Maybe I SHOULD Talk to Someone

Life felt like it was going so well: a new year, hope on the horizon for COVID-19 and the world returning as close to “normal” as what any of us can recall, my 29th birthday looming, and a fun addition to the family (welcome Forrest, our newest puppy!).

While I don’t have any SUPER bad news to report (no deaths, no loss, nothing severe really), I HAVE been struggling with some mental health issues. Back in late January, I began having headaches that were consistent, not throbbing, and straight up WOULD NOT quit. The first time I noticed it, I took a day off work thinking maybe I was stressed and burning out. I slept in super late that day, took it as easy as I could, stayed away from electronics, and continued trying to live healthy per my last blog post with my yoga practice and clean eating.

After a few days with no reprieve, I began to panic (because obviously, why would I not consider the best case scenarios first?). I tried my best to remain calm, made doctors appointments, and kept trying to pretend everything was fine. Usually with my health anxiety if I make a doctor appointment, my symptom(s) miraculously disappear before my appointment even occurs. This is how I really determine whether or not it’s just my anxiety. After a couple of doctor appointments and increasing my dose of ibuprofen, I saw absolutely no change in the headache pattern or severity. I was dismayed.

I made an appointment with a neurologist, but the soonest I could get was April 1st, so here I am waiting anxiously for that first appointment, which I know is just going to be a consultation.

To say the least, I have been on edge for months now. The headaches began January 22nd, and other than a one and a half or so week span of relief I have been suffering ever since. If I had to describe the pain I would say it feels like a pinch or a knot in the back left of my head. Sometimes it’s the top left, sometimes it’s behind my ear. But always on the left, and and always there. Sometimes I feel like I can’t hear as well from my left ear. Sometimes I feel like I can’t see as well. Sometimes I feel like I keep dropping things. But most of the time I believe those extra symptoms are just my anxiety. The only symptom that is consistent is the pain.

For some brief medical history: I do have family history of migraines and I do also have an arachnoid cyst in the front left of my brain. However, the symptoms I have now don’t mimic my normal seasonal migraine symptoms, which are normally throbbing and painful to my eyes. And my cyst has never caused issues before – it’s something I’ve had since I was child. So these headaches are new and unwarranted and causing some pretty severe anxiety and depression in my life.

Anyway, I didn’t come here just to talk about my headaches (as stressful as they are, and also thank you for listening).

I have been reading so much this year already, and have stumbled across the book “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb. A few chapters in and I was already gripped with crippling anxiety, and yet I couldn’t put it down. This book opened my eyes to emotional pain of others, but also caused me so much emotional pain myself.

If you know me personally, you know I have CRIPPLING health and death anxiety. I am at any given moment thinking about this or that ache, this or that way to die. In my mind, death looms at every corner and with every decision. If I sit too long, I’m convinced I have blood clots in my legs. If I smoke a cigarette, I’m convinced I have lung cancer. If I exercise too hard, I’m convinced I’m going to have a heart attack or pop a blood vessel in my brain and have a stroke. Listen, the list of things is long and embarrassing. I AM NOT PROUD OF IT. But it’s who I am, and it’s something I’ve always struggled with.

Back to Lori’s book.

Some of the chapters focus on a patient named Jessica, a 33 year old who just returned from her honeymoon and ready to begin a family, yet is faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Given anywhere from 1-10 years to live, Jessica struggles with her perspective of life and how to handle what she has left.

Jessica’s story is one of tragedy, hope, and dismay. I really struggled to read it. Each time we came back to Jessica in the book my heart would ache. But it also tore open the pit of fear in me regarding death and my own anxiety surrounding it. What would I do if I was diagnosed with cancer or a brain tumor? What if it was terminal? What if this pain is what I will feel for the rest of what could turn out to be a short life? What if I can never be the positive, happy person for my boyfriend and friends and family that I used to pride myself on being?

Even now the thoughts are SPINNING through my brain.

