Journey Spotlight: Mental Health Awareness

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month! We would love to share a glimpse into the mindful journey of one woman on finding acceptance and celebration with Anxiety.  
"I have this responsibility to take care of myself, and it’s not always easy. There is an ebb and flow to my life, and I’m still accepting there is nothing linear about it."



This is Baylee A. sharing her story in her own WORDs: 

"Seven years ago, I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The most difficult part for me to accept was how quickly everything changed. It wasn’t a steady and slow progression. It didn’t warm me up first to prepare me. There was no time to hunker down and devise a plan of action. My mental illness fell unexpectedly into my lap at the most unlikely time. I was going into my senior year of college; I was a solid student and held an important position in my sorority. I was in a great relationship, and I was happy. There was a busy-ness to my life, and my awareness never extended beyond that.


I was living like a child with chalk: scribbling and drawing these beautiful designs with shades and hues and experiencing this colorful life I had created for myself. But there were cracks in the sidewalk that I would just fill in with color, and weeds poking their head out that I would design around. There was a lot of pain that was demanding to be felt, feelings wanting attention, a past that wanted to be seen, but I just kept on coloring because that’s all I knew. All I knew was to keep creating, to stay busy, and to work around anything that tried standing in the way of that.



Then one day it rained and, just like that, life as I knew it was wiped clean and all that was left were those cracks and weeds I had spent years ignoring. That was the beginning of a lifelong journey of sitting with my struggles and discomfort and listening to what they have to say. It’s turned out to be my most beautiful creation yet.


My mental illness has taught me how to be there for myself. It’s taught me the work that’s involved in moving through life happily and healthily. It has also taught me that I am still worthy, AS IS. On days I don’t feel like myself, when my thoughts are loud; when my head is foggy; when it’s difficult to even muster a laugh, I can still show up as is. I don’t have to be “on,” I just have to be me, whatever that looks like and whatever that feels like.



I have this responsibility to take care of myself, and it’s not always easy. There is an ebb and flow to my life, and I’m still accepting there is nothing linear about it. Some days I wake up glowing from the inside out, and I’m present; and I’m here and living. Then there are days when the darkness creeps in; my limbs feel heavy, and my struggles feel stronger than me. Instead of taking chalk and drawing over those days like they hold no meaning, I turn inward and let those feelings flow through and out of me. I let them run their course before they start running me and use those times as opportunities to practice self-care, self-love and acceptance.

I’m still learning that the safest place for me is in the present moment, AS IS. As myself. I don’t have to take chalk to my bad days and try and make them something they’re not, so I just let them be. It’s hard not to get angry with my brain sometimes. It’s hard not to place judgment on myself on the days I just can’t keep up and need to surrender. It’s hard not to create this expectation in my head of what I “should be” or “could be.” But I’m learning to arrive to each moment as I am- with my flaws, my quirks, my struggles, and my story. AS IS."  


Looking for a community of support for Anxiety? Check out Baylee's Instagram: @anxietysupport






  • This is a very long message so I doubt the entire will post, but I believe it’s appropriate and it truly is a call for support.

    I AM FINE. Who doesn’t need a few more scars and scabs to show that they have lived this life? You know I had the “nice” policeman on the paramedics laughing by the time they left my house. I let them all know they would be in my book, and to that first policeman, " you will not fend well."And when he chastised me for using rude language, the word, hell (?) I said he didn’t EVEN know the definition of rude language. By the end, I knew at least the paramedic voted for the correct Gubernatorial candidate, 3 people love Bob Dylan and the staff at urgent Care were just lovely and I ran into two people that I knew.

    So you know you don’t have to worry about me. Always remember two men already tried to kill me. Either God’s not ready for me or I have some purpose, I’m here.

    But many are not as tough as I am so I am asking you to please raise the flag, March the March, do whatever you’re comfortable with to make the situation known and somehow we’ll make a change.

    “I sent an email yesterday. 21 years ago, I was diagnosed bipolar Type II fast cycling. I had been at that time 16 days without medication and 5 days without sleep.

