5 steps to getting your anxiety and other mental health issues under control

Have you been dealing with a lot of anxiety lately?  I have.  Truthfully, I’ve been dealing with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder since I was a young child.  I didn’t always know that was what I was dealing with, but it has become obvious in the past few years that I’ve been dealing with mental health issues for a long time.  I mean, how many 4 year olds do you know that refuse to sit in Santa’s lap because he wasn’t wearing his gloves?  Yep.  That was me.  I was that 4 year old.  Even at 4, the obsessive compulsive disorder was there and it was gearing up for a long ride.  I am 31 and still suffer with crippling anxiety and OCD.  However, because I am 31 and have been working on it since I was 18 years old… I’ve developed quite a few strategies for making it. And yes, I said making it… because for a while you just have to make it.  Once you start making it… you work toward other goals like living a happy and fulfilling life.  Goals we’re all working at!

  1. Therapy.  I cannot stress the importance of therapy.  Therapy has saved me time and time again.   However, I also cannot stress enough that the important thing is finding a therapist that you mesh well with.   I’ve had several over the years and some were not a good fit.  I currently have a phenomenal therapist that has helped me through the hardest times and has helped me see my own worth.  She has been a true Godsend.  Find a therapist that is there for you and not because it is a job.  Find a therapist that you trust and are comfortable with.  You can start searching here.  (Make sure you read reviews and talk to them ahead of time about what insurance they accept!)
  2. Medication.  This one may get me a lot of backlash and that is fine.  I have tried over and over and over again to tackle my issues without medication.  I’ve told myself I didn’t need it.  I’ve told myself that I’m better off without it.  The truth is, I can’t really function.  I am a miserable wife and mother.  I am an obsessive ball of crazy that can’t see past my own eyeballs.  I only see everything inside of my head.  I’m not present.  I’m not well.  I started seeing a psychiatrist (which is important, I have issues with general practitioners prescribing these and then not adequately following up)  and started Prozac several years ago and the change it has made in my life is unbelievable.  I am more level, I have fewer obsessive and anxious spells and am able to see more clearly.  When I miss doses and really get off track, it is obvious.  This drug has helped me and I am thankful for it.   I think medication can be really helpful, especially with therapy.
  3. Self-Help Reading.  Mental health is something you need to work at like a subject in school.  For some people, they just “get it.”  They don’t have to work at it as much as some of us… but for me, mental health is like math.  I’m always having to really work at it to try to figure it out.  Thankfully there are excellent resources out there that really help.  I recommend the following books:  Self Esteem: How to Heal Addictive ThinkingFeeling GoodFull Catastrophe Living.  These books have helped me in the hardest of times.  I’ve read and re-read them and they are amazing resources.  Very beneficial.
  4. Mindfulness Meditation.  Meditation may feel silly at first but the results speak for themselves.  I’ve had random meditation apps on my phone that didn’t do much for me, but then my therapist recommended the Insight Timer app.  This app really changed the way I viewed meditation.  I could feel the changes in my body.  I remember the first time I really got lost in the meditation.  I suddenly had this awareness of every move– Every small move in my body.  I was so calm and in tune with myself.  Studies have even shown that meditation changes the brain after a period of weeks.  Seriously! Really about it here.
  5. Support System.  Finding a support system is very important in treating debilitating anxiety and other issues.  Explaining your feelings and thoughts to a trusted individual whether it be a spouse, friend, parent, etc. is very important.  They may not fully “get it” but they will know that it is something you’re working on.  Let them know how to help you.  It isn’t always easy or fun, but it is necessary.  My husband has learned so much about my issues and can even tell when they’re coming on.  He knows how to help me and reminds me to take my medication.

When you’re living with anxiety/depression/OCD, etc… it can be hard to know where to begin when getting help.  Sometimes its hard to see beyond your own thoughts.  It is hard to get out of bed… it is hard to be a good parent or spouse.  It helps to know that others have been through it and you’re not alone.  If you’re struggling with what to do next or how to help yourself, please just take these few steps first.  One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes comes to mind,

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  

You don’t have to set any huge goals at first.  You don’t have to fault yourself or tell yourself you have to be cured immediately, just do what you can to get through each day and then each day will become easier.  You will get through this and things will start to fall into place.  But to get to where you want to be in life, you must help yourself first!

 

 

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Talking It Out 


Today has been exhausting.  I mean, every day for the past 2 years has been exhausting I think…but today I had to make a 9:30 am doctor’s appointment with my 4 year old and 1 year old.  They’re readjusting to our schedule after a month of craziness. I honestly had no idea if they’d wake up at 6 am or 10 am.  So- last night I set my alarm…I prepared my son for the doctor’s appointment (who is traumatized from a throat culture in March) and went to sleep. 

Of course, this morning I wake up to a text from my husband at 8:30 saying– shouldn’t you be awake?  Yep. I overslept. My very brilliant 4 year old got into my phone and turned the alarm off, and then sat there quietly while I snoozed.  (He’s clever).  I had 30 minutes to feed the kids, change diapers, get them dressed, etc.  After much stress, I did it. We made it by appointment time. 

And of course, as soon as the nurse called our name all hell broke loose. My son screamed. He grabbed onto the fish tank for dear life. He flopped around, fell backward, etc. I had to pick him up and carry him to the room. He kicked, screamed, cried, pushed, punched. It was pretty impressive.  He’s done this the past few times we’ve been to the doctor so I wasn’t surprised. I did, however, change my approach to the situation. 

