Tag Archives: anxiety

Turbulent Tuesday: Cooking for Mental Health

Yesterday was a rough day for me. I am trying SO hard not to complain and to look at everything in a positive way but jeez louise it’s getting difficult. I am very healthy, have a wonderful boyfriend, and loving family and friends all over the world. I write this awesome blog with awesome readers like you and I get to help people become happier and healthier all day. But something’s missing.

Maybe this is the problem with a lot of post-grads but I just expected my life to be slightly easier after I went through 6 years of 80 hour weeks in college. My social life was pretty great but I had no time to enjoy my friends. Now I’m finally making money (not much but it’s something) and am only working 50 hour weeks. But I don’t have any friends! Poor Mike bears the brunt of my breakdowns but they’re coming more and more often lately and it’s getting harder to turn my mood around. I would never trade my time with him for anything but WOMEN NEED WOMEN. And every attempt I’ve made to make plans with the ladies here has resulted in a great party/dinner/event but then never a word from them afterwords. Pretty discouraging and I’m just not sure what else to try.

Yesterday was rough. I had evening work to do but I said F that shiz and I cooked instead! I turned on my “singing” playlist and drowned myself in the music and the methodical process of cooking a meal. Ratatouille was the dish, taken from this awesome blogger. I never even knew what Ratatouille was so it wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever made but I’ll try it again and it will be even better.

The point is that I am finally starting to learn what calms me and brings me into the present. Having anxiety (check out this post) is a constant struggle against your own thoughts. It’s not an easy battle to win, but I’m trying. I fail a lot but I also succeed sometimes. My hope is that the successes will soon outweigh the failures and I can live my life in a more balanced way.

 

 

^ When I figure out how to make this better I will post my recipe.

So this morning I woke up and determined that it would be a better day. I’m starting off by writing to you (another one of my calmers) and now I’m about to work out and eat a nice, slow breakfast.

I hope you’re all having wonderful days. And if you’re not, figure out how to recenter yourself.

 

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You Are In Control

I keep this written on a couple of post it notes next to my makeup so I see it whenever I get ready for a long day.

We tell ourselves that life will be great when we can buy a more luxurious car, get a better job, buy nicer clothes, or whatever.

The truth is that there’s no better time to be happy than right now.

Your life will always be full of challenges. It is better to admit as much and decide to be happy in spite of it all.

I talk to SO many people who make the excuse of, “life will be great when…” Including myself! Until I started writing this blog, I didn’t realize that every single one of my days holds something awesome just waiting to be recognized. So you better recognize!

Please, everyone that read this post, comment what your happiness is/will be today!

And have a happy Monday 🙂

Thankful Tuesday: The Ability to Recognize Trouble

For some reason, over the last few days, I’ve been on the brink of breaking down. I realize that the title of my blog is “Happy Lass” but part of my ability to be a generally happy person is allowing myself to have bad days and then sitting down and figure out what’s causing them. Sunday and Monday were bad days.

I have had no routine lately. Meaning that everything I do must be self-motivated. Everything including work, working out, eating healthy, and even waking up in the morning. That is SO hard! I’m really motivated but who wants to wake up at 6:30 am when they can wake up at 9am?? No one. So I solved that problem by going into work yesterday and figuring out a work routine. It’s going to take a few days but I’m excited about starting the process.

Next, I have no friends in Peoria. This may seem melodramatic, and I guess I have some work friends and some friends through Mike, but I don’t have anyone I can just call to get a coffee. I have a few amazing girlfriends but they’re spread all over the world (Colorado, California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and China) and I need someone here! Someone to talk to about girl stuff. I find it hard to make female friends because of their tendency to be over dramatic, catty, and much too into their appearance. But it’s time to start the search. My hope is that now that I’m out of high school, it won’t be so hard to find someone calm, sensible, and fun!

So today I’m thankful for my ability to recognize when I have a mental issue and to set about fixing it. I didn’t overcome anxiety and depression just to lapse back into it. I’m happy for the long run baby! And I’ll do whatever it takes to stay that way. Even if it takes some bad days to snap me back into place.

Thanks for reading ya’ll. Have happy days and don’t forget to smile! They’re contagious.

Happy Monday!

This morning I made a mistake at work. I don’t work Mondays so it involved me forgetting to tell them something about our Monday morning patients. I hate thinking that I made a mistake that let people down and made their day just a little bit harder. But then I have to think like this:

“Flops are part of life’s menu. Everyone makes mistakes. High achievers learn by their mistakes. An error becomes the raw material out of which future successes are forged. Failure is not a crime. Failure to learn from failure is.

