mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized

Powerlessness and You

Today, someone messaged me and asked how to deal with the feeling of being powerless, and the ensuing emotions that resulted from that feeling. They also said that they would feel so bad that they weren’t pursuing anything else, out of solidarity for those suffering. I answered the inquiry, and I wanted to share with you what I said to this person:

First of all, I totally understand the feeling. When things are happening on a greater, grander scale (like national or even global decisions), it’s natural to feel like there isn’t anything you can do, and that leads to feeling frustrated with yourself, getting depressed, etc. And I don’t want to say that it’s “good” that you feel that way, but it’s a better response than not caring at all.

And sometimes it’s not even on such a big scale. When we see someone in our life who is in pain, we want to make it better. We want to fix the problem. And when we can’t, it feels like a failure. We take on their suffering because we believe that somehow it balances out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. I mean, put yourself in the other person’s shoes: if you were to find out that someone was suffering on your behalf, would that make you feel better? Probably not.

Ultimately, though, it’s about balance and finding a direction to turn your emotional response.

For me, personally, regarding the bigger scale issues, after the election and after the first few weeks of just feeling like the world was ending, I started getting more involved with activism in my area. Nothing huge, but this week we met up with some people and wrote to our local and state representatives. Next, we’re planning an event to help raise money for local organizations. That feels good. It feels like something, and it keeps me rooted in knowing that I am a part of the ‘good side.’

On a smaller, more personal level, I’ve also been getting back into the mode of creativity, because I know that people need something good to look at when things in the world seem pretty dark. This is the time people need art and words and anything to make them feel a bit better. If I can use that to bolster the spirit of someone who is suffering, I will.

And really – take care of yourself. Feeling bad in and of itself will only wear you out. Enjoy the things that you love and be grateful for them, and look for ways that you can reach out and be there for people having a rough go of it. Remember, you need to secure your own oxygen mask before you can assist others with theirs.

Once again with regard to the bigger stuff, this is a particularly good read that a friend posted on Twitter this week, and it was something I absolutely had to read.

I hope this helps. Hang in there!

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mental health, Uncategorized

Holiday Affirmations: Day 3

It’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you. Everyone is moving a mile a minute, completely engrossed in their own needs, desires and ambitions. Even as they all rush around you, take a few extra seconds to notice where you are and what is happening. Give others the benefit of the doubt, and remember that only you get to decide how you are going to handle a given situation. Don’t take the stress and burdens of others on your own shoulders.

mental health, Uncategorized

5 Reminders One Week Later

  1. It’s okay to step away from social media. If it makes your heart feel like it’s dying every time you look at it, you are not helping anybody by constantly confronting a wall of pain. You don’t owe it to anybody to be present online.
  2. You can be concerned about what’s happening in the world and still enjoy the things that you like. Sometimes that’s the only way to stay sane.
  3. There is still a place in the world for kindness, compassion and happiness. Don’t let that get crushed.
  4. For every horrible person, there are many others who are wonderful. Connect with those people. Let them into your life.
  5. Everyone reacts to things differently. A lot of people are in a state of mourning. Just because you are not responding the same way as others does not make your feelings invalid.
mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized

Morning

I got up and I didn’t want to talk about this.

When I went to bed last night, I just lay there in the dark. We didn’t wait for it to be called, but we waited long enough to know. I felt sick. I didn’t think this would happen. It did.

I dreamed about it. Or at least, it was in the back of my dream mind. I recall being in a bus, trying to take pictures of the world beyond, and I kept considering what the world would be like when I woke up.

This morning, I kept waking up before it was time to actually get up. It felt like the opposite of Christmas. Like if I just stayed where I was and tried to go back to sleep then maybe this wouldn’t be a reality. Yet here I am.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but I wanted to talk to you. Because I know you’re scared and I know you feel ill and I know it looks very, very hopeless.

You are all worth every ounce of whatever goodness there is in this fucked up world. You are just as beautiful as you were yesterday and you’re still beautiful today. You are still loved. You still deserve decency and safety.

I’m not saying don’t be upset. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to be hurt and disappointed and angry. I’ve been angry since the beginning.

But don’t give up. I’m begging you. Don’t lose sense of who you are and a vision of what the world could or should be. The only way we’re going to get back to that is if we fight for it now. Do not give in to hopelessness.

Be vigilant. Be aware. Be informed. Research your state’s laws and government processes. Reach out to the people you know who are afraid and let them know that you’re there for them. If you’re afraid, talk to people you love and trust. Be kind to the people around you – that includes you. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, create things. Pursue happiness.

