Leader

I’ve been at my current job as a nurse educator, for six months now.

My boss recently asked me…”is this job what you expected?”

My answer was NO. It’s so much more, in a kind of good kind of not so good kind of way.  I’ll explain.

Career wise, I’ve hit the jackpot, but when it comes to balance and my mental health, I’m struggling.

I told my therapist a few weeks ago that depression has robbed me of my creativity and ability to act ‘fast’, or think fast (depression does make life slow down, according to research and my psychiatrist).

So, I have struggled these pass six months to perform at my absolute best, while battling the woes of depression and anxiety; anxiety from the lack of creativity and slowness plaguing my life right now.

Am I qualified for this job? Can I perform and put on that mask that’s needed to appear as though my life, thinking isn’t slow, and to show the world that I am a creative person? All of these things have wondered in my mind.

I was afraid, in the beginning of starting this job, that involves teaching nurses, that I wasn’t able to put the mask on as well as I have been in the past; I was getting bad criticism from my colleagues, saying that my presentations were monotone and lifeless…I was afraid of that ( I was struggling with my depression, my mood during that time).

Well, that feedback continued to happen for another month, until I finally was able to fix my mask on another way- I had to do better and not let depression rob me of such a great opportunity.

So, how did I conquer my mood and perform on my job? I’m not gonna lie, it was difficult, but the key to donning on a strong mask, was to deny myself, my feelings, and be the best actor who put on the greatest show- it worked; smiling more, even when extremely forced, worked and the bad feedback stopped.

Just because the bad feedback stopped, didn’t stop my anxiety from acting up from the sheer fear of bad criticism from my colleagues; and this fear I battle every time I get ready to present or go to a meeting where I have to lead it and be able to think fast, or create new plans to better nursing and my profession; it’s hard.

But, I continue to truck on, though it’s hard to get up sometimes knowing that those I work with our expecting a strong leader rather than a mentally weak individual; I know I’m not alone.

I know there are other business women and men, like me, who are mentally struggling professionals.  But it’s important for us to remember that through all the meetings, expectations from others, and enormous workload, we can’t forget to remember to care for our mental health- a true leader knows how to serve others and most importantly yourself.

 

It’s a small world…

After all.

How small is this world you may ask?

0E421E47-9FA5-414C-BB3C-3E17430AED92 Just look at the over 20 different minds this blog has gathered; that’s right, over 20 (pretty proud of it).

Ya, I’m sure the most posh fashion blog receives over 20,000 viewers, but I’m grateful for those that even think to click on my blog but don’t, because this blog isn’t about me, which may be hard to believe.

This blog is about us, this small, small world we are a part of, but connect and come together through such monumental things like this life; have I mentioned what ‘a mental life’ we are a part of.

Since the events of last week, losing both dear Kate and Anthony, now more than ever do I stress how much of ‘a mental life’ we live.

The only thing separating us from each other is location…really, if you think about it.

I don’t know who those individuals are that stopped by my blog, what they might be thinking in Senegal vs the United Kingdom, but what I do know is that there’s a whole lot of thinking going on, whether their thinking about the stress of their job or the happiness a loved one brings them, their thinking…

And that’s what I want you to keep doing.

Think about what makes you happy.

Think about what motivates you.

Think about what you can do with out.

And just simply allow life to be motivated by your thinking.

Where would we be without a brain? It’s such a powerful tool and that tool needs to be nurtured, even when it’s hurting.

So if you’re hurting, or feel like like help is worlds away from comforting your aching mind, just remember that it’s a small world…

Look to your left, and look to your right, look straight ahead, and look behind you; there’s someone that understands how you feel, because after all, it’s a very small world.

As I lay…

Paralyzed.

Thats how I felt last night; completely lifeless with absolutely no energy to care for my family or myself.

Its been a while since I’ve felt this way, this debilitated by an illness that feels as though no cure exists ( well, at least that’s how I feel when I get in these states).

