Mental Health

Me Too

I wasn’t going to post Me Too on my wall. I didn’t want people to make assumptions or to think I was throwing a pity party. I was ashamed because I didn’t want people to think about my past and think, “well that’ll teach you.” Then I saw someone completely unexpected post it on her wall and it gave me the courage to speak up. Before I knew it, post after post of women and men who I am friends with on Facebook and Twitter started opening up about their Me Too stories. My heart began to ache. There is so much that some people don’t understand. Rape culture IS a thing. You can’t look at your social media pages today and think otherwise. I am certain it is not just my newsfeed that is flooded with women and men who have been either sexually harassed or assaulted standing together; trying to show that this issue is way too common.

Photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplas

I have been overwhelmed with simultaneous feelings of grief and fury at the outpouring of admissions of someone else’s Me Too story. My heart breaks to see that so many people  have experienced the same loss of power and the sense of shame and embarrassment that I have been through. In some ways I feel like I should not be surprised. I am part of a support group that deals with this. I know women and men who have suffered sexual harassment and assault; and yet, the magnitude of just how many people have dealt with this kind of trauma breaks my heart. There is so much I want to say about this subject, and all I can do is cry. And then, just when I begin to think I am going to close the laptop because this is triggering a lot of emotions, I distract myself by pulling up Facebook and I see more posts from family and friends posting the heartbreaking words, “Me Too,” and I decide it is something I can write about.

 

So I sit here in a puddle of tears trying to articulate this deep sense of loss I feel not only for myself, but for so many other people, men and women who have lost a part of themselves because someone hurt them. And whether it was harassment or assault, both come with loss. Loss of power, loss of confidence, loss of self-esteem…so many things. I heard somewhere recently that the more you tell your story, the power it has over you lessens.Two dear friend’s gave me permission to write about their stories that they shared with me because of this movement. Both of these women deserve to heal, and I think opening up about it can be empowering.

 

One friend shared a story about having something slipped into her drink. She blacked out and she can’t remember all of the night. What she does remember is that she had to concentrate on trying to yell. Despite the effect of the drug she managed to make enough noise that he stopped. She spoke of the shame she felt and how painful it has been keeping that in.

She blamed herself!? Guys!! How is she to blame!? Consent is consent. If it’s not there, it IS rape. I am so glad she spoke out. She told her story and she expressed awe and love for each woman who she saw posting. I want to thank her too.

 

My other dear friend did not share her story publicly, but gave me permission to post it anonymously through my blog. A kid in her class years ago would grab her butt constantly when she was up in front of the class. Because everyone laughed, other guys started doing it too. She was humiliated and kept it a secret for 25 years. Only recently did she even tell her therapist. I am so proud of her. People, if someone does not give you consent to touch their body, DON’T do it. It really isn’t so hard to keep your darn hands to yourself. My sweet friend shared with me that it is what she believes cause her to start gaining weight. It has caused feelings of disgust with her own body and shame at having allowed it…because she was too embarrassed to tell the teacher or her parents. I am so proud of her for finally saying something. I really do believe that there is power in telling your story.

 

I don’t feel like it is necessary to share your specific Me Too story in order to convey that so many people are affected. In fact, I am not going to share my story. For me it is still traumatic. Which is why I really had to push through the beginning of this post. I am not ready to share that part of me publicly and I think that is ok too. There are people, places, and times to share when I need to. I can tell you with certainty that I am going to group tomorrow for the first time in a month and a half. This has definitely triggered all the emotions and I know it is time to start working again. Specifics of each person’s story does not matter in the context of being open about how many of us have been either assaulted or harassed. What is important is that we find someway to not only weaken its power over us, but to also bring awareness to those who do not realize that this is such an underserved issue. And if you were ever hurt there are people who can help you. Contact the Rape Recovery Center if you are in Utah. If you are out of state check out www.rainn.org

 

Thank you to all who may read this. And thank you to all the brave souls who are speaking out.

Mental Health

Depression!? Here’s How to Fix It!

Or at least, attempt it.