The past few days things have become so much worse. I wake up and feel the knot of pain in my head and cry. I look at my boyfriend or my dogs and cry. I feel like I’m buried under this weight of the “what ifs” and I don’t know how to live through it. The hobbies I used to enjoy bring me no joy. Today I buried myself in chores and cooking and drinking wine and it helped a little, but as soon as I sat down to relax I felt the pain again and reeled. Work is a temporary reprieve, and walking the dogs on my lunch break in some rare warm Ohio spring weather has helped tremendously. But it seems as if I’m struggling to live just in the moment. I’m always thinking of what’s coming next, and whether I’ll even get to EXPERIENCE what’s coming next.

So, I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m scared to. Maybe things get better, but I doubt it.

From reading it, however, I’ve learned one very important thing: maybe I SHOULD talk to someone. Maybe it really is time to seek help.

And so I reached out to my old therapist yesterday. We haven’t spoken since 2018, but she miraculously had space and was able to schedule me in. AND she takes my new insurance! I feel like this is such a big step toward self improvement. Now I feel confident that no matter what the diagnosis for my headaches, I’ll have the support system to get through anything. Not that I don’t with my boyfriend and family and friends, but those of you who have experienced therapy probably know what I mean.

I’m looking forward to the next steps. I truly hope that it only gets better from here.

xo, Karli

(PS. I am posting this blog post late, it is currently April 13th and this draft was saved March 23rd. There are updates to come!)

A Little Bit of Self Discovery

Every time I feel inspired to come back to this blog and write about whatever is relevant in my life, I’m always amazed at how long it’s been since I’ve written. I handle my journaling a similar way: I’ll be INTO IT and writing every day and then before I know it, it’s been three weeks since I’ve picked up a pen. For some reason, I struggle with follow through. Whatever, it’s personal, I’ll figure it out eventually. I didn’t come here today to talk about my poor writing habits.

I came here to reflect upon my life and my new path to self discovery. Those of you who are close to me may know already that I’ve been making changes in my life recently. Important ones, healthy ones. But before I dive into what these changes are, I want to first start with the most important thing: the “why”. Why did I decide to make change in the first place?

As you can tell with some of my previous blog posts, I was really going through a “health and fitness journey”. Or trying to, anyway. I was trying my best, so I’m not using this time to try to talk bad on myself for not doing enough or anything. But I do want to talk about why I started that journey. I promise, this all ties together.

I believe it was September of 2020 when I decided to take a leap into the world of fitness and really try to shed some fat and change my life for the better. I joined an eight week Autumn challenge through a company called 1stPhorm, where I learned a lot about macro nutrients, macro timing, and developed really good exercise habits. Through this challenge I was seeing some pretty consistent results, and I was so proud of myself. I was crushing protein intake goals and burning crazy calories in the gym and getting 10,000 steps a day, I was Killing It. My friends and family cheered me on, I felt confident and secure in myself for the first time in a while, life was good! I even finally signed up for personal training, something I’ve been wanting to do for YEARS. I am blessed to be working with the best trainer (check her out at who is supportive not just with my fitness journey but with my mental health journey as well. I still attend these sessions and look forward to them each time, even if I am a little nervous about the strength training part (lol).

For a few months of this combination of personal training, app based workouts, meal prepping and protein consuming I felt on top of the world. But slowly I noticed something changing inside myself. It was like a grey, rolling storm cloud becoming visible on the horizon. It surged and darkened and I knew it was coming, so I ran from it. I threw myself into fitness and health research and exercise and athletic gear. I focused all my energy outside of work on meal planning and lifting and trying to get in movement. It lasted a while longer, but eventually I just couldn’t outrun that cloud anymore.

My sky became dark, and I felt lost and exhausted.

