Monday

Monday’s are always hard for me. Monday’s mean the start to another work week and having depression makes that exhausting! I’ve gotten better at handling it and being able to pace myself although, I’m currently working two jobs and Monday’s are my longest days ! Today (September 9) is an especially interesting Monday because.. my best friend is headed to rehab!

Of course I am so happy and proud of him for taking this step, he deserves it! And I can’t wait for him to have control over his life again and to feel better, he deserves it! And at the same time I’m a sad to say goodbye, for the next 3 months I won’t have my best friend to text every day and make me laugh or talk about the great and not so great characteristics of our dogs!

Monday’s, or any day of the work week can be tough! The things that help me get through it all is reminding myself what my goals are and how this is helping me reach them. I also try to look at the situation as a challenge, I’m not a very competitive person but for some reason doing this really helps me! I feel much better at the end of the day after I met the challenge head on and succeeded. And lastly I have started to ask myself what I would say if it were my best friend in my situation- and I try to tell myself that I need to be my own best friend. This helps me to talk positively to myself and stay motivated.

What are some ways you cope with the work or school week?

What are your goals? Think short term and long term- really sit down and look at all the bits and pieces that will get you there! And be detailed!

What would you say to your best friend in this situation?

Ofcourse I am writing this as I am eating breakfast and preparing for a long day ahead! So i am bound to have mistakes throughout this post BUT nevertheless sharing my experience is also helping motivate me for this week! And I am hoping it can help you too!

Good luck this week! You are doing great! Even if you don’t feel like it!

Talk soon!

Leanna

The Opposite of how I feel

Sooo.. I have mentioned in the past that I have borderline personality disorder (i will put my video about it below!) Because of this diagnosis I was directed to use Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) as treatment.

While in a fantastic group setting and learning about DBT skills we covered a very interesting skill. The skill is called “opposite action” and it is exactly what you are thinking…. yup if you feel like punching someone the f&%# out, try hugging them instead.

WHAT!? i know it sounds crazy! of course there are exceptions to this for example if you feel you are in danger or someone is abusing you then turning around and hugging them or being kind is NOT a good idea.

This skill is for the times when maybe your super depressed and all you want to do is hide under the covers of your bed, curl up and cry. instead.. get out of bed.. maybe even try showering or putting on a nicer then usual outfit and STAY OUT OF BED!.

This, like all skills take Time and Practice. Trust me it is easier then it sounds! i still haven’t been able to accomplish hugging someone who has pissed me off, but then again anger is just a whole different issue for me.

With all skills its something that you need to keep consistent with and usually start small! this could mean.. if you feel like wearing black clothes one day maybe add some color and every day just try to push yourself a little to the opposite of what you feel. even if its trying a new ice cream flavor! yea, I know that isn’t necessarily gonna change your mood and help your mental health but it will help you get the hang of the skills!

Now to make this Skill even more of a WTF moment for you.. the important part (and one I have the most trouble with) is you have to fully engage in the opposite action! so if you are really dreading work but you decide that you need to go in then the opposite action would be that you get ready, you go into work and like the old saying “put your game face on”.

Yes, I know , some of you are thinking… but i thought we were becoming more accepting of mental health??? and now were supposed to hide it? Let me explain! the point to this is to try and help you slightly change your thought pattern in hopes that you will feel better.

In my blog post about working while depressed i mentioned that i have forced myself to go to work many days when i haven’t felt up to it and at the end of the day i feel just a tiny bit better, (sometimes a lot better but saying that can be misleading! and give false hope.) i usually don’t get to the point where I’m smiling and loving my day but nevertheless, i engage with customers and it forces my mind and body to move out of the black world in my head for bits at a time.

If you didn’t know! DBT was created by Marsha Linehan! and she created a workbook about it if you wanted to check it out i will link it here: https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=dbt+marsha+linehan&i=stripbooks&hvadid=74354573355005&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvqmt=e&tag=msncahydra-20&ref=pd_sl_79ktu05jdh_e

This is what the book looks like!

