Health Anxiety 101: The Anxiety Disorder You’ve Never Heard Of

The vast majority of mental health conditions trigger before the age of 25. While some – such as schizophrenia – can manifest later in life, for most, they emerge towards the end of their teens.

This is problematic. It’s a time of life that is generally disruptive anyway, as teenagers try and figure out what they want from the world. Then they have to deal with the onset of what can often be a vicious mental health condition. This is, in no small part, why eating disorders are so prevalent among girls and young women.

You are likely familiar with the names of the most prevalent mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. However, there is a subset of the anxiety disorder category that is becoming more prevalent – Health Anxiety.

What Is Health Anxiety?

Health Anxiety is separate from the infamous hypochondria; when someone imagines themselves to be ill for attention. With Health Anxiety, the sufferer imagines themselves to be ill – but they don’t want attention. They don’t want to be ill; they’re terrified by the mere prospect. It is not malingering in the traditional sense; it’s a constant, all-consuming fear of illness, doctors, hospitals and medical tests.

Something as simple as a trip to the opticians is difficult for someone with Health Anxiety. They suffer fear that has physical manifestations, such as sweaty palms, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.

Those with Health Anxiety also tend to be consumed by a fear that they have a terrible illness. At this point, there are two subsets of the subset itself:

1) Reassurance Seekers. The reassurance seekers tend to visit their doctor often with a new perceived symptom, in desperate need of reassurance they are not suffering from a terrifying disease. They have more medical tests than normal. They will Google symptoms they experience in an attempt to alleviate the intrusive thoughts that they have no control over.

2) Avoiders. Avoiders are the exact opposite. They will not visit a medical professional if it can be avoided; they avoid anything on TV to do with medicine. This can often be to the detriment of their own health. They will, for example, miss routine eye tests for fear of what may come of them.

 

What Is Health Anxiety?

Health Anxiety is now being recognized as a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is best characterized in a nutshell as:

“A person suffers intrusive thoughts they cannot control. They then take actions to alleviate the disturbing thoughts and calm anxious feelings.”

In the standard OCD, those actions are the recognizable symptoms such as hand-washing. For people with Health Anxiety, their actions are likely to be visiting a medical professional or researching symptoms of diseases.

Why Can’t Health Anxiety Sufferers Just Get Over It?

The nature of intrusive thoughts is that they are intrusive; they are not invited. Health Anxiety is caused by brain chemistry being awry, the same way all mental illnesses are. Someone with Health Anxiety can no more “get over it” than a person with a broken leg can just walk on it. The cause is physical – the term “mental illness” is something of a misnomer.

A typical cycle of Health Anxiety goes as follows:

1) The initial trigger, such as navel pain, kicks off this cycle.

2) They seek reassurance from a doctor or leave the problem long enough for it to resolve itself.

3) They satisfy the initial trigger with the above; the pain disperses (or has a benign cause such as IBS, which is rectified) and they resume normal activity.

4) They are then triggered with an entirely new symptom, and the cycle begins again.

The length of the cycle depends on the individual concerned; it may take days, or it may be weeks. The whole while, they are anxious, distressed and terrified. It’s not something they have any control over – no one would invite these things.

How Is It Treated?

Treatments for OCD have some efficacy against Health Anxiety, but many sufferers have to formulate an individual plan that works for them. Options include:

Medication

SSRI drugs commonly used to treat depression can help alleviate mild symptoms. Earlier generic tricyclics such as Clomipramine can be helpful in more severe cases.

Talking Therapies

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is most often utilized for Health Anxiety, with varying degrees of success.

What Do I Do If I Think I Have Health Anxiety?

Talk to a doctor and explain your symptoms. Diagnosis can be tricky; you may find a doctor saying you are just malingering. You have to be careful to explain the anxiety and upset your thoughts are causing you. And never be afraid to get a second opinion. Health Anxiety is becoming more commonly recognized, so don’t miss out on the chance for assistance.

 

Worried About A Friend: How You Can Help

Whether at school or in college, sometimes we can notice changes in our friends which over time can cause us to worry.

Maybe they are a little quieter than usual in class.  Or you have noticed them looking distracted.  Whilst often it can be nothing more than a simple phase or maybe they are just a little tired after a few late nights, it could be there is something more serious that they need to talk about or, with their health.

