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

Coping with Pandemic Anxiety

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You don’t have to have a mental disorder to be feeling anxiety over the current Pandemic of the COVD-19 virus. We are ALL affected.

Personally, I went through some rough ups and downs of anxiety, fear, and emotions before grounding and affirming my own capability.

I first read about the Coronavirus about a month ago and saw it was in China and thought to myself, Ok, I don’t have to worry, it isn’t here.

Then about a week and a half ago, a friend of mine had to cancel his flight because his layover was in Seattle and they were quarantining there and he didn’t want to get stuck. Quarantine, what a scary word!

Obviously, my prior lack of concern was immediately erased and a very heightened awareness began. My sister and her son came to visit last weekend from Pa, to celebrate my nephew’s 7th birthday! It was held at Chuck E Cheese, and I couldn’t help to think, this may not be the best place for germ prevention! Then last Wednesday, March 11, I had to go to physical therapy for my back, which is located in our local hospital. Security was stopping people at the entrance to ask if we were sick and/or if we have traveled out of the country recently. This naturally made me even more nervous, say nothing about being in a hospital and being around people who were potentially sick. I used the hand sanitizer they had on the wall before, during and after my visit. I had two more appointments last week, family therapy and my own therapy, and in the back of my mind, I decided that this was it. I am canceling next week’s appointments and began educating myself.

Last Friday, I sat at my computer with the intention to learn more. In a few hours, I was in tears. So many people sick, many dead. The fear took over. I decided a long time ago because of my anxiety to not tune into the news and media too much because they are designed to instill fear. However, one does have to know what is happening around them. I was scared but decided to keep going. I had to learn as much as possible. I read my local news and learned someone tested positive in the town next to me, then I read posts from C.D.C and W.H.O. I scoured over Facebook and Instagram and my emails.

Meanwhile, my classes were changed from in-person to digital. Gatherings were being canceled and then Trump announced the National Emergency. Later that day the announcement of all local schools were being closed. A Friday the 13th that will not be soon forgotten!

It was a weekend of rollercoaster emotions. From sadness to fear to panic and then to reality and action, and heartwarming as I watched the videos of Italy singing on their balconies during their quarantine and read about families getting closer as they were spending more time together.

I had to ground myself and prepare to reclaim my own power. I can not afford to be swept away in panic. I went out Friday for groceries and was shocked to see that people had bought out the toilet paper and many other supplies were wiped out as well. I had already gone to the food pantry at the beginning of the month since paying for classes takes from my grocery money,  I also buy tp, and other supplies for the month at the start of that month, thankfully!

It upsets me that some people go into extreme hoarding and don’t think of their fellow human beings; but, I guess panic makes people do crazy things. It has been interesting to see the reactions of people. Some go into a panic and selfish preservation and others are in denial and laugh. I have seen these reactions in times of panic in my life and recognize them.

It is crucial that we all find a happy medium between these extremes. To remain calm, be responsible, take it seriously, (though comic relief here and there can be healing), take action and don’t forget to reach out to those in need.

I am writing this post hoping to help others reach this calmness during the storm. I have organized the following guidelines;

