Category Archives: Mental Health

The Power of Self-Awareness

The difference between the Jen today and the Jen a couple of  years ago is pretty simple. I lacked self-awareness. I was walking around functioning at minimum capacity. I may have had direction and motivation to better myself, but I lacked a firm grip on my own reality.

I was cocky, though. Cocky about my credentials, my talents, my paycheck… which is funny to me now. None of those things really matter to me.

I had a tendency to mold myself to others. People I admired or people I wanted to like me. I found a pattern of hiding behind the people I hung out with in order to avoid really giving my life any real thought. I would do what they liked doing, talk about what they liked talking about and eventually I would continuously trick myself into believing this version was the version that ‘fit’.

Then one day I snapped. Too much was happening at once, the walls crashed in and I gave in to the emotional breakdown that was years in the making. It lasted days. During those days there was ugly crying, deep thoughts, long baths and long periods alone. I can tell you from my experience, everything in my life suffered when I was in this state of mind. My relationships, my self-esteem and my mental and physical health.

During that time I finally developed some self-awareness. Being away from all those people you hid behind and sobering up in order to create a life does that to a person, maybe. I realized that I was living my life for other people and have been doing it since I left the nest.

For Example, I became a photographer to impress my dad, because it was his current hobby… that he gave up while I was in boot camp when he took the camera back to Costco.

I got caught up making self-destructive decisions. Hanging out with partiers and heavy drinkers (ie: all Sailors). In the Navy, you are prone to being in situations where tying one on is normal and when you have no tolerance to alcohol disaster will ensue. It is inevitable. I met my husband at the tail end of that decade-long shit-show. The party girl reeled him in and the sober chick with goals and a good soul sealed the deal.

During this process, the minute I became self-aware of a few facts about myself, I started using that information to rebuild myself. I realized I am not a good drinker. I do not know my limit, I have no clue when to stop, I get sloppy, make terrible decisions and then owe apologies that are covered in embarrassment and self-loathing.

I also realized that I was working toward goals that were not really important to me. I wasn’t putting in the real effort it takes to adult properly. I also wasn’t doing things that make me happy, (because I still hadn’t figured out what those things were). I realized that because of my stubborn and superiority complex, I had missed out on too many years with my mom to admit to.

I became aware of my over-analyzing, my anxious feelings, my tendency to blow-up and the fact that what I was putting my time and energy into bullshit.

Self-awareness is a magical thing. Just admitting to yourself where you need to make improvements and realizing what is holding you back starts a journey to a happier existence.

The next step is action; that’s a difference post for another day though!

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The Year I Took for Myself

This will be known as the year I took for myself. I really started this over-due and difficult journey last year, but I am making it my official goal this year. Yes I set goals, and yes I stick to them. It is how my brain is wired. Now before you say, “I wish I was like that” read through a few recent post and then decide.

I am the person who wakes up and really enjoys writing out the days plans with her morning cups of joe. Yes you read that correctly, it takes multiple cups and I enjoy making list.

Anyway, I am taking this year to work on myself, do what makes me happy and find out what else makes me happy.

To accomplish this goal, I have to let go of a few things and change the way I think. For example, for some reason I have put people liking me really high on my list of importance. I must have,  because I really do care if people like me. Way too much. I over analyze every relationship I have ever had, nightly. Ok, not really nightly, but I do it far more than I would like.

I am the person who really wishes Facebook required a reason before they allowed you to use the unfriend option. It’s fucked up Facebook, really, it is. I need to know why this person who has requested or accepted a social media friendship contract and has abruptly ended it without my permission. I have to know WHY!

I digress…

I do know that in order for me to keep myself sane and moving forward I need to stop wasting the energy it takes giving a shit whether or not people like me. I need to stop working on this facade of perfection I have built. It’s wearing me the fuck down. I can’t keep all my ‘friendships’ afloat by myself and I need to recognize a dead friendship when I see one.

During our 6-month apartment stay, I was on a low. Let’s call it that. During that time I was forced to deal with some real mental health type issues. After losing too much weight, having a couple panic attacks and bickering day and night with Chris, I knew it was time to get my ass in gear and deal with this issue I knew would surface one day.

