anxiety

Take Care Of Yourself - Day 8 #31DaysOfBlogging

Today we wanted to share with you a little about a place where we each spent a week during our walkabout this year.

The place is called Onsite Workshops and it’s a therapeutic retreat center in Tennessee. We each learned so much, but Kate wrote a blog earlier this year sharing extensively about some of the things she learned. It is below, in case you missed it.

We have been learning the importance of mental health and that it is something we need to pay attention to and be gentle with. Onsite Workshops is a place where we were really able to do this. We even did a podcast interview with the CEO of Onsite, Miles Adcox, if you want to learn even more.

Here is Kate’s blog, below. Take care of yourself today. You are important.


I’m not sure where you were when you got the news that Kate Spade had ended her life.

For me, that news will be forever etched in my mind. I will always remember the patch of grass where I was standing, the feeling of the sun hitting my face as it was setting. The lump in my throat as I tried to swallow when I heard it was suicide. My stomach physically ached.  And not because I was a Kate Spade super-fan, but because I heard the news moments after receiving my phone back on June 7th after being away from all technology for a week. Let me back up.

Onsite.

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On June 1st, I drove myself about an hour outside of Nashville, Tennessee, to a place called Cumberland Furnace, TN to the Onsite Workshops. Onsite is a therapeutic retreat center and they have a week-long program called “The Living Centered Program,” or LCP. I’ve had a ton of friends who have gone through the program, who all had incredible experiences, but I never thought I would actually do it.

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See, I always thought of Onsite as a rehab type of place — like, you only go there for serious problems. But, after talking with my friend Miles who is the CEO at Onsite, and another friend Jess that works there, I had a better understanding that the program was really for anyone who wanted to take the next step. Anyone who wanted to become more emotionally healthy. A safe space to work on yourself and on your stuff. And that looks like all different things for different people. It’s really just a place for you to get emotionally fit.

So, with a little help and encouragement from my friends I said YES and signed up for the June 1st LCP. Honestly, part of me almost let fear win. Like, I almost didn’t say yes. I didn’t like the fact that I would be without a cell phone/computer and all the comforts of the outside world for a week — hello SEPARATION anxiety from my life. It was a real thing.  And another real fear was that the last 8 months I’ve really felt in an emotionally healthy place…or at least A LOT better than other times in my life…so I was a little worried that a week of intense group therapy was going to leave me in a worse place than before. But, I was able to talk that out with some of the Onsite staff, and they helped calm my fears and reassure me that it was a guided process — I wasn’t going to be alone with these fears.

So, June 1st came, and at around 7pm that evening, I handed over my cell phone. Guys, it was weird. I was excited to be free from it for a week, but I also immediately felt SO ALONE. I had none of my people with me. I couldn’t text Jill if I was having a melt-down. I couldn’t send a GIF to my girls if I needed a laugh. I couldn’t call my mom. I couldn’t insta-story and chat with all my insta-people. Solo. Me. Well, me surrounded by 56 strangers. Yikes.

I’m not going to share the details of all that we did, but it was a combination of mornings spent with the big group — learning more about the science behind why we do what we do…sort of like emotional fitness classes, and then the late mornings and afternoons were spent in your small group of about 8 or 9 other individuals, and that’s when the more focused work would happen…in group therapy.

I am not even going to lie — I thought the idea of group therapy was terrible. I mean, I knew that was the thing that LCP did, but I’ve never done group therapy and I was certain I would hate it. But, OMG, it was magic. These 9 people started out as strangers, and I can tell you right now, there’s not one of them I wouldn’t fly across the country for in one hot second right now. These strangers became like family. Six days. What in the world?

I’m not even sure how to fully summarize what changes I feel in myself, but it feels significant. And full disclosure, I definitely had some personal a-ha moments that I want to keep for myself or family/close friends, but I do really want to share some of my takeaways with you in hopes that they might be useful to you. They might be jumbled or random but here’s the bottom line.

