Uncategorized

Give Your Mind a Break.


 If we are tired or sick, we tell ourselves to rest. When our bodies are sore and we have been working out, we allow ourselves “rest” days. 

We understand it is essential to rest our muscles and our bodies to avoid over working them and to help them grow or stay healthy.
So, how come when we are overwhelmed with anxiety or submerged in our depression we try to power through? I can’t speak for everyone, but I know in my own case, for a long time, I severely underestimated the power of resting my mind.

It is in my personal nature to give 100% to the people I care about and as an educator I am consistently doing a million and one things throughout the day. 

I am constantly moving from one thing to the next, giving everything I have to other people. Now, I am not complaining because I love my job, the impact I have on my students, and the random chaos that occurs throughout each day.

But, if I am not careful I will forget to refuel and burn out. Before the burn out happens I am in my head thinking of the next thing I need to complete and cross off of my ever growing “to-do” list.

 I decide to power through and get things done just for the sake of getting them done, because not having them done weighs on me like heavy bricks.

I become irritable, emotional, and cry at the drop of a hat. My depression is heightened and I become even more anxious.

It wasn’t until this past year that I realized the importance of giving my mind a break. I started taking time for myself and didn’t feel guilty about it. It wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t get something done, or chose to take care of myself instead.

I found that some of my anxiety was in the fear of not having enough time to get things done. Reality check—there is never enough time, but through mindfulness and giving my mind the breaks it needs I am able to trust that I will get done what needs to get done for that day and allow it to be enough.

I learned that when I take the time to be mindful I in turn become calmer and think more clearly. I feel less stressed and work productively. I am happier and more fun to be around.

You see, there will always be something waiting to be checked off of your to-do list. 

You are your most important priority. Your mind is just as important, if not more, than your physical body. It’s time to start treating it that way!

*Comment below with ways that you give your mind a break, I would love to hear from you! 

-M

 

 

Mental Health, wellness

Recovery is not Linear and That is Okay.

 

pink_what aboutus
“…It’s the start of us, waking up, come on
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
I don’t want control, I want to let go…”

After hearing Pink’s song “What About Us” recently, this excerpt stood out to me. I feel like it describes recovery perfectly. In all honesty, until I joined mental health communities I didn’t really consider what I was experiencing on my mental health journey as “recovery”.

I naively associated the word with addictions or accidents/injuries. Now I am seeing that what I go through with my mental health can absolutely be considered as recovery.

At the beginning of my mental health experience I knew I needed to ask for help and I did, but that didn’t make the process easy. I basically broke down time and time again, until I fell far enough for me to get tired of my own shit—but I was ready. I wanted more and I wanted better for myself.

Recovery hurts in the beginning and sometimes (most of the time) along the way.  I had to face all of the things in myself that I didn’t like or wasn’t proud of. I had to face all the emotion and memories I had buried for so long.

I uncovered the lies and old beliefs I had about myself and my life. I felt like I was “waking up” and finding my truth- which was amazing but also scary.

Every day I am fighting a battle within my own mind. I am fighting to not give in to my anxiety, depression, and the lies they constantly tell me.

I have to use the tools I have learned to help me better manage those things and be as conscious as possible. Now, more than ever I am realizing that recovery is most certainly not linear.

Over the past year I have been really proud of myself. I stopped counseling (my counselor had moved to a different location and I had made a lot of progress but didn’t want to start over with a new person), became a Worth Living ambassador, participated in different mental health platforms (I Am Project Community post and audio interview) created my own blog, started my mental health Instagram account (mindful___wellness), began collaborating with other mental health advocates and have been completely open about my experiences.

I have been finding what works for me and helps me to cope. I started utilizing everything I have learned to really try to not let my mental illnesses get the best of me.

This past summer I found myself becoming more anxious. Especially when I found out I have Syringomyelia, a disease that affects my spinal cord. I have two small cysts in my spinal cord that are giving me an array of symptoms.

I felt like I had a decent handle on my emotions and anxiety while I was waiting for results of multiple MRI’s, but once I found out I had an additional syrinx (cyst) my mind went on auto pilot to the worst case scenario.

This of course, caused my body to respond as if that scenario was actually happening. I tried to be mindful, to take deep breathes, distract myself, think positively, remind myself that I didn’t know the actual size yet. None of that worked and by the end of the day I was exhausted.

I couldn’t believe that I had let the “unknown” get the best of me again and send me over into a panic attack (or multiple ones).

There was another time this summer where I felt like I had made a mistake and was really hard on myself. My inner critic, Regina (as in Regina Phalange—for any of you Friends fans–humor is one of my favorite coping mechanisms), was beating me down daily and I couldn’t shake it.

