Sigh…

So, my psychiatrist told me yesterday that I have C-PTSD.

PTSD is usually caused by a traumatic event, while C-PTSD stems from long-term, on going trauma.

It doesn’t really change anything. Everything is pretty much all the same. You just continue to work on healing, like I already am.

Yet somehow, finding out kind of fucked me up.

I found myself crying and sobbing. I’ve got to admit, I was kind of confused and surprised by my reaction. I actually apologized to the doctor, like I’d passed gas in front of him.

I’ve already started healing and processing childhood trauma. Mental illness isn’t something new to me. I’d been working on it for years, educating myself and practicing my coping skills for quite sometime.

I think it was just oddly validating.

I’ve been told to stop living in the past. I know I get looked at like I am victimizing myself. It’s always made me feel bad.

People think it’s a choice. I don’t choose to feel the way I do or experience life the way I do. Why would anyone? Why would anyone even lie about feeling this way? It’s not like it makes you look good. I’m already looked upon as crazy as is.

This is not fun. It’s definitely not when you’re looked at like an exaggerator. Like you’re behaving the way you do for attention.

Things now make a little more sense.

Flashbacks, relieving and thinking of traumatic experiences over and over again, avoiding certain things out of fear of crying and becoming emotional, being easily startled and triggered by things that others normally wouldn’t be, paranoia, loss of trust in people, difficulty regulating emotions, difficulty controlling anger, fixation on abuser/s…

All things I’ve been experiencing for years and all things I’ve been judged for. Do people’s opinions matter? No. It doesn’t make it any less painful though. No matter what, it always stings to know that people think negatively of you, no matter how hard you try not to let it get to you.

I knew about the depression and the mood swings. Others did too. So that wasn’t really looked upon as odd. At least not at this point.

I know people looked at me and judged me for still being in a state of pain because of things that happened long ago. Like I was making excuses.

I started to wonder if that was true. Was I choosing this? I didn’t think I was, because it honestly made me feel bad to be thought of in that “woe is me” way. It’s not exactly a good look.

Now, it makes sense

I wasn’t doing this to myself. It was something that was happening to me that I didn’t have control over.

Again, everything is still the same. Now, I just know. Now, there’s a reason why. Knowing the “why” and how something originated has always helped me figure out how to solve any problem.

I dont have to feel like a failure about the fact that the past still hurts me and has affected me in different ways. I know I’m not “crazy”?

I dont know…Whatever.

I write to make sense out of shit because my feelings tend to hit me like a fucking truck and I don’t realize what’s happened or what I’ve done until the dust settles. As my psychiatrist said “Shoot first, ask questions later”.

Now I know that how important it really is for me to continue the healing process and why it’s been so hard to begin with. It’s not just something I need to do because it will “help” me. Now I understand how crucial it actually is.

Things just make sense now.

As I said, nothing really changes. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ll probably read up on it, just to possibly help myself in ways that had never occurred to me before. New pointers are always good. Plus learning will help me, help you guys. I’ll be able to tell you about all my new found skills 😂

I debated sharing this. I was kind of embarrassed. But isn’t that kind of the problem in the first place? It’s the reason I started this blog. Things like this only become comfortable to talk about when YOU talk about them. Author Brene Brown teaches us that speaking about our vulnerability and shame is what connects us. Talking about our pain not only is healing, but it peels away all the superficial layers we’ve been hiding behind. It unites us because we can all relate to each others experiences.

So, let’s make it safe and comfortable for others to open up too. That’s the only way things in the mental health world will be regarded compassionately, seriously and respectfully.

Thank you for reading ❤️

Confrontation Is Pointless

I’ve realized in my life that unless you’re trying to find a solution to an issue with someone who has demonstrated and reciprocated emotional investment and you know by experience is honest and has the ability to self reflect…

OR

Involves you cutting a check…

Confrontation is POINTLESS.

Point. Blank. Period.

It will bring you to high stress levels capable of impacting your body harmfully.

What you tell them could be completely accurate and they will STILL look you dead in the eye and tell you you’re wrong, that it did not happen, that that person is lying, so on and so forth.