I loved it. I feel like I learned tools that will help me navigate the rest of my life. I feel like I experienced real healing in some wounds that I was carrying since childhood. I would highly recommend the program to anyone who has blood running through their veins. I think anyone and everyone could benefit. Literally there were people there from ages 19 to mid-70s. Anyone can do this.

Group Therapy.

So, you’re in a small group, where everyone has signed a confidentiality agreement and you have a therapist who is the guide for your group and you get to know these people. Like, KNOW them. As you share your story and as they share theirs, something begins to shift inside of you. You cannot look someone in the eyes when they’re talking about their pain and not be changed. My therapist group leader told me that 70% of your healing comes from just being in the room — the 30% is when you’re talking about your own stuff, but that might not even be as impactful. And I realized something…that might be the key. I think that’s what we’re all looking for in life. Someone to bear witness to our pain. We don’t need someone to fix it. Or say it’s going to be fine. Or pity us. We just need someone to see it. Someone to bear witness to our pain. Especially if the pain happened a long time ago, to go back, to uncover those painful moments and have a room full of people witness it. There is healing in that.

I am a fixer by nature. I want to rescue and fix and make a plan for change to get out of pain. Yet, that was not my role —in group therapy or in life — my role is to say, I see you in that pain. Maybe that’s it. Just, I see it. I am a witness to your pain…and I’m sorry. You take 57 strangers, and you realize that every single person there is carrying pain of some sort. Wounds. Hurt. Heartache. Some of them are scars that run deep. Some are fresh and still oozing with infection. But pain is pain. I left there and I swear I was seeing people differently. The cashier at Kroger. The guy flipping burgers at Five Guys. Every single human alive has a story and most likely has pain. It makes me want to listen more. I don’t need to fix or rescue. I need to listen and see people. I need to bear witness to their pain. It’s powerful.

It was intense.

They say the week there is equivalent to 8 months of weekly therapy. So, it’s no walk in the park. At times, it was uncomfortable…pushing me out of my comfort zone and into feelings that I haven’t felt in a while. Was it a breeze? No. Was it worth it? Yes. Because here’s the thing: I’m pretty certain that great things come after a bit of friction. Sometimes sitting in the group room, I felt uncomfortable and it felt hard. I think of it now like fire or friction. No one likes fire, but that’s how you get the refined beauty. No one likes the friction on the rock until the diamond appears. And I don’t mean it to be a cheesy analogy, but I mean it. It reminded me that most things in life that are worth it take work, and sometimes that work is uncomfortable in the process.


You aren’t allowed to talk about what you do for work. That is a true story. You arrive and you are given a name tag. Kate R. — that was all of me. You guys, I’ve been a part of the duo Jill and Kate for 15 freaking years. Do you know how awesome it was for people to get to know me? Me. Not “Kate” from Jill and Kate...or Kate the back-up singer for Kelly Clarkson. Me! Just me! This part was so helpful.  Literally, there are people that don’t know the difference between Jill and I, and honestly they don’t care to. When showing up at an event on my own people will ask me: “So, how are you guys?” Ummm…it’s just me here.

I felt seen.

This kind of piggy backs on my last point — but during my week at Onsite, I felt seen. I sort of think you can’t escape that. Seen, known, and loved. I think someone summarized those things that might be our three most basic desires and longings. I wasn’t known for accomplishments or seen because of what I did for work. I was seen as a human being not a human doing.

Also, I realized that so much of my life is work. And I love it — I love all that I get to do, but when people aren’t allowed to talk about work — you talk about who you are. Sometimes around the meal tables there would be awkward lulls in conversation because the natural flow of conversation NORM is to talk about work. Instead, I found myself asking the question “Do you have any hobbies? What do you do for fun?” A lot. It was awesome because you actually get to know people for who they are, not what they do. Yes, yes, yes. I’m trying to do this more. My way of asking people questions is now, “So what keeps you busy when you’re not {at the event or driving for Uber}?”