Tonight I had a great talk with one of my little sisters. As I have mentioned before in my posting, I am going through a real change, but there is a sense of anxiety about when it’s all going to fall apart, not just for me, but her too. Unfortunately it will, and that’s just the nature of depression and codependence. Sometimes I am filled with so much sadness and simultaneous rage that I can’t cope in healthy ways. But I know there is hope, I know it’’s there and that’s why I keep fighting. I am working hard on combatting my demons, but sometimes they feel like they will consume me. My family has watched me struggle. They have seen my life fall apart over and over, and they are as scared as I am about when it starts to fall apart again. I think it is important to admit that I am scared, but to still allow this positivity to flow without allowing this ever present shadow that haunts me even when I am at my happiest to overcome me. It is normal I think for there to be concern. My family and friends all want to make sure I am healing healthily and most importantly, lastingly.

There has been some momentum in the positive aspects of my life and everyone can see the positive effects all this change is having on who I am. I am happier than I have ever been. There is an internal and almost intrinsic belief that I am good enough, beautiful enough, and smart enough to be happy on my own. I still have bad days. Those days don’t really happen as often, or for as long as they used to last. I have moments where my heart beats so fast and I worry about the future, and agonize over my past so much that I can’t breathe. But I am moving forward. With each bout of depression, I feel like I come out of it stronger. Each low comes with more tools to cope, and more realization of what is working in my life vs what hasn’t worked. Happiness is a choice, and with depression it can be work. Part of that work is recognizing when you need to make changes.

 

Upon talking to my sister and pondering for a bit after our conversation, I have come up with a game plan to get me through the next low. Hopefully some of these things will help others who struggle with depression. I am not an expert in profession in treating any mental illness. However, through the scope of my own perspective as someone who struggles with mental illness, as a daughter, a niece, a friend of others who struggle, I feel that my perspective is of some value. It is my hope that this can help others; and maybe even myself through my readers’ perspectives and responses.

 

Continue to learn and develop new coping skills.

I think in order to do this one you have to really become acquainted with yourself and  what actually brings you joy. And then you have to engage in those kind of activities. For me, I love to be creative. So anything that involves painting, writing, coloring, just creating, brings me joy. I love color and I love words. So combine both and I am in heaven. And the more I practice, the better I am getting. The better you get at something, the better you feel about what you have accomplished. Feeling a sense of worth in this way is important to drawing yourself out of depression.

 

Really you have to pick something that works for you. In my article, 4 Things to Help Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Ones, I list several ideas on how to show yourself love and kindness. I think finding things that bring a sense of peace and purpose are great things to work on. I am a big fan of exercise more in theory at this time in my life, but I know that exercise does help me immensely. Especially with anxiety, It forces you to breathe through it and there is something incredibly cathartic in the practice of exercising and movement.

Admitting When You Need Help

When I am in my head, it can be hard to get out of it. Usually I have lots of inner conversations about how I am a burden and shouldn’t ask others for help. And oh how easy it is to convince yourself of this when you are in a state of depression. You MUST NOT believe this. There are people who care about you. When I look back at my most depressive episodes, the kind of episodes where the hope is absolutely gone and I can’t seem to find the will go on, I am so grateful I did reach out when I knew I needed help. I think the trick is probably learning to admit to yourself when those triggers start. Being self aware can sometimes feel icky, because we are our own worst critics. The thing is, by becoming self aware, by being willing to admit when it is time to reach out, or to not get on the defense if someone pointing it out in sincere concern, you have to admit that you can’t always do everything alone. If you feel alone, talk to a therapist, a friend, a sibling, a parent; anyone you trust.  I promise if you start talking about it and hashing out where the downward spiral started, you will be able to pull yourself out of it quicker with each attempt to avoid the downslope.In conjunction with this, I have promised my sister after this talk we had that I would be more open to her help when I start spiralling. My goal is to not be defensive, and I told her to use all my words against me and she has willingly accepted this challenge. For this, I am eternally grateful.

 

Practice Using the Coping Skills When You are Feeling Down or Anxious.

