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Wordy Wednesday: A Journey

Poem I wrote in November 2008

With eyes shining
You inform me that you are becoming a boat
–please leave a message at the beep–
The bomb shelter has flooded
And we’ve decided to paint our lips with
Strawberries
Your skin is a language I find trembling
(My tongue stutters in my mouth)
You are my thanksgiving in 8 words-
A treasure beneath the window pane-
A cracking
Becoming an oasis in the desert of
Desire
The water in my solar system
The touch of heat and the the spark of
Fire in the magnifying mirror
With burning leaves and
Thunder
Direct sunlight and the moon
It’s winter and I love you.

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Throw Back Thursday: Just Fine

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Oh, younger version of myself, you make my heart hurt!!

I wrote this poem 8 years ago.
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November 20th, 2008

When you can’t say how you feel
Or why you feel the way you feel
Because you don’t know how you feel
Does that make you numb?

Does a lack of definition mean you’ve ceased to exist?

Are you simply floating away bumping into people you used to know who are no longer the people you used to know?

Are you continuing your conversations with the bricks in an uncaring wall?

When people ask you how you are then just want validation of their own existence, they want those 5 little words, “fine, thanks, how are you?” the way they want pre-shrunk cotton on their beds and trash day to always come on Thursdays.

When he asks you and he really wants to know
You stop thinking
The world becomes clearer and your inner self hides
You focus on the lighting in the room, the way your toes can feel the sheets, wrinkling under your feet
Your emotions become color blotches like in a color blind test– is that an “8”? Or the word “orange”?

Muddled, your brain frustrates your mouth
You feel like a box of oranges, like a cold glass bottle, like sprite left out overnight– it’s lost its bubbles, like a tree with no leaves

You feel powerless, scared, uncertain, crazy, like you might start crying if you stop smiling, like it’s all your fault, like he might stop wanting to touch you, like he might not want you in his room, like he wants something more, like it will all melt, like you’re a little girl, like you hate him when he looks at younger girls, like you love the way he holds you, like it might not be enough, like if you let him get your emotions, you’ll fall apart when he leaves and takes them with him, you’ll feel all these things.

And you want to be a suitcase, you want to be a kiss, you want to be the way he feels when he opens a new book and smells the paper, you are afraid to be extraneous, you’re afraid of water in movies, afraid of the end of the world, of suffocation, afraid of the feeling you get when things become comfortable and unspoken instead of when things are passionate and words are poured like honey all over the body of the beloved; you are afraid of the time when touching ceases and people get left alone in dark rooms and move to bigger beds so they can say this side is mine, you stay over there when they used to wake up sweaty and tangled and you are afraid of not being wanted.

You’re afraid that he gets up in the middle of the night because there’s something better out there for him and he’s still searching for it, you’re afraid that you don’t know how to become someone worth sticking around for.

You feel broken and invisible and like a favorite pair of pants that’s getting too small.

Opening your mouth in answer, you smile and say,
Nothing. I’m fine.

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Stability and Safety

My yoga teacher, Melissa West, was discussing how stability and safety allow your heart to open. Isn’t that beautiful?!
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Safety is trusting. Knowing you’ll be held and accepted every time. Respecting boundaries. Communication. Warmth. Strength. Holding hands. Being there. Texting just to say “I love you”. Listening. Drawing near. Sleeping softly. Closeness. Holding space. Understanding and not judging. Love.

Safety feels unbreakable, calm, soothing, peaceful, comfortable, controlled, cradled, hushed, being quieted, real, clear, unambiguous, protected, undamaged.

Safety comes from never-tiring love, long-term reliability, confirmation, certainty, trustworthiness, reassurance, honored words, &being cared for.
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Stability is balance. Strength. Knowing who you are. Stretching up and out. Trusting the ground. Having a foundation. Being unshakable. Being shaken but not falling down. (Strength is falling down and getting back up) Solidness. Ability to be pushed without leaving or going away. Resilience. Remaining self-assured. Being your own person. Not melting into another person or into a puddle. Being proactive instead of passive. Having boundaries. Being sure. Feeling certain.

