My story
, , ,

[Day 14] My Story

My story

Before I share a bit about how I came to do what I do and more importantly be who I am, I want to say this (it’s something I have to remind myself of often).

Your story matters.

And it is of equal importance to share your story in a way that feels good to you. If your intention in sharing your experiences is to get others to feel sorry for you, to make yourself sound better than other people or to sustain being a victim, look at that. Be honest with yourself and get crystal clear about your intentions.

I say this because the stories we tell ourselves become our reality. And if we continue to repeat the ones that make us feel negative emotion, we will continue to repeat the same things. Maybe not in the same way, but they will manifest in some form.

So, if you feel good when you’re telling it and if you know in your heart it will help other people, then share it.

End preach.

My intention in sharing my story is to help teens and parents alike know first and foremost, they are not alone. Secondly, that it doesn’t last forever. And third, because I know the route I went could have been a lot shorter had I known what I know now.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided below is not intended to replace the medical advice of a qualified health care professional or to be used as therapy. Carrie Leigh Sandoval assumes no responsibility for the results generated.

So when I was a teenager, I was a total mess. I was having panic attacks multiple times a day, using drugs, not eating and would hurt myself in any way I could – namely cutting myself with whatever I could find.

Why? Because it was the only thing that brought me relief, the only coping technique I had.

I felt alone, afraid and responsible for all the crap going on in my house. In a place where I felt so much and didn’t have a voice or a place to express my pain, cutting was the only way I could communicate how bad I was hurting and what the constant fighting and being put in the middle of it was doing to me.

I was hospitalized, medicated, saw numerous doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, you name it. And while I am grateful these things exist and they did temporarily stabilize me, I continued to repeat the same unhealthy habits and patterns – never fully healing or learning positive coping strategies.

Everywhere I went, these labels defined me. I felt insane. Broken. Like I needed to be fixed. But all I truly wanted was to feel like a human being.

To be seen. Heard. Loved and respected for being myself, not just when I was being who everyone else needed me to be.

There was a whole lot of pressure on me to be the perfect daughter so everyone else would be okay. But it wasn’t until I started to accept myself and take my healing into my own hands that everything began to change.

It took me years and years of struggle and self-study to understand that I wasn’t broken or insane. I was just a young girl having a normal response to really insane circumstances.

Committing to showing up for myself is something I have to practice every day, but I’ve now been sober for over 5 years, haven’t cut myself in close to 6 and am no longer taking prescription medications.

I have a beautiful family, a job I love, but most importantly I no longer feel like there is something inherently wrong with who I am.

Having a mentor who got me and didn’t try to fix me inspired me to do this work.

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted someone to just say, “Hey, you’re not crazy. You’re alright. Everything is going to be alright.”

I love that I now get to share this experience and understanding with other young people, especially the girls, who feel the same way I felt.

And I love being able to help parents stop blaming themselves because really it’s not their fault.

Knowing these experiences can help others unlock their courage, strength and power of choice, gives me hope (and puts a smile on my face).

We are all here for a reason and you never know who you might help or the impact you’ll have by sharing your story.

There’s a lot more to mine, but this is all I’m going to share today. Now I want to hear from you.

What story do you share that reminds you of how amazing you are? Or what story keeps you going when you’re feeling low and need to be inspired? Leave me a comment below.

self-injury awareness day
, ,

Teenage Cutting: Why We Cut

This post is intended not just for young people struggling with self-harm, but for their family members and friends who don’t understand why the person they love is cutting. Here it goes.

The question I get most often is the question I most hated being asked when I was cutting myself.


I would get defensive and build up a wall around me and have an “as if you don’t know” attitude. But really, nobody did know.

No one knew what went on in my head. From what they could tell everything was “normal” (most cutters are so masterful at this they even begin to deceive themselves, convincing themselves everything is okay, when clearly it’s not) but I felt like I was dying inside. I had something to share and something to say, but I didn’t.

I was afraid of what people would say. I was especially afraid of what my parents would say. I felt like I needed to be okay for things to be okay. Like the fate of the entire universe rested upon me being the perfect daughter. They had enough to deal with and I didn’t want to burden them with my problems. I didn’t want to cause another fight. I didn’t want to be in the middle. So I kept quiet.

They never intentionally made me feel this way, but when there isn’t any communication and everyone in the household is shut down, what do you do?

You rush to find a way to make the pain end. You try to distract yourself.

Or, you cut.

We all have ways we anesthetize ourselves. Whether it be with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, you name it.

No one wants to feel horrible, but truly the only way to release or change or shift a feeling, is it to actually feel it rather than try to numb the pain.

But you’re still wondering,

“Is is just for attention?”

Yes and no. For the teenagers who are cutting, they want you, someone, anyone to know how bad they are hurting, but are terrified of confrontation. Terrified they will be made wrong for feeling what they feel. Terrified they will be rejected.

It’s easier to just cut.

This isn’t to blame. It’s to bring light to the situation. There are barriers to break down. Things to be said. And forgiveness that needs to take place.

