Dear God, or whatever:

It’s me, and I’m still pissed. Hell, after everything, I’m not quite certain you even exist. Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking… even did a lot of research, meditating, and soul searching, and my theory is that you aren’t so much a He or even a being at all. Tons of people believe in something; some higher power to save us all, give us hope, tell us the meaning of life, and love us unconditionally. You may go by different names such as: God, Buddha, Allah, or maybe even The Force! Well, I’m coming to the conclusion that you’re essentially energy (for lack of a better term) of formidable powerful and way more complex than what our creative brains could ever comprehend, or try to make sense of. An energy that we can even sometimes feel, like a presence. I’ve felt that presence more than once before, and it was truly incredible. For a moment, it was like everything was okay, it was peaceful and oddly comforting and for that moment, I was hopeful and I believed everything would be okay. But, it wasn’t, and I wasn’t.

You allowed horrible things to happen to my family, particularly to my dad, which the repercussions continued all throughout my childhood and teenage years. It affected us all very differently then and still does even to this day. A stupid bicycle accident, and lives were ruined, before they even started. We were all good people, we went to church, we prayed, we did everything right, but nothing changed. The seizures got progressively worse as I got a little older. They happened so frequently to my dad, that it quickly became a big part of my life; it became my normal.

“Your father had another grand mal seizure while driving and hit a bus. I’m going to the E.R. with him,” my mom told tell me on the phone in the school office.

“Okay, I’ll just go to my friend April’s house after school. See you all at home later or when you pick me up later tonight.”

That’s basically the conversation summed up. In one ear and out the other. No feelings, no worry, no stress, no pain, no emotions; nothing. That’s how I got through it, time and time again. Details would change, like what was happening when it happened, where he was, which bones he broke or dislocated and the location of numerous new bruises. The important part was that he would always come home and I would see him again. I had no clue how all of this was impacting me, and how it would continue to affect me through my adult years.

Over two decades later, at a special place for people who struggle, my psychotherapist introduced me to a new term: dissociation. What a powerful and useful coping mechanism for dealing with long-term trauma! If you’re not familiar with the term, dissociation for me was like I was detached from myself, my family, and my emotions. Severe memory loss, which I still suffer from as well as my inability to cope well with professional or emotional stress. The memory loss is super fun! Like when randomly out of thin air, I can’t remember my best friend’s name, a close relative’s name, or something I was told not two seconds prior, especially when they say, “What do you mean you don’t remember?! We were just talking about it.” I’ve just started telling people to just call me Dory so they don’t press it any further.

My world was a mess; it was like hell on some days and like a slow burn on most of the others. I hated being home most of the time, particularly as I started to learn how unnormal my family was. Even on “normal” days, everyone’s stress levels were constantly at the tipping point. There was no one to talk to about any of it and eventually I became deeply angry and severely depressed. I didn’t even know what depression was or that I was depressed until much later on in life.

What I needed more than anything was for someone to hug me, like really hug me, and tell me everything will be okay, and that I am safe and loved. But that didn’t happen, or if it did, the memory has been completely blocked. I needed this more and more as time passed. My mom was so busy taking care of my dad, keeping a roof over our heads, and just trying to get through each day. Looking back now, I don’t know how she did it all and how she managed dealing with everything on her own. She is one of the strongest people I know. I also think the dissociation became very strong in her. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen her cry, not even at her sister’s funeral. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions were simply not something that was talked about, or even really existed in our house. We went along pretending that life was normal, but it wasn’t, and I knew it all too well. If I felt anything it was alone and empty; I’ve become good friends with them both over the years. I guess it kept me from completely falling apart.

I remember going to the counselor’s office pretty frequently throughout elementary school. I looked forward to these visits; it was the only time I truly felt safe, special, happy and peaceful. She was the nicest person I had ever met. Often I would pick a board game and we’d just play for as long as I could. Sometimes she would ask me questions, questions that made me deeply uncomfortable and anxious, questions I wanted to avoid. Perhaps part of that was because I just didn’t know and had no self awareness whatsoever. I didn’t know how I felt, I didn’t even really know or understand what feelings were anyways. Sometimes though, we would just sit there and play, like two friends; candyland will always have a special place in my heart.

