Self-Care Sunday: April 29

I was once told by a therapist that the state of my room often reflected the state of my mind. So if my room was messy, it’s because my mind was messy. She told me that if I noticed my room was messy, to reflect inward and see how my mind was doing. Of course, it didn’t always match up, but A LOT of the time it did!

When I noticed my messy mind and room I would always go on a cleaning spree and try and clean my whole house (quite the daunting task when you have a messy mind), and sometimes I did, however most times I didn’t finish the whole house and I ended up feeling unaccomplished and that I had failed.

I later found that choosing just one part of my room and focusing on cleaning that one area was the best option. I’d get part of my mess cleaned and I still got to feel accomplished. This little bit of self-care would help get me onto a brighter path and closer to feeling better!

So the next time you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or just a little bit down, take a look at the space around you. Maybe 10 minutes of cleaning off your bed, or packing away some clothes will help with the clutter in your mind. Or maybe it won’t work this time, but your parents/roommates will be happy at the very least.

Enjoy the rest of your Self-Care Sunday!

The Laws of Life

When you struggle with mental illness, (hell, even if you don’t) sometimes it can feel like Murphy’s Law is ruling our lives. That everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong, and if for the off chance things seem to be good, then we must have overlooked something, right?

Let me explain a little deeper. Imagine yourself in the following scenario.

Your alarm doesn’t go off, and you sleep in too late to shower before work. You rush out of the house, locking your keys inside. You miss the bus, and when you go to call a cab you realize your phones been cut off, you forgot to pay your cellphone bill, again. You can feel the anger creeping up inside you as you walk to work in the rain. When you finally get to work you’re about to explode, you bark at the doorman, and stomp up the stairs to your office, slamming your door closed without saying hello to your assistant. While collapsing into your seat you spill coffee down your brand new shirt. You’re distracted and unproductive all day, getting nothing done at all.

How do you feel? What is the first thing you think after reading that? A few carefully selected curse words I’m sure, but what else? How about…

“Of course this would happen to me.”

“I have the worst luck.”

“I should have just stayed home.”

“Thats just life, kicking me while I’m down.”

If that isn’t Murphy’s Law, I don’t know what is, and maybe days like the one I just made up happen to you all the time. Maybe you’re in a tough spot, and the universe is challenging you. Well I’m here to help (or try to at least). You see, I don’t believe in Murphy’s Law, I believe in Einstein’s Law of Attraction.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get into that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy, this is physics.” – Albert Einstein

The way I see it, the world is full of different energies. We pass energies back and forth, exchanging good energy for bad, and vice versa. However we are most attracted to those people who exchange similar energies to us. Lets look at me, for example, I try my very best to stay positive and to only put positive energies back out into the world, which is why I’m more attracted to positive people, than I am negative people. Make sense? Focusing in on your energy, and the energy you spread, can easily take a bad day and turn it around.

Disclaimer: Now, I’m not saying you need to smile and be happy every time you miss the bus and I’m definitely not saying you’re never going to have a bad day again. For I’m somebody who struggles with depression, and sometimes it seems like I have more bad days than good. So I completely understand how difficult it can be to find the positive in a negative situation. However, I do believe that we have the power to change our own lives.

You’ll notice that Einstein didn’t say, “Match the frequency of the reality you have”, but rather, “Match the frequency of the reality you want”. So you’re not really stuck in that rut, you’re just tuned into a lower frequency.

I realize I’m making this sound real easy, and you’re probably rolling your eyes at me, but I assure you, you can do it. When I notice I’m feeling low, and I’m ready to make a change, I turn my focus inward and reflect on my own energies. I then take a few deep, centring breaths, and I find something good, something I’m grateful for, and hold on to it. I focus on that one thing until I feel my mind clear and my energy increase. Turning one situation around isn’t going to change your whole life, but it’s a start.

Let’s look back at our situation from earlier in this post, and try to find a few positives.

After spilling coffee down your shirt, you take a breath and remember you have a spare hanging behind your door. You thank yourself for being prepared, and leaving it here months ago for cases like today. Now that your mind is clear you have a very productive day.

Lets back up.

Instead of yelling at the doorman and ruining their day, you stop and say hello. You focus in on the smalltalk and allow the simplicity of it make you feel a little better. This conversation adds a pep to your step, just enough energy to not collapse into your office chair.

Lets back up a little further.

