Self-care Mondays…My weekly Dose of therapy

 

road-sign-Taking care of myself was a task I looked forward to growing up. Out of all the things I wanted to do when I turned 18, attending to a specific form of self-care wasn’t one of them. Sure, Mom told me how to survive and taught me many valuable lessons, but she couldn’t provide what has been the most important for me. Seeking mental health therapy is ok.

There is absolutely no preparation for how intense therapy treatment can get. Of course, Mom  was raised differently, and treatment may not have been an option for her or she believed it would not be useful. Even the word therapy makes her cringe from time to time.

But I slowly realized, I could be like Mom  and decide to handle things on my own or take that leap into the unknown and have a complete stranger dissect my life. For me, denial and fear hold the same weight, heavy as hell. They are two of the most significant burdens I carry through life. But what was there to be afraid of?

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Well, for starters, who wants to hear how fucked up they are? I’m sure no one will raise their hand because no one wants to hear about the flaws they possess, especially an unwanted opinion. No one wants to shine light on the negativity they produce and bring to the table with friends and relationships. People, in general, don’t like to hear what others think of them, valid or not, and therapy doesn’t make that feeling any easier to cope with. Not to mention, the process can make you question why the ones who love you let you live life as if you weren’t causing harm to yourself, them, or others.

Therapy flat out makes you deal with shit and stop placing it on the back burner but most importantly, to stop blaming other people for the results of your actions. For me, dealing with feelings and emotions of guilt because of lashing out is where this stranger was essential to my healing. My friends would want to fight me if I was brutally honest with them, which is all the more reason for me to go. I needed a reliable place I could be honest about myself and know I would always get honesty in return. Let’s be real, we don’t always tell our friends the honest truth they need to hear because we don’t want to lose the relationship. My growth could not begin until I realized I needed to be brutally honest with myself about where my life was headed.

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When I started my therapy journey six years ago, I promised my growth and healing would be for me, no one else. I didn’t explain I was going to therapy to many people and didn’t plan on it. I knew as long as I wanted to change for myself, it would be the only way results would occur and stay forever. I vowed to be honest the first day I went. The most painful things, I was honest about. I couldn’t hide from myself anymore and continue to deny what I’ve been through. I always tell my son to be honest about his feelings, no matter what they are. I had to practice what I preached. My son is a part of my healing journey and he deserves an authentic relationship.

As a parent, no one is perfect. We give so much, but we miss out on explaining a lot as well. Had my mother opted to tell me her struggles, I might have understood more and responded differently in childhood and adulthood. But I respect her decision. As a mother, I choose the opposite for my son. My fear isn’t what this world has in store for him, my concern is him getting in his own way and not staying true to who he is. My other fear is him being trapped by his own brain.

These are fears I have no control over, and I have to accept how they are brought to the table. I will always have my son’s back, but I need him to see the importance of preserving his mental health. I need him to be aware of the ability that his mind can play tricks with his reality. I need him to have an outlet to be free. I could force therapy on him now, but I choose not to. I want him to make a decision by seeing the changes in my life because of treatment and decide if therapy is something he wants.

I want him assertive instead of passive or aggressive. I want him to see the benefits of things instead of the pain. I have a weekly appointment on Monday, at 5pm. It is my time to accept my wrongs from the previous week and find solutions without damaging friendships and my marriage. It is my time where I reflect on my behavior, deal with my pinned up emotions and work on being a better me.

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Therapy provides a platform where I learn to forgive myself before I forgive others. I learn how to put myself first and deal with my feelings before worrying about the next persons. Therapy is where I feed my mind, body, and soul to accept things that I may not be ok with because they are out of my control. Most importantly, it’s where I recognize me, all of me. And know that everyone won’t understand me, but as long as I do, that’s what matters.

I keep a standing appointment every Monday, at 5pm. I start my week off with a clear mind, attitude, and heart. I set small goals to achieve throughout the week. Those small goals have built a foundation to help me stay on track and give me something to focus on which will benefit me in the long run.

Taking control of my mental health has been one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever dealt with, but it’s so worth it. It’s not for everyone, but it’s perfect for me. As I continue to heal, I will embark on this new path known as a “Resilient Lifestyle.”

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#depressionwillnotwin #ifightforme

#resilientlifestyle

 

 

The Power of Coping Skills

coping with painLife sends us through so many loops, twists, and turns. Yet somehow, we continuously find ourselves searching for ways to cope with one thing after another. I found myself doing things and not knowing why I did them. After putting some thought into it, I wasn’t abusing a substance to cope with my feelings and pain, I was mistreating others and something had to change. Using alcohol to escape my problems wasn’t safe, and I had to find another way to cope with unexpected stress and everyday life.

