Tag Archives: Self Care

Powerless

You can take care of yourself. You can check on your people. You cannot force anyone to get the help he or she might need.

When you suffer from a mental illness, it’s like a fog that cannot be lifted. You can’t see the way out. Or sometimes, you can see the way out but it’s too daunting to rise above. Nothing in the world can motivate you. While I’m not a trained mental health professional, I can attest firsthand that no one can pull me out of my current state. It’s entirely up to me.

I’ve learned over time through trial and error what to say to people, how to talk about what I’m experiencing and how to rise above my anxiety. It can happen in hours or can take weeks – every instance is different. While you can’t see it or perhaps even notice it, I know its always there. You don’t need to treat me differently, however I do appreciate a general awareness.

And this is the situation when you’re diagnosed and openly talking about it.

Imagine seeing someone you love so sick that they don’t know they need help. This is often the case with addicts. Because they are debilitated by the disease, they are unwilling to seek treatment. So what do you do?

For starters, we’re not mental health professionals so we can’t and shouldn’t walk around diagnosing people. Instead, we can:

  • Remove any judgement we have about the person or his/her situation. Because the truth is we don’t know what’s going on inside his/her mind, heart, soul, etc.
  • Be open and receptive if/when the person reaches out. Try to make the time to connect with them and take their concerns seriously. Listen, hold space and do not preach.
  • Pray and if that’s not your thing, send positive vibes out into the universe for that person. I firmly believe in the power of pray or good vibe sending. It can make a difference while bringing a sense of peace to a tumultuous situation.
  • Keep taking care of yourself. Yes, I’m saying it again because it’s that important. Running yourself ragged worrying about someone who isn’t ready to accept help isn’t going to help. It’s actually going to make the situation much worse. If you need to, talk to someone about what you’re experiencing as the loved one or caregiver of someone with a mental illness. Support groups are another resource that could offer perspective on a pretty shitty situation.

Honestly, it sucks being powerless and unable to help those you care most about. Talking about it and setting boundaries helps and yet, there will still be times when it sucks. I’m giving you full permission to hate on it, let it suck, whatever. But, you cannot stay in the suck. Remember you can only control your reaction to the situation. Choose that reaction wisely.

I hope this month’s posts gave you some insight into my views on mental health. It’s only by continuing the conversation that we can remove the stigma.

Extra Measure of Grace

May is Mental Health Awareness so I’ve decided to write a series of posts highlighting what I know about mental health. While I’m not a trained mental health professional, I do believe that the only way to remove the stigma associated with mental illness is to talk about.

The challenging part of these issues is that they’re unseen and hard to articulate symptoms as many vary by person or develop over time. Regardless, it starts with you and generating a self-awareness about what you’re experiencing.

Showing yourself grace and compassion is essential as you work through whatever you’re experiencing. I’ve learned to label the energetic dip I experience as the recovery zone. This typically occurs after a period of high energy expenditure, like overly busy times at work or gearing up for a holiday. It also happens to me after bouts of increased anxiety. I become overstimulated, peak and hit a valley that’s challenging to come up from.

Some label this as burnout or high functioning depression; only you can name it to tame it. This place isn’t just low energy, its exhausting, a place where everything is hard and where you can see the way out but aren’t sure how to get there. It’s a place that’s necessary though it can be lonely as I’m the only one who can climb my way out.

This will likely look different for each person – it should! These are not cookie cutter experiences or solutions. When I’m recovering, here are a few ways I return to my steady state.

  • Generate an awareness that I’m there. A few indicators include not being able to fall asleep, lack of motivation to do anything, more snacking and a quicker temper.
  • Flow with the tide. There’s no magic bullet to pull me out. I feel the feels aka cry at every commercial and don’t force myself into doer mode. It’s very much about being in order to restore my own energy.
  • Love thy self, hard. This should have been the first commandment. I increase my self care where I can – exercise, binge watching, reading a book. I *try* to speak to myself the way I’d speak to my best friend, with care and compassion and give myself an extra measure of grace.
  • I let go of others’ judgement. *Insert eye roll here.* This is the hardest part for me. People hear recovery or burnout or depression and generally become helicopter friends. That’s not what I need. Support from a distance. Know that if someone you love is in this season, they have the resources they need within to recover. Walk beside them, not behind them pushing them along.

