Posted in Mental Health Monday

Mental Health Monday: Sometimes Procrastinating is Okay

Life has this tendency of throwing a whole bunch of stuff at you at the same time. Your car needs fixing, and your bills come due, and you get sick so you have to miss a day or two of work, and maybe your kids/pets/spouse are having some sort of crisis that needs your undivided attention to sort it immediately. If you are like me, and many other middle class people, it can be tough to field one emergency at a time, let alone three or four. The financial strain of all these different things, in addition to missing work, make it incredibly easy to stress out and fall into pits of anxiety. This is normally when I find procrastinating to be a little bit helpful.

I know that depression and procrastination are two things that can feed off of each other and create some clusterfuck of self-deprecating cycles. Maybe it would be better to call it a pause. It’s very important, when you have a thousand things piling up in front of you, to put it all aside for a moment and breathe. Take twenty minutes, play some of your favorite music, light some incense or a candle and do whatever you need to do to help you decompress. Whatever is on your plate right now will still be there after your pause. Give yourself permission to take a beat.

I’m the type of person who really likes to take the stressors in my life and get them sorted right away. My logic is that if I deal with it now when it’s a baby stressor, then it won’t turn into a big stressor that will take more time, energy, and money to sort. It also frees my capacity up for other stressors to come into my life. In my mind, if I just save them for later, or think to myself “it’s not a big deal now, I’ll just handle it later” then there will come a time when I have something that I have to deal with RIGHT NOW, but I also have three or four on the back burner that I was saving for a rainy day. All of a sudden, I’m overwhelmed and unable to handle everything at once and my poor boyfriend has to coax me off the cliff I’ve built for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not condoning putting your whole life on hold and running away for days and days. That’s an unhealthy coping mechanism that can cause so much more trouble than the original problems. But taking a moment for self care and self love is just as important as taking on your life head on.

Posted in Mental Health Monday

Mental Health Monday: You Gotta Love Yourself

It’s really easy to get down on yourself sometimes. Especially if you become complacent in your life and let certain things get out of control. Then those thoughts of “I should have known better,” “Why did I do this to myself,” and “What is wrong with me that I didn’t stop this sooner?” start to swirl around your head. The hopelessness of the situation presses down on your heart and makes you say and do stupid things like lash out at the people who care about you and are trying to help you. In these moments, it’s the easiest to let depression and self-destruction be the primary forces in your life.

It’s extremely important when these thoughts are bombarding you to reach out to those people who make you feel good. Who’s that person that always makes you laugh? Who’s that person who always makes you feel like you can do anything? Who’s that person who doesn’t need to know a single detail about your situation, but will hug you and love on you and make you feel like everything will eventually be okay? Find them and bring them into your bubble. It might be uncomfortable, it might be scary, but it’s really important. It will feel so effortless to just sit in that darkness and wait for it to dissipate, but it’s essential for you to try to build a ladder and climb out of it.

This week has been rough for me for no reason other than life happens. I wasn’t on top of some of my responsibilities and it’s all piling up in an overwhelming heap. But I am extremely lucky to have a few people in my life who will always help me out of the darkness. They are always there with a funny story, kind words, or a virtual hug, no matter where we are. I am so blessed and lucky, and these are the moments that I realize just how true that is.

Posted in Mental Health Monday

Mental Health Monday: Stress, It is a Killer

I’m an average person. I work full time, I have a lovely boyfriend, an apartment, a sweet (to me) dog, and we have recently added a kitten to our family. I love my life, I love all the heartbeats (people AND animals) in it, and I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate and lucky with this beautiful life I live.

I’m an average person, and sometimes I absolutely hate my life.

I hate when the stress of adding a new family member triggers my anxiety. What if Willow and Maui are accidentally let into the same room at the same time? Was I crazy to think something like this would work? What if I’m not a good enough pet parent to make sure that both of my fur children are safe and cared for, and their needs are all met? Is Willow getting enough face time with Vinh and I? Is Maui? Is adding a kitten to the mix just going to make Willow regress from all the progress we are making?

I hate when I feel guilty living the “crate and rotate” system. How do I fully enjoy watching Maui run around and play when I can hear Willow barking and crying in the background? How can I snuggle and love on my dog when the cat is mewling from the bathroom to be let out? Who do I let out and roam when I’m doing chores around the house? I can logically rationalize it to myself, but how do I rationalize it to my animals? Or my boyfriend, who is so in love with the kitten and afraid of the dog?