My introduction to coping with pain began after being diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). After spending a week inpatient, I was told I needed a high fiber diet if I wanted relief. I knew I wasn’t eating healthy, but when they told me there was no cure, I was lost. No cure? It was 2008 and having to deal with this type of discomfort without a cure was the part I needed assistance in coping with. I knew the diagnosis wasn’t as serious as cancer but it was traumatizing because of its sudden onset. Besides changing my diet, I had to attack IBS from a mental standpoint as well.

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Now, I was forced to live a stress-free lifestyle. And the reality is, there is no such thing. As time went on, I stayed in pain simply because I wasn’t willing to change much of anything. I disregarded every direction the doctor instructed. Feeling better was a priority I wasn’t taking seriously until I had another attack similar to the first one. Stress played a bigger role than food. There is nothing easy about removing what’s causing stress in your life, but I had to find a solution that would allow me to ease my way into this new and necessary lifestyle. Although crocheting worked well enough to ease my stomach pain, I had to find something different for the new chronic pain that is destroying my life.

The intensity level is unmatched and nothing compares to it. Birth cannot compare to stiff joints, muscle aches, numbness, tingling, and head to toe chronic pain every morning when I open my eyes.  Crying is more harmful than it is helpful. It starts a vicious cycle of other problems that chronic pain doesn’t need to know exists. For the last six years, using a journal as my coping tactic has been helpful. I stopped at one point and started again when I came to the conclusion, I wasn’t giving journaling the credit it deserved. I was healing but because it wasn’t the way I wanted to heal, I dismissed the benefit journaling provided. I downloaded a diary app and soon after, realized I needed to write out my feelings. The pressure I applied to the tip of the pen symbolized the pain and resentment I felt. Journaling allows me to be aggressive without harming others. Once my chronic pain flares up, I’m searching for relief. If I had any warning signs, I would pay attention to them but that’s not the case.  However, after the storm, there is light!

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Sharing my story became important. I’ve learned more about the people around me by expressing what was hurting me the most. Pain is something no one wants to experience. I’ve been in constant pain since October 10, 2015. Although I am not in the same pain as before, I still have a lot of healing ahead of me. This new problem requires more than changing a diet. A complete lifestyle change is necessary if I plan on enjoying the rest of my life.

I have always had a passion for literature and reading was a great past time for me, but I can’t pay attention to books as long as I used to. The pain would always ruin a great story and after a while, I stopped reading altogether. Trying to remember what happened in a story after I stopped reading ruined the euphoric feeling I received from books. So, I decided to write my own.

Tapping into my imagination has provided one of the best feelings, but the pain quickly reminds me things are not going to be easy. Being an author was something I thought about but never pursued, until now. Trying to cope with the pain has left me wondering how I will survive? My husband can provide for me, but how could I provide for myself the things I needed to feel somewhat normal again? After being off work for two months, I decided to take a leap of faith. All the work I put into my mental health and physical therapy began to slowly disappear until writing saved it.

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Living with undiagnosed pain is not how I thought life would be for me. Some days, I tell myself things would be different if I knew what was causing the pain. My car accident might have been my blessing in disguise for me to actually pursue a passion that has always lived within me. 

The strength I see in my current journey is one that takes me by surprise. Being depressed for two and a half years makes me wonder why are things coming full circle now? Why did this accident have to happen for me to make all these changes? If I never learned to cope in a positive way, I would have never believed there is light at the end of the tunnel. I believe the accident was a motivational push caused by an unforeseen circumstance. I keep telling myself that God wouldn’t make me uncomfortable if there wasn’t something worthy ahead for me.

The accident has changed my outlook on a lot of things. Most importantly, I’m coping with the physical and mental changes a lot better now that I have something that provides me endless comfort. My will to cope with this new life has increased in a positive direction due to my diligence in wanting more for myself. I have to continue to be forgiving of myself when things happen and I don’t cope the way I know I should. Heading down the path as an author, I try to remind myself to have patience with the process. I believe I have what it takes to make the best seller’s list, I just have to work on it and do things my way. Stay tuned, my dreams are coming true! After I thought I wouldn’t have a future…


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#resilientlifestyle  #copingisnecessary

#newlifeinthemaking

#thebetterwomanishere 

Taming Anxiety – The Road to being Worry Free

blk wom 2The tightness in my chest on a daily basis leaves me weeding through my symptoms like a child rapidly searching through a bag of Halloween candy with their eyes closed. So many symptoms attacking me at once makes it hard to accept what’s happening. Self-diagnosis can be tricky, yet I find myself accurately labeling anxiety symptoms frequently. Everyone experiences anxiety in one way or another, however, there are people like myself, who seek relief from anxiety and its crippling effects.  I ask myself endless questions, trying to pinpoint what caused the physical changes in my body and trigger how I’m feeling. After six years, I realized it was my train of thought.