The most important thing is to respect their privacy.  If they have trouble at home they may not want to talk about it, and that is their choice.  However the first thing you should do is quietly mention to them that you have noticed there is something wrong.  Wait to see how they react.  If they stay quiet then put your hand on their arm and reassure them that you are always available.  Let them know that you aren’t going to keep going on about it, but you will always listen.

If your friend feels ready to share then you need to be prepared just to listen.  Often talking a problem through can lift a lot of the pressure.  They may ask you for advice and on smaller issues like school stress or boyfriend troubles, you can give some best friend pep talks.  However on larger, more complicated problems at home or within themselves, the best advice is to always speak to an adult.  Either someone in school or at a local youth or support centre.  Offer to go with your friend and be there every step of the way.  It may be most appropriate for her to tell her parents how she feels.  If that is the case, offer her guidance and if she is really worried, maybe suggest she talks to your parents and gets their advice.  Do not give any advice fuelled by your own emotion, you could influence a decision that may not be taking into consideration the varying subtleties of the situation.

Occasionally it is health worries that cause our concern for friends.  If your pal is reluctant to talk you could get some advice from a doctor app.  Your friend may be showing symptoms of something serious such as diabetes or an eating disorder.  If this is the case, talk to her and let her know you are really worried.  Offer to go with her to the doctor and help her talk to an adult.  

We go through a lot of emotional and physical changes as we grow into young adults and it can be hard to admit these or share experiences with other people.  Whilst you cannot force anyone to take care of themselves or unload their worries, you can ensure you are always available and ready to listen and although privacy is vital, you may be able to get advice from your parents on how to help.

Girls need to stick together and then stay together when they are women.  Never judge and always support.  Those are the basic rules of friendship.

The Pecs Factor: Health And Exercise Information

With the amount of people telling us what is healthy and what isn’t, it can be totally confusing. One person is saying you need to eat loads of carbs to stay healthy, and the other person is saying that carbs are evil and you should have lots of fat. It doesn’t make it easy for you to decide what route to go down in terms of diet. There are, however, things you can do that are as old as time itself to help your body, exercise and sleep!  

The benefits of an active lifestyle have long been talked about, from increased blood flow to improving your heart to just plain feeling better in yourself.  There are many different things that people tout as a shortcut to weight loss, from special tablets that are potentially very dangerous to natural remedies like using lemon water. While squeezing lemon in a bit of water is very refreshing, lemon water is overrated and it is not as good a tool to weight loss as it was once thought to be. But when it comes to losing weight, it’s the cliché of move more and eat less. This doesn’t give you license to eat an apple and go for a 5-mile run! In fact, if you don’t eat enough, your body goes into “starvation mode.” The trick is to strike a right balance. The thing about exercise is that it doesn’t have to be the chore everyone thinks it is. If you think it’s going to be difficult, believe me, it’s going to be difficult! But by choosing an exercise that you enjoy, that is half the battle. Pick a high-intensity sport that you can play with a friend, like squash. You will get the exercise you need, plus it’s fun!

A lot of people think exercise has to be punishing and “no pain, no gain” is the best thing to do to your body. In fact, rest and recuperation are as important to building muscle or losing weight as the exercise itself, this is where sleep comes into play. The benefits of sleep are numerous, but we seem to think of sleep as a thing of weakness. A lot of people go to work on little sleep, thinking that they just need to power through. However, those people are doing a lot of damage to their bodies! Not only does your body need proper sleep to recover after a gym session so your muscles can recover (it is more important than consuming loads of protein!) but it is also good for your mind. Your brain does all of its processing during sleep, so you need to make sure that you get the right amount of sleep to feel recovered. This doesn’t mean you can sleep for 12 hours a day! Too much sleep is as dangerous as too little sleep, and if you are sleeping for an excessive amount of hours, you may need to check if you have a deficiency in a key mineral like iron.

Sleep and exercise are what we need to build our bodies properly. Combined with a good diet, you will be completely fighting fit!

From Teen To Adult In 4 Steps

All girls will go through puberty at some point between the ages of nine and fourteen. This is the point at which a child’s body starts to grow and get ready for adulthood. There are some big changes that occur in a girl’s body during this time, some of which can be very strange and hard to come to terms with. However, no matter what happens to your body during puberty, there is no need to stress out about it! We have all been through it before and know exactly how you are feeling. Here are five of the most common things that change in a girl during puberty.