I hate when a peaceful moment with one of them triggers the other. I live for the moments when they are both relaxed and at peace. To be honest, Maui really doesn’t care a whole lot if Willow is barking at him. Every day he ventures closer and closer to her crate, regardless of how ferociously she’s screaming. And every day, Willow barks a little bit less at him. Unfortunately, my heart breaks the same amount every time.

At some moments, I really hate my life. And it’s in those moments that I get the opportunity to remember the good things in it.

Willow’s probably never going to be able to be left alone with Maui and leave me feeling comfortable with it. That’s a fact of life both Vinh and I have resigned ourselves to and feel okay about. But it has always been important for her to have time for herself, to relax or sleep or chew on a special treat she gets. Her medications have been working well for her, and every day we are able to do a little bit more that used to be outside of her comfort zone. Both Maui and Vinh give us lots of chances to practice our obedience and impulse control, and this gives my girl more and more confidence that things aren’t going to get her at any moment.

Maui is a source of laughter in our sometimes too stressful home. Last night, he was walking across the window sill and slipped, falling into Willow’s water bowl. He proceeded to track water all around the room until I caught him and toweled him off. He chases our feet first thing in the morning, and rubs his face on my glasses while I’m wearing them. He’s brave, and curious, and playful, and sweet. He cuddles up with me and places his paws on my face to show me that he thinks I’m pretty okay. He climbs on top of Vinh’s laptop and turns it off to remind him that he needs to play with Maui too.

It’s hard not to fall into a pit when it seems like a bunch of things are clashing together and none of it is mixing together, no matter how hard you try. But there are always, always opportunities to find the light during those moments of darkness. No matter how hopeless or frustrating life seems, there are good points in every sadness.

Posted in Mental Health Monday

Life With Anxiety

Anxiety is something that I typically don’t talk about much. I mention it here and there because it’s such a huge part of my life that is really difficult to get away from. As much as I try, I can’t keep my anxiety from touching every part of my life, and every relationship I have, and every activity that I do. And that’s an extremely difficult reality to live with.

I’ve mentioned before that my boyfriend is an incredibly outgoing person. He has never had to deal with anxiety, or depression, or any other incredibly common mental health issue personally. And it’s very difficult to understand how crippling and frustrating it can be if you’ve never had to experience it before. He’s incredibly understanding and does everything that he can to learn about it and figure out how to help me out of my downswings. If I’m having a spike in anxiety, he will ask me after I’m calm how he can help me avoid those situations, or how he can adapt to ease the difficulty of dealing with those situations that can’t be avoided.

I so appreciate everything he does for me. And sometimes I feel horribly guilty about it. I find myself asking, “but won’t it be better for him to find someone without these issues? Won’t his life be more fun, or less stressful, or less frustrating, more exciting, if he were with someone who didn’t have to deal with these feelings?” Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t someone out there who would fit his life better than I do. It’s hard to feel like I’m worth all the effort he’s putting in for me, when it feels like I’m not doing the same for him, just putting more requirements and restrictions into a situation that should be freeing and fun.

But when I have those thoughts, I try to pull myself back a little bit. He’s choosing to stay. He’s choosing to put the effort in. He’s choosing to make a relationship with me work, to accommodate the things that I can’t control, and to support me when I’m having trouble holding myself up. While he doesn’t have mental health issues to work around, I compensate him in other ways. Relationships aren’t always 50/50, even though I want to make them that way as much as possible. Some days, it’s 60/40 toward him. Sometimes it’s 30/70 toward me. And yet other days, we are fighting for who has the larger percentage because we want the other to feel more appreciated than any other person in the world.

These are the things I try to remember when I find myself in downswings. I try to remember that it’s not always easy. It’s not always fair. It’s not always balanced, or equal, or anything. Sometimes, the relationship will be all about me. And sometimes, it’ll be all about him. Those days when I feel unworthy of him, I try to remember that my anxiety is a nefarious little demon whispering half-truths and insecurities into my ear and that they are not reality.

PS: I know this post isn’t actually posted on a Monday. In the future, I will try to post my articles about my journey with my mental health specifically on Mondays and under the tag “Mental Health Monday” so you can easily find/avoid them as you choose.