Categories
Mental Health

RIP Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst

It is even more difficult to get help when we convince the world that we couldn’t be happier.

I don’t wonder ‘why’ she did it; any answer she would give me would probably make sense. I understand that type of darkness.

I do wonder if anyone knew how she suffered inside. Are you suffering while flying under the radar? I hope you never get too good at hiding your misery…

Many of us know the agony of feeling like this could be the only way out.

I do.

If it were not for a friend who noticed I was seriously formulating a plan and that friend’s courage to confront me, I’m sure I would not be here today.

I believed no one could change my mind. I had been thinking about this since I was five.

Had I not tried to give away my car, my friend never would have known.

If you know what I’m talking about and you’re keeping a secret – please examine every alternative. There are so many other ways to get relief! Ask me!!

Pleas follow my FB page for encouragement, support, and hopefully a feeling of more connection. You are NOT alone.

@askmiavivone

Share this with those you know. Contradictory to what we may think, as a society, we have barely moved the needle on the issue of such tragic losses of life.

❤️ Mia

Categories
Mental Health Snowglobes & Music Boxes

Caldor Fire and Things

While waiting in the lobby to extend our stay at the La Wildfire Evacuation Inn, I saw this and realized my collection of snow globes and music boxes that I received from my mother over the years, is in a chest for safekeeping. 3 miles away from a fire. The collection is reminiscent of all of the years we worked together to heal our relationship. Aw man. I wanted to give those to my grand or great-grandchildren. 😳💔

Well, I am very thankful that we’re all alive, of course, and I know it could’ve been worse, but this is probably not the last time I will get a reminder of some of the things left behind that aren’t “just things”.

So, I didn’t pick up this pretty globe and throw it through the motel glass window in the lobby. The cops never showed up, and I’m not drunk. There’s a good chance that I’ll be in bed before 10 PM on a Wednesday night, as always. I guess I’ll take that as progress.

I was shocked by how I took the hit, closed my eyes, took a few slow, deep breaths, and re-centered myself. I’m practicing every coping skill that I teach to others as I’m coping with the feelings of displacement that wildfire evacuation can cause. I live with C-PTSD and any additional trauma that is added to the stack of them that is already there causes tidal waves of emotional dysregulation that demands immediate attention. As I practice the things that my clients hear me repeat over, and over, I’m reminded of my own resilience as these new ways of responding to difficult circumstances allow me to focus on self-soothing turbulent emotions before doing anything else. This new design for living also clears my perception, allowing me to see all that is provided around me, to help me.

If it gets weird, I know that I can rely on this emotional evidence to reinforce my awareness that the promise of experiencing serenity within calamity is manifesting in my life. I’m okay with that being the answer to my question “Why would any of this happen?”.

I’m so thankful for all of you who are holding space for smooth transitions that lead to the highest good for all 🙏🏼☺️

Categories
Coping Skills Mental Health

Calm Anxiety in 3 Simple Steps

Anxiety is Paralyzing

Anxious or Anxiety?

Are you feeling anxious or experiencing anxiety? What’s the difference? It’s been one of those damn days. You have a long list of to-do’s, but you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing because your wheels are spinning. You have two choices: Let it ride and go home frustrated and exhausted, dreading the stress of tomorrow because you know you’ll be playing catch-up, or learn this simple trick to gain enough traction to shift yourself out of worthless zombie gear and into productive badass mode! Old habits die hard, but the kind of stress we’re talking about here shortens your life span anyway, so you have nothing to lose by sticking around to learn this short formula for getting your shit together.

think you know the difference?

Most are familiar with the terms “anxious” and “anxiety” that we commonly use to describe certain thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It seems that the definitions of these two terms are understood, or at least our speculations of the actual definitions are pretty close, but they are often mistakenly used interchangeably. A better understanding of what is what sets the foundation for building a mental wellness framework of coping skills.

Read on to learn why anxious and anxiety are merely similar, followed by my short formula for snapping out of it early on, before the kind of paralysis that you see in that photo (above) occurs.

Take a look at these definitions according to Oxford University:

anxious

adjective  /ˈæŋkʃəs/ /ˈæŋkʃəs/

  1.   feeling worried or nervous
    • The bus was late and Sue began to get anxious.
    •  anxious about something I felt very anxious and depressed about the future.
    • He seemed anxious about the meeting.
    •  anxious for somebody Parents are naturally anxious for their children.

anxiety

noun  /æŋˈzaɪəti/ /æŋˈzaɪəti/(plural anxieties)

  1.  [uncountable] anxiety (about/over something) the state of feeling nervous or worried that something bad is going to happen
    • acute/intense/deep anxiety
    • Some hospital patients experience high levels of anxiety.
    • Waiting for exam results is a time of great anxiety.

