I’ve been doing a lot self-reflecting, and talking, about the state of my mental health lately.
Often times I find myself hyper focused on the fact that I’m not “100% okay” and therefore need to classify myself as “not okay”. It makes me come across, and feel like, a much more negative person than I’d care to be. It’s not fun. What I’ve found is that we (mainly I), need to allow ourselves to have parts of ourselves that are not 100% okay, while still enjoying life and focusing on those other pieces of us. Honestly, I’d love to meet someone who isn’t struggling with something related to their mental health because then I will meet a real life unicorn.
What I have found, is that most people I do surround myself with are going through their own struggles. The difference is some people may not be as willing, or able to be, as open as I am. What I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, is that we need to set boundaries with each other about how much they are willing to take on of our own struggles (and vice versa). We need to be mindful not to bring others down by adding our own weight to what they are already carrying. What’s also important, is communication. Letting those in our lives know how much we are carrying, and how much we can take on. And also communicating that we may care, but can’t express it in the way the other may need. One thing I’ve learned recently is that many people in my life have different communication styles.
Like communication styles, everyone has different love languages. I’m realizing that in all relationships, not just romantic, it’s important to learn and understand our own love languages as well as those closest to us. I’m also realizing that it’s okay to have certain needs. I’ve always felt very selfish about having my own needs in any relationship,, but as a friend pointed out to me recently, I give and give and deserve to have that in return. Another big life lesson I’ve had to learn is that sometimes not sharing and understanding these needs do more harm than good.
I recently saw this, and it really resonated with me.
In any type of relationship, all of these make me feel safe, and understood. I’m making it a goal to learn more about my friends’ and family members’ love languages to best be there for them, and with them.
While digging deep about communication, relationships, and needs I had another realization. I’ve more-or-less always looked at myself as being broken, and not good enough to be loved. No one person has made me feel this way, and I’ve had people in my life make me feel really great. It’s me who views all my imperfections as flaws, when really, there’s so much more to me than that. Not everyone is ready or able to balance out someone like me, and that’s okay. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but, it’s okay. After looking back at years and years of relationships in various capacities, I now know that I want, and deserve, to be with someone who isn’t afraid to tell people we are together. Someone who will be there with me as I figure out life, and as they figure out theirs. To celebrate the good days, and hold my hand on the hard days. Someone to fall asleep with and wake up to. Just because I feel that I’m not perfect, doesn’t mean I don’t deserve happiness. Because, let’s be real. If I wait around until ‘I’m “fixed”, I’ll never give myself the chance to be happy.
All of this rambling really comes back to perspective. Just because there are some dark days, doesn’t mean the sun won’t shine again.
I haven’t written in a while, and due to the current shitshow of the world, felt inclined to do so.
We all have our opinions of how it is and was handled, the politics around it, and all that other stuff, but I’m not going to get into that here.
I do want to talk about dealing with quarantine and self-isolation. I live alone, and, it is exactly as it sounds… isolating.
It was hard enough when it started. Adjusting to working from home full time, not seeing friends or family. Hell, my new niece Piper was born and I have no idea when I’ll get to meet her. Not being able to go anywhere. Not to the gym, out for a drink, Target, to the coffee shop to write, to book club… you get it. No real opportunity for genuine human interaction.
All of that was taking a mental toll. I am very fortunate to have friends, family, and technology to help stay connected. I felt myself getting depressed, anxious and really down on myself. I’ve had, and will have more, times where I sat against the wall and cried. Cried out of fear, frustration, sadness, and loneliness. And, honestly, I still feel depressed and anxious. We’re about 3 weeks in and no where near the end of this.
I’ve never wanted a hug so badly.
And then when I was getting settled into those feelings, things took a turn.
If you know me at all, the universe has a sick sense of humor when it comes to my immune system and health. For whatever reason, no matter how hard I try, I get the most fucked up health issues. (I know… that’s dramatic, it could be SO MUCH worse, but this still really sucks, okay?)
About 10 days ago I got pretty sick and went downhill quickly. I had, and still have, extreme tightness in my chest and shortness of breath. I can barely walk to the bathroom without being totally winded and feeling like I ran a freaking marathon to get there (LOL it’s about 10 feet from my couch). I can’t get through a sentence without being totally out of breath and coughing every few words. Having a phone call with me is a real fun experience right now. Not to mention the chills, fever, being totally rundown and my body feels like I got hit by a bus. A tele-med appointment with the doctor led me to getting tested for covid a week ago.
