Daily Meditation – Fear Not

fear

Fear can dominate our lives. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the past. Fear of the future. Fear of all that is, of all that isn’t. It is an agonizing state in which to live. It is a state of mind, not a state of reality, in most cases.

If we can train ourselves to stay in the present moment, in the moment of what task is at hand, then fear cannot survive. What are you doing right this moment? Reading this meditation perhaps. What fear is there in this task? When you are making your bed, doing your dishes, taking your shower, what fear is there in that? None. It is the thoughts you have outside of those actions that cause you fear.

Keeping our minds focused on exactly what we are doing in the moment can eliminate much of the fear in our lives. It is not easy, but it is simple. It is worth striving for if only to gain a little peace in our day, minute by minute.

Daily Meditation – The Present Moment

fear

Life sometimes seems life a series of accidents, like things are spinning out of control. Scary, anxiety-producing, unknown. It can cause us to freeze in our tracks like a deer in headlights, just waiting for the impact take us out. Rarely does this ever happen. Our fears build up scenarios in our heads that make things more unbearable than they really need to be.

If only we could take a moment to stop our thoughts and concentrate on our breathing. Take a deep breath. Do the next right thing. Take it one step at a time. Have faith that if we only take care of what is in front of us – whether it be a daily task, a job responsibility, a self-care activity, a social commitment – the future will take care of itself.

For the future is never with us, only the present moment is. It is only in the present moment where we can take the actions that will make a difference in our quality of life. It is only in the present moment where we can find peace.

How to S.T.O.P. Anxiety

stop

When I have a stressful event coming up, such as a holiday, a trip, or out-of-town company coming to visit, I usually spend the days leading up to it preparing myself physically and mentally by scheduling very light, easy days. I make sure not to book any doctor’s appointments or other trips too far away from home. I make sure to get plenty of rest, and may even get a massage. I leave plenty of time to clean my house, pack, or prepare meals for the event, or whatever may need to be done; always asking for help from others, and always doing a little each day and not all at one time or at the last-minute.

Well, this weekend we are going out-of-town for a stressful social event, and due to circumstances out of my control and to prior commitments made I have major plans every day this week, leaving me not one day to rest my body and mind in preparation for our trip. Because of this my anxiety level is through the roof!

I fear I may not be able handle this weekend very well because I will not have had the proper time to prepare mentally and physically for it.

My anxiety plays out in funny ways. It makes me a bit hypomanic. I can’t sleep. I become obsessed with cleaning and organizing my environment, as if by making my surroundings perfect I will somehow feel more put together on the inside, too. I become irritable and agitated; I start eating poorly, and I get headaches.

I suppose I could go through the rest of the week like this OR I could S.T.O.P.

Sit still.
Take a deep breath.
Observe my feelings.
Permit them to be.

I tend to “run away” from uncomfortable feelings like fear. I used to run from them by abusing alcohol. Now, I become too busy cleaning or shopping or doing things for the kids to pay attention to my feelings, and become just as sick as when I used to drink, only you could call it an “emotional hangover” instead of a physical one.

I find that when I am able to take a conscious moment to be quiet, breathe, acknowledge what I am feeling, and allow myself to feel it, the feelings lessen, if not dissipate all together. It is when I ignore them, run away from them, or fight them that they become more intense, and sometimes unbearable.

It is now time for me to S.T.O.P.

How about you?

What to Do When the Holidays Trigger Mental Illness Symptoms

christmas stress

I am facing the peak of the holiday season as today is my children’s last day of school before their two week winter break. Not only does the stress of Christmas shopping, increased social engagements and family get-togethers, and the intense hustle and bustle of the general public wreak havoc on my mental health, but having school-aged children home for two weeks cooped up indoors is enough to drive a mama crazy! What to do? Here are some borrowed sayings I try to live by:

First Things First

My first instinct is to climb into bed, draw the covers up over my head and go into hibernation until it is all over. Obviously, I can’t do that so instead, I ignored the dishes in the sink and the presents needing wrapped, and took a two-hour nap this morning. I’ll do the dishes and the presents this afternoon after I write this post. No big deal.

Easy Does It

Tomorrow I am going to get a massage. I think it will help me de-stress and also prepare my body for the upcoming added stress of family engagements, especially since I am hosting Christmas dinner at my home. I plan on drinking a lot of water, and getting plenty of rest as well.

K.I.S.S. – Keep it Simple Stupid

I plan on cleaning one or two things/rooms a day and not the whole house in one afternoon as is my tendency. That way I don’t overwhelm myself to the point of tears and a complete mental breakdown; that and a crabby attitude toward the rest of my family, including playing the martyr role. Oh yeah, and I will not be doing everything myself…I will ask my family to help!

Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

I did a wonderful guided meditation on gratitude yesterday. I’ve never felt so relaxed while awake and not on some kind of drug! I will try it again throughout this week, and I will also be making gratitude lists whether on paper or just mentally each day to keep my thoughts positive.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Overall, I have learned that I have to take care of my body, take care of my thoughts, protect my time and my personal space, take my meds, abstain from alcohol, exercise, get plenty of rest, and keep some PRN Ativan on hand at all times.