In conjunction with learning and developing the aforementioned coping skills, practicing them is essential. And in this sense I don’t mean practice developing your artistic skills. I mean practice turning to the coping skills you have set up for yourself in your own game plan when they are needed. You have to actually put them to use. You can’t set up a game plan and then not activate it when you need it. It is pointless. This is where the work comes in. This is where you have to choose.Sometimes I don’t want to. There are times I would rather lay in my bed and force myself to sleep in order to avoid the things that are tormenting me. And there are times when I let depression win. But I also know that is when I end up feeling even worse about myself. As time moves forward, I do make more of an effort to turn to the healthy coping mechanisms I have set in place. Sleeping and eating only make my depression worse. When I feel like I can’t cope I reach out to someone. The people I turn to are people I know truly love me. And even though I HATE being told what to do, I feel like I listen more readily. Because when my brain is shutting down and I can’t make good decisions regarding my health, I have to turn it over to loved ones. It is hard, and sometimes I grumble, but 98.5% of the time I know their help is not only well intended, but in fact, productive in alleviating my depression and/or anxiety. You have to be willing to work and listen.

 

Depend on yourself too.

So I say all of this above because it is all important. But where codependence comes into play, you have to learn to depend on yourself too. For me, chasing everyone else’s love in order to fill a hole that was never filled by my mom, I have lived my entire life codependently. I have tried to find love in ALL the wrong places. I chased it to whatever hell it led me. If I have been sad, I have reached out and then when nothing is offered up by others, I have been angry and hurt. This expectation of reciprocation is where you have to let go. There will be times when your main support people are in a meeting, sleeping, with their families celebrating a holiday or a birthday. It is going to happen and we have to be healthy enough to reach inside ourselves in order to pull us up out of a depressive or anxiety ridden hole. Again, this requires work. Reaching out is important, but being angry or hurt because someone is unavailable is just asking for misery. So much energy that you could be putting into your own recovery can sometimes be misplaced in anger or hurt in regard to something you or your support person can’t control. This is why practicing your coping skills is so important. There will be times when the support you may need at that moment can’t be accessed for whatever reason. You need to develop your game plan and practice it in order to be able to rely on yourself to pull out of a bad moment. And if you can’t find it in yourself at the moment, there are therapists and crisis lines that can help talk you through a bad moment. I have used them and one in particular saved my life. Remember there is always hope!

I am still working on all of this. Codependent behavior and depression has been developing inside of me over the course of 36 years and it is going to take some time to overcome. But I know as I move forward in my journey, I will get better and better at overcoming all of this. Sometimes the progress will be slow and other times I will look back (as I do often these days) and be proud of overcoming every hurdle I have jumped.

If you need help you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

For Utah in particular you can call:

Crisis Intervention & Hospital Diversion Services at  801-587-3000

Mental Health

A Video Every Woman Should Watch

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE

 

This post is brought to you today because my baby sister sent me the link above. And when I was done, I was in tears. In fact, I am still tearing up. One thing I will constantly try to share on my blog is the importance of self love. This concept is something I have struggled with, as previously mentioned. It is something I am conquering, but it is something that can be easily forgotten. It takes work! Especially when every thing you’ve ever thought and felt has told you you do not deserve love. This video points out just how badly we can perceive ourselves in comparison to the extraordinary light others see in us. It hit me right in the feels because I know too well how hard one can be on themselves. What if we could stop being haters and see ourselves as other people see us? How much would our souls heal in response to seeing our own light within ourselves?

I can relate to these women, as I am sure most women can. I can tell you every insecurity I have about my face and my body. Double chin, greying hair since I was 21, freckles, my eyes get too squinty when I laugh, and I have a hard time not thinking I look like a sumo wrestler when I have my hair pulled into a tight topknot. I am not sharing this to fish for compliments, but more to demonstrate how ridiculous and critical we can be towards the most important person in our life, ourselves. I didn’t start this post to brag about myself either, but I am proud of who I am and my beauty. I know that my eyes and smile are beautiful and they sparkle when I am truly happy. I know I am warm, inviting, and genuine, which can be seen in my countenance. I am beautiful, and I actually believe it. But man, I have spent so much time concentrating on the flaws, only seeing the negative.

