Back on Antidepressants :/

After 10 years off of antidepressants, I chose to go back on them. I thought just for the winter but I am not so sure anymore.

Truthfully, I’ve been struggling for a while. I’ve kept busy with herbal apprenticeships and my business course through VR. but not without several little breakdowns and many cries in between.

I had been contemplating medication for months, discussing it with both my doctor and my therapist.

I wanted to try herbal remedies first for the winter depression, but I only made a few and was late in the season making them.

I was teetering.

Then my family pushed me over the edge. Many family members were struggling with their own mental health and it affected me deeply.

I began having suicidal and self-harming thoughts.

Red flag, stop, breathe and evaluate.

Presently I know with all I am that I won’t act on these thoughts; but when my brain starts going there, it is time to get some support.

I realized I could not try to start a business and elevate my life, all while getting caught in the cross-fire of my family, it was just too much.

I felt like I was failing and was ashamed, by going back on meds. Then I remembered that my brain sometimes needs help. That I have a chemical imbalance. That it is okay to get help. That I am still doing the work and moving forward.

I set that shame shit go and am still adjusting; but so far, my focus is better and my depression not quite as severe, and/or for not as long.

Sometimes, recovery and healing is an up and down, back and forth experience.

Learning in layers and spirals can feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, but I know better.

Feeling a tiny bit more stable, I have set boundaries with my family and continue to move forward with my business goals.

Wherever you are at in your journey, know that it’s okay and you are exactly where you need to be❤

Launching Soon!

It’s been over two years that I’ve been working diligently with NH Vocational Rehab and taking their business course with success coach, Dr. Deborah Osgood, who has been an enormous support.

There have been so many trials and tribulations during this journey. It took me six months of therapy to work on feeling worthy enough to even begin.

Then when I thought I was close to being ready, I learned about the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s). It took me another chunk of time to reformulate my lotion recipes to include all-natural preservatives so I could offer a safer product and avoid bacteria, yeast, mold, etc., I also changed the packaging from jars to pump bottles, because constantly putting our fingers into a jar of product can increase chances of bacteria, especially if water gets into it.

Not only did I need to reformulate recipes and packaging; but, I had to change my business direction as well. I originally wanted to include tea blends, herbal extracts, and salves; but according to FDA, those fall under the Supplement category, and my herbal chest rub under the Drug category, which has very rigid rules and regulations. Firstly, I would need a commercial kitchen and that just isn’t plausible presently. This discouraged me for a while and I struggled with depression, but I redirected myself to work under the Cosmetics and Aromatherapy categories which are a tiny bit more lenient, and I am able to make them from home. (I ranted a bit more in my post, GMPs, FDA, and reformulating)

All the while I was still studying herbalism and completed four herbal apprenticeships with Blackbird’s Daughter Botanicals, to build on the foundation I learned at Misty Meadows Herbal Center. I also took some online classes on Cosmetic formulation and preservatives.

Last month, I finally finished the course at VR and submitted my business proposal. I was congratulated and commended on a job well done. I felt such a sense of accomplishment, having persevered through my anxiety, fear, depression, family problems, health issues, etc.,

There were times I felt stupid for taking so long, and times I wanted to just give up, wondering if I was even capable.

Last week I received the email saying that NHVR has approved my proposal and they will begin buying supplies needed for me to launch my business over the next 3-4 weeks!!!

Tears of joy and relief were wept.

I signed the contract saying that I have ‘cashed in’ my Social Security ticket to work and I will submit profit/loss reports monthly.

If you would’ve asked a former me, I would have never thought I’d be here.

Sometimes I held a vague vision or a daydream of where I wanted to be.

Now I am living the daydream!

I have moved from being severely disabled, broken and unable, to an able person, functioning, and moving forward, still struggling with disabilities but also still doing the work and healing.

Disabled but not broken.

I am excited and I am terrified, but no matter what happens from here, I am proud to have made it this far.

Practicing my GMP’s 🙂
Working on Packaging!

Christmas Spirit (&struggle)

Happy Holidays everyone, I hope you are all enjoying this time, and are surrounded by light, love, and laughter.