How do you cope with holiday stress? I hope everyone is doing well. I know the holidays are a rough time for many. Please reach out if you are struggling. I would love to hear from you.

Four C’s of being a Parent with a Mental Illness

parent mental illness

I was driving my ten-year-old daughter home from her friend’s house one cool summer night. The car windows were down, and the wind whipped through our hair as the radio blasted one of her favorite songs. We sang along at the top of our lungs, laughing and screaming with delight. Just behind the excitement in her eyes I saw a touch of hesitation, a worry, and rightly so. I was manic, and while she didn’t know specifically about my bipolar disorder, on some level she recognized the signs, and it scared her…

Read the rest of my guest post today over at Dispatches From the Mad Parenthood Front.

River of Emotions

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When I am feeling sad or depressed, or anxious and afraid, my first instinct is to get rid of these emotions either by doing something unhealthy like smoking or overeating, or something productive like cleaning the house or exercising. The goal in both cases is to block out the emotion; to ignore it; to purge it from my system; to eradicate it.

What if rather than trying to kill the emotion, I sat with it; let it flow through and around me, believing all the while I am safe, because it is my actions, not my emotions, that have the potential to harm me.

I find that when I do this, the emotion tends to dissipate on its own. It’s as if giving it recognition somehow facilitates its disappearance.

Today, I will acknowledge the emotions within me. I will validate their existence, keeping in mind that feelings are not facts. They cannot harm me. Like a river they will flow towards me, through me and then out of me, and I will know peace.

Video Post on DBT Distress Tolerance Skills of Self-Soothe Five Senses

Hi, guys. Here is a very short video post on the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Distress Tolerance skill (developed by Marsha Linehan) called Self-Soothe through Five Senses.

After watching the video, let me know what you do to soothe your senses by leaving a comment below. Thanks, and I hope you have a soothing day!

How Abnormal Are You?

abnormal mental illness

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal…Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”  ~ Aldous HuxleyBrave New World Revisited

This quote kind of blows my mind. If I understand it correctly, Huxley is saying that those who are normal, or well-adjusted to life, are actually the abnormal ones, and those of us (myself included) who are “neurotic” or according the psychoanalytical theory have a:

“poor ability to adapt to one’s environment, an inability to change one’s life patterns, and the inability to develop a richer, more complex, more satisfying personality” as evident by mental illnesses such as depression, acute or chronic anxiety, obsessive–compulsive tendencies, specific phobias, such as social phobia, arachnophobia or any number of other phobias, and some personality disorders: paranoid, schizotypal, borderline, histrionic, avoidant, dependent and obsessive–compulsive

are the normal ones.

What do you think about this? Do you agree with this view of what is normal versus abnormal? Do you think that those of us with mental illness are more sensitive to the tragedies and injustices of the world? If so, why are those who aren’t as sensitive considered to be “normal” in the sense that they are mentally healthier than those of us with mental illness? Who are really the sick ones here?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Any type of discussion this quote may spark is appreciated.

Experiencing Guilt for Having Psychological Limitations

“Sometimes we just can’t, and that’s ok. Sometimes we kind of can, but the energy trade-off just isn’t worth it. Society demands that we keep overcoming, overcoming, overcoming. But we don’t have to. Nowhere is it written that to be a really real human you have to brute force your way through your limits. Nowhere is it written that not doing so makes you less worthy.” ~ Author, unknown

It is Easter Sunday and I am experiencing guilt for not being able to take my kids to church (and not getting myself there as well.) The crowds, parking, and stress of it all is more than I can bear, I know from experience. Plus, my husband is working which makes it all the more difficult to handle since I am on my own.

On top of that, we will be with family later on this afternoon…loud, excited kids, my siblings and their kids, my parents, all cramped into a tiny house for the evening…need I say more?!

Here’s another kicker – a mess up with my medication refill leaves me with no anti-anxiety pills this weekend. Kind of a WTF? moment…

Thinking about it all makes me want to shut down OR fall into a panic attack. I feel like my body doesn’t know which one to choose.

What I am choosing however, is to try and sit back and observe all of these thoughts and feelings as I would if I was watching another person go through them.

Acknowledging them, not fighting them, but also not making them who I really am…separating my thoughts and my feelings from my true self (who is simply a consciousness/higher self comprised solely of peace and love) seems to really help.

Maybe some would call this a form of detachment, and in a real sense I suppose that is what it is. Reminds me of that saying “Go to your happy place” – the place in your mind where no one or nothing can hurt you. Only this place isn’t in my mind. It is outside of my mind.

417px-Easter_Lily

I picture it floating directly above my mind. Although, it is not a place but more of a presence, an aura so to speak.

And in this entity I am not escaping from reality but rather engaging in it as an observer…not a fighter or a victim or any kind of participant, but simply as an observer that knows – believes – deep down that all is ok, that I am ok no matter what thoughts and feelings are happening inside my mind.

It truly is a peaceful phenomenon on this joyous Easter morn. I do hope you are having positive thoughts and feelings today. And if not, I pray you can access your higher self – that space outside of your mind but still within you that can sit back and observe and know that it is safe, it is happy, and it is pure love.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts today. I would love to hear yours. Feel free to leave a comment if you are so compelled. Until next time…

Wil