Hello to our Ultimate community!
It’s Jordan, the Social Media and Community manager. A lot of you have heard from me on our various media outlets and I am blown away by the really great and loyal following we have for our cuffs.
Although I have a passion for fashion, that’s not why I am writing today. Anne has happily agreed (because she rules) to give me the opportunity to share my story with all of you because May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
When I was 19 years old (Yikes. That was a long time ago), just a freshman in college, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. Looking back now, I can definitely see that I was struggling in high school, but when help was offered to me I refused to admit there was a problem because the stigma around mental illness was so strong that I was too terrified and humiliated to take care of myself.
Because of this decision, my health went from bad to unbearable. I was having panic attacks daily. If I wasn’t having an attack, I was fighting off an attack. I was taken off campus on stretchers. Paramedics were in and out of my dorm room. I had oxygen masks on my face and I felt what true terror really was. I turned into a shell of the lively teenager that I once was. It was horrible, defeating and unbelievably lonely.
Eventually, my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, told me that refusing the help that was being offered to me was basically choosing to continue to suffer. I agreed, begrudgingly, to therapy.
Through therapy, I have tried every coping technique that was offered to me. I have learned the importance of exercise and healthy eating. I have tried meditation-- and failed miserably. (still working on getting to that zen place everyone is talking about. I hear it is awesome.) I have done breathing techniques, anxiety coloring books, word association and I just started art therapy a few weeks ago. I have also been and am currently on medication. Some of these things worked for me, some of them sucked. The important thing to know about mental illness is that the solution is different for everyone. Someone could have the exact diagnosis as I have but what works for me may not work for them. This can make recovery really frustrating, really long and really difficult.
Out of all of these coping techniques, one changed my life. That was writing.
See, what happens when my anxiety gets bad is that it is difficult for me to put a sentence together. My mind is racing and so manic and explaining what I am feeling and why seems impossible. But writing? Dang. Writing gave me the most amazing opportunity to sit down, take my time and explain what was happening without feeling like a caged animal.
I would, and continue to, write about what was stressing me out, what was making me feel heavy and dark. I would write about what a panic attack felt like and the emotional baggage that comes along with accepting that I have two mental illnesses. I would sit and I would write and through that, I started to heal.
I wanted to share this coping technique with the world. I wanted to create a community and outlet where people weren’t afraid to be who they are. I wanted to give people the chance to learn about themselves and each other and to realize we are truly all in this together. Struggle is struggle and we all know what struggle feels like.
So, five years ago, I created Listen, Lucy. (www.ListenLucy.org). Listen, Lucy is an anonymous online outlet where people can go and share their stories without fear of ridicule or judgment. It is a place where the world is becoming kinder.
I am head-over-heels in love with this site. Every topic that you could think about has been written about-- family issues, mental health, heartbreak, relationships, abuse, eating disorders, loneliness, body image, fear of failure and so much more. If you take nothing from my story, that’s okay, I am not for everyone. But, I still encourage you to go to ListenLucy.org because something that has been written by a complete stranger will hit you right in the gut and you will feel less alone. I promise you.
Now, I work for The Ultimate Cuff full time, but also travel to middle schools, high schools, colleges and mental health organizations and share my story, how it led me to create Listen, Lucy and the importance of acceptance-- of others and of yourself. I am a two-time author, have been nationally recognized for my social media and philanthropic efforts and am learning more about the world and how I can make it better every single day.
My mental illnesses have given me, without a doubt, the worst experiences in my life. When I think back to some of the things I have been through, I still tear up. My mental illnesses are also not going anywhere. They are something I have to think about and maintain every single day and that can be really crappy. But, without them, I wouldn’t be who I am and my organization wouldn’t exist and for that, and for the opportunity to share my story with you, I am so beyond grateful.
If anything I said lit a spark in you today, please feel free to tell me about it at Listen, Lucy.
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