When I started dating, my walls became weak. All I wanted was to feel cared for, safe, and loved. And when I got that, I fell head over heels… my hero. Years later, my high school sweetheart and hero came to my house, and told me he couldn’t be in a serious relationship anymore, and that he was moving to Ohio. It broke me. I still remember the days, weeks and months after like it was yesterday. I experienced my first panic attack during this time. The depression hit me harder than ever. I stopped eating and became anorexic for a period. I physically could not be around food without feeling sick. I eventually was fired from my job. I was lost and more alone than ever.

Church was a nice escape for me. It was free and fun and I finally felt like I belonged. I desperately wanted just a little bit of normal in my life and to get out of the hell house. I constantly prayed for my dad, my mom, and my brother. Every night, I prayed for things to get better, for my dad to get better, for us to just be a normal family. I prayed for strength, for guidance, for help, for change. It never came.

Do you want to hear a deep, dark secret I’ve never told anyone before?

I thought about death a lot; how long would it take for someone to even notice, would anyone even care or miss me, would it make things easier for my mom if she didn’t have to deal with me and my outbursts of anger? Would the pain finally go away? I wondered if you allowed people who take their own life through those pearly gates. I doubted it, the South was full of both very conservative and very judgemental Christians and that’s just the way things were. Ironic huh? Judgemental Christians. Ha! What a small world I lived in.

I constantly thought about killing myself too. I thought about slitting my wrists and bleeding out in a tub, like you see on tv, but the thought of all the blood made me queasy. So instead, I decided to take a bottle of pills and hoped for the sweet release of death to take me swiftly, but it didn’t. It wouldn’t be the last time either. Over the years, I decided I wanted to go by train, just staring into the light, almost like the light at the end of the tunnel, poetic almost, and then it’s all over. Finally free. Lucky or maybe unlucky for me, I never told a soul and not a soul ever found out. Maybe things would’ve been better if they had… maybe I would’ve gotten some real help, or maybe I would’ve just been the crazy girl who couldn’t even kill herself and ended up in the loony bin. I wanted help, I needed help. I needed someone to see my cries for help, someone to care, someone to actually notice how much pain I was really in. Someone who saw me for what I was, which was nothing. I never shared this either.

I buried myself in writing and in music. It kept me sane. I read a lot. I wrote constantly. I journaled, wrote short stories, poems, and even songs which were mostly about death, rejection and pain. High school band got me out of the house and away from the craziness. I was good too. When I didn’t have after school practices, I usually stayed later to play around on the marimba (you’re awesome if you know what that is! If not, you should look it up). I’d be there for hours just playing around and practicing. I would get lost in the music. It was a beautiful thing.

It was so helpful and important that I had a creative outlet I could throw myself into, and a way to feel and express deeply repressed emotions in safe doses and in a beautiful way. Singing was also a way to do this. I’ve always loved to sing; only was two best friends knew this about me then and only a few people know that now. Music cuts through all of your walls and all the bullshit and you are left raw and vulnerable. The beautiful thing is that who you really are and how you truly feel is finally revealed.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” -Hans Christian Anderson

Why do bad things happen to good people? I’m sure people ask you this all the time. I still haven’t figured that one out. All I know is throughout my whole life, I’ve believed and put all of my hope and faith into this almighty, powerful, and supposedly loving and forgiving God. Every time I was at a breaking point, at my lowest and in desperate need of just the slightest glimmer of hope, it never came. I was alone, just like I’ve always been. But for some reason, I kept praying, unsure if I was just talking to myself or if indeed there was some higher being watching over me.

As human beings, we constantly push ourselves too hard, striving for perfection; to be who we were told to be, do what we were told to do, and believe everything we were made to believe. Well, let me ask you this: how many of your beliefs can you honestly say are 100% your own, without anyone else’s opinion or influence? I was taught to believe in God from a very young age; I basically grew up in a church. Sunday school, youth group, bible study, potlucks, fundraisers, and even a mission trip to Germany. I was told what to believe and expected to do so and live my life according to other people’s beliefs, never having room for my own. Now I do. Now I know better than that.

Okay, here we go…

Dear God, or whatever,

Where do I even begin? Where were you when I needed you most? My faith in you has withered away over the years and is pretty much non-existent at this point, but feel free to change that at any time.

Why me? Why my family? I sometimes wonder how things would be different had that accident never happened. I’m starting to see different interests, hobbies, and personality traits I get from my dad, and I can honestly say I’m proud of that now. I use to be so ashamed and embarrassed of my family. How people stared and had these judgemental looks on their faces. Or when we were out in public and he had a seizure. Then the ambulance and all the people would come and there was an audience just watching. And me, I don’t even know where I was or what I was doing, let alone feeling. I can’t remember what it felt like either. I just know that now, after so much time has gone by, I just want to feel safe, loved, and cared for and to never lose that feeling.

