Why I’m Going Back to Therapy

Life

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I’m going back to therapy.

Oh. *awkward silence* Uh. Are you okay?

The easy answer is to say, “I’m fine!” But technically, not really. I’ve slipped back into some bad habits. And I want to talk about them.

Even though it’s 2018, mental health is still an uncomfortable topic for some. That’s why one of my goals in starting this blog was to be real about it and help break down the stigma.

Here’s how it goes. Life seems to be going normal. But the demands, stress, and existential questions involved in just being a human sometimes can mean… a dark cloud can sneak up.

It’s easy to justify at first: I’m stressed, so I’ve been binge eating. I have a headache, so that’s why I haven’t been listening to much music. The headlines are depressing, so I feel anxious. Decisions stress me out; whatever, it’s been a long week. By the way, I’m turning 30 this year, wtf am I doing?

But how tired do you have to be to stay in bed for 12+ hours at a time? Or is it really just laziness that keeps me sleeping on a bare mattress, when clean, crumpled sheets are within reach at the foot of the bed?

The morning I didn’t feel like doing yoga — the highlight of my day — anymore, and was too overwhelmed to control crying spells… The red flag was waving in my face.

So I did some research, and booked an appointment with a new therapist in town. It’ll be my first time going back to therapy in nearly two years. Last time, I learned to cope with debilitating anxiety. This time, I hope to answer some questions that keep me feeling down and “stuck”, learn ways to express and acknowledge my feelings, and revisit some old trauma to better understand it.

I don’t feel scared, sad, weak nor “crazy” by taking this step. Instead, I feel strong. It is the most intimate act of self-care to acknowledge your pain, explore what’s causing it, and work on making life a little easier.

While I don’t want anyone’s sympathy, I do want to encourage an open conversation.

It can be awkward when someone shares their struggles, but finding supportive words doesn’t always have to be strained. However, I can’t properly emphasize the importance of validating a hurting person’s feelings and letting them know they aren’t alone.

After sharing that I was seeking help again, here are some responses that made me feel empowered and loved:

“Good! That sounds like a great decision.” 

“Sorry to hear you’re going through this again. Let me know if there is anything I can do.”

“How can I help?”

The more people talk about mental health, the more we can normalize it and inspire society — parents, bosses, friends, etc. — to understand and acknowledge its real value.

To quote my old therapist, Gail (miss you, gurl): “Mental health isn’t something we have, it’s something we do.”

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Break On Through (To The Other Side)

Life



This is a post about feeling depressed — and then digging out. Since today marks the first day of spring, I thought I’d honor the gradual return of more light, in a figurative sense.

While it may not always be detectable to others from the outside, because I’m still forced to work, look presentable, and function overall — when a depressive episode does hit, it can feel exhausting to fake a smile or complete simple tasks.

Although everyone’s experience is different, I’ve implemented some new habits that help me feel lighter and more in control.

1) Cleaned my house.

The condition of my house tends to be a pretty good reflection of my mental state. And the embarrassing piles (er, mountains?) of laundry that had accumulated over the winter months are no longer occupying various rooms in my apartment. Clearer space = clearer mind.

2) Cut off toxic friendships.

Trying to make me feel bad about myself? I don’t have the time. Bye.

3) Fighting negative thoughts.

I forced myself to become painfully aware of some of the constant negative thoughts I perpetuate internally. And then I would interrupt myself — “dude, stop” — to replace the bad thought with something more pleasant. Whether it’s repeating the opposite as true, or picturing something that makes me happy. The demons might still return, but they no longer dominate my headspace all day.

4) Minor physical activity.

Maybe someday I’ll make it to a gym, but in the meantime, I started to incorporate some very light exercise — extremely short jogging — during nighttime walks with Saki.  I also added stretching and basic yoga to my daily routine.  Even 15 minutes is enough to feel more relaxed and energized.

5) Self-care!

I’m no stranger to the concept of #treatyoself. But lately, I’ve indulged in various forms of more deliberate self-care. Whether it’s making extra time to relax, like using a face mask with weird ingredients … or giving myself something to look forward to, like planning that aforementioned solo trip. (More on that another time!)

It’s all pretty simple, but these minor changes feel much better. What helps you?

Dress: Target. Booties: TJ Maxx, old.

(Yes. Post title was inspired by this song.)

Fake Valentine

Life, Style




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“Our culture has taken romantic relationships, a good thing, and made them into an ultimate thing.

Put relationships back in their place, and take a look at just how expansive your life is; it might be in flux, but it’s complete — romantic partner or not.”

Wow. This really hit me when I read it.

Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or happily (or unhappily) married, here’s an important reminder: You are enough.