You missed your bus, and your phone is out of commission. Take a breath, refocus, and use this rare cellphone-less walk to work to look up and appreciate nature. You feel surrounded by beauty, so much more positive you don’t bark at the doorman.

Even further?

You wake up, without your alarm going off. No, you don’t have time to shower, but you still have time for your commute. Take a second, and take your internal clock for waking you up when it did, and giving your body a little extra rest. You focus inward and realize you needed that rest, and more. You take the morning off and stay in bed a few more hours, going to work that afternoon much more productive and feeling refreshed.

Moral of the story? Remember to breath. Taking a second to stop and just breath gives you time to check your emotions, your mood, and your energy…..and there is no shame in needing to take a day to yourself.

So next time you feel like life it kicking you while you’re down, I want you to remember this, and try to see the situation from a different perspective.

Find the good, hold on tight, match to the higher frequency.

 

 

Gratitude

If you were to make a list of everything you love, how long would it take for you to write down yourself?

When I first read this quote it hit me hard. I don’t think I ever would have listed myself. I didn’t see myself as something, or someone, I loved. When in reality that should have been #1 on my list. I knew I had to make a change, but I wasn’t sure how. I wasn’t just going to wake up one day and love who I was, it was going to be a process.

For me, that process started by focusing much more on self-care, and doing things that made me feel good about myself. Some of these self-care/self-love moments were more extravagant, for example I’ve visited a local spa a few times for relaxation massages and facials. However others were much more low-key, like enjoying a cup of my favourite tea in my favourite mug.

Of course, some days its difficult to think of something that will make me feel good, or I’ll be too busy to find the time. On days like these I turn to my gratitude journal. If you don’t know what that is, it’s simple, it’s a list of things you’re grateful for. I started with mine on the notes app on my phone, then moved it over to an actual journal. Now my gratitude journal is full of an extensive, on-going, list of things I love as well as quotes and little doodles.

So here is a peek at my gratitude list.

  1. Coffee/Tea
  2. Heavy blankets
  3. Poetry
  4. Freckles
  5. A purring cat
  6. The ocean
  7. Baby socks
  8. A full body stretch
  9. Sunflowers
  10. Cinnamon rolls

Maybe this list will inspire you to start one of your own, or maybe you’ll return to this post one day when you’re feeling down and need to be reminded of things that make you smile.

Once upon a time…

Our story starts in a beautiful theatre, the thick red velvet curtains are pulled open and we see a smiling woman.

She’s a seasoned actress, and has been on the same stage for 3 years. Her awards are hung meticulously on the wall, collecting dust, and there is an empty mug on very shelf. Her dressing room smells of coffee and lavender, and her door is always left open for visitors. Every day she comes in, putting on the same costume, performing the same part in the same play, just as she did the day before. She knows she’s stuck on repeat but she likes it this way, its predictable and safe.

Then one day everything changes. The director hits stop, hooks her off the stage and throws her out the side entrance. Her world is turned upside down. She spends a few days sitting among the dumpsters, breathing in the damp air, contemplating her life, trying decide which button to hit next.

Eject may sometimes feel like the only button left on the stereo. That the only option is to take out the cassette and flip it over. But regardless of how covered in dust the play button is, it will always work. Life will keep moving forward, the ribbon will keep circling through the tape.

Its a month later, she’s no longer wearing a costume and she’s no longer someone else’s puppet. For the first time in years she’s writing her own part for her own play, and her smile is not just part of a costume.

And she I will live happily ever after.

This is not the end.

Hello again

After an unplanned hiatus, I’m back online. It’s been exactly 81 days since my last blogpost, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous coming back. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Do one thing a day that scares you”, so today I’m returning to jenninix.

My last blogpost had some negative backlash. This was the first time I’ve ever received criticism on my writing, which I realize is very lucky, but nevertheless, hurtful. It made me self-conscious about posting and for a second I thought about deleting my whole blog. Instead of making any rash decisions I went “offline” for what was supposed to be a few weeks, but quickly turned into months. I was struggling with my mental health, work and school, and time seemed to be flying past me.

Cut to almost 3 months later, I’ve seen two different therapists, made some positive changes, and I’m starting to feel better. I’ve been trying new ways of taking care of myself and actually feeling the benefits. Writing has always been a positive outlet for me, so I shouldn’t stop just because one person doesn’t like it.

A good friend of mine is always telling me to “put myself out there”, so this is me putting my thoughts back out there for the world to see. A short entry with no editing to dust the cobwebs off and shake out the nerves.

See you next Sunday!