Maybe you have some grand plan to turn my pain into my purpose. Maybe you see something I don’t, or something in me I don’t. Maybe I’m just wasting my time and my energy wishing for something that doesn’t exist. Cause if you did, why couldn’t you at least give me a little piece of happiness, a shred of hope, someone constant that was there for me that I could reach out to and they’d actually be there for me? I didn’t think that was asking too much, but what do I know about that… Well, here’s my last request: to fully heal, inside and out; To live a life full of joy, purpose, excitement, hope, love, and peace. To leave stress, fear, grief, anger, resentment, and uncertainty behind and to step into my true self, and to get an even better idea of what that looks like for me. If nothing else, this is a letter to myself, but I’ll keep a lookout for signs, for hints, direction and guidance. I’ll let go of my fear and uncertainty and just jump. It may not be because of you, but I somehow know that through action, trial and error and faith that this can’t be it, that there is something much bigger and better out there for me. I just have to figure that out and get a clearer picture of it and never stop working towards it and never give up no matter how hard it gets. If nothing else, I’ve learned I can handle extreme levels of torment, torture and turmoil. I’ve survived somehow through it all; I’m still here through it all. That’s gotta mean something right?

Still seeking answers,

Laura

To my incredible readers:

I want to remind you as well, that YOU are still here too! You are still here for a reason, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Think on that for a second and be grateful for the precious life you’ve been given. You have something in you the world needs. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, to try something new, don’t be afraid of the challenges that help turn you into who you want to become. No one has the answers for you, but perhaps the answers have been within you all along. I have faith in you and in your ability to keep fighting and make a difference. The most important thing is to have faith in yourself.

Peace and love,

Laura

Suicide is serious and should never be taken lightly. It may feel like the only way to find peace and for the pain to stop, but it’s not. It’s selfish and the cowards way out. You do more damage and cause more pain than you could possibly imagine. Think for a minute about those closest to you: family, friends, even pets. Suicide has a devastating effect on everyone around you, especially those that love and care about you as. There is always someone who cares, you just may not know it yet and there is always a solution, you just may not see it yet. Sometimes we just need a different perspective or to know that you are not alone and that so many people share similar feelings. Talk to someone you trust or to someone from one of the resources provided below. Even just having someone else tell you it’s going to be okay, that you’re going to be okay, can make all the difference.

If You Or Someone you Know is in Crisis: Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1–800–273–TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1–800–799–4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the NSPL’s website. The Crisis Text Line is another resource available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Text “HOME” to 741741.

Looking for a mental health provider in your area?
For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline
at 1–800–662–HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its
website that can be searched by location.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.

In 2017 47,173 Americans died by suicide.

In 2017, there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts.

Statistics are from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Click to learn more.

What Are the Warning Signs of Suicide?

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Planning or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or newly acquiring potentially lethal items (e.g., firearms, ropes)
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

These resources are from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).

Confessions from My Couch

Confession: I haven’t been productive at all really for a few months now. Why? Sometimes I tell myself I’m lazy, I don’t have the energy, drive or motivation, which are all true to some extent, but the real answer is simple: I’ve been depressed. To be completely honest and fair I’m always struggling with depression to some degree, but lately, I have been a bit moreso. I’m not moping around feeling sorry for myself, self-harming, or having over-the-top emotional breakdowns or anything like that, but I have been sleeping excessively and have been waking up in the middle of the night or had more trouble falling asleep than I was just a few months ago. I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning to start my day, mainly because:

a) I’m still tired

or

b) I have absolutely no reason or motivation to get up and no real reason to want to start my day

Both of which do make me sound super lazy, I’ll admit. Even on days when I do manage to get up and going, maybe make a decent breakfast or accomplish something productive, I find myself exhausted by the afternoon. I wish there was some magic pill or something to give me back some energy, hope, and motivation to do stuff again. Ugh.

