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Is it Over Yet?

Depression and anxiety have spanked me this year.  I have always dealt with my anxiety.  What that really means for me is, its just manifested in “non-traditional” ways, like being short with people, having very narrow focus, retaining ridiculous amounts of stress, avoiding a wide variety of situations, and being extraordinarily moody for no apparent reason.  Basically, I’ve just lived with it and not acknowledged it.  You know, very positively!

Now my struggle with it is far more visceral. I can’t sit still.  I can’t move either.  Sometimes I can’t catch my breath.  Thoughts race – even the most ridiculous things seem true, imminent.  Thoughts feel thick, like wading through a tub of coconut oil.  There’s too many thoughts, but I can’t escape them.  I feel like I’m on the brink of complete collapse sometimes.  When I can gather enough clarity, I take a few pumps of oil and I can start feeling freer in 15 minutes or so.  Its as though I line everything up, like little toy soldiers on a wall and I can start flicking them off the wall, one by one, every wild, racing, over-the-top thought and fear.

Since I was in high school, depression has floated in and out of my life.  When I sought treatment the first time, someone close to me said “I just can’t understand what you could possibly have to be sad about.”  And that’s when I stopped constructively dealing with depression.  Sometimes I’ve anticipated the lows, and other times, I have been blindsided.  I’ve picked up, carried on, and dealt with it.  Its what we expect people to do!  Quietly, privately, and with as little emotion as possible.  No mess, no fussing, no drama.  That’s what I thought I was accomplishing after Matt abruptly passed.  I was dealing like a champ.  I was pushing forward, growing, kicking ass.  In reality, I was definitely surviving, if not even thriving, but I was completely failing to heal the hurt.Introvert inclusion

I have trust issues.  There.  I said it.  I find myself not trusting people about the DUMBEST stuff.  There are a million reasons running through my head why anyone isn’t doing what they claimed.  It isn’t even based in reality!  I was trained, systematically, over a long relationship, that I wasn’t worthy of the truth.  I wasn’t worthy of being included.  I wasn’t important enough to anyone. I wasn’t worthy of my own husband telling me what he’s actually doing.  Its a daily struggle of insecurity.  Who is excluding me from stuff?  Why didn’t I get invited to something?

The more I have been sorting out, the more I realize.   And the more I wonder.  I wonder why I gave so much trust to someone who repeatedly broke it.  I wonder why I believed someone who routinely fed me stories.  I wonder why I wasn’t valuable enough to get the truth.  But I also realize that this wasn’t my shortcoming.  I did what I was supposed to do.  I trusted the person who was supposed to take care of me and my son.

I’ve been talking with close friends lately about my purpose and what I want from life.  One of my greatest aspirations in life is to be a wife and mother – explains a lot about why I was so eager to please someone who would have pushed me off a cliff if it suited him.  I’ve felt this since I was young.  I feel for me personally (NOT everyone!), there is no greater calling than to have a fulfilling relationship and raise good humans.  That in turn gives me the framework to then achieve professionally and otherwise.  And don’t worry, I don’t think my value rests solely with a marriage.  Its just something I find extremely valuable personally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

What I want to bring to you, dear friend, is the awareness about yourself.  If you’re struggling similarly to myself, the first step is getting help.  Get perspective.  I don’t mean from your goofy friend with all the opinions. There are some easy things (from an implementation standpoint, anyway) that you can do that will help you get on the right path.