 

Recovery

Quite often, I find myself wondering, what recovery feels like? How will I know when I start to recover from all the trauma that pins me down.

Mental illnesses are much the same as physical illnesses. If you break your leg, or get an infection, you take medications, rest, take care of your body. It’s the same for depression or anxiety, the medications (if you must), rest and take care of your mind. So it makes sense that recovery from a mental setback, would be the same as a physical setback.

When you’re recovering from the flu, you don’t necessarily notice, until you think about when the last time you coughed was and realize it’s been hours. I think its the same for depression, you don’t realize you’re feeling better until you think about how long it has been since the last time you felt down. Thinking back to when you felt down means a big step in recovery is reflection and knowing how to reflect without letting it affect you.

You must reflect on the negative experiences that made you who you are, to not let them have anything over you anymore. You must reflect on each time you’ve felt down, so you can recognize the space in-between when you felt fine. However, reflecting on the past can be a slippery slope. Its easy to get caught up in the past and let it hold you there, but if you look back with an analytical mindset you try and prevent that.

Having an analytical, or growth mindset when reflecting will allow you to look at your experiences from different views. One view being your heart, which remembers the emotions, and another being your brain, which acts as the outsider, able to understand multiple sides to every story. This turns your reflection into research, which to me, makes so much sense. If ever you didn’t understand something, you would research it. It’s the same for yourself, if at any point in time you don’t understand yourself or how you got to a certain place in your life, look back, research how, research why.

I’ve always been the type of person who only wants to focus on the present, and forget the past. However I’ve come to learn that you can only truly be in the present, the now, if your past isn’t holding you back. The past can be painful, very painful, which is why just trying to forget it doesn’t work, you must face it front on and come to terms with it. This starts with reflection.

Reflection turns into research. Research turns into recovery. Recovery turns into happiness.   

My Poetry Debut.

I’ve been working on loving my self, for some time now, and seeing I’m someone who struggles with depression and negative self-talk, it’s not easy. I guess re-wiring your mind isn’t supposed to be easy, is it.

From what I’ve learned, one of the major steps in learning how to love yourself, is taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Physically is the easy part. Exercise, eat well, drink lots of water, take your vitamins, and listen to your doctor. Taking care of your emotional self if the difficult part. You need to be able to recognize your emotions before you can understand them, and you need to understand them before you can heal them.

Years of therapy have helped me recognize my emotions, and now I’m learning on the understanding and healing, which tend to go hand-in-hand. Often times, so I’ve realized, is once you finally understand something you’ve been feeling for such a long time, healing comes naturally. Almost as if what was holding you back from healing was not understanding why you were feeling a certain way.

Most of my healing has come from the help of poetry. Poetry has always been something I’ve loved, but not something I ever truly connected with, until recently. Reading the work of Lovelace, Sin, and Kaur have helped me more than any “self-help” book ever could. For I learned that other people have felt what I’ve felt, due to reasons similar to my own, and have come out on the other side. That just because something happened to you, doesn’t mean it defines you, and doesn’t mean you can’t be you again.

I’ve been inspired by these fantastic writers and have started writing my own poems. Now, by no means am I a poet or an author, but the simple act of writing has always proven to be therapeutic for me, especially poetry. I think this is so, because of the beauty behind poetry. It’s hard to feel sad when you’re writing such beautiful words.

I’ve always said that I would never share my poetry, because 1) it’s a little dark, and 2) I don’t think I’m very good. That might sound a little superficial, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, which makes it hard to try new things, and writing poetry is definitely something new to me. However everyone starts somewhere, and if you don’t share your work, no one can learn from it.

They say you’re supposed to do one thing each day that scares you, so this is my big scary debut into the world of poetry.

May 13th
I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't 
that was the day i passed the knife to you.
Each kiss, touch, and look was a lie
the knife dancing across my skin.
Every time you whispered 'i love you'
you dug the knife a little deeper.
I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't
I stopped the day i left you. 

Sometimes a dark poems leave you feeling light. That is what this poem does for me. When I wrote it I didn’t plan to say what I said, the words just flowed. This was one of my first poems, and is about something that has very much changed my perspective on life. I’ve talked about self harm before, and it has been something I’ve wanted to forget for such a long time, however not anymore. I understand those emotions better now, and now they are what keep me grounded in times of unease.

My tally marks are a reminder of what I’m capable of surviving, and my poetry is a reminder of how I’m going to overcome anything that tries to hold me back from living.

