Reconnecting

This year has been stressful, to say the least; slowly, I stopped doing what made me feel healthy and like myself. Now I’m reconnecting with myself, my body, and my mind.


It’s easy for me to float through life, not present and numb. If I don’t take care of myself, time passes without me, and I lose touch with who I am.


I now know myself well enough to understand my needs and how to reconnect when I’m feeling lost. I have a list of things I need to do daily to stay healthy and connected. As requested by my new therapist, I am tracking these behaviors to keep myself accountable.


Each day I write, read, move, and take my meds.


Writing helps me process my thoughts and emotions. It clears my head of all the unhelpful thoughts that have been ruminating through my mind. My life feels more purposeful after I process, and because of this, I journal daily.


More recently, I have incorporated reading into my daily routine. I often read before bed as a way to relax and clear my mind. Although, I have noticed the more frequently I read, the greater my desire to read. I now find myself taking breaks throughout my day to read a chapter or two. Additionally, reading strengthens the brain, supporting healthy brain cells, unlike watching TV, which kills brain cells.


Movement is also an essential part of my routine. It connects my mind to my body and releases the endorphins I desperately need. Running and yoga are my go-to activities, but something as simple as a walk has the same benefits.


Taking my medication may be simple, but it is a prominent part of my routine, but it is also the most important. My meds stabilize my mood, making it easier for me to accomplish what I need to and can for myself more effectively. Even missing one day can offset my whole week.


Even with the weather getting colder and the amount of sunlight decreasing, I feel stable and comfortable. Not every day is a ‘good day,’ but I also don’t expect it to be. I no longer sit in my feelings; instead, I complete my daily routine, even when I don’t feel like it. Every day seems to have a purpose, no matter how small it may be.

I Lost My Light

I knew we were close, but I didn’t realize how deep the connection was until he was gone. Part of me broke when I lost him, and the light inside of me was darkened. It has been more than difficult, and at times I wanted to give up. It has been frightening and exhausting. Yet, it was also a period of self-reflection and a chance to grow.  I’m choosing to find the good because if I don’t, what is the point of all this pain?


I’m connected to and so much like my grandparents. I lost my grandma 11 years ago, and my grandpa 7 months ago. After my grandpa passed away, I realized I was processing both of their losses. I have always felt particularly close to my grandpa; I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality and meaningful time with him. I lost my grandma at a much younger age, and i was not able to fully understand the relationship and loss. During this time of self-reflection, I began to realize how much of me, comes from them.


It feels natural for me to care for people, animals, and nature. I feel more deeply than most, and because of it, I struggle to find my place in the world. These deep emotions have made me stronger. My life is challenging, and I cope with it by nurturing others, maintaining my surroundings, and creating. I share my feelings through my creative work, a chance to express myself.


Recognizing and processing this has been healing. I feel as though I have a more stable identity to cling to, something I lose touch with often. Now, this identity is true. It comes from what I come from, my family.


I’m feeling better each day, even on the difficult ones. I am continually observing my health and my life to determine what is best for me. Asking for help and relying on others when I need to, advocating for my mental health, discovering new ways to earn money, and taking a much-needed break. Slowly and steadily, I am healing and growing.

One Day

One day you’ll look at your life and recognize that you’ve reached a point in recovery that you have been working toward all these years.


Last year was a year of change. I considered moving, left grad school, got engaged, built jobs I feel capable of handling, and began to write about my experience with mental illness.


A year ago, I would not have imagined this growth. I can fight through my bad days and still have good come from it. I can process and talk about my thoughts and emotions without believing them. I have healed, something I did not see possible.


I hope you recognize your strength and growth. I hope you understand that you can fight. One day you will look at your life and realize you have reached the point you have been waiting for – health and happiness.

Vulnerability

At first, I thought to be vulnerable meant sharing the awful and miserable parts of life. The ones that we often refrained from sharing. I believed that by sharing these stories, I was the most vulnerable I could be.


But that’s not how vulnerability works.


We are vulnerable when we share our emotions. Stigma has conditioned us to believe we should keep our feelings hidden, and those who choose to talk about their emotions are looking for sympathy or attention.


We are vulnerable when we talk about our hopes and dreams. When we share goals and desires we have not yet accomplished, we are putting ourselves out there and being real.


We are vulnerable when we share our work.


I feel most vulnerable when I share the thoughts I hold and the content I have created. I am aware that others may not understand or disagree with what I create, but regardless, I am putting myself out there.


While vulnerability can be opening up about a dark time or situation, it is not limited to.


Vulnerability is sharing your authentic self with the world, knowing that not everyone will be accepting of what you have to say.

Depressed

I often feel every emotion intensely, so when depression hits – I feel empty. This emptiness is so unlike me. My head was filled with thoughts and ideas. Now i struggle to maintain a conversation, unable to think.


My stomach feels tight, and my appetite is absent. My body, weak. I’m exhausted, and I need a nap, yet I sleep for hours and feel unrested.


I crave bedtime when I’m safe, asleep, and not experiencing emptiness.