Breasts Develop

One of the most obvious physical changes to occur in a girl’s body is that her breasts will start to develop. At first, she will develop small breast buds, which will then become more fuller and grow into breasts. Not only will girls start to see these developments, but they will also start to feel them. That’s because their nipples will become slightly tender and sore. If you do find that your nipples and breast buds become painful, this is nothing to worry about and perfectly natural.

Periods Start

One of the main changes that girls worry about is the start of their periods. Most girls start at around 12 years old, but some can be as young as eight when they get their first period. There are various signs that signal a girl is about to get her period. These include a dull ache in her belly and a white discharge from the vagina. Once your period starts, you shouldn’t feel self-conscious about it. As long as you are using tampons or towels correctly, no one will be able to notice. Be sure to maintain good personal hygiene during the period, as this can reduce the development of infections: www.popsugar.com/moms/Signs-Yeast-Infection-Girls-30947431.

Notice The Opposite Sex More

During puberty, there will be some big hormonal changes in your body, and as a result, you will start to notice the opposite sex more. This means that you might start to fancy boys and could be sexually attracted to them. Even though you may feel ready to experiment sexually, you should wait until you are married. Abstinence is the best way to protect against unwanted guilt, regret, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections: www.prioritystdtesting.com.

Gain Weight

Most girls find that they gain weight during puberty. This is a result of the hormonal changes, as the body is getting ready to bear children. You will find that your hips become a lot rounder and you start to develop fuller thighs and arms. Don’t worry, though; this doesn’t mean you are getting fat! It is just your body changing from a child’s into a woman’s! There are other factors that may affect the weight gain, such as going on the contraceptive pill.

Once you are prepared for puberty, you shouldn’t find the changes that much of a shock, and will be able to be happy throughout this phase!

What It Feels Like For A Girl: The Facts On Periods

girl-w-skateboardThere’s no getting away from it puberty can be embarrassing, awkward and downright painful. By now you’ve probably experienced buying your first bra, dealing with spots that seem to have sprouted overnight as well as hair growing in all sorts of weird places. Even though you don’t want to think about it, much less talk to anyone, it’s important that you understand what’s happening to your body. That emotional rollercoaster you feel like you’re on most of the time? It’s all down to your ovaries which, in turn, kick starts your body into producing the hormone estrogen which every woman has inside her.

Elsewhere, there’s other stuff going on too. If you feel like your breasts aren’t growing much, or growing at different rates that’s normal too, breasts continue to grow until your early twenties, so it all evens out eventually. The important thing to realize is we all go through it; it doesn’t last forever, and it’s a vital part of becoming a strong, healthy woman.

That Time Of The Month

You’ll feel bloated, crampy, annoyed or sad for no reason and things just seem that little bit harder. A period, or menstruation occurs because of the eggs your ovaries release every month, they normally last between two to eight days and can be irregular at the beginning. Your period happens when the uterus lining thickens to help an egg develop, but when you aren’t pregnant, the lining is then shed, released as blood out your vagina and into a sanitary pad or tampon. Despite jokes about ‘the crimson wave,’ ‘Niagra falls’ and ‘red devil’ the amount of blood present is tiny, only one to two tablespoons even though it feels like a lot more.

Just Like A Pill

Contraceptive pills are often used as a precaution against pregnancy although they can be used to help treat conditions such as Endometriosis, to regulate periods and even to make heavy periods lighter. It’s taken by millions of women all around the world for many different reasons. The contraceptive pill is taken daily and the tablet controls ovulation, stopping eggs being released as well as making the womb lining thinner, so any egg is less likely to attach. The thinner lining is what makes period lighter, which also tends to help with severe cramping as well.

Your Body Your Choice

Despite what you may think, not everyone is ‘doing it’ and many teenagers are often pressured into losing their virginity before they’re ready. Remember, your body is awash with hormones, and it can be a confusing, even frightening time for lots of young women. Nothing is a hundred percent effective against pregnancy or guilt, so it’s better to wait until you are older. In fact, many couples wait until marriage to have sex for the first time, which is a decision you will never regret!

Driving Alone For The First Time? Don’t Panic!

carHave you passed your driving test but still don’t feel confident driving by yourself? You are not alone. Many new drivers understandably feel the same way once they pass their test. When you learn how to drive a car, you always have someone there to guide and support you. So when you no longer have your parents or your instructor with you, it’s natural to feel nervous about driving alone. Your first drive by yourself will always be the more nerve-wracking and overwhelming. But it you are able to calm your nerves beforehand, you can have a safer and less stressful experience. So to help you stop panicking, read through these helpful hints.