If you’re wondering about the test, it was a drive-thru test. I needed a referral from my doctor and an appointment. I luckily got the first appointment of the day and it went quickly. Everyone had PPE and Medical professional #1 came to my window, I showed him my ID and he verified my info. I drove up and the 2 nurses came out and shoved 2 long q-tips very far and uncomfortably up my nose so far my eyes watered and I was wondering if it was worth it. The whole thing took about 10 minutes, but by the time I was finished there were already 40 or so cars in line. Keep in mind, this was just the beginning of the day.
Anyway…. back to the story. After the traumatic test, they tortured me a bit more and I had to wait 5 very long days for the results.
Thank goodness it came back negative!
I genuinely felt scared. And, still do, even without the ‘rona diagnosis. Not gonna lie about it. My current diagnosis still has me scared, and I think it’s okay to admit that. Breathing issues are fucking scary.
Once I got that “good” news, I had to go to the hospital (queue minor anxiety attack) to get more tests and a chest x-ray done to see why I’m feeling like shit and can’t breathe. I found out I’m positive for the flu and bad asthma. So, I guess the best case of a shitty situation? Idk. I never thought having the flu and asthma would be good but life is weird right now.
One thing I discovered is that it 100000% sucks to be living alone through this. I’d give anything to have someone here with me tucking me in, telling me it’s going to be okay and making me tea, but right now NOT sharing is caring. Like I said earlier, I’ve never wanted a hug so badly. I’m so grateful for the tribe of people checking in on me, reminding me take my temp and dropping medicine and supplies at my doorstep. It really does take a village and I’m so appreciative of mine. Every single text makes me feel less alone in this nightmare.
I’m not sharing this for sympathy, but as a reminder that no matter how careful we are all being you can still get sick. The only place I’ve been since 3/14/20 has been the grocery store, and even that has been limited and full of social distance. That’s the most human interaction I’ve had. It’s sad, but the reality. My hands are cracked and raw from washing them so much. I am relieved to finally know what is going on with my body so I can properly treat it. And let me tell you, it a’int easy being wheezy.
So friends.. stay home. I know we all want to see our friends and family. I miss people so fucking much. My cat loves me and is getting used to me (I think… or she’s letting me think that before she carries out her plan to kill me). I want to hug my mom and siblings. I want to meet my new niece and see how big the other three are getting. I want to hug my friends and have real face-to-face conversations. I really, really just want to spend some quality time outside. But if you don’t live with someone, you sadly shouldn’t be spending time with them. That’s the main point of all this social distancing. As hard as it is and as much as it sucks, that’s what we need to be doing. The less people we are around, and the less exposure we have, the less we unknowingly spread the rona, the quicker this can all be over.
I’m so lucky I “only” have the flu and asthma. People have it so much worse, and I think of them everyday.
I know I have a long road ahead, physically and mentally. And, I feel like others out there feel the same, so I want you to know you’re not alone. If there is anything I can do from a safe distance, I’m here for you. 🖤
Stay home. Wash your hands. Try and stay sane. We really are #togetherapart.
I’ve come to realize that we live in such an apologetic world. In some ways. I know there are many ways in which the world is very unapologetic.
We tend to apologize for so many things, that really, we don’t have to be sorry for. I personally need AA (Apologizers Anonymous). I say sorry for being sorry. Always have, and hopefully, always won’t. (Oh, hi there anxiety!) It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now (even in therapy, it’s that much of a conscious problem for me). After talking to friends about this, I know I’m not alone.
Sometimes, we don’t even know whywe are sorry. I feel like it’s a natural reaction to just say “Oh, I’m sorry”. For example, a lady was rude to me at Dunkin Donuts last week and I apologized to her. WHAT?! WHY?! She tried to cut in line because she felt high and mighty, she bumped me and spilled coffee on me, but I APOLOGIZED. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t have. But, I did. It happened before I could stop my mouth and I was so upset with myself for days after. (Okay, and clearly still am if I”m writing all this about it now, but it’s a good example!)
We get sick, we apologize for having to miss work or events with friends. Yes, it sucks, and we don’t want to. But, do we really have to be sorry? Do we have to feel guilty? We got sick. It happens to literally everyone. We shouldn’t feel that guilt. But, we do.