And if you are thinking about hurting yourself over this…I beg you. Don’t. You are a crucial part of this world. Please don’t go. We need you. We love you. You are so very, very necessary. Your life is a gift. It is wonderful.

And I’m here if you need to talk.

mental health, Personal, Uncategorized

Living with Anxiety

This afternoon, I had an episode of anxiety laced with depression.

It wasn’t like it sometimes is, where it’s following in the wake of a runaway stress motorboat. It also didn’t descend over me like a blanket of smoke — the kind where you wake up into it and realize you can neither breathe nor see a few inches past your face.

It came on a beautiful, quiet day, when work wasn’t sucking and I wasn’t at odds with anyone. It came without any provocation, when I had been eating well and stretching and exercising and drinking lots of water. It came like a flaming toilet hurtling from outer space.

It happens. Like shit.

And it’s easy to get angry. I did, scrubbing tears off my cheeks and all but flinging them across the room. Because while one part of my brain was having a meltdown, the other part was standing over top of them going, “Dude, what is wrong with you?”

And there isn’t an answer when this happens. You can sort of take note, recognize it for what it is, but it is literally a whirlpool. And the more you fight, the more tired and aching you get.

A few reminders when you’re going through this (for you as much as me):

  • You are not broken. You are not damaged goods. And accepting that means also accepting that there are no returns.
  • There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Be calm and approach someone you trust and explain the situation. Let the love in, as much as you are concerned about being “annoying” or “clingy.”
  • Breathe. Just give yourself some time and some space. You are okay.
  • This too shall pass.

 

mental health, Uncategorized

5 Ways to Immediately Deal with Obsessive Thinking

I have dealt with obsessive thoughts since I was a child. It would literally bring me to a point where I was beside myself with anxiety, and 9 times out of 10, it was actually over nothing. The feelings were made of razor blades and fabrications, a make-believe land where the cotton candy was actually fiberglass.

Even now, at the age of 30 and medicated, I still get crippled by it from time to time. So I want to share a few of the ways that I deal with popping the oil bubble in my brain.

  1. Acknowledge it. Don’t fight it. Let the thoughts pass unhindered, and pay them no more mind than you would a stranger walking past you in the grocery store.
  2. Find something else to do. Quickly. The sooner you can fill your mind with other thoughts, the faster the shitty ones will be crowded out.
  3. Talk to someone about it. This one is hard. Sometimes you are fairly certain that if you discuss your crazy thoughts with someone, they are going to call the Straitjacket Brigade to take you away. Find someone you trust and let them know that you’re going through a hard time. A real friend doesn’t mind that you need reassurance.
  4. Laugh. Find something funny and really let it go. I listen to Game Grumps when I’m feeling particularly obsessive.
  5. Tell yourself that this will pass. Take a nap. Eat something. Go about your day. Routine is your friend when the demons are at your back.
mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized

5 Tactics to Immediately Help Stress

So you’re stuck at work or at a party or you’re in the middle of a crowded Chipotle, and suddenly it hits you like a summer thunderstorm: stress. Just like that, you go from ‘I think I *will* get guac, even though it’s going to cost extra’ to ‘I’m never going to be able to finish all the things I have going on right now.’ Some people may not be able to wrap their mind around that, but as someone who suffers from anxiety, it happens more often than I would like.

And while you can give people the pointers that work in the long run – exercise, meditation, the right amount of sleep, the corrective dosage of vitamin chill – sometimes that’s not going to be possible in the middle of rush hour.

So here are five methods of dealing with stress on the spot:

  1. Visualization and dialogue: I have found that a very helpful way of dealing with immediate attacks of stress is to imagine it as a person or object that you can talk to. Explain in no uncertain terms that you acknowledge its existence and that you will deal with it in time. Let stress stand next to you in line, but do not let it do the ordering.
  2. Count your breaths: You obviously can’t go into downward dog in the middle of Denny’s, but you can inhale and exhale (and you should be doing that already). My favorite count is a 7-second in and 11-second out.
  3. Focus on details: This is especially helpful if you can find something pleasant to focus on, like a flower or an animal. But put all your attention on an object and list as many details in your head as possible. What color is it? What size? What’s your favorite part of that object? Make up a story about it. Anything to divert your attention from the inside of your own head.
  4. Stockpile your favorite funny things: Jokes, vines, one-liners. You can even keep them programmed into your phone. Look at a few and have a laugh. I find humor is a quick way to distract myself. And if I don’t have anything, I force myself to smile. It works surprisingly well.
  5. Think of your favorite song: A happy song. Upbeat. If you can, sing it or hum it. Dance a little (like no one is watching – even if they are). If you have earbuds, listen to it on your phone. Let it take you to a better time. Enjoy it.