It was a quiet Christmas here, just me, my daughter, and our four furbabies. We will gather with extended family as soon as possible.

On my social media and in real life, I am an optimist, always trying to post positive and inspiring messages. When I am in pain, I am a bit more quiet and subtle.

(Except here on my Labeled disabled blog where I explore my darker feelings and mental illness)

In an effort to be authentic, (or to beyouthentic😉) I think it is important to not only share the good stuff but to also take a moment to share the struggles as well.

The truth is my family has been through the wringer as of late. These last few months have been the most challenging of an already difficult year.

We’ve had four family members with Covid, one did not survive and one was quarantined through Christmas, two others with the flu. Two family members were hospitalized for mental health and one fam member had a concussion. This was on top of an emotionally triggering custody battle that was thankfully dismissed. Personally, I’ve been struggling with my depression which has been pretty severe lately. I even have had self-harm and suicidal thoughts, and I had a day trip to the ER for an asthma exacerbation and bronchitis.

As I reflect on all of this, I still only feel gratitude, because I know that each of these could have been (and have been) much worse.

On Christmas eve, I wrapped gifts and counted my blessings.

I listened to my Christmas playlist with all the classics that I’ve listened to since I was a little girl, and I felt the spirit&magic of Christmas& the light and love of Jesus.

While it’s true I am a witchy, hippy type of gal who celebrates the Earth and her plant friends, I also carry the compassion of Christ in my heart and have had a relationship with him since I was a child. His picture near my bed was my light through the dark. I conversed with him and my guardian angel each night before sleep.

Christmas Spirit is never without some struggle.

Just as healing and growth are not without pain and change.

As a collective, we have all been through the wringer the last couple of years, and I know there are many people much worse off than me or my family.

I am sending big hugs and blessings out to the Universe.

I pray that with hope, love, faith, and kindness, we will all persevere and come out a brighter world on the other side.

Cheers to the magic and spirit of this time of year, along with the struggle that if we try, we will find healing and wisdom in.💖🙏

5 Ways I am Managing my Stress

I’ve been reflecting and came to the realization that for the first time in a very long time (16 years to be exact) I have a very full life, balancing and juggling quite a few things. I can only describe it as ‘living again.’

Last time I was this busy, I was raising my daughter, attending college, working and caring for my mom as much as possible through her cancer journey. Not to mention attempting to save a failing relationship with my boyfriend. My mom would literally catch me spinning in circles, talking to myself trying to remember everything I needed to do, and she would calmly say, “Breathe”, I joked “how am I going to remember to breathe without you mom”. After her passing, I didn’t have the strength or ability to juggle anymore and had my mental breakdown.

Today I am juggling my herbal apprenticeship (classes, intern hours homework), with a business course through vocational rehab and preparing to launch my own business (which is way more work than I dreamed). Along with still “raising” my adult child, trying to support and encourage her in becoming independent, and developing and maintaining relationships with my family, my coven, and my friends old and new. When I have a spare moment, I am tending to my gardens and doing housework, or simply collapsed.

At first I was severely stressed and riddled with anxiety and panic attacks. I became so overwhelmed I would just sit and cry. After learning more through my herbal classes about how stress depletes our bodies and yes, kills us, I decided I need to get a grip.

I have a few unhealthy coping skills but am developing healthier habits as well. I thought I would share a few ways I am managing my stress, each of these could probably be a full post, but here are the highlights:

1) Shift my perspective, They say things are not as bad as they seem, but when you struggle with mental health, they can seem monstrous! I remember my mom being so stressed out and struggling with depression, when things went wrong, she reacted like it was the end of the world and our family doomed. I understand the reaction, and have been guilty of it myself, but I now know it isn’t necessary or even accurate. In my overwhelmed mind, it feels catastrophic, but reacting this way only adds to the stress. Still, it is challenging. There have been so many obstacles on my business journey, I take a step forward, something happens and it feels like it puts be two steps back, but I now realize this is an illusion. I only feel like it sets me back, when in reality it makes me stronger and in a position to make improvements. When downfalls happen, I immediately stress and panic, but have learned to observe my reaction and shift the way I look at it.

