Now that I’m in recovery I really struggle with taking medication. Any type of medication. Tylenol? Nope. Ibuprofen? Forget it! Cough medicine? HA! I think not! However, there is one type of medication that I take adamantly on a daily basis, my mental health meds.
Your medication for mental illness is not something you should skip or come off of on your own. If you really think you should come off those meds please please consult your doctor and taper off slowly and safely. Some of the worst withdrawals I’ve ever had were from anti-depressants. Now, I used to hate taking my meds because I thought it made me a “psych patient”, however, I quickly learned that it actually makes me a normal person. With depression there is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Serotonin and Dopamine are not produced normally so we require medication to make up for it. Those two molecules are basically what gives you happiness and motivation. That’s why, when a depression episode hits, I have a really hard time doing what I should be doing. I simply want to lie in bed and disappear. I have zero motivation to get up and move. I don’t clean, I don’t shower, I don’t eat, I can’t do anything, and there is literally a physiological reason for that. My brain doesn’t produce the right things to give me the motivation and happiness I need, which in turn leads to extreme fatigue because even though I don’t have the motivation I still have to socialize, go to work, perform my normal daily activities, and literally force myself to do basic stuff. It’s exhausting! Depression is very much a physical disease! When someone has cancer or diabetes people don’t expect them to overdo it. They encourage them to take it easy and slow. They would be shocked if this patient attempted to run a full marathon in between their cancer treatments. However, with people who have mental illness we are expected to do the same things that all other people do. There are some days where it just isn’t possible. Sometimes I will give myself an hourly limit per day as to what I’m capable of. For example, if I’m having a rough day it may be only a four hour day. That means, I may only be productive and present for four hours. There are other days where I feel like I have a full eight or even ten hours of “life” in me. However, some days I barely make it an hour. We have to learn to allow ourselves some time to recoup after a long day, and we really need to forgive ourselves when we beat ourselves up for not keeping up with others. They don’t have your illness, so for them an eight hour day is totally feasible. This disease is why I take medication daily, and that is OKAY!
There is such a terrible stigma attached to not only mental health, but also to taking medicine for mental health. People won’t talk about it, and I know many people who suffer alone without any medication because they’re afraid what others might think, or they’re afraid of the side effects. I get it, I do, but I also know that without my meds I would be a completely different person. We have to help cut down on this stigma, and I’ve found a great way of doing that is by speaking out and encouraging others to look into things like therapy, medication, etc. A lot of people seem to think that if they don’t talk about their mental illness it means they don’t really have it. Nope, not how it works. It’s still there. I know medicine doesn’t fix everything, and some people who have depression seem to function fine without it, but if you feel you need medication please seek the advice of a doctor. Don’t let what other people think be the deciding factor in whether or not you take a pill each day. If you had high blood pressure or heart disease you would take daily meds. This is no different.
As a recovering addict my mental health meds are the only pills I take now, and I’m perfectly okay with that. My mental health meds are literally a part of my recovery, just like my therapy appointments, yoga, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, journaling, meditation, reading, etc. Being dual diagnosis (an addict who also has a mental illness) I know that if I don’t keep my mental health in check then a relapse will not be far behind. My addiction and mental health literally go hand-in-hand. If one gets bad the other gets worse. So please, know that it is perfectly okay to take medicine for a mental illness. You can do this. We’ll do it together! I have faith in you. Stay strong!
Why is it that we are always looking for happiness, but we refuse to do any work to get it? Why do we read “self help” books, but not take the advice of the authors? Happiness is not hard to obtain, and it simply involves changing the way you think.