First off- I said a prayer. I asked God to please help me and guide me.  Then, I talked to my son. I asked him if he was scared. I reassured him. I held him tight. I sympathized with him and I didn’t lose my cool. I didn’t become embarrassed by his outburst — I got down to his level and reasoned with him.  I was able to exclude everyone else and allow the conversation just to be between us.  So often I feel judged by others. Am I being too lenient? Am I being too harsh? What are they thinking?  For once, I didn’t care. The important thing was taking care of my baby. He was scared- that was all this outburst was about. Fear.  We talked and after a few minutes he calmed down. He got off the floor and he sat down and did everything he was supposed to do.  I was so proud of him.  

When everything was done I gathered our things and the doctor told my son he was a great little boy and did a wonderful job. The nurse took a moment to tell me that I did everything right. “You really handled that situation. He was upset and you diffused things- and he’s fine. You did everything right. Good job mom.”

Wow. When I stopped worrying about what others thought of my parenting…it was actually complimented.  When I took the time to talk to my kid instead of scoff, threaten, or voice my frustration I got better results than ever before. 

Communication is key. Whether it be between spouses, friends, or a mom and her very pissed off, scared 4 year old.  Talking it out is never a bad idea. ❤️

Quick Tip Tuesday: Calm down app for kids


Today’s quick tip Tuesday is coming at you on Wednesday, again.  I’m sorry.  This week has not been what we expected.  A close family member is sick and in the hospital.  We’ve been hanging out there this week and I haven’t had much time for blogging.  I haven’t even thought about it really.  But, I’m here now and I’m excited to share this tip with you…& if you wouldn’t mind sparing a bit of time to say a prayer for our family that would be pretty amazing and greatly appreciated.

So! For the tip… it is an app download.  My son is very anxious.  He is also prone to tantrums or meltdowns.  I think he’s growing out of them, but when kids are young… it happens.  One thing I found to be really helpful is an app called “Settle Your Glitter”  Basically, it is a glitter jar… but in your phone– which is actually super convenient because sometimes you don’t have a glitter jar, but you usually always have your phone.  At least that is the case for me.

This app starts by asking how you’re feeling.  It has silly faces and choices and you can select the best description (mad, sad, silly, worried…).  My son is very responsive to this and seems to like that he can put a label on how he feels at the moment.   Once you select your feeling it asks how intense the feeling is.  (a little, very, extremely) …then you shake your phone (which is kind of awesome in itself… it puts the focus on something else and lets your child get rid of some of that built up anger and anxiety.)   You then see the “glitter” swirling around in the circle and a little character practices mindful breathing with you!  We’ve used this multiple times and it usually does the trick! 🙂

Anyone know of any other great mindfulness, calming apps for kids?  I would love to find more!  Leave suggestions in the comments– and check out the app!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Skipping the party!



So, I’ve been slammed with work. That is why I haven’t been updating. I watch my kids full time and do transcription for a dermatology clinic part time. I stay busy! I wish I could blog whenever I wanted to… but I can’t unfortunately. I love it when I have the time!!

Today’s tip is kind of up to you to decide if it works for you or not. Today is my son’s birthday. He is 4! I cannot believe he is 4 years old. I feel like I had him yesterday. I remember them placing him on my chest. I sobbed. I was so happy to meet him. I was so tired. I was so in love. The nurse looked over at me and said “what’s wrong? are you in pain? why are you crying?.” I thought it was very bizarre. This was the single most important moment of my life to that point and this lady was weirded out over my emotion!

I’ve thought about this moment so many times in the past 4 years. It represents so much more to me. The nurse, for whatever reason, felt that I wasn’t acting appropriately. Maybe she was concerned something was wrong… but I kind of just wanted the space to feel my feelings.

This past year has been a hard one for our family. Jack has had troubles at preschool (his former preschool) and Claire has had her allergy battles, etc. I suffered with my postpartum anxiety/OCD and we’ve just been run ragged it feels like. Once again, I haven’t really been allotted the time to “feel my feelings.”

Because of the craziness of the year I chose to do “no party birthdays.” This was a hard decision because it was Claire’s first birthday and Jack is obsessed with birthdays! (really, the kids in his class had to list something they love at valentine’s day- most kids in his class chose their mom or dad… Jack chose birthdays). I made this decision because every year I’ve gone all out and thrown Jack full on Pinterest parties. We’ve had tons of people… too many gifts, big cakes, etc. At the end of the day we’re ALL exhausted, our bank account is a bit smaller, and Jack has a ton of toys he doesn’t touch for 6 months. Also, I read this article recently and decided that I want to be a family like this.

I’ve REALLY realized recently how rapidly my children are growing up. It is happening so quickly. I want to experience things with them. I want to connect and enjoy them. I won’t care about a billion cutesy pinterest inspired pictures in the future, I’ll care about having an amazing birthday experience with my 4 year old! As long as he is happy, I’m happy. I’m glad we will have a birthday where we don’t have to worry about details and can focus on the joy his birthday brings!

He has made a few requests this birthday. He wants to go to “target, the movies, food lion, lowes, and the mountains.” LOL. I can make some of those happen. I took him to Target and he got birthday hats and a scooter. He had cupcakes with his friends at school. We’re going to jump at a trampoline park this weekend and eating dinner at his favorite restaurant tonight. We’re going to the beach next month. (what we also did with his sister for her first birthday! she saw the beach for the 1st time on her 1st birthday!) He is excited and I am getting the opportunity to share that enjoyment with him– rather than worry about small details.

Give it a try. See if it works for you 🙂