We are exhausted (physically, mentally, or emotionally) and cancel plans. We say sorry. Sorry for being tired? Or sorry for canceling? If you’re like me, it’s a mix of both but you really feel bad that you’re tired and can’t hang like you used to. Next time, just say “Hey, I apologize for cancelling on you, but tonight just isn’t going to work out”. Not, “I’m sorry I’m so exhausted from this long freaking week”. We shouldn’t be sorry for giving life our all and needing a break every now and again.
Here are some other examples of things we apologize for, and alternates (Disclaimer, I have heard these from friends and the internet, so I can’t take any credit. But, I try and keep them tucked away in my brain and call them out each time I apologize for absolutely no good reason.)
I am so sorry I’m late! Thank you for being patient and waiting for me! This can be late to work, late for meeting a friend, getting a project to your boss/teacher late.
I’m sorry for being so emotional. Thank you for being so accepting of me and helpful. We ALL have emotions. Some of us show them more than others. One thing I’ve been apologizing for a lot since losing my dad has been for my emotions. Hard days, days where I just need to sit and cry. I always apologize. But, there’s no need. Sometimes we just need a friend’s shoulder to cry on. And, we don’t need to be sorry for it.
Sorry for fucking up again. Thanks for being there to help me clean this mess up! And for not giving up on me! If you’ve never made a mistake in your life, please message me and let me in on your secrets. If not, we’ve all been there and instead of apologizing, help a sista out.
Sorry for being so needy. Thank you for being a friend. A true friend will be there. And you’ll be there for them. It’s life, and friendship. If you have to apologize to make it right, then maybeeeeeee they aren’t as good a friend as you thought?
Sorry for talking your ear off! Thank you for listening! Again, we ALL need to vent. Does it really help? Scientifically? Not sure. I’m not a scientist. But, what I do know is that good bitching session does help me not want to kill someone!
Sorry that my house/desk/space is so messy! Thanks for being understanding of my organized chaos! Mess happens. Life goes on. For me, when my mental health isn’t great (which is pretty frequent lately, and I’m working on it), my physical space represents that. I know I’ll feel better when I clean/organize, but it’s so hard to do when the depression is creeping up. So, don’t judge someone’s mess as them being a “slob”. It could be more than that.
I’m sorry that you’re angry/upset. I am sorry you feel that way. I am sorry that I did “XXXXX” to cause you to feel that/you went through that experience. If you cause someone pain, don’t just say “sorry”. Apologize for what you may have done to cause their pain. If you’re sorry that something else happened, then that’s different. Be sorry that they went through that, not just that they are feeling that way.
Sorry for being me. No response for that one. Never apologize for liking the things you like, or doing the things you do (first hand experience on this one, it doesn’t help you, and doesn’t help the person you’re apologizing to). Unless you are legitimately doing something terrible. But that’s a whole other conversation.
So, basically, moral of the story here, is to try and figure out why you are sorry. It’s such an easy word to say, but means more when we understand why we are sorry. And, to stop apologizing for things that we really don’t have to feel sorry about.
Next time I apologize to any of you for no good reason, you have full permission to call me out on my shit.
Over the past 13 years since being officially “diagnosed” with fibromyalgia, I’ve been open to trying pretty much anything for some relief. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about float tank therapy to help with fibro, among many other things, and have been curious about it. So, when a good friend of mine found a Groupon deal for them at Stillpoint Yoga and Float, I was excited, interested and a little nervous.
We finally gave it a try today, and here is my experience!
What is float tank therapy?
Float tank therapy is where you lay in a bathtub-like pool either in your birthday suit or your bathing suit, whichever you feel most comfortable in. (Don’t worry, it’s a 100% private room) You do exactly what it’s called – you literally relax and float in a tub filled with about 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt and water. Think about when you’re in the ocean and buoyant. It’s like that, but super concentrated and powerful. All of the research I’ve done (and now, personal experience) shows that anyone, no matter shape or size, is capable of floating. The water is set to the temperature of your skin, so it’s not supposed to feel hot or cold. It was comfortable, but toward the end it started to feel hot, as if I was in a sauna. It also is said to work best with total sensory deprivation, which definitely made me nervous. I feel like I’m way too anxious to be left alone in total darkness and silence with just my thoughts. But, since the experience is all about you and what you prefer, you have options to have soft lighting or no lighting, and music (spa music or you own) or silence. There are also ear plugs available to help keep sound, and water, out of your ears. Note to self – use the ear plugs next time
Are there any benefits other than fibromyalgia relief?