  • A therapist is a great neutral sounding board.  It might take a few tries to find someone that you’re comfortable with. That friend with all the opinions might be eager to listen, but they might not always have time to carefully consider your concerns – after all, they aren’t paid to listen to you.  They might also have ulterior motives.  God forbid they do not have your best interests at heart or don’t care who they share your personal business with.  It will only compound the problem to know that someone is speaking about your issues with others.  Find someone who is truly neutral.
  • If consistently visiting a therapist is out of your budget (I know it can get expensive!) look into some self help books and/or workbooks.  You don’t even need to pick something deeply self-exploratory.  Start with something that doesn’t feel too inflammatory and work your way up (just don’t let yourself off the hook before you get there).
  • Start journaling. Good old fashioned pen and paper, not on your phone or computer.   Take 10 minutes each day.  If you’re really committed, spend 10 minutes when you first wake up, writing about things you’re grateful for, and 10 minutes before you go to bed, brain dumping, so you can go to sleep with a blank slate.  Ten minutes is just a guideline – it gives you a set window of time to commit to the process.
  • Really want to go all in?  Start doing guided meditation.  Use YouTube videos like this one to help you.
  • Figure out if you would like or if you feel you need medication.  I weighed the options medications to help with anxiety and depression and I couldn’t balance the weight of not being lucid against the potential benefits.  Of course, I’m a huge advocate for hemp oil because of its lack of negative side effects and overall health benefits.  The hemp and cannabis plants are extraordinary in their benefits to humans and even pets; get good stuff in your body, however you choose to consume it.  There are tons of things to look at when you’re looking for a brand of oil (I’ll explore it in another post), but you can get the best here.

Accepting that you’re going to have good days, you’re going to have bad days,  and its all just part of life, is the first huge step to working through things.  Explore your reactions to things and situations.  Analyze why you’re reacting to things a certain way.

~The only thing we control in this world is how we react to things~

Read that until you understand it.  You can’t control what anyone else does; you can only control your reaction to the situation.  Stop letting other people’s stupidity send you over the edge.  Stop letting someone else’s inconsistency, arrogance, ignorance, selfishness, lies, jealously, etc etc control how you feel!

This is all just the tip of the iceberg, but its a great start.  Much love & light to you today!

Want more on the topic?  Drop your comments and questions below!

~ Jess

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Finding a Voice

I’ve been trying to be vocal about my mental health struggles over the last year.  Trying to be a voice for those who don’t feel strong enough to speak on their own; to help others seek the help they need, too.  I made a big step in my life – I’ve been in therapy for a little over a month now.  So far, its been a lot of the usual background jabber, so its brought up a lot of extensive, deep-seated issues.  “Not too bad,” I thought.  Silly me.

All the emotions, all at once.  Mix it in with how I was already feeling; lost, confused, unsure of myself and future, and you’ve got a whole mess.  At exactly the same time, I feel like the most determined, self-assured, strong person, and also the least successful, least useful, failure.  Imagine bringing up essentially everything that has ever deeply impacted me over a few short visits.  Its like knowing your hair is already on fire, and then dumping gasoline on it.  Its not fun, but I know that it has to be done.  I really like the therapist I’m seeing and I feel like its a good match for where I’m at.

Every day, I’m grateful for my oil.  After a dose, I can feel myself coming down from a very overwhelmed place.  Sometimes my day requires more than one dose.  But its vital.  I am choosing this path because I don’t want to feel less.  Feeling is vital, or I won’t learn to do better in the future.  I’ve thought about the different medications I could be on, and both my therapist and I agree that its not a necessary step at this point.

Its been a few months since I’ve felt more “myself.” But what does that truly mean when your life has been in a whirlwind of harsh transition for the last year and a half (but really longer). In the last 9 years, I’ve moved 8 times. Not because I wanted to.  Mostly because of lost jobs and selfish decisions.  We had a tumultuous 6 years together, with children, adding a child, losing homes, separating, getting back together, so many lies and half truths.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons, but I also learned a lot of unfortunate ones.  Like who or how I can trust. That’s a lot of change, and while I thought I was figuring things out on my own, I found myself even more lost than before.  It has felt like I’m being swallowed whole, into a very dark, quiet, absent space.

Finding yourself doubting every last word from people is a horrible way to live.  If you tell me the sky is blue, I’m still going to look.  And then I’m going to try to figure out what the underlying motive could be. This is how messed up your mind gets. You even question the people you love and trust the most, even though they aren’t the ones manipulating your mind.  You can’t even trust yourself – what if you aren’t understanding what’s being said?  The sickest part about it all, is that you’re really not stupid.  You don’t have trouble reading people.  You’ve been trained to believe you don’t understand.

