Knowledge · Mental Health · Wellness

Self care?

So far my 20’s have been a mess, in the sense that the transition from living under the guidance and authority of my parents, to being completely my own person. Recently, I’ve hit a wall and come to some hard realizations: I have absolutely no skills in self care. I have no idea when to take a break, when to let things go, when to put myself first, or even what taking care of myself feels like.

I have a habit of imploding when things go bad, and instead of taking time to get trough it, I distract myself with everything and everything. This just leads to me burning out and bottling up the original problems, which is not super healthy. So, instead of continuing down this path and sulking about it, I’m deciding to research, speaking to loved ones, and figuring out how the fuck to be 22.

I need to figure out self care. This may sound silly, because some of you may have developed these skills when you were 5, but I’m realizing it’s okay to learn things later in life!

Step 1: What is self care?

I see people talking about self care days/routines. What does this even mean? When do you do this? What do I do? Well it’s different for everyone.

Self care for one person may not work for another, and that’s okay! Self care is about putting yourself first, and letting yourself grow and breathe.

For some people, that is bath bombs, a good book, and some alone time.

For others, it’s catching up with a loved one you haven’t seen in a while, and journaling your thoughts.

For me, I still don’t quite know yet, but realizing I need to find out is the first step!

Step 2: What makes you happy?

For the next week I’m going to write down things that make me feel good, and sift through and find ones that I can easily do when I’m not feeling great.

Example: Walks usually help me clear my head. I love to be in nature, and to even photograph it. So nature walks and photography can definitely be on that list.

Keep doing this until you have 5/6 items on your list, (which forces you to be creative and think deep), and then pick your top 3.

Step 3: When the heck do you use self care?

This is the hard one for me. I feel like I don’t deserve to take care of myself, or I need to take care of someone else. Well just like they say on airplanes: “secure your oxygen mask before assisting someone else”. How can you expect to be there for someone else if you’re a mess yourself?

It’s frickin hard I know, but you deserve to be happy, too; I promise.

To figure this one out, I thought back to the times I felt the worst:

  • Arguments with loved ones, whether parents, friends, significant others, etc. This is when I’d feel the most emotionally out of control and depressed.
  • When I’m on my period, o tend to feel really low energy, low mood. I know that this is a symptom of this time of the month, but I tend to convince myself that it’s just me and not what’s going on in my body. Big mistake! Don’t underestimate your hormones.
  • When a traumatic experience happens, whether a death, break up, loss of job, etc. These times are hard, and you need to be there for yourself more than ever.
  • When I’m overly stressed out about school or work I tend to feel really bad.
  • Some days, there is no reason. Some days I just wake up and feel like shit, and THAT’S OKAY TOO!
  • Your answers may be the exact same or different, but it’s important to think back to the times you’ve felt the worst. This is when you need self care the most.

Step 4: Remember!

You don’t have to be at your worst to practice self care, this is just the most important time to have these skills!
Sometimes it’s good to take care of yourself on a regular basis REGARDLESS of how you’re feeling.

Also remember that you deserve self care and love just as much as anyone else. You are human; you make mistakes.

Step 5: Is that it?

Pretty much. Sounds easy, right? Well it’s not going to be easy, but we have to try and stick with it. Whatever helps you stick to self care, use it.

I have a hard time doing things for myself because of my insecurities and self doubt, I tell myself I don’t deserve it. What is helping me is telling myself that I’m doing it for those around me. It is important, though, for me to teach myself that at the end of the day, it is for myself, too.

This was a hard thing to open up about because it’s pretty embarrassing to say at 22 I have no idea how to take care of myself. Realizing this is the first step. Then to act on it, and to continue to act on it.

