Mental Health

 

How I Started Living with Awareness

I opened a door accidentally, around the time my mother passed. I had to deal with a lot of shit that I had avoided for over a decade.

Opening a door that has never been open is a scary thing. Especially when you have no choice but to do so.

That was four years ago and up until recently that open door has been the source of a lot of painful memories, sadness and realization.

Having a child is another interesting way life makes you take a deep look at yourself. Having a child somehow makes every emotion you have come alive; you know, unless you are a psychopath.

I want to say some profound situation opened my eyes to my energy and how I handle that energy, but it was a celebrities book, not some epiphany.

Yes, yes, yes… It was my celebrity obsession (and crush if we are telling the truth) that led me to the information that changed my life. And I am ok with that.

I am just starting this journey and have so much to learn, but just allowing myself to be open has changed me.

I started researching Chakras, mediation and chakra yoga a couple months ago, and in that short time everyone around me can see a positive difference in me.

I mean I still have my freak-out moments and I do not claim to be an expert, but I am sold and I love where I am headed.

The Chakra Basics

The Chakras begin developing in the mother’s womb and continue throughout adolescence and early adulthood. So those who have had a rocky start in life might have under developed Chakras, throwing the whole system out of whack. (this really pertains to me and my start in life and maybe you and you and you and you)

However, since the brain is always creating new synapsis, you have the ability to rewrite your Chakra story. You have the ability to repair the damage and rebalance the energy in your body.

The human energy system is made up of seven layers of energy bodies within the aura, and the chakras exist in the first layer of subtle energy. We also have 21 minor Chakras and all the acupuncture points act as Chakras as well. THAT IS A WHOLE BUNCH OF ENERGY!

I don’t want to get too in-depth, though there is so much information and I get really excited about it! So I will try and keep it basic.

Let’s just talk about your Root Chakra (the first chakra), which develops from conception to age 7. Every Chakra has a glandular connection, depending on its location in the body. The Root Chakra is located in the perineum at the base of the spine, so it’s glandular connection is at the cortex of the adrenal gland.

Each Chakra is sensitive and can be thrown out of balance easily. They can also be ‘exercised’ back into properly functioning. When out of balance Chakras can become deficient or excessive, resulting in unwanted emotional or physical distress.

The Chakras are extremely responsive to what we think and feel. The Root Chakra is affected by aggression, for example.

What really spoke to me in the very first book I read was that once we begin the inner work of affirming our being and honoring who we are, our destiny begins to unfold. Life changes for us in tangible ways. There are more of the good things we enjoy like love, abundance and awareness.

We direct our destiny by managing the WAY WE THINK. We either become inner-directed (by our worth and goodness and knowing you are enough) or outer-directed (dictated by family pressure and social and religious standards).

Chakra Balancing

Each Chakra is responsive to color, music, elements, essential oils, crystals, plants, physical and spiritual activities. They are connected to aspects of intelligence, sensory experience and personal qualities. And of course, astrological association and mythological animals.

What I have started with is basic Chakra yoga and guided meditation. I also use massage and hot baths as a way to relax and readjust. I haven’t been able to start my healing stone sanctuary or update my mediation room, decide on mantra beads and my affirmations, but that is all happening next month!

My favorite part of this journey thus far is realizing that I not only married my best friend, but my soul mate. I never believed in soul mates, either.

But the fact that my husband and I share the same Chakra makes my heart swoon. Aries and Leo are the astrological signs for the Solar Plexus Chakra.

The Heart Chakra seeks to expand around 28, and that is the year I leaped into this life with Chris. The year I got married even though neither of us were completely sure we were right for each other. We are genuinely happier and healthier as a couple every year we are married. And now I know why; turns out he is my soul mate.

Our energy has to know best.

Medicating and Mothering

Let me please start by admitting that as my daughter grows, I grow.

After all, I am learning how to navigate delicate situations that will shape this human being for years to come. In the process I am learning how to be patient, be kind and to be as empathetic as humanely possible.

And I need help, everyday, to accomplish this to the best of my ability.

The struggle of taking prescription medication and accepting that this will be my life, forever, has been a hard pill to swallow. (pun intended!)

I think this feeling is due to my experiences growing up. I would bet that a large population of thirty-somethings and on can remember their parents or grandparents heavily medicated with prescription medication, and perhaps it was mixed with booze at times.

I remember my mother having a plethora of pills. Pills for every occasion, and she had no problem sharing them with me in later years. An over-medicated parent is not a parent, and so I can see the struggle with making the decision to go that route. I can empathize with the desire to keep your household medication free.