My weight has been a struggle my entire life. I also suffered from severe emotional and physical abuse as a kid at the hands of my mother. I could go into more depth about this, but I will save it for another time. Because of this dangerous combination, my self esteem has basically been non-existent for me my entire life. I always thought that my weight was the root of all my issues, and if I could just be thinner, maybe life would be better. As I grow older I know this is not the case. This defeatist perception of self is simply hopeless. I know that if I can love myself just as I am, I can find happiness. It is so important to accept yourself. With each passing minute, week, and year, I discover I finally have an honest belief as to just how fabulous and special I am. I have so much to offer. Sometimes I beat myself up because it has taken me so long to realize it, but then that’s not really an example of showing myself love and acceptance is it?. So I am going to be forgiving and gentle with myself because I deserve it.

Ladies, and even gentlemen, let’s commit now to truly loving ourselves. Let’s start trying to see ourselves from an outsider’s perspective and really try to appreciate how beautiful and uniquely amazing we are. Stop worrying about what others are thinking, because people don’t notice the things you are insecure or worried about. People see goodness and light. It is what draws them to you. It is so important that we take a minute and truly take in and believe we are gorgeous and deserving of love. Not just from others, but from inside yourself. I want to challenge each of you to practice being kind to yourself. Appreciate the uniqueness of each beauty mark, wrinkle, and grey hair. They are part of you. Each thing you think is negative probably adds more character and life to an already fascinating specimen of humanity. Let your light shine unabashedly. The love you give yourself, will only attract those who want to share in your warmth.

 

When I watched this video, I thought every woman in it was beautiful. They were different and unique and I loved it. I wasn’t sure in the beginning what the outcome was. But when I started hearing what the strangers were saying about the women in comparison to their own thoughts about themselves, I couldn’t stop the flood of tears. I knew immediately that I needed to share my thoughts on it. Comment if you are with me on this challenge!

Mental Health

Two Tricks to Help You Get Out of Bed EVERY Morning

I hate mornings. And when I say hate, I actually mean: I loathe, despise, and abhor them. Even when I am not in one of my down swings, I hate them. Sleep is my favorite drug always. And anyone who knows me can attest, that I am a happier lady if I can get 8-9 hours of sleep. But who has time to actually get that much sleep? I know I don’t. This might be because I am actually a night owl whose work starts promptly every weekday morning at 8am. I am a chronic snooze button hitter. It could be a loathing I developed at a young age. 
That being said, in order to eat and actually do my hair and makeup I have to get up at 6am. So this means that if I am to be as happy as the cutest early bird you have ever seen, I have to be asleep by 10 pm AT THE LATEST. I know this seems easy, but really, for me anyway, it has been almost insurmountable. When I get off work I usually have a project to do, sisters in my ward to visit teach, 2 book clubs to manage, eat, shower (my hair doesn’t blow dry anymore in the morning…takes way too long), Netflix to watch, and now finally, writing! That leaves little time to get to bed as early as 10. However, I finally feel I have a purpose, and I will get to that soon.
My first suggestion to combat hitting the snooze button is an easy one. Not even an unheard of proposal. It has been suggested to me my entire life, and I have even tried it: Put your alarm clock across the room. This never worked though, because I would turn it off and crawl back into my bed. It never felt like I truly had anything worth getting out of bed for. And over this last year, that is changing. 

Since cellphones have basically replaced alarm clocks, I slept with mine on the bed or nightstand…most often on my bed next to my pillow. This method was not useful in advancing progress in the desired ability to get out of bed. Even if I set multiple alarms, I would ALWAYS fall back to sleep. If I wanted to get to work on time I need to leave by 7:30am. Often, I would get out of bed at 7:15am. It was getting to the point where I wasn’t even trying to make my top knot look fancy. And “What makeup routine? Are you kidding me?” Don’t get me wrong, I love my job., but dag yo, it just wasn’t enough; isn’t enough. 