This is The Group I went to with Krystal Martin http://www.oshawapsychologist.com/dialectical-behavioural-therapy-dbt-group-or-individual/

Working while Depressed

As I am writing this it is Monday night after the long weekend. I have had the three days off of work. (Friday, Sunday and Monday) and yet I’m thinking about tomorrow, about going to work. The thought of It makes me tired and want to curl up in bed. My weekend was not full of crazy energy sucking activities that drained me.. it was actually quite a relaxing and calming weekend. so why am i dreading work? is it because I’m simply lazy? i don’t think so..

Depression makes EVERYTHING hard it makes Every tiny little thing you do feel like a big job, some days i want to cry at the thought of brushing my hair. so of course going to work is not gonna be easy! not only is it draining mentally and physically but its also not an enjoyable activity which feeds into your “whats the point?” mindset.

for an average person (at least from what I’m told) they get tired and can take a day or two to rest and then get back to things. They may not necessarily enjoy going to work but they don’t dread it or let it destroy there entire weekend. I’ve had to work on living in the moment- reminding myself that if I am out at lunch, eating then i need to live in the moment and not ruin that time by thinking of work.

one of my siblings has a bad habit of this. they are constantly thinking about work and they never really take time off. they are always checking if they have to reply to work messages and stressing over whats to come in the next week.

a lot of us struggle with this- not living in the moment. its not just people with depression. But for someone with depression it is magnified because all they can see is the dark the bad, the negatives. i don’t try to focus on the bad.. in fact i try my hardest to every day notice the things that bring me even a splinter of joy. it can be anything! Today for example, I was on my phone trying to post something and coco (my dog!) came over and wanted me to pet her so i decided to put my phone and give her attention. i noticed how soft her fur was and looked into her beautiful hazel eyes and i let that moment bring me joy.

I don’t know how exactly i get through work, some days i have walked out the door with my hair in a bun and not brushed and having tears in my eyes as i made my way to work. My family helps to try and encourage me which i am very grateful for. But beyond that, The way i get through it is by telling myself that i can do this, time will go fast and the day will be over. there have been SO MANY days i have gone to work Furious with my family and the world because they pushed me to go to work.. but i have to admit (not every time!) but most times… being at work helps… and it doesn’t help much! it just sliiiightly alters my mood it forces me to engage with others and that thirty second interaction takes my thought of of the depression.

The best advice i can give you if you struggle with this is to try and find an understanding of your own limits! I genuinely believe that some times you do need to take a day and focus on caring for yourself! and other days pushing yourself might be whats best to get you to a bit of a safer mind set! Its important to learn what helps you cope with depression! and Always remember you have to do what is best and what is safest for you.

Fighting Insecurities

Insecurity.. judgment, embarrassment and shame we all fear these things.. but why?

when we were little we could go to a store and dance wildly and it didn’t matter who was watching! so when do we start to care what people think, or if there watching?

we all have something that makes us uncomfortable.

I posted a video talking about insecurity and challenging myself to feel like a child again and just NOT CARE!

What are some things helping me to fight my fears?

1)To Start I had a conversation among a group of people i trust! and then continued the conversation in my family, through this i learned that everyone has fears and insecurities and was able to stop and go… WHAT??! WHY ARE YOU INSECURE ABOUT THAT..

of course it is way easier to encourage someone else and reassure them that there awesome.

2.) These conversations opened my eyes and gave me that WTF moment i needed to recognize that maybe its silly to care so much.. i would feel so much better about things if i put my full effort in and didn’t just “sorta try”.

Self-Reflection is so important in our lives! I asked myself..

What is the worst possible result if I make small talk with someone?

How do I feel when I’m sitting in awkward silence?

How Would I feel if i just talked with them!?

Is there anyone I know that can give me tips? How do they keep a flowing conversation?

In the end I realized that I actually fear my reactions being Awkward– so much that they end up being Awkward! how crazy is that!!