2.  [uncountable] (psychology) a mental health problem that causes somebody to worry so much that it has a very negative effect on their daily life

  • Some people are feeling the pressure and suffering from anxiety and depression.
  • patients suffering from an anxiety disorder

anxious

Anxious (adj.) describes a feeling state which, most of the time, is situational – based on your thoughts about what is happening right now. It goes like this: Something happens. You have all kinds of different thoughts about what happened and why, and what’s going to happen next, and how it might’ve been prevented. Worrying builds up, which is focusing on a real problem and looking for solutions to that problem. Looking for solutions is a motivation that moves you toward solving the problem and is helpful.

anxious states come…and go

Eventually, a solution presents itself (you figure it out, get help, etc.). The problem is either solved or on its way to being solved. Anxious thoughts subside causing anxious feelings to subside, and also, the anxious feeling state dissipates. In short: No more situation/problem, no more anxious thoughts, and subsequent feelings.

anxiety is a thing

Anxiety (n.) is some thing (made up of biological, neurological, and psychological aspects) that affects thoughts, causing you to emote emotions (most likely a fear). The intensity of fear produces physical signs (e.g., increased heart rate, holding your breath, headache, sweaty palms, loss of appetite, even visceral sensations of dread, and all of that can go on at the same time). It feels like something you can’t shake and stays with you as today ends, and follows you as tomorrow begins. Anxiety is something a person has, is having, or has had – it’s something that afflicts a person (e.g., Julie has anxiety / is having an attack of anxiety/ has had several bouts of anxiety).

anxiety feels overwhelming

The term anxiety is more global, meaning it’s not the result of an incident, circumstance, or problem, but comprises everything (e.g., your self-image, marriage, job, health, kids. etc.,). It can go like this: You think about something (anything) and then your thoughts jump around- to what happened last time, to all of the hard times, to all of the stuff that never worked out, to all of the things that could go wrong, to consider all of the insecurity and instability in the world – your mind is showing you short movies (with accompanying feelings) where you vacillate between reliving past events and forecasting future scenarios.

anxiety distorts reality

You have trouble concentrating because now your head is full of things that are outside of your control. Since you are laser-focused in areas outside of your control, this type of worrying is unhelpful since it cannot be used to motivate you to look for and find a solution. The problem is not specific – it’s blown up into everything is a problem.

It’s very hard to stop these wheels once they get going like this because the more you need control over what you can’t control so that you can feel better, the more aware you become that what you want and need to happen are not happening. You are uncomfortable, you even hate knowing that you can’t make things happen or prevent them from happening.

anxiety is persistent

Your inner world is in chaos and your outer world begins to reflect this: A friend asks “What’s wrong?” and you might say, “The economy is crumbling. I’m broke and there is no relief in sight.” The friend responds, “But we have plenty of orders and plenty of employees to fulfill the orders! We’ll be fine!” You respond, “Oh, those damn employees, they don’t even do their jobs right and they want too much money. We’ll never get out of the red this year.”

anxiety is “stubborn” on steroids

If your friend doesn’t disengage from the conversation, I’m surprised. No, you can’t blame this on you being “stubborn”, the root of this is much deeper. You see? It doesn’t matter what your friend says, your train is stuck on that track and you will resist anything and anyone trying to point out facts that could help you flip your switch. In mental health, we look for “stable, persistent patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior that cause the individual impairment in functioning in one or more life areas” (APA, 2013).

Anxiety likes to partner with depression

The above is the persistent part of anxiety, it just goes on and on. It stabilizes when a person usually responds this way. Unless you know how to throw a wrench in that gear early on to prevent that spin, you’re going for a ride. With generalized anxiety, living each day feels like a burdensome disappointment and typically seeks to pair up with its favorite partner: depression.

…here’s your wrench

throw a wrench in those gears

Now that you understand what is driving those gears of yours a bit more, we can get to how to throw a wrench in there to shift ’em. It helps to make a List of Priorities for the Day to help you map out where you’re headed, and to also assist you with re-focusing should you get blind-sided by either anxiousness or the beginning stages of an attack of anxiety, panic, etc.