I usually wake up with anticipation. I enjoy the mornings most because my mind feels so clear. Now I wake up in a daze. My brain is foggy, and I feel sick inside.


I’m coping as best I can. Distraction is the only way through this: knitting, walking, reading, baking, and music.


Putting words to this feeling brings wholeness to my life.


I’m accepting this emptiness, and I’m fully feeling – or not feeling. Then, I will move on because tomorrow is a new day.

Invisible Illness

My illness is all in my head. Well, it is invisible to you.


I won’t lie; sometimes, I feel guilty because of how I am unable to engage and present myself fully.


I wish I could be carefree and easygoing, but that’s unrealistic for me.


Often, I want others to understand why I’m not those things.


My illness is invisible; others cannot read the thoughts that I have. Others cannot feel the pain and tension I experience. Others cannot grasp the emotions that take over my reality.


Sometimes my presence is all I can manage. I am juggling my mind and existence, and on stressful days that keeps my hands full.


There are days where I feel in control. My thoughts are more positive, and I have more energy. On these days I can be present. I feel like myself, and I can engage. These days remind me why the hard ones are worth it.


If you can relate to my words, I want you to know it is enough for you just to be you as little or much as you can manage. If you can’t relate, I hope you can better understand.


I’m fighting an invisible illness.

Intention

If you follow my Instagram, you know that I’m not one for big New Years’ resolutions. I find that most are instructed and unrealistic. While I could make one attainable goal, I don’t want to be held down by one big thing. I also find that the added stress results in little to no positive change.


This year I thought I would try something different. Instead of a goal, I am creating a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase to set your choices and life.


My mantra for the year is Intention.


Since beginning to work from home, I find myself wasting a lot of time as a reaction or response from an emotion. I feel overwhelmed, and I distract. Helpful, but I want to do something more meaningful. I rationalize this downtime by reminding myself that I need to rest and keep stress down, but resting should only go so far.


Instead of telling myself to buckle down and get tasks done, which would only add anxiety and shame, I am using my mantra to make my choices more intentional.


By intention, I mean mindfulness and purpose. When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, I know from DBT skills that I need to stat mindful and self soothe. While watching TV is very relaxing, it does not keep me aware. Now, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I want to be intentional about how I cope. Music helps me relax and soothes me. To stay intentional, I may use my record player and focus on the lyrics. Taking it all in, being present in life. Or perhaps ill play some music and write. Allowing the thoughts and emotions flow through me. Afterward, I will feel less stressed and more relaxed, but the difference is my actions were intentional and productive.


What is your goal or mantra this year? Why did you choose it? What changes do you want 2020 to hold?

Grief

It was a Monday evening, and we had a night planned. Multiple dogs were on their way, and I was feeling good.


When my Mom told me she had bad news, I immediately knew. I had felt this odd feeling the past weekend and was thinking about my great-grandma often, so I knew.


At first, all I felt was guilt. If I had just visited her last weekend. If I hadn’t had car troubles a few months ago when I was going to help her move.


I hated how happy I had been all-day while my grandma was already gone.


After the guilt, came anger. Why couldn’t she make it till Christmas? I didn’t get to say goodbye


Then came the sadness. Holiday commercials made me cry – something I rarely do when it comes to television. I would be doing okay, and then it would hit me all over again, the pain.


Depression hit hard on Thanksgiving. A holiday my grandma used to host. My heart ached for her, and the day dragged on.


I’ve reached acceptance, but I’m not over it. I never will be. You don’t move on from grief. I will, however, move forward.

Define Yourself

Remember these icebreaker activities you were required to do in grade school? The teacher would ask for a fun fact or three ways to define yourself. What makes you, you. Those ice breakers always brought extreme anxiety. Now just the fear of all eyes on me or speaking out loud. It was the fact that I had no idea how to define myself.


What I didn’t realize then was that I have the power to choose who I am.


I would answer that question with adjectives others labeled me as. I was shy, kind, quiet, and caring. While at times, I am these things, these characteristics don’t define me.


While I don’t find myself getting forced into an ice breaker activities, I do meet new people. I think about how I introduce myself, and the characteristics people see are ones that I CHOOSE to show.


I don’t want to be defined by aspects that are not me, and I used to see that as something external or out of my control. But now I know that I hold power.


Others may see aspects in you and label you, but at the end of the day- you define yourself.


Christmas Spirit

I feel this external pressure to be happy and cheerful during the holiday season.


I get caught up with the holiday bustle, and I forget to slow down.


I want to be present when I’m with my family, but I also need to take time for myself and remember that it’s okay if I don’t always feel positive.


Even though it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean that my mental illness goes on holiday. Because of this, I need to set boundaries with myself. Taking breaks, going on walks, and most importantly, trying to keep a schedule.


Last year I was hard on myself. I wasn’t feeling particularly cheerful, and that made me feel selfish and ungrateful. This year, I am removing the pressure and expectation. How I feel is how I feel, and I can be grateful and full of joy even if I’m having a stressful day.