Renewing/Resetting the Mind

Renewing/Resetting the Mind

A few weeks ago at one of our meetings, Lauren Settle, a local counselor from the area, (thank you again Lauren, you are wonderful!), talked to us about renewing and resetting our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves.  As many of you can imagine, this is not as easy as it sounds.  It takes effort.  It takes commitment.  It takes practice.  And, it takes time.  A lot of time.  I mean, think about it.  The many thoughts we tell ourselves about who we are and how we act did not just pop up over night.  They most likely formed from years and years of living in a particular place or circumstance which eventually sculpted our thoughts and beliefs into what we know of and think about ourselves everyday!  For example, I have extremely low confidence.  This did not happen overnight.  My past relationships and feelings of insecurity and inferiority as a kid have pretty much shaped me into the frightened self-doubter I am today.  (I am 46 years-old and still afraid to raise my hand and ask questions.  Seriously?  Seriously.)  But, apparently, I can reverse this!  I’ve really been working on it too.  I acknowledged it for starters!  And now, I know that if I tell myself otherwise everyday (I mean everyday people!  I told you it takes serious effort and commitment) and I force myself to do things that demonstrate confidence (It takes action too and this is no mam-bee, pam-bee thing to do for someone with crazy anxiety.) I can change this part of my story.  I can change that part of who I am.  I’ve been doing it and it is working!  It makes me so happy!  I see more light in that aspect of my life now.  I feel so much stronger and a little more in control and it is so awesome!!  I highly recommend y’all try doing this.  I would love to help you on your path to finding the wonderful parts of you that have been there this whole time anyway!

 

 

 

Off and Running and Meditating!

Off and Running and Meditating!

Well, the group is getting bigger and I am so excited!  What an amazing group of people I get to spend time with at every meeting.  Wow!  We talked about how helpful meditation can be for an anxiety, depression, memory, focus, and a slew of other things at the last meeting. We even did a meditation practice session (I want to give a big shout out to our meditation leader for making that happen.  She was awesome!)  I made it a goal for myself this past week to meditate every morning for at least 5 minutes.  I’ve stayed on track for the most part and I really do think it calms me and helps me stay in the here and now (I typically love to worry about what is happening 5 minutes from now, tomorrow, next week, and in ten years.  It’s called anxiety people.)  What I really loved about it though is how I can come back to the steady breathing aspect of it throughout my day; it helps me stay centered, calm, and steady.  It’s really cool!  I needed it on Friday when I subbed at the middle school all day!  Oi, vay!  No, I’m just kidding, the kids were actually quite wonderful that day!  Anyway, if you haven’t tried meditation, I highly recommend it.  You can find super easy, ready to go meditation apps to put on your phone that talk you through the breathing and what to do with your thoughts throughout.  It is so simple really; yet, so effective!  You don’t even have to do any crazy chants or anything!  However, I admit, I love to chant over and over “Rummm”, “Rum, Rum, Rum, Rum, Rummmmmmm.”  It just helps with my focus and I like the vibration of the “mmmm.” I know.  I’m weird.  Anyway, happy meditating!

Let’s Do It Again!

Let’s Do It Again!

Yay!  It’s official!  I held my first meeting this past Tuesday on the 15th of January.  Three people came and it was awesome!  I don’t know about the rest of the attendees but, I felt so comfortable with them right off the bat.  How great is that?  I’m so grateful to them for showing up; and for being brave enough to put themselves out there and share their feelings and experiences with the group.

You want to know what is so crazy?  I suffer from social anxiety.  So, it seems really strange that I would want to organize and lead a group of any kind, right?  It’s so weird how, from day one of wanting to do this, I have felt so much peace in doing it.  It’s like it’s just what I am supposed to do.  I was so comfortable Tuesday night sharing my heart it was just so weird.  And, I didn’t feel my usual angst or nervousness at all.  It was almost like I was on a weird high, just feeling so excited and joyful that I had people in my house who felt like I did.  I know I already said this but, it was just so awesome!!!

So, I pray this feeling will continue as I move forward meeting after meeting.  I pray as others attend they will grow into a better place, find helpful coping or even recovery strategies, and come willing to accept the truth: that there is peace and light out there and it can and will stay longer and longer if we keep trying.