I felt like I had been doing so well and making many positive changes but I couldn’t let myself off the hook or be kind to myself.

That’s when I knew I should reach out to my counselor. Luckily, I had recently requested a referral to her when I found out about the Syringomyelia. I called her office and was actually able to speak to her.

She told me I was focusing on the wrong things and not giving myself enough credit for how far I have come and we scheduled an appointment.

There are days where I feel like I “relapse” and days where I really wish I could just “let go” and not be worrying or constantly in my head.

I am learning that the most important thing you can do for yourself when you feel like you are taking 10 steps backward or falling back on your face is to be KIND to yourself.

Take a deep breath and remember how far you have come. Recovery doesn’t happen in a straight line, there will be times when you fall short or veer off track ans that is OKAY.

Keep perspective, cry if you need to, but then let it go. Forgive yourself and keep one foot in front of the other to move forward. 

You are a rock star for trying and the progress you are making!
-M

Mental Health

Don’t Believe Everything You Think– A Sneak Peak Into My Depression Part 1.

As many of you know if you know me or have been following me I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and have previously been diagnosed with Dysthymia (a type of depression). I have spoken quite a bit about my anxiety on my Instagram and Facebook accounts and on my blogs for Worth Living.

This is my first time really writing about my Depression and I think that is because of a couple of reasons. The first being that I feel like my anxiety is what primarily effects me everyday and is more prevalent for me. The second is that I think a lot of people shy away when they hear the word “Depressed”. I think we as a society have been taught  to believe there is something wrong people who are dare I say the D word… depressed.

There are different kinds of depression and the one I have is also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder because it is a long term form of depression that is continuous. I have probably had it for most of my life and I dont really have high highs and low lows.

I describe it as always having a little bit of a “meh” feeling deep down. I can be having a lot of fun and feel really happy, but a few minutes later, a lot of times there is still an imaginary grey cloud over me that can bring my mood down regardless of how happy I was feeling.

Basically I can be feeling really happy and having a great day, but underneath that there is a small sadness there for no apparent reason.

I always thought this was just a part of my personality, but that all changed once I wanted to see a therapist and had to see a psychiatrist first, who diagnosed me.

As I am learning more about mental health and am becoming more mindful, I am seeing different aspects of my depression. *Side note: not everyone who has depression experiences it the same, it can show up in many different ways–more on that later.*

More recently I have  been able to notice it in my thoughts. It can make me feel pretty bad about myself. It tells me lies constantly. Some of the most repeated lies it has told me are:

-Im not good enough

-I dont deserve love

– People dont like me/love me

-I am alone

-People are going to leave me

– I care too much

-Something is wrong 

-Everything is my fault

– Good things cant happen for me for reasons x,y, and z.

It can be pretty frightening because it has this way of twisting your thoughts and making you doubt yourself and others.

I used to believe a lot of these LIES and that caused me to self-sabotage and basically self-destruct. I was my own worst enemy.

If I did anything that I perceived to be negative or if anything negative happened I would latch on to one of those lies (depending on the situation) and then spiral (thanks depression’s great friend anxiety) into feeling pretty terrible about myself. A vicious cycle. I believe Mark  Manson refers to this as “The Feedback Loop from Hell” in his book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK.”

Thankfully, I am able to call out these big, fat, lies that my depression tells me. Sometimes it’s still hard, but I just have to remind myself to be mindful and to listen for the quiet, calm voice in my mind because that is the one that speaks truth–not the racing, emotion filled thoughts.

I’m not sharing this for people to tell me that I am not the things I listed above (I know that now, but our mind is a very powerful thing and it is easy to fall into those traps that depression can set).

I am finally in a really great place in my life and love myself and appreciate the struggles I went through.

I am sharing this because if I was feeling  this way there has to be someone else out there who also is or who has and I want them to know I have been there too and that it does get better.

Believing the things depression tells you is dangerous and self-defeating. It can be hard to get through it on your own, so dont be afraid to ask for help or reach out. If I knew I had depression earlier I would have loved to have had someone I could talk to about it.

I am always here if anyone ever needs to chat or has questions.

 

Let’s talk!.

 –M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

The Liebster Award


I was recently tagged by Jade, a fiercely dedicated fellow mental health blogger for the Liebster Award. https://lotsoflovebyjade.wordpress.com/

This tag was created to help new bloggers be discovered and connect with the rest of the blogging community.  

