I still remember exactly what cupboard the cereal was in,

I remember who sat in which chair at the head of the dinner table,

I remember the sounds of the kitchen floor creaking,

The sounds of the street outside at midnight.

I remember the feeling I got when I walked down the stairs to my bedroom,

How the air shifted to cold as soon as you got to the last step.

I remember the yellow countertop in the bathroom,

The way the shower sounded as the door clicked open and closed,

The way I felt like I was completely alone as long as my bedroom door was shut.

The smell of the air while sitting on the trampoline til the wee hours of the night,

My memories were made there, my memories they stay there,

In that house.

The house where I grew up, the house that sheltered me, and the house that destroyed me all the same,

I remember most of the people who walked in and out of those doors,

The animals I loved and lost,

The fights, the laughs, the noise,

Chaos was our normal, and that was okay.

I remember how it looked like a gingerbread house with the Christmas lights all hung up,

Especially when it snowed.

I remember water gun fights during the summer on our empty street,

Feeling safe in our neighbourhood, and safe meeting neighbors,

Playing in the dirt when the construction workers went home for the day,

Trying to level the ground every single summer for the Costco pool,

The balcony covered inch by inch with beautiful flowers,

The air conditioner making the living room into an icebox,

I don’t want to forget these things.

This house I once called my home,

Someone else lives there now, and the happiness and memories that once belonged there,

Don’t live there anymore.

I am responsible for taking them with me where I go,

But sometimes that’s too painful,

I remember the hearts in the slats on the balcony,

Eating the chives that grew wild in the backyard,

Chasing cats down the hallways and dressing them in baby clothes,

Drawing pictures and creating art,

Doing my homework at the dining room table,

Walking up the giant hill to school.

I don’t miss the spiders, or the smell in the furnace room,

Although I will always remember the endless amounts of extra whole wheat pasta noodles,

And presidents choice cookies that we had stocked in the pantry,

Running up and down stairs as punishment,

Cleaning the bathroom for 5 dollars,

Our house was the gathering place,

It’s where people came for comfort, for sanctuary, for celebration and gatherings,

It was safe, it was loving, and it was home,

Now it’s tucked away in a box inside of me stuffed to the brim with memories,

They slowly pour out of me so secretly sometimes I don’t even notice.dsc_0558-2

Anxiety is a Bitch and I’m Gonna Fight Her

All of my life I have struggled with anxiety. I have felt instant panic when asked to make a decision, I have called friends with made up excuses as to why I couldn’t go to their birthday party, and I have avoided doing what my heart really desires for fear of what could go wrong.

I know I am not alone in this. There are so many of you out there who battle with this on a daily basis just like me. I want you to know that you are also not alone.

Amongst anxiety I have been dealing with multiple other health issues. Most of these have surfaced throughout the past 5-7 years. Issues such as migraines, I have dealt with since I was about 12 but I only recently discovered that the cause was not chocolate, or perfume, but anxiety itself. Other health concerns have been Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), dizziness, nausea, constant hunger, overactive bladder, numbness and tingling as well as your typical fatigue. I became that girl who was constantly at the doctor for something new. I never felt like my doctor took me seriously or believed me, but I knew something wasn’t right. After about 3-4 years of persistence, he finally referred me to a gastroenterologist. There was actually an answer to my problem: IBS. I was relieved to know I wasn’t crazy, and there was actually something going on. Once I did more research on it though, I soon came to realize that chances were good that this issue sprung itself into existence because of my debilitating anxiety.

Whilst dealing with the new lifestyle I had to incorporate in order to get my body working in order, I noticed other abnormal feelings. I felt dizzy, shaky, and sometimes tingly or numb most mornings, usually before work. I played it off as hunger, or fatigue, or hell even just the need for coffee. This went on for months until I discussed it with my doctor. When I brought it to his attention however, nothing came out of it. I had tests done, blood taken, and nothing came back. I left it alone and tried to ignore the symptoms.

Consider this: I deal with so many types of anxiety. Health anxiety makes me constantly believe there is something wrong with me. Social anxiety makes me fear people and social situations therefore making it hard for me to speak up when something is wrong. Hence why it’s taken me so long to get all of these things dealt with. I am scared of being judged, being viewed as a hypochondriac, ACTUALLY BEING a hypochondriac…. I digress.

This story has gotten quite long, and although I do want to share it, it’s not my intention to give you my entire anxiety story in this post. I just wanted to preface what I am about to say with a bit of background to it.

After feeling all of these issues, and symptoms and genuinely believing there was something wrong with me… I started doing my own research. I discovered that yes, these things are happening to me. I am not crazy, I am not making them up. The real kicker is that it’s all anxiety induced. Seriously.

The day I found out that the reason I am always hungry, even after just eating isn’t because I am a pig, or that’s “just the way I am” as I always used to tell people… it’s because I have trained myself to find comfort in food. So whenever I feel anxious my body makes me feel hungry and therefore I eat to fill that void.

Now what I am about to tell you, is the core reason I have written this post. We can fight back. After learning that I’m not truly hungry all the time but am just feeling anxious, I have made a conscious effort to keep this in mind every time I feel hunger creeping up on me. DISCLAIMER: Of course this is only to a certain extent. DO NOT SKIP MEALS. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF OR DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF FOOD. What would happen to me is that I would eat breakfast before work and by the time I got to work I’d be starving. I’d find myself wondering HOW?! Well, being at work makes me anxious. So now I am conscious of that fact and when I feel that hunger I talk myself down. “Sara you just ate, you are not hungry, you are just anxious. Breathe”.

