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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

Real Wonder Women, Real Talk: What does “health” mean to you?

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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 first part, I simply asked:

How do you define “health”? What does that word mean to you?

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

“Health: when my mind and body are in agreement.

-Y.R.

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“For me health has become a fluid feeling. 

I used to try to feel like I did in my teens and twenties and on the odd day that I felt like that, I would feel “healthy”. 

But as I get older and my chemistry has gradually shifted, health has a new standard – one that has more to do with the middle ground than with highs and lows. 

At the end of the day, I think health to me is peace of mind and heart.

Sometimes a hurting and sick body affects that peace terribly, and sometimes it doesn’t.  But when that peace is gone, then my body feels it.
Often as anxiety.”

-Lili

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Health to me is a scale measuring how well your mind and body are working together. There is “good health” and “not-so-good health.”

-L.M.

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“First, health to me, is not a result of comparing myself to others (I’m thinner than she is, happier than her, etc.).  It’s also not about a size or weight.  It is about me being the best I can be.

Health is more than just being physically fit.  It includes spiritual, mental, and emotional states.  I can achieve health by living for and being in relationship with Jesus, not to mention doing His will for me even if it means my life/choices is way different than others’.

To be healthy physically, I exercise (my focus is moving more and getting my heart rate up) and eating healthy foods MOST of the time.  ☺ I also try to stay away from chemicals, GMO’s, and use natural alternatives to healing and promoting health.

As for being healthy mentally and emotionally, I find that much harder.  I try to get enough sleep, do things I enjoy, learn things, read, etc. 

Most of all though, I believe our mental health is very much a combined result of genetics, childhood environment, and our devotion to our faith.”

-D.K.

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Health: I define health as being the measurement of how well you are in comparison to how well your body will let you be. Meaning, I am not automatically healthier than a person in a wheel chair because I can walk and they can’t. If they are working out and eating well and I’m stuffing my face with heavily buttered popcorn, me being able to walk doesn’t mean squat in terms of health.

-B.V.

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This is a tricky one for me. I recently realized that I have an eating disorder, something I never in a million years thought I would have. I barely eat and over-exercise in the hopes of achieving that perfect bikini-body that so many women strive for. For so many years, “health” was a thin body. Now I’m learning that health is in no way a cut and dry thin body. Health is having the energy to make it through the day because you’ve been eating regularly and enough. Health is running and jumping and playing with the kids in your life and not needing a nap afterwards because you burned through what little reserve of energy you have. Health is that luminous glow your skin gets when it has enough nutrients and water. Health is knowing that you can lift a heavy box because your muscles are strong. But mostly importantly, health is an attitude. It’s taking care of your body by giving it the right fuel and loving it by giving it days off and grace. It’s not a size 0 and it’s not a number on a scale. Health is being content with your body and loving it in all its flaws.

-Daryn

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Personally, I used to define health as all the times I felt blissful and felt like conquering the world.

Now that I’m in tune with my hormonal cycle, I realize that I really only feel that “I’m queen of the world!!” feeling for one week out of the month.

Does that mean I’m not healthy the rest of the month? No. Even when I feel like crying or eating ALL the chocolate or sleeping all day…..that is all part of being a healthy woman.

I feel like I’m learning that health really is about balance, boundaries, connection, and growth.

As long as I am continuing to place one foot in front of the other, I have the potential to be healthy.

Also, surrounding myself with other healthy women helps me be healthy.

-me, (Joy Boardman)

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What does health mean to YOU?

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List of Planet Joy’s Upcoming Projects

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I have five ideas spinning around in my head:

1) finding out the best hours to work with busy moms
2) hormonal testing
3) officially offering intention setting sessions as part of my business (both one on one and group settings)
4) removing the stigma from anxiety and depression and providing a space for women to connect: encouraging instead of isolating.
5) potentially running an asyra machine right here in Staunton.

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More details:
1) Working with busy moms. Massages and collages offered at times when moms are finally able to have free time. Those weird hours like 8-11 in the evening when the kids are finally asleep and they have time to rest. I want to find out when mommas are actually available! My business has always had the intention of being for busy women but my hours (11-6) are not reaching all the moms! It is time to make mammas happy :)

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2) Hormonal testing. Hormones have become super interesting to me. They are responsible for so much and can get out of balance so easily. I’d love to help women figure out what’s going on in their bodies and especially help women who are going into menopause or are currently experiencing menopause. There’s so little information out about menopause and yet every woman will eventually experience it….I know that personally when it comes time for me to go through it I want there to be someone who can come along beside me and help me figure out what’s happening.

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3) Officially offering intention setting sessions (both one on one and groups) I’ve been helping people set goals and intentions through collage for a couple of years now. It’s an extremely easy way to get what is in your head out and make it visual. Making your goals and dreams visual is an incredible way to actually achieve them. Also, collage is a great way for people to use their atrophied creative muscles. (Almost everyone can use scissors and a glue stick.) I also teach how to set achievable goals. Kind of like art therapy life coaching.

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4) Removing the stigma from anxiety and depression and creating a supportive and encouraging atmosphere for women who are experiencing dark times. A huge amount of women have these feelings (to some extent our hormonal cycle includes whole weeks where we feel a little anxious or a little down) it’s part of being human. We need to talk about it. I want to bring women in together who have been down in it and gotten back up. Self-care is sometimes what we know we SHOULD be doing but I want to have a list of resources for women from women– things that actually WORK to pull them out of the darkness. We naturally tend to isolate when experiencing negative emotions. Even more so if we feel like we are the only ones and that everyone else is too busy being awesome and happy. We don’t want to burden others with our feelings. What we really need to be able to do, though is to reach out and feel accepted–negative emotions and all.

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5) Possibly running an asyra machine right here in Staunton. A friend of mine and I have been discussing purchasing an asyra machine. We have both used one in the past: it’s a machine which reads your entire body and tells you what’s happening, comprehensively. It can tell you what you’re deficient in, what foods you’re allergic to, what supplements would be most beneficial for you, what you’re dealing with emotionally, which parts of your spine are out of alignment. It’s helpful for so many different things: mental, physical, emotional….it’s kind of magical. I’d really love to run it for people to truly help them figure out what is happening in their bodies. I do a ton of health research and this machine is excellent because there’s no guessing what might help. Every body is unique and this machine tells you what YOUR body needs. (This last time I went I found out that what I most needed was some cayenne and flaxseed oil) I love that it’s not pushing pharmaceuticals, too.
The machine shows you a snapshot of what’s happening in your body right now and your body changes around every 5 weeks or so, so at that point you could come back and get another snapshot.

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A lot of cool ideas. I can’t wait to see how they develop! If you’d like to help in any way, you can contact me here: joyboardman@gmail.com.

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Vulnerability is scary, let’s just try Approachability

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People are afraid of being vulnerable. And for good reason! Being vulnerable by definition means making yourself open to attack. All your defenses are down. You could be destroyed.

And yet. We can’t stay impenetrable all the time. If we wear 800 layers including rubber gloves and three face masks there’s no way we can touch each other or be touched. Not to mention all those tall walls we’ve built around ourselves….
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Let’s shift instead to the idea of becoming approachable. That sounds safer, right? If someone approaches us in a quiet manner, that is okay. If they speak to us gently, that might be okay. We might even be able to connect. We might be able to be honest. We might slowly open our hearts. We might become transparent and unrestrained.

And eventually, we might be able to hold each other and speak heart-to-heart.
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Instead of being vulnerable, let’s start with allowing ourselves to become approachable.

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