HALEY JAMES

Today I Wanted To Give Up, But I Didn’t. Here Are 8 Things I Chose To Do Instead

Open book

Today I Wanted To Give Up, But I Didn’t. Here Are 8 Things I Chose To Do Instead

Have you ever had one of those mornings where everything starts off great, but then suddenly, it feels like everything is falling apart? That’s what happened to me today. I woke up early, excited to tackle my work and get a head start on the day! I had my watch charged, my under-desk pedals set up, and the window open with the perfect amount of early morning light and breeze – and then I sat down to start and my perfect little work morning began to fall apart.

First, it was the internet connection that wouldn’t connect, and after a couple of calls, I was informed of an estimated half-hour wait time. It wasn’t a big deal, and I decided to pivot and take my morning meds and get other non-internet work prepped for the day. But then, my stomach started to hurt, enough to have me sit down. Could it be the meds? They sometimes cause this, but it hasn’t happened in a while. Could it be that my feeding tube flipped? I had it put in four months ago, so it shouldn’t have, but maybe… am I getting regular people sick? Or worse, is there something else wrong that we are missing? Another condition? Why did I give in and let her say no, when I had specifically asked that doctor to run that lab for testing? If it is something else, what could it be?…

My mind began to wander into the depths of my very valid and dark health-related anxiety. In an effort to distract myself, I went on my phone and found my way to Instagram – never the move. Twenty minutes later, the stomach pain had lessened, only to be replaced with the negative thought loop in my head after seeing picture after picture after picture of my friends, family, and people I don’t know, seemingly living their perfect lives, moving forward – buying houses, getting married, having babies, getting their dream jobs or promotions, going out with their friends, and so on. For someone who has had to give up their life for the last decade to try to figure out how to survive each day, been in isolation unable to see friends and family for 3.5 years due to being high risk for COVID, and whose fear has always been getting stuck – this doom scroll takes me out of my health anxiety and body pain for a moment, but is almost a surefire way to hurt the heart.

The usual thoughts began to swirl in my head. Those voices in my head started saying, “You’re a failure. You’re never going to get where they are. You’re never going to finish your projects.” Normally, people will try to get a quick hit of dopamine by eating something to fill the void – I went over to the pantry as I sometimes do when I feel this way – just out of desperation, “Is there anything I could have to make this feeling stop?” But, nope, deep down, I know I can’t do that either, and I wonder why I still do this when I haven’t been able to eat like that for years. I am just so desperate to make it stop.

Then, those thoughts quickly move to “You’re getting sicker. Your treatments aren’t working. You’ll never be able to eat again. It’s all your fault you got sick in the first place. You did this to yourself. You don’t have any friends anymore. No one understands. You’ll never get out of this. You’re missing your entire life. You won’t live long anyway,” and on and on it goes. I could feel my chest tightening and my mind beginning to spiral. Ending up in the same thought it always ends on when this happens – “I don’t want to be here anymore.”

It was only 6:30 A.M. – How could I do this the rest of the day?

I know this is a lot. I know it’s dark. I know it’s really vulnerable to share. But it’s also honest and real and really important to say because I know I’m not the only one.

I wish I could say that this was not a common occurrence for me, and though it has lessened over the years, unfortunately, it’s still a reality I often face.

When you’ve been chronically ill for 10 years, focusing on merely physically surviving each day, and then spend the last 3.5 years sick and alone in your 8’x9′ room – isolated from your friends, family, and the world due to being at such a high risk for COVID – and haven’t been able to see, do, or experience any of the things you’ve yearned for, these feelings and thoughts can rush at you like a brakeless train, crushing you before you even have a chance to blink.

You might be wondering: How can this still happen when everything I do and everything I stand for totally contradicts these thoughts? Great question – I actually think that because I have, and still sometimes do, feel these feelings, but have learned to overcome them – it actually makes me more qualified to help others and makes my mission stronger to make sure others hear what I need to hear when I am going through that. 

Sure, there are moments when I feel like I’m not living up to my own expectations, and when negative thoughts threaten to overwhelm me. But what really matters is how I respond to those moments. It’s about recognizing that those thoughts don’t define me, and that I have the power to take action and make positive changes in my life.

In fact, it’s precisely because I’ve gone through these struggles that I’m able to share messages of hope and encouragement with others. I know what it’s like to feel lost and alone, and I know that it’s possible to come out the other side stronger and more resilient.

So when I tell you that your story matters, that you have passion and purpose, and that you can create a life you love – I’m speaking from experience. I know that it’s possible, because I’ve done it myself. And I want nothing more than to help you do the same.

Of course, everyone’s journey is different, and what works for me may not work for you. But I want to share with you what I did today to pull myself out of a dark place and back into the light. These are the tools that have worked for me – time and time again – and I hope that they can help you too.