Situations out of my control are a consistent trigger for anxiety and its counterparts, but I cant stop myself from thinking about them. I worry so much that my body responds to short thoughts the same way it would to a traumatic event. I rarely paid attention to my breathing, until I noticed it was the first symptom I experience when an attack is about to occur. Next, a sharp pain shoots from the center of my chest and goes around my heart. Not only does my heart rate increase but I start to feel light-headed and dizzy. The worse part, it happens anywhere and everywhere.

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Anxiety doesn’t care where I am when it strikes. After years of seeing different kinds of therapists, I acknowledged I wasn’t putting forth as much effort as I should have been to gain control over the distress anxiety is causing. Medication has been a big help and I’m partially glad. I didn’t like the way it made me feel most of the time and it began to become a scapegoat I overused. It allowed me to blame something else for why I wasn’t healing and not myself. I am the reason my anxiety is high, especially when it is unnecessary.

Prior to my accident, I lived fearlessly. My lifestyle was high-speed and on the go constantly for a number of years. I wasn’t bothered by too much of anything back then. Now, I cry and plead to have that life back, but that life is gone. Anxiety gets my attention for the larger part of my days and I hate it. Besides triggering things I’m aware of, anxiety tends to call in reinforcements when it feels I’m mistreating it by using coping skills. And that often leads me to deal with panic attacks and bipolar mood swings.

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Currently, anxiety and mood swings surface so fast that it deters me from socializing. If I can manage my anxiety for the day, I don’t mind attempting to socialize. On the days when socialization is hard, anxiety quickly reminds me, it’s going to keep me company. Some people take my anti-social days the wrong way. Trying to explain what’s going on increases the level of anxiety I’m currently experiencing and forces me to cope in ways that are harmful to me in the long run. Unfortunately, people don’t understand when anxiety isn’t allowing me to be the person they used to know. This part of the battle, I have not fully accepted. Finding people who support you is hard, but it’s twice as difficult when people cannot understand how the inability to always control anxiety, depression, and mood swings sits on the conscious of those who would give anything to live life without it.

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Right now, I am learning that I have to give people a chance to understand my situation and I have to do better at understanding it myself. Anxiety has made me a stranger to my own body, yet it is up to me to work at minimizing how much it controls me. Learning to describe how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking accurately to others is the daily goal I set for myself. In-depth details allow me to shine transparency on my journey and accept that anxiety is a piece that I must learn to cope with.

I continue to find ways to cope with anxiety such as blogging, writing short stories and completing the first draft of my very first novel. I encourage others to attempt to deal with the anxiety-provoking trials within their life. Getting a head start on understanding, acknowledging, and acceptance pertaining to anxiety may save some of those precious things that are being negatively influenced.  

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#anxietyisstrong #iamstronger #depressionisreal

#iFightforme #resilientlifestyle

 

Reclaiming My Smile

In the world of the unhappy, we are always searching for something we had in the past. Back then, I had a smile. I had a way of expressing myself that made people gravitate towards me. Even on my darkest days, I was able to smile. But of course I changed and it affected everything.

Most mornings, I wake up and just lay there. I don’t get the excitement of a new day being upon me. At one point, I hoped that when I opened my eyes, I would be greeted by something new, but it hasn’t been the case. My first thought is usually what do I feel this morning? Followed by what’s hurting? What’s not hurting? What’s right? What’s wrong? Still, no smile.

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So wrapped up into trying to figure out how to get through the day that I haven’t started yet, the depression and chronic pain have all the control from the moment I open my eyes. I don’t choose to wake up this way, but maybe I do. I’m so consumed by what could happen that I don’t see what’s not happening.

I’m not giving myself a chance to be happy. I’m not waking up thinking at least I have the chance to fight today. There are other people battling things far worse than I am but they smile. They are excited about getting better.

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When I go to the bathroom, I turn the light on and once again, I stare at myself. I know I can’t see the old me but I really don’t know who the new me is either. Looking back at me isn’t the woman I’ve been ok with all my life. I see this broken reflection. I see pain in her eyes, I see fear in her eyes, I see doubt in her eyes. But I don’t see why she should smile.

