Let’s Talk…

“I’m Fine” By: Michele King

“Im Fine”- 2 Simple words

the child in me would hide behind.

How are you?

“Im Fine”, I would say.

Is everything okay?

“Im Fine”…

But “Im Fine” was just 

a  l i e.

It was easier to say than

“Im Not Okay.”

Im Fine- I thought I was being

tough.

“Im Fine.”

Hid the pain.

“Im Fine.” Allowed me to ignore 

the volcano of emotions 

waiting to erupt inside.

“Im Fine.”

As I would push back the tears

and the lump in my throat would grow.

And that’s when I knew I wasn’t fine. 

But I would be,

One day.

I wrote this because as a child and in part of my young adult life I would use rote answers, like “I’m fine” to essentially hide behind. Typically when I would say I was fine, there was a lot more going on inside but I was afraid to let it all come out. I didn’t really know how to even begin to talk about what I was feeling or why I was feeling it.

Saying “Im Fine”  meant that I wouldn’t have to address any of  the “feelings soup” I was sitting in. I wouldn’t have to put in the work on myself, I could continue to hide a little more and ignore my own issues, stay where I was comfortable.

I also think I wanted to protect the people close to me and I didn’t want to create any conflict. I didn’t think they would understand or would be able to handle my feelings and I didn’t want to hurt theirs in the process.

Later on though, I realized just how important it is to share how you are feeling and the people who genuinely listen and stick around are the ones worth having by your side.

This is important for me to share because I know I can’t be the only person who has ever felt this way. I want to encourage people out there who are afraid to talk about what they are feeling or going through, no matter how hard it may be, to start having those conversations.

Is it hard digging into that soup of feelings? Yes. Is it hard to start those conversations? Yes. Is it worth is? ABSOLUTELY!

Through digging your hands into your mess and talking about it with someone you trust you find healing and compassion and give others a chance for those things as well.

You matter. Your feelings are important and if something matters to you, then it MATTERS.

So, I encourage those who would normally hide behind a simple “Im Fine” or other rote answer (take your pick) to start a conversation that matters. If you need a safe place I am here to listen.

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We’ll All Float On: Sensory Deprivation Tanks


Over the weekend I was able to try my first ever Sensory Deprivation Tank. The tanks or pods are filled with 900 pounds of epsom salts and inches of water.

Now, if you know me, then you know that I am in to trying different holistic/alternative healing therapies or methods. I was given a gift certificate for the float tank and could not wait to try it out. After signing a waiver I was taken to a single room which had a shower and my very own pod. You are supposed to rinse off before entering the pod because lotions or perfumes will block the salt from getting in to your skin.  

After I showered, I put on my earplugs and laid down in the tank. The water was warm and as you may have guessed extemely salty. It was the weirdest feeling, having your entire body simply float on top of the water. What made the experience even more wild was that I was doing this in an enclosed, dark, tank.

For probably about the first half of my session my mind was racing with all sorts of thoughts. I am kind of claustrophobic, so I was a little anxious about being in the tank, but I listened to my body and decided to keep the room light on and close the tank. After a while I decided I wanted the full experience so I turned off the light in the room and enclosed myself in the tank in complete darkness. 

As I was floating I was listening to my thoughts, which were of course all over the place until I noticed my breathing and began focusing on it. All of a sudden I had this overwhelming calmness come over me. I felt like I was finally being present and completely at ease.  This relaxed state continued until I started thinking about being caught off guard when they turn the light or jets back on to let me know my time was up. Instead of focusing on those anxious thoughts I decided to trust that the noise of the jets wouldnt be too overpowering since the whole point of the tanks are to help you relax. When they did come on it was not too loud at all and I was able to stay calm.

When I got out I was in such a good mood. I felt incredibly relaxed and like I just had the best sleep of my life, even though I didn’t fall asleep at all. These tanks are said to be the closest thing we can experience to being back in the womb. The main idea is for your body to get into a deep relaxed state, which then helps your body to recover from stress and release natural endorphins. I was also told that the more times you try it, the less time it takes for you to get into that relaxed state. I can’t wait to be able to try this again, now that I know what to expect- it’s a day later and my mood still feels elevated. 

Living with Anxiety 101 and Tips to Help Deal.

I came across a meme on Instagram that described anxiety like this: “Living with Anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point when it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear. ”  I would say this is pretty accurate, at least from my experience. As long as I can remember I have always been a “worrier”. Looking back this probably stems from some events that took place in my childhood. I was always thinking about the next thing, and what could possibly go wrong, so that I could be prepared and ready if something did, I did not want to be caught off guard. Let me tell you first hand that this way of living is emotionally exhausting to you and those around you it is also terrible for your health. I always felt like I wasn’t normal and wondered why I couldn’t just be more carefree.

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I decided to seek out some professional help.  I started going to counseling and began my on and off relationship of four years with anxiety medications. I would love to say that there was a “magic” pill they gave me and everything was great from then on out or that counseling was super easy and fun, but that isn’t the case. I had grown up pushing all of my feelings down so it was hard for me to communicate how I was feeling and I hated admitting to any of my feelings because I did not like to feel the ugly ones. I’m pretty sure I showed up at my first counseling session in tears because I knew it was going to be hard, but would benefit me in the end. It isn’t always easing facing your inner demons head on, but once you do, you realize they don’t have to hold you back and they aren’t anything to be afraid of.