Grit

 

I don’t like to fail. I mean, nobody likes to fail, but as someone who struggles with depression and negative self-talk, failing at something really effects me. Some people find failure inspiring, encouraging, something that makes them want to work harder. When I fail at something I often feel the exact opposites, uninspired, discouraged and like I should just give up. This is related to grit.

In her book, Angela Duckworth defines grit as “Perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. I was challenged to read the book a few months back by my manager at work. I’m an avid reader who loves leadership and books of self-discovery, but honestly it took me a couple months to get through it. In one of the first chapters there is a Grit Scale for the reader to complete. Upon taking the scale, I had the anticipation that I was going to do really well and score a very high mark, when in reality I achieved a 3.9. Now don’t get me wrong, a 3.9 is still a really good mark, and is still “higher than 60% of Americans” however it was lower than I expected. This score caused me to believe I wasn’t gritty, and made it difficult for me to really connect with the contents of the book.

Once I finally finished the book, I put it down and didn’t open it for another few months. I completely stopped thinking about my gritty-ness, and moved on. It wasn’t until I was telling a co-worker about how horrible my first day of work was that I realized I might be grittier than I thought.

My first day of work I walked into my office and it was a total mess. I had to spend an hour cleaning before I could even sit down at my desk and start. By then I was already flustered and thrown off. It was my first administration job and I very quickly became confused. My manager didn’t know anything about how to complete my daily tasks and my Club Administration Specialist helped me the most she could over the phone from a different location. I locked my office door and started to cry. I was so overwhelmed, and felt like a total failure. I knew it was only my first day, but I felt like I was starting behind the starting line. No one checked on me for hours and I started to feel not only like a failure but also lonely, like my new co-workers didn’t care or even know I existed. I somehow stretched a 5 hour day into a 10 hour day, then missed the bus and walked home.

After telling my story, I felt an sense of resilience. I had overcome an awful first day on the job and did not quit. I stayed and made it better. I stayed and 1.5 years later I even found myself moving up through the company. It was my own personal grit that kept me there.

Now it’s months later since I originally read the book, “Grit”, and I finally feel the connection. I feel like I can finally relate to all the personal stories and experiences in the book, and this realization didn’t come from some scale, but the retelling of my own gritty story.

Since I’ve discovered my grittiness, I’ve realized it is what keeps me working harder and harder each day to do whatever I can to make my associates feel cared for, and to make our location the best it can be.

I can truly say, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth has inspired me. It wasn’t one line that hit me in the face with inspiration, but rather seeped into my brain waiting for a perfect moment to strike.

10/10 would recommend.

Guilt.

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. – Steve Jobs

I was recently asked if I knew the difference between ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’. I was immediately offended, and answered with “obviously”, then when I was asked to define both I was stumped. I had been using the words interchangeably, I didn’t realize there was a difference between them. I was encouraged to look into the definitions, to fully understand the difference. Here are my findings;

Dictionary.com defines guilt as a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, while defining shame as a painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable. The way I see it, is guilt is a reaction, whereas shame is an emotion. Which means that what I have been classifying as “Bad Guilt” this whole time was actually shame.

In the past, I’ve spoke about how I like guilt, how it saved my life. I used to call this guilt, “Good Guilt”, however now I realize it was just regular, normal guilt. I’ll explain.. When I was at my lowest of lows, I was fantasizing about death, and mapping out the perfect plan. I was counting down the days, but at the same time I was starting to feel extremely guilty about the pain I was about to put onto my family and friends. I knew that once I went through with it, they would be left with aftermath, and “what if’s”. This guilt kept me up at night, made me second guess my decision, and ultimately forced me to not do it.

What followed this guilt was a whole lot of shame. So much shame that I couldn’t speak about my decision of what not to do, for almost a year, and even then not openly. I had this secret that I kept thinking back to and was causing me “Bad Guilt”, or what I now know as shame. I was ashamed of what I had planned to do, and how it would have hurt the people around me.

Learning there is a difference between guilt and shame, and that I don’t exactly need to be calling them good guilt and bad guilt anymore doesn’t really change anything. I just thought it was interesting, and it brought up some old memories. However, what I did learn is guilt is not an emotion, but something caused by yourself. Which made me realize I can be mindful of it. So if I notice I’m feeling guilty, I can validate the thought then squash it. Knowing it’s a reaction to something, I can push the guilt aside and figure out what the main issue really is. I don’t need to ever feel guilty again.