2) Shake it off and let it go. My mama used to say, “let it roll off you like water off a duck’s ass”, yup she was a character! She had a point though. It makes such a big difference to be able to let things go and not brood, or overthink. I can not worry about things I cannot control, and I can’t control other people’s hurtful actions or rude comments. I can’t control the long line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic. If I let these things get to me, it only makes me sick. I constantly remind myself of this. If I catch my mind in race mode, I try to calm myself and breathe. “Worrying is like a rocking chair, you can do it all day but gets you no where!” I try to not be so hard on myself on all the things I don’t get done and acknowledge and celebrate my daily accomplishments.

3) Morning routine. This is a lifesaver for me. I have mentioned before I am not very good at routine or consistency. It took me a long time to develop, tweak and maintain my morning routine but it is an immense help to begin my day in a manner that will carry me peacefully into my day. I get up early and try to make it the same time every day. I have hot lemon and ginger water, meditate to music and affirmations, do yoga and workout, and pray at my altar, giving thanks for another day, followed by my coffee, while I read or journal, or I have my coffee outside marveling at the birds and chipmunks. Then I begin my work for the day.

4) Self care. Self love and care have been a journey for me. I carried a lot of trauma and low self worth because of it. Therapy is a great way to care for yourself, and it has helped me tremendously with integration and my mental health. Other ways I practice self care is to do things that nourish my soul, like gardening, time in nature, loving my pets, time with friends and family, a nice bath, or a cup of herbal tea. Also, basic self care, like eating healthy as much as possible, taking my supplements and/or medications, exercise and time to just sit and be silent.

5) Herbs. I try to take teas, tinctures, infusions and homemade capsules everyday, made with nettles, holy basil, lemon balm, calendula, chamomile, wild lettuce, mullein, dandelion, turmeric and ginger. I use Bach’s Rescue Remedy drops and spray, and I also smoke marijuana (which helped me quit my Xanax and anti depressants years ago) because it helps me center, ground and tune into my spirit.

Of course, I am a work in progress, and have unhealthy habits too, like smoking too much marijuana sometimes, or my wine and Netflix escapes, and recently I have relapsed on smoking cigs, but I know I am doing the best I can and I am proud of where I am. Not long ago I was not able to get up out of bed, get through a day without crying or my heart racing or my mind. I couldn’t socialize or function. My old self could not even imagine that I would be here now, with this full and beautiful life.

Where ever you are in your mental health recovery, please don’t give up, keep going, it does get better and easier. Just keep showing up for your life, one baby step at a time, take a break when you need it, but don’t stay down.

Wishing you love, luck, light, peace and power!

May be an image of flower, nature and text that says 'Transformation formation in progress... @beyouthentic'
I was lucky enough to catch this picture of a Monarch butterfly pollinating my Calendula flower! Butterflies represent transformation and affirms that I am right where I need to be. My healing and metamorphosis is in progress! I AM TRANFORMING!
May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'I HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE THE LIFE I DESERVE!!! @BEYOUTHENTIC'
On the recent New Moon in Leo and the Lion’s gate portal, I thought it was a good time to set a powerful intention!! Yes, I do have the power to create the life I deserve! I AM WORTHY!

Hysterectomy Grief

It has been 5 years since my hysterectomy and yet I still have moments of grief. the words above came to me during my morning yoga. In tears, I lay on the living room floor thanking and grieving for my entire reproductive system.

I struggled many years with endometriosis, unbearable pain and bleeding so heavy I couldn’t leave the house. I took all the pathways my state insurance required, suffering immensely the whole way. I didn’t want any more children but it still took a few more years, until I was finally granted surgery. First they took my uterus lining, endometrial ablation.

I didn’t do well with that procedure, continuing to bleed and awful pain brought me back to the doctor, where she was perplexed and almost angry that I was having trouble. She reluctantly wrote out a prescription for a few more pain pills and had nothing else to offer. I was disgusted with how she treated me and sought out a different OBGYN.

Finally I was heard, really heard, from a wonderful doctor and she scheduled me for a complete hysterectomy. After the surgery she told me we were just in time. She explained how much of a mess it was with many precancerous fibroids and how lucky I was.

