How Yoga Changed My Life

Growing up I always saw yoga as only being for stuck up snobs who thought they were better than everyone else or just for skinny people. But once I graduated college, I decided to give it a try because after all the Zumba I was doing, I desperately needed some stretching to even out. And to my surprise, I found that I quite enjoyed yoga.

It all started with this YouTube playlist called the 30 Day Yoga Challenge (which you can find here) and I was looking for anything to get me into a habit so I clicked on day one. Turns out the instructor, Erin Motz, aka Bad Yogi, was the total opposite of what I expected from a yoga teacher! She was funny, she was down to earth, and she made yoga accessible to someone like me, who is quite full figured and not stick thin.

After I finished day one, I felt fantastic and looked forward to coming back for day two. As each day passed and I completed each class, I found that I enjoyed Erin’s teaching style. She made me want to come back for more. And on top of that, all the stretching I was doing made me feel better.

Yoga taught me how to have better posture. Instead of just saying to stand up straighter, it taught me how to straighten and stretch out my spine so that I actually felt what good posture should feel like. Yoga taught me how to be mindful of my body and Erin very kindly told us in her videos not to push past our limits because some of the harder poses could seriously hurt us. Now I know which pain to push through and how to relax my muscles in a stretch when I’m a bit stiffer. And the flexibility that has come with doing yoga for 5 years was definitely worth it! When I first started my Pigeon pose, I couldn’t come down into my elbows and my hips were fairly high off the floor. Now, not only can I come down onto my elbows and my hips are nearly touching the floor, but on a good day when I’m really warm and stretched out, I can rest my forehead on my mat and stretch my arms out around my head. And on top of that, when I am sitting up, I can reach back and actually grab my foot to pull for a quad stretch, whereas I couldn’t even reach my foot before.

In addition to Pigeon, I can now manage to get into a headstand, as long as I’m next to a wall, when before I couldn’t even manage to get up into a headstand. I used to not be able to hold plank pose for more than a couple seconds and now I can hold it for 30 or more seconds on my hands, and 60+ seconds on my forearms. And one of Erin’s more unique videos, I think, would be the one focused on hands and wrists. I had to agree with her statement that not everyone would even think they had tight hands, though as a writer it was not that big a shock to me. But I’ve watched her hands and wrists video so much that I have it memorized and I incorporate it into my daily routine because it’s so much more than just a yoga video for me. It’s a necessity because I am constantly doing stuff with my hands, whether that’s excessive typing or crocheting or writing or whatever. And her stretches make it easier for me to relieve some of the tension in my hands and wrists and it’s made all the difference.

Lastly, and most importantly, yoga taught me the joy of just sitting still and being quiet with myself. In its own way, it’s not only become my regular stretching practice but it’s also become a form of meditation for me. I can focus on the moves and my breathing, quietly keep time in my head for each move when I’m doing my own flow, and just drown everything else out. Which, for someone with anxiety that’s worsened in the past few years, some mental peace and quiet is much needed. And I don’t have to be moving through a flow to meditate. I can sit quietly on my mat and close my eyes, because once I hit that mat, no matter what time of day or whatever’s going on in my life, everything pauses around me. Being on my mat clears my head, gives me focus, and most importantly, calms my body down, all of which are important for slowing or stopping an anxiety attack from happening.

If you’re interested in learning more about Erin’s practices, you can find her YouTube channel here and her blog here. She’s a fantastic teacher and she has her own program now called the Perfect Body Yoga Program, which I hear is amazing (but sadly cannot afford myself). Go check her out and see for yourself. 🙂

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Anxiety as a Disability

When people tell me, “What do you have to be anxious about?”, I just want to smack them. Mental health is a HUGE deal lately and as someone with worsening anxiety, I take personal offense to anyone who brushes it off as nothing or says it’s “all in my head.”