Before we get into the list though – just in case you stop here, I want to take a moment to just say – I love you, I mean it. I really do. You matter and I’m glad you are here ♡

I am at a place now where I know what I need and how to get it, but it was not always that way for me. In those situations, I used resources that I do not need today but want to share here in case you find yourself in a place where you do. They helped me get through the times I didn’t think I could, and they are here to help you do the same.

  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 (or your local emergency number) immediately. Do not wait.

  • For a mental health crisis in the United States, call 9-8-8.

  • To chat online with a national suicide hotline counselor, click here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
  • See the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
  • For the hearing impaired, contact the Lifeline by TTY at: 1-800-799-4889

    If you are calling from outside of the United States, these numbers won’t be available to you. No matter where you are, though, help is available. Find lists of international suicide hotline numbers at:

Stop & Recognize There Is A Problem

So the first step I took was to just pause. I had to sit down and acknowledge that something was wrong and that I was heading down a bad path. It might seem like an easy thing to do, but it’s crucial to recognize a problem before you can even start to solve it. Without stopping, you can’t make any progress towards fixing the issue.

Ask Myself What The Real Problem Is

So, once I realized that there was a problem, the next thing I did was try to identify what exactly was causing it. I have a few medical conditions that I manage using wearable devices like my Apple watch, Dexcom, and Oura ring, so I checked my stats using those devices. I looked at things like my heart rate, blood sugar, sleep levels, readiness levels, and even my temperature to see if I could be getting sick or if I was about to start my period. As it turned out, there was a chance that I could be starting my period, so that was one contributing factor to what was going on.

But, I knew that there had to be more to it than just that. I had been feeling behind on my work, and when the Internet went out, it pushed back my workout time. Running is a big part of how I manage my mental health, and not being able to do it today was making me worried about becoming anxious or sad. I also have a feeding tube formula that causes me pain, and I’ve noticed that running helps alleviate some of that pain. So, not being able to run made me worried that I would be in pain all day.

Then, I realized that going to the pantry for food wasn’t just about trying to numb the pain, but it was also linked to a past struggle with food scarcity. Whenever I feel like I won’t be able to get the nutrition I need, my body goes into survival mode, and I start to worry that I won’t be able to survive. This is a natural instinct and something I am working on with medical and mental health professionals to overcome. However, if I hadn’t taken a moment to truly sit down and understand the underlying reason, I wouldn’t have had that revelation. Consequently, I couldn’t have taken actions that directly alleviate the issue as much as possible.

As you can see, if I were to sit and unravel all of the triggers from this morning we could be here a while, so I’m going to skip to the point. It’s important to stop and really ask yourself what’s truly wrong. Sometimes, what you think is the problem isn’t actually the real problem, so trying to solve it won’t fix things until you know what’s actually causing it.

What Can I do About it?

After identifying the real problems, I considered what I could do to address them. Since I’m already working with a healthcare team on the food scarcity issue, the best approach is to document the incident and triggers. I will then discuss these with my doctors and therapist during our next meeting.

As for my anxiety around missing my run, I considered it, and then began to think about how going for a run now would put me even further behind schedule with my work – which would mean I wouldn’t accomplish as much today. This would, in turn, set me back on my plan and among my peers, ultimately leading me to feel more behind in life. This clearly led me back into a negative thought loop that was difficult to get out of. So, I decided to pause and take a simpler approach – what can I do to get out of this negative thought loop right now?

Because I have dealt with this so many times, I knew I was at a point where I needed to bring someone else into this and get out of my own head. 

Reach Out For Support

I knew I needed help, so I reached out to my go-to person who knows me, my situation, and these practices best: my mom. For you, it might not be your mom, but it could be a friend, a significant other, or someone else you trust. Having someone to bounce your thoughts off of can help you untangle them and figure out what to do next.

So, I explained everything to my mom – what happened, how we got here, where I was at mentally, and where I was getting stuck. Talking it out with her allowed her to ask questions that helped me figure out the next steps to take. Together, we realized that my “Hail Mary” combo would be the best course of action.

Have A Plan & Use Proven Methods

Usually, I do this combo in the morning to start my day off right. It includes going for a run outside, listening to an inspiring podcast that motivates me about my work, and having a plan for self-care when I get back. Today, that self-care is my therapy session (it’s always great when therapy falls on a day you need it). With this plan in place, I knew the next step was to take action.

BUT before I jump to that, I want to quickly talk about some of the proven methods I implement in my own “Hail Mary” plan and why as they might be useful to you too!

Go Outside

Going outside and getting fresh air is a simple but effective way to improve your mood and mental well-being. Research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while improving overall feelings of well-being. This is because being in nature has a calming effect on the mind and body, and can help reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol. 