  1. DONT PANIC, We already know to panic is to lose our shit, and therefore lose our power. It’s extremely important to keep calm. It’s time to practice all the tools you have to center; Deep breathing, Meditation, Grounding, Earthing,  spending time in Nature and Praying. Whatever you have to do to keep yourself from being swept away in the chaos.
  2. GET INFORMED, Education is power. Learn the facts about what is happening, so you can take appropriate action. Here are some links; CDC Key Facts, Myth Busters from WHO,  A Guide from The Verge. Here is a link to a Facebook post that I found helpful, it has a math equation to figure out how many will be affected in your area and how quickly, The Sobering Math. Remember, while you are researching to take deep breaths in between. I found while I was educating myself it was hard not to get caught up in the fear.
  3. PREPARE, After you have the facts, you will naturally want to prepare if you haven’t already. This is kind of tricky, I am still wondering what kind of time frame to prepare for, I have read anywhere between 2 weeks to 2 months. Use your own discretion. Here are some lists I read, How to Prepare from CDC, Get Your Home Ready CDC, Social Distancing, Grocery Rules from CNN  Here is what I have done so far; besides the rice, pasta, canned goods and peanut butter I got from the food pantry, I used my credit card to stock up a little more on these things, some paper goods, water, antibacterial soap, and cat food. I refilled prescriptions and still need to get Tylenol and Vitamin C, I bought lots of garlic and ginger, for the immune system, and I gathered pine needles for steams and tea as they are an antibacterial and contain Vitamin C. (I will be making separate posts on foods, plants, and DIY items that can help during this time).
  4. ACCEPTANCE, After I grounded, informed myself and prepared, I found myself in a state of acceptance. Ok, this is real and it is here. I have the ability to cope with this. I am practicing social distancing. I am making a list of projects and things to do during this time inside. I will make sure to get outside for walks and deep breaths, and I will stick to a routine so I don’t end up in a depression. This is a time to catch up on reading, cleaning, writing, painting, and spending time with family and/or housemates.
  5. REACH OUT, Even though we are socially isolating please make sure to reach out to people who may be in need without compromising your own health. If you happened to panic and bought more than you needed, put some items in a bag and leave it for an elderly neighbor. I saw my neighbor post she was out of toilet paper, so I spared a roll. Reach out through the internet to see if there’s anything you can do for others, or if you need something, use your voice. This post is my way of reaching out and hopefully being helpful.

I know this is a scary time, but it is also an opportunity, to slow down and reevaluate what our priorities are. This could be a reflection of our own inner selves. Have we been isolating ourselves and distancing ourselves from others because we are afraid or angry? This is a good time to contemplate what it all means for us personally and globally, and what can we do to change. I hope this post finds you well and I am here to do my part. I will be sharing my insights, recipes and herbal knowledge. If there is anything you would like to ask, please feel free. I have seen in the past how emergencies bring people together. It’s my hope that even during social isolation we will be sending love and peace to our neighbors, and to the world.  I leave you with this touching video of how Italy is handling their shut down:

PEACE AND LOVE TO ALL

 

 

 

One of those Days

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Some days I am ecstatic with enlightenment and joy, 

I can flow easily and I feel blessed and loved.

Some days, I feel broken and useless, and unworthy.

I feel incapable and poor, and hopeless.

I feel I will never get up that mountain top and see the view.

I will always be at the foothill scrubbing the mess others left.

I am full of anxiety and grief and depression.

I use my tools like grounding and centering and acknowledging the many different aspects of myself. I validate them and hold space for them. I recognize my triggers and breathe.

Some days these tools work and some days I still cry through my housework, shake through simple tasks and my heart hurts as I panic about everything.

These days turn into a feat to survive without being swept away. 

These days turn into sleepless nights.

Some days I can flow, some days I can barely bear to breathe.

Today is one of those days.

Wounded Woman

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Wounded Woman

You can tell by the look in her eyes.

A beautiful sadness, silent cries.

The lines of her face

mark passages of time.

The scars and stories, she can’t erase.

Wounded Woman

She carries immense weight

on her shoulders.

A lifetime of trauma and pain;

but, the heaviness doesn’t stop her

from dancing in the rain.

dancing in the rain

Wounded Woman

twirled and thrusted

until she broke through

to the other side.

Alas, in Great Spirit she trusted,

and set herself free,

never again to hide.

Wounded Woman

She wove her wounds

like an intricate web of Grandmother Spider;

as she journeyed deep inside her.

She found the truth and beauty

of her own old soul.

Her spirit held all the selves, the keys.

Thus, Wounded Womanbecame whole. …<3

 

breakdown

Holy Birthday!