Take Frequent Breaks to Check Your Pulse

To help you stay a few steps ahead of the wave. Stop and close your eyes if you can – it limits distractions. Does your chest/ribcage feel constricted? Is your breathing shallow – or are you catching yourself holding your breath and exhaling deep sighs? Do you feel like you have to get every single thing done right now, and that there aren’t enough hours in the day? Why do you feel like something is chasing you? Aren’t you curious about this? It has to do with brain chemistry, but that’s in another post.

Take Note of Who is on Your Chopping Block

Who isn’t doing it your way? Are you criticizing others for not doing their job that way that you could? Are you having imaginary arguments in your head? Is your brain assassinating people? Ok, now, you have to choose to let them go. If you are doing this to yourself, you must let yourself off the hook! Seriously, the more you look for proof that you are a victim, the greater the intensity of anxiety.

Your Breath is Your Anchor to Sanity

Learning how to breathe expands your sense of serenity or peace. I know you’ve heard this before, but do you practice it? Do you stop, close your eyes, take a gentle, deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs all the way, hold it at the top for a few seconds, and then slowly release it through your mouth? Do you allow yourself to do this more than once, take several breaths like this over a whole two minutes? I didn’t think so. (Gentle, Hold, Slowly, and Two Minutes are the key points in that otherwise, you’re just letting out a sigh of exasperation, which isn’t the same thing – it doesn’t produce the chemicals in your brain that can stop and reset those gears).

you get what you give

This takes practice just like everything else. Set a timer to do the checks. Pay attention to your thoughts and if everything and everybody has you grumbling, it’s time to stop and shift.

It’s important to catch it early. Don’t expect too much if you let it build and build before doing this exercise, you’ll be fighting a losing battle against chemistry and physiology. Just go to bed.

The first two steps detail a process of introspection and intention, which are an important set-up process before doing the breathing. You’re intending on letting go, releasing, breathing, and shifting by going through that thought process. So no short-cuts, you’ll miss out if you don’t tee it up!

Need help with daily skills to shift out of paralyzing patterns of thought and emotion?

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Categories
Coping Skills Emotional Regulation Isolation Mental Health Perceptions Recognizing Symptoms Stress

A Daily Plan to Cope with Isolation

More than ever, this is when you have to place the care of your mental health as your first priority.

Here is a plan to help you cope with Isolation: Daily practice of what I am about to write for you produces significant changes in the lives of many people who have worked with me. The timing feels right to share it with you, especially since most of us are sheltering-in-place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get out of bed. Open the curtains and let the light come in. If you can, open the windows to allow some airflow, so your room, apartment, your home doesn’t feel like a dark cave. Resist the subtle seduction of your bed, blankets, and pillow, telling you that things are just too heavy to face right now, that you should sleep the day away. Ignore the lies. You can find a purpose for your day today and there is plenty that you can do with the time that you have available today. Feed your mind. Grow your spirituality. Help others wherever and whenever you can. There’s plenty to be thankful for…you woke up didn’t you? Take a little time to nurture your spiritual connection so that you’re not relying solely on your own power today. YOUR SHOULDERS ALONE ARE NOT BIG ENOUGH. Meditate. Pray. Send healing “vibes” to your loved ones, your community, Mother Earth, the Universe. You can choose your own path for your spiritual expression. Take a moment to hold a vision of all of this passing by…because it always has..and always will. Oh, and stop using the words locked down.

I’m not suggesting that you can hide from reality and attempting to run from our inner experiences only makes it worse. However, there are things you can do to minimize your habit of destructive meditation (i.e., rumination). You can practice catching fearful and anxious thoughts as they come in by acknowledging that they are there and then saying (out loud!) “But right now, I am safe”.

Become aware of what you are allowing yourself to focus on. What you let in through your ears, through your eyes, and out of your mouth influences your thought processes. Your thinking influences how you feel. If you feel like crap, take a minute to notice your thoughts. I don’t subscribe to escapism or “pollyanna” type methods of awareness, that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that the way you feel (e.g., your mood, your energy, your level of motivation) has a lot to do with what you are thinking about. A good friend of mine says, “It’s okay to drive-through, just don’t park there.”