I try to remind myself every day that I don’t have trust issues; I am healing my trust issues.  I am speaking into existence the healing I need.  Every day, I work towards getting acquainted with who I am today, not who I was, who anyone thinks I should be, but who I am now.  Its a difficult road.  A lot of scary grey areas that are hard to sort through, but have to be, so I can move forward.  The grey areas of life are the parts that no one ever wants to handle.  We spend our time avoiding it.  Yet, its where life really happens.  Healing comes when we sit down with our crap, shake hands with it, interview it, find out where it belongs in our life, and decide whether it deserves that place, and if not, we dismiss it from our life.

It will be a long process, but its worth it.

Love & light ~ Jess

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Sometimes Silence is Black

It’s been a while.  I’ve been trying to find the words to write and they just haven’t come together.  I haven’t had the energy to form more than a few sentences, let alone paragraphs.  The silence hasn’t been bright and busy; its been tiring, dark, airless.  Sometimes, depression reaches up and swallows you whole.

The second I slowed down, I was consumed.  I knew I was becoming jaded about doing Instacart.  Financially, its been a blessing.  Its allowed me breathing room that I’ve struggled with since my old business stopped booming last year, around this time.  I was consistently putting in as much as 60 hours a week with Insta and while I made decent money most weeks, more often than not, I found myself run absolutely ragged, getting shortchanged at every turn.  The summer is a weird and often sluggish time, or it can be a boom.  It totally depends on your luck.  When I finally allowed myself to take a break (really I was more forced to, because the batches were so god-awful, it wasn’t worth the gas I’d be spending to run them, plus I had a lot to do before leaving for vacation, and then a week away at the beach), I lost all momentum and drive.  I haven’t poured myself into my hemp oil business and thus have not built it quickly enough for substantial income.  I’ve beat myself up endlessly about this.  Some irony, for sure.  While the oil has been phenomenal for anxiety ~ its gotten me through some tough times ~ I failed myself by not playing with the dosage to help the rest of my mental health significantly enough.

Normalizing mental illness means we can’t always hide away like we’d like.  We can’t always be silent and introverted like we’d prefer.  I’m choosing to speak today because I feel like I have a platform and I am obligated to let people know they can make it through the bull.  Sometimes we trudge through day after day, dragging ourselves through because we know we have to.  Other times, life comes to a standstill.  You can’t motivate yourself to take a shower, or do the dishes, or even smile, some days.  Life feels like cardboard.  You feel lifeless; everything feels ~flat~.

Maybe you go through the motions really well most days, and hiding it is exhausting.  Maybe eating is overwhelming, whether you overeat, or don’t eat well, if you do at all.  Nothing tastes good enough to bother.  Maybe your house is a wreck and you can’t find the energy or focus to make even half a dent in anything.  Your laundry is overflowing and you have nothing to wear, but you don’t even know where to begin.  Maybe you’ve missed days of work.  Or made it to work, but accomplished nothing.  Maybe its gotten so bad you quit or lost your job.  Whatever the struggle looks like and feels like for you, IT’S OK!

Inside of each of us is the strength to make it.  To get through this stretch.  I know it feels endless.  For some of us, its stretched on for what feels like forever already.  Just know that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, and you’re doing great.

~ Much love and Light ~ Jess

Why not go on meds and/or see a therapist?

Both require help.  Someone to help pick up slack while I’m dealing with side effects of drugs.  The funny thing about not taking any big-pharma medications for years, aside from occasional ibuprofen or aspirin, is how wild the side effects are.  “You’ll get used to it” is not a valid option when I need to be 100% to care for my son all the time.  I don’t live with anyone else.  My parents cannot handle Nicholas full time.  My boyfriend, although incredibly helpful and excellent with him, does not need to bear that burden nor should he have to.  Missing a dose can have outrageous consequences.  Getting used to the drug can take over a month, if it even helps, and if it doesn’t, you’re back to the drawing board again.  Side effects are a way of your body telling you something – not a ‘necessary flogging’ because your body is behaving badly.  Going to therapy is an hour at a shot, plus wait time, plus over an hour dropping Nicholas off and picking him up.  I’ve spent hours in therapists’ care and hated every second – hours and hours pouring over the same dribble every time, with no resolutions in sight.

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