After some practice and opening up I realized that it was okay to feel all my feelings and to talk about them, even the hard ones. For some time  I decided that I would give anxiety medicine a try. Talk about an overwhelming experience. The medicine takes weeks to a month to kick in and can have all sorts of sides effects and trying to come off of them causes all sorts of other unpleasant side effects. The counseling and opening up became easier, but I struggled with what I felt like was relying on a pill everyday. (side note I am a stubborn person)  To those of you out there who do use anxiety medications–if it works for you, more power to you! As they say you wouldn’t deny someone with diabetes insulin, so why should it be any different with mental health–we are talking about quality of life here.  I, however, have found that I would rather try to work through my muck with counseling and learn coping strategies to help. I have been off of my meds. now for maybe over two months. I feel more back to my normal self (no brain fog, drowsiness, etc.) but I still have my hard days.

I am not sure if this is the same for others, but when my anxiety gets really triggered my body becomes tense, I sometimes become shaky, my heart races, I completely forget that I am in control, I sometimes try to talk myself down but can tell that my body is in “fight or flight” mode, and  my thoughts start spiraling until I get stuck on one particular thought (typically the outcome that I don’t want to happen) and ruminate on it over and over, taking it as a piece of factual information, instead of just a thought.  Thankfully, I do not have these types of triggers as often anymore and have realized that thoughts are thoughts. Just because they pop in to our minds does not mean they are the facts. If and when I do get triggered I have been given other strategies on how to help get out of them. Like I said, most of my anxiety comes from wanting to control because I am afraid of an unwanted outcome or feeling a trigger that reminds of something and sends my body into panic/freeze mode.

Now the fun part, what to do when this happens or how to deal. I have tried different approaches and am still learning. My default mode is to shut down and panic internally (that’s why if some of you didn’t know I have anxiety or are thinking I haven’t seen her act that way, I have gotten pretty good and internalizing it and hiding it–which I do not recommend, which is why I am doing this blog….end rant) Methods that I have found helpful:

  • Deep Breathing. There are many different ways to do this. If I need to refocus and remind myself to get centered and be present then I just start to do at least 4 sets of deep breathing. I have also been told that breathing in and out 4 times, while counting each hold for 4 seconds helps.
  • Essential Oils: I use Doterra Essential Oils and have found that Lavender, Balance, and Serenity are helpful, especially when going to sleep. Lavender scent has always been calming to me for some reason.  (If you are interested in trying out essential oils  leave a comment-I know a great lady who can help you out!)
  • Mountain Meditation: (Special shout out to my counselor for this one) It goes along with a script which I will leave a link to right here. Mountain Meditation This is basically getting to the point that the mountain is strong and will make it through anything that comes its’ way.
  • Developing a Mantra: My counselor gave me this one to try  and I have to say, especially before going to bed it helps relax my mind. It is recommended to repeat said mantra for 2-3 minutes at a time. ” May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I be gentle, May I be kind.”
  • Talking. Whether it be with a counselor, a spouse, family member, or friend, talking about how you are feeling and asking for what exactly you need in that moment are helpful for you and whoever your support system is.
  • Self Love: I used to be really hard on myself for feeling certain ways or for knowing that I was anxious and was not able to come out of it right away or for not doing “enough”. Lately though, I have been trying a different approach–being kinder to myself. If I am feeling overwhelmed and have a lot to do I may decided to veg out for a while or take the dogs for a walk instead of trying to push through to get everything done that I felt “needed”to be done. Show the compassion you often show for others to yourself.
  • Working Out: I used to use running as my therapy but have switched over to using weights. Hot Yoga has been helpful too because it distracts your mind and forces you to focus to hold poses.
  • Journaling and Adult Coloring Books: Both are therapeutic. I notice when I color I can let my thoughts flow without getting stuck on any. Journaling helps because often once your thoughts are on paper they are out of your system and put things into perspective.

 

“It takes the same amount of energy to worry as it does to be positive. Use your energy to think positive and positive things will happen.”

Living in the Moment

I have been wanting to try blogging for some time now and have finally decided to set one up.  So….here it goes! I am hoping that others will be able to relate to what I write about and that writing on this will be somewhat therapeutic for me too. I  hope to be as honest and raw as I can because I think that is what matters. With that being said here is a little about me: I am 27 years old and a special education teacher. Im obsessed with my dogs and have a pretty good sense of humor. I have a great support system consisting of my family, boyfriend and a few close friends.

On a more personal note I have been dealing with some anxiety and a little depression here and there, although Im thinking that at some point or another everyone deals with either one of these or both. I am learning so much more about myself and anxiety in general, but that is for another day. Today I am focusing on being in the now and moving forward gracefully.

Do you ever have those moments out of nowhere when a song comes on and just hits the nail on the head with what you are thinking and feeling…Well today that is what happened with me with Jason Mraz’s Living in the Moment. Some of these lines really hit home to me, especially about making up things that could go wrong, or holding on to negative thoughts (see future blog about the ever so annoying inner critic.) 

I will leave you with some of the lyrics:

If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry ’bout all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go
Of what I know I don’t know
And I know I only do this by

Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
With peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going,
I’m already home
Living in the moment

I’m letting myself off the hook
For things I’ve done
I let my past go past
And now I’m having more fun
I’m letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong
And I believe this way
Can feel the same for everyone

And if I fall asleep
I know you’ll be the one
Who’ll always remind me

To live in the moment

Until next time…