Yeah so luckily this is not a conversation we’re having face-to-face, because my mouth is numb from topical lidocain and my jaw is a tad swollen. I look ridiculous . . . pretty sure there’s a Snapchat filter out there that could perfectly emphasize this swelling I’m experiencing post-oral surgery. I had surgery just a couple days ago to fix a problem child dental implant. 

Swelling and physical pain aside, I have to share more with you. The outpouring of love and the response from my last blog post has been humbling. I’m in awe by how many of you have reached out to me personally— phone calls and messages to e-mails and texts, all telling me how you just want to hear more. So that’s what I’m here for. Let’s dive right in.

Do you know what one of the most annoying things is when you’re struggling? It’s when you’re trying to fake it, and you just want to go to that friend’s birthday party that you promised to go to. So you go (basically force yourself to go), and not matter how hard you try, you don’t feel like yourself. Maybe you have felt so bad for so long that you don’t even know what it feels like to be the real you anymore? And so you’ve put on this great outfit, you’ve gotten your hair styled at DryBar, maybe applied those false lashes . . . all to feel pretty and to distract from the fact that you feel really empty inside. Then you go to take that photo with the birthday girl, and you know you just can’t smile. Not an authentic, happy smile. You could not smile big, even if you wanted to. So now you have years and years of pictures of you pretend smiling or smirking. Like a smirk jerk. Or maybe it’s looks like duck face? Yep, that’s what my iPhone library is full of. 

I never wanted to smile when I felt sad. I’m not a fake person. But I forced this smile with Lindsay because it was her birthday and I love her. It was a posed smile. For a photo. Because during the rest of the party I wasn’t smiling. There’s always a reason. I probably felt like people could tell that something was wrong. I wasn’t laughing or lighthearted. I was checking my appearance in the mirror over and over. Making sure my eyes looked like they were watering from allergies and not sadness.

I wasn’t lighthearted like I am now. I didn’t know how to be.The real me is pretty funny and quite sarcastic actually. At times you would get a glimpse of that, but when I was really struggling, you absolutely did not see that side of me. Now I laugh. I laugh at so many things, because you know what makes life so much better? If you can be softer and kinder to yourself. If you can laugh at the things that you would usually be frustrated about. Try to laugh and find the humor in the situation instead of getting angry. I can laugh now at these pictures.

Or how about the negative self talk that can be so defeating? I’m not smiling here with my girlfriend, Leni, who was also at the party. Leni always smiles. She has a beautiful smile. I don’t like my smile. I think it’s not white enough, not big enough. I actually don’t like my smile at all.

Those are the thoughts I was thinking during this picture. That and suck in. Make sure you look fashionable and cute. But don’t smile because you don’t look pretty when you smile. Wow. You would never talk to another person the way you talk to yourself, so why is it ok?  It’s not. The harsh reality of all those negative thoughts. They kept me feeling down. It’s a vicious cycle, really. Like a hamster in a wheel – the hamster is in the wheel spinning, but the hamster is dead. So that poor hamster is just going “plop, plop” in the wheel.

There’s no more hamster in a wheel now. Thank God. Now that my anxiety and the depression is gone, so is that nagging voice that used to speak such nonsense. Telling me that I’m not good enough, that I’m not lovable. I’m smiling more now too. I no longer think that my business isn’t going anywhere, because guess what? It’s going so well. My career is not a failure. I am not a joke. Those are the things that I once told myself. It’s so messed up.

So now what do my thoughts look like now? They are healthy thoughts. In the morning I make a to-do list. And that list usually involves ways I can make sure someone else feels loved that day. What can I do to help my parents? How can I encourage one of my clients to feel more confident in her own skin. And when will I have time later to snuggle with my dog, Riley? Gosh he’s my everything.

And clarity. So much clarity now. The clarity that comes from not being controlled by anxiety and depression is priceless. Is priceless even the right word? Being able to just live, to just be human and to feel all the emotions without being crippled by fear or anxiety. Now that is a beautiful thing.

And with this clarity, I am living in the moment. Every moment. I can now be at Starbucks and watch all the people around me, seemingly in chaos . . . feeling stressed, all rushing around. I’m aware of this energy, and how others seem tense, but I’m no longer bothered. Wow. The daily, insignificant things that used to suck my energy dry, deplete the happiness right out from under me. Welp, those aren’t even static thoughts on my radar now.

But you know what I do analyze now? Healing. I realize through my journey with mental health and now recovering from this dental surgery, that physical pain is soooo much easier. Everybody can relate to physical pain, right? Shoot I can relate to physical pain. I used to have debilitating migraines for many many years, and I still have occasional neck pain. It’s just so much easier to understand and sympathize with someone who is physically hurting.

So that is what started this comparison in my head. The healing process of the physical verses the emotional. The good kind of comparison.

I think about how the last few months since my November Ketamine infusions. I did the recommended series of six infusions at Texas Ketamine Specialist, here in Dallas. Ever since my first infusion, I have been living my life in fast forward. Not pause. Not rewind. Not with regret. I feel as though I am making up for lost time. I’m 35 now (yikes, I feel old saying that), but thank God for good preventative skin care. LOL.

I’m trying to catch up for all the years I wasn’t living. Not functioning. Not always terrible, but definitely not thriving.

