OOTD: Tackling what a lifestyle blog means to me

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( Jeans: Banana Republic Factory // Shirt: Loft (similar) // Booties: Steve Madden (similar) // Sweater: J. Crew (similar) )

This is my first Outfit of the Day post in a little over a year, and that one was posted with the same disclaimer to why it had been so long. I stopped posting them because I got frustrated that those posts were doing better than my posts on serious topics like mental illness. I’m not a fashion blogger nor did I have desire to be, I added the OOTD because I thought how we present ourselves is a great part of lifestyle and this blog is supposed to be a lifestyle blog. That’s changed a little, and I didn’t really mean for it to. It started when I published “I’m Not Offended by my Bipolar Jokes. You Shouldn’t be Either.” I was really unsure when I published it, I thought it was going to go over poorly, but I was wrong, it did well and I felt amazing having published it. So, more serious posts started getting mixed into my blog. Posts on my personal relationship with suicide mixed with photo diaries of my horse. It felt good, then I got more invested in the serious topics, and as you might have noticed, they started to dominate.

It’s not a bad thing. The topics I’m writing about are important, at least to me, and I feel like they need to be talked about. That’s what a blog is supposed to be, isn’t it?

But I’ve strayed a little to far from where I started. I need a little lightness in these posts too. I need to include the everyday joys, after all, life isn’t just about the serious topics, and it definitely isn’t just about mental illness and other hardships.

So here is my outfit. Here is my smile. Here is a picture of me in my everyday life.

Anna Down South is about me as a whole, that includes seriousness and it includes happiness.

Doing charity in private: The problem with public giving

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I did a certain charitable act a month or so ago and I wanted to tell someone about it, almost immediately. Maybe that’s a normal reaction; when we do something we feel good about we want to share that overwhelmingly positive emotion. But maybe we just like to lift ourselves up by telling others how great we were in that moment.

Maybe it’s a little of both. Maybe we think it’s the first but in reality it is the later.

I choose not to tell anyone that day, or the next, in fact I didn’t tell anyone, and if you don’t count this (which I can’t decide if I should) I still haven’t. But, the overwhelming desire to tell someone did open my eyes to my own desires. It made me step back and wonder why, after the joy from doing good had passed, was the next emotion a self serving one?

I want people to know I’m a good person, which is a flawed logic,  because if you are a good person, people already know. Goodness isn’t something that goes unnoticed. Perhaps people don’t see to which degree you are good, but they still know that you are. Goodness doesn’t come from one charitable act, or even a handful, it comes from a mixture of constant charitable acts and other acts of kindness and righteousness.

Telling people of one charitable act, won’t change their mind if they’ve decided you’re a bad person. It takes them seeing a visible transformation in your everyday actions for them to suddenly change their perspective on you. That’s possible, keep in mind, if you fear you are seen as a bad person, or even a not-so-good person, there is plenty of time to change that. Change is real and possible, so don’t stop seeking it.

But change doesn’t come from bragging. In fact, bragging always has the opposite effect that the bragger means for it to. If someone takes to bragging people take to disliking them and thinking of them as a worse person than they probably are. We can’t stand self-righteous people, yet somehow we still manage to be pretty self-righteous ourselves.

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A letter to those struggling with their Bipolar Disorder:

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In a lot of cases depression can be cured, and I mean cured, marked done, filed away for good. Depression isn’t always chronic, sometimes it’s short lived. That’s pretty magical, but bipolar disorder is nothing like that.

It’s a disorder, a disease of the mind, if you will. It can be treated, but it can’t be cured. It is everlasting.

I don’t find that as scary as I once did.

At first it’s a terrifying thought. I have to live with these swings forever. There will never be a time when I’m not taking medication. This is something that will affect my life till I die.

Oh yeah, it sounds terrible when you focus on those aspects. It sounds a lot less frightening however when you talk about the different stages of living with a mental illness like bipolar disorder.

You start to realize that you will get better even if you are not cured. You’ll find your perfect cocktail of medications that keep you balanced and you’ll only have to go to the doctor every year or so. The upcoming days won’t be met with vicious swings, but little ones that warn you that you need to change something. You’ll learn what helps you outside of medication and you won’t rely on it as heavily as you did. You’ll move on with your life and bipolar will become a side note when you define yourself, because the characteristics will no longer define you.

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About College: The parts that are more valuable than the degree

 

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As tuition prices sky-rocket a lot of people have started asking if college degrees are worth the money. In some ways they are, but the degree itself doesn’t mean much unless you’re becoming a doctor or a lawyer. It’s a piece of paper, a line item on your resume, that over half of the other applicants have on their’s as well.

