Here is my latest essay on Psych Central it has to do with fear and anxiety.
Most people think a lot about what they put in their mouths. Many people eat a vegan, vegetarian, Paleo or gluten free diet. Other people eat low carb, no sugar, low-calorie diets to lose weight. The diet industry in the United States is a multibillion dollar industry. Food is an American obsession. I don’t follow any diet on a regular basis, but I often tell myself, “Wow, after those French fries, I need to eat some greens!” I try to get some fruits and vegetables in my diet every day, and many times I will practice a vegetarian diet for months at a time.
What if people gave the same thought to what they put in their minds as they do about what they put in their mouths? How much violence do you see in a day? How many stories do you read that are gossip posing as news? How much time do you spend playing video games? How much time do you spend on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or Snapchat?
When I took computer classes in school, the mantra that the professors used to say was, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This saying simply means if you put garbage into something all you can expect to get out is more garbage. Sadly, I think this is true. If we don’t fill our minds with stories of compassion, hope, healing, health, love, redemption, beauty, etc. then how can we hope to get these things back out of our minds?
If we spend our days documenting our every move for social media and exposing ourselves to the “best moments” of the lives of all of our friends in our social network, we may end up feeling envious, hollow, or empty. If social media is our obsession and most of it isn’t an accurate picture of reality, then what is the food we feed our minds on a regular basis?
Ash Wednesday is coming up, and I am not Catholic, but I love the idea of fasting at least once a year for forty days. I am planning to add some things to my life over the next forty days – ten to fifteen minute of stretching/yoga a day, reading more books for entertainment and writing more.
What do I plan to give up, though? I think about all the garbage that goes into my mind every day, and it is that trash that I would like to give up for my forty days of fasting. I am going to cut way back on my social media time and the time I spend reading articles that are not of value on the Internet.
I have a feeling by Easter my mind will be healthier and I will have lost some of the weight of negative news, gossip, and the unrealistic face people show to the world on social media.
As with every diet, it is going to be tough and take discipline, but I bet when it is over, I feel a whole lot better.
My arch collapsed on my left foot about a year ago. I went to the doctor, and he recommended physical therapy and exercises to strengthen the foot, and surrounding muscles. I never went to the physical therapy and I never did the exercises. My back has started to really bother me, so yesterday I started doing the stretches. My back hurt so much last night that I had difficulty sleeping. I did a few stretches again this morning.
There is so much about our health that is our own responsibility: exercise, stretching, taking medications, eating right, etc. all of those things are in our control. Some people are very good at taking their health into their own hands and improving on an illness that was outside of their control to begin with.
I need to take care of my body in the same way I have learned over the years to take care of my mind. I take my medications every day. I try to avoid stress. I am careful to get at least eight hours of sleep. I spend a good deal of time alone in order to calm down and find peace. Now, it is time to use the same principals for my body as I do for my mind.
Stretching and regular exercise are going to be like my medication – they are not options, they are necessary.
It took me several years of repeated episodes of psychosis to get on my medication and stay on my medication. I must be a slow learner because it has taken me a year to take the recommendations of the doctor about my foot.
I hope none of you are as slow to learn as I am. In the case of schizophrenia, medication has given me the ability to accomplish so many things and live a relatively normal life. In the case of my foot – I am hoping stretches and exercise will make this pain go away. These lessons have been hard learned.
Just like it takes time to get regulated on medication, it is going to take time to see if these stretches and exercises ease the pain in my back. Of course now I wish I could hurry the process, one I probably could have avoided if I had taken my doctor seriously.
anxiety, bipolar, cancer, depression, diabetes, diet, exercise, heart disease, life, mental health, mental illness, mentally ill, OCD, psychiatry, psychology, psychosis, schizophrenia, stress, writing
The hardest thing about being mentally ill is definitely psychosis – in my opinion there is nothing worse than that. It is terrifying to be out of touch with reality and so often the voices, hallucinations, delusions, etc. are more frightening than any Hollywood horror show could ever come close to. But there are other things about mental illness that are hard, and I think those things are the daily stresses and situations that everyone has to deal with.
Just because you have a mental illness you don’t get a pass on other diseases. You still have to worry about cancer, heart disease, etc. This fact is a great equalizer – we are all in the same situation. We are all human and cancer and heart disease don’t discriminate. A chronic illness is difficult for anyone to deal with, but if you are dealing with a mental illness on top of a major health concern (diabetes is a big one), the stress can be enough to further damage your health.
