are, then you won’t be able to please everyone like you may be used to doing. You are going to have to find your own passions, interests, crowd, habits, values, and beliefs and stop doing what everyone else is doing or wants you to be doing. I don’t know one person who said breaking free from societal norms was a comfortable process, because well, it’s not. Seriously, think about how many people over the course of your life have influenced you…However, discovering your authentic self is freeing and absolutely game changing.


I am 24 years old. When I was 23, I finally wanted to explore myself healthily. Like I said, as a child growing up I was told to be something I wasn’t. When I was freed from the control and pressure that was placed on me, I wanted to do what my peers were doing and that included exploring myself through unhealthy behaviors- drinking, drugging, promiscuity and unlawful behavior… wellp, guess what… I never found myself through partaking in any of these things and don’t believe that I ever will. I did however find myself becoming more and more discouraged and miserable + realized what I no longer wanted to be! Now, I am a year into legitimately exploring myself, figuring out who I am… figuring out the things I enjoy, the things I want to accomplish and do, the person I want to be, the people I want to surround myself with, and digging deep into my soul to find more meaning to myself and life through Christ.


So, clearly you can see through my short little story regarding my journey to self-discovery that it is not an overnight thing. I am still trying to figure out who I am and I believe my idea of who I am right now will evolve and change through many more seasons to come.


We all struggle to find our identity especially when the world and the enemy tell you to be a certain way or shames you for not being a certain way. The good news is we no longer have to stay trapped in the cycle. Today we can choose to be ourselves fearlessly and unapologetically. Some people will not like you anymore, they will judge you, shame you, or even throw dirt on your name for what you are becoming… I say this, let the detox begin! You don’t need those people in your circle anyways- you will attract all the right things and people by just being YOU.


What is preventing you from totally being yourself?


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Ixchelle Lowell by Ixchelle Lowell - 9M ago

When you think of the word, 'addiction' what comes to your mind? Personally for me the first thing that I naturally think about when I hear this word is drugs and alcohol but I have learned that addiction runs in many forms... porn, sex, shopping, food, substances, gambling, social media, working, the list goes on...

The majority of my life I struggled with various forms of addiction such as, shopping, gambling, alcohol, and drugs just to list a few. For the longest time I didn't really think much of my drinking and drug binges, my excessive shopping sprees and visits to the casino because "it wasn't like I was doing it every day". Ultimately, this is how I justified my habits and avoided facing the truth. It wasn't until I hit a very serious and life altering rock bottom that I could then recognize that my habits were out of control and swallowing me whole. 

From my own personal experiences, recovering from addiction and bad habits is no walk in the park and for anyone who is on the outside looking into one who is in active addiction who says, "just make better decisions-figure it out" or something along those lines... ignore it. Not everyone will understand the seriousness of addiction, however, it is important to surround yourself with those who do. You also need to understand that recovery is not linear and majority of people in recovery have relapsed at least once before. I am not saying that relapsing is okay because the reality of it is, one relapse could completely knock you down mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually but the fear of failing is real although unnecessary- just because addiction knocked us down to our knees doesn't mean that we are not strong. In fact, I have realized that we are stronger than we realize especially when we have a connection with God which can only really occur while sober.

Life in recovery versus life in addiction is like comparing Satan to God... two 'things' on the total opposite side of the spectrum; Satan is out to kill, steal, and destroy while God is out to repair, restore, bring life and peace.

Granted I have my good days and my not so good days but overall, I am forever grateful that I simply just said "yes" to recovery because quite honestly, I do not know if I would be here today had I not... Addiction is serious and I can confidently say that it will destroy you and those around you if you do not get help. You may not see the affects of addiction right away but you will eventually and it will hurt.

For those who are active in addiction currently, I have come up with 4 reasons as to why living as an addict never gets better.

1.) Being active in addiction allows you to be under a delusion that you can carry out a happy and healthy life despite the substantial harm that it is doing to you.

Like I stated earlier, I used to justify my addiction by saying to myself that I was in the clear from being labeled as an addict because it wasn't like I did these things everyday... However, when I was sober, I remember looking forward to my next high and when I was not sober, I would drink to die. When I would go on shopping sprees, I would spend all the money... I was mostly a binge addict who needed more and more to feel the high.