Do you know what? It actually works!! I have somehow managed to conquer one tiny hump in this anxiety battle I’ve been fighting for my whole life. I never knew that was possible. I obviously still struggle, but knowing that I actually can bring my brain back to the real world even over something small, is a huge accomplishment.

Imagine what more can be done?!

If you are dealing with any of the same things, try reminding your brain that it’s just anxiety and see if that helps in even the smallest way. Although it won’t cure your anxiety, it may have a positive effect on the symptoms it causes you. I hope it helps you the same way it has helped me.

Anxiety is a bitch, and I’m going to fight her. I hope you do too!

xo Sara

What is Skin Picking, and How Do I Stop?

Skin picking is a compulsive tendency to pick at any acne, bumps, or imperfections on the skin. It is mostly targeted towards the face, but it also transpires onto the arms, and rest of the body as well. Fingers are the most common tool of choice, but many people also resort to using tweezers, safety pins or whatever object will work. This compulsion is directly related to anxiety and stress and is also known as Dermatillomania. While it seems a simple solution for this habit would be to stop touching your face, it is definitely not that easy.

I have struggled with face picking since I was about 13 years old. I never understood it as a problem until I was much older however. I thought it was normal for a teenager to mess with the bumps and acne on their face. Apparently not in the same way I was doing it. Basically I just never stopped and now it’s an unconscious compulsion that I find myself taking part in even when I am telling myself to stop. I will literally sit on my couch, hands clawing my face and in my head be saying, “stop, stop, STOP!” but my body resists. I am not satisfied until I have rid my face of every bump and consequently it can leave quite the red, raw, and sometimes bloody mess. Not to mention, it hurts! It stings like crazy when you wash your face afterwards.

These are some of my go-to products for helping my skin.

Due to the fact that I have struggled with this for so long, and have actively been trying to quit, I wanted to write out a list of some tips that can help you stop if you are also struggling with this. Let me preface this first by saying I am still continuously working on quitting and still struggle daily. I am not a doctor and I know that it isn’t an easy task to stop but these are tips that have worked for me.

If you try out or find any of these tips helpful, or have any advice for me, please leave me a comment below! Now without further ado, let’s get into my How to Stop Skin Picking Tips:

  1. Get fake nails – having fake nails was a hack I stumbled upon by accident. I don’t get them very often because they are quite pricey and can also wreak havoc on your nails but if you have the funds and are committed to saving your face, this may help you. The tips of artificial nails are a lot softer than our actual nails and therefore make it harder to get a good grip on the bumps you’re trying to pick, and because they aren’t as sharp they don’t cause as much damage.
  2. Exfoliate often – When you exfoliate your skin a couple of times a week it removes all of the dry skin (duh!) but if you have any remaining scabs from old pimples, or previous picking sessions using the exfoliator to remove the dead skin from those spots will be much better than using your fingers. Once you’ve removed the dead skin, there will less likely be any “lifts” in your skin to pull at.
  3. See a dermatologist – if what you’re picking at is acne, I highly recommend seeing a dermatologist. I never thought my skin was bad enough acne-wise to go to a dermatologist, but after years of cystic acne I decided enough was enough and spoke to my doctor about it. He put me on some basic topical creams and set me up with a dermatologist and I just had an appointment with her last week. I am going to write a post about my acne journey another time though so I’ll keep this part short. All in all, a dermatologist is going to see the damage that picking has caused your skin and if there is a way to stop the acne from happening there will be less for you to pick at. They don’t WANT you to scar your skin. I highly recommend it!
  4. Find out what type of skin you have – I am still working on this one myself, as I went through the majority of my life believing I had dry skin, but am now learning I may have combo skin. Regardless, learning what type of skin you have is super important because it will help you better take care of it. Using the right products for your skin type will really benefit your skin, and the better your skin looks –you guessed it!—the less there is to pick at!
  5. Keep your hands busy – a huge thing for me is finding something to do with your hands! Things like reading a book (hold it with both hands!), painting, drawing, colouring in a colouring book, get a Rubik’s cube, or a stress ball even. Unfortunately my idea of keeping my hands busy is to eat something, or play on my phone. They work, but aren’t the healthiest of options!dsc_0537-2
  6. Reward yourself – when you have a day, or week, or even an hour if that’s a milestone for you, that you have gone without picking, make sure to reward yourself! A reward can be anything. Whatever it is that will motivate you not to pick. Run yourself a bath, order your favourite drink from Starbucks, buy a cute mug or notebook etc. Let yourself know that you are doing a good job and this is the behaviour you want to instill within yourself!
  7. Talk to your doctor – skin picking is an anxiety induced compulsion. It also can be related to a plethora of other mental health disorders and it will benefit you a lot to speak to your doctor about it. It can feel embarrassing, but just know you are not the only one who struggles with it and doctors see this type of thing all the time. They may prescribe anti-anxiety medications that will help you with more than just face-picking.
  8. Breathe – Everyone gets zits and pimples and spots, and so many of us struggle with picking at them. It’s a shitty feeling especially once you’ve destroyed your face and are left to face the world afterwards, but you are not alone. It is okay, and you will get through it. Just like you did the last time, and the time before that. Every day is a new start. Try to be nicer to yourself and don’t beat yourself up about it. I used to think I was the only one who picked at their face and now I know I am not. We can control it, until we can’t. And that’s okay too. Any second spent resisting, is progress made.

Quick Tip for Relapses:

Take care of your skin once it’s been wounded. Wash and cleanse your face, apply polysporin or some sort of antibacterial ointment, and make sure you moisturize well. If you are going to be handling your face, make sure to wash your hands to avoid infection.