Employment and Mental Illness

At the start of the year, my partner of four years and I separated. I was left alone in our home, panicked because I didn’t know what was happening to us. I was terrified to be alone. I was terrified that I was losing him.
I had been struggling with my depression and anxiety for years. I was always good at hiding it. But things got so bad that I couldn’t help stare off into space whilst at work. I couldn’t help running to the bathroom to heave into the toilet because I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t help leaning into the walls because I was dizzy, because I hadn’t had a proper meal in days.
I was not in a good place. And I was terrified to ask for time off. I felt guilty that my coworkers had to pick up slack if I left 15 minutes early. I tried to schedule my counseling on my day off, but of course that didn’t always work.
Eventually, it got so bad at home. My fear that I was going to snap, let myself go, give in to the dark thoughts grew. I no longer had my safe haven, my rock. I was left to fend for myself. And I was terrified.
So many times I reached for the phone, my finger hovering over the emergency number. So many times I contemplated checking myself in somewhere. But I was even too scared to do that.
So, I did the only other thing I could think of.
I ran. I packed up the bare essentials, I took a bus and then a plane, and I found sanctuary at my parents.
My work was really supportive. My bosses were very understanding. All they wanted was for me to get better, for their family member to get back on their feet.
I am so lucky I had their support and love. And I feel silly for being so scared of letting them down. I was lucky to have them and that environment, but there are so many people out there who don’t. There are so many people who struggle, trying to hide themselves, trying to hide the fact that they barely made it out of bed that morning. But they had to. Because they need work. They need money. They can’t afford to take time off, can’t afford to put themselves first.
And that mentality needs to change. Desparetly. Companies need to accept that mental health is just as detrimental as physical health. They need to provide support for their employees. The culture needs to change, to adapt.
Once it does, maybe, people can get the care they need before it’s too late.

The Mind’s Garden

Ever seen those funny comparison posts on social media? The ones where the super fit couple workout, barely breaking a sweat, while the average Joe Schmoes face-plant trying to do the Flying Warrior yoga pose.
They make you smile or laugh, right?
But then you realize how true the post really is when it comes to your life. And so, you let out a quiet sigh into your overpriced coffee, internally frowning at how the worlds expectations dramatically differ from your reality.
At least, that’s how it goes for me.

I’ve had to tell myself not to compare me to others. Your parents tell you it. Your friends tell you it. The world tries to tell you it. Yet, unfortunately, that never works. It’s been instilled in us from a young age to compete. We compete to survive. And no matter how much society progresses, no matter how many times the world resets, it’s in our DNA to survive. By any means.
And yeah, that sounds pessimistic. Clearly, I’m not at that stage in life where I can say “I give no shits.” Sometimes, I like to think I am. Sometimes I like to think I really don’t care what others lives look like compared to mine. In ways, it’s true. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not among my fellow alumni who have graduated four year colleges right after high school. I’m alright with taking my time trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life.
I’m mostly alright with it.

Photo by Nikoline Arns on Unsplash

There’s this seed of doubt inside me. It was planted at a very young age and has only wrapped its ugly vines around my security and sanity. It strangles me on a daily basis. It’s this terrible flower that’s bloomed into the dark corners of my mind. Its thorns tear at my flesh, opening me up, leaving me susceptible to the cruelties of the world.
And then there’s this stubborn little girl, stars in her eyes, hope in her smile. She grits her teeth, digging up those twisted, ugly roots. She wipes sweat from her brows, chin up in the air, and proclaims “I did it!”

And it’s that part of me that says “Who cares what others look like?” Or “Why does it matter what they have?”
It doesn’t matter what others look like. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have my bachelors yet. It doesn’t matter that I won’t be getting married later this year. It doesn’t matter that my personal schedule has been set behind.

It. Doesn’t. Matter.

I have to keep telling myself this. I have to believe in myself.
Believe that I will end up where I’m meant to be.
I have to have faith.

That’s easier said than done.
But it can be done.

Weighted Blanks for Mental Health

I very much need to get one of these for myself! Maybe I’ll sleep like a baby 😀

The Psych Talk

A weighted blanket is a blanket filled with hypoallergenic, non-toxic polypropylene pellets. The pellets are sewn into self-contained small pockets that are evenly distributed throughout the blanket. These pellets give the blanket its weight, which should generally be around 10 percent of the user’s body weight, give or take a few pounds depending on the individual’s needs and preferences.