We will get there. ♥️

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

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Mental Health

Having anxiety vs Having anxiety

Anxiety doesn’t have a “look”. Nor does depression, happiness, or any other feeling and mental health condition. This is me when I want the world to see me vs when I do not. But my anxiety is there in both. My insecurities are there in both. Whether you’re panicking because you’re picking up your mom from the ferry, or panicking because you feel both mentally numb and out of control at the same time, your anxiety is valid.
.
Today I’m giving myself permission for this feed to not be perfect. I’m giving myself permission to be human. To make mistakes. To have depression. To have anxiety. I am giving myself permission to be and share my best and worst self today. To not kick myself down into the dirt because I assume everyone is going to think I’m doing it for attention. Or because people are going to judge me. I’m giving myself permission to be able to show my real self to the world today and from now on, and not apologize. I am unhappy in both of these pictures, but it’s really easy to hide that on social media. Let’s lift those barriers. We all have issues. We all deal with them differently. They are all valid. Be your beautiful self and don’t apologize for it. ♥️

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health

I’m sorry, Mom pt2

I moved out of my parents house 1 year ago today. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I didn’t realize it then, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have great parents. They are always there for me when I need them. Sometimes they just aren’t helping though; they’re making it worse. It’s not their fault though. They try, and that means the world to me.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, though. I was a stubborn child. I’d have different opinions than them, and I wouldn’t keep quiet about it. I spent a lot of time grounded, or in my room questioning if something was wrong with me.

I was more emotional than they were. Why couldn’t I keep my mouth shut like my twin brother? He’d just say okay and let it go. I couldn’t do that.

Anyways, it wasn’t until I developed my anxiety that this got a lot worse. My anxiety shortens my fuse. I have a temper, and when I’m feeling anxious, I can’t control it. I just snap and say whatever I’m feeling. Unfortunately, this doesn’t go over well when you have very sensitive parents.

They take everything personally. That’s just who they are and that’s fine. It just sucks when you feel insane because you say something you thought was totally fine, but it turns out it was “disrespectful”, and then you can’t understand what’s wrong with you.

I spent a lot of time hating myself for being as emotional as I was. I can’t let things go. My parents would go to bed after an argument we’d have, and then I’d never hear about it again. No closure; no resolution. Just thoughts questioning my entire make up as a being.

 

Today, August 1st, 2018, I sit in bed feeling unbelievably depressed. I feel useless and pathetic. The reason? I had to come home early.

I was staying with my parents, (a different city which takes approx. 4 hours to get to by car and ferry). Before I got to my parent’s house, I was on vacation with my boyfriend’s family for about a week. My mental state wasn’t the greatest, but I was excited to get home to see my parents.

I got home and it was great. We celebrated my birthday on July 30th, and everything was awesome. My boyfriend had to go back home to Burnaby a few days before me, so I was going to be at my parents house by myself.

I think, to a normal person, what’s the issue? I couldn’t tell you why there is an issue, but yes, staying at my childhood house without my boyfriend there makes me terribly anxious.

So at around 4pm, July 31, my anxiety is getting terrible and I make the decision to go home with Michael instead of staying with my parents for an additional 2 days.

I was bawling. I knew this would kill my parents. I had only stayed 2 nights so far and they had really been looking forward to spending time with me.

I slowly and carefully try and tell my mom, but can’t contain my emotion and just start bawling. She asks what’s wrong and I explain the decision I’ve made. She goes silent. Starts crying and doing stuff franticly. She’s hurt.

“Are you mad?” I ask her, looking for reassurance, she responds with “what do you expect me to say? Just do what you need to do”.

This one kills. The guilt. I get it mom, you’re hurt. I’m so fucking sorry. I feel so bad, I can’t stand it. But I need to look out for me right now. Sometimes I’m strong enough to deal with my anxiety, but tonight I’m not.

My brother texts me, “wtf, really?”. Yep, you have a pathetic, POS sister who can’t even sleep in her childhood bedroom by herself without having a panic attack. In his defense, he did book the following day off work to hangout with me. Yay, slap on some more guilt.

My dad gets home from work. He doesn’t realize I’m downstairs and can hear him. “So why did Jessica go home?” My mom responds, snappy, “anxiety. She’s still here, though”. It’s like it’s a joke to them. They just don’t get it. It’s real. I know it seems stupid, but it’s valid.

Great. I’ve completely screwed up everything. My parents and brother are all upset, all because I couldn’t just “get  over it”, and do the most natural fucking thing in what should be the most comforting place. Sleep in my childhood bed.

Dinner is awkward,  my parents are upset and barely talking to me. My dad asks what it was this time, and then asks why I’m crying again. I’m sorry dad, I can’t handle this guilt! It’s really hard to upset you guys and feel this way. I explain this to him and he tells me that it’s my own shit I need to accept.