How do you deal with stress on the go? Tell me about it!

How to Adult, mental health, Physical Challenge, Uncategorized

Red Weddings, Ledgers and Other Things (And How Not to Ruin Your Life)

Okay, guys, I’m just going to say it. This post is not for you. Move along.

So. Periods, amirite?

It feels like there’s maybe two weeks out of the month where I feel like a normal person. I take hormonal birth control pills, so I have at least the convenience of a schedule that says, “Okay, for these days, just assume I’ve lost my ability to function.” But in the latter part of the week leading up to my period, the week of, and half of the week following, there is a flood of A’s: anguish, anxiety, anger, ambivalence, assholishness.

I hated feeling this way for a long time. The attitude that I was always exposed to was, “You’re just going to have to deal with it, and it sucks, but too bad.”

And I suddenly realized, at least for me, that that would only be true if I didn’t care enough to change how I operated between the crazy times.

Everybody is different, but I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me.

  • Calendar reminders: I have filled out my calendar with the timeframes that I know things are going to be Not Good. It may seem like a small thing, but having that visual reminder is really helpful.
  • Mantra: I remind myself, Your feelings are real and valid. You just have a more difficult time dealing with them presently. I’m no less of myself when my body is in utter freak-out mode. However, rather than internalizing stress, I may just explode at whoever it around me. Just knowing that it’s a possibility makes me better able to move away from potentially volatile scenarios.
  • Work around it: It doesn’t always pan out, but I will try and get as much of my personal goals accomplished prior to that time as possible. Of course things may come up, but I feel better knowing that I won’t be nagging myself if I don’t feel up to it.
  • Plow through it: this one is a bit ‘mind over (gross) matter.’ I try to get focused as tightly as I can on what I am doing. It is so, so easy for me to overthink on small things that come up during those two weeks. Mole hills? More like Appalachians. So I refuse to dwell too long on slights, worries and little things.

What sort of tricks do you ladies use to handle that ever-so-special time of the month?

 

mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized

30 Minute Miracles

My day job recently has been…very stressful.

Very stressful.

Sometimes, I finish the work day, and I am in a jumbled state that can only be described as “frazzled.” I cross the finish line and my legs won’t stop. I get to the end of the sentence and I can’t just put down the period and be done.

This is a very stark contrast to how I normally operate, when things are running smoothly: I’m a perfectly functioning automobile heading down life’s interstate. Oh, it’s time to change lanes? I put on my turn signal, move over and boom. Easy.

When I’m stressed out, it’s Fast and Furious, Part Katie’s-Gonna-Kill-Someone.

So I learned something very useful but surprisingly difficult to do: I take 30 minutes and only do things I want to. I close the door to my office. I cross-stitch. I listen to music. I mess around on my computer. I doodle.

I imagine you’re waiting for the ‘difficult’ part here. The activities themselves are pleasant, sure, but it’s the awareness of what is waiting on the other side of the door. There’s this tiny version of me, banging on it with both fists, saying, “Hey! Hey! There’s dinner to make! That laundry isn’t going to put itself away! You do not have time to just be hiding in your room!”

The hell I don’t.

30 minutes. Think about it. How many times have you wasted 30 minutes on an extra episode of a television show? Or hitting the snooze on the clock by your bed?

By taking the time to gather my mental marbles up and put them back in the bag where they belong, I know they aren’t getting lost. I can come at my to-do list reinvigorated.

Give it a try. You have time. I dare you.

mental health, Uncategorized

Effective Combat vs Depression

Remember how I was talking about the whole holiday letdown bit? Yeah, one of the side effects is depression. Not exactly fiery poops or death, but depression really sucks.

I have suffered from depression since puberty, and its hyperactive cousin anxiety has been around even longer than that. Even after that long, I’m still not used to knowing when it’s around. Suddenly, I’m just frustrated and I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. My mind goes all out to ridiculous places. I suddenly question everything: my job, my home, my friends, my entire life. It’s like everything in me assumes that I made some huge mistake along the way, and now how I feel is a consequence of that.

It’s so not true, y’all.

It’s easy enough to make lists of things to help you out of a funk, but when you don’t realize that that’s where you are, you may as well not have them at all. However, here are some of the things I say to myself that help:

– You are more than this feeling in this moment.

– You do not deserve this anymore than you deserve a headache or the flu.

– You’re not going to remember this. What you will remember is the things you still go and do even when you feel like this.

– Just take one step at a time. Do this thing now. Then do this. It may not be fun, but when it’s over, it’ll be better.

Anybody else struggle with depression? Anything that helps you?