    I had trying to get into Advantage Behavioral Health for well over 6 weeks and I went to my primary care physician who refused to help me with medication, even on a temporary basis to get through this difficult time.

    I finally got to see a doctor yesterday. and believe it or not that was only because of the fraud committed by the lovely ladies at the front desk and the Doctor who allowed it to happen. They gave her a chart of a patient that had not been there in several years and when the doctor told my chart and called me in quote “oh we’re sorry we made a mistake, it was actually this patient Ms Lowery.”

    My prescription was called in late yesterday afternoon and I picked it up to take my first dose this morning.

    Four hours does not makeup for 15 days without medication. I am ashamed to admit that this afternoon I did a terrible thing. I broke the promise that I made to my grandson. I let him down. I cut myself. There has been no self abuse since 2002.

    I do not blame the employees of Advantage Behavioral Health who have been very kind to me. I blame the system. I blame my primary care physician who did not care enough to help me through this situation.

    My beautiful son, trying to get to me as fast as possible (he was working in Atlanta) felt he had no choice but to call the Oconee County sheriff’s Department. I have never been so disrespected or misunderstood.

    Regardless of their original reason for response I deserved to be respected and heard.

    As I explained to them this is a diagnosis I have lived with for 21 years. I was so sorry and so ashamed to have let my grandson down. If I had actually wanted to end my life, I wouldn’t have called for help, I wouldn’t have wrapped my arm in ice and held it above my head in an effort to stop the bleeding.

    But the first young officer was not going to hear that. He invaded my personal space, insisted that I was going to the hospital and that by State law, he had a right to take me. I asked him to leave my house they have my personal space being my bedroom and he and tone and talk threatened to take me to the hospital. He took no time to assess my true situation. His, as is most of the agencies, answer to my situation was to send me to the hospital. He continued to add fuel to the fire by asking if I had any other weapons in my house. (Weapons? It was my great-grandfather’s pocket knife.) and then without further warrant or permission, proceeded to go through my bedroom drawers! Are we now in a police state? Because I made a mistake I have no rights?

    The hospital is no place for us to heal it is just a place to hide us to pretend we don’t exist and assure ourselves that we are treating are mentally ill humanely. Please note I did not say justice. Humane is a word used for the cages we put unwanted pets.

    (In jest) I have often said “we” should all go off our meds and sit on the White House and the governor’s front lawn. It seems that’s the only way they’re going to realize that we have a problem; the least of which is people like myself. But the problem grows every day…from the homeless, to the suicide of our vets, to gun violence."

    Still crazy after all these years.

    Deborah Jo Starr-Lowery

  • On March 5, 1985, I was diagnosed with severe chronic depression, I wasn’t surprised. I had known for many years that something wasn’t “as it should be”, I simply didn’t want to know what that “something” was – On January 17th, 1986, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I wasn’t surprised, I knew that “the fear” within me had been growing steadily since I was 5 years old. I was afraid of everything including being afraid of being afraid. Receiving that anxiety disorder diagnosis at age 29 was less than remarkable. What came first? The depression or the anxiety? Over time, that question became unimportant. Today, August 11th, 2018 I am still in therapy and taking medication to fight this disease. Recently someone asked me, “How have you kept going all of these years?!” No one had ever asked me that question before, not even me. I was at a loss for words. My answer sounded juvenile, perhaps uneducated, but it was the truth… I said, “because”.


  • My daughter suffers from anxiety and depression. She is 17 and leaving for college. I thought I understood what was happening inside her…. your story, your beautiful analogy, it brought me to tears because I can now actually visualize and really empathize with her suffering. THANK YOU! Baylee, may you be an inspiration to all individuals and families that are touched by anxiety disorders. with gratitude, Stacy from New Jersey


  • Having suffered from anxiety since I was 17 and am now 45 I can totally relate to this! I know how to control every feeling and except what comes my way. What a positive story to read. Thank you for sharing :)

    Stefanie Abdo

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