Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Odds & ends

It’s been two weeks since I took my final exam for Anatomy & Physiology II. Since it’s a two-part, yearlong course, it’s a little strange to be done with it. Part me goes: yay! Another part of me goes: I want more biology! I want to learn more!

That said, it’s also been nice to have some down time before summer session starts.

Some things I have been doing lately:

Making fruit infusion teas. I boil water in the electric tea kettle, put several tea bags in a jar/container, and then put frozen or fresh fruit in it. After letting the tea cool down a little, I put it in the refrigerator and later drink it as an iced tea. The result: a fruity version of the tea of my choice.

Baking in general. This isn’t especially special or unique, as baking bread, cookies or whatever is definitely a trend in these quarantine times. I’ve done several quick breads, such as lemon and chocolate (not together, separately). Since yeast is scarce in stores here right now, my mother-in-law sent us some and I’ve made several loafs of regular bread. I’m perfecting — or at least getting better — at creating a loaf that is the size and consistency I want.

Poetry dates. My love and I have done this twice now. We pick up a few poetry books from our shelf and take turns reading each other poetry. It’s fun and sweet and a great way to spend a small block of time, especially in the evening.

Posting some items on Etsy. I haven’t done this in a long time, aside from renewing my oracle card listing. I’ve been doing a little bit of organizing and sorting through my jewelry and art inventory. I’ve been creating listings that include a piece of jewelry, a print, a sticker, and a few other surprise items, all at a reduced price. It’s sort of a grab bag/”choose your own adventure” type of thing. Check them out here if you’re curious or interested.

jewelry and art set
Recently sold jewelry and art set. Each set includes one piece of jewelry, a print, stickers, and more (like cards from the first proof of my oracle cards)!

Doing art for the sake of doing art. Creating things to sell has definitely encouraged me to intentionally make art over the past few years, but that has lost some of its charm for me. Just creating and seeing what emerges is a totally different experience for me. It’s much more about the process than the final product.

Some things I need to continually remind myself about:

Drink more water. I know that I’ve upped my caffeinated tea intake quite a bit. Sometimes it’s about consistently feeling tired/draggy. Sometimes it’s meant as a mood boost, and sometimes it’s both. As usual, I do generally stop drinking anything caffeinated before 3:00 p.m. so it doesn’t affect my sleep. And I’ve been feeling better since I’ve been reminding myself to drink water along with my tea or any other beverage.

That it’s okay not to feel okay all the time. That’s true at any given time, and it’s especially true in the middle of a pandemic. I am prone to periods of feeling down; it comes and goes in waves. It helps to breathe through it rather than fighting it or trying to analyze it.

That any productivity is good. And that there’s value in doing nothing or not much too.

That spending too much time on social media and reading people’s comments (whether on social media or articles, etc.) is not good for my mental health. I often feel heavy after I’ve been scrolling for a while. I’ve been limiting my time on Facebook over the past week and it’s been helping my mood overall.

Speaking of mental health, it’s now been six years since I checked myself into a hospital for suicidal ideation. It’s a great reminder of how far I’ve come in that time and how much I appreciate the life I’ve created.

 

A moody week.

I had a moody week this past week. It was the kind of mood, heavily influenced by hormones, that creeps up on me every once in a while and makes me grateful that it isn’t always like this.

But in the midst of it, it felt downright depressive and it was hard to see much light in anything. And it was hard to do much of anything, aside from what was absolutely necessary.

To give myself credit, I probably did more than that. But there’s something frustrating about starting a week with a “this is the week I’m going to get organized and do the things I need to do” and then realizing halfway through that I’d have to narrow it way down.

I sat with the mood sometimes: it felt heavy and slow and sucked the meaning out of activities. I distracted myself from it at other times. I cried at the drop of a hat at moments and knew that it always didn’t make sense and it didn’t have to.

Sometimes I judged myself for it, and had thoughts that I should know what I want and I should be clear on what all my next steps are. Despite these moments of “shoulding” myself,  I also knew that it wasn’t a practical time to make decisions other than what to make for meals or what to do next in that particular day.

I have moments where I see moods like this as something to be wrestled with, to get through, to overcome. Perhaps if I add something to my day, a formula of getting enough sunlight + Nia + good food + whatever else, that it will lift, voila. While self-care and doing these activities help, there’s not a fail-safe guarantee that I’m going to feel better and stay feeling that way.

I used my DBT skills and checked the facts of what was really going on. This doesn’t always make feeling and being easier, but it does allow me to see my vulnerabilities. It takes me a few more steps closer towards accepting the mood rather than fighting it.

Now, the mood continues to lift. There’s more grays in it, more rays of sunlight, more hope and desire. I still feel somewhat exposed and cautious. I feel the fear that this mood will continue and become something more. If it does, I’ll take steps to take care of myself. Last week felt deflating; this week may feel different.

Now, I breathe in. I look at the first thing on my to-do list. And I begin my day.

The power of sharing my own experience.

A conversation with friend from earlier this week:

“You probably haven’t had to deal with stuff like this,” she said, after describing how she’d been feeling lately.

“Depression?”

She nodded. “Well, actually, I have,” I said, and elaborated about my own experience.