Take today for example. My morning was ruined before 9am because of a phone call. It wasn’t anything particularly terrible, like a family death, but in my head, the accusatory tone of the person I was speaking to made me feel like a horrible person for doing what I was instructed (with regards to making the call) and for not knowing all the details of my claim process.

This led to a micro anxiety attack with tears and jaw clenching, and faded into a six-hour fatigue period. This fatigue is from my anxiety and is absolutely no fun at all. I spent most of my morning in a quiet, darkened room, and laying down trying to get comfy and relieve a minor headache. I had a funny show on the TV at a low volume to help distract my mind and I ended up taking a nap around 12:30. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I didn’t even have the will to do anything except lay down and rest. How do people not think this is disabling?

And this was just after a minor attack. The one time I had a severe attack, I was so exhausted, achy, and fuzzy-brained that I had to call in sick for one entire day, and since it was a Friday, I had the rest of the weekend to recover. But it still took until Monday night for me to even start to feel better. A full four days to recover from a severe attack.

I’ve been tracking and monitoring my anxiety levels for the past two years and it’s progressively been getting worse, to the point where the attacks can be weekly, and the migraines and tension headaches I’ve been having, either as a result of an attack or as a precursor to one from the amount of stress I’ve been under, are up from once or twice a month to three or four times a week. Don’t worry, I’m off to see my doctor next week and I’ve made a list of anxiety symptoms that I believe are interfering with my daily life, as well as questions to ask. I’m also planning to ask if I should be seeing a psychologist more regularly to get a handle on this, because clearly I’m not doing well on my own.

I’m just tired of feeling tired and stressed all the time, and I’m worried that my anxiety will keep me from doing regular work again. Which is a sign that it can be considered a disability. Whether or not the disability agency thinks so is another hurdle I may be having to overcome in the near future.

Finding My Own Way

Happy Wednesday!

Today has been a bit of a whirlwind sort of day. It started out pretty miserable when someone I was speaking to on the phone addressed me with an accusatory tone (I was calling about an unemployment claim) about something from my weekly certification, which I had no memory of, and she spoke to me as if I should have remembered and known better. That set off a micro anxiety attack that left me on edge the rest of the day.

It did not get better until after my mother came home and asked me to go downstairs to work on crafting stuff with her. I was supposed to receive a call from a potential new employer, a call that was postponed from yesterday, and while my phone never actually rang, I did get a voicemail 45 minutes after the agreed-upon time explaining the tardiness and also indicating that an email would be sent for a future time. So far, no email has been received and my instincts are screaming for me to bolt and run from this place. I have no interest in playing games like this.

Which leads to the main point of this post: finding my own way. After I followed mom downstairs to do crafting stuff, my mind got some much needed clarify and I was able to focus on finishing up my light box for my crocheted crafts. On top of that, I got all the photos taken, and some cropped while others need to be edited yet. I’m tired now, which might seem odd for what was a small amount of work, but at least I accomplished something that made me happy and allowed me to focus for a short period of time.

And to be honest, I think that’s what I need right now.

Not to work for someone else, to fill someone else’s pocket, or follow someone else’s rules. What I need to do right now is find my own way, even if I’m struggling for a little while. Do I expect to be an overnight sensation? No. Building a company or even a small community takes time. But I know my projects are well-crafted (I know a 10-month-old who’s really putting their toy to the test) and people love handmade things.

What’s most important to me right now is my health and my happiness, and this job hunting stress is not helping either, especially when a potential employer appears to be yanking my chain. Nobody needs that kind of nonsense.

Overwhelmed

For today’s post, I tried to come up with some clever title, some cutesy way to turn how I’m feeling into something positive sounding, or at least to make it appear as though there was something positive in all this chaos.

But to be honest, there is simply no other word for how I’m feeling. I am 100%, completely overwhelmed.