I still think about the things I could be doing, want to be doing, or need to be doing, but can’t seem to get myself to do them. Like job hunting or writing cover letters to apply for jobs. I can’t go back to what I was doing before, and honestly, that awful experience has me wanting to change careers entirely, which also leaves me feeling stuck. I’m not exactly sure where to go, or even where to begin. My previous job wasn’t bad. In fact, most people would be overjoyed to have that job. I worked as a Conservation Technician for the city. It was kind of a glorified park ranger/trail technician/maintenance position for some of the city parks, and it was my second season doing it. Granted, I got my degree 6 years ago, and have only had one job in my career field that was permanent and/or offered insurance, and the pay was barely enough, and sometimes not even that, to get by. All of the other positions were seasonal, and I would find myself out of work and starting the job hunt all over again. I’ve been job hopping for 6 years now, with an awesome degree from a great university, yet still needing medicaid just to make it, sometimes applying for food stamps when my job ends, and constantly stressed about money or what or where my next job will be. I turned 30 this year, which was a big wake up call that I can’t keep doing this. In this outdoorsy career field, I’ve been told by about everyone you have to do your time in the seasonal positions, often 5 years or more depending on where you want to work to find a permanent position; this is considered normal in today’s society. We go through high school, told we need to go to college to be successful. So, you do; you work your butt off thinking it can’t get any worse than this… that once you graduate, you’ll land your career job, make great money, have more free time and can finally have a life again. Maybe you’ll meet your soulmate in college or shortly after and settle down; get married, buy the house and the car with those fabulous butt warmers and maybe even a sunroof!!! Then you’ll make some pretty babies and get a nanny so you can vacation at fancy villas in Italy or have a romantic getaway to Paris….. *sigh*

The Victim Mentality

There is a time and a place for everything, including “the victim mentality.” Think back to a really difficult period in your life, when you felt stuck, hurt, or couldn’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When it felt like every step forward you fought to take, something happened and you fell three steps back.

Why does this stuff always happen to me? A parking ticket!? Just my luck. A canceled date… guess he got a better option? A solid prospect you met and were really excited about… who then completely ghosted you. WTF?!! A solid rejection… ahh, yes, rejection. Rejections can hit hard, and if you let it, can push you three steps back. When you’re already doubting yourself, have low confidence and self-esteem, and are feeling beat down, it’s really hard to see things for what they are, learn from mistakes, understand the lesson, and continue on. You may feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, then to add insult to injury, you get another rejection or some bad news that you were really counting on and hoping or even needing to go the other way. In the blink of an eye, the last bit of hope you had mustered up vanishes. The hurt and sorrow engulfs you again and you sink lower into your own personal pit of despair…. rock bottom. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse… they do. Let’s be honest here, you are now one with the rock! Lo and behold: the victim mentality begins. Woe is me! Why me?

https://giphy.com/embed/4dCvo2VA9C5Ak

via GIPHY

If you’re anything like me, a long-term sufferer of major depression, you may find comfort within your dark fortress of solitude. The darkness is soothing, the loneliness is familiar, the quiet is welcomed, and the pain and mental anguish, well it’s basically another Monday morning for you.

When you retreat into this place, you let go of hope, push away people that care about you (even though you tell yourself no one cares about you), and your thinking turns into a complete victim mentality. You’re basically brainwashing yourself. You latch onto negative thinking patterns and tend to believe the worst about yourself and others. Your self talk is seriously depressing, and everyone else? They can’t even imagine how hard it is for you. They wouldn’t understand. Adulting is hard, feelings are hard, relationships with family, friends, or romantic in nature are all really hard! All these other people have it way easier. Life would be way better and easier to deal with if I had ____, if (insert person) would ______, or if I wasn’t or didn’t have ______ to deal with.

“The victim mindset will have you dancing with the devil, then complaining that you’re in hell.” -Steve Maraboli

The victim mentality is a very tricky thing. So, let’s break it down a bit:

According to good ol’ Webster, it is defined as: the belief that one is always a victim the idea that bad things will always happen to one

To be clear, there is a significant distinction between a) someone with a victim mentality and b) someone who has actually been through real trauma or experienced a traumatic life event. A person with a victim mindset goes through life with an attitude and outlook of: “it’s-not-my-fault, the-world-is-conspiring-against-me, and “nothing-and-noone-can-help-me” type. They act like they are helpless, powerless, and destined to live a life of misery and there’s nothing they or anyone else can do to change that. They constantly whine and complain about their circumstances, but do little if anything to change it. They avoid responsibility for their actions or lack thereof, as well as the results of them in their life. You will notice a pattern of excuse giving everytime you offer a potential solution or help to their predicament. My favorite is “Yes, but…” and then they come up with various reasons (excuses) why such and such won’t work or help, or at least not for them, because they don’t have _____ or ______ like those other people do. I’m sure you know the type, or maybe you are that person. The big kicker here is awareness and the desire to actually do something about it! 