The rules are:

•Recognize who tagged you and promote their blog on your blog

•Answer all questions asked of you

•Create 11 NEW questions

•Tag 11 people with under 200 followers

Questions from Lotsoflovebyjade:

1. What is your story?

In college I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and Dysthymia (Depression). I went through therapy with three different therapist, I really only liked two of them and my last one the most, but she left my dr office, so I am not currently going. I also tried meds for a while on and off. I am officially off all of them and take daily supplements of Turmeric and use essential oils to help me. For the longest time I had a lot of unresolved feelings from my parents divorce when I was really young. Also, growing  up I always felt different and would often get stomachaches and not want to go places because I was worrying so much, it was just constant.  I didnt know back then, but I probably have had my anxiety since at least 4th grade. I was also always coming up with excuses to not hang out with my friends or go out and sometimes I would feel really really down and just sit on the bathroom floor and cry. I didnt know any of this was depression or anxiety–it never crossed my mind back then and now a lot of my behaviors then make so much sense. Im proud of how far I have come and how I am using my voice to help others.
2. How is your recovery/self-love journey going?

My journey/self-love journey is going great. Being completely honest I did not have a lot of self-love before, deep down I actually didn’t really like myself at all. Therapy and learning more about my anxiety and depression and really understanding why I felt certain ways or responded in certain ways really helped me. The biggest thing for me is having compassion for myself. Im usually really hard on myself and used to expect myself to be perfect and “recover” quickly. I would get upset when I would have what I thought were setbacks or when I responded to situations in the same ways. Now, I try to allow myself to feel my feelings and know that recovery or being a human isnt linear. Its important to be kind to yourself when you are struggling and trying to make changes.

3. What’s one thing or person that always motivates or encourages you? 

My boyfriend and dad. (I know you said 1 but…) They always encourage me to keep doing my thing and share my experiences regarding mental health.

4. What are 5 things that make you happy? 

•my dogs

•family/boyfriend/friends

•being outside

•working out

•helping others

*not in a particular order
5. What inspired you to blog/write?

I started my very first blog last summer when I was going through therapy. Writing was therapeutic for me and it felt good to share. Im also a teacher and have seen a lot of students struggling with their mental health. This really motivated me  to start sharing more. I figured if just one person relates or finds what I am writing to be helpful then that is amazing. I know I used to feel (before I was diagnosed) that I was alone in what I was feeling and going through and it would have been helpful to have someone who had been there to know that it was a “normal” or okay.

6. What are your future plans in life? 

I have been teaching for 5 years and want to continue doing that. I want to grow my blog/community of followers to continue spreading awareness about mental health and I want to go back for my masters degree possibly in psychology.

7. What is your favorite mental health organization? 

•NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

•Project Semicolon 

•Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

•Crisis Text Hotline 

I was able to make suicide prevention/awareness posters for the school I teach at and included both numbers. I think it is great to give students/kids/people different ways to reach out for help.

8. What do you hope your blog will accomplish with the community or others?

I really just want to reach out to as many people as possible and help spread awareness and knowledge about mental health. I want to let people know they aren’t alone and having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. I would love to collaborate with others as well. I hope people can relate to what I am writing or find it helpful and want to keep coming back for more

9. What is your opinion/thoughts on 13 Reasons Why if you watched it? 

I read the book a few years ago and liked it, so I knew I had to watch Season 1. The ending in the season was different than the ending in the book and seeing the ending the show decided to go with was raw and hard to stomach for me personally, but I think it’s important to talk about serious situations such as suicide because those are conversations that need to be had to help prevent it. I didn’t think the show was portraying that the people on the tapes should be held responsible for her committing suicide, but I think they were trying to make the point that what you do and how you treat other people matters. And you may not always know what someone is going through or has gone through. Overall I liked it. I think that it can be a great way to continue the conversation around a topic that is often shunned and left out. 

10. What do you do when you are going through an attack/crisis/episode? 

Depends on where I am. If I am in public or with other people I will silently do a grounding exercise in my head and really try to focus on deep breathing. 

If I am alone I might write out what I am thinking/feeling and cry lol. Then I will go back and figure out what caused me to feel a certain way and diffuse my thoughts to see what’s really going on–was I triggered, imagining the worst, etc.

It also depends on how I am feeling. Sometimes if I am feeling anxious I will want to be moving and workout or clean until I feel like I ready to process and write stuff down and really get into my feelings–I tend to avoid them. 
11. What is some advice you would give to someone who might be struggling with a mental illness?

To be kind to yourself and laugh at yourself. Its cheesy but honestly we are all human and all struggle with something its okay if you mess up. Also, that you are never alone and however bad you feel it will get better, it just takes time and self awareness. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help, we all need it sometimes and there is no shame in therapy or asking for help! 

