I walk through life three steps forward and two steps back. I’ve always struggled with my mental health. My earliest memory is at the age of five and not being able to sleep because I’d be worrying about what happened earlier that day, what would happen the next day, and/or what the future held. I found myself organizing and setting up my toy figurines instead of playing with them. I played well with other kids but preferred to play by myself because other kids made messes and I just couldn’t have that. I deeply empathized with other people’s struggles just as if I would be going through them myself. No one put a name to these feelings, behaviors, or habits until I decided to go to therapy in my mid-twenties. I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive personality disorder, anxiety, and depression (I discovered I’m an empath as well). It was all beginning to make sense. I was comforted by the fact that I.. wasn’t alone.
My therapist put it simply: “Having anxiety and depression is like straddling a doorway with one foot inside and one foot out. The foot inside represents depression, worrying about your past. The foot outside represents anxiety, worrying about your future. The threshold represents the present and you’re just pissing on it.” My therapist utilized a specific type of therapy during our sessions called DBT. She gave me homework from scanned DBT chapter packets; I would read it, highlight sections I connected with, write within each activity and answer the corresponding questions. My therapist and I would discuss each chapter during our sessions. This type of hands-on approach really helped me feel more in control of my mental health. Within these DBT chapter packets, I learned about mindfulness, grounding, self-care, healthy outlets, it’s okay to say “No,” and about medication (pill shaming). I’ve equipped myself with an arsenal of tools to help me throughout the day, especially at work: I listen to music (free with no commercials), snacks/mints/water within reach, meaningful decorations, soft ribbon, and squishy toys. I prefer to utilize grounding because it stimulates my other senses, distracts my mind, and forces me to focus on these individual items/sensations instead of dwelling on the issue(s).
Some of my favorite self-care and healthy outlets that I enjoy are:
- Not answering my cell phone
- for business calls outside working hours
- while visiting with company
- Dance2Fit classes
- highly recommend Sylvia’s studio in Hamilton
- it’s worth the commute!
- Comedy clubs
- Laughter is the best medicine!
- Clean up after company leaves
- thereby being fully present
- considerate of their time
- Massage therapy
- physical health matters too!
- Strolling through the Village of Mariemont
- Waterfront views
- Coloring, writing, or reading in nooks while listening to my radio program
- highly recommend Mystery Playhouse Whistler/Suspense (M-F @ 7pm)
- Creating this blog!
I also learned in therapy that I’m a constant complainer, which I’m sure I inherited (nature vs nurture). While Facebooking, I came across a video of an internet personality, Kristina Kuzmic, who instantly drew me in with her New Year’s Resolution. I don’t usually participate in New Year’s resolutions, however this one seemed like something I needed to do. I kept this activity to myself and gradually noticed my life to change.. for the better! My perspective on situations and my life in general drastically lightened. I stuck with it, every day, three hundred sixty-five days later.. I felt like a different person! I highly recommend this exercise to anyone who struggles with seeing the silver lining each day.
I discovered more of Kristina Kuzmic’s inspirational videos (I highly recommend following her)! She talks about being a mom and wife mostly, however there are other topics she touches on that I can relate to. A favorite video of mine hit home because my mental health issues stem from childhood (as I’m sure most people’s do too). This other video resonated with me because when I lost my classmate, coworker, and friend.. ’twas a traumatic experience that I couldn’t seem to shake on my own, which prompted me to seek help in the form of therapy and medication.
“..You’ve been through a lot and here you are, wiser, stronger and still you!..” -My college professor stated when he suggested that I write.
This one line means the world to me because it feels good to know that my efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. I’ve transformed over the years. Through blood, sweat, and tears, I’ve learned a lot about myself, tested boundaries, and yet my character has remained intact. As much as I’ve lost, I’ve gained so much in return: a full understanding of my mental health issues thus not feeling.. alone. I’ve become aware of triggers and have created plans for various scenarios. I’ve acknowledged my faults and am dedicated to improving myself. I’ve become selective with the company that I keep therefore I spend my time more wisely. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company, which used to terrify me! I’m gradually pushing limits to “messes” around the house, which has helped my new cohabitation situation a lot. I’ve been trying new things that scare me in hopes to overcome them.. I’m still working on that one! Haha..
The above photo was my inspiration for this week’s blog post about how we all go through a transformation that changes who we are. This tree was severely damaged and had to be cut down. The city of Hamilton was able to preserve and transform this historical landmark into a functional sculpture piece for future generations to enjoy!
I was apprehensive to publicly share my internal struggles this week, however am glad I took the risk because I think vulnerability can be a powerful thing. I admire those who possess and share this quality. I hope the next time you feel stuck in your head and you just can’t seem to shake it; that you’ll take the time to seek the help you deserve. Trust that you are not alone. Please share your transformational stories in the comments. I’m interested to hear about them!