Yep, agreed. I have now forgiven myself and am moving on to workout with a clear head. And if that quote didn’t help, check this out.

Happy Monday! Smiling on Mondays is especially important, they’re contagious.

Tips to End the Tossing and Turning

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning and she said that like me and so so so many other people, she has a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. She often works the late shift and ends up falling asleep on the couch. I can commiserate with her on this because, with the stress of life comes an inability to relax. So, when my friend comes home, it takes her so long to relax that by the time she slows down, she’s already asleep!

I’ll tell you guys exactly what I told her: the key to falling asleep and staying asleep is a bedtime routine. It works just as well as when we were 5 years old.

My routine starts about an hour before I want to fall asleep:

9pm – Sip some chamomile tea (with an ice-cube because I’m too impatient to let it cool down) while I write a short entry in my personal diary.

9.15pm – Draw a warm bath. Throw in some epsom salts if you had a hard workout that day, it aids in muscle recovery.

9.30pm – Settle into bed with my fan on (wind helps me sleep) and earplugs in my ears (see below). I find some trivial summer romance novel or something similar to calm my brain and take it away from work.

10pm – Hopefully I’ve drifted off to sleep and can wake up at 6am ready for a workout!

^These earplugs changed my life. They were originally made to keep the water out of swimmer’s ears but are incredible at keeping out noise. I was uncomfortable at first because you basically seal off your ear cavity and I was scared I wouldn’t get them out. But I did! And 5 years later, I still use them every day. The best part: you can get them at any drug store for very cheap!

Helpful Hints:

– Keep a notebook next to your bed to write any thoughts that may be spinning around your head. I often have my best creative ideas right before bed and they’re always there waiting for when I wake up!

– Sleep with a heating pad near your body, the warmth continues the relaxation from the bath.

– Sprinkle a few drops of lavender on your pillow, the smell and its effects are amazing.

– Never fall asleep and stay asleep on the couch or with the TV on. It’s important to separate the sleep zone from the unwinding zone.

– Also, never do anything but sleep and baby making in your bed; including eating and watching TV. Don’t mix zones!

^My bedside table complete with a “night-time notebook.”

Postcard Sized Mood Buoy

It’s a little bit gray out here in Peoria, IL. Lots of rain and cloud cover. Needless to say, I love it!! I love the rain. Growing up in Southern California means that I still regard it as special and fun. My favorite thing to do is put on some rain boots and go jump in puddles. I’m not joking. Sometimes the most childlike activities can be amazing therapy.

Anyway, if you’re not like me (ie. sane) then the weather (or the various thrills on life’s rollercoaster) probably get you down sometimes. So here’s a tip:

When you have a birthday or graduation or promotion or whatever, you inevitably get cards from your loved ones. Sometimes they are the generic, but still lovely, “Congratulations, we love you!” cards; but sometimes, they’re the kind that the writer really thought about. They tailored it just for you and when you read them, you get all fuzzy inside. I find that a lot of times, I’m so busy celebrating that I don’t get to sit down and digest these kinds of cards. So I cut out the part of the card with the happy words and I post it up in my apartment. Stick it to the fridge, put it in the front of your notebook, take a picture of it and set it as your phone’s background! Just be sure to put it somewhere that you will notice it when you really need to.

Let these cards be a reminder of how loved you are, even if people don’t show it all the time.

^ This is a graduation card from a family friend. “You have a great combo of beauty, brains, determination, and kindness”?? Heck yes I do and thanks for reminding me!

^My mom put this sticky note in a big hunk of bill and loan mail that she forwarded me from my house in San Diego. That was about 2 years ago. I stuck it to my bedside table so I see it every night before bed 🙂

Also, seeing these daily reminds me to tell people how much I love them, often and with enthusiasm. Hope you’re all having wonderful Sundays!

Anxiety to Depression and Back to Life

Confession: I have terrible anxiety. Most of my loved ones know this about me but many others do not. I have never felt the need to tell strangers, until now. Maybe it will help more people learn to deal with it as I did.

Misconceptions: Most people equate anxiety to a singular, fleeting feeling, like being nervous. That is one definition of anxiety but it’s definitely not the only one. People can range from mild to severely anxious but it’s my personal belief that a large percentage of the population have very bad anxiety and haven’t yet recognized it.

