Uncategorized

The Truth Behind Anxiety

THE TRUTH BEHIND ANXIETY

What does anxiety feel like? Many describe it as a racing heart. I have heard of numerous cases of people going to the hospital with a racing heart, while worrying about it being a heart-attack, but being sent home with a diagnosis of a panic attack or also known as, anxiety.

To me, anxiety is so much more evolved. Yes, anxiety causes me to have a racing heart, but if you really pay attention to your symptoms, there are others that aren’t as distinctive or obvious. You should pay attention to the other symptoms as well.

First, when I am anxious, I first notice it by my lack of focus. Staying focused on simple tasks, such as working, cleaning, or reading, may become difficult. You may read the same paragraph in your book several times before realizing that you are not getting very far into your story. You may start cleaning the kitchen and find that you have wandered off to the bedroom performing another task, while leaving the one started in the kitchen forgotten. It isn’t an attention deficient or hyperactivity, that is occurring. What is happening is that my mind is trying to distract myself from what is really bothering me or causing me to be anxious. Needless to say, this distraction creates more havoc and distress at the time, but the mind is simply trying to distract us.

Listen to your body symptoms as well. You will see that your heart his racing, your hands may have become clammy, and you have a tightness in your throat. It is important to take a few deep breaths, recognize the symptoms, and be patient with yourself. When I become distracted, I make myself a list of what I need to accomplish for the next hour or day. This helps me to keep my mind focused on the tasks needing to be completed. A visual stimulation draws the mind back to focus, allowing me to follow through with the items I need to complete. Make sure your written list is reasonable and simple because if you put too much on your list, you will be overwhelmed and disappointed with yourself for not finishing the list. The other positive component to making a written list, is that it will also give you a sense of completion. You completed what you set out to do and this is always a good feeling.

Second, I often feel dizzy or light-headed when anxiety is coming on. This is due to my heart racing and the blood going quicker than normal to my head. When this happens, it is important to stay hydrated and sit down for a bit, take several slow, deep breaths, and slow down your breathing.

Third, this symptom is less obvious than the others. A lot of times I am hyper-focused on worrying about something bad that may or may not happen. This is due to my past traumas. I have found that I am a preventer and planner. What I mean by this is that when I’m in a stressful situation, I will plan out in my head the best possible solution to prevent more anxiety from occurring. An example of this is prevention. Let me explain. I will always try to put myself in a situation that will allow me the least amount of stress. Such as if something bad happens to me, I will create a positive scenario to replace the negative action. This may sound like a positive thing, and it may be, however, what I am really doing is alleviating the stress and panic that is starting to creep up into my chest and mind, preventing myself from having a full-blown panic attack. Diverting my attention away from the negative situation and replacing it with a positive scenario. Even though the possibility of it ever occurring is slim, it calms my mind down and saves me from a panic attack.

Uncategorized

JUST STAY BECAUSE WE NEED YOU

JUST STAY BECAUSE WE NEED YOU

Too many times we feel that we are insignificant to the world. Who are we to think that we make a difference in this great big world because we are simply one person, singular in principle? As we grow into adults, some of us may change our viewpoint on this subject or perhaps years of therapy teaches us the importance of our value, but for our youth, they are lacking this knowledge. The world is such a big place and many times we are lost to it and the importance of each and every one of us.

Let’s think about this from a different perspective. The simplicity of a flower. We purchase them all the time, either for ourselves or for others. They are a representation, a gesture of love, thoughtfulness or letting someone know that we are thinking about them. We see them in our homes, churches, and hotels, filling the space with beauty. They are independent of anything except a vase and some water to keep them fresh. But are they? In order for a flower to grow it must first start out as a seed. The seed needs the nourishment from the soil, water, and the sun to enhance its growth. Subsequently, without these elements, it will neither grow nor continue to prosper into a beautiful flower.

Humans are not relieved of this dependency. We want to believe that we are independent, that we don’t need anybody but ourselves, but this simply is not true. We NEED people to grow, prosper, and blossom into healthy individuals. We need support from others when we are feeling down. We need to feel loved. We need human companionship and compassion. We need to feel that we are accepted and belong. We need to love back. We can have all the food and water in the world, but without human connections we will eventually die; emotionally, mentally, and even physically.

