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Winter Tidings of Mindfulness

Happy Winter Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Yule and all other holidays!

I had the plan to write out a post explaining the Pagan origins of the Christmas holiday many of us celebrate and also include how Christianity adopted it as their own. But honestly? That’s not where my heart is at right now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and learning more about the traditions and all. But something that feels more prevalent is the topic of mindfulness.

To be mindful is to be aware of the present moment. Not thinking about what you need to do later today or what you should have done yesterday, etc. Just being 100% present in this moment.

This is tough, honestly. It’s a lesson I have been learning for years, and only most recently do I feel like I’m truly understanding. And understand that I truly struggle with this lesson.

As someone with anxiety, a lot of my unsupervised mind is focused on “what ifs” and the future. As someone with depression, a lot of my unsupervised mind is either focused on the past or on my flaws. For many years, I was only living life through my unsupervised mind’s eye. Practicing mindfulness teaches me to let go of the future, the hypotheticals, the shoulds and should-nots, and teaches me to just be. That’s it, to just be.

Let me emphasize the fact that this is hard. Like, really fucking difficult at times. Because it is SO damn easy to start daydreaming about my goals, which then turns into me comparing my life now to what I want it to be, which then just snowballs into me being overwhelmed with anxiety (if not also anger).

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This holiday season looks different for each and every one of us (in America, at least, where COVID is still very relevant). And it is all too easy for me to think about how I wish it looked like and how I want it to look next year and what I’m going to get everyone next year and how I need to plan ahead better and…yeah, it’s exhausting. And unhelpful!

A therapist I had years ago had tried to work with me on mindfulness. We did exercises during our sessions, but it felt very difficult to implement this. I was in a point of my life where my conscious mind was asleep. I was living on auto-pilot, and that auto-pilot flew me right into a shitstorm of feeling unsettled, to say the least.

Now I don’t want to come across like being mindful is unattainable, because it is very attainable. I personally think being mindful is the key to living a truly happy life. Think about kids, for example. There are not many 4-year-olds thinking about yesterday or tomorrow (unless it’s Christmas or their birthday). They are just in this moment, and that’s it. It’s so refreshing when I get to see my fiancé’s nieces, ages 9 and 4 (almost 5). They’re the sweetest girls, and just so present.

That childlike oblivion to everything isn’t necessarily always realistic, because we do have to pay bills and honor responsibilities and all that. But, be honest with yourself. How often are you doing something and you’re not really present with it?

Probably a lot.

And that’s fine! We are having this human experience, and being preoccupied with all the external factors that come with this life are going to happen. But. We also owe it to ourselves to really drop in to what truly matters to us and what we can actually do right now.

Without going into too much detail, my fiancé and I had a little disagreement a few weeks ago. On the surface, I felt unsupported and unheard. I felt like he was casting off what was important to me because it didn’t matter to him. After some sleep and some honest tough-love self-talk, I realized that I was not being present and I was being impatient.

Y’all don’t have to agree with me about this next point, but I sometimes forget that the circumstances of my life are unfolding the way that they are meant to. I do have control of my destiny and I am the creator of my reality, but I also can’t build Rome in a day. I can’t *snap* have the life I see in my dreams, I need to give it some time. I need to take the steps to get there. I can’t just jump the whole damn staircase, I have to go in order. (I know that’s vague, but hopefully you get what I’m saying).

Bringing that back to mindfulness: It will feel aggravating and frustrating and anger-inducing, but be honest with yourself about what you can actually do about a situation in this present moment. Most likely, there’s not much you can do about the big-picture in 1 day. You can make an effort to move in the direction of what you want, but more often than not, you need to let go of what you think things should be and just make the most of the way they are. And understand this is how they are for now

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Your holiday traditions probably look different this year. With the risk of COVID-19 still rising, family gatherings for the holidays might not be happening. And it sucks. But, this will pass. We live in a wonderful age of technology, where Zoom/Google Meet/any other video chats can still bring people together. And it’s not the same, videochatting is not the tradition that many of us know, but stressing out about how we think things should look like is not doing anything other than stressing us out and wasting our energy.
Or maybe you want to get your degree, but financially can’t swing going back to school right now. Or maybe you want to move somewhere, or change jobs, or get a new car, or whatever. You can take conscious steps to help you move towards what you want, but it’s important to remember that if you’re not happy along the way, you won’t be happy long-term once you get whatever it is that you want.

76 Most Powerful Mindfulness Quotes: Your Daily Dose of Inspiration

As we embark on this new holiday season, I wish you and your family good health, tidings of joy, and also a peace of mind that this storm will pass.