The anxiety attacks are starting to occur with more frequency, though that may also be in part to the caffeine I’m consuming, because even when I sleep well, I still wake up feeling exhausted and caffeine is the only way to make it through work. I’m not eating like I should because my stomach feels all knotted up and bloated and fluttery (like butterflies, probably from the coffee), and not eating makes me feel worse and gives me a headache. Logically I know how to make myself feel better physically, but I just can’t find the motivation to do so. I’ve been spending most of my days sleeping during breaks and trying not to curl up in a ball and cry.

With the constant fear of whether or not I’ll have a job from one day to the next, on top of trying to come up with options for a new job should the need arise (I’m looking at making an Etsy shop and selling crocheted items like gamer amigurumi), I have days where I’m not only beyond exhaustion, but dizzy from it too. Even right now, I just can’t do it. I’ve been running at 150% for too long and I’m running on empty (mentally). Since I make my own hours, I’m stopping work an hour earlier than I normally would because I just can’t focus anymore. That’s becoming a daily habit too, lacking focus, not being able to concentrate, and the most consistent one: wishing I was doing anything else.

And I’m sure there will be people out there who’ll tell me, “Find a different job if you hate it so much,” or “Do yoga, meditate, etc. It’ll calm you down,” and while I am a huge supporter of yoga and meditation for relaxation, I’m also at an awkward point in my life where I can’t help but ask, “What do I do when that doesn’t work?” Lately it seems like nothing is calming me down. My mind seems to be running a million miles a minute, telling me I’m not doing this fast enough, or I’m not doing something everyone else has done by this point in life; basically every possibility of not doing enough, not saying enough, not being enough.

My own personal writing has taken a hit because I can’t focus enough to form coherent thoughts for the story I’m working on. I can’t seem to come up with any good ideas for new stories, even though once upon a time I had at least a dozen or more, probably now stashed away in a drawer somewhere. All of my writing in recent weeks has been some form of venting, complaining about what’s wrong here, and how much I hate my job, and the ensuing panic of possibly having to find another one in the near future. It’s exhausting, and it’s becoming my pattern.

I’m just so tired…

Sewing Project #2: Part 2

Since my last post regarding this sewing project, I have obtained the rest of the fabric needed for the outfit, plus an additional yard and a half of a different, stretchy, pleather-y textured fabric for myself for a cosplay of my own, and I now have everything (I think!) to begin the actual sewing process.

I have a meeting on Saturday with a friend of my mother’s who is a seamstress and knows how to work with stretchy fabrics and will help teach me how to work with them. The only real qualm I have about this meeting is that I’ll be going by myself to her house to work. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, as I’ve been to her house twice, I know who she is, and I’ve made friends with her cat.

But for this particular meeting, I think what has my anxiety levels higher than normal is that it was made spur of the moment (we actually set it up yesterday), and because I’ve been extremely stressed out from work (running at 150% for over two months straight with no break except two hours sick leave and four days planned vacation) and not really having any peace and quiet to myself since early last week. I haven’t really had, or given myself time to mellow out and relax and not do anything. I had company Sunday and Monday, and while my parents were both off yesterday, during the time they were gone, I was working. And today, my dad decided to take a sick day and as I’ve mentioned before, he likes to watch TV and I can’t work with the TV on. So I’m hiding in the basement where I’m not as comfortable as I usually am and not having any natural light like normal either.

In any case, come Saturday, I may be hauling my own sewing machine and all of my materials to this woman’s house to start working on the Pokemon trainer cosplay, depending on whether or not she has a class to teach.

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In addition, I finished my first, all-by-myself amigurumi this week! I made them as housewarming gifts for Jerad because I didn’t know what to buy him. So here they are, Toon Link and Navi!

Amigurumi Link and Navi

I’m so proud of both of these, I’m considering making more! Navi can be in different colors and Link can have different colored tunics! I’m excited to get started on them!

Facing the Future Part 2

On a different, but related subject, today while dredging through my workload, my mind wandered to a variety of other tasks I would rather be doing instead of my daily grind. Things like cutting out patterns, playing video games, trying to catch up on recorded anime while crocheting, sleeping (which I actually did before noon; I took a half hour nap because I was so drained), etc.

