Loneliness: How to try and beat it.

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I saw someone post about being jealous of the characters on Sex and The City for having a close group of friends, it had well over 500 likes, under it were a lot of comments and jokes about being lonely. I see posts like this often, I hear comments about it in person too. People talk about how isolated they feel all the time. They talk about the fear of losing deep and meaningful connections and settling for quick chats. There’s been articles published about the loneliness ‘epidemic’ sweeping across the western world, and debates on if social media makes it worse or better.

I understand it, not because I would define myself as lonely, but because I can see the type of connections I used to have verses the types of connections I have now. My boyfriend excluded, I don’t have a best friend, I haven’t had one since I was in high school. I have friends, and I love them all dearly, but I don’t have one that I rush to talk about almost everything, and I certainly don’t have one that I talk to everyday. Maybe this is part of growing up, maybe we’re meant to trade some of these connections in for ones of a different kind. After all, we get busy, we’re working, we get in romantic relationships, we might just not have the time or energy to be buddies like we were in grade school. I honestly believe this is true, but I also believe that there is more going on here than just that.

I think that as a whole our society is becoming more isolated. I believe that as with most everything, most of this is our own doing. Sure it’s hard to meet people, but I think the real problem is that once we meet people we never get close to them. So how do we change that? How do we move on to being more social?

  • Change your idea of social events: It’s becoming more common to be an introvert than an extrovert and I’m not surprised. We’ve made all social gatherings a production. It’s parties and concerts and shopping, but it doesn’t have to be that way all the time. It can also be two people sitting on the couch catching up or making cookies at home. Social events don’t have to be energy draining, and when they aren’t, we tend to make more room for them because they aren’t taking up our down time but rather adding to it.

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What my chronic illness can teach those who are healthy:

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I backslide in my treatment over the last few months.

Not a ton, mind you, but any backslide is still a regression and it wasn’t one I was happy about. But there was still a lot to be thankful for. I still feel way better than I did when I started treatment over two years ago. One more antibiotic is annoying and it makes my stomach hurt, but it’s still less than I was on. I’m still able to work and go about my daily life, and that’s a big deal, because two years ago I could hardly move from my bed to the couch. Plus, now that I’m taking it, I’m starting to steadily make back the ground that I had lost.

But there’s an important thing to point out. The antibiotics are important but, I only feel like they’re working when I’m taking care of myself. It’s a tricky thing, but finding health with Lyme is a fine balance of taking care of yourself and taking your pills. I find that the pills allowed me the ability care for myself by helping reduce my pain and my fatigue, but without the diet, the exercise, and natural treatments, I might as well still be sick.

It brings me back to all the lessons on health I had learned before Lyme Disease.

We push aside daily wellness when we’re healthy enough. When we don’t have a chronic illness, when we don’t have a disease, or a disorder. Our bodies are functioning and that’s enough for us, we don’t feel like we need to do all the extra work for them to be at their best, because good enough is good enough.

It has a lot to do with our own laziness, our own gluttony, and all the pleasure we find in things that aren’t very healthy to us. It really dawned on me after a few weeks of giving this lifestyle my all so I could get better. I thought “when will I be better enough to stop all of this?”

That’s right, I wanted to know when will I would be better enough to stop being healthy.

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Mental health medications aren’t supposed to be a prescription for shame

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I want to talk about the shame that comes with being on medication for mental illness. It’s why so many people avoid talking to doctors and getting the help they need. It’s a common phenomenon, but that doesn’t make it less harmful and dangerous.

Before I start this post I need to say that I got diagnosed at six and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t taking pills. You might wonder if I’m really the right person to talk about this subject, but I think that it adds another layer of understanding. I know it added another layer of protection. I got to learn my valuable lessons in safety while I was still being actively cared for.

I remember in grade school telling my mom that I wanted to be normal and that I wasn’t going to take my pills anymore. Since she was with me 24/7 she decided not to fight it and let me stop them. It only took two weeks for me to come to her with the bin of pill bottles and ask what I was supposed to take. I needed those pills not to be miserable, I understood that then.

It wasn’t a particularly long lesson, but since I was pretty dang bipolar it didn’t need to be. It kept me from questioning the need for medication again and it was a blessing that it happened as a small child, not when I was suicidal in middle school or swinging in and out of depression my senior year of college. I had a safety net, which isn’t something most people have as they sit in the doctors office unwilling to share their needs because they’re depressed, ashamed, and scared. So they go home, untreated, and things don’t get better.

That’s when it gets dangerous. That’s when it gets harmful.

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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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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.