Move Your Body

Moving your body is a great way to get yourself out of a funk! It doesn’t have to be a full-blown workout either, just getting up and moving around can work wonders. Taking a walk, doing some yoga, or even just stretching can help release tension and boost endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in our brains. 

This means that even a quick workout, like a brisk walk or a short run, can help you feel better and break out of that negative thought loop. Exercise is also a proven way to increase self-esteem, improve sleep, and boost cognitive function. So, if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, getting up and moving your body can be a surefire way to help turn things around and feel more positive and energized.

read, Listen Or Watch Something That Motivates Or Inspires You

One effective way to break out of a negative thought loop and get into a positive mindset is by reading, listening to, or watching something that motivates or inspires you. This can be a great way to shift your focus away from negative thoughts and emotions, and towards positive ones. It’s not just a psychological trick, either. Research has shown that positive stimuli can lead to the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins, which are associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness. By engaging with inspiring or motivating material, you can actually activate the reward centers in your brain and experience a mood boost!

Implement Self-Care Activities

Incorporating science-backed self-care activities into your routine can be a powerful way to break out of negative thought patterns and improve your overall mental health! Activities such as using essential oils, an acupressure mat and meditation, a sauna, a massager etc. are all ways you can reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and boost feelings of happiness and well-being. These have been shown through research to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm the body and mind, reduce inflammation, and increase positive emotions. By intentionally having the tools for these self-care practices in place, you can be more prepared and able to use them when you need to take time to do some self-care and get out of the negative mindset and into a positive one!

P.S. For more info & links to 5 of my favorite self-care products for rest & relaxation, you can check out my blog post here

Take Action

Having a plan is essential, but it’s not enough if you don’t take action. It’s easy to get stuck in overthinking and procrastination, which can prevent you from doing what you need to do to feel better. That’s why I’ve found it helpful to put my chosen activities on autopilot. For example, after deciding I needed to pull a “Hail Mary” plan, I chose a podcast episode that I knew would inspire me, put on my headphones, and started the episode while I got ready. By doing this, I stayed focused and engaged with the podcast, which helped me to avoid getting stuck in my own thoughts or worries. When I do this, I don’t allow myself to overthink or second-guess my decision. Instead, I just do what I need to do without letting anything else distract me. This allows me to actually execute my plan and move myself in a direction to begin to feel better.

Therapy

After executing my Hail Mary plan, I felt much more capable of facing the day. I took a shower to physically cleanse myself and set myself up for a clean, fresh restart. Usually, I would plan to do other self-care activities, but since I had already scheduled therapy for the day, I hopped onto my therapy call and began to process what had happened that morning. I talked about what I did well, what I could do better, and what steps I could take next to move forward. Having a therapist who knows my situation and has been walking through it with me for the past 3 1/2 years is invaluable. I cannot express enough how much I recommend getting a therapist if you do not have one.

On days where I really need support and don’t already have therapy scheduled, I know my therapist is just a text message away and is willing to find a way to either pull our appt in, add another to the schedule or even find a time to text it out if needed. Knowing you have that type of resource and support is invaluable and one I highly recommend if you need support.

Post-Therapy Self-Care

While therapy can be incredibly helpful, it can also be emotionally draining. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself afterwards. After my therapy sessions, I always try to take 30 minutes to do something relaxing and rejuvenating to help me decompress from the session and get back into a place where I am ready to move forward in my day!

We Made It!

You made it to the end of this post, thank you so much for sticking with me. I know it was a long one, but I hope it was helpful for you. 

I want you to know that it’s okay to have tough days and negative thought loops, AND it’s important to know you can get through them. If you ever feel like you can’t – below you will again find a list of numbers that will immediately connect you with people that want to help you get to a place where you can. 

 Thanks again for reading and being here.

 

xx I love you, I mean it

  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 (or your local emergency number) immediately. Do not wait.
  • For a mental health crisis in the United States, call 9-8-8.

  • To chat online with a national suicide hotline counselor, click here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
  • See the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
  • For the hearing impaired, contact the Lifeline by TTY at: 1-800-799-4889

    If you are calling from outside of the United States, these numbers won’t be available to you. No matter where you are, though, help is available. Find lists of international suicide hotline numbers at:

DISCLAIMER

Please note that all content on this page, website, and any affiliated resources is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of treatment from a physician. NO information on this page or website should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. Additionally, please be aware that some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, from which I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through those links.

Hi! I'm Haley James

I’m a California-based purpose-driven, multi-passionate entrepreneur, chronic illness & rare disease advocate, speaker, podcaster, designer, YouTuber, content creator and really, at my core, just a woman who wants to love & help support people in creating lives they love!