My parents are great people. They only want what’s best for me. Unfortunately sometimes they just don’t understand. Sometimes I need to look out for myself, and that can sting.

I don’t know why I get anxious about the things I get anxious about. I don’t know why I am in a bad mental state right now. I do know though, that the last thing I’m trying to is upset you guys.

I cried nearly the whole ferry ride home, thinking over and over again whether I made the right decision to go home. Should I have stayed and faced my panic? Maybe I’m just making it worse by running away. I replay it over and over in my head. I ask Mike over and over again. My parents are hurt because they had little time with me but Mike’s parents had a whole week.

Why am I like this? I’m sorry mom and dad. I’m sorry that I hurt you. It’s the last thing I meant to do. Things are just hard right now. I need to face some of my own shit. I hope that one day you can understand. I wish I could make everything better.

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health

I’m sorry, Mom. Pt1

It’s harmless. Your mom hugs you and exclaims that you are really hot.

That’s ok, it’s 30 degrees outside. I’m fine.

Then you sit beside your dad and he says the same thing.

Weird. They’re probably warm too, though.

Thinking back, my brother also said that to me when my knees touched his at dinner.

What is going on.

I snap at my mom. “Stop. Why are you saying that? I’m not hot, I’m.”

“Woah, chill out, it was just an observation.”

“You’re stressing me out!”

“Why are you stressed about me telling you you’re hot?!”

Yeah, Jess, why are you stressed about that?

I don’t know, but people can be so insensitive sometimes to others’ anxiety.

I told her I didn’t mean to snap, but my throat was starting to tighten up, and my heart was starting to beat faster.

She knows that abnormalities with my body give me really bad anxiety. But now she’s upset. Why am I like this.

Now she’s crying because she’s taking it personally. My mom has her own anxiety, and quite a few issues herself, so she gets upset very easily. It was hard sometimes growing up with such an emotional mom, because I was never trying to hurt her. I always felt like I was doing something wrong.

When I developed my heath anxiety, it was hard because I didn’t understand what was going on with me, and I’d look to my mom for support and for the answers. Sometimes she’d get frustrated because my anxiety is different than hers.

She’d say things like “you just have to feel it,” or “nothing’s wrong with you”. But when it wouldn’t fix it, I could see she was hurt. She would take it personally and I would feel so guilty.

I remember one afternoon I was cleaning out the bathtub. I scrubbed the walls so hard, getting absolutely every crack and tile.

When I had finished, and was typing in my laptop, my arm starting pulsating. It was shaking, and my muscles were spasming.

I felt my heart race. My ears starting ringing. I felt like I wasn’t breathing enough. I was having a panic attack.

My mom and dad were frustrated. My dad said “omg your arm spasms and you freak out? Everyone has anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with you. Stop breathing like that!” (I was probably hyperventilating st the time).

I couldn’t tell you where I developed this anxiety from, or why it’s around my body particularly.

But it’s there.

And it’s real.

And it’s valid.

I’m sorry mom, I didn’t mean to snap. But you were stressing me out. I hope one day I can tell you that and you can understand and not take it personally.

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health · Wellness

3 coping methods for anxiety and panic that actually work for me!

Box breathing?

Meditation?

Standing in the grass?

These methods may work for you, but they don’t work for me,  and that’s okay! Different things work for different people, and I hope someone else out there finds use and comfort from the techniques that work for me.

“The 5 senses”

For this method to work the best, it is important that you are saying these sentences out loud, and actually sensing your surroundings. For touch? Actually feel the objects. For smell? Actually smell the scents you are talking about. Say it to yourself and listen.
1. First, sit or stand up so you can see your entire room.
2. “What are 5 things that I can see?” Colours, objects, people, etc.
3. “What are 4 things that I can touch?” Actually touch and feel these things.
4. “What are 3 things I can hear?”
5. “What are 2 things you can smell?”
6. “What is 1 thing you can taste?”

When you focus on your senses, and show yourself that they are working properly, it can work wonders to take over your anxiety and be comforting. This method can help to ground you.

“Tell someone”

As an extrovert, sometimes I can’t process the thoughts in my head until I get them out. When you are in a crazy cycle of anxiety and your mind is going a mile a minute, it can be impossible to process your thoughts. Having both of these things happen at once? Implosion waiting to happen.