Another huge takeaway for me was that my job is to look after myself. Not in a “Only lookout for #1” way or a selfish manner at all, but that my role in life is taking care of and nurturing myself. I cannot control anyone else or any other situation, but I can take care of myself. A lot of my nature is to caretake — which my therapist also pointed out the difference between care-taking and caregiving. That care-taking is way more about you than it is the other person. Ummm…say what? Thanks Jim for the mic drop moment. Taking vs. giving. Dang, that was a lightbulb moment for me. But I realized that self-care is something that I need to focus on.

Meditation and the brain.

So here’s the deal. I have always heard meditating is good for you. I sort of thought it was more in the New Age vein, but heck, even the Bible talks about meditating…but I’ve never really done it, because I thought that it was something to do for fun or for spiritual reasons. During one of the morning sessions, they do a whole lecture about meditating and show you scientific scans of brains and meditation. I will not attempt to regurgitate medical information here, but let’s just say I now try to meditate every single morning. It’s like flossing but for your brain. Do it, do it, do it. I downloaded a few free apps that have guided mediations: Calm, Headspace and Simple Habit. So far, I like Calm the best.

I am so incredibly grateful for my time at Onsite. To the people that read this that spent the week with me — you know who you are, and I am so grateful to have you with me on my journey from here on out. To the ones who got me to Onsite — Jess, Miles and all the other friends I texted for advice — thank you! I am a different person because of you.

And to you, reader, who might be feeling scared or stuck or in need of the next step…reach out for help. If it’s a friend or a therapist or counselor or a week at Onsite — don’t underestimate the healing power of sharing your pain with others — that’s what we all need — we need a witness to the pain.

And so, I think that’s why the news of Kate Spade hit me so hard.

She was seen and known by billions of people. Had success. Money. Fame. But did she feel truly seen? Truly known? Truly loved. Did she need someone to bear witness to her pain? I don’t know and I never will. But hearing the news of her death was the punctuation mark to my week at Onsite that made it forever memorable.

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My hope for you, dear reader, is that you feel seen, known and loved.

Much love,

Kate







When Hope Feels Far Away - Day 7 #31DaysOfBlogging

One of the hardest things to face is the feeling of hopelessness, and finding yourself down in the depths of the darkness.

We have been really open with our bouts dealing with depression and anxiety, and just the general feeling of being really low. Our walkabout journey has been incredible — full of life-giving adventures and excitement and beauty and all of these amazing things, but for each of us, this year also held a pretty big emotional breakdown.

We aren’t talking about just a little “Oh I’m feeling down” moment. We both faced the “In-bed-crying-our-eyes-out” for reals funk. The funk where you find it hard to see any hope in or see any future in.

And I think that’s where it gets you. That feeling of hopelessness. The voices of anxiety and fear that tell you it’ll never change. The thought that good things aren’t going to come your way. The lies that fill your head telling you you’re alone…..that change is not possible and that this darkness will stick around for good.

Ughhhh….it’s so heavy. Even typing about it now, it brings us back to the low point we both faced. If you are feeling that way right now, we want to share a few things with you.

It’s okay to feel all you are feeling.

We get it. We’ve been there. And we’ll probably be there again in the future. But, instead of trying to get yourself out of it right away, let yourself feel it. Cry. Lie in bed. Feel it. Cry about it. It’s okay to feel all that you’re feeling.

Know that it won’t last forever.

Things will change. Even though the voices in your head are trying to tell you that they won’t — seasons change and this darkness won’t last forever.

Sometimes it’s just helpful to hear that you aren’t alone and that’s why you need to listen to this episode: Digging Out Of The Breakdown.

You are not alone, and you are loved. It’s okay to ask for help.

We both needed some help this year. Tomorrow we’ll tell you about the week we each spent at Onsite — the therapeutic retreat center in Tennessee.

Xo

J&K

Erica's Story

Today we are doing something a little different on the blog. We have a guest post from Erica. We met Erica at a show this fall...she has been listening to us for a few years and we hadn't gotten a chance to meet IRL until last year. Erica told us about how one of our songs (Chasing Storms) in particular had really helped her through a difficult time in life and we asked her if she'd be up for sharing her story on our blog with all of you guys. She said yes, so her story is below!