Whether you are the one cutting or the one watching this happen, you absolutely have to get help. Cutting in itself is very serious, but it is a symptom of lack of self-expression, self-love and the inability to process emotions. You must find someone who can serve as a bridge, who will listen to both sides and help your teen recognize the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that have led her (or him) to this behavior.

As I tell my clients, this won’t last forever and you don’t have to do this alone. There are people out there to support you and your kids, myself included. I know how disheartening it is to try seemingly everything and still be going through this.

But you are going to get through it.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to enter your name and email address in the box to the right (below if you’re on a tablet or other mobile device) of this post to receive the “5 Keys to Help Teens Break the Self-Harm Cycle.”

feel your feelings

Feel your feelings (affirmation)

Many of us bury our feelings or push them aside saying we’ll just “deal with it later.”

And then we don’t.

And then we have a meltdown.

This is to remind you to feel your feelings as they come up. They are here to teach you something. And to help you in some way. Have compassion for yourself.

Don’t judge your response to a situation.

You have ever right to feel what you feel.

feel your feelings

For more affirmations, go here.

Affirmations for teenagers

Mistakes are opportunities to grow (affirmation)

We all make mistakes, but we can either dwell on them (which does absolutely no good) or learn from them.

Use this affirmation as a reminder that you’re free to make mistakes and in allowing yourself to do so, you might learn something you may not have otherwise been able to learn.

Give thanks to your doubts and fears, but don’t let them stop you from doing the things you really want to do.

It’ll all work out fine.

Affirmations for teenagers

For more affirmations, go here.

just be me quotes
, ,

Just be you (affirmation)

Happy Wednesday! Here is a quick affirmation for you.

just be me quotes

Enjoy! And just be you. 🙂

For more affirmations, go here.

self-worth in teenagers
, , ,

Helping kids connect to who they really are

In my last post, I mentioned “helping kids connect to who they really are” as an antidote for bullying.

I’d like to go a bit deeper into this today.

self-worth in teenagers

As adults who are interacting with young people, the best thing we can do is model healthy self-worth. When we are accepting ourselves, we interact with others from a place of love and empowerment. And when we demonstrate this to our kids, they get to see what healthy boundaries look like.

From a very young age we are taught to seek others’ approval and to always look outside for instruction and validation.

But what if we would have been taught early on to love ourselves first?

When we are in alignment, others can feel it and treat us differently. The following steps will not only allow you to connect to yourself, but you can use them to help others connect to themselves too.

1.Get in your body

We spend so much time in our head allowing our thoughts to dictate who we are. A belief is just a thought we think over and over again until we begin to accept it as truth. The more time you can spend in your body, the sooner you will be able to tell the difference between the you you’ve always thought you were and the you you really are.

The best and easiest remedy for getting into your body?

Breathe art

Imagine your breath filling every area of your body. Allow it to go all the way down into your feet until you feel a strong connection to the ground beneath you.

2.Notice, feel and express what you need to in order to feel better

We have a tendency to hold onto things because we are either in denial or feel we don’t have the right to feel what we feel. We’ve been told “you shouldn’t feel that way.” Truth is, you have every right to feel what you feel. Even if no one else has the same reaction or emotion come up in the same situation, you do. And it’s okay. Maybe you’re more sensitive. Maybe you’re just wired differently. Whatever the case, it’s alright. Just notice and be okay with whatever comes up.

Then, find a way to get it all out. Some suggestions:

  • Write
  • Walk
  • Do EFT (watch a quick into to EFT here)
  • Cry
  • Shake it out (like how puppies do after they’ve just had a bath)

The idea is to give yourself full permission to feel and express anything and everything you need to feel better.

3. Decide what kind of day you’d like to have

When you know what you want and focus on it with faith, your situation has to improve. You are a powerful creator and you create with your every thought. When you are in alignment and everything else is out of the way (or when you “get out of your own way”) anything is possible.

Imagine how you’d like your interactions with your friends and family to go. See yourself handling each situation with grace and ease as you know your own value and worth.

We so quickly and easily hand our power over to others, but we don’t have to.

You are powerful and you know exactly what you need to do.

When you know this and embody this, others will feel it. The people who are “bullying” you will leave you alone as if by magic.

What if all this was just to get you to see how amazing you are?

How has an unpleasant situation actually strengthened you as a person? Please share in the comments section below.
I choose to be happy

Choosing happiness (affirmation)

It’s easy to feel powerless over your thoughts, but in truth our thoughts are the only thing we can control.

We can’t change other people.

We can’t change what happens outside of us.

But we can change what goes on in our minds.

Happiness is a choice – not always easy (ugh hormones) and it’s not always automatic.

But the more often you choose better feeling thoughts, the easier it becomes.

Give this affirmation a try today.

*Remember: if you are feeling bad, don’t use this to cover it up. There’s nothing wrong with feeling whatever you’re feeling, but when you feel yourself starting to dwell or obsess about it, you can use this as a reminder that happiness is an option and is available to you.

Not only that, but you deserve to feel happy.

I choose to be happy

Want more affirmations? Go here.