Growing up my birthday never seemed too special. It always rained. My mom never had money due to Easter or taxes, so I never had a big birthday party with friends, and I usually got I.O.U’s for gifts. As a result most birthdays were spent fighting depression.

This year, both American and Greek Easter fell on my birthday making it feel holy to me. There were no family plans for Greek Easter, which was a first. One family member sick, one not speaking to me and two were homeless. The rest were scattered. I had decided it didn’t matter. My daughter and I would celebrate and that would be enough. No matter the circumstances I intended to celebrate my birth and the resurrection of Jesus.

I had to put aside my hurt feelings, my sadness, my anger and all my worries. The day before my birthday, I wrote this:

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 49 years old. I wouldn’t have been able to convince my younger self that I’d make it this far. I couldn’t imagine even being 40.  I am entering Crone phase of life. A place of deep beauty and wisdom. I’ve begun my herbal studies. I’ve learned about and exercised boundaries. I’ve faced fears, and journeyed deep within. I’ve had a hysterectomy and learned that I still have sacred womb space. I have learned to love myself more despite menopausal weight gain, wrinkles, and family members alienating me because I won’t feed into negativity. I am learning everyday and these gifts will richen my life as time passes. I will become that beautiful bohemian gypsy in my mind’s eye. I will love unconditionally, and receive love. I will heal and be healed.  I will respect and deepen my relationship with Mother Earth, Great Spirit and the Universe. I will learn to listen to their whispers. Though my family is separated I feel content with my own celebration.

Though I realized that some traditions would be missed and recipes would have to be revised due to the fact that my daughter and I have gone vegan. I had to find a way to celebrate my culture, my spirituality and my birth.

I began the day with a purification bath with dead sea salts. I researched both Greek churches and Unitarian. I ended up at a Unity Church. I was going alone and fought much anxiety. They welcomed me lovingly and without judgement. When I got home I made myself a poster that read, “49&Feelin’Fine! My daughter and I had a blast baking vegan chocolate cake. For dinner, I kept it simple. Vegan Spanakopita and Greek Salad with Marinated Tofu. Surprisingly family members showed up to celebrate with me. We all sat outside and ate. The day was blessed with sunshine, laughter and love.

It’s not everyday that Jesus and I share a holiday. I reconnected with Spirit and myself.  It truly was a holy and magical birthday!18010615_10211671942901640_6132256117513424825_n

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Pure Panic

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This past Friday, I had a major panic attack. I hadn’t had one in a long while. They happen when my anxiety spins out of control. I have managed my anxiety pretty well; but, sometimes it sneaks up on me, and before I know it I am in pure panic mode.

When it rains it pours, and I was soaking wet. Last Thursday my niece had showed me a bedbug she found in the middle of the night. It’s been two months since that hell and now they were back. Friday my best friend and nieces dad was getting out of detox for alcohol and coming back to stay at my place. They both have been staying here because they are basically homeless. My best friend was drinking heavily again and we got into two nasty and emotional arguments. So, he went to detox. I really wasn’t feeling ready to have him back; but, he had no where else. Then out of nowhere my sister attacked me verbally and I felt deeply hurt. These things coupled with the fact that I had orientation on Sunday for my new herbal apprentice class stressed me out immensely.

My anxiety couldn’t be calmed even with xanax. My heart was pounding loud and fast. My hands shook and sweat poured out of me. I felt nauseous. I thought how am I going to do this course, with all of this going on? I can’t do it! I cried. I tried to do a meditation for anxiety and still couldn’t manage my panic. Fortunately, I had therapy that day. The first thing she had me do was ground. Put my feet on the floor feel the connection to Mother Earth. She said it’s okay to be scared, then the tears flowed. I was terrified. I was scared that this bedbug problem will never get under control. I was nervous about my best friend and I getting into an argument. I was stressed having less space in my apartment with everyone staying there. I felt depressed over my sister’s comments, and I was scared to take this class. My social anxiety was booming.  After grounding and crying it out, my therapist gave me some DBT interpersonal skills to work on to prepare for Sunday.