This is a season, a moment, not a place I’ll live forever. I’ve learn to accept my internal wiring and know I’ll come out the other side stronger. I’ve also created more routines that help prevent longer periods of recovery – things like daily exercise, meal prepping, monthly therapy and massages. I believe I’ll always experience this and find it to be a restorative process.

How do you show yourself grace when struggling mentally or emotionally?

You Belong Here

Hello my friends! It’s been an inspiring, grueling, jam-packed two weeks. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything that’s happened, all of the amazing people I’ve met and the stories I’ve shared.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I spoke on a panel at the Superwomen Summit almost two weeks ago. I can’t begin to describe how phenomenal the entire weekend was. Take a look at the lineup and Google all of the speakers. Each brought her unique perspective while still being herself. That was the best part of the entire event: These women were attainable, real and struggled. As much as I love Oprah and Brene, they are such lofty goals. I spent the weekend hearing from mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who are still figuring it out but decided to go for it while they were going through the process. Inspirational, for sure and oh so fun!

Summit1

One of my favorite quotes from the Superwoman Summit courtesy of Anna Kunnecke

I am so proud of the panel discussion that I was a part of. I’ll save that for a separate post because that topic deserves my full attention. I can’t begin to capture all I learned at the Summit. The resounding message was one of belonging. There were talks about owning your power, being brave, prioritizing and self-care. Each one was special in its own right and all carried a thread of belonging. We, as women, find it hard to fit in. We’ve been told from men we’re too bossy, assertive, aggressive, bitchy and then there are other women who push us to find our voice, be bold, stand strong. You get the picture. At the Superwoman Summit, everyone was just right, not too much of anything. We, as a collective female community, need to support one another just as we are. Sure, we can support our goals, areas of growth, etc. AND none of that should change who we are at our core. We are perfectly and intentionally created, just as we are.

Post one Summit, I jetted to Atlanta for another, this one specific to work. It was the culmination of months of hard work, with new team members, lots of moving parts and my first show as a manager. It was the most challenging conference I’ve run to date. There were lots of moments where I felt like I didn’t belong, that my big, bold personality was too much. Why? Well, for starters, I wasn’t taking care of myself: Lack of sleep, not eating right and not exercising all contribute to my already stressed out state. Add in all sorts of feedback, both positive and constructive, it was like sensory overall. Plus, as the manager, I was the role model for the team. Just typing that was a lot. Upon returning home, I took care of myself, mind/body/soul. This included lots of sleeping, meal prepping and journaling.

Almost a week later and I’m about back to myself. As an empath, I catch and receive emotions in such a heightened way. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do to show up the way I want onsite. Much of it includes self-care and setting boundaries. The biggest lesson is that a sense of belonging only comes from within. I know, I know Brene Brown already told us this. Yet, I had to learn it for myself. I belonged at BOTH of my Summits, I earned the right to be there, no matter how bold or extroverted or honest I am. I’ve finally gotten back to that mindset thanks to my support squad and lots of working through what’s true and what I’m telling myself.

It’s really hard to put those negative self-talk stories aside especially when you’re receiving feedback. I’m learning to be kind to myself and remember why the universe put me here in the first place.

Summit2

My co-worker/friend and I celebrating a successful Summit

New Body, Who Dis?

Confidence: Hard to explain, easy to lose and connected to most everything we do. Confidence is elusive, one minute we’ve got it and then with the swipe on a social media site, it’s gone. Or maybe, you’re like me and didn’t know real confidence until adulthood.