I could barely hold on long enough to fix my children dinner, I just needed to get away, escape physically, because mentally, there’s no escaping the agony and severe lack of motivation that plagues me sporadically from day to day.

This mood or nightmare came upon me out of nowhere.  Usually there are triggers that seem to send me downhill or at least give reason for my mood to decrease to a serious state such as this; but there was no trigger.

As I lay on the bed after deciding that my body could take no more, I summoned my husband to take over parenting duties.

I just couldn’t handle ‘life’ anymore.

As my therapist would have me categorize my mental state into a numbered system, with 0 or 1 being an emergent need to tend to my mood (suicidality), while a 9 or 10 being a state where I could conquer the world, I unfortunately was at about a 1.5; heck I was a 0 ( its still hard for me to admit being in such a helpless state).

I know this post is a downer, but I have to share my truth so that those who are suffering know that they are not alone; I felt so alone last night, that’s how depression makes you feel, and it causes you to isolate yourself.

But I had to isolate myself last night for my safety and the well being of my family; I was of no good for anyone.

Eight o’clock at night turned into 1 am; I had finally drifted off to sleep, work clothes still intact, enough to get some relief; slumber is what I inherently needed to get through that episode, but it always feels like that horrible feeling will last forever with no end in sight.

I share this with you, because as you can see, I’m able to write right now, only through the grace of God, and because those intense feelings DO pass; though it seems like infinity, you get through it eventually.

I thank God that I didn’t give into or succumb to those feelings last night.

The most important and life changing thing you can do when this happens is to tell someone you just can’t do life anymore; there’s freedom in honesty.

If you or someone you love cries out for help in this way, or shows signs of irritability or unusual frustration with doing normal day to day things in life, throw out a life line, you never know how much you can do to save someone’s life.

Behind the Glamour

I once wrote a blog about my glamorous Kate spade bag that my husband gifted me with as a push present; I loved that bag, in fact I still do, but do you ever stop to think about the individual behind the design, behind the glamour?

We all know the saying, ‘everything that glitters ain’t gold’, well there is some truth to that.

As we all have heard, Kate Spade, the woman behind the design of my gorgeous, glamorous push present, has passed away.

It May be too soon to speak of her or even write anything with the mentioning of her name,  but I feel that her life as well as countless others who have left us by way of suicide, would all but be a stone passing on the water, a fading ripple in time, if we don’t talk about their tragic end; tragic in the sense that a hurting human being thought it would be better to be a memory.

This is a touchy subject for me, because I too have travelled so dark mentally, with only but one decision standing in the way of life and memories.

No I’m not here to glorify suicidality or condone it in any way, but for those who haven’t experienced what it’s like to feel so helpless, with seemingly no way out, I harken you to try to empathize with those we remember, and those still fighting for dear life.

Before I was bestowed with this challenge in life, depression, I use to think ‘why on earth do people cut themselves…why must they take their lives?’ But I know all to well why these acts occur.

Imagine being thrown out into the ocean in the middle of the night, no help in sight and the only light is in the distance, the moon.  How would you feel? How would you cope knowing that you may be stuck in the middle of that abyss for eternity; the medication hasn’t helped, therapy has been anything but life sustaining, and everyone around you is coping, living their lives.

Do you feel a sense of isolation?

If not let me take you a bit deeper.

Its like you are not only in the ocean with no help in sight, but it constantly thunderstorms and rains, no matter how good life appears for you, no matter how much money you possess, NOTHING brings you happiness.

Do you feel alone now?

Its painful, a kind of mental pain that no amount of cutting can cure, but it’s a distraction from the mind throbbing pain; there’s only so much of these feelings one can take…

Some find a life raft floating in the distance, and some unfortunately slip away under the rip currents, thinking that the pain will stop, but the pain never stops, because tho depression or anxiety or any mental illness makes you feel isolated and alone, you are never alone, and there is always someone left behind to take on that pain.