Allow yourself to have bad days, but make it a point to not wallow in the negative.

Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, and Happy Holidays! ❤💚

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Uncategorized

Welcoming Winter

Happy December!

This time of year can be hard for some people, especially for people who find themselves experiencing SADD. Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder affects a lot of people! Essentially, it is when people experience depression during the winter months. Part of this is caused by the decreased Vitamin D accompanying the lack of sunlight, and sometimes also the holidays are hard for people.

2020 has already been an intense year, to say the least. And if you are finding yourself feeling depressed (or more depressed than your usual amount) during this, you’re not alone.

So what can you do about it? Especially during this time of stay-at-home orders?

Give yourself a fucking break.

Seriously. Put off for tomorrow what does not need to get done today. Let yourself have an extra 30 minutes of laying in bed. Eat what you feel like having. We are literally living through a pandemic, y’all. Our normalcy is being rearranged – and depression (seasonal or not) has a metaphysical reason for demanding rest.

Something I’ve read about briefly is ayurvedic medicine. Within this medicine is the idea of your body being closely aligned with the sun, that our bodies naturally need less sleep in the summer and more in the winter. Our eating habits change seasonally as well.

This is not me saying “depression during the winter is natural, just deal with it”. BUT I am saying that one of the healthiest things we can do is listen to our body. Give yourself the grace and give yourself the space to do your best every day, no matter what that looks like.

Sometimes my best is waking up early and doing yoga and exercising before the sun rises. Other times it’s waking up at 9:30am and eating cookies for breakfast. Life is all about balance, and it’s important that we hold space for ourselves.

So what are some winter activities to do during this time?

❄ Drive around and look at Christmas lights

❄ Make hot chocolate at home and have a game night

❄ Sit in front of a fireplace (in real life or on YouTube) and cozy up under a bunch of blankets

❄ Watch Christmas movies

❄ See if there’s any local Christmas light “events” (In New Jersey, the PNC Bank Arts Center has a drive-thru Christmas light show and they charge a small entry fee per car)

❄ Read one of your favorite chapter books from when you were a kid. (The Inkheart trilogy is my go-to)

❄ Have a movie night (Harry Potter is my go-to!)

❄ Do your favorite winter activities safely!

Remember, you are entitled to your feelings. Right now does suck. But this stork will pass. It might pass like a fucking kidney stone, but this too shall pass.

Categories
mental health

Mental Health Awareness

Happy November!

In case you don’t already know – mental health is one of the most important things in my life. I consider myself to be a mental health advocate, and when I’m able to make enough money through my writing to support me (i.e. I don’t have to work for anyone else) I’ll have the time and ability to advocate more.

Early November is the time where I reflect on my experience with my mental health. In November of 2014, I was hospitalized for 8 days in a psychiatric facility because my family was concerned for my safety. After leaving the facility, I went through an outpatient program for about three months, and I graduated from that program in about March of 2015. In July of 2015, I started dating my now-fiancé.

Depression and anxiety plagued me for years, not to mention misdiagnoses that occurred, generational trauma, and PTSD.

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It has been six years since I’ve self-harmed. It has been six years since my stay in the psych ward, and over five and a half years since I graduated from the outpatient program. I don’t have anxiety attacks every day, or even every week. I don’t feel disgusting in my own skin with every breath.

But that’s not to say that I’m “cured”. I still live with anxiety, and depression, and my trauma. I am unlearning so much every day – beliefs and values that aren’t actually mine, coping mechanisms that don’t serve me, and negativity. I still get anxious and deal with depression. And I’m working on my growth. I am in therapy, and I read a lot of personal development books.

I also am realistic and know that I’ll never not be living with anxiety or depression. Even the best version of myself will feel anxious or depressed, but the work that I am doing now is helping me build a strong foundation of self-love, discipline, positive coping skills, and confidence.

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I don’t think I have all the answers for you. There is a solid chance that I don’t have any answers. But I do know that if I can work through my crippling depression, my vivid suicidal ideations, and my debilitating anxiety so it’s all more manageable, then it is possible for anyone to do so too.

November is not Mental Health Awareness Month. And honestly, I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s not #trending to talk about the courage it takes to go to therapy, or to speak up to someone when you think you might need help, or to speak up when you’re worried about someone else. I don’t care of it’s on the Explore Page/For You Page about the different resources available for those who are living with mental illnesses. For me, on my platform, Mental Health Matters 24/7 365 days a year (and 366 days on a Leap Year).

I know that for some people this might feel kinda liberal, or hippie, or any other label with a negative connotation but the reality is, is that we as humans cannot be truly healthy if we’re neglecting our emotions and mental state. Your mental health matters. You are not alone. People care about your mental health, but unfortunately, there aren’t many mind-readers among us who are able to know how you’re feeling unless you say something.