There are three stages of addiction. The first being preoccupation/anticipation, binge/intoxication, and last, withdrawal/ negative affect. In reference to my point here, I wanted to talk about the second stage, binge/intoxication. When an individual is active in the cycle of addiction and uses a substance or partakes in a habit more often, larger amounts are needed to experience the same high. To increase the high, excessive indulgence of the drug or habit (bingeing) pushes the effects of intoxication and euphoria to dangerous levels. Prolonged exposure results in desensitization, which increases the risk of overdose or substantial harm to ones overall well-being. Because the person active in addiction grows to become desensitized to the level of harm they are doing to their-selves (and those around them) they are unable to see just how much damage is being done and hence, in a delusion thinking that "things are fine" or they have it under control when really this may be far from the truth. 

2.) Addiction robs you of being able to maintain healthy relationships.

From my experiences living as a decently functioning addict, I do however remember not being able to maintain or build healthy relationships as I was clouded mentally and spiritually. I was selfish, a liar, a manipulator, and a broken person who brought others down to my level because well, misery loves company right? But the truth is, I didn't like myself like this... I was longing for healthy relationships but simply didn't know how to as my addiction consumed me. It made me feel like I wasn't worthy of good things and people mostly due to the shame-guilt cycle and my selfish desires to get to my next high even if that meant using people to get there.

When you are stuck in addiction, you attract people who are doing similar things as you which can make it even harder to remove yourself from the 'fire'. The best thing to do is get clean, regain clarity, remove yourself from all toxic environments and people and build a healthier life for yourself that way you can begin to attract people who will support you and uplift you.

3.) Addiction consumes your time, energy, and preoccupies your thoughts.

Truthfully, I don't even want to know how many hours and days I have wasted supporting my addictions not to mention how much money I have burned through and/or missed out on because I couldn't make it to work... All I could think about was how I was going to get my next high which totally took me out of reality and into this dark hole of depression and anxiety in which I coped with through my addictions.

If you are reading this and you are currently stuck in addiction right now, I really want you to know that time is precious. Life is precious and you only get one. It is especially precious when you are sober and can feel and see things for how they really are not for what you wish for them to be through getting high. Think about it, if you were to be on a family vacation and all you could think about is getting drunk and high, would you really be enjoying the present moment with your family? Most likely not because your mind is preoccupied on what you are desiring rather than living in the moment, sober and soaking up all that the trip with your family had to bring.

4.) The more you give into your addiction, the more you will find yourself being out of control/ irresponsible.

Addiction is like a monster that the more you feed, the larger it grows and the more frightening it can be to fight. I hated who I became when I was getting drunk and high and doing other irresponsible things. I am certainly not the true me when I am active in addiction. I become lazy, irresponsible, anxious, depressed, stressed, unable to deal with my emotions healthily, and the least bit reliable and honest yet somehow it was all 'worth' throwing my life and myself away just to feed this monster in me.

There is a clear difference between the girl I am when I am active in addiction versus sober... When I am sober I am responsible, happier, healthier, more honest, connected with God, loyal, and free but as soon as I even start to feed "the beast" my life starts to dwindle down a dark hole and I begin to chain myself down to living in a hell on earth.

If you are struggling with addiction today, I do encourage you to reach out for support. There are several resources and many people who are willing to help you. You are not alone and again, stronger than you even realize... remember that and prove it to yourself. Click the link on my home page "crisis resources" for resources to get you on your way to getting the help you deserve.

Thank you for the read,

Ixchelle 

 

 

 

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Ixchelle Lowell by Ixchelle Lowell - 9M ago

When you think of the word, 'addiction' what comes to your mind? Personally for me the first thing that I naturally think about when I hear this word is drugs and alcohol but I have learned that addiction runs in many forms... porn, sex, shopping, food, substances, gambling, social media, working, the list goes on...

The majority of my life I struggled with various forms of addiction such as, shopping, gambling, alcohol, and drugs just to list a few. For the longest time I didn't really think much of my drinking and drug binges, my excessive shopping sprees and visits to the casino because "it wasn't like I was doing it every day". Ultimately, this is how I justified my habits and avoided facing the truth. It wasn't until I hit a very serious and life altering rock bottom that I could then recognize that my habits were out of control and swallowing me whole. 