I talked to mom about this and she shed some light on how she fought through similar fears! she works in real estate so she has to be good with meeting new people and getting to know them!

she shared with me that she came to the realization that if you ask people lots of questions it gets them talking. They become more open with you and suddenly your having a flowing conversation about the per turtle you had as a child. . . or some other random topic, but the point is that you end up realizing they are just another human being with life stories and interesting details.

look at the thing you fear! that something you want to work on and take some time to self-reflect.

  • what is it you actually fear?
  • how likely is it that your worst fear will become a reality?
  • what can you do to help yourself ease into it?

I am trying to start small by Connection with more people on social media, reaching out to friends i already know and planning to hangout knowing that making conversation will be a part of it! this way i can feel comfortable and hopefully gain confidence in being a good conversationalist!

what is one way you can start small?

Calling a Crisis Line: what is it like?

often we are told to call a crisis line or go to an emergency room if we feel we are in a crisis. these are great resources… but the problem is, most of us get filled with anxiety at the thought of reaching out for help.

the first time i tried to call a crisis line i was full of anxiety. my heart was racing so quick i could feel it trying to jump out of my chest and the thoughts and fears of what would happen when the person on the other end answered terrefied me. I worried about a lot of things and i dont think im alone in these fears.. i was scared that i wouldnt be able to talk or know what to say but that it would all be put on me to figure out making the conversation while the other person sat in silcence and waited and got annoyed. i also worried that they would automatically know my location and send the police to my house which first off, police scare me and secondly i figured my family wouldnt react so well with police showing up and pounding on the door when they had no clue what was going on. I was scared of so many “what ifs” that it kept me from trying to get support.

eventually i made the call, i didin’t get an answer after ten tries and was getting fed up.. part of me felt like it was purposely against me and that my issues weren’t that big of a concern. That day i don’t think i got through to the line but i moved on to try other coping skills and i made it through the day.

The second time i tried calling my anxiety levels were 10 times worse. i had impulsively acted on harmful behaviors and quickly regretted it but knew i probably needed medical attention. again, i was supposed to be at work soon and couldn’t face telling my family. i called the crisis line and spoke to a very kind lady, she in fact lead the conversation, she wasn’t judgmental and she didn’t over react and send police pounding at the front door.. instead she calmly asked how i was feeling and asked if there was any family around i trusted that she could speak to. I took the phone to mom and of course my heart was racing and mom wasn’t exactly calm when she got the surprise but she got me proper medical attention and then had a second to breathe and know that everything was okay. of course its not easy for your family when they don’t know if your going to be okay.

since then i have called the crisis line one other time and again spoke to a kind lady who led the conversation and made me feel welcome to talk. I explained to her that my therapist was on vacation, my mood had drastically changed and that i was suddenly having very dangerous thoughts. she suggested that i see my family doctor, call my psychiatrist and try to see a therapist in the mean-time if possible. I took her suggestions and went to see my family doctor. it was not sunshine and rainbows after that but at least I had tried to help myself. my doctor gave me a different medication dose to try and took time to try and counsel me through my depression. I went home and took the day off work. My family knew i had hit a really deep low and that i was not able to function but they stayed by me and supported me.

if i had to call a crisis line today i would still be full of anxiety. It is a great resource and my experiences have all been positive! but it is still really hard to admit the thoughts and feelings you are having .. and that’s OK!

If you are considering calling a crisis line .. make sure you are calling a support line that is well-known and has a good reputation! some crisis lines are answered by trained professionals and others are volunteers. if you don’t get through KEEP ON TRYING! the reason they aren’t answering is because you aren’t alone! so many people are needing support at any given time during the day! If you are worried about your call history or call logs there are chats you can use as well with Emergency Exits from the sites.

CRISIS RESOURCES: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/ Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/mental-health-services/mental-health-get-help.html Text lines: http://thelifelinecanada.ca/help/textchat/

If you need Immediate medical assistance Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room

Self-Ish

Prioritize yourself! – skip to the bottom for crisis resources.

when I was brainstorming name ideas for this blog i tried to think of the misconceptions people have about mental health. I worried that people would misunderstand the name and be offended by it so, I checked in with some close friends of mine to see what they thought about it and they gave it a big thumbs up!