It’s super common to be gaslit during confrontation. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where a person straight up lies about factual information (many times regarding situations you witnessed with your own eyes) to give you the impression that you cannot trust your own senses, leaving you questioning your own sanity.

Do not be surprised if you leave that situation enraged, red faced, bamboozled, and ready to commit a crime.

I highly suggest everyone, especially those of you who came from abusive homes or abusive relationships to learn the definitions of emotional abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, manipulation and to research manipulation tactics. This could save you in so many ways you don’t even realize.

But, back to the topic at hand.

People lie. All the time. To each other and to themselves.

The truth is too scary. It’s easier to point the finger at you and make you the villain than to look within and confront their demons. To admit that you are right would mean coming to terms with the fact that they are not perfect. That they, like everyone else, fuck up from time to time. That they have some sort of emotional wound that still remains open, raw. infected and untouched.

That’s too painful to face and most people refuse to go that deep. Despite rare exceptions, people do not change. They rarely will for their own healing and they most certainly will not do it for you.

Instead, pay attention to action. Pay attention to your gut. When you feel you aren’t being told the truth, pretend you’re listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Pay attention to the face, the body. Pretend you’re deaf. Do they look sad? Remorseful? Emotional? Pay attention to the actions. Are they demonstrating their claims through their behavior?

If they don’t, distance yourself and work on your own healing. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Your mental and emotional health should always precede another person and their needs. That is their responsibility.

If you really feel the need to tell them off, do so in a note and don’t send it. Delete it, burn it, throw it in the ocean. Whatever. Do it in mirror and pretend that’s them you see in the reflection. Curse them the fuck out. Scream, point your fingers, jump up and down, punch your mattress. Get that shit out of your system and walk away.

Please make sure you’re home alone and there’s no one around to hear you though. Don’t end up with the cops at your door because the neighbors thought you committed a murder when you were actually assaulting your pillow.

Make yourself the focal point. That’s your job. There’s a reason why you’re told by the flight attendants on a plane “Put your own oxygen mask on first.”

What do you love to do? What are your goals and aspirations? If you love doing something, do it more. If you hate something, do it less or avoid it all together. (I am not referring to necessary responsibility)

When you learn to love and accept yourself, the company of others is only optional.

Love yourself the way you would your child. Would you encourage your child to play with children who are mean and make them feel bad? Nope, you’d protect them. Why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself? Shield your heart the same way. You come first, choose yourself first.

Sending you all much love always ❤️

Soul Revival Tip #2: Laughter

One day, my husband and I had a disagreement. It was safe to say we were not each other’s favorite people at the moment. I was home and upset. I decided I needed to get my mind off of the issue. I wanted to shake off those negative emotions. So I decided to watch a stand up comedy.

As I watched, I laughed and laughed until my belly hurt and I thought I was going to piss myself. I had a moment of awareness in that instant. I scanned my emotional self and realized that although the problem with my husband and I had not been resolved, I felt better. My mood lifted and I felt lighter. I felt more at peace and joyful.

I came to the conclusion that the laughter that was induced by the comedy I was watching was responsible for this. I felt happier from laughing. Intrigued, I decided to perform sort of an experiment.

I played the stand up from the beginning when my husband arrived from work. I knew he was not going to sit down, let alone with me, and watch the film willingly. I raised the volume loud enough so that it could be heard from the other rooms while simultaneously keeping the neighbors from losing their hearing.

I could tell he was still pissed off at me. I greeted him hesitantly and let him be, giving him time to cool off. I noticed as the film played that although he was not watching it, it caught his attention and he was listening.

I watched his stiff, rigid body soften before my eyes. He gradually began to unwind. His breathing slowed. He would turn to the screen periodically and eventually, sat right next to me to watch.

As the film went on, he watched and listened intensely, even allowing a chuckle to escape his lips from time to time. Before I knew it, he was not angry anymore. He turned to me and I’m pretty sure said “Okay, what do you want to eat?” kindly. We made up after that.

Laughter, although induced by the film, made us feel better. It lifted our spirits. It took our minds off of the issue at hand. It calmed us and brought us to a more rational, relaxed state. That tranquility provided us with the clarity we needed in order to realize that our dispute was not a big deal. Not only were we able to carry on with the evening, but we were both in better places mentally and emotionally.