Unassumingly, we need each other. As children we grow up to be independent of our parents. It doesn’t mean we no longer need their love and helping hand from time to time. As parents, we want our children to grow up into healthy and independent adults, but it doesn’t mean we no longer need the love from our children or may need a helping hand.

Being independent means that we need to grow on our own, into our own individual and healthy selves. We are not weak because we ask for help. We are not pathetic because we sometimes fall down and need help getting back up. We are independently strong, but even stronger when we know that we have others to reach out to when we need help. A community is stronger than a single person and it is okay to ask for help because we need you and that is the beauty of this life – we are never truly alone because we are independently dependent on ourselves and each other.

Uncategorized

The Misconception of Gratitude

THE MISCONCEPTION OF GRATITUDE

We are often misunderstood for being ungrateful. The misconception of our perception is not the lack of gratitude, but rather a misdirection of our understanding or perhaps, a misuse of the word gratitude. First let’s break down the meaning of depression versus sadness. The definition of depression is a mental disorder (not a state of being), characterized by at least two weeks of a persuasive low mood. The definition of sadness (a state of being) is similar to depression; however, the one common difference is in the length of time. The feeling of sadness may last for a day or two, but to classify as depression, it would extend for at least two weeks or more.

You may be thinking to yourself, I don’t see the difference, but there is, and people suffering with depression know this. When you have depression, you may know what your cycle is – two weeks, three weeks or a month of  depression is harder to accept than knowing that if you’re sad, it is only temporary and you will probably be feeling better by the next day or a situation may help to curb your sadness almost immediately. For example, a trip outside to get some fresh air or a drive to the ice cream shop.

Subsequently, living with depression isn’t as simple. Acute depression is exhausting and terrifying. Facing weeks of depression at a time puts a physical toll on your body, as well as an emotional toll on your mental health. It has the ability to negatively affect your social life, relationships, school or job performance, and your health. Even during your moments of “happiness” you’re worrying about when your depression will come back and if you have the strength to go through the long haul of dragging yourself out of the dark hole you are inhabiting.

So, when someone tells us that we need to find gratitude in the simple things in life, we do. Each day is a constant reminder to ourselves that we are grateful – grateful for the people who love us, for making it through another day, our warm beds, and the food and shelter we have been blessed with. It is not our lack of gratitude that casts us out as negative thinkers, but it is the deceiver, called depression. This is the cause of our inability to show gratitude. A typical day while in a depressive state is convincing ourselves how incredibly blessed, we truly are, and calling out the liar to its face: and its name is depression.

Uncategorized

Skeletons

We have all heard the expression, “Skeletons in our closet”. What this means is that we have situations, feelings, or emotions that we haven’t dealt with in our life. They are called “skeletons” because we have learned to compartmentalized these negative thoughts to the back of our minds, leaving them there until we are emotionally better equipped to deal with them. Unfortunately, this is never the healthier alternative. 

Pushing these negative experiences away doesn’t mean they go away. They don’t. When they are ignored, the healing process is delayed. They have a handy way of sneaking up on us during our vulnerable moments. Perhaps not right away, it could be years down the road, creating problems with relationships and our own self-esteem – constructing unexpected anger and health issues. 

It is best to deal with the “skeletons” at the onset of the trauma, with a professional mental health provider. You will see a more efficient healing process, with positive results. Pretending that you can handle it on your own is a fallacy. We all need help from time to time and there is no shame in reaching out to others for help in times of despair. 

Uncategorized

CAPTURING OUR THOUGHTS

Capturing Our Thoughts

Has any ever told you that you are a negative thinker? Did you know that you have the ability to control your thoughts? The choices we make can change the way our brain processes information in either a positive or a negative way. Therefore, if we are convicted of thinking negatively, any positive thinking is then condemned, causing us to feel guilty and any possibility of positivity is changed to a negative thinking pattern.

Within our thoughts, we have so many choices at our disposal and under our control. We have the choice to go to work or not. We have the choice to be kind to ourselves and others or not. We have the choice to make good decisions or not, if this is the case, then why do our thoughts turn negative?

