Be Courageous. Be Strong. Be Confident...Here is my story:

 
I had the honor a couple of years ago to be a print model for the Health Partners Make It Ok Campaign to break down the mental illness stigma!  I am so happy to have the opportunity to literally be a "poster child" for this issue! UPDATE: I had a friend spot me on the side of a Minneapolis city bus in this print ad. I did this photo shoot 5 years ago (in 2012) and it's great to have it still going. Also, I got a buyout for extended usage! It is serendipity that this ad would mean so much to me now. 

I had the honor a couple of years ago to be a print model for the Health Partners Make It Ok Campaign to break down the mental illness stigma!

 I am so happy to have the opportunity to literally be a "poster child" for this issue!

UPDATE: I had a friend spot me on the side of a Minneapolis city bus in this print ad. I did this photo shoot 5 years ago (in 2012) and it's great to have it still going. Also, I got a buyout for extended usage! It is serendipity that this ad would mean so much to me now. 

I'm so excited, fulfilled, and happy that I have gained the confidence to speak up and talk about my anxiety disorders. This past year when I was Miss Hennepin County in the International Pageant System,  I had ample opportunities to get my voice out there in the community, I loved every moment of it! Getting first runner up at Miss Minnesota did not deter me, I am planning to compete again next year for the title of Miss Minnesota International 2018! With that, I'm eager to stay involved and continue working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota and the American Heart Association (two wonderful organizations I have been volunteering with for the past year or so)!! 

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and panic attacks (since I was around 8-years-old). I recently spoke to someone and tried to explain what it was like to have a panic attack. I told her that sometimes it was over a really stressful situation like preparing to speak in front of an audience,

but other times it could happen while I was running through a field of daisies.

This metaphor reflects the constant struggle panic attacks can have in my life.

However, since I have graduated from my second master's degree and I am now talking about my mental illness and learning great coping options, I have noticed that my panic attacks are infrequent and my anxiety is down a lot! I have noticed a drastic improvement in my health, wellness and most importantly, my happiness in life!! 

Remember that you do not need to be ashamed of speaking up to people that you know will support you, like friends and family! It took me awhile to realize that, but I am happy that I have now started the conversation and I am addressing my anxiety! 

Please talk to your physician about what are the right choices and steps for you and to talk to a loved one for support through this healing process! 

It is time to break down the social stigma of mental illness and to make it okay to talk about it!

 

There is more to me than meets the eye.

 

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Kahn and I would like to share a little bit about myself with you. Last year I obtained my second master's degree (MPP/MURP) from the University of Minnesota in Public Policy and Urban and Regional Planning. My first master's degree (MELP) is in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. I also have a Bachelor of Art's (BA) from Northland College in Sustainable Community Development with minors in Business Management and Environmental Studies. On top of it all, I went straight from high school, to my undergraduate degree, and then to my two master's degree with no break (and of course in the midst of it all, juggling internships, extra curricular activities, jobs, and volunteer work). Sometimes looks can be deceiving. If someone was to look over my resume of my academic achievements, degrees, credentials, and skills I might be labeled as a "brain" or someone who is naturally good at academics and was always destined to be an academic scholar...little would someone know how much I struggled academically throughout my life. Growing up school and me didn't mix that well. Through my many years of being in a school setting, eventually I did become an academic scholar getting exceptional grades and excelling in academics, but growing up from grade school through high school it was definitely a huge struggle for me (with battling my anxiety disorders and Attention Deficit Disorder). During a pivotal time where I was trying to figure out myself and what I wanted to do in life, I took a different path that many people didn't. That is, of course, that path less taken (not to quote the great poet Robert Frost right now, haha). In high school I wasn't a bad student, I was on the honor roll and I worked very hard, but I deemed myself as average in pretty much everything that I did. I never felt like I was special and all of my hard work sometimes didn't show through my performance on tests, track meets or anything school related really. One thing that I did know is that I was tenacious, hardworking, persevering, and I never gave up even when times got tough (and may I say, times would get tough a lot for me involving schoolwork). I was always envious of my friends who seemed to excel in school effortlessly because they "had that mindset" for our education system, but that pushed me to work 100 times harder to keep up (or try) and to never lose hope that I could eventually one day say that I was Succeeding In The Face Of Anxiety. 

"Start by doing what's necessary' then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." -Francis of Assisi

"Start by doing what's necessary' then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." -Francis of Assisi

I am proud to say that day has finally come. 