Let’s do it again!  Thanks everybody!

Well, That Was a Bust!

Well, That Was a Bust!

Nobody showed up to my first meeting!  Okay, I probably shouldn’t have had it on New Year’s Day but still!  I know so many people are out there who need this!  I will not give up.  My husband won’t let me right now anyway! We will make this happen!

On a personal note, I have really struggled lately.  My depression is creeping back in and I am not happy about that at all.  I have been doing so well for so long!  I’m thinking maybe it is seasonal?  I mean, we are in the midst of winter here in Texas (ha, ha).  In all seriousness, I need sunshine and my family recently returned from Long Island where it was quite cold, cloudy, and rainy so I think that may have started it.  At any rate, I am trying to get outside when that sun is out and keep myself busy.  Unfortunately, my depression has been so bad that there have been a couple of days where I just couldn’t get myself to really do anything that I know I needed to do to make myself feel better.  Ugh!!  It’s so frustrating!

Anyway, my next meeting y’all is January 15th at 7:00 pm.  I do hope you can make it!  We are just going to take it nice and slow; we will have casual, open and honest conversation.  No pressure!  You can come and just listen if you want or, just come for the refreshments!  I just want everyone to know they are not alone in their battle!

On to 2019

On to 2019

So, getting my support group up and running has been a challenge.  It is now December 31st, 2018 and I have yet to hold a single meeting.  Grad school, kids, and all the other craziness in my life hindered my progress a bit but, tomorrow is my first scheduled meeting!  I am nervous and excited all at the same time; however, I need to put myself in this vulnerable place in order to personally progress and, hopefully, help others too.

I am still fractured and emotionally fragile for I found myself in a very scary place a couple of weeks ago.  Self-doubt over almost every aspect of my life along with the challenges of parenting teenagers put me over the edge. I once again realized how frustrating it is to feel too embarrassed to ask for help when you’re feeling completely hopeless.   It just goes to show I still need help.  I need ongoing help.  I need support and encouragement.  I need positive conversation, healthy relationships with others, and confidence in myself and my abilities.  I need to be reminded of the many ways help is there when I need it and of useful strategies that lead my thoughts to a happier, peaceful place.  I need a support group!  And, maybe you do too?  I do hope you will consider coming.  Refreshments will be served!

 

Zucci – Who Saved Who?

Zucci – Who Saved Who?

My kids and I have tried to talk my husband into getting us a dog for many years.  His biggest complaint is the stress of an untrained dog and the need for a dogsitter when we travel.  These are all valid reasons but, I felt strongly that the support and company of a new furry friend could possibly help me.  When you feel that awful and low you are willing to do and try anything at any cost to feel better so, my husband finally gave in on one of our many visits to the pet rescue and, boy did we hit the jackpot with our new little guy!  His name is Zucci (pronounced zoo-key) and he is the best dog ever!!  He is my little shadow throughout my day, my lump of love at my feet anytime I’m sitting and doing my schoolwork, and brings so much love and joy not just to me but to everyone in our home!  He almost makes me wonder; maybe I didn’t need the medicine and therapy after all?!

Leaps of Faith

Leaps of Faith

I had contemplated attending grad school for school guidance counseling for the past several years.  When we moved to San Antonio from Houston I struggled to find a teaching position.  That meant I was pretty much jobless (aside from the random sub jobs I would pick up in our district) and I had a lot of time on my hands.  If you suffer from depression you know how much worse it can get when you have nothing to occupy your time and your brain.  And, if you’re a student and suffer from anxiety you know how much worse your anxiety can get when you have the stress of writing papers and deadlines.  Nonetheless, I prayed and prayed about whether or not enrolling in grad school was a good idea for me and I kept feeling as though I needed to just do it regardless of what other people thought or what seemed logical to me at the time.

Well, I’m so glad I listened to the answer to my prayers because grad school has been so easy and stress-free!  Ha! Not!  Even though it is definitely stressful at times, it has given my brain a new direction as well as my future.  I am almost halfway done already and it feels so good!  I am super proud of myself (I have a 4.0GPA so far) and I look forward to getting back into a full-time work environment when the time is right.