Lucky I did not feel, spending my 48th birthday recovering; but I knew that I did what I had to do to move forward. I was grateful that the potential cancer was removed, but sad to hear how “how much of a mess it was”, my poor reproductive system. It held all that disease. I visualized it returning to the Earth and being free.

I had been working out in therapy that metaphorically my womanhood was holding trauma. I learned about the connection between rape and vaginismus. and other effects rape can have on you. I never did EMDR for healing this like I had planned, I simply do not want to relive these experiences. Though my prior EMDR had opened pathways in my mind and memories came anyway. I am still working on healing this area of my life, body, mind and spirit. (Which is probably why I still have these moments of grief).

I wonder how many other women share this journey. According to NCBI, one in nine women in the United States will have a hysterectomy. How awful. Are their wombs holding trauma too? How do you heal from the trauma? And how do you heal from hysterectomy? Besides the physical healing, there is mental, emotional, spiritual and energetic healing that must accompany the process. Feelings of less than, broken and dysfunctional.

Instead of thinking I am empty and can no longer bring life into the world, I choose to focus on the fact that I still have energetic womb space and as a woman who is caring and creative I can and will give life to new projects.

I am ever so grateful for my physical womb for bringing my daughter to this planet, for holding and carrying the pain and trauma for me, and for understanding what I had to do. I will continue to heal and create from that healing.

Life and Love are always stirring in my womb space that nobody can take away! I AM WOMAN!

Commitment&Consistency

Amazon.com: If you can't fly, then run, if you can't run, then walk, if you  can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving...  Martin Luther King Jr.

If you follow this blog, you already know that I lack in the latter of this post title. Consistency has definitely not been my strong suit. Then again, being a blog of someone who struggles with mental health, I suppose it isn’t a surprise. Consistency is an important element for mental and emotional well being, yet it can be challenging as all hell! To add to the dilemma I never had a firm routine growing up, being a daughter of a single mom. Therefore, it is yet another tool I have to learn or relearn as an adult.

I have been working with a success coach through Vocational Rehab for a little over a year now, her name is Dr. Deborah Osgood and I think I would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for the support and encouragement from her and my VR caseworker, Lisa Beck, and of course, my therapist and family/friends. The goal is to start my own herbal business; but it is not a simple journey for someone with so many triggers.

The first trouble I had was responding to a “See, Hear, Experience, exercise called Challenging Reality. The worksheet asked you to visit your early life experiences, with questions like, 1) What did you hear about money and rich people early on in your life? 2)What did you see about money and rich people early on in your life? 3)What did you experience with money and rich people early on in your life? I might write a separate post about my answers; but, if you ever read my Being poor post, then you can imagine the feelings these questions brought to the surface. I held a deeply ingrained belief that I would always be poor and unworthy.

FinerMinds - Timeline Photos | Be gentle with yourself, Self talk, Words

It took almost a year to work on rebuilding my lack of abundance&worth mindset. Talk therapy and daily affirmations helped me slowly become more aware of how my thoughts and beliefs affected my reality. Believing you are always going to be poor and unworthy will keep you poor and unworthy. I had to retrain my brain and introduce new thoughts and ideas around money and self worth. Fortunately, the second step of the aforementioned exercise helped challenge those old beliefs and create current views.

I have been working diligently on reforming my routine and trying to ‘do it all’ I am still in herbal school and it is a lot, especially for somebody who has physical limitations and still in mental health recovery. I am learning to juggle, schoolwork, Voc rehab, building a business, health appointments, housework and self management. I have come a long way from my post on My daily battles which were basically just to get up, get moving, get outside and get to sleep!

I get discouraged that I am not further along; but I remind myself that I am doing things every day toward my goals. I often feel I should be doing more, but I know that I am honestly doing my best and mustn’t beat myself up.

Here are some pearls of wisdom and encouragement from Dr. Deb in our email correspondences;

“Congratulations on realizing that you “are and have been” productively working on multiple things all along that are contributing to defining and growing your business.”