Plan a short route

For your first drive by yourself, it can be beneficial to choose a destination and plan a route. This can give you a focus while also helping you familiarise yourself with driving alone. Perhaps you can drive to a nearby shopping malls or to a friends house. Consider destinations that aren’t too far away or difficult to get to. It can also be beneficial to plan a backup route too, just in case there are road closures or traffic jams. To give you additional support, why not ask your parents to follow you in their car. Knowing that they are nearby during your first drive can give you reassurance as well as boosting your confidence.

Keep your phone out of reach

The sound of a ringing phone can be a dangerous distraction when you’re driving your car. It can divert your attention and increases the risk of a collision. So keep your phone on silent and out of your reach to avoid temptation. This can also apply to playing loud music in your car too. You need to concentrate on the road during every drive. This can be difficult to do when you can’t hear anything but your music. So keep it turned down or don’t listen to it at all. That way you can remain calm and assess the road more effectively.

Know what to do in an accident

Despite their training, many young drivers aren’t always confident with what to do in a car accident. This can make them even more anxious and put them off from wanting to drive unattended. To ease your anxiety, you need to learn what to do before you set off on your first drive. Ask your driving instructor to go through the process with you or do some research online. Write a list of actions and keep this in your car along with your insurance details and driving license. Having this knowledge beforehand can help you to feel more confident when you drive. It can also ensure you abide by the law and help you get successful car insurance and personal injury claims if needs be.

While it can feel strange to be driving by yourself, to begin with, it is something you will get used to. It may take a few days or even weeks after passing your test before you feel comfortable. So learn how to calm your nerves and embrace the new found freedom and independence driving provides.

Dear High School Self

Dear High School Self,

Hello, my friend. I see you will be graduating in the spring. You’ve had trials, drama, and success the last few years. I know you still aren’t quite sure where you fit or what part you will play in life, so be patient. It will reveal itself along the way. It has been and will be worth all the effort you have and are making. Sometimes we race across the finish line with fanfare and cheers. Other times we seem to barely survive and crawl across. HOW you finish matters a lot less than THAT YOU FINISH. Keep giving it all you’ve got, and you’ll get somewhere worth being.

I know you have often wondered if you have what it takes to become something more than you are right now, or if there is even anything MORE out there. Trust me, you can do it. I know now that you will never be alone, especially on those long, dark roads you have and will be required to travel.

Treasure the remaining few months of high school. Don’t allow what you don’t have to rob you of what you do have. Attitude and what you choose to dwell on can make a difference. Don’t allow the “can’t do, so don’t try” people to control your life. There are great things out there for you to accomplish, and wonderful people to meet. Keep yourself in the game so you can be on the field when the really interesting stuff happens.

You think you’ve done some cool stuff. You will always remember your experiences in football, swimming, and music fondly. Having such passion and endeavors has kept you on your feet. I know you are planning to swim in college. You will have a great experience. It may not last long, but it will help set a pattern you will follow the rest of your life. Never hesitate to go for your dreams, or try to accomplish really hard things. Strength and learning are more often found in the path and the effort rather than in the end result.

Hold on and continue to develop that growing faith in the divine. It will become a solid foundation during some of the storms that lay ahead, and it will also allow the sun to shine all the brighter each day. He is there for you.

My young friend, I stand at the other end of the path, looking back over 43 years with a measure of envy. I am happy that you have so much in front of you. Life is a wonderful adventure and will take you amazing places. I see clearly the events that separate us and, with some insight, can say that who I have become is due to all the experiences combined. We don’t get to skip over the rough spots, and we shouldn’t want to. It is the good and the bad, the success and the failure, the joy and the sorrow, things lost and things found, that blend together to give our lives depth, color, and meaning. I see more clearly the meaning of your life, and it has been worth it. All of these experiences make it possible for us to become the wonderful and interesting people that God intended. One day you will see to live…truly live, love, and aspire to be something more…is glorious.

What more can I say? Thank you for making me who I am. As a result of all that has happened, I have found joy and meaning. You will too. I believe in you.