Therefore, something that really helps me is to talk to someone I love and trust. Lately, my boyfriend is the master of this role. Now all I have to say is “I’m feeling very anxious,” or “why am I so anxious,” and he gets the hint and helps me sort out my thoughts.

its amazing what hearinngnyour own thoughts can do. Say what your anxious about, and try and put it into words.  It will probably sound silly but that’s the point. Allow yourself to feel silly; it will help ground you!

“HALT”

I actually found this method by watching Jane the Virgin. Who would of thought, hey?
Anyways, HALT is an acronym that stands for: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. This method takes a little bit of time and effort to work because you have to remind yourself that it exists when you need it most.
I recommend writing “HALT” on sticky notes around your house to remind you when you are first starting out.

Really all you need to do is say “HALT” for a second when you’re feeling hopeless and/or anxious, and ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?

These are the major causes of stress and anxiety, and 9.9 times out of 10 are a contributing factor to why you’re feeling emotionally out of control.

While it may not be 100% responsible, it definitely helps ground you, and being comfort knowing that anxiety is a symptom of other factors.

———————————————————

Most times, I’m just stressed about something, and this stress is allowing all of my rationality to exit my mind. Sometimes just taking my focus off of what I’m worried about can fix everything.

While these strategies may not work for everyone, they really work for me. I hope that someone can add one of these tools to their “toolbox”, and can get some relief when feeling anxious.

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health

Dear ex-best friend,

I don’t know what happened to us.

I wish we still talked.

I miss your insights, and your laugh.

It’s been years and I still think about you. Do you, me?

I hope your life is going as well as you’d always hoped.

I’m sorry I was always so irrational and emotional; it’s something I struggle with.

You may see it as annoying, but I see it as a huge mistake in my making of a person. I hate myself for it.

Why couldn’t I just let it go like your other friends? Or be that fun girl I know you’d rather be hanging out with.

And then I wonder…am I the reason we don’t talk anymore? Or was my mom right when she said that people just drift apart?

She probably is, but I want to know why. I don’t understand why we just drift apart.

My boyfriend and I haven’t drifted apart, and if we do, there would probably be closure.

There was no closure for us.

One day the texts just slowed, and we didn’t put in the effort to meet up.

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health

“Can you get the phone?”

No, I cannot.

I can’t answer the phone.

I freeze. I can’t even answer the phone at work. I even have a sheet written out for how to answer the phone, but do you think I could get the words out? Not a chance.

“I’m an extrovert, so why is this such an issue? People only really call me for information or appointment reminders. I’m so stupid.”

I usually just stare blankly at my ringing screen until it goes to voice mail. I usually then listen in on the voice mail, and if it’s important enough, I will call you back.

It’s 2018; just text me.

I do, however, have a handful of people that I can answer the phone to. My mom, a few friends, and my boyfriend. Why is this?

For the other side of this phone game, how about calling? I mean, it’s still annoyingly tough, but I can manage it no problem…usually…if I have it pre-scripted out in my head.

I go through everything in my head; their name, why I’m calling, what to ask, and then I write it all out.

I over analyze every word I say, feeling like I’m doing something wrong. Like did I sound too manly? Did I forget something? Did I call at a bad time?

——————————

Hold on; let’s think for a moment.

As an emotional and extroverted person, it is very important for me to see how other people feel and react when I communicate with them.

How can I see how someone reacts when I’m talking to them through a chunk of plastic?

This is probably why I, and so many others have such a hard time answering the phone. Or at least the only rational reason I can come up with.

It still doesn’t explain why I can make calls, but I can’t receive them.

Do you have any insights, thoughts, or similar experiences? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to see tho go through your eyes. 🙂

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health

the thought of going away isn’t exciting and relaxing

Counting down the days to my vacation should be exciting. Planning what to wear, where to go, what to bring.

I’m excited but I’m anxious. Anxious in the dread way, not the ~nervous~ way. Why do those two always accompany one another?

Thoughts of excitement fill my mind… shortly after come the “what if….”‘s and the “but then…”‘s..

“It’s normal to have travel anxiety!”