I feel like those of us with a mental illness are in a no-win cycle at times. We have to take our medications, and our medications can cause serious illnesses. Exercise and diet help with our symptoms and with illnesses, but the medications can cause an increase in hunger, a lack of motivation, tiredness and lethargy making diet and exercise near impossibilities.
Holy cow! That is a lot to deal with, and then you factor in taking out the trash, going grocery shopping, figuring out how to pay the bills, a job (if you are lucky enough to be able to have and keep one), dishes, laundry, meal preparation, etc. I know that these are the same stressors and situations that all people deal with, but combined with a mental illness it can look like a mountain that you are unable to climb, or a mountain that you start to climb, but get hit with something else and slip back ten feet, only to try again to go ten feet and slip back twenty.
All of these things are hard, but dealing with other people can be the most challenging thing of all (besides psychosis). Other people have issues! It is hard when you are mentally ill to recognize that other people have problems that are as big of an issue as a mental illness. For instance, some people are very manipulative, passive-aggressive, gossips, mean-spirited, angry, bitter, takers, competitive, and spiteful. Most people won’t cut you any slack from their passive-aggressiveness, or their criticism because you have a mental illness. You are most often forced to deal with your symptoms and the difficult character and personality traits of others – exhausting! There are times when I really think that some people I know have more “symptoms” than I do, even though they haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness.
I know I am usually hopeful, grateful, and upbeat in my blog, but today, I was overcome by how difficult it can be to be someone with a mental illness and try to maneuver the world and other people.
Today I am just honoring all of you who have to deal with life in the same way as everyone else and on top of that manage the symptoms of a mental illness. It is not easy and you are occasionally allowed to throw your hands in the air and yell, “Enough is enough!” Because honestly, it can be too much for all of us some times. Give yourself a smiley face on your notebook today. I gave myself a smiley face and a piece a chocolate. Come on, we both deserve it.
Meanness, if left to grow, will overtake the most pristine garden. So, let us cultivate empathy daily, and watch our beautiful places like heart and soul become a refuge for others to visit.
From the time I was sixteen to the time I was thirty-five, I was very fashion forward. As a teenager, I dyed a strip of my hair black, and let it grow much longer than my naturally colored hair (strawberry blonde). I kept that black tail in a braid on the right side and it hung well beyond my breast before I cut it off one day. I bought many of my clothes in Europe, Egypt, and in thrift stores so that I could be unique. I always wanted to wear things that no one else had. In college I had a clear plastic raincoat with red, blue and yellow polka dots on it that I wore with go-go boots. I also wore dresses, hats, and gloves that were from the nineteen-fifties that I bought at a vintage store that I loved.
It’s been a long time since I cared about fashion. I still shop at second hand stores, but not to be unique, I do it for the good of the environment (recycling), to be thrifty, to cut down on cheap clothes made in sweat shops overseas, etc. I’ve lost the motivation to put the time and effort into being fashionable. I simply don’t have the desire to spend on my looks. I rarely wear make-up. Although I envy my girlfriend’s brightly painted toenails, I never make the effort to get mine done, and I wear what is comfortable not necessary what is in fashion or the cutest. I don’t know if this has to do with getting older, getting lazier, being more comfortable with myself, or my illness (it very well could be all of those things).
The point I am trying to make is that I don’t try to impress or please others when I am out in public, and I don’t expect anyone to dress or please me. I notice that sometimes when women are together, they will toss a head in my direction and laugh (particularly when I wear a pair of polka dot pants that are so comfortable and that I love), or when I layer several shirts, put on a stretchy skirt and wear tennis shoes (I almost always wear tennis shoes which I know look funny with many of my outfits but my legs are significantly different lengths after the arch in my left foot collapsed). The fact that tennis shoes are about all I can wear brings up a good point, we don’t always know the story behind why someone is dressed the way they are. Maybe they are injured. Maybe, their kids are sick. Maybe, it is the first time they were able to make it out of bed this week. Maybe, they recently gained or lost a lot of weight and don’t have the money for new clothes.