Just the other night I had a friend of mine (who also happens to be a Shaman) over for dinner. In the midst of cooking, a glass fell off the counter and shattered all over the floor. I cleaned it up, threw it in the trash, and continued cooking. I bought the glass at the Dollar Tree so I knew they will have more that only cost one dollar. Why get upset over something that is so easily fixable? In Buddhism we are taught that our suffering is brought about by attachment. Nothing lasts forever, and I knew the moment I bought the glass that there was a chance it would break at some point. Therefore, I didn’t get attached to the glass, but I did enjoy it while I had it. My reaction could’ve been totally different. I could’ve been angry that the glass broke, and I could’ve allowed myself to get upset over something so small. However, my friend and I continued cooking, and I have yet to replace the glass. The empty space in the cabinet where the glass once sat is somewhat a reminder that impermanence is all around us. Enjoy the things, and the people, that you have in your life now, while you still have them. Don’t wait until they’re gone to appreciate them or tell them you love them. Tell them now, today. Change the way you react to certain situations and happiness is soon to follow! 🙂
I love burning things. Absolutely love it. Now, let me explain.
By “things” I’m talking about incense sticks, candles, and sage smudging sticks. The other night I noticed I was feeling a little down. I looked around my room and realized it had become a little bit cluttered. The room felt stagnant and devoid of open, breathable air. I got up, opened my window, grabbed a box from the basement, packed away a few things, cleaned (vacuumed, dusted, etc) then decided to light a sage stick so that I could smudge my room. For those of you who aren’t familiar with “smudging” it is the act of using a bundle of sage (sometimes mixed with other things like cedar, sandalwood, lemon grass, etc.) in order to run off any negative energy in the room. You light it on fire, then blow it out allowing the smoke to fill the room. I use a leather bound group of feathers to “sweep” the smoke around the room. The smoke will cling to, and remove, any unwanted energy. You are literally smoking out the bad vibes. This may be all in my head, and it may not do a single thing except fill your room with a small amount of smoke, but it works for me.
I’m obsessed with Native American medicine, healing rituals, crystals, chakras, etc. so any chance I get to learn something about any of these things I’m all over it! Smudging makes me happy, crystal healing/protection, makes me happy, learning about alternative medicine makes me happy. All these things are things that I enjoy doing and learning about and they bring me some form of happiness. So why not light a stick of sage and walk around my room, waving the smoke with a feather? I discovered a year or so ago that I’m an Empath. I pick up on the energy of others, whether good or bad, and that energy will affect my own. Yes, for those of you who don’t understand or follow any of this you will probably stop reading my blog at this point. You probably think I’m nuts, and that’s okay. You’re entitled to your opinion 😉 I first realized that I’m an empathic person when I had to attend a funeral. Upon walking in I immediately felt the sadness, my chest became heavy, my lungs tightened, I was very uncomfortable and for the rest of the day I was extremely depressed. After the funeral I went home and went straight to bed. I was exhausted. I didn’t even really know the person who had passed, but the sad and negative energy that I picked up had literally saddened my heart and it truly affected the rest of my day. The next day I woke up and decided to do something about it. I smudged my room (and myself), drank some coffee, cleaned, played some upbeat music, and meditated. I told myself it’s okay to feel for the family and their loss, but there’s nothing I can do about it so I have to allow those feelings to pass. And they did. A few years ago the task of attending a funeral could’ve sent me into a deep depression for a few weeks, but the fact that I now know how to handle it means I can be there to comfort others in their time of need without allowing their energy to attack my own.
I’m sure some of you think I’m nuts, but I challenge you next time you’re feeling down to open a window, play some music, pray or meditate, smile, watch a funny movie, get moving/exercise, clean, and allow all the negative energy that’s getting you down to move on. Don’t let it stay there because the longer you do, the harder it will be to get rid of. Have a wonderful day!
Why, as a culture, are we so focused on negative news? The global news, local news, Facebook news, etc. is almost always something bad. It’s rare that you see happy and positive news going viral. I hardly ever watch the news, for this very reason, but I do try to keep up with what’s going on in the world. It seems the good stuff always flies under the radar, but the bad things seem to take a lead role in this production of life.