Change begins by becoming aware of yourself; how you present yourself, your words and actions and how others may interpret them, and taking responsibility for all of it. Journaling, meditation, yoga, spending time in nature and just actively being fully present in each moment and in everything that you do, are all good ways to practice becoming more self-aware.

Here are a few exercises to work on being present and aware:

-When you eat, get rid of distractions like tv and your phone or computer. Sit down and take time to fully enjoy your meal. Savor each bite rather than gobbling it down. Notice the flavors, spices, aromas, temperature, and texture of your food. Feel gratitude for even having such a hearty and delicious meal and for the abundance of food we are privileged with here.

-If you’re feeling disconnected or anxious, take a time out. Close your eyes and take several long deep breaths; in for 4 out for 6. Focus on your breath. Notice how the air feels as it goes in and as it fills up your lungs. Notice the temperature and how it changes as the air leaves your body. Notice how the breath is connected to your body and mind; how it relaxes your muscles and calms you down.

-You can also practice this simple exercise when you’re feeling upset or anxious that will help you get centered, grounded and present. Wherever you are at, name one thing you notice around you for each of your 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch). For example: I smell the crisp, fresh air, with a hint of a fireplace burning in the distance or the prickly touch, yet smooth texture of blades of grass beneath your feet. Go for 2 of each if you’re feeling extra anxious or just ambitious!

Let’s go back a bit and touch some on victim mentality when it comes to people who have actually suffered some type of trauma. Every situation is different, of course, but chances are they were a victim or were even victimized. Some examples include: being bullied, robbed, assaulted, or being in a toxic relationship with someone who is abusive. There is a time and place for a victim mentality, and any of these examples would indeed make you a victim. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes they happen to people who’ve done bad things; call it karma, if you’d like. It’s okay and perfectly warranted to acknowledge that you were indeed a victim. It can even be freeing to be able to admit that, especially if you tend to blame yourself for things that happened. It definitely helped me to stop blaming myself and going over the would’ve, could’ve and should haves over and over, just beating myself up. It got me nowhere. Many years ago, I was in a toxic relationship with a sociopathic narcissist. He was cruel, manipulative and abusive, and I was his victim. He had everyone around him fooled with this completely fake façade of someone that just didn’t exist. Maybe narcissists think of themselves as actually being the front they put on and somehow rationalize or ignore what they do behind closed doors when the rest of the world can’t see them. He would say untrue things to everyone behind my back so they couldn’t see what was really happening. Like if he told his family and friends I was an alcoholic (which I never was), then maybe people wouldn’t question the bruises or even ask if I was okay when I was crying. He was the victim here, and I was the bad one. That’s the game they play. Poor me! Pay attention to me, so you don’t uncover my lies and see through my bullshit. When in reality, you are the one being victimized, and you may not even know it or even believe it if someone told you! 

People never talk about how real, devastating and destructive mental abuse can be. A narcissist’s or any abuser’s playground is your mind, your sanity, your confidence and self-esteem, your peace, and joy- and wreaking havoc on it. That’s how he or she feels alive, by feeding off your energy, until there’s nothing left, then they move on to their next victim. Then cycle repeats. It’s sick and pathetic, yes. Let’s not forget narcissism is considered a real personality disorder, just like any other one, but the difference is they are too proud to ever admit something may be wrong with them or to ask for help. It’s taken me many years to learn that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of great strength. It can be so hard to ask for help, especially when you are hurting. You risk rejection and there’s something very vulnerable about needing help or even just asking for it, and that in and of itself, is terrifying. The easier thing to do would be nothing; don’t ask for anything, don’t say anything and instead just suffer in silence. That always turns out well… am I right?