So, if you feel stuck in a rut and there is something you have been thinking about doing for quite a while that will make you happy, seriously consider going for it!   I think sometimes taking a chance or a leap of faith can be refreshing and exciting!  It can stir up motivation you never thought you had and with that renewed hope.  If those around you are not immediately supportive try not to get discouraged.  Remember, they’re your hopes and dreams not someone else’s.

I Interrupt This Special Program to Bring You…..

I Interrupt This Special Program to Bring You…..

Breaking news.  Watching or listening to all the negative stories in the news today can possibly cause anxiety and depression.  Studies show it can definitely increase anxiety and depression in those already susceptible to it.

I made a conscious decision to stop watching the news about a year ago and, oh my gosh, I can’t even begin to describe the peace it brought into my life.  Some may say I’m crazy.  My husband thinks I need to be “well-informed” with what’s going on in the world and I totally get where he’s coming from, however, my own sanity and peace of mind trumps being informed of school shootings and terrorist attacks.  Besides, if it’s big enough news, I will hear about it eventually through simple socialization and, of course, on Facebook (which I honestly try to avoid as well).

Reality is, that there is still so much more good than bad in this world but, you would never know it by tuning in to the news.  Life is too short.  I’m deciding to focus on the good.  I’m not saying boycotting the news is for everybody but, it has changed my life for the better for sure.

Before you write me off as completely being off my rocker read this article.

What Constant Exposure to Negative News is Doing to Our Mental Health

You may now return to your regularly scheduled program.

 

Charity Never Faileth

Charity Never Faileth

Even though I started feeling a little better after being on medication and attending counseling sessions, I believe the one thing that had the most positive impact on me was service.  I contacted my local food pantry and began volunteering their once a week.  Service helped me get my mind off of my own troubles and allowed me to focus on other people.  It was a four-hour mental break.  Who wouldn’t want that?  I got to be around some of the most amazing people too.  Have you ever noticed that most people who freely give of themselves for the benefit of others are some of the nicest people you have ever met?  And don’t even get me started on the clients that came in for the food!  I really didn’t want to be around anybody outside of my own family but I loved being around the people at the food pantry.

Whether it’s volunteering at a pet shelter, women’s shelter, or whatever, doing something for someone else not only blesses the lives of others but yours as well.  Even when you feel hopeless, worthless, alone, and empty, service has a special way of reminding you that you are not.  Go ahead, put yourself out there, and serve!

You Really Should See Someone About This

You Really Should See Someone About This

During this difficult period of time, I sought the help of a conventional AND holistic doctor.  My conventional doctor prescribed me anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications while my holistic doctor treated me with sound and light therapy along with CBD oil (don’t freak out it had zero THC although, considering my feelings of absolute desperation at this time, I don’t think I would have minded if it did).  While their approach to helping me was quite different from one another, there was one thing they both suggested I do and that was to talk to a counselor.

(If you happen to be searching for a rewarding career in the field of mental health, become a licensed therapist.  There is a major deficit in this country and that is really sad considering the amount of people suffering with mental illness.  I made phone call after phone call before I connected with a counselor that would take a new patient or had an opening sooner than a month out).

After my first visit with my counselor I felt a little better.  I had to see her weekly for the first few weeks but then the amount of time in between visits slowly increased as my moments of darkness slowly became lighter for longer periods of time.  If it weren’t for her, I don’t think I would have made it to my own son’s wedding out of state.  Every time I thought about making the trip, my anxiety would get so bad I felt like I was just going to die.  I am eternally grateful for her.  Over time, and after loads of tears and tissue, she made me feel so much better.  About everything.

It just feels so good to talk to someone that will not judge you and that you know will be there for you when you need them again.  If you have a friend or a family member that you can rely on, that’s great, but there is something to be said about being trained in how to help those suffering with anxiety and depression.  They know what to say, how and when to say it, and specialize in behavioral therapy that can literally save your life.  So, please don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help.  It’s important too that you feel comfortable with your counselor.  If you don’t, don’t get discouraged and don’t settle.  Maybe you need to try someone else.  And, if you feel you can’t afford to see a professional counselor, most will work on a sliding scale especially if they are affiliated with your county’s mental health services so please check it out.  No doubt, your life is worth it.