Afterward, she thanked me for sharing. She knew then that I could relate to how she was feeling.

This moment allowed me to see how incredibly validating it was for me to share my personal experience — for both my friend and for me.

When I was in the midst of my most severe depressive episode, I know that I often felt very alone and isolated in my experience. I think that affirming for someone that she is not alone may have been a powerful gift. Yes, it required vulnerability. It required me to tread into topics I don’t usually touch on in everyday conversations. It gave me the opportunity to rely on my inner strength and know that I could be — and was — okay to give support in that moment.

I felt cautious with this interaction, both during and afterwards. I know I am not necessarily fragile now, but I see the darkness within myself, the potential for becoming depressed again. These kinds of interactions have the potential to be draining and triggering. But I also realize that in many ways, this gives me an opportunity to establish boundaries when needed while also providing the kind of support that only one who has been through something similar can provide. I won’t offer solutions, but I can offer my own story and share what helped me.

It helped me to share, too. Sometimes I feel like I only give people parts of my story. True, not everyone has earned my trust to hear more. But it was important for me to have a moment where I let my guard down, especially when it seemed appropriate and needed. So perhaps I received a gift in that moment as well.

Friday link roundup 7/21

A group of young women from Afghanistan headed for an international robotics competition were initially denied visas to enter the United States, but later received permission to come. During the competition, the team won a silver medal for courageous achievement.

Ever been told to change how you think when you’re feeling stressed out? This blog post talks about how the stress response is based in the nervous system, not in your thoughts.

A post with great wisdom on giving support: Hold your tongue and offer your heart instead.

In terms of discussing issues like drug abuse and addiction (as well as other topics), who tells the story and how they tell it can affect public perception and opinion and even policy. Here’s a post urging people to  Just Say No to Media Coverage of Drugs.  I would also recommend looking for alternate sources and seeking the bigger picture.

Life: celebrate, honor, live.

Life paintingI posted this on my social media pages along with this caption:  “Painting/drawing in honor of life, of choosing to live, learning to thrive, and being true to myself. On this date three years ago, I was severely depressed and hit rock bottom. Today, I honor my healing and all the choices that led me to where I am today.”

On May 25, 2013, I was hospitalized for severe depression and suicidal ideations.

I’ve been feeling the anniversary energy this month – more strongly than this time last year, but less strongly than the first year. In this energy, there’s an intensity, sadness, grief, determination, and more. In time, that energy will likely change or fade. In any case, I hope that I’ll take many more moments to acknowledge and celebrate my life, to celebrate living.

Year One.

Year Two.

Friday link roundup 5/19

This year’s national Mathcounts champion answered this question correctly:  In a barn, 100 chicks sit peacefully in a circle. Suddenly, each chick randomly pecks the chick immediately to its left or right. What is the expected number of unpecked chicks?

17 Steps for Recognizing and Responding to Signs of Suicide.  I found this article to be very thorough and sensitive. 

A GOP lawmaker asks why men should have to pay for maternity care. A women’s editorial response to his comments is short, to the point, and poignant.

On a fashion/style note, I thought these floral and sparkly fishnets were really cool and fanciful.

There are quite a few clothing companies that sell apparel with feminist messages on them. This article suggests looking at the individual company and seeing if they walk their talk.

There’s a group of scientists that argue that if the asteroid that ultimately led to the extinction of the dinosaurs had hit a few minutes later or earlier, dinosaurs could still be around today. Article here.

 

Friday link roundup 4/21

Netflix has released a series called 13 Reasons Why, based on the book by the same name. While I’ve read plot synopses, I’ve never read or watched either one (my choice). The story is centers around a teenager who dies by suicide and the tapes she leaves behind to describe what (and who) contributed to her decision. I’m sharing articles about the series because the show addresses sensitive topics, and I think raising mental health and suicide awareness is important — and it’s also important to make an informed decision on whether to watch the show (or things to consider if you do). So, trigger warning in these articles for mentions and discussions of suicide, rape, and sexual harassment and assault.  A guide to the series for parents and teachers.  First-person articles from people who have watched it: Why I Wish I Didn’t Watch ’13 Reasons Why.’  4 Important Lessons From ’13 Reasons Why.’  About the show’s visual choices and using teen iconography.  From someone who lost a friend as a teen: 13 Reasons Why Tells a Captivating Story, but Not My Story.  How the show’s promise to raise teen mental health awareness backfired.  On how the show addresses rape culture.

Have some nostalgia with a show that depicts the background of an infamous fictional thief: A future Netflix release that might excite people who grew up in the ’90s: Carmen Sandiego! I don’t know how many hours I spent playing “Where in the World…” then “Where in Time…” on my computer, in addition to watching the PBS game show. I think I also watched the cartoon series a few times, too.

Creative Action Network: A global community of artist and designers making art with purpose. Plus, you can submit your own art that follow the different sayings and themes!

Live updates of the March for Science from all around the world.

There’s a theory that there are four types of introversion.

A few reactions to Starbucks’ limited-time-only Unicorn Frappuccino. What I’ve heard from people I know: “It’s sweet,” and “I’m not sure about this…”