Let’s be real for a second. The odds have always been stacked against me in the mental health department. What I mean by this is that I am genetically predisposed to anxiety and depression, and I have enough childhood trauma to fill a two-day Dr. Phil episode.

Let’s not ignore the other elephant in the room. Having a child really pushes you to the edge sometimes. Having a tiny two-year old who knows everything and loves to hide really really well is tough you guys. With the sleep deprivation, constant mini-heart attacks and putting yourself on the back-burner (or what you perceive as the back-burner) can really begin to wear even the sanest person down.

So, in 2016 I have made it my point to get mentally strong, physically strong and emotionally strong. The plan to get myself there is pretty simple. Stop putting other people first, say no when I really want to, no more one-sided friendships, simplify my life (more to follow there) and spend time doing things that feed my soul like working out, going on dates with my husband and learning how to garden. And read, I remember enjoying that too.

My mom would be proud of me and that makes me feel good. So far my confidence is returning, my marriage is stronger for it and damn it feels good to sit in traffic and not want to take my skin off and walk home.

So join in my journey, take some time for you, and maybe learn a thing or two.

 

That was totally an accident and totally lame.

 

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I would like to order a cup of denial, extra guilt and just a sprinkle of reality…

It is absolutely amazing to me that I have denied my own truth until recently. Or I suppose some would say that I have found ways to deny it, escape it or even explain it; ‘it’ being the reality of my mental health situation and how I got there. This post is not going to be about the latter of the last sentence though, so don’t exit this post just yet.

I just feel like my absence on my own blog is just another example of my mental health reality and another situation I can easily explain away. We just moved into a new house that took 6 months to build. We were cramped and unhappy in the apartment, blah blah blah.

But the absolute truth is I was in a pretty deep depression. The truth is I suffer from depression. And GAD.

I have always denied the depressive part to my personality. I believed in to be situation, brief and not a big deal. Certainly not depression. I mean, I have studied depression for years. It is BASIC psychology. Hello, half the world should be at least familiar if not an expert by the constant commercials cramming medications down our throats. I made joke after joke that maybe I chose that particular field of study to try and outrun what ever reality awaited me in that department. I don’t seriously believe that this is the entire case here, but I definitely believed I would see the signs or understand what was happening to me.

I have recently been doing a lot work on myself. Mainly for my daughter. I do not wish to repeat history, that has always been something I have been high-per aware of. This has included therapy sessions, starting medication, changing medication and spending more time doing things that help me feel better (baths, yoga, going to Target alone, etc.).

During this time, I have realized there have been several points in my life that I am sure I was suffering from a depressive episode. I have made horrible decisions, been drunk for years at a time and survived several situations I will never talk about in the company of my daughter.

I know that I feel much better realizing why and how I got here. Despite my best effort, I suffer from what many, many women suffer from. I got tired of all the anxious feelings, the constant sweating, the chest pains, the inability to control my emotions once I reached panic mode. I had to take control of it and get some help. Hiding was now impossible and being a good mom has become my priority so I had to put my pride aside, put my ‘I’m no slave to the system and pills’ attitude aside.

I feel so much better now, truly. And once I got my anxiety under control it became overwhelmingly obvious that there was more to the story. More I needed to realize and more I needed to work on. Slowly, after 32-33 years of life, the smoke cleared. I see myself clearly now. I see that I am broken,  but not beyond repair. I am prone to short and long bouts where my eyes remain puffy and dark from lack of sleep and long sessions of weeping. Moments in time where I say I enjoy laying around and binge watching a show, or sleeping during the day when I really have to no reason to be tired. I have began describing myself as and introvert, and maybe I am, but there is a difference in the level of desire to be around people when I am the throws of a episode. The thought of going out in public, just public, not even an event where I am expected to socialize, gets me all worked up and in a pissy mood.

The point of this brutally honest and exposing post is that I am coming out of one of those episodes and am feeling MUCH better am ready to get this blog moving forward again, and I feel like I have finally found my niche.

Going forward this blog will focus on mental health as well as all the motherhood, kitchen madness, photography and my struggle to adapt to suburban life (DUH). Let me know what you think!

Love,

SM

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