Created to mimic the benefits of deep touch pressure therapy, weighted blankets have been shown to help ease anxiety, increase oxytocin in the brain and help individuals with sensory processing disorders feel more relaxed. DTP, as shown in theJournal of Medical and Biological Engineering, is about gently applying pressure to the body, which releases a calming chemical in the brain called serotonin to relax the nervous system.

Weighted blankets are perhaps most closely associated with sensory processing disorder and related conditions like autism, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, weighted…

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Knowing your truth

As I’m sure many of you are, I too am obsessed with the new Queer Eye. Each moment is touching and each individual has a story that connects with a lot of people. I know there were a few episodes that definitely tugged at my heart strings.
Ever since Season 3 released on Netflix, my Youtube dashboard has been lit with the Fab 5’s videos and interviews. One interview in particular with Trevor Noah stuck out to me.
*Little spoiler about Karamo’s life*
In the video, Karamo describes growing up with an abusive father. It was instilled in him at a young age that hitting women was unacceptable, but hitting another man was alright. He brought up his anger and how he would take it out on his partners. He said the police were called on him, yet they didn’t take the domestic violence seriously because it was between two men. He realized then that he was behaving just as his father had, and he needed to turn that around.
As Karamo spoke, my mind was whirling. Words my ex threw at me started trickling through my head, causing unease.

“You treat me like a doll.”
“My mother once had a relationship like ours. He was physically abusive. You weren’t ever that bad, but…”

My ex felt like I didn’t appreciate him enough. He thought me asking him to lie down with me after work was too much. He felt that asking him to dry my hair after a shower was treating him like a slave. He was hurt when I said “just a little quality time,” like every other moment with him wasn’t good enough.
Of course I felt like I wasn’t being appreciated either. I kept telling myself “No, you deserve his attention and a little bit of romance” or “What’s wrong with uninterrupted, no technology, five to thirty minutes a day?” And honestly, part of me still agrees with those statements. Because I know, with the right person, I wouldn’t feel guilty asking for a little more attention. I wouldn’t feel bad about wanting to cuddle after sex. I wouldn’t blame myself or call myself selfish hinting for them to ask me how my day was. Because it would come easy to them.

Now, I know everyone shows their love differently. Some people are more emotional. Some are more physical. Some buy flowers for every random occasion and some make dinner before you get home.
Being in a dedicated, long-term relationship is not always easy. Boundaries have to be set and expectations need to be discussed. Otherwise, you end up years later with a whole bunch of miscommunication.

Lewis C.K. once said, “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I know I am not a bad person or partner. I know that I am passionate, empathetic, and caring. I know that I am not an abusive, toxic person. I have to know that. As humans, we have to believe in ourselves, even if deemed delusional, because that’s how we survive.
I’m not trying to dismiss what my ex said. I take what he said very seriously, because it is. Without proper communication and boundaries, love and anger can get mixed up. It’s unfortunate that people hurting hurt others. It’s even more unfortunate when someone is scared to leave a relationship because of what the other person has done to them or because their perception on love has become twisted.

I’ve only had one serious relationship. We were planning on getting married. We talked about our future children and home. We had plans. We had problems. Without much experience, it’s been difficult for me to know if what we were going through was alright. Part of my brain told me every relationship is different, every couple decides what’s best for them. The other part of me was waving her arms above her head for attention, screaming “Yo crazy lady, this ain’t cool!”

I may not believe my past actions were abusive, in standard terms. My friends and family might not see my actions abusive. My ex may not really see them as abusive either. But I can’t tell for sure. Because each person defines things differently.

All I know is that I have been hurt, damaged, and shamed for what my truth is.
And I know that I hurt my ex.

Back to what Karamo was talking about. It took him a long time to come to terms with his truth and he has grown from that.
I plan on doing the same.
I’ve already taken steps forward in breaking down my individual truths, analyzing them, understanding their meaning in relation to myself and others.
And it is going to take time. Because I am constantly growing and changing and evolving, just as everyone else is.

I guess my take away from this video and my own experiences, is to take time to understand yourself.
Take time to understand your relationships with others. Work on defining them.
Communicate. Be open.
And understand that you are not perfect.
Understand that you are not above anyone else.
You will make mistakes. You will hurt others. You will hurt yourself.
But pain is pain. No matter what or who has caused it.