Stability feels sturdy, steady, poised, confident, resolute, durable, well-founded, grounded, rooted, anchored, unafraid, plucky….

Stability comes from self-control, persistence, loyalty, endurance, being single-minded, undiscouraged, well-established, having conviction, having a lion-heart, & being determined.
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What makes you feel stable and safe?

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Real Wonder Women, Real Talk: Anxiety and Depression. How do you deal when you feel miserable?

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I am honored to know a whole bunch of inspiring, amazing women and I realized the other day that I would love to ask these ladies for their perspective on some important issues:

Health, self-care, anxiety, depression

I feel like it’s important for women to know that even when they feel alone in their experiences, other women have been there, too.

In this third part, I simply asked:

What do you do when you feel miserable?

(I’ve kept the names anonymous at the request of a lot of the women for when we get into headier topics.)

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How do I take care of myself when I feel horrible?
If I’m physically sick, that’s easy.  I have a visual reason others can see for laying around, sleeping, watching TV, etc. 
It’s a different story though, if I’m not feeling good emotionally.  That’s tough.  There is so much pressure to ‘do’ and ‘go’ and ‘be’…it’s hard for me to validate just laying around, sleeping, taking it easy, etc.  I don’t know if that’s because I fear others will think I’m being lazy or if I’m too hard on myself.
After this past winter, I’ve decided that I suffer from S.A.D. to a mild extent.  There’s relief in that, but there’s also that stigma again.  I’m not quite sure how to deal with it or if there is a way to prevent it…guess it will be one of those things I’ll learn.  ☺

-D.K.
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Miserable: cry. I get wrapped in my head and ruminate, making it worse. I pretty much think of everything bad that has every happened and may possibly happen and somehow embrace every wretched feeling.

I haven’t actually been diagnosed as having depression, but the more I look at my daily bouts of crying and frustration, it may be the case.

As a background: I have always been unstoppable, I power through everything like a fucking champ. However, it’s caught up to me, hundreds of fucked up traumas have caught up and crushed me and I have collapsed but have faith I can somehow move forward and hopefully soon.

-Y.R.
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When I feel miserable, it’s generally a sign I need to rest. Sometimes I will sit on the couch, watch TV, and force myself to ignore any of the other “to-do”s. Sometimes I take a bath. Sometimes I go to bed, even if it’s 6:30. If I’m emotionally miserable, I usually write and try to figure out what is triggering it.

-B.V.
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I isolate. I isolate and revert to negative thinking always turned internally. I’m starting to recognize it now. I’ll call someone, I’ll go to the beach, I’ll quick jump in the car and drive to my parents’ house. But if I don’t catch it right from the start, I let that miserable feeling worm its way through my entire life and my eating disorder takes over again

-Daryn

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Honestly, in my darkest moments, as much as it hurts, I find that the best is just to surrender to the tears, the rage and find a safe way to let it all out.  Either by myself or to someone that I won’t hurt in that moment.  I am not scared of the darkness – I know if I allow myself to feel the pain, that eventually it will begin to subside.  We tend to hold onto it as long as we need it for some reason.  When that reason starts to disappear, our grip starts to loosen. 
That is what I have in this moment.  Hope that helps.  Would love to hear what others have to share.  ♥

-Lili
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When I feel miserable, I eat poorly and watch too much TV.
Or shop online.
I haven’t been officially diagnosed with anxiety or depression but I obviously don’t deal with it well since I have stomach issues and headaches.
I’d say I’ve been mildly depressed on and off since having my daughter- the lifestyle change is something I struggle with. I like to be good at everything I do, so I struggle with balance and sometimes feeling like I do nothing well and everything mediocre, which I hate. I have also always required my very own time and space – lots of it – which since having children I don’t have.

-L.M.
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It’s been so eye-opening reading the responses and seeing how so many women are struggling with the same stuff!!
Depression and anxiety can feel so lonely.
Crying can feel so defeating, sometimes like failure.
Our society sees any emotional or mental difficulties as being weakness when actually I think that it might just be part of being HUMAN!!!!

It’s been interesting to see some people list crying as a form of self-care!!

