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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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