From my own personal experiences, recovering from addiction and bad habits is no walk in the park and for anyone who is on the outside looking into one who is in active addiction who says, "just make better decisions-figure it out" or something along those lines... ignore it. Not everyone will understand the seriousness of addiction, however, it is important to surround yourself with those who do. You also need to understand that recovery is not linear and majority of people in recovery have relapsed at least once before. I am not saying that relapsing is okay because the reality of it is, one relapse could completely knock you down mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually but the fear of failing is real although unnecessary- just because addiction knocked us down to our knees doesn't mean that we are not strong. In fact, I have realized that we are stronger than we realize especially when we have a connection with God which can only really occur while sober.

Life in recovery versus life in addiction is like comparing Satan to God... two 'things' on the total opposite side of the spectrum; Satan is out to kill, steal, and destroy while God is out to repair, restore, bring life and peace.

Granted I have my good days and my not so good days but overall, I am forever grateful that I simply just said "yes" to recovery because quite honestly, I do not know if I would be here today had I not... Addiction is serious and I can confidently say that it will destroy you and those around you if you do not get help. You may not see the affects of addiction right away but you will eventually and it will hurt.

For those who are active in addiction currently, I have come up with 4 reasons as to why living as an addict never gets better.

1.) Being active in addiction allows you to be under a delusion that you can carry out a happy and healthy life despite the substantial harm that it is doing to you.

Like I stated earlier, I used to justify my addiction by saying to myself that I was in the clear from being labeled as an addict because it wasn't like I did these things everyday... However, when I was sober, I remember looking forward to my next high and when I was not sober, I would drink to die. When I would go on shopping sprees, I would spend all the money... I was mostly a binge addict who needed more and more to feel the high.

There are three stages of addiction. The first being preoccupation/anticipation, binge/intoxication, and last, withdrawal/ negative affect. In reference to my point here, I wanted to talk about the second stage, binge/intoxication. When an individual is active in the cycle of addiction and uses a substance or partakes in a habit more often, larger amounts are needed to experience the same high. To increase the high, excessive indulgence of the drug or habit (bingeing) pushes the effects of intoxication and euphoria to dangerous levels. Prolonged exposure results in desensitization, which increases the risk of overdose or substantial harm to ones overall well-being. Because the person active in addiction grows to become desensitized to the level of harm they are doing to their-selves (and those around them) they are unable to see just how much damage is being done and hence, in a delusion thinking that "things are fine" or they have it under control when really this may be far from the truth. 

2.) Addiction robs you of being able to maintain healthy relationships.

From my experiences living as a decently functioning addict, I do however remember not being able to maintain or build healthy relationships as I was clouded mentally and spiritually. I was selfish, a liar, a manipulator, and a broken person who brought others down to my level because well, misery loves company right? But the truth is, I didn't like myself like this... I was longing for healthy relationships but simply didn't know how to as my addiction consumed me. It made me feel like I wasn't worthy of good things and people mostly due to the shame-guilt cycle and my selfish desires to get to my next high even if that meant using people to get there.

When you are stuck in addiction, you attract people who are doing similar things as you which can make it even harder to remove yourself from the 'fire'. The best thing to do is get clean, regain clarity, remove yourself from all toxic environments and people and build a healthier life for yourself that way you can begin to attract people who will support you and uplift you.

3.) Addiction consumes your time, energy, and preoccupies your thoughts.

Truthfully, I don't even want to know how many hours and days I have wasted supporting my addictions not to mention how much money I have burned through and/or missed out on because I couldn't make it to work... All I could think about was how I was going to get my next high which totally took me out of reality and into this dark hole of depression and anxiety in which I coped with through my addictions.

If you are reading this and you are currently stuck in addiction right now, I really want you to know that time is precious. Life is precious and you only get one. It is especially precious when you are sober and can feel and see things for how they really are not for what you wish for them to be through getting high. Think about it, if you were to be on a family vacation and all you could think about is getting drunk and high, would you really be enjoying the present moment with your family? Most likely not because your mind is preoccupied on what you are desiring rather than living in the moment, sober and soaking up all that the trip with your family had to bring.

4.) The more you give into your addiction, the more you will find yourself being out of control/ irresponsible.