Your friend,
Clark

Clark Burbidge is an award-winning YA author, especially known for the trilogies “Giants in the Land” and “Star Passage.” In this letter he writes about what he wishes he could have told his teenage self. Clark talks about being patient because even if you don’t feel like you fit in now, one day you will find your place in the world. He also discusses learning to enjoy the moment and not to not spend your time worrying about the next thing. You can read more about him here: About Author Clark Burbidge

Chit Chatting with Actress Madisyn Shipman

Written by Jill Sheets

Recently I had the honor of interviewing talented actress and singer Madisyn Shipman. This 13-year old from North Carolina plays Kenzie on her new show “Game Shakers.” Read on to learn more about her, her new show, five things people may not know about her, and more.

madisyn shipman

R:  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in acting.

M: First, I’m an animal, sushi, music, and people lover, in no specific order. I have a big family and I love it (even if I never get any privacy)! I have been acting since I was 6 years old. We moved to NYC and I booked a Broadway show. Being on Nickelodeon was always a childhood dream of mine, and I’m so grateful that I am literally living my dream right now!

 

R:  Tell us about your show “Game Shakers” and about your character Kenzie Bell.

M: “Game Shakers” is about two girls, Babe and Kenzie, who create a game for their science project that is an overnight sensation. They become business partners with Double G (played by Nickelodeon veteran Kel Mitchell) and create a gaming empire. Throughout the episodes we create different games that you guys at home can download from the App Store and play along. I play Kenzie Bell. She is a smart girl who loves to code. She’s the brains behind the operation. I personally feel that Kenzie and I are pretty similar. She’s a little bit of a nerd but hey, so am I! We all have to embrace our inner dork!

 

R:  What was the audition process like and how do you prepare yourself for auditions?

M: I had to jump through several hoops to land the role of Kenzie on Nickelodeon’s “Game Shakers.” It was about a 6-month process, but honestly, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me! To prepare for auditions I study the script and begin developing the character.

 

R:  What is the best thing about “Game Shakers?”

M: The best think about “Game Shakers” is the amazing cast and crew that I get to work with and call family.

 

R:  Tell us about your up-and-coming movie “Geezer” and about your character Salome.

M: Geezer is about the struggle that Perry (Billie Joe), a former punk rocker, encounters. His band has been on a ten year hiatus and he is kind of experiencing a midlife crisis. He believes his wife (Selma) and his daughter (moi!) forgot his birthday. He decides to throw himself a pity party at a fancy NYC hotel and bumps into an old crush while there. I don’t wanna spoil everything for you guys, though. I play Salome. She is a normal girl who loves playing her guitar and is family oriented. The movie comes out in September, so plan to go see it! And you may even see me singing and playing guitar in the movie!

 

R:  What was it like working with such an amazing cast?  Did they give you any advice?

M: The cast of “Geezer” was awesome. Working with Selma and Billie was such a learning experience. They are both insanely talented. I mean, Selma has basically mastered the craft of acting. And it was such an honor to work with Billie. He is literally a living legend. He is so humble and so down-to-earth. He actually taught me a few little tricks on guitar. I have to say he’s someone I will always look up to.

 

R:  You have been on TV shows, movies, theater, and voiceover work.  Which one do you enjoy the most and why?

M: I enjoy all of them equally. I love performing and getting into character in any setting.

 

R:  Tell us about the Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation.  Where can people get more information on the topic and what should they do if they want to help out?

M: The Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation is an organization that promotes and supports cures for Niemann-Pick Disease. I’m very passionate about this organization because my cousin died at 2 years old from Niemann-Pick. It’s a rare disease and we need to raise awareness. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the organization should visit their website at www.nnpdf.org.

 

R:   I read that you sing.  Would you like to make a CD in the future?

M: I do plan to release a CD in the future. I actually recorded a 6 song EP when I was 10 years old. I co-wrote the songs as well. I never did anything with it but it was definitely a fun learning experience.

 

R:  What are some of your future goals?

M: I want to go to college and study neuroscience. I’m obsessed with medical science.

 

R:  What advice would you give teenagers these days?

M: I would say be a leader, not a follower. Don’t feel like you have to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, or do certain things to fit in. A true friend will not pressure you. Always believe in yourself and follow your dreams.

 

R:  Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have been asked?

M: (laughs) Probably on Instagram when random guys comment “will you marry me please?” I mean, hello, I’m 13!

 

R:  What are five things people may not know about you?

M:

  1. I play several instruments. I play guitar, ukulele, keyboard and a little bass.
  2. I have 3 younger brothers. Sawyer is 9 years old, Caden is 6 years old and Jesse is 3 years old.
  3. I love fitness. I’m really into cycling and kick-boxing right now.
  4. I have a bucket list and working with Sandra Bullock is at the top of the list. She is so inspiring on so many levels and is my idol.
  5. I’m scared of heights. So, cliff jumping or bungee jumping is out of the question.