So, there are some circumstances that are appropriate for a victim mentality, but don’t believe for a second that just because you were a victim, that you still are and will continue to be. I’m sure you learned something from the experience and grew as a person (I sure hope you did or it’s quite likely to continue to happen to you again and again). You can choose to continue playing the victim as you go through life, having people feel sorry for you, but you always have a choice, and it’s not always black and white. It is a transition to make, and you have to start changing the way you think about things and approach situations, but you can decide right now that you are instead a survivor and you will no longer be anyone’s victim ever again! Same goes for those who live in the victim mentality; those we mentioned before that think the world owes them something. I’ll be the bearer of bad news : it doesn’t! No one does, and the world doesn’t revolve around you and your problems. and the sooner you swallow that big pill and stop making excuses for everything and get to work, take action, and start making changes, the better off you’ll be unless you are perfectly content where you are, and can be completely honest with yourself in that (doubtful). Yes, bad things happen, coffee gets spilt, things get broken, and accidents happen. These are called challenges and they come to test you, to see if you’re ready to level up, so to speak. Life’s challenges and hardships teach us valuable lessons necessary to continue on your path without getting eaten alive. So instead of letting that next rejection beat you down, think of it as a redirection (rejection=redirection)! Instead of making excuses, (like that fireball came out of nowhere!!) use your brain (DUCK)! Be proactive and be resourceful, that’s the only difference between those who succeed and those who do not, that, and their lack excuses. You got this! Now go forth and make some magic!

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Writer’s block: when you have so many thoughts, ideas, and emotions to express and no clue where to start or how to organize them.

Well, at least that’s my definition of writer’s block. I found I’ve been battling with that quite a bit over the past month or so. I started strong with my new blog and I had a lot of hopes for it, and I still do. My goal was to continuously be publishing new posts and new content. From the beginning, I had so many topics I wanted to talk about, as well as ideas and thoughts to share. I even wrote an outline of everything I’ve struggled with and had experience with that I wanted to cover. Instead, I find myself constantly thinking, “You should be writing.” That terrible word, should, I know better now than to think that way and how using certain words can trick your brain into thinking differently. For example: instead of using should, and feeling that heavy obligation of thinking I need to do something, and then kicking myself for not doing it, or even just the negative power should subconsciously has over my motivation. It somehow takes away all motivation I once had, or it takes away the ability to creatively think or be in the right headspace necessary to be productive at all. Instead, I replace the word should, with could. Then all of a sudden, I have a choice in the matter, and this heavy weight has been lifted. I don’t beat myself up for not doing it because I could do it rather than should. See the difference? The obligation fades and gives you back the control. I no longer feel worthless, lazy, or unproductive or feel like I need to put myself down for not doing something. I told myself while I was laying in bed, “You could continue laying here, tossing and turning, while random worrisome thoughts race through your mind, or you could get up and get them out while they are fresh on your mind. Lately, when my thoughts were racing or when I would get a creative ah-ha moment while lying in bed, listening to a podcast, or even reading someone else’s blog, more often than not, I would let it just pass me by. Sometimes I’d write some notes down for a different day, but it’s never the same trying to go back to it. So, I have all these different drafts I’ve been working on, and haven’t published even one yet. Mostly because they aren’t complete, and being the perfectionist I am, I only want to put my best and complete work out into the world. Perhaps my habit of procrastination has slowly led to this so called writer’s block. Maybe some of you other writers have struggled with this. What are your thoughts on the matter and how have you overcome writer’s block?

There were several times this week where something upsetting happened and I wanted to use writing to express myself to release the feelings that had been stirred up, whether I posted it or not. For whatever reason though, I couldn’t get the words to come or flow. I just sat here feeling frustrated, fuming, sad, hurt and lonely over various things that happened or words that were said. I was trying my best not to let these feelings and the accompanying thoughts get to me because I know all too well how that ends, and I’m doing my best to avoid a downward spiral to depressionville. That’s why I so desperately needed my creative and expressive outlet to be functioning properly. Through writing, I can somehow turn my past or even present hurts into something beautiful, that others can relate to, or even something that could inspire hope; writing also helps me organize my thoughts and simply make sense of them which helps cease the racing thoughts and anxieties of my mind. 

So, how am I finally breaking my streak and getting words on the page? Well, it was 4:30 A.M. and my mind refused to slow down or turn off. I was tossing and turning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got out of bed and pulled out my computer. Instead of pulling up the numerous unfinished posts and staring at them like I had been doing, I opened a new one, and instead of trying to write about all the things I’ve been wanting to all this time, I just started writing about what’s actually going on in my mind at that moment, and finally, the words came. What a wonderful feeling that is!

What Your Anxiety & Chronic Pain Are Trying To Tell You

Anyone who deals with chronic anxiety knows how crippling it can be and how much it can affect your day to day life. If you are struggling with anxiety, you may be desperately searching for something, anything, to dull the senses.

