Self Awareness

Hey everyone! I’m back online after several days of hassling with moving in and unpacking and organizing. Sadly not for myself, but rather a friend who needed some extra help. Anyway, here’s the latest update for me.

As it turns out, the fatigue and depression symptoms I was feeling were adverse side effects of a new medication I had started taking only 5 weeks ago. I only developed this thought on Thursday night around 9:30 pm when I was suddenly alert and feeling more like normal (though half battling a migraine while waiting for the meds to kick in). Given that my entire June had been jam packed with social activities, it was easy for the medicine’s side effects to be masked by general fatigue, since socializing takes its toll on me all the time. However, with how little I actually did this past week, the constant fatigue that was all-encompassing and the eventual depression symptoms seemed out of place with how I normally am.

So the next morning, I called my doctor and told her all about these new symptoms, asking to be taken off the medication or maybe put on a lower dose, since it was technically prescribed for migraine prevention (and it had worked for those four weeks). Thankfully I also had a therapy appointment that morning so when I described my week to my therapist, she also agreed that it was likely a side effect of the medication because I didn’t take it that Friday morning and I felt like normal. Which I really needed because I had to pick up my friend Jerad from the airport and I needed to be alert for that since it was an hour long drive both ways.

My therapist was not only excited that I had done my “homework” (that being a cognitive behavioral exercise in journaling) for when I had these depression-based thoughts, but that I was even able to identify that these weren’t my thoughts. It might have taken several days to do it, but she was impressed by my self awareness and being able to recognize foreign thoughts. That being said, however, achieving even that level of self awareness was a long journey. I’m still working on sorting out my feelings versus others’ feelings that I’m absorbing.

If you’re still working on your own self awareness, that’s perfectly ok! It takes a lot of work, just like any other thing related to the self, such as self esteem and confidence. Trust me, I’m still on that road myself. So this might sound like a broken record, but here’s some tips from someone who’s been there.

1. Don’t underestimate the power of writing. Even if you’re not a fan of writing, just the act of writing down your negative or repetitive thoughts can help calm you down and put you back in focus. If you’re mad about something, write it down and then rip the paper up, or burn it if you’re feeling adventurous and have a way to extinguish the fire if need be. I once wrote an angry letter to a former friend (WITHOUT sending it, of course!), just to air out all my grievances with her and vent my frustration over continuing to let thoughts of her ruin my days, and once I was done writing the letter, I shredded it. I felt so much better afterwards.

2. Find a quiet place. If you work in an office type setting, this might include somewhere like a stairwell no one uses or even the bathroom. Find somewhere quiet to sit down and take several deep breaths. You can close your eyes if you want; I usually find that that helps because it brings your focus solely to your breathing. Take three to four deep breaths, until you’ve calmed down and the thoughts have been reined in. You don’t have to dismiss them entirely, but calming the body down helps you make more rational decisions, especially if the situation made you emotional in the first place. Say, for example, you got passed over for a promotion again and you’re furious about it because you’ve been doing great work since you started, you’re a fast learner, etc. If you really like your job, marching into the boss’s office and yelling at them about it isn’t going to help the situation much. But if you take some time to breathe and calm down, then you have the ability to go into their office and ask them calmly why that other person was chosen instead.

3. Watch an episode or two of your favorite show. If your show’s not on cable or on demand, pop a DVD in and watch a movie instead. Something you’ve seen a hundred times but still enjoy watching. Studies have shown that watching something over and over again brings about a sense of control because you already know what’s going to happen. Once you get that feeling of control and calm back, you can recognize and rationalize the feelings that were upsetting you and figure out why you were feeling them.

That’s it for now! Take care! ❤

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Four Steps for Self Care

Now that I’ve gotten the business writing/sales pitch out of me, I can provide an update on my mental sanity.

Since I started seeing a therapist at the beginning of the year, I’ve learned to use several new coping techniques, most of which have helped me in the moment and slowed or stopped an anxiety attack. But they do nothing for the aftermath of the attack’s buildup or the perceived anxiety that is consistently flowing. As such, after prolonged periods of socializing, I’m beyond exhausted. I’m tired mentally, physically, and emotionally. Coping only does so much.