I look at myself in the mirror in my room. I’m never happy with my reflection anymore. There’s nothing I can see that makes me feel like the old me. As I stare at my reflection, the room is dark. I can’t see too many details in my face but I see someone who’s unhappy, unsure. There are a ton of reasons that I have to smile but what makes it so hard to do it. Some people say it doesn’t hurt to smile, but it actually does sometimes.

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When I wake up, the left side of my face is numb. Every morning, I brush my teeth over the sink because the nerve damage won’t allow me to keep the toothpaste in my mouth without it spilling down my shirt. Because I have to bend over to make sure the toothpaste lands in the sink, my back pain flares up before I can finish. In a matter of three to five minutes I’ve been in the bathroom, if I did wake up with a smile, I’m reminded why it fades so quickly. I miss smiling. I miss telling people I’m doing well and really meaning it.

I know what I have to do to reclaim my smile but it’s not that easy. I know that the pain exists and I cannot let it control my life. On the days it isn’t so bad isn’t the problem. It’s the days when it’s more than I can handle in that moment that I must work harder to see change.
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One of my biggest reminders to smile lays next to me every night. I sit and watch him sleep, especially when he’s tired. He’s so relaxed, seems to be worry free. But I know he’s not. Most days he’s up at night to be there for me if I cannot sleep. Most days, he can’t sleep because he’s so worried about me and how to be the perfect man. And in my eyes, he exceeds what perfection he’s looking to achieve.

He loves the broken me. It’s all he’s known. He loves the passion I have for healing and becoming a better me. He watches when I cannot stand on my own to assist me in finding my strength, no questions asked. No matter how bad my mood is towards him, even when he’s done nothing wrong, he never runs away. He always asks what can I do? How can I help? He doesn’t make me feel bad about the things I cannot control, but he does whatever he can to see my smile. My broken smile. The smile I don’t love. The reflection I’m afraid of. The me I don’t know, that’s who he loves.

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True love is the way I’m going to reclaim my smile. Learning to accept my days of fighting this disease alone, are over. Knowing that when I smile, there’s someone who looks forward to it, even if I don’t, is the one thing I will make sure I hold on to.

Love will help heal this chronic pain. Love will bring back my smile. Love will show me how to fight, especially on the days where fighting doesn’t seem like an option. Love is the only way out of this dark hole. He’s showing me what I’ve wanted for my life, he is providing me. He continues to hold out his hand, it’s up to me to grab and never let go. He continues to love the flaws I cannot control. To him, the broken me is perfect.

I’m going to accomplish loving me, loving my reflection and reclaiming my smile. And you’ll call her by her new name, Mrs Robinson.

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#depressionwillnotwin #iwontfightfair #depressionisreal #fightforyourself  #fightforlove #fightforyourlife

I’m Not What You See…

 

Despite the smile on my face, I’m living in daily turmoil. No one expects to find themselves wrapped in the state of unknown on a consistent basis. Even if I know why I’m unhappy, it doesn’t change the fact that my happiness seems so far away, when it’s usually right in my face.

Depression is the Devil sitting on your shoulder, waiting to clap when you begin to disappoint loved ones. No matter how much you fight, he remains there to remind you of how bad things really aren’t. I can swipe, cry, beg and plead but there is nothing that works to get him to leave me alone. But some days he is weakened. So weak that he leaves on his own because I can see the true happiness I have in life. A wonderful child, an amazing spouse, a few great friends and a mom who jumps out of a plane without a parachute when it comes to me. But why isn’t it enough?

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I’d love to wake up every morning happy, but that’s just not in the cards for me. I wake up reminded that I have chronic pain to deal with, numb legs, and unable to always use my left hand at will. Then the smile disappears. When it comes back is usually determined by how the pain feels that day. But I fight….

I fight through the feeling of wondering if I will be normal again. I fight through the feeling of allowing depression to win. Some days, I am the heavyweight champion. Most days, I’m defeated by being stuck in bed with a migraine so big if I open my eyes I immediately feel like vomiting. Most days, I’m still up on the train going to work, even with that feeling.

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I’ve had some friendships ruined by this disease but I’m not sad about it. You can’t be sad when you feel like you’re the only one with wounds that need to heal. Do I miss some of them, absolutely. But I cannot chase them to understand something I’m learning to understand myself. I cannot put forth effort in fixing something they can’t physically see and chose to accept what I put out, as if they don’t know who the real me is. I cannot take all the blame for my actions because a lot of my actions are reactions to people and their lack of understanding. But I can hope to heal….

I can hope to heal, so those who have stuck around get the best me I have to offer. They can have that friend back from the past, but improved. They deserve it. They stuck by me when I couldn’t love me and when I couldn’t love them.