Just the other day I was watching the news about a man who had killed his 3 month old baby…..HIS 3 MONTH OLD BABY!!! What the hell is wrong with him?! I understand that stuff like that happens, and it’s the reality of the world we live in; however, I don’t feel that I need to clutter my mind with that type of negativity. The rest of the day I randomly thought of that poor baby and how sick that man must be in the head to do something like that. It made me nauseous. Those types of things just bring me down and remind me how twisted some people are in this world. Some of you may say that by avoiding this type of “news” I’m simply shielding myself and preventing myself from hearing about it, and you would be correct. Speaking from someone who has suffered from VERY severe depression, I have to take an active role in blocking any negativity that could possibly make my depression worse. This includes depressing news. If it is something that is really news worthy, and something I need to know about, then I can guarantee I’ll hear about it. There are a few apps that are on my phone that give you good news, science news, happy news, etc. and I love those apps! I guess, when it comes to “news”, I tend to lean towards articles versus breaking news. I’ve learned the breaking news is typically the worst. I also try not to share negative news on social media, as that means I’m participating in spreading that diseased news. Only happy news comes through me! 🙂
I challenge you guys to only share and read good news. Try to stay away from all the negative news about murder, suicide, bombing, etc. I promise it will make a difference! I’m not saying to avoid it all together, because being naive and blind about stuff gives the impression that you don’t care. I’m just saying to not actively seek out negative stuff.
Have a wonderful day!
This summer I decided to teach myself the beautiful art of tie-dye! I went all out buying several white shirts, several white bandanas, and even a cloth tote bag. I was determined to make the most beautiful tie-dye creations that anyone had ever seen. Now, let me preface by saying that I am quite OCD, so I wanted this tie-dye project to be absolutely perfect. That was my first mistake.
The shirts actually turned out pretty good, however, the bandanas and the tote not so much. Honestly, they looked pretty awful. Yes, I was upset, but then I remembered that tie-dye isn’t about perfect; it’s about having fun and using color to express yourself. Once I realized this the bandanas actually started to look halfway decent. The tote still looked terrible, so I just trashed it! HAHA! There were several spots on the bandana where I had put too much dye and it caused the colors to run together making either a black or brown muddy smudge. Other places I didn’t put enough dye and they were very light and there were even some white spots where I had missed putting the dye all together. I’m the type of person who always tries to see good out of every situation, and I also try to use each of those situations as a learning experience.
The bandana is kind of like my life. Some spots were lightly covered with dye. Those times in my life were the easy times. School was great, my health was great, everything was going well. Then there were other times, like the dark loaded down spots on the bandana, that were extremely difficult. Losing my aunt Lisa (who was like a second mother to me) was one of those times. Unable to cope I decided to just take a few extra pain pills before the funeral, which eventually led to an even darker place in my life. Those were the black spots on the bandana. There was absolutely no light. No good, and no positive in my life at that point. However, I sought out help and the white spots on the bandana started to show up again. I lost 135lbs, had finally beaten my depression (for the most part, and with the help of medication & therapy), had gained victory over my substance abuse, and was genuinely happy with my life. I was no longer living in a fog, and I can honestly say that I’m extremely pleased with where I am now. I’ve said before that if I had to go through all that again just to be where I am, I would. I wouldn’t like it, but I would do it.
How does your bandana look? Is it mostly dark? Covered with light spots? Regardless of how your bandana looks it’s still yours, and you shouldn’t just throw it away. Life may absolutely bog you down with tough times, but they won’t last forever. Life may also bless you with wonderful moments. Sometimes you have to wait out the storm in order to see the rainbow 😉 (As cliché as that is!)
I challenge you to try and look at all the situations in your life as a learning experience. Good or bad, try to find the “silver lining” and not just focus on the negative. There’s bound to be some positive moments in there somewhere!