Many of us who are struggling require time to focus on ourselves and get our minds stable and back on track. battling mental illness and needing to take time to care for ourselves though is not selfish although we may feel like it! the meaning behind the name SELF-ISH is that we can focus on our selves and the “ish” or in my terms “the shit” we are dealing with and prioritize it.

I hope that this blog can help people find resources that are hard to find other places. I know there have been many times i have been searching for a type of support or answers and not been able to find the help I needed. There have been times when i feel i am in a crisis but I’m supposed to be at work in less then an hour and the anxiety in me is so strong and the stress rises because I don’t know how to handle the situation. this blog is for those moments, the things that people don’t often share about or feel they can talk about but need answers for.

IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 1-800-273-8255

side note: my blog will most likely not be grammatically correct, writing is not a strength of mine but i am writing anyways because although it may not be perfect grammar it may help someone.

Living with Bipolar disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

Drastic changes in energy levels and mood. Mania is high levels of energy and depression are extreme lows.

Energy levels are one of my biggest roadblocks. I have days where I’m full of energy and feel amazing and after, comes the really tough days where I don’t want to move and my moods drop along with my energy.

Currently I am on medication, an antipsychotic which has helped balance out these drastic highs and lows and help me stay at a more balanced level. Before I was put on medication I was constantly in a state of mania or a deep depression it was beyond exhausting and took a toll on me.

When I’m in a manic state I seem to feel and be “happy” almost ecstatic, I talk a lot and very quickly and I can’t stop moving. I don’t feel the need to rest or sleep and I usually get very into creative activities and blow through my bank account without stopping to think. My mind is going a thousand miles a minute and although this can help me be productive and get a lot done it wears my body. Eventually, my energy hits a sudden drop and then I’m the opposite, I don’t want to move.. i have no motivation I feel exhausted and I’m super depressed. Constantly going back and forth between these states make it hard to go to work and participate in daily activities. Even when I am in a manic state my body is tired, I can’t stop or rest and my mind is in a different world but physically I am exhausted.

Now that I’m on meds I’m much more balanced. I have good days and bad days and they aren’t like everyone else’s, I still get a little to much energy and hit lows but it’s getting better.

My biggest issue to battle is learning how to manage my energy, how to hang on to it and not burn it all out the second I feel energized. I’m very careful now with who I interact with and make sure to take time to rest.

I’ve learned a couple of things about managing energy and the dogs and don’ts

  1. Be aware of the people you are communicating with and what topics they are discussing with you.
    1. Discussing serious, stressful and sensitive topics will drain you.
  2. If you read, watch tv or listen to music.. try to be aware of how it can be playing a role in your day to day life.
    1. If the content is covering topics that you are currently dealing with or cause an emotional response there probably not a good idea!
    2. If your a reader, usually non fiction is better then real life stories!
  3. If you feel like you can do a million things all at once.. try to slow yourself down, start small!
    1. Take two minutes to sit down and focus on your breathe! Or close your eyes and imagine something interesting! Set your timer.
    2. Know that you don’t have to use all your energy before it’s gone! It’s ok to store it for later!
  4. Try to plan ahead! Create a mix of things you can do when you you hit a high or a low that will help you to pace yourself and not wear yourself out!
  5. Adjust your work or school schedule!

Talk again soon!

Leanna!

Traumatized

WARNING: This post covers sensitive information and mentions detailed stories of violence and abuse. please do not read if you feel this will be triggering or in any way harmful.

Throughout high school i started to notice that when i was near males i felt extremely nervous. i never understood why and my friends understandably joked about it and assumed it was more to do with crushes then anything else. I didn’t know how to explain it and it felt like no one would ever understand.. I would be frozen. stuck there, unable to move or speak and i would have such an overwhelming sense of fear come over me. I avoided all situations that involved males whenever possible.

near the end of grade 12 i switched schools and was finishing my high school courses on a college campus. this was great, except now there were thousands of guys and the fear got even worse.. we had to use the college gym which meant walking a long way through the college hallways to get there. I hated gym. I would put in my headphones and put my music on full blast hoping that it would keep everyone from trying to interact with me .. looked down, held my breathe and walked as quickly as i could. along the way though I would notice all the spots where danger could become reality, secluded stairways and places out of view.