Pure panic had me in it’s grip for a bit; but, after facing the fear and letting emotions flow I felt better. I went to my Orientation and it went very well. Yesterday they treated again for bedbugs. My niece and best friend are looking for a place. I am not taking my sister’s comments personally, she has her own stress going on.  

All is good for the moment. Just breathe….

 

 

pic credit from holistichealthliving.com 

Parenting and Mental Illness

 

 

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Parenting is like the ocean. Somedays are rough and turbulent, other days more calm and serene. Learning to go with the flow of the waves is the challenge.

Being a single parent it often feels like you are alone and swimming against the current.

When you are a single parent with mental illness, raising a child with mental illness;  it feels at times like we are both drowning.

My daughter was 6 years old when my mother died and my mental breakdown followed. Despite struggling with deep depression, I swallowed my tears and used every bit of strength to provide for my daughter; but, there were times when I couldn’t move weighted down with sorrow. I think my sadness scared her because I was all she had, and my condition threatened our stability.

She was often emotional and had major separation anxiety since childhood. She often threw fits when I had to leave, and she hated night time. She cried to sleep with me most of the time. Family and friends would comment and suggest that I should get her on medication, or I shouldn’t let her sleep with me, or she needed help. I didn’t believe any of it. I just wanted to pacify her fear.

I started her in counseling when she was 10 years old as a preventive measure. She had been through some trauma and I thought it would be helpful if she had someone else in her life she could talk to.

When she was 12 years old she started cutting herself. I can not express the horror in my heart as my babygirl felt compelled to hurt herself. I have a memory of tucking her into bed one night and noticing some cuts at the bottom of her pajama leg, as I lifted the material up I discovered a whole paragraph carved into her skin. Nooo! Not again!

I have another memory of coming home from the grocery store, and as I opened the door, she was on the kitchen floor in tears, “Mommy, I didn’t want to do it.” “I can’t stop myself.” There was a large steak knife stabbed into the cupboard door. Cuts on her arms. She had taken handfuls of ibuprofen. To the hospital we went.

I was completely traumatized and couldn’t leave her alone at all. The school called several times a week for me to come pick her up, because she had hurt herself or had thoughts of doing so. That year she was placed in the state hospital five times and endless trips to the ER.

She continued in therapy, DBT groups and we had family therapy. She did really well using her skills to refrain from cutting for four years, until she turned 17 years old. The pressure of her approaching adulthood got the best of her. We have spent the last year in and out of hospitals and programs. She refuses medication, so there is only so much treatment that is available to her. She is now doing better but the depression and mood swings are mainstay.

Her anxiety about becoming an adult is partially my fault. She lacks confidence in her ability to take care of herself, because I have always protected her. I lacked in structure because of my own depression. I failed to discipline effectively because of her eruptions. I try not to beat myself up and I truly know I have done the best to my ability; but, still feel guilt.

Today I woke up to her crying and bellowing. I held her and let her release it. There is nothing I can do or say to make it better. I feel completely helpless. A few hours later she is crying again. It is draining and I wonder how much more I can take. Will she ever be able to be on her own?  I start feeling hopeless. Then I catch my own depression. The tricks my mind is trying to play on me. Trying to convince me that it is worse than what it is. Taking me to a dark place that is all too familiar.

Truth is, I can’t take away the pain, the fear or the mental illness. I can support and love her while she learns to love herself. I watch patiently while she figures out how to cope with her own mood. She went for a walk as I write. We both need space to calm our own minds. We are very close, too close maybe. Our feelings effect each other on deep levels.

Some days are filled with laughter and happiness. Days that are sunny and the surf is good.

Then there are others gloomy and gray, and we are pedaling water furiously just to stay afloat.

 

photo by LanWu on Deviantart