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Although I’m not what people see, the old me is still there. The angry, shut down, walk away from everything person that I currently am, is to protect me. Protecting me from myself. Protecting me from making decisions that I’ll regret. Protecting those who may be close enough to endure damage from a storm I didn’t even know existed.

Some people will care. Some people will say it’s an excuse. Others will say it’s not real, she just wants attention. Those who know me, in my current place, will defend me. They know that my heart is still genuine, even if my actions and words don’t seem to be. But I will win. It’s just a matter of when. Depression is me versus life that no one sees. Depression will not defeat me. Depression is a clock, with no tick or tock. Depression can lose. It will lose to me.

#depressionisreal #iwillnotgiveup #thehardestfightofmylife #nomorefear

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The beginning of healing…

When we are faced with a conflict, it’s not uncommon to look for others for help to get through our pain. As much as we value others’ opinion, sometimes the only answer is within ourselves. Everyone deals with heartache differently. Some say those who can move on fast are fortunate but that doesn’t mean a piece of them is not stuck in the situation.

 

I found myself at a low point and was unsure of how to get out of it. Depression had a firm grasp on my life but I couldn’t figure out what was the cause. It took years for me to realize, it was me. All the mental anguish I was experiencing was due to my past. Not because of a man, but because of the things I had no control over. Having daddy issues is a terrible feeling. Growing up, I saw my best friend interact with her father and it made me desire to hear my dad say he was coming to get me without me begging. The older I got, I realized I was still begging! At 30 years old, I was still waiting for my father to love me. So I decided to do some soul searching.

What Did I Want?

I wanted happiness. I wanted self induced happiness. True happiness definitely starts within. My first step was to accept this journey was not going to be easy. There was a point where I realized, I was so broken that I was willing to accept any kind of treatment, as long as I was ok with a piece of it. Biggest mistake ever! To accept a piece of anything means you are not getting what you really deserve. For years, I accepted that my dad would come and go as he pleased. I chalked it up as he had a problem with my mom, but that was far from the truth. My opinion, he had no desire to be a father. If he was forced to take care of me, he would send me to my grandma. I would never see him and it didn’t dawn on me until I realized, he just doesn’t love you the way you want to be loved. He doesn’t love you the way you see other parents loving their children. I had to accept all love isn’t good love and I cannot accept the kind of love that everyone has to offer, no matter who it is.

Looking at how he treated me, made me realize that I could not let others treat me that way. Even if there was a positive interaction at one point, it doesn’t justify being treated in the opposite manner we desire. I was created, I didn’t chose to be here and I thought my existence was more than enough, clearly that meant nothing. The source of all my anger and frustration started with my dad. After all these years, I finally realized I took my anger out on other people.

 

How Did I Move Forward?

It is not easy to cut off people you care about, regardless of what title they hold in your life. I accepted that we will never have the relationship I desired and if I had to cut off my father, I had to cut off others as well. Being depressed is a state of mind that you have no control over. However, I had control over who I allowed in my life that could keep me depressed. I combed through all of the people I talked to and slowly removed those who blocked my growth from rock bottom. I expressed to people how I felt regarding our communication. Some were ok with it, others were confused. I wasn’t doing this to help them understand, I was doing this to clear my soul of the things I knew would take me back where I didn’t want to be. People don’t realize how much baggage is brought to each new chapter. Many of our ways are reflections of past or present situations. Having a happy future meant I had to look at everything, leaving no stone unturned when it came to those who may have felt their position would never be affected. As much as it hurt, I had to walk away from my best friend of 25 plus years! I still love her, but I realized that we grew apart and what I needed in the moment, she couldn’t offer.

Acceptance was my biggest hurdle. I’ve always felt you don’t have to agree with something to accept it. Walking away was not my way of giving up, but accepting certain people cannot assist me in my journey of happiness. Finally I realized, everyone is not meant to walk through your entire life journey. Those who understand you as a person and willingly assist you are the ones who make life’s hardest adjustments just a tad bit easier. I forgave those who hurt me. I don’t believe they wanted to cause harm, but it’s not always easy to tell someone you care about that you cannot help them through a crisis. We all have to be honest about what we can and cannot do for someone else or ourselves. Now, I believe owning your limits will help decrease the amount of unnecessary stress. We cannot fix people; they have to want to fix themselves. The best thing we can do for someone else is to be honest.

Taking the steps to accept what cannot be changed, acknowledging what I needed, and owning my part of each situation was the perfect resolution to my problem. I’m not healed, but I’m on a path of healing.