There are many studies that show laughter has the capability to trigger endorphins (the “happy” hormone), relax the body, stop distressing emotions, help you reenergize, calm stress hormones, as well as ease anxiety.

As for physical benefits, laughter can bring down blood pressure, burn calories, raise the production of immune cells and infection fighting antibodies (improving resistance to disease), renew the lungs, as well as relaxing the muscles relieving tension.

Laughter is so powerful that different establishments have been created in order to receive those benefits. There are laughter clubs, which is defined as a group of people gathering to practice laughter. There is laughter yoga, which is basically yoga and a laughter club combined. There is even laughter therapy, where patients in the hospital are presented with humorous activities to revitalize their bodies and spirits. Some medical professionals also make the effort to make their patients laugh because they know that it will improve the patient’s well-being.

So the next time you’re not feeling so hot, laugh. Find reasons to laugh. Watch a stand up comedy like I did that evening. Watch a funny video on YouTube or play your favorite comedic film. Call or hang out with a funny friend. Go to a comedy club. Play with your pet, tickle your kids (don’t kill them in the process). Your mental, physical and spiritual self will thank you for it later.

Soul Revival Tip #1: Audiobooks

I’ve always loved to read but recently, I’ve become obsessed with audiobooks. My favorite books tend to be self help/self improvement related. I find that listening to a soothing voice teaching you how to care for yourself in a time of emotional and psychological need can be powerful and incredibly impactful. It feels like someone is sitting right next to me, comforting me in my time of need.

Best of all, it’s available at all times. This means you can receive a boost of love and encouragement anytime you need it. This could be in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. It could be on the train or your drive in to work as you mentally prepare for the next shift. It could even be when you’re going through a very difficult phase in life.

Audiobooks have been life changing for me. I do see a therapist once a week but sometimes it’s not enough. Sure, talking to other people can help. However, realistically we will not always have someone else around to help us. Therefore, we need to master the art of helping ourselves.

Telling other people your struggles can be a huge help but I’m sure you’ve also experienced times where it has backfired. Sometimes, you are met with judgement and criticism. Other times, you’ve just been given bad advice. There might have even been occasions where you find out someone told another person about your issues without your consent. You leave the situation feeling worse than you did before you told anyone. Who needs that?

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t rely on anyone else as a source of support. If it’s a safe and confidential source, sure. I am saying that it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to help yourself alone. Even if you have the greatest support system, talking to someone else may not always be an option and you have to be prepared for moments like that. You are your own responsibility, and it’s ultimately up to you to take care of yourself.

Audiobooks are an awesome form of self care. I recommend that everyone try listening to one at some point, you may be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards. I get my books using the app. Audible. I love a lot of Louise Hay’s books. She was a world renowned author and metaphysical teacher. Her self esteem affirmations helped me learn to embrace and accept myself for who I am. In “How To Love Yourself”, Louise discusses her 10 tips towards achieving self love and self acceptance. I found this to be very eye opening and learned some life long lessons from it. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz is one of my favorites and a very popular and well known book. Ruiz shares 4 powerful beliefs to adopt to transform your life for the better. I own the paperback, but decided to buy it in audiobook form. I actually prefer the audiobook and have bookmarked my favorite parts to listen to whenever I need an extra boost of love and encouragement.

Now I understand some people really don’t care for self help/self improvement books. That’s okay too. Fiction based audiobooks/books are an effective coping mechanism as well. Reading gets your mind off of whatever it is you’re stressing. It’s entertaining, increases your vocabulary, strengthens your imagination and is a healthy distraction. Your brain gets to take a well deserved BREAK. We ALL need that, whether it is you’re depressed or not. Coping skills are not only for those who are struggling with mental illness. Coping skills are healthy hobbies and habits to integrate into your life, for the rest of your life. The more you have in your life, the better.

Nothing that I ever suggest on my blog will ever substitute receiving professional help. If you feel there is something seriously wrong and you have it in your power, please seek professional help. However, the tips I share may help you endure life’s struggles and get through them in a healthy, safe and non destructive way. In therapy, that is what you are taught. Granted, the therapist helps you work through your problems objectively, but ultimately, they will teach or recommend different coping skills for you to use when you’re feeling angry, depressed, anxious, etc…

I know there are a lot of you that may be struggling mentally, emotionally and psychologically. I know how it feels to deal with that pain alone, to feel misunderstood or the fear that you will be looked upon as crazy. You’re not crazy. You’re just struggling. Believe it or not, those are temporary feelings. You just need to learn how to ride them out in the safest way possible. That’s where me and my soul revival tips come in. I’m sharing some of the stuff I know has saved me, and I really hope can do the same for you.

Dear Self, 

You washed the dishes. That’s a big fucking deal. You HATE washing dishes and you pushed through. You didn’t want to brush your teeth, you did. You didn’t want to shower, you did. Didn’t want to wash your hair and you did. You pumiced your feet. You watched numerous things to laugh to lift your mood. You practiced self care. You’re even journaling. All while being fucking depressed. It’s a big deal. You’re doing a good job. Don’t beat yourself up for what you couldn’t or haven’t done. Give yourself credit for that. Be proud of yourself for that. 

This is what you’re supposed to do when you’re depressed. You’re supposed to take responsibility for yourself. You’re supposed to identify what’s wrong, and try to help yourself. You’re supposed to practice your coping skills. You did that. You’re supposed to try even though you don’t want to. You pushed through it. 

I know you may not feel this is a big deal, but if someone else told you this, you would congratulate them. You would tell them to be proud because they could’ve chosen to do nothing and they chose to fight. 

If you had chosen to do nothing, well, that’s okay too. Our best does not look the same everyday. Staying in bed could be your best one day and that’s fine. You’re doing your best today. I love you. I’ll always look out for you. 

Remember, this isn’t you. This gloom and doom you’re feeling. The sinking in your gut? That’s depression. It’s a disease. You’re going through the symptoms and you’re fighting them. I’m proud of you. 

Love, 

Self  

The Mastery That Is Self Care

I have a diagnosis of Bipolar 2 (major depression-mild manic episodes) and generalized anxiety disorder. I found out at the age of 22. I admitted myself into a facility because I was experiencing racing thoughts, suicidal ideation and anxiety. I was drinking excessively and taking sleeping pills as well. If I could’ve had it my way, I would’ve slept for all of eternity. I didn’t want to feel, so did what I could to numb myself. My only suicide attempt was at 15, so clearly I was struggling way before my initial diagnosis. 

Since then, I’ve played an active role towards my recovery and stability. A lot of trial and error, but I’ve learned and have grown a lot along the way. I’ve researched immensely and have educated myself on the ins and outs of mental illness. I’ve read books, I’ve studied articles and statistics.

I take medication to correct the chemical imbalance I struggle with. I go to therapy and have been seeing a therapist on and off, for 12 years now. I am straight forward with my doctor, even if it pains me. The point of seeking mental help is to learn and transform. To evolve into the best version of yourself. That’s not supposed to be a comfortable process. You sure as hell will not reach it by being dishonest or omitting information from the one person whose job is to guide you towards the path to improvement. 

I’m going to share some transformative things I’ve learned in my life. Some of the epiphanies that have allowed me to see life in a refreshingly, new perspective. I hope this information helps you, because it saved me. I’m only paying it forward. 

At the very brink of any strong emotion, that pang that sucker punches you, leaving you internally stunned and frozen; I leave the situation to give myself a moment of clarity. If I cannot leave where I am, I choose to behave calmly. I accept that I cannot give a valid, logical, responsible response until I’m tranquil.

Then, I journal in my notepad on my phone in the style of free association writing. Free association, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the expression (as by speaking or writing) the content of consciousness without censorship as an aid in gaining access to unconscious processes especially in psychoanalysis: the reporting of the first thought that comes to mind in response to a given stimulus (as a word). 

You are writing everything you are thinking at the moment. All those thoughts, shooting like stars across the velvety sky, in your mind? Write them down. No matter how stupid, shameful, silly, embarrassing… these words are for your eyes only. It’s important to be as candid as possible. 