But after years of being in denial, the best thing I ever did for myself and my family was to get on medication. I take JUST ENOUGH of a dose that allows me to control my emotions and stay motivated to keep moving forward. I truly believe that spiraling out of control on a consistent basis is counter productive to your desire to live on your own, free of medication. In my own experience, my relationships are better, my day-to-day life is better and my motivation to go after my goals in heightened. And lets be honest, most people, myself included, end up self-medicating.

I think another reason that people tend to avoid treatment is that they sort of view mental illness as a ‘cross they bear’ and something they ‘live with’. For example, I never linked my chest pains or over active sweating and constant queasiness to anxiety. I thought it was just me, just something I had to deal with. The whole time I was just experiencing symptoms of anxiety disorder. Perhaps lack of education leads us to ignore it because it is an illness we can’t see on the outside; other than physiological symptoms you experience (i.e. sweating).

In reality, mental illness is not much different that the illnesses you can see, meaning it needs to be treated. Your brain simply does not perform the way a healthy brain does. Boom, there you go. If you can’t treat narcolepsy or schizophrenia with will power, why would you think you can treat anxiety and depression the same way?

“Hey, wake the fuck up and pull yourself together Carol…” or “you do not see or hear things that are not there, stop fucking around and get back to work Carol so we can make happy hour.” – side note: I am obsessed with the name Carol from that tennis scene in Bridesmaides.  “Get it together, Carol!”

Of course, prescription medication is the just one of the treatments I have in my arsenal. You need to exercise regularly and release those endorphins naturally. Get some vitamin D daily, breathe fresh air. Meditate. Find a hobby that makes your heart sing. And pet your cat (whichever one you want).

One of the ways my daughter is keeping me on my toes and keeping my mind always focused on the big picture is how she mimics my every move. In the morning, I take my prescriptions when I pour my coffee and she sees me do this every day. Well, this past month she has demanded that she take her ‘medicine’ too.

My heart crushes every time, because it brings me right back to my child hood and how I can still remember my mom and her pills. I cried about this my husband and to my girlfriends. I struggle with wanting her to see me work hard to manage my mental health yet I want to preserve that innocence of childhood. However, at the end of the day, she needs a mother who can keep it together and a mom she can count on.

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So for now, I will alter my routine and save that conversation for when she is developmentally ready. With how fast she is growing, that will probably be next week. Sigh.

Accepting Who You Are

Sounds easy enough, to ‘accept ourselves’. Most people understand the concept of personality traits and can describe themselves and the people they know. Outgoing, loving, dependable, smart, troubled, unpredictable, rude, manipulative…

People can be tricky, though. We have a way of showing the world what we want and feeling a different way inside. We naturally have the ability to change ourselves and we evolve over time. Think about it, were you the same person 10 years ago?

Some people use their personality traits (honest, blunt, bold) to say whatever pops in their heads. No filter or empathy for feelings.

We can explain our behavior by saying things like, ‘It’s just who I am or it’s just what I do.” But the truth is when we say those things it’s usually a farce. Understanding yourself completely takes a lot of time and a lot of work.

Your Brain 

What people either forget or fail to understand is that there is an abundance of external and internal factors that alter your natural brain neuropathy. (This doesn’t always have to be a negative thing, either) Examples of external factors are physical trauma, sexual trauma, and abuse in general. Examples of internal factors could be illegal or legal drugs, eating disorders, and mental illness.

I have been an emotional person my whole life, however, I have  gotten progressively more emotional over the years. My own brain neuropathy was altered from external and internal circumstances that were out of my control, within my control and situations I was exposed to due to my own reckless behavior.

I remember in early elementary school a teacher told me that I wore my heart on my sleeve while another teacher told my I was missing the filter from my brain to my mouth. I have always said things that I immediately regret saying, still till this day. I have also cried at the drop of the hat, despite my best efforts. If I get really mad, I cry. If I get overwhelmed, I ugly cry.

It was a huge problem I had while I was in the military. When I got in trouble, which was not very often because people with anxiety would rather die than be in trouble, I would either cry immediately or as soon as I was alone. Puffy eyes always gave me away though and mortification would set in with self-hate pulling up the rear.

The motivation to become a strong woman who took no shit became my identity. I worked really hard to develop a back-bone and to be seen as a strong team member and not a weak female.  But to be clear, I was not winning first place or an Oscar, not even on my best day.

I am just emotional. To the core. I cry often, I smile often, I laugh often, I yell often, I am angry often and I am loving often. Maybe all in one day. It has taken me my lifetime to understand what being me means. Life has changed who was going to be, and has molded together the lady that you see today. I need a little outside help, and it takes a village to keep me moving at the speed I prefer, but I accept that.

As far as that filter problem, I am still working on it. I still say awkward things.

Photographer, writer, life-coach and kick-ass mother and chef. Fuck you, it's my blog I can say what I want.