Since being diagnosed with anxiety a few years back, I’ve gone through similar situations as this quite a few times. And yet, each time it feels new. New and somehow more terrifying than the last time (or have I just forgotten the sharp edge of the terror, the memory lost to time?). This dark cloud came over me and I became the worst version of me. I lost my motivation and dedication. My exercises began to feel like chores, and I started to overthink the effect of heavy weights on my body. I started to think about my heart too much, and my hypochondria kicked in and I really began to spiral. I worried about EVERYTHING. And with time I felt myself getting worse, and also began to notice the effect it was having on those closest to me. When I realized I was bringing others down with me, the guilt became too much. I was consumed with the fear of death and dying and, uncontrolled, it started to eat away at me so much that I felt nothing. I no longer felt satisfaction in daily activities that used to bring me joy. And it was in this dark pit of emotions that I realized it was time to finally Do Something. I just didn’t know what.

I could do what I always do: I could throw myself into a hobby and try to block out the noise, succeeding temporarily before slipping back into the throes of my anxiety. Or, I could really dig deep inside myself to try and find the root of these emotions. The last time my anxiety was this bad, I had to make some serious life changes to find my happiness again. So obviously there is something that, with reflection, I should be able to pinpoint most of this emotionally worry on.

I picked journaling back up and I would write every day things I was grateful for and things I could do to make me feel better about my life. At first it was filled with your typical things: I’m thankful for my dog, my family and friends, my boyfriend, my house, my job. To feel better I can clean the kitchen, take a bath, practice self care, go for a walk, exercise, etc. Through this journaling I realized without facing my fear directly, I wouldn’t really be able to make myself truly feel better. Yes, I’m grateful for everything I have and yes, I could do those chores to ease some of the stress. But neither of those options had anything to do with fixing the ultimate problem: that I am terrified to die.

Yup. You read that right. You did catch earlier when I mentioned I’m a hypochondriac, yea? I spend so much of my mental energy fretting about medical symptoms I may or may not have, what they may or may not mean, and basically trying to figure out what I’m going to die of at any given moment that I had completely forgotten how to actually let myself live. Even when I was actively doing something with friends or family I would have those nagging thoughts in the back of my mind telling me “you’re going to have a heart attack” or “that headache? definitely an aneurysm about to burst”. I couldn’t silence the thoughts, and they were driving me crazy. Now, this is kind of a big problem and not one that I will be able to handle on my own. Don’t worry, I have started the process of seeking out a new therapist (mine from a few years back is not covered on my new insurance, which is devastating to me). In the meantime, I realized there was one path I haven’t yet tread that could help with my existential woes: the path of finding my spirituality.

No, I’m not talking religion per se. I am, much to I’m sure some of your dismay, talking about that hippie-light-incense-do-yoga-and-meditate kind of spirituality. The kind where you light the palo santo wood and cleanse your surroundings and try to connect to this greater sense of self and being. I believe that by coming to know myself and be one with myself, maybe then I can find some control over my anxiety and fear.

I began my journey just a few weeks ago by trying to pick up a regular yoga practice. I would practice once every couple of days, hating every minute of it. Then, I discovered this 14 day challenge I could try from a couple who call themselves Boho Beautiful. I signed up and got started, and suddenly I was practicing yoga AND meditation every single day. The first few days were tough, but one time I noticed that I was looking forward to my practice. And then a day or two later, I was able to truly sink into a meditation. And then about 10 days in, I found myself no longer thinking about the possibility of death. For the first time in months, I was able to just enjoy living.

For someone who struggles so much with controlling anxious thoughts, this has been game changing for me. I feel like I am able to put my best self forward for my friends and family. I am able to spend quality time without fretting or fear, I am able to bring light and love into my interactions instead of darkness and sadness. The mental clarity I’ve been able to discover through the beginning of this journey is astounding. I feel inspired to just exist, with no goal or need for reasoning. It’s truly everything I needed.

I’m just at the beginning. While still practicing yoga and meditation every day, I’m working on developing some other mindful habits as well. I’m working on getting rid of things that no longer serve me, on curbing my spending and the impulse to feed into American commercialism (fancy talk for trying to cut my shopping addiction), and on slowly transitioning into a more plant based diet (following a bit of an 80/20 rule). I’m only three days into that last bit, but I can tell you I am feeling so energized and healthy. I’m very excited about this new journey and highly encourage anyone else who may be feeling similarly to give this yoga and meditation thing a try.

