Well, hello there! My name is Annie...and I have a crazy brain. Actually, the technical term is "anxiety" but I affectionately refer to it as "a bad case of the crazy brain". For the past 547 days, I've dealt with life-altering and joy-sucking anxiety. Panic attacks, racing thoughts, hopelessness, depression. The works. Anxiety has become my friends over the past year and a half. I've failed two college classes, stopped driving for a few weeks and and given up countless social, and super fun, opportunities because of panic attacks and anxiety. I stopped going to certain places and hanging out with certain people- all because of fear that they would trigger a panic attack. Not only that but my entire life, I've been a nervous, fearful person. Always afraid something bad is about to happen or something is going to go wrong. Yeah...it's been fun. At the end of 2013, I was exhausted, depressed and pretty much had no hope that my life would ever be anything other than a mess of anxiety, waiting to explode at any minute.
Long story short, I randomly picked up the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp (if you haven't read it, go ahead and get on that). She offered up the idea that "gratitude turns what we have into enough". She offered the challenge of trying to make a list every day of things you love or are thankful for. Even in the mess and busyness and mundaneness and tears and anger and conflict of life. So on January 1 2014, I started making my own list. I tried to see everything I have in my life, right now, where I am, as a gift, as grace, as something to be thankful for. I am trying to be thankful on the happy laughter sunshine days where everything is easy and fun and picture-perfect and I wish I could pause time. I am trying to be thankful on the mean, sad gray days that make me want to not leave my house and I wish I could fast forward time and it could be over already. I want to have joy everyday. Because I am tired of living life tired, fast, anxious, ungrateful and isolated.
This book, and this idea of thankfulness, has changed my life. I still struggle with anxiety every.single.day. but learning to be thankful in EVERYTHING has been challenging and liberating. Don't get me wrong- it's really difficult. But through trying countless remedies for anxiety and depression, nothing has been more helpful.
So why am I here? I'm a private person. I'm pretty selfish with my emotion, thoughts, knowledge, experiences, etc. I don't like to be open and I certainly don't like to be vulnerable. Over the past year, I've realized that authenticity, realness and vulnerability is an integral part to this grand life, and I want to challenge myself (and have been challenged by others) to be more vulnerable and authentic. So here I am, making a list of unexpected joys and wearing my heart on my sleeve for the Internet.