This never stopped. although my fears of a guy popping out of the stairway when no one was around and attacking me never happened, the thoughts continued to haunt me.

I ended up going to college at this same school. not long after starting college I met my soon to be girlfriend. she encouraged me to get help as she learned of my fears and struggle with mental health. she made me feel safe, empowered somehow. i became almost invincible when I was with her. something about holding her hand as i walked through the hallways made me feel almost fearless, i felt like no one could ever bother me now and why would a guy want to? clearly, I’m not interested.

No, these thought were not rational but that’s how it made me feel.

later, through my girlfriends encouragement i started seeking help.. i didn’t get very far and the resources i was given weren’t helping but eventually after a long struggle and a ton of set backs i started to learn about my fears.

I learned that what i thought was extreme nervousness was actually ANXIETY, once i understood this i was able to start to learn how to feel better and cope with the anxiety. again this took a long time, I am about three years into this now and only recently have i felt that i really have a handle on managing my anxiety.

but where did this come from? why was it guys that made me so anxious.. what was i so afraid of? well as i started talking about my past and my home life i started to uncover a lot of suppressed feelings i had. I had blocked a lot out and instead of letting myself feel emotions i would internalize everything and take it out on myself through self harm. when i finally began to let myself feel i uncovered where the trauma and fear came from.

i briefly mentioned this in my video about my upbringing :

View the video Here!

For a period of time in my life i was living with a step-dad and my mom, i had two other siblings living with me and what i thought was normal fighting and occurred regularly was actually a dark and twisted case of domestic abuse. i feared for my life on a daily basis, always terrified that as i sat at the kitchen table with my back to my stepfather that he would come up behind me and start stabbing me. this created a fear for me around knives, i would stand at look at the knives terrified to touch them.. i always felt like i wouldn’t have control when i was holding a knife and had thoughts and visions of losing control and stabbing myself in the stomach or stabbing someone else. (no I’m not a danger, this understandably as a child was my way of trying to make myself feel safe.)

many nights there were dishes being thrown like freebees and glass shattering all around the house, there was screaming and yelling and a lot of death threats. during these episodes me and my older brother became trained to take our younger sibling to his room and distract him. we always knew what was happening outside that door and i always feared for our lives and that we would end up cornered and killed in that very room.

I never knew this to be anything out of the ordinary.

it got to the point that we all had bags packed at all times so if we had to we could literally grab our stuff and run. many nights we did end up leaving with our bags and each of us holding onto our stuffed animals as the cops talked to our mom on the porch.

once I had been mad aware of the fact that this was not “normal” and that it created trauma for me i began to understand why i feared guys.

to this day, i have moments when being around guys makes me very anxious. i am much better and have learned to start to trust more and more but i still have many flashbacks and am always hyper aware of spots and situations that could put me in a dangerous situation.

as i mentioned in the video, the man i mentioned throughout this post is no longer violent and aggressive. he has worked on changing and has quit drinking.

I now live with a very supportive and loving family and for the first time I have someone i can call dad who i don’t have to fear in any way. I still have a really difficult time with the thought of upsetting a guy in my life and try to avoid doing anything that could upset them. my family is working with me on this and trying to get me to slowly start to face my fears and tell them honestly if something they did or said is bothering me and trusting that they will not react violently or aggressively.

please note: if someone has been through a traumatizing situation it is very dangerous to force them into “facing there fears” they need to do this at there own pace and with professional support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an abusive situation: https://www.thehotline.org/

Feeling Behind in Life.