My Case: I have always been a very detail-oriented, conscientious, and organized person. I am always looking to the next step so that I can be prepared for whatever life throws at me (I’m one of those people who carries an entire survival kit in my purse). However, when I started college, things escalated. I found that my brain would never turn off. There was no point in my day when I could just sit down and think, “Hm, that was a great day, now I’m going to sit down and relax.” My brain never stopped so neither would I. It’s hard to explain to people without this condition but it was like a movie reel that just kept spinning and spinning even though there was no film left. Even after my endless to-do lists had finally been accomplished my psyche would make up new things to think about. It was awful.

By the time I was 20, I was plagued by such overwhelming anxiety that all I could do was cry. A lot. My frustration just turned into sadness at the thought that I would never, ever be able to relax. I dove into a deep depression that stopped me from enjoying my life. It must be said that I am one of the most selfless people you’ll ever meet (obviously I’m not quite as humble, haha). I would never take my own life because of the pain it would cause my family and friends, but it was during this few months that I understood people who try to commit suicide.

Thankfully, I have an incredible support system. My family was available to talk over the phone anytime and I had an amazing boyfriend who would have done anything to see me smile. (I think every one has support like this, they just have to accept it.) The problem was that not one of my supporters truly understood what I was going through. After a couple of months, I knew I had to figure this one out for myself.

My Solution: Therapy. < my mom correctly pointed out that therapy was only one small part of the solution. Actually, it was a combination of self analysis, exercise, forgiveness, and therapy. The problem was that I’m from San Diego and only had emergency health insurance in Boston where I lived. So I did some research and found a group of doctors that provided help for only a much as I could pay. I scheduled my first appointment with Dr. Linda Puretz and the healing process began. I was still really busy with school and work so I only saw Dr. Linda once every two weeks but just that little bit started the ball rolling.

For about 1/8 of her normal hourly rate (that was all I could afford), she helped me practice coping mechanisms like muscle relaxation and meditation. But that was just a fraction of what I had to do for myself. I began exercising on a more regular basis but instead of focusing on weight loss I did it for mental health. I would use those workouts to clear my head of everything but technique and breathing. I also found yoga videos for really cheap online and started doing yoga and guided meditation whenever I was feeling overwhelmed. But most of all, I started to forgive myself. I started to realize that being productive wasn’t everything in life and that sometimes, the best moments and opportunities result from relaxed downtime. I just stopped putting so much pressure on myself. Pressure to be smarter, faster, skinnier, funnier, and more appealing to everyone else. I started to try to be HEALTHY. In mind and body.

Step Two: Although I had finally broken the loop, anxiety still floated around in my head like a free agent, looking for something to destruct. When I started grad school, it struck again. The combination of financial worries and intense academic obligations sprung up all those precursors to depression. Because of my self-analysis years before, I recognized the warning signs and took action immediately, before things could get worse. My mom had recently also been through some weird mental stuff and tried a new method, hormone medicine, or bioidenticals.

I still had three months before I got home to see our doctor so I started taking some depression medication. It definitely pacified my erratic thoughts but dulled my personality and zest for life. I was so excited to get the hormone testing when I got home in December.

December break finally arrived and I got my blood tested for my hormone levels. It turns out that I had almost no estrogen or progesterone in my system. Both things contribute to lack of relaxation and lower energy levels. Dr. Kelly Austin at California Natural Health in San Diego analyzed my hormone levels and prescribed me a couple of creams which I now apply, twice daily, to my arm and leg skin. Within 30 days, my anxiety had become manageable again. YAY!! I am still on the hormones one year later and consult with Dr. Austin every three months to make sure my anxiety and energy levels are on track, along with a host of other things that are affected by hormones. Also, it should be mentioned that hormone imbalance can affect any person of any age or sex. It can be pretty expensive to get tested but I know there are payment plans and it is seriously worth it. Just your nearest health center and ask some questions!

Finally: Its been three years since I pulled myself out of depression and one year since I started hormone treatment. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety are similar to addiction and it never actually goes away. I have learned to recognize the warning signs and to reign myself in when my thoughts get out of control. I still exercise regularly and practice some preventative yoga so that my brain never forgets how to relax. I learned an incredible amount from that period in my life but what I want to shout to the world is this: Every life has the potential to be wonderful, no matter your finances, family, or genetics; but every sad person has to find the strength to break their vicious cycle before they can improve their lives.

Something Fun: On a totally different note, I am on vacation with my family in Santa Cruz right now and I got to visit one of my best friends, Katie! We raced bikes together in college and now she works at Specialized (the biggest bike company in the US) in San Jose. We got to tour the office and everything! I am so insanely jealous of her work place.

20120816-145026.jpg^ yep, it’s a building INSIDE a building. With a fire hydrant and a car and everything!

ps. If anyone else can relate to this post, please have the courage to comment. Put yourself out there so you can help others.