I also don’t think that there’s only one answer for someone who is dealing with mental health issues. If you want to go to a therapist who specializes in traditional psychology, you go for it! There are also therapists who specialize in religious or spiritual approaches. There are counselors and coaches and therapists and so many people who do energy work.
I also know that this can be expensive. Not everyone has access to insurance, or can afford it. And it’s so easy to get into a mindset of “If I was in a country with universal healthcare I could have access to therapy but I don’t so I guess I’ll just suffer” – and I’m sorry you’re struggling. But that is bullshit. You have access to the internet! It is 2020, my dude – YouTube is a free resource. There are so many videos on different topics – give yourself an hour a week to watch videos about whatever it is that’s troubling you! Or check out your local library.

There is strength in asking for help. And if you aren’t at that point yet, you are strong too.

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Your mental health matters. Your health matters. You matter.

It can feel lonesome. There are still so many stigmas surrounding all things mental health, and if you’re in an unsupportive environment you might think that the stigmas are truth. And while I can’t debunk every stigma you ever heard (since I don’t know what you’ve heard!), I can offer the following truths.

✨ You are worthy of happiness. You know yourself best. You are smart and kind and important.

✨ You cannot just not be depressed or anxious. It’s not that easy, BUT not being under depression’s grip or under anxiety’s wrath is possible.

✨ Not everyone will be understanding. Usually the people who have never experienced mental health issues don’t have the best understanding of how to help you with yours. You will find your support system. You are worthy of support and this pain will not last forever.

Categories
General mental health

This Morning’s Musings

I’ve been in a funk, lately. I feel like I’m always saying that, which makes me feel worse.

Now I don’t know if I’ve been feeling more depressed, or if the depression is part of the spiritual awakening I may or not may not going through, I don’t know.

I just finished a book, “Gus” by Kim Holden. I’ve read the first book in the series a couple of times, “Bright Side”, and I finally managed to finish this one too. And dude, I fucking love the feeling after finishing a good book. The excitement and elation of the inspiration of finishing a story – especially a story like this. Overcoming grief and loss, finding yourself, and pursuing the hell out of your passions. I needed that.

Lately I’ve been feeling called for us to plan to get our own place, and move into an apartment. I miss having my own space away from the world. I miss being able to cook in the kitchen whenever I want, having only myself and my fiancé to worry about. I miss not having to share a bathroom with anyone else. And honestly? I miss the independence of being away from everyone else. I miss being able to be alone, truly alone. No other people in my space, not having to worry about who is doing what and where. I miss having a space that is my oasis from the world.

But, to play my own Devil’s Advocate, maybe my lower feelings currently are causing me to feel more antisocial so I feel more called to be away from everyone and everything.
Also, apartment living requires you to share walls with neighbors who could be loud or just generally annoying. And most units don’t have a washer/dryer in-unit. And carrying groceries up the stairs if you live on the second floor sucks. And we wouldn’t have the yard we have now and the garage…but I personally would be fine with that. I am willing to sacrifice the comfort of laundry and groceries for the general feeling of being at peace and being at home somewhere.

My fiancé is not on board, I don’t think. He’s not the most open with his emotions and his feelings, and he’s also stressed because he starts class in less than a week.

So I’m at a loss for what to do. Because I’m not happy with our current living situation…but I’m also not unhappy to the point of dreading being home. I feel indifferent/apathetic about living here. I also don’t feel the happiest inside about myself, which could be affecting my mindset too.

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After our talk this morning that was mostly me building the case for why I want us to move into our own apartment in 6 months and him listening but not engaging and also not 100% agreeing – I decided to finish reading “Gus”. Because I wanted to escape. When I’m not on the phone for work, I was escaping into another world. And it was this excerpt that made me almost cry:

When I got to this point, I gasped out loud and read it again. And then I sent a picture of this to my fiancé and shared to my personal stories on social media. It felt like these words were written just for me to read.
How, specifically, this works into my life I’m not 100% sure yet. I immediately thought of my writing career, and the fact is that I can’t earn a living from writing if I don’t actually do the writing.

I also know that happiness comes from within, so if I’m not happy within myself I’ll never be happy no matter where I live. But I also think it’s a valid argument that staying somewhere out of convenience and ease is a shit choice. If I want to choose happy and live intentionally, and not just let myself fall into a routine of mediocrity, then I need to be intentional with my life. Which leads me back to wanting to move into our own place.