I think it’s so important to let women know they are not alone and that it’s okay to feel sad….

It’s important to remove stigmas so we can transition to a place of helping each other. Giving women permission to connect even in their darkest places could prevent us all from going too deep into that pit where we feel shame and loneliness and disconnect….
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If you’d like to add your story, please feel free. You never know how much it could help someone else.

So much love!

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Real Wonder Women, Real Talk: How do you define “Self-Care”?

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I am honored to know a whole bunch of inspiring, amazing women and I realized the other day that I would love to ask these ladies for their perspective on some important issues:

Health, self-care, anxiety, depression

I feel like it’s important for women to know that even when they feel alone in their experiences, other women have been there, too.

In this second part, I simply asked:

How do you practice or define “self-care”?

(I’ve kept the names anonymous at the request of a lot of the women for when we get into headier topics.)
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“Self care: often times neglected, most of the time neglected. I think I’m using this interview to ignore real life.
When I have the ability, I do yoga. When I continue to do yoga each day it gets easier and easier.”

-Y.R.

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“I am just now struggling with some depression that comes and goes for me.  My self-care for it involves eating well and frequently because low blood sugar affects my moods.  Getting outside as much as possible.  Exercise.  Remembering to have some fun.  Connecting with people.  Crying.  Getting some TLC from loved ones or from massage therapists.”

-Lili

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“Aside from maintaining good hygiene, I define self-care as taking care of my physical needs in a healthy manner and allowing myself to enjoy ‘wants’ – without going overboard, of course! 

Honestly, I should probably take better care of my mental/emotional needs and wants, too.  Why is that difficult and hard???  …maybe because our society really doesn’t allow us to be emotionally weak. There’s a stigma to that, I think.”

-D.K.
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Self care isn’t really something I practice. At all. Ever. But I’m trying more now. Like before I would sit and watch 3 hours of TV after the girls went to bed and consider that “me time.” Within the last 2 weeks since being diagnosed with Gastritis and a possible ulcer I’m trying to pay more attention to my health via self care. I am walking/running on our new treadmill about 3 times/week and have just bought a book to read for pleasure, after the girls go to bed. I’m trying to be in bed, going to sleep by 10:30 and am trying a low fodmap diet to help with the gastritis. I’m also making an appointment at a naturopathic office to help me figure out what’s going on with my migraines and stomach.

-L.M.
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Self-care: I rarely do! I work out 2x a week minimum and try to eat healthy and sleep at least 7 hours, but that’s about it. I’d like to have more time to truly unwind. I’m reactive instead of proactive. I blame this partly on the fact my massage therapist is now 14 hours away. ;)

-B.V.
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Right now, self-care comes in two forms. For the first form, I’ve found that I have to revert to my most basic needs as a human to practice self-care. Self-care looks like taking 30 minutes to prepare a healthy meal and then sitting down to actually eat it but it also includes taking actual steps to deal with my eating disorder. Seeing a therapist, not working out a couple days a week, eating a scoop of ice cream with my friends…this is all part of the self-care I need right now. Of course, this will change as I make strides in my recovery. But for now, a majority of my self-care is simply trying to love myself enough to keep walking down the path of recovery. The second form is what I call “sea-salt therapy.” I hop in my car, drive to the beach, and let the ocean do the talking. Salty hair is the best kind of self-care.

-Daryn
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Self-care has been something I’ve struggled with a lot, personally. I wrote about my experience and my process here. Check it out if you’re curious. (I also include two links that can really help you feel better immediately.)

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Self-Care: My Personal Journey

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Self-care has been something I’ve struggled with a lot. They say you teach what you most want to learn and as a massage therapist I’m ALWAYS teaching other people how to take care of their bodies and their minds.

I’d tell people to drink more water because I could tell their muscles were craving it….and I was barely drinking any at all.

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Finally I began my self-care journey by setting up massage trades with a good friend of mine, Laura Harrington. We began to make a point of trading once a month.

Then I went to a chiropractor, Rachel Heneberry. With only a few gentle adjustments, she provides so much relief.