See, we get to hear your stories...when you email us, send us letters, or tell us in person, but we have this feeling that we ALL need to be hearing each other's stories. So many of you guys have OVERCOME, pushed through, risen after falling, achieved HARD goals and we are always so inspired by your stories. 

We've noticed that a lot of people we talk to and meet through our music have struggled with or do struggle with anxiety and depression. We've also shared with you guys how we each have struggled with those things too. Some of you might even have found us because of some of our songs that deal with those issues: (Life & Breath & Everything, My Love, Breakdown, Finding My Own Way....to name a few.)

There is no shame in having struggles with these things...and we believe they can not only get BETTER, but that by sharing our stories with each other, we can all make it through together.

So here is Erica's story...thank you, Erica, for sharing this with us and with everyone. We're all in this together!  

(Ps: If you want to share your story on our blog, you can send it to us at jillandkate@gmail.com)

 

ERICA'S STORY

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin.  Same town my parents grew up in and same town I live in now.  It’s one of those places everybody knows everybody’s business.
I’ll give you a little background of myself.  I was 12 years old when I was first diagnosed with A.D.D (Attention Deficit Disorder.) I was put on medicine almost immediately.   School was very difficult for me.  Keeping friendships was very difficult for me and life in general was very difficult for me.  I grew up in the shadow of my older brother.  He was 2 years older, smarter, taller and skinnier  than me.  It wasn’t until I was older that I learned to appreciate the smarter and taller genes he got!

Let’s skip ahead a few years.
September 2014 -- I decided that the medication I was on for my A.D.D. wasn’t working the best and I wanted a change.  I went and saw my doctor and she decided on a prescription that she thought would work best for me.  She said to try it for about a month and then let her know.
Month 1: Though I was still working full time, when I came home, I slept.  I was working full-time from 7am-3pm. I’d come home and sleep from 4pm until about 6 the next morning. 
The only thing that I knew would never ‘leave’ me…was music. 
Things in my head weren’t right.  I started to become sad.  My anxiety levels were at an all-time high.  My cry switch was on all the time. I started ‘abusing myself’ you could say.  I have numerous scars on my knuckles, large and small.  Cement walls were my favorite thing to punch. 
One time, I decided to take on a stop sign.  I had to superglue my knuckles shut on that one.  In my head, all I could think was that if I went into the ER, no one would believe me. 
The next morning, I called my doctor and left a message. ….something wasn’t right. But no one called me back.
Month 2:  I felt that punching things wasn’t enough pain inflicted on myself anymore.  Still no call back from the doctor.  At this point my friends and family knew something was wrong, but I had a few friends that wouldn’t leave me alone.  As good as it should have felt to know someone cared, honestly, it sucked.  This led to suicide attempts 1 and 2.  Details won’t ever be necessary.  All I know is that because of 2 people and 1 song…my life was saved.
My best friend then took it upon herself and called my doctor.  She gave her a good earful and my doctor responded to her/me by upping my medication dosage. At this point I was willing to try anything.
Months 3 and 4 blended together.  I started calling into work. I  stopped showing up.  By this point, my boss knew something was up. She pulled me into her office and tried to help.  She let me know she was there, that my job was there.  Suicide attempt 3 occurred.  I stopped doing some of my all-time favorite things and instead stayed at home and did nothing. Absolutely nothing.  I was 26, still living with my parents, absolutely hating life. 
And then, one night, literally out of nowhere, something in me became aware of everything the last 4 months had done to me.  That night, a friend showed up at my house and wanted to go to our favorite spot.  At this point I had nothing to lose, so we went.   We talked for hours about everything.  She sat there and listened and honestly it felt amazing.  One thing I remember her asking after hearing my story that was “What did you used to do that made you happy?  What made you believe anything was possible?”  One thing came instantly to mind: Music.
I called my doctor once again the next morning. I  told her I would no longer be taking the medication and that I wanted to see her physician’s assistant.  The P.A. called me back within 20 minutes of calling  and she had me come in within an hour.  She got everything straightened out that day, but now I was so far into my depression, that I needed help to get out.
I’ve always loved music, but being depressed made me appreciate music that much more. I used to just listen to the sound of the music, but I realized the words are the most important part.  That’s the part that tells the story.  That’s the part that draws you to the artist.  Whoever said there is a song for everything you go through, they weren’t lying. 
It took me about 5 months to get semi- back- to- normal.  In those 5 months I listened to music day in and day out. It was the only thing that made me happy; Inside and out.
The song Chasing Storms hit so close to home that I knew I could do this.  That there was a reason for that exact storm. That I could make my life…….Possible.
‘Cause you’re tired from chasing the wind. 
It was all at your fingertips but you can’t feel it anymore.
When everything is not enough
You’re so afraid to fight for it.
 