YES! So many benefits. Here are some of the other benefits listed on the website:
Eliminate addictive behaviors
Alleviate physical pain
Lower blood pressure
Relieve PMS symptoms
Improve sleep quality
Since there is significant magnesium absorption, it can also help prevent cardiovascular disease and create healthier bones and teeth.
As I was reading this I was checking off almost all of the reasons I’d want to try it. Fibromyalgia? Duh. Anxiety? Yes. Depression? Yes. Increased energy and improved sleep quality? HELL YES.
**I feel like I need to say, that I am clearly not a doctor of expert of any kind, so this is all based off my research. Also, as great as this can be, it’s not a miracle box and to see long term and lasting results, you need to go more than once. Everyone will have different results and with most things in life, nothing is guaranteed.
What are the rooms like?
Don’t let the fact that they are located in a business park throw you off. As soon as you walk in the doors, you are transported into a spa-like atmosphere. It’s clean and beautiful with essential oils diffusing and soft music playing which will instantly make you feel welcome and relaxed. If it is your first float, or first float there, they will give you a full tour to make sure you feel comfortable and ready for your experience.
The float rooms each have their own name and little decorations to make them unique, but the tanks are all the same. You walk in and there is a large bench, shelf, and little amenities to make it personal and comfortable. There’s also a sign with the overall guidelines and tips and a basket with a mirror, ear plugs, makeup remover and petroleum jelly to put on any little cuts or scrapes you have. (Definitely do this recommendation. You really can feel even a paper-cut.)
Before you float, you use the provided shampoo and body wash to get any dirt, deodorant, etc. off of your body so that you don’t contaminate the pool and so that you get the maximum results. After the float, you shower again to get all the salt water off but can bring your own toiletries if you prefer. The shower is right outside the float tank, so it’s so easy to get in and out.
Also in the float tank is a halo pillow you can use to help support your head and neck, which I did end up using. There is also a spray bottle with clean water and a towel, so that if you get salt water on your face or in your eyes, you can easily wipe it off.
Howdid it go?
I went into this experience with the least amount of expectations possible. Everything I read seemed positive but I didn’t want to give myself false hope.
When I first got in it was a weird feeling. I laid down and took a few minutes to get settled. I started with the light and music on, and ended up turning them off. I wanted to try and go for full sensory deprivation. It took me a long time to feel like I could settle my mind. Like I mentioned before, I am an anxious person and being left alone in silence with just my thoughts went exactly how I expected it to. I was thinking about life in general, this experience, how my friend was doing in her’s, and then anxious that I was too anxious and not enjoying it enough. After a little while more, I felt my body start to relax a bit. My arms, legs and back all felt like the tension was leaving and it was a feeling I haven’t experienced in a LONG time. I had issues getting my neck, head and shoulders to relax but I tried not to focus too much on that. Those areas hold most of my pain and trigger points, so I’m not surprised that I couldn’t really let that go on the first try. I don’t know if I fully fell asleep, but I did catch myself lightly snoring a bit (so attractive, I know) and doing that thing where your arm or leg twitches as you are falling asleep. Research shows that an hour of sleep in a float tank is equivalent to about 6-8 hours of normal sleep. I’d love just a fraction of that.
From an anxiety and mental health perspective I definitely got in some good thinking and soul searching. I left not feeling overwhelmed or anxious, and have an improved outlook on things from the time I spent really thinking about things.
Overall, it went well. If nothing else it was an hour totally unplugged from all outside distractions. It was relaxing (eventually) and I did notice an improvement in my fibromyalgia symptoms. I felt a bit rested, but also tired, as if I spent a whole day in the sun.
I definitely would benefit from doing it again. Next time I will know a bit more what to expect so I won’t be as anxious and will be able to get into the relaxation phase sooner. I also feel like the more you do this, the better the results. I may also do a 90 minute float next time go give myself a little cushion of time in case I am feeling anxious and have trouble settling in again.