Maybe all of this is just another hobby that I’m throwing myself into until I spiral again. But it can’t hurt to try, right?

xoxo, Karli

August Reading Review

You guys, I’m going to get better at blogging one of these days. And I mean that! This blog isn’t intended to be a book blog, but it’s starting out that way. With COVID there just isn’t a lot of exciting stuff going on in my life worth blogging about (*queue world’s smallest violin*) . So for now: you get book reviews.

In August I treated myself to four books, two from Barnes & Noble and two from Book of the Month Club. If you haven’t checked out BOTM yet and you read on average at least one book a month, I HIGHLY recommend checking them out. For $14.99 you get to choose one book each month, and that includes shipping. The books are hardcover, making them already a great deal! For an extra $9.99 you can add-on a second book, which means for about $24 you are getting two hard cover books, shipped directly to you. GOOD. DEAL. I highly recommend giving them a try, and if you do please use this link to help your girl out! Without further adieu, onto the review!

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

3/5 Stars

Every once in a while I like to dig into a fantasy novel, and Sarah J. Maas has written some of my favorite series! When I walked into Barnes & Noble and saw this title on the shelf I knew I had to have it. I was even happier when I realized it’s going to be a new series. The book itself is thicccc, with 803 glorious pages full of drama, action, mystery, and adventure. Follow protagonist Bryce as she is thrown immediately into a mess far out of her control, and into a mystery that will leave you guessing until the very end. There are a few raunchy adult bits, as is typical per SJM’s style. If you’re not into that, I promise the story is still worth reading.

SJM does not have very diverse writing. Her characters are always described as super attractive model types with some secret backstory. There’s a hot girl with a secret, a hot broody guy who starts to be nice slowly, etc. But honestly, part of the appeal to me with her stories is that I can go in and get sucked into a story knowing full well what I’m getting into. With just enough surprise and mystery to keep me on my toes, but also while giving me the idea of what might just happen next.

If you like raunchy fantasy fiction, give it a try!

Afterland by Lauren Beukes

3/5 Stars

Follow a mom (Cole) and her son (Myles) as she navigates a world practically void of men to a safe space where they can live freely. And blood isn’t always thicker than water. Plot twist: her sister is out to get them, hoping to make her own riches using Myles for re-population efforts among the financial elite. Do you think Cole and Myles make it to safety? And what must the small family overcome along the way?

I wanted so badly to love this book. The post-apocalyptic world Beukes describes is full of some very real and very compelling concerns, but for some reason I just couldn’t get into it. For me it may have been the writing style, the constant back and forth between Past, Present, Super Past, Past, Present…too much. I feel the book would have read better if it was written chronologically.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

4/5 Stars

Johnson shows us a world where multiple dimensions exist, and mankind has discovered how to travel between them. This travel is used to collect data from hundreds of other Earths to Earth Zero (the OG) to anticipate anything from stock market reactions to citizenship levels. The trick is: you can’t travel to a planet where your doppelganger still exists. One girl, Cara, is a specialist when it comes to travelling: with only eight doppelgangers between 372 Earths, she can go just about anywhere. But tensions rise when another doppelganger of hers is pronounced dead, unlocking a new Earth for her that comes with a big secret that Cara just can’t shake.

Trigger Warning: there is domestic emotional/physical abuse brought up throughout the book.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

5/5 Stars

There’s…I…. I don’t even know where to begin here. This book isn’t ANYTHING like I was expecting. I didn’t read the reviews, I didn’t even read the description of the book on Goodreads. I expected such a cute, simple, Elin Hildenbrand-esque predictable summer beach read novel and NO. This was so amazing (not that Elin’s writing isn’t…but just..UGH). Read it, I really think you’ll love it.

So. I think we can all agree I’m sub-par when it comes to book reviews. BUT I like sharing what I’ve read, just as much as I like hearing what others have been reading. Sharing stories…does life really get any better?

Have you read any of these books and have any opinions? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

upcoming September reads: