Let’s Keep Talking, Folks!

I haven’t written much about my anxiety for a while, which is odd because this blog was formulated as a way to get talking about mental health issues. Part of the reason why is because I felt like I was always saying the same thing over and over again, and let’s face it — not everyone likes to hear the same thing over and over.

However, today I would like to discuss the importance of awareness for mental illness. Yesterday, there was a huge movement on social media — the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. The day raised $6,919,199 and created a huge conversation.

While that’s awesome, we should be talking about mental illness and mental health every single day.

Truth be told, we need to erase the stigmas that float around in the universe. We need to move towards acceptance and towards a world where one doesn’t need to be afraid when saying that they too are struggling.

Mental illness is much more common than you think — whether it’s an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. And those are only a few of them. With a physical illness, you can tell that someone is suffering. However, with a mental illness sometimes you can not.

I have anxiety. Having anxiety sucks to be honest. It’s something that is similar to falling down the rabbit hole into Alice’s trip to wonderland. Unlike Alice, my anxiety can stem from anything. I deal with panic attacks — I guess you can say it’s my superpower.

As I grow older, I’ve gotten better at managing it. I learned that situations do change, anxiety does not. After all, what gives me anxiety? Stress. Fear of not getting enough done. Too much to do in little time. Anxiety can float in all situations. It hasn’t changed since my college days avoided my therapist at the school counseling center.

But what did change is my thinking pattern and how I think about a situation. Then — and only then — it gives me the power through it. Thank you to all of the books I read, my therapist and the people who remain to guide me through it.

With anxiety, though you worry. You worry how people perceive you. You worry that you’ll be judged. And, sometimes people kick you down. They tell you to suck it up and it will get better. Let me ask you this — if someone was throwing up would you tell them to still go to work? Or, if you broke your leg, would you be asked to stop limping around?

No you wouldn’t.

Therefore, mental health is just as important as the physical. Therefore, let’s change the way we talk about it.

However, let me say this. We need to erase the stigmas that come with mental health. How do we do that? We talk. So, let’s start a conversation. Let’s get talking.

That’s the first step to getting better.

Advertisements

What’s Wrong With Taking a Bubble Bath?

Recently, I read quite a few articles about self care being more than just bubble baths. While I agree with that, I must bring up one important question — what’s wrong with taking baths to help you get to self care?

My answer? Absolutely nothing.

But, let me say this: it is definitely more than a bubble bath.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I can incorporate self care in my daily routine. Self care is the psychological equivalent to taking your vitamins and drinking water. If you don’t do it, chances are that you’ll end up an awful human being. Well, not awful, but someone who is stressed out and depressed.

Furthermore, let me also add this — self care is the thing that we use to keep us healthy in a holistic sense. It’s about going to your therapist if you need to see one. It’s about learning to set boundaries, making time to work out, and choosing a salad every once in a while.

Self care is something that differs from person to person. For me, self care consists of curling up with a good book in the morning to enjoy with my coffee. For me, self care is getting a discounted bath bomb from Marshalls and relaxing for ten minutes. For me, self care is writing my blog posts and writing my stories. It is about taking a breather from my daily responsibilities for two minutes and taking a moment for myself, and not feeling bad about doing so.

I think we need to learn how to take that breather. But, we also need to learn how to get to a point where we are truly taking care of ourselves and trying to make sure that we are taking those crucial steps to get there.

And for some, that might very well mean a bubble bath with a candle.

I’m relaxing just typing those words.

So, the moral of the story?

Don’t discount the bubble baths as a method of self care.

6 Simple Ideas to Help Deal With Anxiety

For the past few years, I’ve been struggling with the effects of anxiety as they fluctuate up and down. However, it’s safe to say that anxiety will always and forever remain to be a part of me.

Over the years, the way I have dealt with anxiety has changed tremendously. When I first began experiencing panic attacks, the only way I could deal with them was to hysterically cry in the corner. Try doing that in the middle of a college campus. With that being said, I developed (thanks to my therapist) a list of methods to help cope with anxiety so I don’t have extreme panic attacks.

Are you experiencing anxiety? Here’s some things I do to manage it for you to try. Disclaimer: just because they worked for me doesn’t mean that they are something that could help you. Everyone with anxiety deals with it differently, these methods just help with mine. 

  1. Write in a journal.

I’ve been writing for as long as I could remember. It kind of makes sense whenever I am feeling down that I resort to journal writing (or poetry) whenever anxiety strikes. Typically, I write every single emotion that I’m feeling. Once it’s on paper, I feel better. Usually.

2. Talk to friends.

Over the past two years, I’ve had friends (or significant others) who I would turn to whenever I was feeling upset and need someone to cry to. I am so grateful to have a cast of characters in my life to hug me when I’m feeling upset or anxious to remind me that everything is going to be okay. Usually after talking to someone I trust, I almost always feel better.

3. Drink a lot of water — and less caffeine.

Let’s be honest, I love my Starbucks. And, my Panera. And, my Dunkin. What can I say? I’m a coffee drinker? However, I notice that when I drink coffee I tend to feel more anxious. So, I’ve been cutting back on the coffee, and drinking more water. It’s definitely helpful.

One of the things that my therapist actually told me to do is to drink more water whenever I’m feeling anxious. That is something that I’ve been doing lately, and it helps a lot. Plus, staying hydrated has some great health benefits as well.

4. Get a spinner . . . something.

I have a spinner ring, and I wear it on days when I know my anxiety is going to be higher. Having that ring is super helpful because it takes my mind off of whatever is causing me anxiety — and it’s really fun to play with.

Over the summer, one of the fads was to have a spinner toy. Those are extremely fun to play with when you’re anxious because it draws your attention away from what’s bothering you, and you’re doing something fun! 10/10 would recommend.

5. Be positive.

Have a Mantra that you repeat to yourself whenever you’re having a panic attack. You know something positive that reminds you that everything is going to be ok.

Looking for inspiration? Some ideas include:

  • Just Breathe.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • Everything will work itself out.

6. Have a distraction.

This is when puppy videos come in handy. Cute things always invoke a smile on my face. This is why I follow so many Snoopy and puppy accounts on Instagram.

Basically, if something makes you smile, it’s definitely worth having around — and indulging in having more of it in your life!

11 Mantras Everyone With a Mental Illness Needs to Hear

Having a mental illness – or even just going through a rough time – can be the most isolating thing on the planet. It is like you are in a downwards spiral, and have no way out of it.

With that being said, it’s hard to think that there will be an end to the suffering and the pain that you are dealing with. So, I’ve decided to provide a list of mantras for those who are going through a mental illness or a rough time to serve as reminders that you truly can get through it.

  1. I am worth it.
  2. I can beat this.
  3. I am worthy of love.
  4. I am strong.
  5. I am beautiful.
  6. Everything is going to be okay.
  7. I am loved.
  8. It is okay not to be okay.
  9. I am going to get through this.
  10. My best is good enough.
  11. I am good enough.

Not Tonight Dear, I Am Having A Panic Attack: Anxiety and Dating

As a person with anxiety, it is safe to say it has had an impact on my relationships. When I was in my previous relationship, it was when my anxiety was in full swing, and panic attacks were a regular occurrence. However, I was really lucky to have a boyfriend who was supportive and did whatever he could to help me with dealing with it.

While I am lucky to have minor anxiety now, it still exists. I am unsure how anxiety will play out in my next relationship. But, I learned enough about it over the years to give advice to couples that may have to deal with anxiety.

Note: While this post mainly talks about anxiety, these tips pertain to all mental illnesses, from eating disorders to depression.

Talk it Out

With all relationships, you need to communicate, as communication is key. When it comes to my anxiety, I pretty much am an open book and am completely honest with my partner, or a potential one. If not, then you are putting on a façade of someone you may not actually be. Since my anxiety is a part of me, I like to take the time to have a thoughtful conversation about it with my partner. In that conversation, we’ll discuss things such as what makes me anxious? What are my triggers? What is my role in this anxiety thing, and what can I do to help?

One thing that my former partner and I did was go to therapy together to have an open space to discuss anxiety. I believe that it was a helpful thing for us to do, because it induced productive and effective conversation, and is a worthwhile option for those who are willing. However, therapy is a private thing – meant only for the indexed individual. So, if you don’t want to have your partner sits in on a session, then that’s okay too.

Be Supportive

With that being said, always do what you can to show your support for them and their journey. This can be something as simple as hugging your partner while they hit a low, asking them about their therapy session, or just reminding them that you’re here for them.

While the ideal partner is always supportive, it is especially important for when your partner has a mental illness.

It’s Not One-Sided

Sometimes, sadly, a relationship can be consumed with anxiety. It can be overwhelming for anyone to deal with anxiety, especially the loved ones of that person – I am not going to lie. However, it is important to remember that your partner does care about you as well, and wants you to take the time that you need for yourself.

While it is up to you how you prioritize how you divide your time, it can be overwhelming when you constantly feel like you are on call for your partner. Newsflash, you are not a doctor. So, Be sure that you take care of yourself. Play your video games, go for that run, or do whatever it is you do for fun.
In addition to that, do not be afraid to be honest with your partner. If you feel overwhelmed, tell them. I definitely understand, and to be honest, I would want my boyfriend to tell me how he’s feeling.

Just Be There

Sometimes, all we need is a hug and someone to tell us that everything is going to be okay when the world feels like it’s crashing down on you. You may have to do this a lot sometimes, but trust me, it does not go unappreciated.

Be Understanding

You might not understand what a panic attack feels like, or the effect it has on the person going through one until you see your partner stare off into space while kissing you because they are scared and feel unsafe. This is especially true if you yourself have never dealt with anxiety. However, all you can do is just understand and be patient. And, if this does happen to you, kiss their forehead and remind them that it will truly be alright.

Remember They Are More Than Their Anxiety

I am much more than my anxiety. I am a writer, a photographer, a person, a bookworm, and so much more. Mental illness, especially the label, does not define the patient. Remember that they are much more than that, and they too are human. So, whatever you do, be sure to remember that there is more to them.

Anxiety and Booze: Why I Won’t Meet You For Drinks

I am 22 years old, a college graduate, and I’ve never been drunk or set foot in a bar. At parties, instead of drinking the punch, my red solo cups are filled with ginger ale or water. And no, it’s not because I am super religious or super innocent. It’s not that I am judgmental or a prude. It’s because I have anxiety.

Anxiety and booze don’t mix. I know many people who have anxiety or depression and have used drugs or alcohol as a crutch to get through their rough time. According to an article from Healthline, anxiety can worsen symptoms, and those who have anxiety can develop a dependence on it.

I was diagnosed with anxiety officially a year and a half ago – however, I’ve been in therapy for the effects of chronic stress and anxiety for almost two years. And since then, I haven’t touched a drink.

It wasn’t much of a loss, because I wasn’t much of a drinker to begin with. However, when you’re the only one of your friends not getting a beer with dinner, why I don’t go out for drinks with the cute guy I matched with on Tinder, or the only one at the party who doesn’t take anything from the punchbowl, it can cause some to wonder why isn’t Natalie having a cocktail like the rest of us?

Not drinking was a choice that I had to make, and I believe that it was the right one for me to make. Anxiety has impacted my life in so many different ways, and this is one of them.
However, often with choices that are abnormal, there are people that do not respect them. I have had people say to me it’s only one drink, what’s the big deal? It’s important to me, and it’s my decision. Just like I respect that you are spending all of your time and money at the bar. Plus, by me not drinking, I can be your designated driver.

I don’t know if I will ever get a chance to drink more than the Seagrams I had right before being diagnosed with anxiety, and the champagne glass I shared with my ex-boyfriend to celebrate my 22nd birthday. Some days, I think I feel like I am ready to have a drink. Other days, I still feel like I am not there yet. One day, I will get there.

A Thank You Letter To My Therapist

A few weeks ago, I left my therapist’s office for the last time. Leaving my therapist’s office, I had realized how everything had come full circle since I had first attended therapy about ten months ago.

It is safe to say that my 2016 was spent in a therapist’s office. I started going to therapy in February 2016 to find the cure for why I was a hot mess who cried at the drop of a hat, and why I was so stressed out.

What I got out of therapy was much more than that, thanks to my therapist Jessica. Going to therapy changed everything about me-who I was, who I am, how I approach the world and my perspective on it. I would like to think that Jessica was the catalyst of that change, however, I realized that I was the one who was doing all of the work.

Before going to Jessica, I had gone to my campus’ counseling center. For me, the experience was less than satisfactory. My therapist was nice and wanted to listen. However, it always felt that he had a game plan for me, one that was similar to a checklist with meditation and eventually anxiety medication. Those steps were the only steps. I had never had the desire to even attend my therapy appointments, because I had always felt that I was falling short of the steps that my therapist said. Little did I know, those were not the only options for curing anxiety?

When I met Jessica, what I liked about her was her approach to therapy. It was different. It was laid back, and she was approachable with an interesting take on everything. This was something that I really liked about her, because she was more interested in seeing what works for me, rather than a quick fix that was used on everyone.

Since going to Jessica, I began to notice a change in myself, and the way I perceived things. For example, I learned to take something that may not be the most fun, such as finals week, and insert a treat or something positive in to make it bearable. I learned to distract myself whenever I felt overwhelmed, whether it may be to take breaks when I feel overwhelmed, or to rub my hands in lotion to transport myself from the stressful office to something more positive.

Most importantly, I learned how to live with my anxiety, and become a normal human again who is truly happy. I thank Jessica for the ability to live without panic attacks, because I know not to let it get to that point in the first place. And for that, I thank Jessica every day.

It is safe to say that I am not the same person who I was when I first entered her office ten months ago. However, I am proud of the person I am now, as I am a strong person who was able to conquer her anxiety and learn to manage it.

And, I have Jessica to thank for that. Thank you Jessica for everything. You have no idea the impact our sessions had one me.