However, there are some small advantages to my ever-present anxiety. Sometimes I can harness it into productive anxiety and focus my energy into my crafting business. Or like today, for instance, I can use it to take care of mundane household tasks like changing sheets, catching up on shows, and making new posts. And while all of that still drains my energy, at least I have a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

With starting my own business, some of my other hobbies have taken a backseat. My  story writing was one of them, as was my reading list. I’ve been gaming here and there, mostly Zelda games that don’t require much of my time because I know them so well I don’t struggle with them anymore. Mostly when I need some self care, I find a quiet isolated corner and hide there for as long as I can until I’m ready to be around people again. That being said, here are a few things that I do to calm down and take care of myself.

1. Journaling. One of the best ways for me to calm down and manage my chaotic thoughts is simply to write them down, and my therapist would agree with me. In fact, she’s told me she wishes all her clients would take to journaling. In all fairness to her, though, not everyone enjoys writing the way I do so I understand if this isn’t right for everyone. What I find most helpful about journaling, though, is that it helps make whatever’s bothering me more tangible and thus, more manageable. Plus journaling doesn’t require any special items. Just some paper and something to write with. Even if you just jot down a repetitive thought on a Post-It note and throw it away, that can help bring your anxiety down.

2. Yoga and Meditation. As cliche as it might sound, yoga and meditation can slow the mind down. However, I believe that meditation can be done in multiple ways, not just sitting quietly and listening to your breathing. Meditation can be done during any activity you find pleasurable. It could be during a morning run, where all you focus on is putting one foot in front of the other, or what most consider traditional meditation, sitting quietly and breathing to quiet your thoughts. The reason I put yoga together with meditation is because that combination is what works for me. Whatever activity you choose to do, use that to focus only on the activity itself.

3. Take a Nap. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is rest. Find a dark quiet place, grab a cozy blanket and pillow, and lay down for 10 minutes. If you can only spare 5 minutes, then lay down for 5 minutes. You’ll feel refreshed and maybe even ready to take on one of your tasks.

4. Watch YouTube. Find some cute animal videos and watch them. Everyone loves watching puppies and kitties at play and they can calm you down. It’s a small thing, but it can make all the difference.

That’s it for now, but you can always check online for additional tips on self care. If you have your own care routine, kudos to you! I’m off to work on my own self care routine.

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. 🙂

Looking to a Brighter Tomorrow

I apologize that it’s been so long since my last post. Chaos doesn’t even begin to describe the last couple months for me.

Tuesday was my last day at my job. I finally caved and quit. The past few days have been marvelously stress free and I have no regrets yet. I’ve been making more crocheted fairies and getting things done for the possibility of starting up my own crafting business called Nerdvana Crafts. So yes, I’ve been keeping busy, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in the next few weeks.

Job hunting is not exactly a fun task, but one that needs to be done. Having worked from home for the last five years, I’m eager to do something else from home. So far I’ve found a couple jobs that include freelance editing, writing, and data entry. I’ve also gotten a couple requests for crocheted projects, but as a starting entrepreneur, that probably won’t sustain me for very long, at least not until business starts picking up.

There is a publishing company looking for a freelance writer and editor to help authors with their works and I’m highly interested in this position because one, I’m also a writer and editor, and two, this could be my break into the publishing world and I’m eager to see where this could take me, if I get it. The only hitch is they want writing samples and links to live content and right now, this is my only blog and I would prefer to keep it private for my own sake. However, I do have another one that I abandoned a while ago that could possibly work for this. I’ll have to come up with some new posts for it and hope they’re good enough. The trouble would then arise from picking something to write about.

My family has been extremely supportive of my decision to quit my job, though my dad has expressed concern about me being without income despite my reassurances that I will manage. Having been unemployed before, I know how to manage my finances to the most essential items only until I have a new job. However, the difference between this unemployment and my previous bout was this time, I left on my terms.

So here’s to the future. May it be brighter and more fulfilling, and may this job search not take as long as my last one. Cheers!

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…

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