Addiction is like a monster that the more you feed, the larger it grows and the more frightening it can be to fight. I hated who I became when I was getting drunk and high and doing other irresponsible things. I am certainly not the true me when I am active in addiction. I become lazy, irresponsible, anxious, depressed, stressed, unable to deal with my emotions healthily, and the least bit reliable and honest yet somehow it was all 'worth' throwing my life and myself away just to feed this monster in me.

There is a clear difference between the girl I am when I am active in addiction versus sober... When I am sober I am responsible, happier, healthier, more honest, connected with God, loyal, and free but as soon as I even start to feed "the beast" my life starts to dwindle down a dark hole and I begin to chain myself down to living in a hell on earth.

If you are struggling with addiction today, I do encourage you to reach out for support. There are several resources and many people who are willing to help you. You are not alone and again, stronger than you even realize... remember that and prove it to yourself. Click the link on my home page "crisis resources" for resources to get you on your way to getting the help you deserve.

Thank you for the read,

Ixchelle 

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Ixchelle Lowell by Ixchelle Lowell - 10M ago

A lot of us have gone through something traumatic in life whether that be the loss of a loved one, abuse, combat exposure, natural disasters, assault, mass violence, rape, and other situations. Often times after a traumatic event, most people are left feeling hopeless, depressed, anxious, angry, irritable, in fear, unconfident, numb, and there is a strong possibility of having sleep issues as well as a change of appetite and more...

There is no sugar coating it, recovery from trauma is no walk in the park, meaning it isn't easy to bounce back from something that impacted you so severely. While some people recover from their trauma within a few weeks or months, a high percentage of people who have been experiencing these post traumatic stress symptoms for any duration longer than this may have developed the mental health condition known as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). This is especially seen in people who have experienced repeated abuse, sexual abuse, and those in combat.

As someone who has had PTSD for 16 years now, I am here to tell you (or write to you) that recovery is possible. But before I get to explaining HOW it is possible and what helped me specifically, I want to first briefly share with you my journey having had untreated PTSD for the duration of time that I did...

It started when I was in first grade, the awful flashbacks, anxiety attacks, bouts of anger, depression, confusion, and fear and what triggered it were smells, colors, mannerisms of other people, men, noises, and other things... but the problem was, on top of all of these intense emotions, I was still being abused and put in the same or similar situations daily as I was as a young girl, hence, I wasn't able to heal. I felt like I was constantly being put into a corner where I had no other option but to just take the abuse ultimately resulting in a warped idea of how life really should look outside of the trauma...

Now, I don't write this for sympathy nor empathy for that matter, rather I expose such truths to those who can relate and/or need to read something that poses solutions to their similar struggles. But, to get to the core of my story, I wanted to share with you this last bit...

Throughout the 16 years of having full blown PTSD, I was a very discouraged, hopeless, insecure, broken kid/young adult who was dying to have answers to my pain... unfortunately, I took the harder route (numbing myself with substances and other extremities) and chose to walk the path to destruction... and I walked that path for so long until I one day hit a rock bottom. The weird thing was, this rock bottom didn't look like the others where I was either in jail or in another very scary situation, rather it was that I had simply come to a point where I was just tired and once again, hopeless to the point of wanting to take my life. The difference between this time to the other times? I had my baby daughter- a new life, a life that I was responsible for! Had I not had my daughter, I firmly believe that I would have ran my life to the ground by now... seriously!

You see, I had exerted all of my energy into everything BUT seeking God- The one who had me the whole time, yet I chose to walk away from as the devil had me in a choke-hold in which I personally refer to as my mental health condition(s), PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc. I have asked myself several times why I resorted to seeking out God last and I believe the answer was shame... I felt that if He was anything like the way I was raised, I would be severely punished for coming to Him with my truths (all the wrong things I was doing)... in fact, I felt that I was already being punished by Him as I had been in pain all throughout my childhood and could hardly see a way out, although in time, I found this to be a delusion once again coming from satan himself. 

...

So, yes, I have officially been in recovery from PTSD for about a year now. Up until this last year of truly starting recovery, I believe I was incapable of healing as I was still associated with the person who committed the traumatic acts towards me as well as I was feeding my mind with all things related to the traumatic events unknowingly (some things in which I could control and others I could not). Truthfully, I was afraid of developing relationships and therefore pushed a lot of people away, I was ashamed of myself as I felt that the trauma was always my fault, I felt deeply depressed and hopeless, hence, I was reckless, and last, I felt so out of control that I needed to control those around me to believe the false facades that I was trying so hard to maintain in order to not be seen as broken or weak and when my mask was removed, it all came crumbling on top of me through more shame, more guilt, remorse, anger, fear... my demons. 

