I’m tired.

I’m so tired. I’m tired of painting a smile on my face. I’m tired of rejection. I’m tired of trying to explain who I am to people I’ve known my whole life. I’m tired of trying to be a neutral party when one side is so clearly out of line.

I’m tired of everything that I say being wrong. I’m tired of everything that I do not being enough. I’m tired of ending up on the losing end of every discussion. I’m just tired of talking. I’m tired of consistently falling short of everyone’s expectations. If they don’t know me, why do they get to have expectations of me?

I’m tired of considering their feelings when they never consider mine. I’m tired of being told there’s nothing wrong with me, that I’m just making it up. I’m tired of hearing ‘you’re not anxious, you’re just overdramatic’. I’m tired of being told ‘just cheer up’.

I’m so tired of being constantly watched. I don’t need to be inspected and I definitely don’t want my every move, my every action judged. I would love it if people could just let me be… leave me alone…

I’m tired of people taking advantage of me. I’m tired of everyone always wanting help from me but never wanting to help me.

I’m just tired.

I dread the night’s most.

Lately I’m finding that when the day winds down and everyone goes to bed for the night, that’s when my anxiety takes over. Swallowing every ounce of what’s good about my mood and my being, I turn into a twisted knot of explosive fear and delirious sadness.

I tried to stay positive about the world this week, I really did. I made a conscious effort every day to try and see the good in what was happening. The good was there. There was good in my life and I did see it. The problem was, the negatives seemed to swallow me whole.

I’m scared that I’m going to make the wrong decisions, do the wrong things or say something that cannot be taken back. I’m scared that I’ll never feel like myself again. As much as I can give myself pep-talks that fear doesn’t really seem to fade these days. Coping techniques help, for a little while. It always comes back though, seemingly stronger than before.

It’s a vicious hamster wheel I’m spinning in.

Operation Positivity

Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada

I did this a few weeks back and it really helped with my outlook. This week, I’m making it my goal to be positive. I’m going to think positively, see the glass as half full and try to see the good moments, no matter how small I might think they are.

Today I am grateful that I’m not going to work for a boss who treats people so poorly and I’m hopeful for the future. I’m hopeful that things will change, turnaround, pick up for the better.

Today I am going to make the conscious effort to smile. And I look forward to one day not having to make the effort because smiling will just come naturally. Because being happy will be a reality, not a desire. Because things will have worked out for me. Because I didn’t give up hope when it mattered most.

It’s Monday… let’s do this world.

The importance of setting limits for the sake of your mental health.

Most of us like to be seen as helpful and generous, but for some people, saying ‘no’ can be especially difficult. If you’re anything like me, days can go by before you’ve realized that you have not done anything for yourself. You do and you do and you do for others and in the process, lose pieces of yourself along the way.

It’s hard to say no. It’s hard to not do something for someone that you love, especially when you’re suffering with mental health issues. Being able to distract yourself with someone else’s needs/problems seems like a great idea… because when you’re thinking about their needs/problems, you’re not thinking about your own. In reality though, this can be a particularly harmful habit to make. Pushing your needs/problems to the back-burner can cause them to fester… grow… and cause you to gain a lot of resentment.

In working with my Psychiatrist, one of the things she’s lead me to realize is that I don’t say no when people ask things of me. I just don’t. And this, this has created a giant storm cloud that floats around above my head, following me in every aspect of my life. I’m resentful of those who ask me for things and I’m resentful that I don’t spend time on myself. In all reality, it’s my own doing. So, I’m responsible for fixing this.

To combat this, she’s given me homework to help me be more cognizant about what is requested of me, how I should respond and how I set limits… especially when it comes to those that I love.

Consider the following when you’re trying to set limits:

Won’t people dislike me if I say ‘no’ to them? They may be annoyed at first because they are used to you agreeing to everything they ask. Most people who learn how to say ‘no’ find that in time they actually get a lot more respect from others. Saying ‘no’ is for everyone’s benefit.

If I say ‘no’, won’t I become a selfish person? Setting limits doesn’t mean saying ‘no’ to every request, just balancing things so that others don’t depend on you all of the time for everything. This gives others a chance to learn how to manager their own lives as we all strive to live in balance.

What is the price for always saying ‘yes’?

  • You get completely overwhelmed and over time your health is likely to suffer
  • You have less time and energy to spend with your family and friends
  • You become irritable, exhausted and perhaps depressed
  • You feel unappreciated for what you do
  • You begin to resent the people for whom you do so much
  • You put your personal needs, plans and dreams on hold, perhaps forever
  • Others expect more and more, even take you for granted
  • Others don’t learn to solve their own problems
  • Others don’t learn to become independent
  • Others learn to take advantage of helpful people
  • Others fail to become helpful themsleves

How do I start setting limits with others?

