Mental Health

If You’re Sad and Feeling Blue

So if you’ve read my blog, you know I struggle with depression. This month it’s been coming on ever so slowly. I hate it. I can use my tools as much as I want, but eventually, the crash will come and I hate it because I know I can’t fully stop it. The worst thing about depression, is watching it arrive, only to fight it, and still pick yourself up… again…only to know that it absolutely WILL come to visit again.

An unfortunate constant. Especially when I literally have nothing to be sad about. I’ve been writing more, been getting outside more, I have lost over 60 pounds, and I feel beautiful. Confident even. I should be celebrating.

The weekend I went to the cabin I thought maybe I had beaten this round. Yet, I may have found myself driving to work, wishing something apocalyptic had happened so Life could be canceled…or I could just not exist anymore. Folks, I wish I were kidding.

I don’t mean to alarm anyone. If things like that are creeping in, I reach out to someone. And I did and I ALWAYS do. This is part of depression. Everything is going great, but there are those tapes we’ve been playing in our thick skulls since as far back as we can remember. A negative thought sits on the outskirts of our brains. Soft at first, insisting you don’t deserve to be happy. You keep pushing along, because you know there are reasons to celebrate; reasons to thrive.

I’m so grateful I have learned to utilize the tools I’ve learned that help me pull myself out of the meanest sets of the doldrums. Find time to create✅ Reach out to a few of my MANY solid friends✅ (again, guys!! Grateful🙌❤️) self-care✅ Spend time with some of my cherished Little’s ✅

I started out the day on the verge of tears, and tonight my heart is full. I am so loved. I am so blessed in like, every single way. There is hope and picking yourself up again is always worth it.

Tonight’s post written to:

With the game muted in the background. Go Warriors!

Mental Health

Five Sure Steps to Becoming More Brave

Every step towards growth is a step that matters. But sometimes taking those steps is uncomfortable…and scary. Uncomfortableness can lead to some pretty intense anxiety. Figuring out how to manage the stress and anxiety, is to combat it with every weapon you can brandish. Here are just a few things that helped me get through another week of being brave.

1. Invest in some fantastic waterproof makeup. Because sometimes being brave hurts a little. Because being honest and authentic is hard. Saying those honest things is harder. And if you’re sensitive, there may be days filled with intermittent crying sessions. But if you have waterproof makeup, you can have a tiny cry when the moment arises and then you can still look like the new confident rockstar you actually are.

2. Keep a tight schedule. For me, being brave is hard. And it means being completely open and honest with how I’m feeling. Which in turn has meant that I’ve had to be more vocal about my feelings. Confronting and voicing those feelings can be uncomfortable. I am not advocating keeping yourself so busy that you don’t take care of yourself, because that doesn’t make sense. But in line with keeping goals, spend your time working towards them. Chase those dreams as you move through the uncomfortableness. It will help ground you and keep you focused.

3. Don’t neglect your self care. Because if you are going to tirelessly chase your dreams and improve your life, you will burn out if you go full stop. At least in my case. So schedule downtime and honor it. (I hope you all know, I’m saying this because this list is more for me than anything). Watch a movie with your friend or by yourself. Listen to Justin Timberlake and dance around in your underthings. Just make sure you are honoring whatever it is that feels right to you.

4. Exercise is important! If you are prone to anxiety attacks this might be especially important. When you go about doing brave things that shake you out of your comfort zone, the moments before you do it and even for a bit after can rattle you a bit. In order to move through this, breathing becomes especially important. And what better way to do it than to get your yoga or swimming or hiking exercise on. So get out your mat and do some sun salutations and strike some warrior poses. Your body and your calm mind will thank you.

5. Prayer! Keep on talking with Heavenly Father. He will help sustain you and direct you to more opportunities in which to be brave. If you don’t believe in a higher power, I say meditate. I do that too. Slowing down and being mindful of where you are and checking in with how you feel is a great way to figure out if there are any adjustments you need to make to your new brave routine so you can keep fighting the good fight.

And with that, I will leave you with this quote:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

*photo credit to Catherine McMahon

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!