I think for everyone, healing from a traumatic event looks different, and we all feel different things, yet it is all similar in the sense that we all have been impacted in a very drastic way. However, like I said, there is hope and I would like to share with you some specific things that began to help me heal from my dark past that I KNOW will help you too... I mean come on, why would I take time out of my day to write out this essay to you if I didn't want you to experience the same healing and freedom from the past that I have? I believe in you! 

1.) As you know, when you are starting the recovery process (from anything at all), you are starting it broken and vulnerable, but that doesn't mean that you are not strong enough to recover because YOU ARE.

You were strong enough to go through the trauma, and you are strong enough to get out of it! Are you kidding?! Of course you are and don't doubt that for a second! I really want you to repeat this to yourself daily (or something similar)...

"I AM STRONG and capable of recovering"

"I AM STRONG and resilient"

"I AM STRONG and courageous"

better yet...

"I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13)

... things like this. Positive affirmations go a long ways when you are trying to recover from something and/or have low self esteem. If it helps, write out some verses and other positive affirmations that help you to 1.) be reminded of Gods unending love and hope for you 2.) Instantly lifts your spirits. You will find that the more you feed your mind with hope, love, and peace- the easier it will be to bounce back from your troubles. 

2.) Identify your triggers and make an action plan for where you can go mentally when your head starts filling up with worry, fear, anger, shame, and doubt.

For me, I do my absolute best to go to my "happy place" which is actually the dreams I have for my future, although everyone's happy places could look different...

When I think of God's promises for my (our) life, I begin to grow at peace with myself and with my situations. Trust me, I have been in some very scary places both mentally and physically where I was unsure if I would ever get out of them but the more I focused my eyes on God, praying, reading the word and learning about people in the Bible who have experienced similar situations or worse and how God always came through, I could part the clouds in my mind and discern between the truth of my mental health condition from the lies being fed to me from the devil (shame, hopelessness, fear, anger).

Isaiah 43:1 “Don't fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Did you know that the phrase “fear not” is used at least 80 times in the Bible? The reason most likely being is because He knows the enemy uses fear to destroy our hope and limits our victories.

3.) You are alive today... which means that there is STILL hope, still life, still happiness to be had!

Sure you went through some hard things, nothing can dismiss your feelings towards the trauma as they are totally valid, however, you deserve to have a good life. You deserve to find freedom from this mess but... you can't find freedom if you are not willing to let it go.

This might sound a bit extreme, but from my personal experience, I could compare the aftermath from trauma to sitting in a burning house. The longer you sit in it and take no action to 'getting out of the fire', the more damage it will do and before you know it, it will most likely take you too. 

I know how it is... it's what's comfortable to hold onto what happened in the past as it could be your motivator, your "go-to" thing to blame when you are in a dark place, or the trauma could be so ingrained in your mind that you aren't even aware of how much you think about it because you have thought about it so much (this was me)... but my one, most important piece of advice to you of all things is to give it to God. He will repair you in ways you aren't even able to see right now if you just take the leap of faith. I made the mistake of seeking God last before all other things in which always lead me down a dark path in some way or another- I hope you can take these words if you are in a space of desperation and choose God before seeking instant gratification. Instant gratification < God's will. Not easy, but He really will never steer you down a wrong path. 

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Allow God to do a new thing in you! You will be amazed with the changes in not only your life but also in your mind when you believe this very truth.

Anyways, these are the three main points that I wanted to write out to you for you or anyone you know who struggles with PTSD. There is hope. There is a way out. And last, God isn't done with you yet!

I appreciate you reading this essay ;),

XOXO Ixchelle

 

 

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Ixchelle Lowell by Ixchelle Lowell - 11M ago

Earlier this afternoon I was thinking about how I have noticed on social media and through my in-person interactions that the majority of people seem less happy... and when I say "less happy" I mean, discontent, self absorbed, and more concerned with looking good over feeling good internally.