in today’s world we are haunted by social media.. yes it can be an amazing tool but it also exposes peoples lives. the problem with social media is that, well most of us share the happy moments or our best moments and we forget to share the reality. what goes on behind the scenes? that girl that you went to high school with.. you know, the one who is engaged and has a successful career.. she must be living the best life ever, right? wrong. that girl can appear to be amazing and compared to you she may be way ahead.. but do you know what her upbringing was like? what kind of support she did or did not have? do you know what deep dark secrets she is hiding? or the pain she may be holding onto? someone looking happy doesn’t mean that they are. its easy to get caught up and compare our selves with others.. but we forget to look beyond that. they are showing us what they want us to see. think about your social media.. what do you share? have you shared a picture when you appeared to be doing amazing but weren’t feeling anything close to amazing? a good friend once sent me a quote about this. it talked about how we all are meant to take different paths and go at our own pace. i believe that the path i am on is the correct one for me. i have not completed my education, instead i am investing in myself as much money, time and effort as it takes to feel and cope better in life. i could have pushed through school but i only would have made it so far and it wouldn’t have been a good experience. I’m not alone, many people i have met in my age range struggle with mental health and have also had to take time away from there education and have had some serious wake up calls when they tried to push through.

if you are feeling behind in life..

Remind yourself of where you are and where you want to go.. you have to figure out how you will dodge the road blocks while also not driving past the gas stations and forgetting to check in with yourself.

what do i mean by this?

for me my path is leading me to completing my education so i can reach my goal and passion of helping others.. but how will i get there?

my road blocks are things like..

  • Needing money for tuition. which means working hard and saving well.
  • Handling stress, anxiety and depression effectively.
  • managing energy and planning ahead
  • figuring out what will help me when I’m struggling either in my education or in my daily life.

So… what are the Gas Stations?

Gas stations are the ways you can help yourself dodge those roadblocks

  • in order to have money I need to work, i need to plan out how much money i need and how i can reach that amount.
    • How much are my bills, debt and fees going to affect this?
    • how many hours and at what wage?
    • plan ahead for emergency and unexpected costs!
  • in order to handle my mental and emotional well-being i need to have a kit of coping options that i know will help
    • having a therapist that connects with you
    • learning coping skills and using them effectively
    • practicing coping and learning what helps most
    • putting these skills to use on a daily basis even for “small” situations.
  • I don’t want to wear myself out! ( i have a really difficult time with this! i usually end up feeling like i am a car on 0 gas that just keeps driving past the gas station, which is where this idea comes from.)
    • I can learn to plan ahead and manage my time!
    • practice not procrastinating
    • getting enough rest and sleep! and knowing your limits!
  • knowing what helps and what doesn’t..
    • this requires trial and error.. weather its with skills and distractions or changing your diet and managing your sleeping routines to ensure the best you!

You are an Athlete in Training. – Mom

You may like this metaphor better! the idea for me is :

I am an athlete and the Olympics is being back in school, in order to perform well i need good coaches. my coaches consist of :

  • Family Support
  • Therapy
  • My psychiatrist
  • Supportive friends
  • Work
  • Challenging situations

Think of Your big goal. what will get you there? and how will you handle obstacles.

Creative mindfulness

Mindfulness is commonly misconceived as meditation and deep breathing or doing activities such as yoga. although these activities are a practice of mindfulness there are actually tons of ways to be mindful!

I’m going to share with you some very easy ways to be mindful in your daily life.

What is mindfulness? : being fully aware of a moment, emotion feeling or sensation.

Here are some ideas!

  • Reading! your mind is usually fully engaged when reading!
  • taking a moment to smell coffee or tea and trying to be really describe your sense of smell in as much detail as possible.
  • playing loud music in your car, closing your eyes and noticing the vibration the music creates throughout the car. (you also can do this at the movie theaters if you have a D-box seat which moves and creates sensations during the movie.)
  • focusing on the warmth or coolness of the water during a shower
  • do something you have done many times before and pretend it is your first ever time experiencing it.. this can be showering, watching a sunset or sunrise, listening to music, playing a game etc!
  • try diamond dots, cross stitching, sewing or drawing! challenge yourself to do something intricate.
  • watch or listen to a thunderstorm!