“Whatever you are feeling right now, there is a mathematical certainty that someone is feeling the exact thing. This is not to say you aren’t special. This is to say thank God you aren’t special.” Neil Hilborn

To keep this tag going I nominate:

1. Paige https://paigemckinnon.wordpress.com/

2. Amy https://mindyourwellnessblog.wordpress.com/

3. Kellie. https://fearlesslyflawedfeminist.wordpress.com/

4. Soph and Bec https://sophandbec.blog/2017/07/06/your-brain-give-it-a-rest/

5.  Marnie http://www.epicenterabablogger.com/blog

6. Kara             https://livingfaithoverfear.com/

7.  Trina http://www.cookyourselfhappier.com/

8. Kelly https://thepruimlife.wordpress.com/My 

9. Jessica       https://www.wellfednutrition.co/

10. Meg https://mentalhealthmeg.com/page/2/

11.  Nina             http://sayhellotohealing.com/

Questions for the people I tagged:

1. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start writing?

2.  What is your experience/journey with mental health?

3. What are you favorite self-care tips/routines/rituals?

4. What else do you enjoy, aside from blogging?

5. What is your favorite food?

6. Any book recommendations? Mental health related or just for fun?

7. What are your long term goals for your blog?

8. What’s your favorite song when you are feeling down?

9. What keeps you positive?

10. What have you found to be the most difficult about blogging so far? 

11. How has blogging or being a part of the blogging community helped you?

Thank you Jade for the tag! It was fun answering the questions and creating new ones to share! 

💚-M 

Uncategorized

Boundaries

 

First of all I LOVE this quote. Growing up I didn’t know much about setting boundaries, so I would often end up figuratively setting myself on fire for others.

Whether that would be by giving too much, over committing myself, being too nice, or only worrying about how everyone else felt, except for me. 

I always wanted to make everyone close to me happy and didn’t think they could handle any thing less. I felt like it was expected of me.

It wasn’t until early in my twenty’s when I would begin to have to set many boundaries with the people closest to me- pretty much all at once. 

This seems really simple when you think about it. And kind of elementary “Im setting a boundary to protect myself”. Simple as that.

Not quite. At least not for me because I never learned it. Regardless of who you have to set boundaries with I think what makes it so hard is that it is typically with the people closest to you (at least those can be the harder ones to set) and you want to be strong, share your feelings, and lay it all out. (Yeah, inner strength!)

But at the same time, deep down, you fear that the person(s) you are setting those boundaries with wont step up to meet them. 

That’s scary because you want so badly to not be let down and you want confirmation that you are worth that. (PSA: You are worth it regardless of whether or not someone is able to meet your boundary that has NOTHING to do with you or your worth.)

As many of you know I have anxiety and I can get especially anxious/emotional around confrontation (especially at that time because it was so new to me) the thought of having these hard conversations was pretty crippling to me.

What really helped me most when setting the biggest boundaries, especially within my family was to write a letter to the person I was going to talk to saying how I felt, what I needed, and a plan of what I was going to do if that person wasn’t capable of meeting my boundary.  When the times came to have those conversations I read from my letter.

As hard as it was in some of those cases, when someone couldn’t step up to meet a boundary I had set I stuck to my plan. 

This wasn’t always easy. In fact for the most part it sucked but I realized that I was only responsible for myself and couldn’t control anyone else’s feelings or actions. (again, somewhat elementary, but oh well.)

From all of this I gained more confidence in myself and even on the hardest days, days where I felt completely broken I felt like I could trust myself more. Really in the long run this only helped strengthen all of my relationships.

It’s okay to be compassionate, but do it in a way that still allows you to love yourself and stay true to yourself.

-M

 

 

Mental Health, Uncategorized

To My Fellow Mental Health Warriors…

To anyone who has a mental illness this post is for you-to remind you that you are NOT your illness. 

You are not the label or labels they gave you when you were diagnosed. 

You are not “crazy”, “stupid”, insignificant, or “dangerous”.

You are not undeserving of love and you are not less than.

You are not what the negative voices in your head or the voices of what others may say you are.

 

You ARE a fighter and you are strong.

You are brave.

You face your inner demons, no matter how exhausting it can be. And you get up the next day, and do it all again.

You are a work in progress all the while being a masterpiece of your own.

You are unafraid of facing your problems, well maybe you are afraid, but you go ahead and face them anyways.

YOU are one bad ass mother-fucker and don’t let anyone tell you any different. 

 

-M