As these thoughts began to pop up in my mind, I first remembered that at one point of my life, I too felt those same things yet never turned to any real solution to fix it. I remembered what got me to that dark place mentally and I also reflected on how I got myself out of that downward spiral thinking which is what I will be sharing with you in a bit...

After reflecting back on my past and feeling absolute gratitude for the mental space I am today as opposed to the 'dark days', I realized that there are a lot of people out there suffering from sadness, an endless cycle of never feeling good enough, constantly comparing themselves to others, feeling worthless and purposeless, and it had me questioning if mental illness was on the rise. So, I typed into Google, "Is mental illness on the rise?"...

Guess what came up...?

Links after links of recent published articles on how mental illness is IN FACT on the rise.

And as I clicked on a few articles and started skimming through the main points of each, I started to think about all of the people I know who struggle or who have struggled, I thought about all of the people on social media who are nearly obsessed with their IG inspirations and comparing themselves to them. I thought about all of the people who silently struggle, all of the young teens who are trying to find their identity but unfortunately believe that they need to look like an IG model in order to be of value- I thought about all of these people.

My heart hurt for these people as not all that long ago I too was right there with them... and for a hot minute I felt hopeless myself in the sense that I felt like I wasn't doing my job well enough to put an end to all of this... so hence I am writing this with the intent to simply build awareness to this issue.

According to psychologytoday.com, the past few years researchers have witnessed an escalation in teen suicides and anxious, depressed, and suicidal students crowding college counseling centers (Center for Collegiate Mental Health).

So, how could this be even if we not only are living in a time period where opportunities to live healthier, happier lives are at a record high but we also have modern day medicine, counseling, and other resources? Well, after doing some research and brainstorming my own thoughts as to why there is a rise in mental illness, I came up with these 3 answers (I could think of a few others but these are the main points)...

1.) Problem: Like I mentioned earlier regarding social media, it can either be an enemy or a friend to the user.

For teens and kids, social media can be especially toxic, the reason being, kids already struggle finding themselves as is and when they log into social media a lot of content they see influences the idea that they are not good enough due to comparing appearances, personal belongings and in general, their lives to someone else's highlight reals; kids don't understand how to differentiate fake from real or know how to cope with emotional distress like adults can (keyword: CAN). However, adults too compare themselves far too often to other peoples best pictures which also can lead to depression and anxiety. Think about it... IF inside you have some parts of you that are in need of healing but you refuse to heal and in turn are longing for attention, gratification, and acceptance and you see someone with a larger following, a nicer body, ‘prettier’ face... what happens? One of two things... you don't get bothered or jealous over it (which is great but this post isn't geared to the "IDC" population) ... or... you do and you feel once again, low and worthless. Solution: Spend some time away from your phone. Read a book, listen to a podcast episode, go outside, get some exercise- do SOMETHING productive and healthy for yourself instead of mindless and destructive. 

2.) Problem: Our culture has grown to be more concerned about how we look on the outside and less about feeling good internally. Why? Well, I don't actually know the exact answer as to why but I would think that it all comes down to the innate feeling in us humans to compete with others (derived from feeling fear, insecurity and lack of belonging) and by looking good on the outside it is making some type of statement to others that we are doing well in life, meanwhile, we are hiding what's really going on inside... so, how can anyone find the solution to this problem if they are running from their own problems...? They can't and I say this from experience. Solution: God has created each of us uniquely to help lift others and glorify Him. If we are walking in His will, why would there be a need to compete with our 'neighbor'? I mean, if we were all to be walking in Gods will for our lives, we would look like a team, a unity- working towards the same goal rather than working against each other. But, the only way we can truly find His will for our lives is to begin and build an intimate relationship with Him. Then, once that happens, I am more than hopeful that He will restore and renew your mind.

3.) Problem: The stigma. Yes, THE stigma. You know which one i'm talking about...