Last week,  I took some steps to make some real changes and I can already see them working in my life. The first step was simple; I started putting my phone across from my bed on the vanity. One adjustment changed things in two ways. Phone addiction is a real thing. Instant gratification is lurking behind a simple touch screen device and is so hard to resist. Especially when I am trying to sleep and I think of a person I forgot to text, or an idea for something important needing to be dictated into my notepad on my phone. It has replaced more than just my alarm clock; my calendar, jigsaw puzzles, phone calls with texting, and now that I am starting this blog social media is super important. So now, if I am trying to sleep and I think of something that needs me to touch my phone, it waits. Because by the time my book stops playing, I am tired enough that getting out of bed isn’t an option. So instead of planning and setting reminders, I sleep. Weird right? Sometimes it has even been as early as 10:30pm. Equally important, sitting up and hitting the snooze button after it starts playing Warm it up Chris, by Kriss Kross, gets my blood pumping. I start drawing myself out of my slumber. And I know in the depths of my heart that the biggest reason is because I am working on things I love.  

Last Thursday I joined a writing group. Some people and something has been pushing me, prompting me to start a blog. In the same vein, I don’t think I can count how many times I have started a novel, only to give up after one or two chapters. Part of it has been fear of what others think, but also the fear and belief that I would fail. I second guessed myself always and have been frightened of expressing myself, thus making myself vulnerable to other people’s criticism. Taking stances mostly terrifies me. But there is one thing I do know; I have so much to offer. My life has at times been tumultuous, but I feel that it has made me empathetic, compassionate, and loving. I have been gifted with a decent sense of humor ( I mean, I think I am hilarious). Blogging has helped me get up. Being challenged to write a chapter of a novel that has been brewing in my head for the last ten years by the writing group is fueling my creative passions. Best of all, I have faith in myself.
Let me repeat that. I HAVE FAITH IN MYSELF. Where did that come from? I can tell you that it has not been easy, and I am sure I will have to remind myself from time to time of my own worth. But what a wonderful thing to have. What an amazing feeling it is to actually focus on yourself and discover that you actually do love yourself. I realized, (not without encouragement from some amazing people) I am good at a lot of things. I love to paint, not exceptionally well, but I enjoy it. Whereas writing is something I have always had a knack for. My 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Johnson told me so, but I never put much stock in it. Mrs. Murdoch, my 7th grade English teacher, encouraged me; yet I did not even begin to know how to believe her. I have faith in myself and I am following a dream. I don’t know where it will take me, but how can you not get up if you are living your life passionately and chasing your dreams?

Mental Health

4 Things to Help Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Ones

THE TAPES IN OUR HEAD
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I have long loved this quote! But what a difficult concept to master. I mean it makes sense; you have control over how you react or how to feel when someone bullies you or tries to make you feel less than. That’s usually just a reflection of the bully, not you. Simple right!? Not always.
We all have tapes that have recorded over time. Life experiences that have taught us how to think, react, feel. They’ve recorded what our parents and other role models have taught us regarding our worth. Well, what if those people taught and recorded on your tapes that you were worthless? How do you rewrite that tape? How can we record over something filled with vitriol, with something that uplifts, honors, and edifies us? Things that remind us of our true worth instead of what our grownups, the media, bullies and other people who influenced our childhood have recorded onto the tapes we play in our head.
We are often lucky enough to have people who see or saw all the amazing qualities within ourselves and tried to help us see it. But for whatever reason, the bad seems to be easier to remember. In my own experience with this has been difficult to overcome. I have to fight to rewrite my tapes EVERY DAY. Sometimes it is easy; other times it is like trying to dsafasdfsd
I understand what it is like to have a tape that has no business running through anyone’s head. I know what it means to have to rewrite so many things I was taught to believe about myself. It is not easy. Those tapes will start playing in my head after stretches of days where I have managed to listen to the loving tapes I’ve created in my mind. Something can still trigger the negative stuff and sometimes it can take a while to find the strength to force myself to listen to the positive ones.
So the question is, how do we rewire our brains? How do we fight the negative recordings? I don’t know all of the answers, but I can tell you what helps me eject the negative tapes and play the positive ones.
1. Find the Right Support System  
· Not everyone in your life is going to understand you. There are people who can’t or don’t want to handle your crazy. We all come with baggage and it is so important to find people that don’t mind helping you either carry it, or help you rest from carrying it everywhere. And this baggage may be too much for others. ( I am not saying you should find people to completely dump your baggage one, but you need people in your life who can be patient with you). Fortunately I have some amazing people who accept me for who I am and are patient when I need them. There are those people who stick around and love you flaws and all. No one is perfect. No one can keep it together all of the time. You need individuals who stay through the good and the bad. I am lucky enough to have several people who have seen me through every stupid decision, and every dip I have ever had and I couldn’t be more grateful. Find the people who stay and forgive the ones that can’t or won’t. Because there are people who understand. There are people who will stay. Find them and keep them. Most importantly, appreciate and love them. The ones who stay are keepers. Take care to get rid of enablers, haters, and people who demean you. For obvious reasons, this is not healthy.
 