A few years ago I was driving home when my car died and I came to a rolling stop in the middle of the road. Luckily, I was on a down hill slop so I coasted into an empty parking lot. Not sure what was going on I looked around and then realized it had been several days since I had gotten gas. Yes, my car had run out of gas. I was one of “those people” who had allowed their car to run on empty and eventually deplete the required fuel in order to run properly. I buried my head in my hands in shame and mentally beat myself up for being so stupid. It was almost 11pm and I had to do something I really dreaded…call my dad. I sat there for a few more minutes after finally picking up my phone and dialing home. Dad came to my rescue with a gas can and a stern talking to about not ignoring the gas light. Dad followed me home and I have never again allowed myself to run out of gas.
Sometimes, in life, we have these moments. We are literally running on empty and eventually we just stop all together. We sit, we cry, we beat ourselves up, but eventually we have to pick ourselves up and move forward. It’s not always an easy thing to do, and we may dread it and even put it off for as long as possible. However, if we stay where we stop then everything stops. It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s even okay to let someone take the wheel for a short period, but don’t quit.
I had gotten to the point where I had given up. I had quit and I didn’t care about continuing on. After several years of some pretty rough substance abuse, and very severe depression, I had finally realized that I wasn’t going to get better on my own. I had to ask for help, and I did. I got the help I needed and I was finally able to move on. There are still bumps in the road, and you may even run out of gas again later on, but just know that the possibility to move on is always an option. I still pass gas stations and, out of habit, will check my gas tank indicator to make sure I’m not running on empty. I know that, just because I fill up, it does mean my car will continue on forever. I have to check it and stay on top of things to make sure I don’t end up in the same situation as before. Our lives are the same way. Don’t give up just because you run out of gas, or hit a bump in the road. Keep going. You’re not alone!
Hello there, and welcome to my blog (even though I’m a little late on this haha)! I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me on my journey to finding happiness, and becoming physically and mentally healthier! Let me tell you a little about myself.
I grew up in a small town in middle Tennessee, I have two sisters, and I’m the glorious middle child! My parents are both teachers and I graduated from high school in 2008. I’m a gay Buddhist who loves to learn, and I currently work as a 911 Operator/Emergency dispatcher for two counties. I attended college for a few years at the University of Memphis before moving back home and changing my major from vocal music performance to psychology. I now attend part time online/night classes at Motlow State.
I’ve always struggled with depression, but it wasn’t until June 16, 2012 (after a very serious bout of depression and substance abuse) that I finally decided I needed professional help. I checked myself into a rehab facility at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital for ten days and came out a new person! Since then I have turned my life around tremendously! For the first time in a VERY long time I actually enjoy waking up every day, and even wake up early to take in as many minutes as possible during the day. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be alive and free of all substance that used to bog me down. I’ve learned to face my problems, learn from them, and help teach others not to make the same mistakes. I’ve since lost 135lbs, been promoted at work, saved SOOOO much more money, and improved so much compared to the person I was. Plus I smile…a lot! 🙂
I decided to start a blog not only as a way to journal my thoughts and feelings, but to also help others who may be suffering. I’ve learned to focus on the good things in life rather than the bad things, but I don’t ignore them completely. I wake up every day, make my bed, and typically start my day with some yoga, a light breakfast, and some coffee. I spend this time thinking of things that make me happy, and I also try to center my mind for the day to make sure I get started off on the right foot. My day may consist of many things: working, hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking, walking, dancing, singing, cleaning, etc. but I always do them the best I can, and I make sure I enjoy every minute. You must be an active participant in your own recovery. Let me repeat, you MUST BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR OWN RECOVERY AND MENTAL HEALTH. You cannot just sit by and expect to get better. Yes, you may be on medication (as I am; a basic depression pill), but you still have to play a lead role in getting better. Medication can only do so much, and it’s not a fix. There are still days when I struggle, but those days just remind me that there is still work that needs to be done.