Is this uncomfortable? Absolutely. Is complete honesty necessary? Absolutely. If you are not genuine, this is pointless. The reason for this is to dig DEEP. In order to heal, you have to figure out the root of those feelings. Where they are originating from? Why are they happening now? In order to get better, you have to try something you’ve never done before. Say exercising, for example. The first time someone ever did a push up was way harder than the 500th they trained their way up to. 

This is an immediately release, similar to venting to a friend. All of the emotional dumping without draining someone else and feeling like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders as a result. When you’re done, read what you’ve written. Pretend you’re reading someone else’s words. Imagine your words as a story with fictional characters in a film. This will allow you to think objectively. Thinking neutrally will help you observe your thoughts and feelings in a non biased way. 

Read your words over and over again. It will relax you, also providing you with a clarity of the emotion you’re experiencing. This is essential because identifying this emotion will help you understand yourself and your needs better. 

When reading what you’ve written, there are a couple of things you must be accept here. Now, this isn’t simple. I do promise as hard as this is, once you do, the quality of your life will improve. 

Okay. Say this with me. Write it down. Paste it on your wall if you need to. 

You cannot stress what you cannot control. You cannot control what you feel. You cannot control what someone else feels. You cannot control someone else’s actions and choices. You cannot control someone else’s thoughts. You cannot control someone’s opinion of you. You cannot make someone like you. You cannot make everyone happy. It is your job, and your job only to make YOURSELF happy. The people around you either add to that happiness or have to go because they will hinder your joy. 

Instead, redirect your focus on what you CAN control. You can control the way you react to the dumb shit people will do. You can control your own actions. You can choose to take responsibility of your own happiness and fulfillment. Trying to do the same for others is exhausting and impossible. You might as well avert the energy towards yourself. 

Accepting all of this is powerful. It eliminates the chunk of what mentally burdens us often, the inevitable. It forces us to practice self care. 

My therapist taught me something I now live my life by. “When you’re on an airplane, you are told in an emergency to put your own oxygen mask on first. You are of no help to anyone, if you haven’t taken care of yourself first”. 

You cannot love yourself fully if you have not learned self care and self preservation. You cannot fully love someone else if you haven’t learned this. You cannot be the best version of yourself to your significant other, to your children, to your family, to your friends, to your employer or to yourself if you do not learn to do this. Self care is not selfish. It’s survival. 

After you come to terms with the situation, you should be able to target the exact emotion you’re struggling with. That’s when coping skills come into the picture. Coping skills are techniques that help us survive stressful situations in a safe and productive manner. Showering, going for a walk, meditation, meditation music, nature sounds, using perfume or scented candle in your favorite scent, exercise, coloring, watching a funny film, crying, deep breathing, singing, dancing, and reciting positive affirmations are all awesome coping skills. 

You also have the option of writing a list of activities that make fill you with bliss. You can choose to treat yourself by performing actions you’ve listed. This is a more personalized approach to coping skills. They may even work more effectively because they are designed for your specific needs. 

Also, beware of negative coping skills. Do not integrate them into your list accidentally. If you find yourself doing the following, step away for a moment and contemplate to yourself “Is this action productive towards my recovery?” 

Some examples of negative coping skills are criticizing yourself (negative self-talk), driving fast in a car, chewing your finger nails, becoming violent or aggressive with someone, eating too much or too little, overloading with caffeine, drinking alcohol, yelling at your significant other, children or friends, taking recreational drugs, as well as isolating yourself from family and friends. This may seem obvious, but mental illness can skew your perception so they need to be discussed.  

When you find yourself in a fragile state of mind, retreat to your favorite coping skills. Keep in mind, you’re feeling sick that day. Imagine yourself with the flu. You’d be gentle with yourself. You’d give yourself the time to heal. You’d do what you had to to rest. You wouldn’t plague yourself with critical remarks. You’d nurse yourself back to a healthy state. It’s the same with mental illness. Love yourself enough to prioritize self care and self preservation. It’s your obligation to do so. 

I encourage anyone who suspects they have a mental illness to see a mental health professional. This piece is not intended to substitute professional help. However, this is not a journey that’s safe enough to travel alone and I will always stand by those who are agonizing in quietude. Much love to you all.