2. Be kind to yourself

· Taking time to actually to do something nice for yourself can take a lot of practice. But it doesn’t always have to take a lot of time or money. It can be as sumple as just saying no to something you don’t feel like doing or even spending a day at the spa. I know I don’t have a lot of money to go to the spa regularly so here is a list of inexpensive ways you can show yourself some love

  • Take a walk “endorphins make people happy,” Elle Woods.
  • Hot bath, with or sans bubbles
  • Take time to read
  • Paint or color
  • Hike
  • Say no
  • Home pedicures, facials, etc
  • Shave your legs!
  • Invest in some candles for bath time.

3. Daily Affirmations
· This feels soooo goofy! But I promise that this is the best way to rerecord your tapes. If you are not constantly working on it and telling your brain positive things you need to hear and believe. I can attest that it works! I will also admit that I need to add this into my routine. It is more difficult to let the negative in when you are filling your head with positive vibes on the reg. I promise I have always felt my best when I have chosen to put this into practice daily.
4. Self Care: and these are sometimes the hardest for me. 

  • Clean your living space
  • Get up out of bed and put on something you love. Do your makeup and hair, only because it makes you feel good!
  • Wash the dishes immediately after you eat
  • Chase a dream. Schedule it. Joined the writing group, or the book club, or the Bollywood Troupe. 

Honestly, I feel so much better when I apply these things to my life! When I take time to do something I love and even chase a dream, I feel worthy of something more. Playing those negative thoughts over and over is never helpful. The best we can do is be aware and acknowledge that we are struggling. Be patient with yourself and take steps every day to try and rewrite those tapes. It takes work, but it gets easier to pull yourself out the bad when you work on making this a daily positive habit.

Humor · Mental Health · Uncategorized

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a fair young maiden. Well, maybe not so young, but she wasn’t old really. In fact, she was more “mid-single” as her religious culture might deem her. She was a strong woman, who had gone through many trials, not unlike any other normal human being. But alas, she was blessed with a sensitive soul and her trials affected her deeply. Her sensitivity was a gift and a curse at the same time. Her big heart was a great comfort to her friends and family, sometimes it got her into trouble, but mostly it helped her grow and become stronger than she ever imagined possible.

Alas, the trouble she got into would leave her heart broken from time to time, but she persevered. Each time the fair maiden fell, she got back up again. With every incident she became a little stronger and wiser. One day the woman realized that through her course of her trials, she had gained a lot of wisdom and perspective that others found comforting. Her advice was sometimes sought and the wisdom she had gained not only gave her her own sense of comfort, it helped those in her life. Some people even deigned to call her witty, as her ways of telling her  tales with a flare of humor often left people in stitches.

Aside from this ability to entertain with words and wit, there was a desire in her heart to express the ideas and trinkets of wisdom gained throughout her various life lessons. On her journey through life and on her quest to value her own self worth, she realized she had a lot to offer and even more to say. She could see humor in her daily life. Her life was filled with adventures and funny yarns about her crazy nieces and nephews, and her occasional attempts at cutting carbs out of her diet. And it is with this knowledge, that she had something to offer and something of value to say, that this blog has been created.

So stay tuned for the adventures of the fair young maiden whose Fairy Tale in Progress is sure to elicit all of the feels and possibly all of the giggles one can muster.