On top of my academic/work success that I have had in my life thus far. I also have another dimension to share with you in my life. I have ALWAYS had a passion for entertaining. Ever since I could talk, I loved to get in front of people and perform, whether I was singing, acting something out, or just being on stage...I was in my element. Growing up I would take acting classes, singing lessons, piano lessons, etc. and I loved all of it. In 2008, while I was still in high school, I signed with a talent/modeling agency in Minnesota where I started out doing a lot of print work for a prom catalog (modeling David's Bridal and Glitz dresses), a sports equipment catalog, and other print modeling opportunities. From there, I took time to pursue high education, while still juggling modeling gigs when I could (this was very important to me, as I love to challenge myself and provide as many opportunities for myself as possible in life). I knew that I wanted to be a well-rounded individual in life, to be considered more than "a pretty face" to society and in order to do so I underwent one of the most challenging feats of my life...pursuing my bachelors and two master's degrees, all of which were well worth it and I'm so happy that I did!!! Currently, I am a working, professional actress and model too (that is currently what I am focusing on in life and I LOVE it)! Balance is important to me in life. So, I am happy that I have this opportunity to pursue this passion in my life right now with acting and commercial work. 

During my years of higher education is where I began to notice my anxiety disorders the most. I also like to fill my life with fulfilling hobbies. I enjoy playing the piano (I've been playing my entire life), I love to do arts and crafts as well as volunteer and travel. I like to make sure that I keep busy because that is the way that I like to live life, but I need to remember that I need to fit in relaxation and fun as well. Since I finished up my time in higher education (for now, haha--I'm thinking of getting my Ph.D later on) my anxiety has gone down and I am learning great ways to cope with my anxiety disorders.

Right now, I am also job searching...that is work in itself, it can get tough sometimes getting rejected one job after another, but this is an opportunity for me to build up character and grow from these times to become an even better person in the long run. I'm eager to find my next step for my career....right now I am looking into creating my own position for myself (my scholastic and work experiences are anything but conventional and created uniquely by me, so it would only make sense that my career would too)!! All I need to remember is to stay strong, not be deterred and stay positive. 

I'm an optimist, I always look on the bright side of situations, that is the type of person I am. I always count my blessings (I have a lot) and I make sure to be grateful and thankful for everything and all of the opportunities that I have in life. 

 
"What we think, we become." -Buddha

"What we think, we become." -Buddha

Just Breathe.

 

It may sound crazy, but sometimes taking an extra deep breath can do the trick. There is a known technique called 4-7-8 Breathing. This is a great stress relieving technique that is simple and easy to do.

The five steps are:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. 

*Remember to hold your breath for eight seconds. This is because keeping the breath in will allow oxygen to fill your lungs and then circulate throughout your body. It is this that produces a relaxing effect in the body. 

The information above was acquired from: http://www.medicaldaily.com/life-hack-sleep-4-7-8-breathing-exercise-will-supposedly-put-you-sleep-just-60-332122

That leads me to talking about mindfulness/meditation based stress reduction exercises (MBSR). It is a great way to learn to calm your mind and body and to help you cope with illness, pain and stress in your life. It focuses only on being in the present moment. Mindfulness is not a time to "zone out" or "space out", but it is rather a time to purposefully pay attention and be aware of your surroundings, emotions, thoughts and your body. Try this exercise now: sit quietly in a non-distracting area, close your eyes and notice your emotions. You might focus only on the sounds around you or the temperature of the room around you. Embrace that feeling and be in the moment with that feeling, sensation or emotion. 

The information above was acquired from: http://www.webmd.com/balance/tc/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction-topic-overview

Remember that I am learning ways to ease my anxiety, right beside you. This is a new journey that I have started and I am quite excited about it. Also, remember that we never stop learning--in life, we are constantly learning new things about ourselves. Even if you don't suffer from an anxiety disorder, we all get anxious every now and again for different reasons. Just remember to: BREATHE.

In the "Information and Resources" section I talk more about wellness techniques for stress reduction (e.g. meditation and yoga) as well as more conventional ways such as medication and therapy. 

 

 
"We know what we are, but know not what we may be." -William Shakespeare

"We know what we are, but know not what we may be."

-William Shakespeare

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." -Jimmy Dean

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." -Jimmy Dean

"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light." -Aristotle Onassis

"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."

-Aristotle Onassis

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." -Theodore Roosevelt

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." -Theodore Roosevelt

Come Back Again Soon!

 
"Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship." -Buddha

"Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship." -Buddha

Please continue to check-in on what is going on! The WEEKLY BLOG will be updated the most in the meantime, so please frequent that. I am also still volunteering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota and other volunteer/community opportunities!!! 

Thank you for your support.

 

 
"It always seems impossible until its done." -Nelson Mandela

"It always seems impossible until its done." -Nelson Mandela