Yesterday I was talking my mom and asked her if she could truly believe how well I was doing? She said, “Honey, it’s incredible. I’m more and more inspired by you every day by you. You are so happy. It’s amazing to see.” That. Yes that sincerity. This feeling, this happiness . . . well it is definitely not fleeting. It is here to stay, and I am now living with so much joy.

What do I mean by  such “joy”? My brain feels like it is so mentally tough and clear, happy and focused- it’s like I’m wearing a mental bullet proof vest. Will I go back for a booster infusion? Sure. That’s recommended, and I will embrace the process. I’m thinking with the daily mood monitor and hands-on treatment from Dr. Andrea Kim with Texas Ketamine Specislist, I will be able to wait until April for a booster infusion. One hour out of my day in April to continue recharging my brain? Anything to stay on this path of health. Yes ma’am!

I wake up every day with passion, with enthusiasm now. Don’t get me wrong . . . I’m still real. LOL! I can still complain about traffic (oh Dallas traffic). I can still roll my eyes and laugh at my dog when he’s being a diva and doesn’t want to go potty outside in the cold and rain. He thinks he’ll just poop inside that day. My mom isn’t a big fan of that when we’re at their house. And then there’s my dad. I love my parents so much, but I still get slightly annoyed at my father who is so much like me that we often butt heads. Love you dad 🙂

Before last November, did you know that I was living at my parents’ house full time? So much incredible “quality time”. Just what parents wanted. Their 30-something daughter living with them. Yes, I have a condo, but I didn’t live there. I didn’t want to be alone. Not that I would ever hurt myself, because I never had those thoughts, but honestly I didn’t want to be by myself. It felt more ALIVE to be around people who were actually living. I used to think to myself as my mom would be working in her office or my dad would be running errands— how on earth do they have the energy to be doing these things? I just watched them in sheer amazement.

How are they so busy and functioning like this, so well, on a daily basis? I realize now that it wasn’t a matter of willpower. Because it’s not. It wasn’t a matter of just “go get your butt to the gym Laura.” Or just think positive. Go read a self help book. Eat healthy. No, my brain was not functioning. My brain was not healthy. Regular antidepressants and anxiety medicine actually hindered my healing. My brain and body never functioned well by being medicated. 

As a result, I wasn’t capable of motivating myself. Read this next part slowly. If you brain is struggling, you probably do not have the  strength. I didn’t. Combine that with the fact that your brain isn’t functioning. You are lacking the capacity of living a normal, productive life. It’s not your fault.

I have a sparkle in my eyes now, and when people see me they say that I look so healthy. Wow, thank you. I feel healthy. And I know now that is was ok to not be ok. Because I never, ever gave up. Suffering from pain, whether it be emotional or physical is inevitable. As long as you never exhaust all your options. Please don’t throw your hands up in the air and give up. There is always a way for you to feel better. You get right back up. There is hope.

Emotions and sadness come in waves. You are standing at the shore and boom. They hit you in the face, maybe knock you over or make your balance a little wobbly. But just as they come in and compromise you foundation temporarily, they flow back out. The waves go back out to sea. They do not stay on top of you, smothering you forever. You are not drowning. You are just in the waves. Embrace this visualization. Because the waves are actually beautiful, because they flow back out to the vast sea. And the sound of waves is so soothing, if you allow it to be.

Waves. Waves that come and go. My ocean waves are off the shores of Barbados, and they are beautiful.

Is my story going to be your story? Maybe not. Everybody’s story is different, but what if you too experience incredible results just as I did? Maybe it’s not ketamine infusions like I underwent, maybe it’s another alternative treatment? All I know is that too many people are struggling. But we have all been afraid to talk about struggling. It has become such a hush-hush subject. Not on my watch. Not anymore.

People are craving this authenticity. This conversation. This platform. If that is what I’m able to provide to you, then sign me up for it. All I truly want to do is inspire you and make sure that on a day when the weather is grey, you’re having a migraine, or maybe you get into a fight with your boyfriend, and you fall to your knees. Just remember that it’s ok. You get right back up. You have to get back up. Promise me that.

This world needs you. You may not know what your purpose is, what your place is, but you are here for a reason. And speaking of reason. Do you want to know something interesting? People always used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and my answer was, “Well, I want to be happy.” I didn’t know I would be working in fashion as a stylist and personal shopper. All this talk of “happy” comes during the process of discovering what your passion is. You find happiness in loving other people. In volunteering and giving back. In traveling. In faith. In nurturing healthy relationships. In loving your dog. In the sweet eyes of a child. It’s all these things that make our lives so beautiful.

I accept you, and I support you. I hope that you will continue this journey with me. Continue to reach out if there’s anything I can ever do to help you. Comment below and share you thoughts, because that is why I started this blog series. I can talk about fashion all day long until I’m blue in the face, but nothing is more important than telling you, yes YOU, that you are unique. You are loved, and this world needs you. And I mean that. Every word of that. And if you are struggling, truly and at your limit, please go to your doctor. Today.

Don’t just go to sleep like I did, thinking that will help. It does temporarily, but then you wake up and the pain is still there. Please get help. Ask your medical professional how they can support you. And be honest about just how bad you are feeling. They can’t help you if you aren’t up front and honest. It’s all a starting point. Because you have to start somewhere.

So I’m sending you hugs and positive vibes from here in Dallas. From my bed as I recover from this delightful oral surgery. Please God let the swelling subside before my client appointment on Sunday. And until next time, I’m sending you all the best.