 

R:  Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page? 

M: I am on social media. My Instagram is maddiemoo_hoo. My Twitter is maddiemoohoo. And my Snapchat is madisynshipman. I’m actually pondering the idea of a YouTube channel so stay tuned, guys!

 

R:  Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

M: Always remember to be true to yourself. Never change just so people will like you. Your true friends will love you just the way you are!

 

R:  Madisyn, thank you for the interview.  It was an honor.  Have a great day.

 

Written by Jill Sheets

Picture source: Brett Erickson

Chit Chatting with Singer Marlisa

Written by Jill Sheets

@MarlisaMusic

hatsRecently, I had the honor of interviewing up-and-coming singer Marlisa.  Some of you may have recognized her from the sixth season of “The X Factor Australia,” which she won when she was 15. Now, this almost 17-year-old singer is working on new music that will be released soon.  Read on to learn more about her win on “The X Factor,” her new music, and more.

 

R:  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into the music business.

M:  I’ve always loved singing, ever since I was little. I knew straight away that I wanted to be a musician when I grew up, so I performed for various events, including charity events, eisteddfod competitions, and festivals. In 2014, I joined “The X Factor” to give myself a chance and was very lucky to win the competition. These events have helped me to gain experience and exposure in regards to the entertainment industry.

 

R:  You are working on some new music. Can you tell us anything about it? Do you have a release date?

M:  I have been on the piano, writing new songs, and creating a new sound for some time now. It’s a process I’m really enjoying and which I’m pushing myself with, so I am very excited about releasing these. I’m hoping to have a new single out by Christmas!

 

R:  Do you have a favorite song so far?

M:  I have so many favorite songs so far. It’s just too difficult to choose one!

 

R:  Where can people hear or get your music?

M:  My music will be available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and you can purchase them at JBHIFI and Sanity.

headphones

R:  You were on “The X Factor Australia.” What was that like? Do you remember what you were thinking when you won?

M:  My X Factor experience was very memorable and enjoyable. During that time, I learned so much about the music industry, behind the scenes stuff/how everything works, and most importantly it helped me to gain experience, exposure, and confidence. When I won, I felt very grateful to have been blessed with an achievement that will help me with my future as a musician.

 

R:  You have grown up since being on “The X Factor.” Other than height, how else have you changed?

M:  Yeah, we all grow up. I guess I have changed a lot since being that girl that won “The X Factor.” I’m turning 17 in October, so naturally my interests, fashion, and influences have changed a lot. I’m writing my own songs now, songs that are an extension of me, and I’m trying to be more creative with the sounds I create. I’m experimenting with it all while still being true to myself and keeping the values that I have grown up to believe in.

 

R:  If you could tour with any five people, who would they be?

M:  Ronan, of course, but I would also love to tour with Sia, Adele, Meghan Trainor, and Charlie Puth.

marlisa 3

R:  What has been your best memory so far?

M:  My best memory would be when I got signed up with EMA and worked with Ronan and Storm Keating. And, of course, winning “The X Factor!”

 

R:  Do you have any charities that are close to your heat? If so, tell us about them.

M:  Yes, I support breast cancer charities. They are very close to my heart, having experienced the loss of my own grandmother, who was very dear to me.

 

R:  What are five things people may not know about you?

M:  I like to cook, I like to swim, I’m very sports-minded, I am a manga and anime fan, and I love travelling!

 

R:  It’s not easy being a teenager. What advice do you have for them?

M:  No, it is not easy. Just take your time, enjoy your time as a teenager, remain positive, believe in yourself, and never give up. Life has its ups and downs, and these challenges will only make you stronger as you grow.

 

R:  Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

M:  I actually haven’t recently been asked any strange questions!

 

R:  Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? What about an official website and/or YouTube page? Do you have a physical address so people can send fan mail?

M:  I have an official website, www.marlisaofficial.com and I have a Vevo YouTube page which is MarlisaVevo. Fan mail is often sent to the Sony office. My Instagram & Twitter handles are @MarlisaMusic.

marlisa 4

R:  What is it like communicating with your fans? What is the best thing one has ever said or done for you?

M:  It is very inspiring to communicate with fans because knowing that they are supportive and that they enjoy my music makes me happy. The best things fans have done for me are making the effort to draw portraits of me, and continuously supporting me wherever I go.