I had a coworker once say that ‘I think people who commit suicide are so selfish’

That hurt me to the core, because what she didn’t realize was that my mind had went there before, not by choice but by way of the decaying of the mind; suicidal thoughts are a symptom, not a choice.

So, if by now you don’t understand the mind of someone who is in an abyss of hurt, it’s ok…I just hope and pray that your mind never wonders there, because tho a raft of hope may not seem near, there is hope for all, and I am a living proof of hope.

And, for those who we have loss to the fight, let’s not remember them for how their life ended, but let’s concentrate or remember them by fighting to help understand and help those who are helpless, who work 9-5 daily, excercise 5 times a week, and make a decent living, but feel that untouchable pain; let’s help them stay in this life and feel like they are worth more than a mere memory.

Let us fight together for infinity, because we are ALL worthy.

RIP Kate Spade…

Enough

Have you ever felt like you’ve had enough; you reached the ‘ extent of what was required of you’ ?

Well if the answer is a yes, then I pose a new question; what is required of you?

I asked myself this today as I thumbed tediously through the over 80 emails awaiting my stamp of approval in my work inbox, after I had gone to Publix to pick out the most juiciest of steak for dinner, and then when I brought those filet mignons home to sear on the stove, as well as prepare a plethora of vegetable choices for my picky toddlers…I had enough.

At that moment, as the asparagus began to cool down on the stove, and as the seared steaks finished being well done in the five hundred degree oven, I asked myself, can I do more?

Sure.

So I did a load of laundry,but was that enough?

Why yes.

Had I done all that was required of me?

Thats kind of a loaded question, but of course, as I’ve learned over these years living with depression, sometimes you have to be selfish.

Putting shame and guilt aside(for not accomplishing more than what I had done for the day), I said I had had enough.

Could I have gone on a walk, picked up the toys scattered across the tiny house we live in, and even folded that laundry load I had started; yes, but why?

Why would I do more and send my already serotonin deprived brain to an all to familiar pit of decaying dreams- I don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s not pretty.

So, what do you do when you’ve had enough ?

Do nothing.

Yep, that’s right, defy everything, be selfish and take care of you, by basking in the state of nothingness.

And that’s what I did.  Absolutely nothing.

Since my mind likes to wonder into guiltville for feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much when I get in these states, I took time to do an inventory of my day (fact based evidence), and I recognized that I’m pretty bad ass.

I made money for my family today, fed them, and made the extra effort to breathe, so I’d say I accomplished a lot, AND I even showered, which for those in the depressed camp, you know how hard that can be.

So, yes, it’s ok to say enough and to be selfish when you need to; even if all you can do is go to the grocery store to walk the aisles instead of actually buying the food to prepare a meal-it’s OK, you are a bad ass too.

Legacy

”She tried, she cried, she died…”

I can still hear the laughter echoing in that small room where the broken sat and shared a fleeting moment of joy.

I was part of that broken puzzle, varying pieces of life surrounding me.

We laughed at the sound of that quote, because it represented the daily fight of all of us so well; an ode to a legacy to come.

What an eventful group therapy session (yes this is an account of one of many mind transforming moments I have had as a patient at a psychiatric facility; team ‘no shame’).

I haven’t written in over a year.

Odd you say? Well not to me, because writing was becoming more of a chore than a therapeutic release of brokenness.

But, here I am once again, finding solidarity in my old love.

I digress.

So, this post isn’t about why I haven’t written in a while, but more about my journey since I stopped typing over a year ago.

Am I still struggling with depression?

Yes.

Will I ever get better?

Perhaps.

But, I can’t help but hear those six words settle in my thought process, the words that sum up life for me this past year.

”She tried, she cried…”

Oh, I’m still hanging on like the little engine that could, yet after all of the trying and crying, I’m still fighting everyday.

”She tried, she cried, she died”

…Yet I’m still living.