Is it normal to have travel anxiety about your friends? Strangers on social media? … What if their plane crashes? How are they able to be there when there have been so many terrible things happening there? … Does the thought of people being in the air right now scare you and make your knees wobble? Let alone for yourself?

I used to love going away. Heck, I went to London and Paris and those were some of the best days of my life. Now the thought of going on an airplane alone can set me into a panic attack. What’s wrong with me?

If you’re like me, you wanted to know the why. I found that it may come from a need to be in control. It’s hard to feel in control when you’re kilometers from the ground.

“It’s common to not sleep your first night in a new place”

What about the second night? And the fifth?

I already have a really hard time sleeping at home, and that’s with a routine I’ve developed simply to help with my night time anxiety. I won’t have my pillow there with familiar smells. Or my fan which helps distract my brain from the noises in the house. Will there be wifi so I can play my phone games until my eyes are going sideways because I know that THEN, I’ll be to tired to think bad thoughts.

I’ll lay there sleepless for hours and be tired and not enjoy tomorrow with my friends… why can’t I just sleep like a normal person? Sleep is like the most natural thing!!

“You deserve a break”

A BREAK?? What is that?? There is no such thing as a break from my anxiety. It follows me everywhere.

I can’t relax right now! I could be working right now and making money. My branch is so short right now; they need me. My plants need to be watered. There is ~something~ I need to be cleaning. There is ~something~ I need to be doing.

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health

my anxiety makes me compulsive and obsessive

Have you ever found yourself laying sleepless at 1 am, having to wake up in 5 hours, body exhausted, head throbbing, but not being able to sleep? Everyone feels this way sometimes.

Has it ever been because you didn’t make sure your lamp was plugged in 4 times?

Or because while you were making your bed, you tapped your foot on the left bed frame leg, but not the right?

Or because there is a pine cone outside out of place that you noticed when you were coming home from work, and just knew it just wasn’t supposed to be there?

I’m not talking, “oh yeah, I should have done that; I’ll do it tomorrow,” type shrug off. I mean like, sweating, panicking, heart racing, thoughts about death, and pure frustration.

Getting out of bed sometimes 12 times in a night to fully make sure my bladder is empty because heaven forbid it wakes me up to go pee in the middle of the night.

Well this is my reality. Some days are worse than others, especially if I work early the next day.

I prepare myself for bed hours in advance because I know it’s going to be a carnival of acts that my brain tells me I need to do before I can relax enough or have “earned” the right to go to sleep.

I sit there insulting myself because I don’t understand where this came from or why it started. I calculate the hours of sleep I’m losing just to lose more. I take a melatonin pill and cross my fingers it will put me to sleep..

It’s exhausting. I’m worried I’m keeping my boyfriend up all night.

I finally built up the courage to google what I was experiencing to see if there were others in my position. I was unable to find people experiencing the same routines as me. I did, however, learn that this is a common coping method for people with anxiety.

They are what’s called “rituals”. As anxious people, we try and create something that we can be in control of. I make sure that my lamp is plugged in so that I can feel like I am in control of my lamp turning on. It sounds silly, but it made so much sense to me. I found so much comfort in that article online.

This isn’t every night, but it is the reality I live in. My hope is that one day someone sees this post and can find comfort knowing they aren’t alone.

We all face battles. You’ve gotten through 100% of your bad nights so far, so let’s do it again.

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6

Mental Health

comparing myself to myself

I love scrolling through social media, and seeing what my friends are up to! Sure I may be a tad jelly of your trip to Australia, but at the end of the day it doesn’t deteriorate my self esteem nearly as much as scrolling through my own feed.

I’ve always thought I was fat but it wasn’t until I actually became fat that I realized I wasn’t. It will probably always be this way, and that’s alright.

I’m realizing that I am still who I was 4 years ago. I may not be doing a thousand and ten things, I may not be traveling, or have the same BMI, but I am still Jess.

4 years ago may look great on Instagram, but I was in no better place than I am now. Every year, every day has it’s ups and its downs. We only post about the ups.

Filters on the gram filter our reality.

So STOP comparing yourself to others on social media, but most importantly, stop comparing yourself to yourself.

xo,

A3D7EE3D-F666-4772-AE13-C37CADDE24A6