Now that all that is out of the way, I look forward to having you take this journey with me! Please, feel free to ask questions, leave comments, and share my blog entries. I want to help others so if you feel that someone you know could benefit from a post or something I’ve said, I won’t mind a bit for you to share it with them. We are all brothers and sisters of the same species in this amazing universe that we live in! I’m here for you! 🙂
I love doing nothing and I love to hike. I try my best to do it on a regular basis because it’s one of those things that literally rejuvenates my soul. There’s something about getting out in nature and just being with the beautiful world around you to make you feel connected to the earth. I often joke when people ask what I enjoy doing on my days off from work because my reply is sometimes, “Absolutely nothing.” It’s not that I have a boring life, nor am I lazy, but I generally find it refreshing to do nothing…and to do it as much as possible.
My take on doing nothing means to stop what you generally do and just enjoy the emptiness that surrounds you. My place to do that is in the woods. The morning of my hike I wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee, load my supplies in my Subaru and take off. If the weather is nice then I roll down the windows and blast some music. When I arrive at my destination I unload my pack and make my way to the trail. This is the point where I will pause at the head of the trail, turn my cell phone on airplane mode (because I still use my camera so I don’t turn my phone off) and take a deep breath. It’s quiet. The birds are chirping, the breeze is blowing in my face, the sun is warm on my skin and I stand there doing absolutely nothing. I live for this moment. I bask in it. I listen. I breathe. I live.
During my hike I allow my eyes to wander, I allow my ears to explore and I permit every smell (the good and the bad) to invade my nostrils and remind me of what nature has to offer. My body is operating on a basic level doing nothing, but the few things it takes to survive. I’m breathing, walking, looking, smelling and feeling. That’s pretty much it. There is no cell phone to distract me, no TV to cloud my brain and eyes with countless pointless advertisements for things I don’t need and there is nothing to keep me from enjoying every single second. Generally I dislike the rain, but hiking is the rain makes me feel so alive. The water running down my face, being exposed to every drop. It’s breathtaking.
I challenge you to do nothing. Literally, do nothing at some point this week. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the quiet and emptiness around you. You’ll be amazed at how happy doing nothing can make you!
There are many things I do on a regular basis if I’m feeling down. Random dancing is one of those things. And by random I mean crank the music up and just go to town! I know I’m doing it correctly if I start laughing at myself. I spin, I jump, I throw in some dance moves that even Michael Jackson wouldn’t attempt and I just have fun. Plus, it ends up being a nice little workout.
Some people would ask why I do this. It’s silly, yes, but it makes me happy. For just a moment I’m able to have fun and be a kid again. I am able to laugh and forget that I have bills to pay, deadlines coming up and tests to study for. It’s the small things, like random dancing, that remind me that it’s okay to act crazy and to have fun while doing it. As adults we spend our lives doing grownup stuff and it often wears us down. When I go hiking, traveling, dancing, etc. I am able to get away from all of that. Those things rebuild by spirit and mend my soul.
I work as a 911 Operator for two different counties. Full time day shift at one and part-time night shift at the other so there are some weeks when I am just exhausted. I come home after a long, stressful 12 hour shift and all I want to do is sleep, however, I still make time for crazy dancing and other things that bring me happiness. People who suffer from depression often get into the rut of feeling down, lonely or tired so we forget about the things that once made us happy. All this does is start the downward spiral that eventually ends with us curled into a fetal position under our covers crying like a baby for no apparent reason. I’ve said it before and will say it again, in order to defeat depression you must become a daily active participant in your recovery. Yes, we may be tired at the end of the day, but a 10 minute walk isn’t going to hurt.
I’d like to challenge everyone who reads this (whether or not you suffer from depression) to take at least two days this week and do something you enjoy. I don’t care if it’s petting your dog on the couch or going white water rafting. Do something that brings you joy and makes you smile. And if you can’t think of anything, do some crazy dancing! You’ll be amazed at how it might just raise your spirits 😉