 

R:  Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

M:  Yes, a huge thank you for all of your support and patience from Day 1. I am very grateful for all that you’ve done for me. Please stay tuned as there are exciting times ahead!

 

R:  Marlisa, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.

M:  Thank you for having me, it has been a pleasure!

You Are a Temple: 1 Corinthians 3:17

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

corinthian-317I was a fat child.  To say I was pudgy or chubby or even plump would insinuate that I was cute, and I wasn’t.  The kids at school called me Fatso.  Fatso.  Playground mockery is so ridiculous; just looking at that word I wonder where they came up with it, but within that word is a thousand implications that still make me tear up.  Unwanted.  Ugly.  Disgusting.  Rejected.  Hated, even.  As a fat and sensitive person, I went home more times than not, crying.  My dad told me that if I didn’t want to be made fun of for my weight, I should do something about it.

And so I did.  Or I tried.

The summer between fifth and sixth grade, I lost over twenty pounds.  I got lots of attention.  One teacher even asked if I was sick.  The names changed; I was suddenly called…Skinny.  Looking at that word, all I feel is empty.  It took me less than a year to realize that while the girls didn’t call me the same names, they could still be mean in other ways.  And I discovered that even though I had a new label to wear, I still didn’t feel so great about myself.

A Temple.

I was reading in 1 Corinthians a few weeks ago and loving the verses.  I was praying over them and meditating on them when a highlighted verse on the page over caught my attention.

You are that temple.

To be told that I am pretty or loved or valued makes me uncomfortable at best, downright suspicious at my worst.  Those playground children planted seeds, and I have spent most of my life sowing them.  Long after the bullying stopped, I continued to look in the mirror and say things that make words like Fatso sound like compliments.  To be told I am a temple is a hard pill for me to swallow; it goes against everything the world, and then myself, have conditioned my soul to believe.

And judging by the conversations I have had, and the state of the world that surrounds us, I know that chances are, you don’t believe those words, either.  We try to fill our self-esteems with products marketed to us to make us prettier, relationships that will complete us, lofty goals and impossible achievements that will feed us validation, and labels everyone around us deems acceptable to give us identification.  Meanwhile, all of that goes against the truth that we are created with a purpose, and that we are loved and treasured, right now, for simply being.

If we accepted that simple, yet completely profound, concept…we are loved, we are a temple, and completely believed it, how different would our behavior be?  I know for a fact that I would stop hesitating because of my insecurities and start doing more for others.  I would save a heck of a lot of money, knowing that new hair color won’t transform me into the image my Pinterest promises me I will become.  I could keep myself from wasting years in a toxic relationship because I know I am worth being loved by someone who understands my value.  I would stop abusing my own body by poisoning it with food or substances that are not good for me, or, on the flip side, I would stop punishing myself by restricting myself from getting the nourishment my body needs.  I would stop comparing myself to everyone else and would be satisfied with all my abilities…and my limitations.

And most importantly, I would stop listening to the whispers in my head that tell me I am not good enough.  I would fill myself up with the truths and the promises of the Bible, so much so that all the ugly lies would have no room to reside.

If I believed

That I am

A Temple

My entire world would change.

It’s sad to me that I found it easier as a child to alter my physical appearance than it was for me to change my internal dialogue.  I want to live out my life the way God intended for me to live it, and each time I try and fill myself up with fluff that abates the pain in superficial ways, I only get further from His vision for me.  The truth is, His promise is enough, and I have to commit myself daily to doing what I can to realize it.

The world is preaching love as a solution to the violence and the ugliness that surrounds us.  And they are not wrong.  We need to love each other more.  But I think that the love has to find root in ourselves, and for ourselves, as well.

So do me a favor:  Go to the mirror as soon as you’re done reading this and tell yourself you are a temple.  If it makes you squirm or giggle or uncomfortable, that’s okay.  Tell yourself again.  In fact, write it on your mirror in your favorite lip gloss so you see it when you look at yourself.  Tell yourself you are a temple numerous times a day until you believe it, and keep telling yourself as a reminder.  Tell yourself as often as you need to, to keep the lies and the poisons at bay. Tell yourself you are a temple so often that when someone, including yourself, tries to tell you you are anything less, the lie sounds so ridiculous, you pay it no attention.  Tell yourself you are a temple so often, you see the beauty in others, for they are temples, too, and treat yourself and them, as nothing less.

1 Corinthians 3:17- If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him, for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.