“As you shared, homework and intern work definitely counts <smile>. While personal appointments, errands, and housework will also always be part of everyday life, this new perspective and practice simply ensures that your business goals remain a priority as well. 
…and not just a priority, but something to definitely celebrate as you also touched upon – excellent!!!

And I love this last one when I expressed to her that I was worried I wasn’t being consistent enough.

“As for your comment about “having to stay consistent,” I’d like to introduce a different perspective. 
I think I get what you mean in terms of you “have to stay committed to your goal…”, correct?
Even then, I invite you to be true to who you are. You do not enjoy mundane details and routine work. 
You are a loyal and devoted individual to people and causes you believe in. You also thrive on continued growth and are creative and inspirational. (this info is based on the Meyer Briggs personality test that I took on my first appointment with her, I am an INFP) By continuing to create and operate a business model that allows you to leverage these inherent strengths, you will be happy and you will not “have” to force anything.”

This really resonated with me. I realized that while I am still working on improving my ability to be consistent, I can celebrate the fact that I am committed, to my recovery, my health, my family, my goals, my blogs, my business, my education and so on. I can be gentle with myself and allow the flow of life.

Thanks for bearing with me readers, your support means everything! If you have been following long enough then you know that I do always come back. I am committed to this blog and my visions for it. I will be slowly tweaking this blog while building my Beyouthentic blog. Hoping to post at least monthly on both.

If there is anything in particular that you would like to know more about, please let me know.

I hope you are all well during these challenging times!💜

Be gentle with yourself

Meeting White Pine

female pine pic (2)

I sat before you and closed my eyes
introducing myself in my mind.
Inhaling your essence
Exhaling love in exhange.
One continuous flow our breath became.
I felt the chill of the soil around my feet
where your roots lay range.
Feeling the nutrients rise
up from Mother,
I felt your feminine power
and started to cry.
Missing my mom who had died.
A daughter’s tears
of failure and grief.
My heart met yours
and green and gold colors
swirled through and around us.
You held me, and filled me with love
My sadness relieved.
Our hearts beating,
our synchronized breathing,
I continued to follow the flow,
upward and out.
Arms reaching,
Branches in the sun.
Our spirits connected,
There was no doubt
We for a moment were one.
I opened my eyes
and my mind.
Lost track of time
Was a pleasure to meet you
My dear friend White Pine

Global Trauma

mental-health-awareness-month

“You have to remember, we are all experiencing a global trauma right now,” my therapist reminded me after I shared that I was feeling off, disconnected, spacy, and slightly depressed. She assured me that these were not only normal trauma symptoms but that many people are feeling the same way right now.

I had to sit with that information for a few minutes to wrap my head around the fact that worldwide we are ALL affected and experiencing trauma. It helped me understand the reactions I see in the media, the protestors, the fear, anger, and general confusion.

I thought about my own history of trauma and how I had to heal my PTSD with EMDR and other therapies. What are people going to do that don’t understand trauma or how they are affected?

It took me 15 years of therapy to be able to sit with my feelings and process and calm my own anxiety. What about people who don’t know how to do this? People, who bury themselves at work and are home now? Or people who go to church to seek solitude or the bar to escape. They are suddenly immobilized and confronted with their own space, thoughts, and feelings.

And what about the people at the front lines? How are they ever going to recover? I read about the poor NY doctor, Lorna Breen that committed suicide after she treated so many Coronavirus patients in the Manhattan ER. Terribly sad.

According to Psychology Today, when trauma reaches a level where it negatively impacts entire societies or groups of people, it is called collective trauma. Situations that may lead to collective trauma include war, mass violence, genocide, and pandemics (Aydin, 2017). “Our society is definitely in a collective state of trauma,” said Jonathan Porteus, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who oversees the crisis and suicide hotline in Sacramento, CA.

It’s not just the initial emergence of the Pandemic that has affected us. It is the fact that every day things change. The virus mutates. People die. There are protestors and conspiracy theories and disagreements. Every day our foundation is shaken a little more. Say nothing about the people who are stuck with abusers and stressors in their very home. These are just the present facts. “Unlike posttraumatic stress disorder, which surfaces after a trauma has ended, the country is only starting to grapple with the pandemic’s psychological fallout,” Jonathan Porteus, PhD said.It is expected that there will be long term affects and an emerging mental health crisis. In a recent opinion piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, warned of an upcoming wave of mental disorders because of coronavirus.