As it was, I managed to push through my work so that I could spend the rest of my evening watching Netflix and cutting out a pattern. But these wandering snippets got me thinking on how much I dislike my work. Lately, it really does feel like work. Whereas other things like crocheting and gaming make me feel energized and alive. Even the prospect of cutting out a sewing pattern was more appealing than working.

Which got me thinking on how much better (or worse) life would be if I could actually spend my time making things for other people. I love crocheting blankets especially, but I can also make hats and I recently began making amigurumi, but as long as I have a pattern, I could make pretty much anything, because crocheting soothes my anxiety. And I might still be learning how to sew, but I think once I became skilled enough, I could probably do some cosplay stuff for other people beside myself. I think I would enjoy creating beautiful cosplay items.

This also comes on the back of someone close to me wanting to make and sell jewelry on Etsy, and this makes me want to do something similar because I have this love of creating things. I already work on my own schedule, but it would be nice to not have to be at a laptop all day since I also have problems with my eyes. Still, there’s no guarantee of success there either, especially not right now. Crocheting blankets is great and all, but blankets take time and on top of my other work, they take that much longer.

So while it was a nice thought to get me through my day, I’m not sure it’s quite right for me at this particular moment. Still, I’ll continue to make things as a hobby to soothe my anxious mind. Until next time…<3

Facing the Future

Yesterday as I was driving home from a weekend at Jerad’s (partially planned, but also started a day early due to lack of internet at home for work purposes), I started thinking down a semi-dark train of thought for me. I was worried, and still am I guess, about finding a mate/lover to spend the rest of my life with. Truth be told, I’m not in a huge rush for one. I have the two greatest friends I could possibly ask for and I’m finally starting to get comfortable with myself. I think the only reason I was so bothered by this yesterday was that I was alone with my thoughts and driving away from a place that made me feel happy and relaxed and calm.

It has gotten to the point that my “home” no longer feels like home. Yes I’m allowed to live here and use the facilities like water, heat, internet, etc. but the only room that feels like mine is my bedroom. Granted, I completely understand that living in my parents’ house means that it’s exactly that: my parents’ house. They make all the decisions regarding furniture, paint, etc. And I know what you’re going to say. Why don’t you move out, get your own place? Trust me, if I could afford my own place, I would be gone in a heartbeat. Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents, but sometimes they’re a bit stifling.

Circling back to my original point, I had ventured down this dark road of, “Oh, I need to find a mate or significant other,” and how I would even begin to do that, and after I was home I had considered looking at several dating apps. Well, that actually made me even more worked up to the point of being in tears before bed. Clearly I am not ready for such a commitment or even making myself that vulnerable to anyone and ironically, actually looking at reviews for dating apps shut the waterworks off in an instant. Looking at some of them snapped my logic on in a big pile of “Nope, nope nope, nope, nope!” Quite frankly, I’m more committed to getting a cat once I can afford it.

Given that I have been under what feels like an enormous amount of stress in dealing with an ever-growing pile of work requiring extra hours just to get caught up, family stresses, and one particularly problematic Hot Topic order, this mental breakdown is perfectly understandable. I’m having to do a lot of adulting stuff on my own, with only two friends to help me unwind and unload on. Doing yoga helps sometimes and playing video games usually helps a lot. But I’ve been so worn down that I can’t even focus enough to write. This entry here is actually coming off a relaxed weekend so I managed to focus enough to put words down in a coherent manner.

So trying to add the stress of joining a dating app and looking for “love” just out of sheer loneliness and not feeling like I fit the typical societal “norms,” on top of my current, high stress levels stemming from work and home, I was basically setting myself up for failure and decided that if I should ever find that one special person to share my life with, great. I would love to have a perfectly imperfect romance with someone and be able to have my own family,  to enjoy (and suffer through) the joyous miracle of being a mom. But for now, I’m content with letting love find me while I continue working on myself and overcoming my own obstacles and insecurities. Until next time…<3