  • Choose a small request someone has made that you know they can manage for themselves.
  • Decide what, when and where you will tell them.
  • Rehearse what you will say, and practice using a strong assertive voice.
  • Stay firm. Don’t argue or become defensive.
  • Use positive self talk.
  • Repeat this exercise with other small requests before move on to more difficult situations.

Whatever you end up doing, however you end up doing it, just remember that if you’re ever going to work through your own needs/problems, you need time to do so. Set some limits with your friends/family/coworkers to ensure that your needs are met and you don’t let things fester.

Don’t let things fester! Set limits and stop using other’s lives to distract your own. Give yourself the time to relax, give yourself the time work through what you need to work through. There’s nothing worse than resenting others because you’re too afraid to say no.

Self-care Saturday.

Selfcare is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something people very often overlook. It’s easy to get busy or find excuses to neglect your well-being. The thing is, good selfcare is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety.

So are some self-care activities that I can do to improve my mental, emotional and physical well being? Well, that has to do with your passions. What do you love? Some people love to read. Some people love to paint. Some people love to sit on the couch and watch Big Bang Theory marathons. Whatever it is you’re doing, make sure that it’s satisfying. Make sure that it’s contributing to your happiness, not anyone elses.

These may sound stupid, or they may not, but here are some suggestions for integrating self-care into your life more often than you’re doing now. (Please note, these suggestions may have been mentioned before. If you’ve read them in previous posts, just keep in mind that means they’re really great ways for practicing self-care)

  • Look into the mirror each morning and say ‘Today is going to be a good day. I can do this. I am amazing’. Perhaps if you remind yourself of this enough, it’ll start becoming true.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. I’ve talked about this before, but sleep is such an important facet to how a person sees the world. A good night’s sleep helps regenerate the body for another day. If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, consider different options you can take to change that.
  • Reward yourself. This one is immensely important. If you do something good, treat yourself. If you accomplish something that was difficult for you, treat yourself. Think of it like how happy dogs get when they complete a trick and you give them a bone, pat them on the head and say ‘Good Doggo’. They’re in pure bliss for the moments following. Find what kind of a reward you would like and make sure you integrate that into your days.
  • Only use positive language when you’re talking to yourself/about yourself. While it’s incredibly easy to point out your faults, if you never speak those faults out loud, it doesn’t give them credibility. Showcase your positives and let those good thoughts see the light of day.
  • Do something, at least one thing, per day that makes you happy. This one is stressed to me by my Psychiatrist every time that I see her. By focusing on something that makes you happy, at least once per day, you’re forcing serotonin into your brain. Serotonin is what will boost your mood and allow you to feel better. Even if it only lasts a half hour, or a few hours, that’s still a lot better than no good mood at all.
  • Find a hobby! Hobbies are great. Especially great if they involve interactions with other people. Whether it’s basketball in the park, a pottery class, or volunteering at the old folks home, find something that you like doing. If you like doing it, it’ll give you a purpose, a place to be and make you feel grateful for the time you get to do said hobby.
  • Get a manicure. Female or male, I can’t recommend this enough. It sounds so trivial, but it’s extremely relaxing to just sit down in a comfy chair for a half hour or an hour and let someone else give you a manicure. Your mind slips away from you, the whole world stops for a few minutes and you just get to relax in the present. I know that it’s typically thought of as a female activity, but I highly recommend it for men as well. Everyone can always use clean, hydrated, manicured hands. You don’t have to get polish on your nails.
  • Get in your car and drive. If you have some extra time, and you can afford the gas, get in your car, turn the radio up and drive down streets you’ve never been down before. Learn some new parts of your city/town and look at what you like/don’t like with respect to the houses and how they’re built. Perhaps stop at a park and go for a swing, or down the slide. You never know where you might end up when you get in the vehicle.
  • Walk your dog. Or a dog. If you don’t own a dog, ask if you can walk a friend’s dog, or a neighbours dog. Or, if you’re in a big-city, sign up for WAG and get paid to walk dogs. I’m a firm believer in the value of dog therapy, and the benefit becomes two-fold when you’re getting exercise for yourself in the process.

Whatever you end up doing, ensure that you’re putting yourself fist. Don’t succumb to the negative connotation that self-care is selfish and not necessary. Perhaps if you advocate a certain amount of time each day (be it ten minutes or thirty minutes or however long you can spare), then you won’t get as stressed as often. Perhaps you’ll feel better. It’s a proven fact that when you look after yourself, you feel better about yourself. So look after yourself.

Practice self-care every day.

What are some activities you practice for self-care?