So, for God’s sake, turn the damn COVID-19 news off. You don’t need the death-toll ticker running all day long. How is that helping you? All of the updates will still be there for you to catch up on later, maybe after dinner. Be careful not to sponge up Facebook or news first thing when you wake up or right before bed, unless you want to set yourself up to increase feelings of anxiety and depression, or anger and hopelessness. Don’t listen to the whispers of your comfy chair or your favorite spot in the couch, it will only suck you down into fear, self-loathing, and then self-pity. It’s a set-up to give up!

You can sit down later this afternoon but for now, get moving! Go for a walk…take the dog. Don’t avoid going outside, get into nature. Wear a mask if you think you should. Notice the trees filling in and the flowers blooming. Look at the older couple holding hands as they stroll down the sidewalk. Take a minute to love their LOVE. Feel the sun on your face, on your skin. Connect with other walkers by saying “good morning” and waving from the safer distance.

If the weather is inclement, turn on some upbeat music. Dance with your children in the living room. Do body weight exercises. Check out yoga. Clean the house. Organize the garage, the closets, the Tupperware cabinet. Start a project or a craft. Read a book. Better yet, write that book! Resist the overconsumption of alcohol, sugar, and drama; all of them are high-powered depressants. Watch an inspiring movie, not one that increases your fear and anxiety, unless you’re into self-inflicting an increase in your mental health symptoms. Which in that case, reach out for mental health help right away by calling a hotline. RemedyLIVE is one of my favorites. They can help you 24/7 via text message. Stay connected with people who are coping better than you are, so you can be encouraged and empowered. Only then can you pass strength on to someone who needs it.

If you are in recovery for mental illness and/or substance use, connect with resources online that hold regular meetings or groups, and read about how to reinforce coping skills that will help you with a more productive outlook. When things ramp up, it’s tempting to think that your medication isn’t working. Stay with your medication. Don’t stop abruptly without talking to your doctor first, unless you want to risk the deterioration of your mental stability, psychosis, or a full-on 5150 trip. Please call your provider first and discuss what you’re experiencing. Request your refills long before you run out to allow time for mail delivery.

Remember that thoughts, emotions, behaviors, including anger, crying, seething resentment, and constant worry, all take up energy. Reduce your engagement in conflict. Reduce your exposure to conflict. Your mental and emotional resources (energy) are already being siphoned by just trying to cope day-to-day. I’m not talking “ju-ju” energy stuff here, although I do believe there is much to be said of matters that are phenomenal in nature, such as meta and quantum physics. I mean energy as in just basic physics, including biochemical reactions in the brain and body. So don’t risk wasting precious energy by jumping in the ring at every invitation. You can sit this one out. This means avoiding petty arguments with your spouse or partner, be mindful that your children are going through their own painful process – get off their backs. And your parents have their own ways of dealing with things, stop trying to force them to think and feel like you do. Love your siblings and be considerate of the cashier at the grocery store.

Be aware that mental and emotional stress, as well as physical pain, often come out sideways. You may not even be aware of this, but your feelings of not being able to control what is happening can be expressed as fighting for control with other people, because something in you just needs to remember what it feels like to have control, to win. This serves no one, especially YOU. Conflict just increase the likelihood of a three-day emotional hangover and possibly a bout of deep depression afterwards. Why choose to go down there? The risk isn’t worth it. Fight to keep yourself from opening your mouth. Fight to walk away. Whatever you have to do to maintain a sense of calm in your mind and prevent yourself from causing harm to someone else. Let it go.

Create a routine at night that sends signals to your mind and body that it is time to slow down, shut down and recharge. Be careful not to impede your process of rejuvenation by eating a big meal right before bed or sleeping with the television on. Get comfortable. Read a book before bed. Binaural beats are a wonderful way to take advantage of the always-awake parts of your mind (best to use headphones) and I’ve known it to help even self-proclaimed ‘hopeless’ insomniacs. Review the last 24 hours like you are watching a movie on the screen of your mind. Avoid re-feeling it; just watch it. Gently note areas of your thinking, feeling, and behavior that need improvement, without casting callous judgment on yourself and others. Let the swirling criticisms of others float away from your mind. Release all of your concerns by imagining them floating up and out of your mind, and up into the night sky, where something bigger than you can tend to them, for now. Set a mental goal (an intention) to wake up to a new day with the simple gratitude of being given Life. Before you fall sleep, say out loud: “In the morning, I will know just what to do.”

With each sunrise, you have a new beginning.

When you wake up, go to the beginning of this page and repeat.

Share with those who might need the help.

Comment about your experiences below. I’d love to hear from you.

– Mia