I’ve been on this get healthy journey since October. Until you forge this path for yourself, you won’t have any idea how much of an impact it makes on your mental and emotional health, in addition to your physical health. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I’m not just shredding pounds but an old identity.Identity

I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. I was never picked first for a team during recess. I couldn’t do a sit up or push up during the physical fitness challenges in gym class. I’ve wore a size 16 since I was 12 years old. I could never share clothes with my friends. I’ve always thought of myself as big: bigger in size and in personality. Loud, talkative and dramatic, I often saw my personality as a liability, likely because others told me that, both about my physical appearance and about how I acted. I’ve defined myself this way since childhood and suddenly (ok it feels like suddenly) all of that has changed.

 

With each pound dropped, I’ve found this confidence that’s been hidden inside. I present my point of view during meetings with authority. I find myself flirting (!!!) without a care in the world. I check myself out in the mirror and practically dance down the street to work. At my core, I’m the same person, with the same values and sarcastic wisecracks. But I feel different, like a new world has opened up to me.

I’m slowly starting to shed this old, big identity. It’s really hard to rewrite this script, to look in the mirror and finally like the woman I see. And it’s even harder to stop thinking that my personality is too much. It might be for some and that is on them, she says as her voice shakes. One foot in front of the other, one day at time, I’m building this new, more positive identity.

Presenting at TWN panel

Presenting at the Temple Women’s Network panel in my new Banana Republic outfit!

A big step in this process was to go shopping. I always hated shopping because stores wouldn’t have my size or the dress I loved looked terrible. Avoidance was a key strategy here. It took an alumni event for me to go buy clothes that actually fit. What a feeling to buy a size 12, to love how I look in spring dresses, to buy clothes in Banana Republic…I can’t even describe it!

It took 27.5 years to truly understand what it means to feel confident. Goes to show you that it’s never too late to transform an old identity into one that is more self-serving. Getting healthy has not only changed by physical health, it also improved my mental and emotional well-being. It really has been a mind, body, soul experience that I’m happy to share with others.

Self Love

I meant to write this post in February, the month of love. But I got distracted. Moving on.

February is the month of love but I bet you instantly think of Valentine’s Day, couples and chocolate. But shouldn’t it start with self love? That’s what I dedicated my February (mostly) to and here’s what I learned.

Mornings at the gym set the tone for my entire day. I absolutely need sleep if I want to be nice (and probably productive too). I feel better if I eat right but that does include carbs.I get a headache if I don’t drink enough water. Destressing after work includes watching my shows including sobbing during This Is Us. I catch people’s energy. Silence scares me. So does formally joining a dating website. People’s lack of accountability drives me nuts.

My biggest realization on this self love journey? I’m a fixer, a helper, a person who is the first to offer to help. I don’t say this to be self-righteous. I share this with you as a reminder to myself and because I’m sure many of you feel the same way. I love helping people and it certainly feel good to do good. But at what point does that stop and you start becoming resentful?

Harvard Business Review’s “Big Idea” in January was called Beat Generosity Burnout. In the article, the authors share how selflessness at work (and I’d argue personally too) leads to exhaustion. It’s a fascinating read that completely resonated with me. At some point, when all you do is say yes, you reach a breaking point. You throw your hands up and say no mas!

As the article points out, there are several ways to prevent yourself from getting to this point. For me, it all comes down to boundaries. I tested my theory out this past month and for the most part, it worked. When I chose to do things based on how I was feel and my priorities, I’m happier. I got clear on my boundaries by writing down what is important to me. I also realized that each day is going to go exactly my way. It’s okay to put others first when you choose to do it versus being forced. When I did choose to help, it felt even better than before and I was more present while with the person or project.

Self care is fundamental yet we all try to be superheroes. Taking care of yourself – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – is the only way you’ll be able to help others. So it’s not selfish, it’s the first step in loving yourself fully.

 

 

 

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