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Common Thinking Errors – A lesson in thought from a Psychiatrist

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from therapy is that the situations we find ourselves in don’t cause our depressed/anxious feelings – our ways of thinking about them do. Everyone goes through struggles and everyone suffers hardship in their lives. How a person responds to those struggles and hardships determines the outcome from them.

If you’re anything like me, it can be incredibly easy to jump to conclusions and imagine the worst case scenario, always. Some of us have brains that are just hard-wired to do so. That may, or may not be any fault of our own. But, if we’re ever going to tackle those feelings, we need to be aware of the errors in thinking in order to make conscious change.

The following are some common, distorted ways of thinking that often increase depression and make it harder to overcome, see past struggles and hardship.

FILTERING – Everyone’s life has some negative things. If you focus on the negative and filter out all positive or neutral things, your life will indeed seem depressing.

EMOTIONAL REASONING – Emotions are based on what we think and often not based on facts. Don’t always believe what you feel. Feelings are not facts.

OVER-INCLUSIVE – You think of one problem, then another and another, until you feel completely overwhelmed. Or you may take on the problems of family members as your own.

BLACK OR WHITE THINKING – You think only in extremes or absolutes, forgetting that most things fall in the middle and are shades of grey.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – You predict a negative outcome without adequate supporting evidence.

MIND READING – You believe that others are thinking and feeling badly about you and you react as if that’s true.

PREDICTING THE FUTURE – You think that things may turn out badly and only focus on the bad things that might happen. You convince yourself that a bad outcome is sure to happen.

CATASTROPHIZING – You imagine the worst and make things seem like a bigger deal than they are. This increases your fear and makes it harder to deal with what is really going on.

SHOULD – You make rules for yourself and others about things ‘should be’. You become angry or upset when these rules are not followed.

Thoughts go unnoticed as we automatically go through our day. This often leads to the belief that an event causes a feeling or behaviour. In fact, it is how we think about the event that causes feelings and behaviours.

In order to change your errors in thought, you first must notice these thoughts when they’re happening.

  • Slow down your thinking.
  • Consciously pay attention to your negative thoughts.
  • Don’t judge your thoughts, just observe them.

Once you’re aware of your negative thoughts, the next important step is to begin trying to change them.

  • Collect the negative thoughts in a capsule within your brain. When you’re ready to deal with them, acknowledge them for what they are and tell yourself that you’re ready to move past them.
  • Ask yourself ‘are these helpful’?
  • Replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts.

It’s not going to be easy. But, instead of looking at something with a negative lens, try to be self-aware and put a new spin on the cycle navigating within your brain.

Personal Example:

One of the things that I struggle immensely with is rejection, it’s something I’ve spoken about in great lengths in therapy. One of the things that was brought to my attention was that, instead of believing that I’m a loser when I get rejected from an employer, instead of believing I’m unqualified, instead of believing that I’m not good enough, something I should consider is that I really have no idea why they didn’t hire me. And since I have no idea, I should stop treating it as a negative reflection of myself.

How do I spin it? Perhaps it was the wrong timing. Perhaps they had equal candidates and they flipped a coin. Perhaps they just didn’t like the tone of my voice. Whatever it is, I cannot change it. What I can do is, instead of thinking that I’m a loser, I can use the jobs I did not get as lessons learned of how to act next time, and how to know when the right opportunity has come along. I can think if it as though I’m gaining experience, not earning rejection.

How you think about something affects E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G in your life. Whether your brain is hard-wired one way or not, what are the steps that you can take to correct, or improve errors in thinking?

I’ve been seeing a Psychiatrist in an effort to help control the massive amounts of anxiety I’ve been suffering from in 2019. My Psychiatrist provides a lot of homework for me to use as tools for self improvement. As I work on myself, I’m sharing the resources provided to me. Why? Spread the wealth, spread the health.

Your mental health and well being are the most important gifts that you can give to yourself. To anyone reading this, I encourage you to please look after yourself. Take from this post what you like and leave what you don’t.

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Be a good person.

You can be vulnerable and still be powerful. You can have a gentle heart and still be rock-solid to your core. You can be as calm as a cool breeze, but as fierce as a tiger. The measure of true strength is to embody the characteristics of the full spectrum.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, life is the messy bits. Speak your truth, love your family, care for your friends and be yourself. Your social media platforms, your blogs, your conversations with people, they don’t need to be a perfectly curated collection of beautiful and noteworthy. Be real. Be truthful. Be you. If someone’s not willing to listen to the truth, find someone else to talk to.

Being real about how the world actually works, about how life really is, that’s what I appreciate in people.

Don’t internalize the bad. Nobody needs to be walking around with that weight on their shoulders. Always speak your truth. You’ll feel sooooooo much better about life when you do.

Also, be a good person. It doesn’t take a lot. Just be a good fucking person.