How did I get here? Well, after getting really sick in my early 20’s and spending years fighting for my life, I realized I not only was fighting to live, but to live a life I truly loved! 

Now I’m on a journey to creating that life for myself and want to bring you along so you can create a life you love too! I hope you’ll join me!

Hi! I'm Haley James!

I’m a California-based purpose-driven, multi-passionate entrepreneur, chronic illness & rare disease advocate, speaker, podcaster, designer, YouTuber, content creator and really, at my core, just a woman who wants to love & help support people in creating lives they love!

How did I get here? Well, after getting really sick in my early 20’s and spending years fighting for my life, I realized I not only was fighting to live, but to live a life I truly loved! 

Now I’m on a journey to creating that life for myself and want to bring you along so you can create a life you love too! I hope you’ll join me!

Join My E-Mail List!

Blog Categories

Recent Posts

Shop The Store

Shop My Favorites

Watch On YouTube

Get The Freebies

Listen To The Pods!

Let's Work Together

Want Some Quick Reads?!

Come read about what i'm
learning over on the gram!

@itshaleyjames_

THESE EMAILS I SEND – I PROMISE – FEEL LIKE LETTERS FROM A FRIEND

Come Be Part Of The Bloom!

Come Be Part Of The Bloom!

What is The Bloom? The Bloom is my personal letter to you, dedicated to supporting your growth and flourishing in all aspects of life – from your health, well-being and entrepreneurial pursuits to overcoming obstacles, discovering passions, stepping into purpose and finding avenues for positive impact – The Bloom is all about helping you create a life you truly love – whatever that looks like for you!

I like to think of The Bloom newsletter as the water, soil, or sunlight I hope to be able to give you to help you grow and bloom in your own life! That’s why as a member of The Bloom community, you’ll get heartfelt personal letters from me sharing stories, resources, tools, inspiration and support to help you on your personal growth journey.

The Bloom is here to meet you in all seasons of life – whether you’re feeling buried in the dirt eager to sprout or standing 10 ft tall aspiring to reach even greater heights, or somewhere in between, the bloom is here to empower, equip and support you on your journey to getting you to where you want to be. I hope you’ll come grow with us!

THESE EMAILS I SEND – I PROMISE – FEEL LIKE LETTERS FROM A FRIEND

Come Be Part Of The Bloom!

I love connecting with people in this community! It’s my favorite thing that I get to do and this is one of the places I love to do it!

I only ever want to send you things I truly believe in my heart will serve you, support you, equip you, empower you and make you feel seen, heard & loved! Which to me means 0% spam & 100% all good things!

As a welcome gift, you’ll instantly unlock a 10% discount on your first store purchase, gain immediate access to my most popular free guide and of course friendship with me and this community! We can’t wait to have you!

THESE EMAILS I SEND – I PROMISE – FEEL LIKE LETTERS FROM A FRIEND

Come Be Part Of The Bloom!

I love connecting with people in this community! It’s my favorite thing that I get to do and this is one of the places I love to do it!

I only ever want to send you things I truly believe in my heart will serve you, support you, equip you, empower you and make you feel seen, heard & loved! Which to me means 0% spam & 100% all good things!

As a welcome gift, you’ll instantly unlock a 10% discount on your first store purchase, gain immediate access to my most popular free guide and of course friendship with me and this community! We can’t wait to have you!

THESE EMAILS I SEND – I PROMISE – FEEL LIKE LETTERS FROM A FRIEND

Come Be Part Of
The Bloom!

I love connecting with people in this community! It’s my favorite thing that I get to do and this is one of the places I love to do it!

I only ever want to send you things I truly believe in my heart will serve you, support you, equip you, empower you and make you feel seen, heard & loved! Which to me means 0% spam & 100% all good things!

As a welcome gift, you’ll instantly unlock a 10% discount on your first store purchase, gain immediate access to my most popular free guide and of course friendship with me and this community! We can’t wait to have you!

YAY! I'm So excited to have you joining this community!

As promised here is your first welcome gift! Just click below and it’ll automatically download!

Also, be sure to check your email to make sure you received my welcome email that has your 10% off discount code so you can get another gift for yourself because you deserve it!

YAY! I'm So excited to have you joining this community!

As promised here is your first welcome gift! Just click below and it’ll automatically download!

Also, be sure to check your email to make sure you received my welcome email that has your 10% off discount code so you can get another gift for yourself because you deserve it!

YAY! I'm So excited to have you joining this community!

As promised here is your first welcome gift! Just click below and it’ll automatically download!

Also, be sure to check your email to make sure you received my welcome email that has your 10% off discount code so you can get another gift for yourself because you deserve it!