A {Guest Post} About Our Lullabies Album

Hey friends...Happy Friday!

We saw someone tweet a link to a blog about our recent Lullabies album a few days ago and after reading it we HAD to share it with y'all. Reading her words reminds us of two things:

  1. We are all in this together. 
  2. Music has power to change us. 

So, without rambling on, and with her permission, please read these beautiful words. We hope they inspire and move you as much as they did us. Thanks Megan (@mcaro05) for your honesty, openness and for sharing your story. Much love...j&k

Lullabies

When I was in high school, a loved one was suffering from severe depression. I remember another wise friend of mine saying to this person "you need to arm yourself with the necessary tools to fight this." I loved that phrase then and I love it now. Whenever I find myself struggling, I go back to those words. Over the years I've personally found solace in many different "tools:" prayer, writing, talking it out, and, most recently, working out. I've found all of these things to help clear my head, to give me confidence, and to bring me comfort, and peace. But above all of these things, there's one that stands above the rest:

Music.

Music brings something out in me like nothing else can. I am so often comforted by lyrics or a melody. I have certain songs that I turn to for nearly every mood. When it comes down to it, music is there for me. And no matter the genre, I can always find something that sparks a fire in me, or something that brings me peace. And as someone who is very often filled with worry, peace is something I long for.

Nighttime is a parade of worry. It's like as soon as the world starts to calm down, my brain decides it's the perfect time to craft to do lists, negative thoughts, long term worries, and overall emotion. I've struggled with this for several years. There are nights I only get a few hours of sleep because I simply cannot get my brain to settle. I've tried nearly every remedy: meditation, prayer, Melatonin, oils, deep breathing, the list goes on and on. And usually, these things work. For a short time. And then it's back to the struggle. 

Music, though, has once again come to the rescue. A few months ago, one of my favorite musical acts, Jill and Kate, released an album called "Lullabies." And. As the title suggests, it is an album of lullabies that they wrote. The duo surprised a good friend for her baby shower, as this friend had been requesting this kind of album from Jill and Kate. 

So, at 28 years old, I decided to give this album a try to help me sleep. And it's worked. The songs are so beautiful and pure. Each song is special for its own reason, but the song "Sunshine" brings me a unique sense of comfort. I could see that most would think the song is intended to be a parent's message to their child, but when I listen I imagine it's God's words to me. I take great comfort in knowing that God is on my side. This song has done wonders for my prayer life.

I never quite make it through the whole album without falling into a peaceful sleep. I just put it on shuffle and let it do its work. I find something new every night. 

I don't usually listen to the album during the day. I kind of like to have it saved. I don't want it to lose it's magic. I do, however, turn to it in moments of panic, when I need something to bring me back down. 

I've been trying to figure out the best way to share the impact this album has had on me. It didn't seem enough to just post a Facebook status. This album is so much more. It's my safety net, it's the words I need to hear, and it's the tool I use to arm myself for battle. My hope is that by sharing this, others who may struggle with nighttime anxiety or insomnia will take a listen and find just as much comfort as I do.

And while you're at it, check out Jill and Kate's other music. Those two have something so special. Their songs are written from the heart and they harmonize so beautifully. Their music has been part of my life for several years now, and I'm super grateful for that.

You can find Lullabies on ITunesSpotify, or Amazon.