Perhaps, it’s a matter of perspective and the way we have learned to view the world and the key word here is “learned”. We have learned to think negatively and if we were able to learn it, then we are also capable of unlearning it. It may sound like a challenge. It will take a lot of work, but perhaps the flaw lies within the ability to see it – to really view it. What do you think would happen if we simply shifted the way we see things, problems, solutions, theories, and instead of telling ourselves that we can’t change, we realize that we do have the power to do so?

I heard an interesting quote on self-discovery this weekend that has resonated with me, from a woman named Jean Aspen, “Life is a creation, not a discovery”. This is such a beautiful way to view the world and life. It puts the power of our choices back on us. We can create the life we want, by entering into our own journeys and directing our thoughts to the way we want them to go. Our life choices aren’t a mere coincidence, but a conscious choice created by us. We, as individuals, have the power to change. If life is our creation, then we are in control of our own destiny. We don’t have to accept the negative (traumas) that happen to us, to all of us. We have the power to rewrite our story, to recreate our story to be the way we want it to be.

Will we make mistakes? Yes, we will make mistakes along the way, but that is how we learn and grow, by making mistakes, learning by them, and changing the way we see the situation. There’s no room for feeling guilty and condemned by our life choices because we are in control of our life path, creating the story we wish to live by, while feeling enveloped with in the love and hope our story has to tell. We are the storyteller; it is our story and our ending. Make life what you want it to be and don’t be at the mercy of our traumas. After-all, haven’t we already suffered enough; it is now time to let go of our traumas and live our live to the fullest we were meant to live.

Uncategorized

ONE MORE DAY

ONE MORE DAY

All I ask for is one more day. One more day to see your smile as I walk through the front door. I know you are struggling, but you don’t show it around me, you keep this part of yourself private to protect me, even though I beg you to let me help you. You say I can’t handle it, although I would do anything to see you smile. You say I have a knack for internalizing your pain, although I am stronger than you think. You say that I would be better without you, even though I tell you that I can’t live without you. You say that you don’t want to be sick and that I deserve better, even though you’re the reason for my happiness. You say you love me, even though you left me here without you.

All I ask for is one more day. If you can just get through today, and not think about tomorrow, this is all I ask. Today may be the worst day of your life, but tomorrow may bring you joy. Today you might not know where to go from here, but tomorrow you might. Today may be filled with despair and tears, but tomorrow you may feel happy to be alive. Today you may want to die, but tomorrow you may want to live.

All I ask is for one more day. One more day to feel you beside me. One more day to hear your laughter. One more day to feel your warmth next to me. One more day to smell you. One more day to touch you. One more day to tell you I love you and to hear you tell me that you love me. One more day to tell you I am sorry. One more day to feel your breath upon my skin. One more day to see you. One more day to have you in this world next to me. One more day for me to beg you to just give it one more day. One more day to tell you I forgive you. You said you loved me, but all I asked for was one more day.

Suicide is a horrific act that does not need to happen, if you give yourself just one more day.

September is suicide awareness month. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideations, there is hope. Reach out to someone for help, even if it is just to talk. A family member, friend, or mental health professional. Open up the lines of communication. And if you are the person your loved one is reaching out to for help, be there for them and just listen, without judgment. To listen is one of the most powerful tools you can offer someone who is struggling. They just want to be heard and know that they matter, because not everyone who appears to be happy is okay, even though they may say that they are okay.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 or call / text 988 to be directed to a mental health professional / crisis lifeline.

Uncategorized

GROWING THROUGH THE PAIN

GROWING THROUGH THE PAIN

I’ve come a long one since November 26, 2016 – the day my daughter died by suicide. Looking back to the early days, I can honestly admit that I do not know how I survived. There was so much unbearable pain and suffering. I guess it would be a fair analysis to say I was functioning on instinct because I wasn’t living anymore – I was only alive. I too died the day my daughter took her last breath on this earth.

I now see my life as a metaphor – dust to dust. I had to learn how to live again. Everything I had known as MY life was dead. I wasn’t the mother I had once been, not even to my living daughter. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I needed to learn to pull myself up and out of the dust, finding the will to grow into the light of the living. I was like a plant, starting out as nothing but a small seed, an existence, dormant, waiting for the nutrients to give me the strength to find my way out of the darkness and into the light.