The human body is an incredible thing. It gives us signs and signals when something isn’t right whether mentally or physically, in the form of symptoms. You may develop a cold if you’ve been overworking yourself or not taking the time to properly care for yourself. It’s your body’s way of telling you to take a break. Anxiety is a physical response to an emotional pain that stems from fear. Our emotions have a deep connection to the body. Often when difficult emotions arise, if we are unable to process them, they can get stored in the body. I’ve noticed mine come in the form of extremely tight muscles that have contorted my body. I also notice my buried emotions come in the shape of large, deep knots, daily pain all throughout my body (particularly the back and neck) and a significant decrease in my range of motion. No two people are the same, so your body may store emotions and show symptoms differently. The key here is awareness.

Physically, I’ve found a few ways to release some of the emotions stored within the body. My personal favorite, because it can provide instant relief, is called dry needling. It’s very similar to acupuncture, with the main difference being that dry needling is more science based whereas acupuncture is more spiritual. So rather than targeting stuck chakras and things like that, they target the heart of your pain, which is called the trigger point. When they correctly hit the trigger point, you feel the area tighten, then release. I like to call these twinges. If the spot is particularly deep, old, or tight, when the muscle contracts, it may even bend the needle (which I find fascinating)! Yes, I said needle, but let me try to ease your mind before you freak out. They are more like little pins, just like the acupuncture ones. Personally, I’m not a fan of needles; I tried acupuncture before and didn’t like it. Dry needling can change your life; it definitely changed mine! After years of a mix of chiropractic care, physical therapy, stretching, yoga, and anything else I thought might alleviate some of the pain, relax my muscles, and realign my spine. I did several sessions through a physical therapist’s office, which also allowed my insurance to cover the expense which was a life saver! Some people may only need a few sessions depending on your situation. I immediately saw huge improvements, and kept seeing them! My posture improved, various symptoms due to my nerves being compressed by my vertebres disappeared, headaches and migraines are practically nonexistent now (except for the occasional hangover..lol..), and I even grew a few inches from my lengthened and more aligned spine! Sometimes, I could feel the emotion leaving, and often people have emotional responses to the dry needling either during the session or afterwards. If you have any other questions or comments about dry needling, comment below or feel free to email me (info@mentalmindmorph.com).

 

The next best thing, is to try to achieve the same muscle spasms that release trapped emotions is through either stretching or rolling on a ball. It’s a much slower process than dry needling, but basically works the same way. Through stretching, you target the spots that are giving you trouble. This can often be difficult because you have to push into the trapped areas, which you may not have been able to use those muscles in many years. I find taking deep breaths and breathing into the pain allows the muscle to relax to reach the trigger point, and you’ll know when you do! You’ll get that same muscle spasm that can be large, sometimes painful, but super gratifying afterwards. You can also use a ball, I prefer a lacrosse ball like this.

Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Knots, and Yoga Therapy. Set of 2 Firm Balls (Blue and Red)

If you find yourself in constant pain, particularly in your back, I find foam rollers really helpful. I need the extra firm kind which really digs into those tough spots and loosens them up. I’ve tried all kinds of them and still wasn’t getting enough, so I finally got the RumbleRoller and I am super happy with it! I use it on my back, neck, hips, psoas, glutes and hamstrings, arms, and everything else! I love it!

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Little Black Dog Called Depression

What Is Depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression is described as:

“A common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” These symptoms are present for a minimum of two weeks.   (Click here to continue reading: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml)

I personally think of it more as this annoying flea that has decided to latch onto me, leeching from my blood and somehow poisoning it at the same time. I’ll have a few good days, then it decides I’ve had too much of a good thing so it siphons off any feel good chemicals left from my mind and body for its own use. I’ve just made a happy bug… ugh.

Other times, it feels like a sad, lonely miserable animal that won’t stop following me around, pouring its pain into me, and I can’t escape from it no matter what I do…it always finds me. This video below is an excellent example of what depression is like, and also a great video to share to those close to you that aren’t as familiar with depression. Maybe they’ll at least stop saying things like “just get over it, pull yourself together, it’s not as bad as you think it is,” or whatever cliche insensitive crap uninformed people throw at you. 