In my opinion, college isn’t really about the degree. Sure it’s the end goal, you definitely want to get it if you start it, but it’s not the most valuable part. The value of college comes in other activities only available on a college campus. And I’m not talking about a social life. I’m not taking about taking another four years before hitting the real world. I’m talking about the resume items colleges offer.

My resume was beautiful leaving college, at least, beautiful for a kid in her early twenties who had never had a full-time job before. That wasn’t the focus though, you didn’t see the part-time work at the fro-yo place, you saw list of college activities and courses that counted as real world experience.

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Seven Things:

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Happy Thursday! I hope everyone is having a good day. It’s been a busy week for me, but I finally managed to finish this round up. I hope you find something good in it.

  • Millennial are killing… divorce? Finally something good. This article explains why divorce rates are falling, a lot of it has to do with who is choosing getting married. It also adds that cohabiting unmarried couples tend to be unstable, which is something that this book touched on in a chapter that really struck me, actually that whole book struck me, so I feel the need to link it whenever I can.
  • If you’re a Carolina girl (or boy!) like me, you might be interested in getting this cute Carolina Strong T-shirt. 100% of the proceeds go to Hurricane Florence recovery. Mine is in the mail as we speak!
  • This article by The New York Times on Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “health” brand, is hysterical, in depth, and truly wonderful. It’s the best written article I’ve read in a long time.
  • I didn’t know our grey squirrels were boring or plain until I saw the the Malabar squirrel in India. Talk about having a beautiful animal to dig up your flower bulbs.
  • Speaking of animals and hurricanes, studies have shown that birds can predict them far before us, which isn’t surprising, what is is the fact that they’ll lay their eggs months early to avoid the storms.
  • “Social justice in the shadows” is the title of this article, which is insightful, moving, and also sheds warning. I’d suggest anyone read it.
  • This article could also be titled “even when you sit up straight you’re doing it wrong” and you should read it. Good posture now rids of of bad back pain later, and after Lyme, I’d like to never have back pain again.

Baring your soul: The kind of honesty that’s hard

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I’ve been reading a fair amount of philosophy and when you pair it with religious texts there is one thing that keeps coming up: Honesty.

We read that and we’re like, of course, honesty is important. It’s important to be honest to others and it’s important that we’re honest to ourselves. I’ve already written a blog post on white lies and why they’re harmful. It’s not a hard concept to swallow, but moving on from the simple lies we tell everyday we’re faced with a different type of honesty. A type of honesty that requires us to spill our guts, that makes us confess what is bothering us when it bothers us, in airing our feelings so that they can be addressed both by us and by those we interact with.

That kind of honesty is more tricky. That kind of honesty can hurt. That kind of honesty is necessary too.

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Fake medicine, real medicine, and their role in Lyme disease.

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There is a growing group of naturopaths claiming to cure everything with natural approaches and homeopathic medicine. A lot of us with chronic illnesses end up falling into their hands when traditional medicines turns their nose at us and tell us we aren’t sick, when we clearly are and have been deteriorating quickly. They like to tell us it’s in our mind or they misdiagnose us since our diseases doesn’t have accurate tests and in the case of Lyme, those tests more often than not throws false negatives.

Those of us suffering with Lyme’s become desperate and frantic trying to find someone to help us, so we go outside of traditional medicine. Is that the right place to find help? We can only hope so, because they seem to be the only people willing to try.

I got pushed out of traditional medicine with a harsh kick. Nobody would help me, so we tried a homeopathic doctor. I was skeptical throughout the process. Some of the things she talks about were proven false. She mentioned being about to help my bipolar through diet, and that she could heal me from it, never mind that its a genetic mood disorder. The wifi isn’t really changing how your body reacts to things and the idea of crystals helping anything comes from old school witchcraft and have no base in science. I was on guard the entire four months I was there, even more so seeing as she was selling herbs and supplements out of her practice. Which is highly unethical and she would have lost her license for doing that if she was in traditional medicine. Everything was expensive. I didn’t notice a difference in how I felt after a lot of treatments.

But- some of the things she suggested have been studied, some of them did make a difference in the way I felt. Some of her concepts weren’t so far off the track I needed to be on. I needed to be helping my body detox, but it wasn’t through green juice and mystery homeopathic drops, it was through sweating and Epson salt baths, ways people have been healing themselves for centuries. I did need to be on some supplements, but ones that list every single ingredient that came from an independent source. There are a lot of supplements derived from foods that help boost your immune system, support your liver, and even have antibacterial qualities. I needed probiotics to keep my gut from being destroyed by treatments. I needed to cut sugar to help with the inflammation, but I didn’t need to clean my diet of every food I’ve ever loved.

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