But, I can’t force someone into wanting something that they don’t. Just like I can’t force myself to be happy with something that I’m not. So I’m going to throw myself into work and read the next book in the series (“Franco”, Kim Holden) and see what happens. I’m going to trust in the universe and surrender to the fact that I know this living situation no longer serves me, and that I am ready for our next chapter. I’m going to get out of my head a little and try to give my mind a break from thinking, and just focus on being. ✌

Categories
mental health spirituality

Halfway Through 2020 Check-In

Yeah, my title is right. Today, July 1st, is halfway through 2020. Isn’t that crazy? This year feels like it’s absolutely flown by but also has been crawling by, if that makes sense.

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Lately I’ve been feeling off. I’m not quite sure if it’s a different type of depression and anxiety, or if it’s part of the spiritual awakening I’m going through, but I don’t feel quite 100%.

I am having a hard time with accepting myself as I am, and accepting my life as it is. I have big aspirations and big plans for what I want for myself and my life, and for some reason I’m going backwards with my mindset. Instead of being inspired and hopeful, I’m feeling suffocated and overwhelmed with how different things are now vs. how I want them to be.

One thing that I have struggled with for years is my self-worth. I am constantly catching myself thinking that I’ll be happy/beautiful once xyz happens. What is xyz? I want my love and I to have our own place. I’ve been missing our apartment, just for the sake of having a dwelling that’s ours. I want my body to look different. I want my hair and nails to look different. I want my job to be different. I want this and I want that…and again, recently I’ve been good about understanding that things are the way they are meant to be right now. But lately in this funk, I’m regressing in my growth and I’m getting angry.

I read somewhere that anger comes from fear, and this has really stuck with me. So if I’m so angry about all the things I want to change, what am I scared of? Or what could I be scared of?

My subconscious may be scared that my love and I will live with roommates forever; that I will never like my body; that I will never have the hair and nails I want; scared that I’ll grow old wishing I could have been a writer because I never chased that dream. And writing it now, I realize how, frankly, dumb that is. Of COURSE we will not live with roommates forever. And yeah, this living situation may not be the most ideal or favorable. But we are young and just starting out, we’re not going to just be given our dream house. We have to work for it. We have to build our credit, save our money, establish ourselves a bit. This living situation is a solid B (in a A-F grading scale). It’s mostly good, but there are some things that could change that would make it better. But if I just focus on the things I don’t like, then I’ll miss out on the good things.

I’ve said this before, that like begets like. The thing I focus on is what I will constantly see. And for me, having a positive mindset takes work. Just because I’ve been having numerous good days in a row does not mean that I can stop the things that bring my joy (which is what happened).

So what I was doing was getting up earlyish (around 7:15 am about). I go to the bathroom, wash my face, brush my teeth. I go downstairs and do a sun salutation, say my affirmations, and then pray to the Higher Powers with my Moonology oracle deck. I eat a healthy breakfast and listen to a podcast. If my love is home, I’ll cuddle with him until I have to log into work (since I’m working from home indefinitely). If he’s not, I usually tidy up a bit. I’ll work, eat a decentish lunch, go back to work, and then afterwards go for a 2 mile walk. I eat dinner (usually a quick Lean Cuisine or something similar), shower, and then go in the room to do art or journal until I do my nightly journaling.

All of this was helping me feel great. But, sometimes feeling great can be scary because you feel like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, ya know? If you don’t feel like you deserve to be happy, then you’ll constantly be feeling like the happiness won’t last. For me specifically, as I am a spiritual person, I started to doubt the universe and trust in the universe less.

So. To bring all this rambling together. I stopped doing the things that were bringing me happiness and peace because I was feeling happy and peaceful. I started to get suspicious of the constant good feeling. I started to look outwards for validation (which is a TRAP! You can never find true validation externally) and stopped feeding my soul. The foundation of my good perspective start to crumble because I stop with the consistency of prioritizing myself. Now that I am not preserving my mental health the way I was, I am now open to old triggers, such as feeling out of control.

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I have made tremendous strides in my growth the past six months, even amidst all the things going on this year. In the next six months, I would like to make more positive changes to myself.

  1. I’m going to give myself a fucking break. There is no way I am going to have an 800 credit score, $20,000 in savings, six best seller novels, a log cabin on 15+ acres in six months. But I can make an effort to save money. I can make an effort to pay down my credit card debt. I can make an effort to work on my novel ideas. I am going to give myself permission to be a human.
  2. I am going to keep up with my routines to the best of my ability.
  3. I am going to meditate more. Give myself time outside of this human body to be refreshed.

Amidst the chaos, and the #halfwaythroughtheyear motivation we’ll see, remember to check in and give yourself permission to just be.