Have you ever asked yourself, who am I without depression, without anxiety, or without _______ (fill in the blank)? Most of my life, I didn’t realize or understand that I was depressed or that I  struggled with depression. When I look back, all I see now is depression, insecurity, hurt and loneliness. If you’ve dealt with any kind of mental illness for a significant amount of time, whether knowingly or not, it can become part of your identity, sometimes a big part, like it did for me. 

I can be overly sensitive and emotional, I can find comfort in darkness, and brood over and stew in deep unpleasant or unsettling thoughts and feelings, unable to let things go. This is normal, well at least, my normal. So many years later, these “personality traits” still remain. I have built upon them over the years and even expanded some. I use to write to vent, express myself, and connect to my emotions, thoughts and feelings. Now I still do. Some of my hobbies, interests and personality traits that may have stemmed from my depression or as a coping mechanism, was there all along. Now I can thank the darkness for giving me more meaning, depth, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, empathy, sensitivity and powerful emotional depth that would’ve been rather superficial have little value to myself and others had I not had a black dog called depression raining on me day after day throughout my life. Not everything is bad, not everyone is bad either. Where in your life can you find the good in your mental illness? How has it helped you? What has it or having to live with it taught you? 

For me, it got to such a bad point that self medication and avoidance, couldn’t help me anymore. That I sought professional help, then when that wasn’t enough, more professional help, and then even more. Overtime through this process, I was forced to look at myself and my hurts of the past, which I would probably still be running from otherwise. After looking at more recent traumas, eventually I found a counselor that helped me get to the core of all of it. Who knew, most of our deepest insecurities, fears and pains often stem from childhood. Often they can be things we never considered, or things we forgot altogether, like I did. Usually though, it’s the emotions and the feelings that get stuck, and can often be the reason why out of the blue we feel down or anxious and have no clue why. It could’ve been just a brief thought, a look from someone, or a feeling that randomly popped up that took a part of you back to a moment you are still stuck in. Maybe your body/mind is trying to help you look at that memory, so you can heal from it, so you can feel it in its entirety to finally put it to rest. Through working on yourself usually through self reflection and focussing on being present the heaviness starts to lift away. One by one, those rocks and boulders fall away and break apart, and so does the depression and the anxiety. The negative thoughts start to fade as you become aware of them, challenge them and put them to the test. Take the beautiful parts with you and everything you learned. Know that you aren’t your mistakes and your diagnosis doesn’t define you. When you feel lost, alone, confused or depressed, instead of saying to yourself “Why is this happening to me?” ask yourself, “What is this trying to teach or show me?” Know that “no” is also an answer and often comes in the form of things not working out in the way we want or what we thought was what should happen. “No” is often a blessing in disguise. The universe has a clearer idea of what we need than we do! Look for the silver lining, find the message. Sometimes hard times are necessary to develop the skills, mature, learn and grow into the person we are meant to be. I know I’m not quite ready for whatever this world has planned for me yet. But, I know I was meant for something more, something bigger, and big rewards come with big challenges and struggles. 

No matter where you are at in your journey, know that these feelings don’t last forever. You haven’t lost control over your mind or body. You still have a choice. Are you going to let it win or are you going to rise up? It’s easier, yes, to feel defeated and much less work. It’s easier to complain about how crappy it is or how it’s not getting better. What’s hard and why most people are stuck is because they are afraid to do the work that’s necessary for healing. In this world of everything on demand, we want our health and healing to be on demand too. Well, let me ask you…. did you get to this point overnight? I’m guessing not. Generally, it’s quite a long process. The hard part is facing your demons and dragging them out of that dark closest and into the light, and having a long hard look at them and yourself. Can you accept your faults without crucifying yourself? Can you do this with compassion for yourself but also for those that wronged you? Can you find the good in the bad, the beautiful in the ugly, and the magnificent in the ordinary?

Let me tell you something you may not have heard in a while. You matter and you are here for a reason. You are worthy of selfless love and you have it within you to love so deeply. You have so much left within you to give the world. You are strong and you are braver than you knowYou are not lost. You are on a journey, and that is a beautiful thing! Embrace it! 

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J.R.R. Tolkien

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it! I want to ask you, what have you found to be on your mind more so lately? Any particular struggles or challenges you’d like me to talk about or even just share some inspiring words on? This blog is for everyone! A community for anyone who can relate, and a safe place for anything on your mind, with a thoughtful and kind group of people that can relate and have your back. Please follow and be sure to leave a comment with any thoughts, tips, or suggestions for this blog post or future posts. Thanks for your love and support! 

Peace and Love, 

Laura