My First Novel

Grace

Yesterday I was brainstorming about topics for the blog. I have a list of ideas, but none of them were grabbing me. So I asked some friends what I should write about. One friend asked me to talk about something so personal and so exciting and at first  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to share! My dear friend asked me to tell you about a novel I have been thinking about in my head for probably the last ten years. There…I said it. Publicly and on the interwebs where everyone can read it. Am I scared? YES! Why? Let me tell you.

 

There have always been stories teeming around in my head for as long as I can remember. When I was in junior high, my friend and I were planning a collaborative piece about cloning; thank you Michael Chrichton and Jurassic Park for the inspiration. We spent countless hours doing research. The internet wasn’t in full swing yet, so we could only use the resources in the library. It was going to be so legit! However, it never passed the initial research phase and the ideas are somewhere hidden in the deep recesses of one of my many journals. Which honestly, is probably for the best. I don’t think my calling is as a science fiction writer.

 

Several other ideas have popped in my head. I have countless halves of first chapters written. My journals are filled with stories that never even had a chance to spring forth into life. So I have been pondering why I haven’t finished any. (Not finishing things is kind of the story of my life). There is really only one answer. To put it simply: fear, thrown in  with a tad bit of laziness, and a complete inability to believe I have anything of value to say. I am sure this fear is more than relatable; not just to writers, but any artist or person with an idea swirling in their brain. I mean seriously, what if I tell EVERYONE my idea to write a novel;  like on a blog post where everyone with internet access can witness not only my big promises, but possibly, my huge failures? Then again, why NOT? After all I am only human. Isn’t my blog titled A Fairy Tale in Progress? Progress people, which means I might fail. But the beauty about failure, is there is always an opportunity to pick ourselves up and try again.

 

So here I sit writing at 6am (as per previous mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t do mornings). The night before I first started this blog, I joined a writing group and attended my first chapter meeting. The assignment was to write something  for critiquing to share with the rest of the group. I felt simultaneously thrilled, scared, stumped, and challenged. I thought and thought about what I might want to share. Finally I decided I needed to introduce the world to Grace. (My heart literally skipped a beat just now and I held my breath while I wrote that sentence).

 

Grace is 9. There are several different plots running through my head about which direction I want to take her plot. Here is what I know about her: childhood has been a struggle for her. Her parents are non existent, or if they do exist, they suck.  And by suck, I mean really suck. But whatever her story, she ends up happy, loving herself, and conquering all the bad stuff. She has been my heroine for years and I think it’s time I set her free and tell her story.

 

Some of you readers who know me might be going, “hmmmm this sounds familiar.” And it is! I am going to draw from my own experience. Grace and I have always been different you see. She was happy in the end, and for so long I haven’t been. I think that was part of the block as well. How could I tell the world her story, when I didn’t know how to get to the happy part of life on my own, in the real world? They say to write what you know. Well for the longest time, I have not known what it truly means to have a happy ever after of my own. But folks, I feel like I am getting the hang of it. I just wanted Grace to be happy, and I think I finally know how she will become fulfilled and content. And it is most definitely because I think I have the answer. Well, most of the answer, as there is always room to grow.

 

So here I am, just a girl sitting in front of a computer at 6am (thank you Notting Hill), hoping against all hopes that I can keep this momentum of positivity in my life going. I am terrified that the other shoe is going to drop, that it will fall so hard onto the proverbial ground that I will be standing here with nothing but a bunch broken promises and half written chapters for the rest of my life. When you suffer from depression, the shoe usually does drop. And I am so happy, and I hate that I know it is going to hit me again. Because that is part of my life. Depression will always be a part of my story. However, the older I get the more I develop the tools to pull myself up. I have learned to give myself more patience and more love. I feel like for the first time ever, I believe what all the people who have ever loved me have been telling me my whole life. So I am going to do this. I am committing. Grace is going to get her story and I am so thrilled.

 

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Feel free to comment if you think you’d like me to post excerpts of her story as I move along in the process. Her first chapter is scheduled to be written tonight, because tonight is when I have to submit my piece for the writing group, and I am a procrastinator. Thanks for taking time to read this! And thank you love (you know who you are) for encouraging me to write about it.

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.