Society has looked down on mental illness as a character defect, a demon possession, or something that only "crazy", "too far gone" people have. I believe the stigma on this matter is being broken little by little (at least I am hopeful that it is) but regardless, the stigma still remains. If people think these things about those who are mentally ill, how could the person struggling with mental illness be able to get the help they needed if they are going to be shamed for their illness? Most likely they wouldn't even ask for help if they feared they would feel even lower than they did already. This is not okay. If someone needs help with something, they shouldn't fear or question asking for help because of what might happen to them... Solution: First it is important to treat everyone as if they are facing something you know nothing about because most likely the ones who seem a little "off" are in fact struggling with something that you may actually know nothing about. Compassion, kindness and love goes a long ways. Mental illness is just as real as disease is so be mindful of treating it as such. Second, if we want to put an end to the rise in mental illness then we need to first be willing to do something about it and second, do something about it. We as people are here to build each other up not tear each other down. If you notice someone is struggling, offer them help or ask them how you can help them.

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Ixchelle Lowell by Ixchelle Lowell - 11M ago

Over this last week, for some odd and random reason I was reflecting back on my past relationships versus the relationships that I have today and I thought one thing... there's a big difference between what my relationships look like today as opposed to back then and by "back then" I mean all of less than a year ago.

Obviously relationships include two or more people meaning there are more people involved in a relationship than just you. With that being said, relationships are always a two-way street which means both parties make decisions and choices.

Whether you are in a romantic relationship, a friendship, family, or acquaintances with someone, you can almost always tell which relationships are healthy and positive and which are not all by two things, how you feel when you are around the other person and how you feel when you depart from them.

It's interesting because I think we all know deep down which relationships are healthy for us and which are not but we don't always listen to ourselves... maybe because we feel obligated to be a part of a particular persons life, or maybe because we are hopeful that the relationship will work out for the best. Whatever the reason be, it is important to be aware of the fact that the relationships that take place in our current lives play a huge roll in our mental and spiritual health...

Have you ever heard that saying, "You become who you hang out with"? When I first heard that saying I remember instantly thinking, "that's not true. I decide who I want to be not them" but then...

but then...

I started to realize that it was completely true. My friends would go out and get loaded, so would I. My family was toxic and in turn, I became toxic too. My past romantic partners were prideful, unfaithful and insecure, and so was I. Sure, we all have differences and demonstrate both positive and negative qualities as we are human, but ultimately, from my experience, their garbage warped into my garbage and vise versa.

The thing I think we all know but don't always, 100% of the time follow through with is that we chose who and what we allow into our lives. If something or someone is not positively serving our mental and spiritual health we have the choice to not engage in the relationship or at least, until proven otherwise. 

There's a thing called intuition. It's a wonderful thing really but when we are longing for approval, acceptance, and love from anyone or anything at all except from God and oursleves, it's as if our intuition becomes silenced and hence, we ignore it. I view our intuition like God's voice- an ability to discern the right from wrong, but like I said, when we are longing for voids to be filled, potentially voids stemming from past relationships, we are unable to make a good judgment as to who and what we place in our lives.

Have you been avoiding or ignoring your intuition? Have you been ignoring what God wants for you in order to grow in Him?

I particularly remember being with one ex. I really liked and cared for him, he was fun to be around, I liked how I felt around him in private but as soon as we were in a crowd, with other girls around, I would notice that I wasn't the only girl he wanted. I ignored the red flags and oddly enough, it made me crave his affection and love that much more because I wasn't "the only one" for him. I felt the need to compete with the other girls and the challenge seemed enticing until I found myself never feeling good enough for or enough for myself. In time, I had several mental breakdowns, one including me wanting to kill myself in front of him to show him how much I needed his love because I craved it that much... I began to realize that it wasn't actually his love in particular that I was craving, I was simply just craving to be loved in general as I never really felt such thing but only in which could be felt through an intimate relationship with God who loves me, loves you infinitely and unconditionally.

There is no greater love than the love I have felt from Him.

You see, we can justify other peoples lack of true love for us rather selfishness all we want but from my experience, it is a very dangerous game to play ESPECIALLY if you have deep inner wounds that need to be healed. If you have to beg for someones affection, love, care and concern, pursuing a relationship with them is probably not the best move particularly if you are trying to heal, recover, and develop a stronger connection to God. True love doesn’t include feeling a need to compete, beg, and it certainly should never include wanting to hurt yourself over. Love is not selfish, it isn't boastful, prideful, and unloyal. Love has everything to deal with bettering and lifting up the other person involved in the relationship...

Listen to your gut, it’s God talking! 

Thank you for the read!

Ixchelle

I have learned that there is a difference between wanting healthy and happy relationships and having healthy relationships. 

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