Yes. You. By yourself. Are enough.

I’m telling you this because society does this thing. It fosters this romanticized idea that another person automatically makes you appear more valuable to others; that a relationship immediately attaches more meaning to your life. Suddenly, it’s more “complete.”

This is a fake concept! This is unhealthy! Stop thinking this right now!

Yeah, I am kind of yelling because I believed in that falsity for a long time. I would feel defective or inferior when I was single, or hopped from one relationship to the next, too fearful to be alone.

This lack of self-worth was driven by my own negative thought patterns, but common social interactions casually reinforce unhealthy or irrelevant expectations literally all the time.

Sometimes (oftentimes?) it happens during an innocent conversation with a relative, acquaintance, or stranger:

“Are you dating anyone?”

If the answer is no: “Really? I don’t understand why someone like you would be single, you’re so pretty/successful/(insert adjective here)!”

If the answer is yes: “How long have you been together? Is he/she “the one”? When are you going to get married?”

…Like it’s some rush to complete this perceived, proper life to-do list, and you’ve failed if you haven’t checked all the boxes.

No.

People have been conditioned to think these things matter so much, when they actually don’t. And as for the perceived need to justify the answers… it’s really not anyone else’s business.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day to justify your current life, either. Whether single or taken, you’re enough on your own.

Dress: Vintage, estate sale (but this tan midi is an option for spring). Jacket: Express. Boots: Steve Madden (similar and 40% off here).

Use Your Illusion

Life, Style


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“I want something else. I’m not even sure what to call it anymore, except I know it feels roomy and it’s drenched in sunlight and it’s weightless and I know it’s not cheap. Probably not even real.”

I read that passage on one of my favorite art/poetry sites last week, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It resonates with this feeling I constantly carry; this unexplained instinct that always feels… kind of unsettled.

Because I do feel like I’m endlessly searching for something else, when “something else” is hard — maybe even impossible — to define.

Whether it’s a sense of excitement, adventure, happiness, love, passion, comfort, depth in another person, deeper meaning. A fleeting emotion, a feeling, a purpose.

Perhaps it’s a side effect of daydreams, when overt curiosity collides with too much introspection. Searching for the meaning of life, some would say.

I would love to know exactly what I’m looking for, and if or when I’ll know that I’ve found it.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s like chasing a mirage.

There are times when it feels like it’s just out of reach. But maybe what I’m reaching for… just isn’t real.

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Dress: Cato, kinda similar here. Hat: Cato. Boots: Kohl’s. Velvet choker: for $6 here!

Trial By Fire

Life, Style, Travel

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There’s this universal piece of advice when it comes to personal growth. Do something that scares you.

Well, I find this to be absolutely terrifying: traveling alone.

I consider myself pretty independent. But as much as I enjoy my alone time, I’m sometimes too intimidated to be in public by myself. It’s something that’s kind of embarrassing to openly admit, but I typically need someone to motivate me to get ready and get out of the house.

Call it anxiety. Call it depression. Call it laziness. But I’ll shrink away from experiencing something cool if it means doing it solo. I’ve skipped out on meals, concerts, events, certain hikes — and vacations.

News alert: Fuck. That.

So I’m putting myself up to a massive personal challenge this year (and no, it is not joining a gym).

I will travel alone in 2018.

Because I am done with feeling like I’m missing out. And I’m especially done waiting on other people.

This applies to family members, partners, or friends. Reality check: Of course we all operate on limited time, money, and vacation days. (A perk of modern American living, isn’t it? Ugh.) But in some cases, I’ve suggested various excursions for years — only to be consistently shut down. So I guess I just won’t go.

But hold up. Why should someone else’s bullshit excuses suddenly become mine? What’s the point of sacrificing hurt feelings when I can just… do it myself?

As a woman, traveling alone can seem vulnerable, and scary, or maybe not so smart. But it can also be an exhilarating life experience that stretches one’s perceived capabilities. I’ll go with the latter.

So whether it’s a weekend or a week. Domestic or international. This year, I will travel somewhere alone. And it will likely scare me. But I will document it on this blog. Hopefully, you’ll hold me to it… but I’m already researching destinations.

Here’s to girls doing whatever the fuck they want in 2018. Either join or be left behind.

PS — To my adventurous friends, where do you want to travel this year? (Let’s plan something?!) To the solo travelers, shoot me a line with your advice!

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Sweater: Gifted (Thanks, Mom!), but this one looks super comfy. Jeans: Kohl’s. Boots: Kohl’s (major bonus: ortholite comfort insoles), similar here. Hat: Target. Bag: Thrifted, Goodwill.