Just like a plant, this doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time. It requires patience. Patience from those who love me and most of all patience from myself. I needed to find this love with in, with the desire to fight for my daughters, just as I would, and did. After a couple years of isolation, I sought out to surround myself with those who loved me, gave me positive energy, and protected me from my thoughts, preventing any further destruction.

Looking back now on my journey, I see that a large part of my healing process was contributed to the people I chose to surround myself with. Not everyone is going to understand what we are going through, we all have our own passage to what is healthy for us, but everyone has their struggles. Nonetheless, what we all have is empathy and compassion to want to try to understand, by being there with words of affirmation, caring, and the ability to be still and listen. This is enough because helping teens see that they are not alone with depression and educating on the awareness & prevention of suicide is what matters. This is my purpose and what has helped me to grow through the pain of grief – we all have a purpose.

Uncategorized

SUMMER SUNSHINE

SUMMER SUNSHINE

I love lazy summer mornings – gently waking to the brilliant rays of sunshine sprawling across my bedroom floor, the cool breeze drifting in through the window, and the sweet songs coming from the choir of the birds in the nearby trees. There is nothing more pleasant than that happy feeling I feel inside of my soul on these special summer days. Although these emotions may make us feel euphoric, as quickly as they appeared, they may abruptly end.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or as commonly referred to as SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the changing of the seasons. Depression generally starts in the late fall months, lasting up to the sunnier months.

According to the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651) some common signs and symptoms are common w/SAD:

  • Feeling sad almost every day
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Having a lower than normal energy level
  • Oversleeping
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling guilty
  • Having suicidal thoughts or ideations
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Increased irritability

Some of the causes may also be contributed to low levels of serotonin, vitamin D, and or melatonin, primarily due to lack of sunlight.

There are some known treatments for SAD, such as phototherapy, psychotherapy, and/or certain medications. Phototherapy is a treatment where a person sits in front of special light box for the first waking hours of each day, with few side effects. Psychotherapy involves cognitive behavioral therapy. See your health care provider to determine if a medication is an option.

I believe a healthy diet with a regular exercise plan is always a good resource to lifting my spirits. Sometimes our mood drops when our bodies are not properly nourished. Regular exercise is known to increase serotonin in the brain, as well as endorphins. These natural occurring chemicals help to boost our energy, enhancing our moods. The second factor to a healthy diet and exercise is that it has a direct impact on our self-esteem. When we feel good about ourselves, we have a better perspective and attitude about who we are and our lives in general.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideations, you are not alone. There is help – talk with someone you trust or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or type GO to 741741 to reach a trained Crisis Counselor through Crisis Text Line.

Uncategorized

Carrying the Burden

CARRYING THE BURDEN

When I was growing up, I believed in happy endings. If you were a good person then good things would happen to you – you are the image of who you want to be. I did not know that this was only an illusion because one day I would be an expert on grief and carrying the burden.

After losing my youngest daughter to suicide, I was forced to face the reality of what was to become of my existence. I won’t lie, it has been a painful journey and one that I would not wish on anyone; subsequently, I have learned how to survive and as a result of this, I believe I am now a stronger person. As I look back from the past five years, I can see how far I have come.

Portland, OR – photograph by JMW

You may notice that I’ve used the word “learned” several times while writing this blog. This is a very important word to focus on because I had to learn how to live with the pain of grief. I have had to teach myself to be okay. It hasn’t come naturally and if I hadn’t put in the effort to seek help and learn how to help myself to grow, when I wanted to succumb to the pain of sadness & depression, I wouldn’t be here today. I am nobody special, just an average person, with a purpose to never give up.

Some of my tools I’ve learned to use have been in creating the foundation for teens struggling with depression, regular exercise, and journaling. We all have our own interests, but these are a few that have helped me to get up each day. It is also important to be surrounded by positive people who support you. Laughter is another big deal to me; encompass your existence with people who make you laugh, especially when you don’t feel like it.

We all have our own journey in this thing called life – embrace it the best you can!

Uncategorized

Happy Easter

All of us at The Jewels’ Angels Foundation want to wish you and your family, the happiness and love you deserve, on this beautiful Easter Sunday.

Life can suffocate us with struggles and challenges, but it is up to us to remember our core values – to love one another as we love ourselves and to love ourselves as we love those whom we cherish.