Then, just last year I started going to an acupuncturist every month, Emily Hanger. She is the SWEETEST human being on the planet. (In a very grounding way) She nurtures me and makes me feel so loved.

Then I added in a myofascialist, Lisa Shelton. She takes care of my fascia and helps me release holding patterns from stress. She also is really great to talk to and provides a wonderfully different perspective on life.

At first I would schedule everyone in the same week….and then I decided I needed something intentionally every week of the month.

Now, I’ve added a therapist, Bevin Yowell. Hello stigma. Why is our society so afraid of admitting they need to talk to someone about their life and their past?? I love how my therapist gives me constructive feedback and she gives me homework (simple stuff like saying HI! To my housemate when she gets home instead of pretending I don’t exist….)

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Having all these wonderful women caring for my body, caring for my mind, wanting to know what is happening in my life: the process has been LIFE changing. Sometimes it still doesn’t feel like enough because each one of those women brings me another piece of my puzzle and I only see each them one time a month. A LOT can happen in 30 days….

Also, I meet with a friend of mine, Dawn Nay, from church for breakfast at least once a month. When we meet we might just talk about random things but I know I have permission to spill my guts if I need to.

In my private life I also love to do yoga and take baths and take naps….I have a list of things I can do when I feel awful. If I’m feeling lonely, I intentionally go through and ask my most inspiring lady friends out for lunch or over for tea or wine….it’s so important to be intentional.

Another thing I do is I use an asyra machine which reads your entire body and tells you EXACTLY what is happening in your body at that point in your life. It tells you what foods you need to back off on and what things you need to add in. I love it because it is so comprehensive!!

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There’s also a website I’ve found:
Interactive Self-Care Guide
Which is great for people like me who can feel so lost all of a sudden and need someone to suggest things that will make me feel better when I’m not eating or cleaning or doing anything.

And finally, something that has changed my whole life and given me permission to feel all my feelings has been my hormone horoscope app and the website: hormonehoroscope.com
Gabrielle does SUCH an amazing job explaining these things that happen in our minds and bodies EVERY. MONTH.
If you’re a woman, go check it out right now. I promise you will learn so much!!

I encourage you to find people in your life who will listen to you and encourage you and give you constructive feedback. It is also important that those people give you permission to be who you are and feel how you are feeling RIGHT NOW. Step away from those who want you to stuff your feelings or pretend you’re fine.

In order to practice self-care, you need to feel it all. And if you can find some people who will stand beside you and allow you to do that, hold on!!!! Your life will change in a beautiful way.

If you need a massage therapist who will love you right where you are, feel free to contact me for an appointment.

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Thankful Thursday: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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May is Mental Illness Awareness month.

Even as the 29 year old daughter of a mentally ill mother, I am STILL learning.

Just today I had to come to terms with what REAL depression looks like. It’s NOT actually someone choosing to wallow or to just wanting attention.

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Depression is not a choice. Just because something would snap me out of a bad mood, doesn’t mean it will make someone like my mom feel better.

Having a chemical imbalance is very different from being in a bad mood.

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We have to continue to encourage and support even when it feels like nothing we say or do makes any difference. It can be EXTREMELY frustrating and very sad but we must continue to love instead of completely walking away.

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I’m so excited that people are beginning to talk more about their struggles with being depressed and bipolar. It not only means an increase in awareness and a removal of stigma, it also means that the families and children of people struggling with mental illness can find understanding and there will be more information available for us so we can learn how to better cope.

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Growing up, bipolar was so deeply stigmatized leaving me (an only child of a single parent) feeling lost. No one ever taught me how to deal with what every day life would look like for me and my mom.

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My deep hope is that the future will bring SO MUCH understanding and SO MANY tools.

This is my current struggle and realization. I am sure other children of mentally ill parents will understand what it’s like to still be learning how to see mental health as something different from a quick fix even after years of dealing with it…. I still try to just “fix” it and instead I now know I need to learn how to just sit with it and be more understanding and encouraging.

Some great links about Mental Health:

John Oliver

Huffington Post 

17 Celebrities who opened up about mental illness

Self compassion

Demi Lovato

More from Demi

The basics of mental health

8 Apps for Mental Health