He noted that “large-scale disasters, whether traumatic (the World Trade Center attacks or mass shootings), natural (hurricanes), or environmental (Deepwater Horizon oil spill), are almost always accompanied by increases in depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, a broad range of other mental and behavioral disorders, domestic violence, and child abuse.” “The COVID-19 pandemic would likely produce a similar “overflow of mental illness,” he said. From isolation to anxiety to excess drinking, coronavirus has touched almost every area of life, said Lan Nguyen, a suicide and crisis services program manager for the hotline in Santa Clara County in Northern California.

When I posted Coping with Pandemic Anxiety, it was at the very beginning of this rollercoaster. It was easier to be optimistic. Hours after I posted, my sister called and was very sick. She tested positive for a strain of Coronavirus but finally learned she was negative for COVID-19. Those few video calls watching her struggle to breathe were terrifying. I have a few friends with family members that tested positive for COVID and my heart goes out to all of the families affected. Now, it’s been almost two months since Trump announced the national emergency. And even though some parts are beginning to reopen, people are frightened and there isn’t any real safety or assurance available.

There is also a question about our personal rights. Should/will they force us to take a vaccination? There is the word of an App that records everyone you come in contact with, and news of possible home arrest devices on the ankles of people who test positive. There are conspiracy videos and YouTubers being banned because they say something else is happening. What about freedom of speech? All of this only adds to the current state of anxiety.

Personally, I am staying as safe as possible for the present. Both my daughter and I have asthma and that puts us at higher risk. I understand and even believe some of the conspiracy info out there, but I feel it is irrelevant at this point because the virus is actually real, I’ve seen it, it doesn’t matter where it came from or if it is being blown up. I don’t think I will get it but I don’t want to test my luck. I don’t think I will die in a car accident, but I am not going to go racing around dangerously to test that either! In addition to remaining cautious for myself and my family. I also will continue to wear a mask if it keeps the elderly safe and/or feeling safer.

I am doing a lot of grounding and tuning into my higher power. I try to take in all the info from different sources and integrate it with my own intuition. I am very grateful I have the ability to be aware of the trauma and not let it control me. I feel for people who are struggling and I plan to let my desire to help inspire my posts.

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. This post’s purpose is to acknowledge that we are experiencing a global trauma. If you are feeling off, give yourself a break. A therapist, Jennifer Yaegar wrote an article for Business Insider,on how to handle stress during a Pandemic. She says, “When experiencing trauma, we are limited in our ability to process many other experiences at the same time, as so much of our energy is going toward surviving our current situation. We should accept we don’t have the energy to do everything we think we should be, and that we have to alter our expectations of our physical, mental, and emotional capacities. Because trauma immobilized our bodies, it is vital to burn off negative energy and calm our bodies and therefore our nervous system. Lastly, she recommends sharing our experience. Connection is so important and even more so during social isolation.”

I hope in sharing I am helping. Blessings to all humans of Earth. You are not alone.

mham-1-500x281-1

 

National Sucide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Resources:

Psychology Today, WebMD, Business Insider, pics healthyconnections.org and campussafetymagazine.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bark Reflection

I started my Intermediate Sacred Gaiian Herbalism Apprenticeship a few weeks ago with Blackbirds Daughter Botanicals via Zoom. One of the things we studied was the bark of a tree and how it compares to our own skin.

The purpose of bark on a tree is to protect that tree’s essential living system from temperature extremes, storms, diseases, animals and insects. The bark also conserves water and transports food and water throughout the tree. The five layers (heartwood, sapwood, cambium, phloem/inner bark& rhytidome/outer bark) continuously work together to not only survive but live in a state of renewal and harmony. A tree also sheds it’s bark much like we shed our skin.

Part of our homework assignment was to write a reflection of how our own bark serves us. The following words came flying out of me.

bark2 (2)