If you have any questions or want to try it for yourself (and are in the greater Philadelphia area) definitely check out Stillpoint Yoga and Float. They can answer any questions you have and get you setup with a session. Tell them I sent you!
This is all based off my personal, f*cked up relationship with myself and my anxiety.
You text someone, and it’s a little too long before you get
a text back. You don’t see those 3 little dots pop up showing they are texting you
back. Or, worse. You see the dots, and then they stop and disappear. Or, even
worse than that…. they left you on Read. (Shout out to Apple for really helping
those with anxiety.)
Then the panic sets in. That awful feeling in the pit of
your stomach, and the racing thoughts.
“What did I do wrong”. “They aren’t interested in me anymore”.
“They are mad at me”. “They found someone better”.
You see them on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, so you
know they have their phone… but they aren’t answering your text. Or initiating
a text. Or making you the center of their universe.
Speaking of Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. If someone doesn’t like our post or watch our story, that sends us into a spiral. The same type of questions. The same doubt. I recently learned to let go of that. It’s not easy, but it’s freeing. It’s only social media. It’s not that serious. But I found (okay, still am finding) myself getting upset and hurt that key people in my life aren’t “liking” things I post. Even writing this seems so dumb. But, I know it’s not just me. We look to see who watched our story. We check to see all the likes. It’s a weird form of validation that we seem to need, and it’s time to let that go.
You ask someone to hang out, grab dinner, or a drink. They
say “Not tonight”. Again. The same panic. They’re over you. Done. This is it.
You get mad at them, they get mad at you, you break up, and
your life is over.
But, NONE OF IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
We all do it, making up scenarios in our heads, and always, always going to worst case scenario. Always assuming someone is mad, disinterested, ghosting us, etc.. This goes for all types of relationships – family, friends, dating, co-workers. Even people we don’t know very well, or at all. We make assumptions and we all know what assuming does….
I’m not an expert or professional of any kind, but, from my
personal experience I can tell you that your anxiety is a liar.
They didn’t text you back right away? They are probably busy. Sure, it seems like we always have our phones glued to us, but people do have lives and things to do that don’t involve instantly texting back.
They don’t want to hang out tonight? They could be busy, have
other plans, or just want a night in, alone. I’m very introverted, and there
are plenty of nights I don’t want to go out because I just want to be in by
myself. If I feel like that, I’m sure other people do too.
I know that I have probably messed up friendships and possible romantic relationships from doing this. Becoming over clingy to avoid that feeling of distance. Becoming crazy and asking questions and assuming. Letting the made up, f*cked up story in my head get the best, or really worst, of me. It’s such a hard habit to break. From going to making a story in our heads, to taking a step back, and looking at things rationally. I feel like over the past year I’ve come a long way in this. Don’t get me wrong. I still make up the scenarios. But I’m finding that after a little bit of panic I’m able to take a step back, take a deep breath and realize that I’m probably 100% wrong in my worry. And, I usually am. The few times I am right, it’s a different type of feeling. It’s my gut. I need to learn to differentiate between anxiety and my gut, and to only listen to my gut. I am learning and working on looking at things rationally and logically. And, if for some reason someone isn’t happy with me, or interested in me, then that’s okay too. Life has, and will, go on. Worrying and stressing about it won’t help anything.
I told you, anxiety is a bitch. It causes me to over-analyze too many situations, especially relationships. Again, not just dating, but all types of relationships in my life. Some stressed me out more than others. Some were more one sided than others. If any type of relationship is causing that much anxiety, is it really worth it? I’ve learned it’s not and as painful as it is, to let some of those relationships go.
Anxiety is more than the made-up scenarios. It’s constant worry. Constant stress. About EVERYTHING. Relationships, health, money, society, the weather, global warming, the terrible Phillies season, will the Eagles win the Super Bowl again? Stress ends. You complete the task that had you worried, and poof! It’s gone. Anxiety is still there. The task is done, but what about what comes after? You find something new in the situation that causes you to still be concerned about. It’s exhausting.
A few things I’ve found that help when my anxiety is telling me a f*cked up story:
Take a deep breath.
Focus on 3 tangible things you have in your life.
Take out a piece of paper, and write out the situation. Seeing it and having to write it will help you realize it’s probably not true.
Text a friend. Tell them your crazy situation and they will be able to talk you off the ledge and bring you back to reality.