This is why I am shocked, hurt, and appalled that people take photos of complete strangers out in public and then post them to their social media and make fun of the person in the picture and encourage their friends to make fun of them too. I have to admit I have seen women do this more than men. I recently saw a picture on Facebook of a woman that was probably a size sixteen wearing the new style of yoga shorts and a hoodie. The person who took the photo wrote, “Look what I have to look at while I eat my lunch.” There were so many comments shaming this woman for not being a size two and daring to wear short shorts out in public. When I saw the woman in the short shorts, I thought, “Wow. I wish I was that comfortable with my body! Good for her!”
When I am out in public, I don’t want to think that people are secretly snapping pictures of me to put on their social media accounts in order to mock me with their friends. I want to feel like I am free to be myself in the world without judgement or ridicule. I want you to have the same freedom from cruelty, and humiliation.
So what if our shorts are small, our shoes don’t match, or we are a plus size and want to wear spandex, let’s make a smile matter more than appearances, and a kind word open our heart.
beauty, bipolar, clothes, crafts, depression, diet, exercise, fashion, lifestyle, medication, mental health, mental illness, mentally ill, online shopping, psychology, recipes, sales, schizophrenia, thrift store, travel, weight loss, women
I would like to introduce my new blog. This blog, A Journey with you, will remain the same. My second blog is called, Being Beautiful and Mentally Ill. You can find it here.
Being Beautiful and Mentally Ill is a lifestyle blog for (mostly) women who have a mental illness. I will discuss fashion, weight loss, travel, food, exercise, etc.
I am looking for bloggers who have a mental illness to guest blog a recipe, a craft, fashion, make-up, travel, art, photography, etc. on the site.
I want people to know we have a mental illness but that doesn’t keep us from being beautiful women. We are like all women – amazing.
Please visit the blog, leave a comment, sign up, or let me know if you have something to contribute.
This is a community blog, let’s make it exciting!
At times I feel sorry for myself, because not only do I have a mental illness, but I have to deal with the health risks of medications, as well as, weight gain and lack of motivation. Everyone with a mental illness who is on medication can relate to what I am talking about. You probably have to get your liver, kidneys, sugar, cholesterol, and for some of us, our hearts, checked on a regular basis. These things add to an already stressful life and situation.
But the health risks don’t damage self-esteem like the weight gain does.
When I had my last medication change my weight went up to 178 pounds. I was at that weight for a while before I couldn’t take the way I looked or the impact the extra weight was having on my body like sore knees and chaffing when I walked.
I went on a diet for a year and lost 53 pounds. At 125, I was so thin, and so happy. I stayed at 125 for a couple of years, and then gradually I started to put the weight back on. I gained 25 pounds.
I know I am not fat, but I have a roll of skin around my waist, and everything about me is bigger. I don’t like it at all. So, I started back on a diet again. Losing weight on medication is not for the weak willed. It is difficult, it is slow, and it takes a great deal of discipline. Also, I noticed I am in a better mood when I put more food into my body. When I eat less, I am cranky far more often. I notice that I snap at my husband for things that shouldn’t bother me. I think blood sugar is something I am extremely sensitive to.
So, hopefully, if I can stay disciplined over the next 25 weeks (approximately six months), then I will lose the weight I have gained back after my original diet.
Everything I just wrote is factual, but there is something else happening in my life in regard to beauty. I see physically beautiful women and men all the time, but I am not taken in by their looks. What I am taken in by in my life are people who can write or create something beautiful. I am taken in by the ability of people to reveal a part of their depth or soul. If someone can write words that help me travel their inner landscape, I find myself thinking that person is beautiful in a way appearances don’t touch.
I have never fell in love with someone based on their appearance, and I have never befriend someone for their looks either. I think I have always been able to see more than what someone has displayed on the outside, but what I am experiencing now is a whole new definition of beauty and I do desire to be close to it, to experience it, to know it in a way that physical beauty has never drawn me in.
So while I am trying to get my weight back down to where I am comfortable, I am not preoccupied with it, or shaming or hating myself for the body I live in. I know what kind of food will make me truly beautiful and it has nothing to do with eating. It is the kind of nourishment I give to my soul and to my art. It is the time I spend alone trying to discover what lives inside of me and how to bring those jewels out into the light.
I know it is hard to gain weight, especially as a consequence of taking care of yourself by taking your medications, but try not to be hard on yourself. I see your beauty every time I get a glimpse of what lives in the inner most regions of you.
Those dark spaces that you shed light on are beautiful. I love seeing you.