At one point in this journey with depression, I didn’t know what living meant anymore.  But, I’m still living inspite of being entangled in turmoil.

Those six words represent a legacy I want to personify one day, but for now, I am in the land of the living, very much struggling mentally, but living.

So, cheers to  this past year of ‘living’, and I’m living to tell the world that…

”She tried, she cried, she lived”

 

 

Ghost Writer Series: E5: Self-hypnosis- A Path to Stress Reduction

Written by Cait Wilker

I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember.

It started when I was younger and I remember becoming so nervous to take tests in school. I would study for hours on end and then when it came time to actually taking my test, I would forget everything. It was embarrassing. Later on in college, a friend of mine shared her ways to helping her get through the same anxiety I was experiencing. She tried hypnotism to help her stress; learning how to use self-hypnosis for anxiety, is a great way to manage anxiety, and it’s easier than you might think.

Self-hypnosis can help those who suffer from anxiety by helping them rethink and reframe problems. Psychology Today says that “When you think of positive suggestions, they can help you to focus on things in your life that are going well, things that are making you happy and putting you in a positive mood, which in turn, helps you refocus your energy and shift from your negative point of view to a positive one.”

The first thing you need to know about hypnosis is that ALL hypnosis is essentially self-hypnosis, because no one can be forced to go into trance against his or her will. The North Carolina Society of Clinical Hypnosis states that “Hypnosis can help you train your mind so that stress and anxiety do not bother you as much, and anyone can be taught how to relax with self-hypnosis.” In many ways, happiness may just be a state of mind, because someone who is anxious tends to focus on the negative and hypnosis can help them focus on the positive.

In many ways, happiness may just be a state of mind

Using a tool like self-hypnosis for anxiety works on subtle levels of the mind, helping you reset the negative self-limiting thoughts to positive, uplifting ones. Anyone can relax using these methods, and using a simple induction technique like a progressive relaxation induction allows you to be gently lulled into a beautiful state of relaxation and peace. According to CalmClinic.com there are several ways self-hypnosis can help your anxiety. Here are 5 steps into self-hypnosis that can reduce your stress.

  1. Get into a comfortable position and take three long, deep breaths to center and focus your energy.
  2. Focus your eyes on a spot on the wall until your eyes become strained and you cannot hold them open any longer.
  3. Try counting back from 50 to 1, or as long as you have a desire to count. Your eyes may water and want to close. Hold them open as long as you can. If you lose the desire to stop counting, you can then close them and relax. You will already be in a light state of hypnosis the moment you close your eyes.
  4. Try and imagine yourself in some kind of soothing environment. You can imagine yourself on a beautiful beach, sitting on a mountain cliff or even walking in the woods, whatever works for you.
  5. Once you feel that you are relaxed and calm, you can then give yourself some positive suggestions such as:
    I am calm and relaxed.
    My thoughts create my life.
    I peaceful and balanced.

Though self-hypnosis is only one coping mechanism out of many for coping with anxiety, it certainly is one worth trying if you are willing and ready to help change your state of mind.

•••

For those that may be interested in learning more about hypnosis, and you live in the greater Atlanta area, you should check out Sean Wheeler! He is Atlanta’s most well-known hypnotherapist. Sean believes that people have the ability to make changes on their own. Because he “believes that you know yourself better than he will ever know you, his role is to serve as a guide, opening new doors and introducing you to new possibilities and perspectives. Your responsibility is to take those opportunities, make choices for yourself and take action.” (http://heartbreakhypnotist.com/) . His sessions can range from stopping smoking, relationships, weight loss, fears and more. Whatever your anxiety may be causing, Sean is the one to help ease your worries and start living the life you deserve again. Although hypnosis may not be for everyone, I would suggestion making an appointment with Sean Wheeler to talk about your concerns. He’s reasonably priced and makes you feel comfortable with your questions and comments. Sean has performed about 10,000 sessions since becoming a hypnotherapist and that real world experience allows him to assist his clients quickly and easily.