Too much time on social media

working

Too much time on my hands, it’s ticking away with my sanity
I’ve got too much time on my hands, it’s hard to believe such a calamity
I’ve got too much time on my hands and it’s ticking away from me
Too much time on my hands, too much time on my hands
Too much time on my hands (Sung by Styx)

Welcome to the Digital Age. Out with the old and in with the new. I miss the “good old days.” You’re probably saying: “You’re young. What do you know about the good old days.” Well, I remember a time when social media was non-existent.  I remember when people weren’t glued to their electronic devices all day long. I remember when kids went outside to play with their friends and walked over to their houses to talk. I remember when floppy disks were a thing, when turntables existed (I still have an original and so does my father), the Dewey Decimal System was a thing, rotary phones existed, the old dial up, and all of the good stuff that is virtually non-existent because of newer technology.

Remember these? (If this you can’t click on this, then just type it in your search engine and check it out!)

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/parenting/39-pains-that-todays-teens-will-never-understand/ss-AAA2riG?li=BBnb7Kz#image=1

If you check out the article on “39 Pains that today’s teens have no clue about”, I can completely relate. I was an 80’s child and I wasn’t glued to a device all day. Sure, I had the Atari set complete with various video games and had other games on the old-fashioned floppy disks, but my dad was the one that limited my usage of game time. He was big on “socializing” with other kids in the neighborhood and encouraged me to go outside and play. The same thing when I wanted to talk to my friends. He limited my phone usage and he made me go over to my friend’s houses to talk.

Unfortunately, times are different and society changes. I’m not a fan of the Digital Age at all. In some ways, it’s more convenient but for the most part, it’s making society more lazy as time passes. Have you ever noticed this or is it just me? Example: Curbside grocery shopping isn’t the worst idea in the world and I can respect if you can’t physically go grocery shopping yourself or you’re a busy working parent; but to have someone shop for you because you’re lazy, then that’s different. For me, I would never let someone else grocery shop for me. I rather go to the store myself and pick out my groceries. My meats, my produce and my fruits are carefully handpicked by me. I don’t want someone else doing this for me. Online shopping is another thing that I’m not a fan of. I refuse to shop online for clothes, a car, or a piece of furniture. Working in a retail outlet for so many years, this is what kills my business: online shoppers.

What most people don’t realize about social media is that is harmful for your health. You mental health, especially. Spending hours and hours on your devices isn’t good. Your eyesight becomes poor. Your entire body is sore from head to toe especially if you’re sitting in a chair for hours staring at your device. Your head starts to pound and ache from staring at the same old screen. You find comfort in social media that you start to  isolate yourself and dissociate yourself from society. Think about it. Your sitting down with your device and you’re immediately sucked into the zone and before you realize, it’s been hours since you first sat down. Sitting for many hours can reek havoc on your legs, too. Blood clots came form easily. I’ve give you an example: Everyday at Starbucks, there’s always multiple customers that come in with their laptops, smartphones, and video gaming consoles (Oh yes, I have gamers in my store). These people will set up shop in the lobby and start their hours long journey on their devices. No joke when I say hours long journey! Granted, most customers are in high school & college and hard working Joes that come and they do their work. Good luck finding libraries now! Others will come in (mostly high school and college aged kids) and spend hours just on their social media accounts and not buy anything. I see tons of them that spend hours on their phones. But I don’t judge and it’s their right to do what they want to.

What’s really sad is how the world has changed so much because of social media. A lot of technology is useful and some I find totally unnecessary. I don’t really understand why some people think it’s cool to constantly post pictures of themselves with various filters and memes. Taking selfies all day are boring. Do we really have no life at all and need validation from others because we have nothing better to do? One of the celebrities that I don’t follow are the Kardashians. I don’t understand why people love them. I don’t need to see them half-naked and trying to “break” the internet. That’s fine if they love doing that, but as an outsider, I don’t need to see your naked self. I don’t feel the need to take a selfie of myself everyday. Not that I don’t love myself, I don’t need to see my face all over social media. I like my privacy.

I don’t care or obsess over how many followers that are on my social media accounts like others. Some of the followers are total strangers and it’s best to be careful about posting things like your body. The constant need for social media causes isolation from yourself and society, loneliness, and depression. Think of social media as a drug. Once you’ve had it once then you have to have more. Everyday, every minute, you are glued to it. Before long, you’ve become addicted and you’ve abandoned your loved ones, friends and society. Not to mention, your health goes downhill. One of the gamers that frequently comes into the store has a serious online gaming addiction along with a form of mental illness. He will come in the store and spend over 8 hours on his computers. No joke! He brings two computers (one is for games and the other is for his anime) and he plays games while watching anime at the same time. 8 hours of time wasted because he addicted to this. I quickly realized that his young man in his 20’s was a loner. I got up the nerve to talk to him and he didn’t say more than a few words. It’s one thing if you’re shy and I can understand that. But to spend all your time on your laptop instead of making friends is sad. He prefers to game all day instead of working or going to college and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a little Tourette’s Syndrome, too. You can tell by watching that he’s lonely, that this is his addiction and he will always lie and say that he has no problem of any kind, and this kid swears like a sailor in the lobby. Oh yeah, the things you see at work. One time, he almost got kicked out (in a polite manner) because he was swearing so much and so loud because he lost money while playing his online games and was disturbing other customers in the lobby. This isn’t always fun being a manager, but in a public place it isn’t acceptable to cause a disruption in a store. You can’t start throwing a tantrum of any kind because most companies will not tolerate behavior like this of any kind.

But what I’ve noticed a lot since the Digital Age swept the entire nation, is that most people addicted to their phones are not only depressed, but can be very rude. The online gamers that come into the store will come right up to the register and start demanding things. It’s not: “Can I please or May I have?” It’s “Gimme this or I want this.” I loathe this with a passion. I kind of going into a mother mode and will say: “It’s May I have or Can I please have. Not gimme.”

Again, with any kind of problem that involves addiction: you need to admit to yourself that there’s a problem. Others may see the problem, but you with the problem wouldn’t think hardly anything about it. One of the big things with social media is moderation. Everyone is addicted to something and it’s very easy to become addicted. My mother has a diet soda addiction and is a borderline diabetic. She says: “I don’t have a problem.” Sure, but it’s not healthy drinking numerous cans of diet soda all day instead of water, but that’s your choice. It’s hard with her on that addiction. But once you’ve admitted there’s a problem, then seek help. If your addiction is with taking selfies or texting too much, then slowly start a plan to cut back on it. Start a diet plan. Decrease your daily intake of social media in small dosages and keep a log of your time spent online. Each day, gradually spend less time thinking about your device and use it only when you need to. For some this is easier said than done. True! But doing other things such as interacting with people, going outside or starting a new hobby helps keep your mind busy and moving, too.

If you can’t cure your social media addiction on your own then seek a professional. There’s always help available. Limiting your time spent on social media will decrease your anxiety and depression. When you’re offline, you’re less anxious, less moody, less dependent of your device. If you suffer from online bullying through social media, why would you be on social media at all? If you sat there and read every negative comment left on your page over and over, you become depressed. Some get so depressed that they commit suicide. There have been multiple cases where kids experience online bullying and they end their lives.

I’m really glad that I don’t have children at all. I wouldn’t want them to have their own social media accounts. My question would be: Why do you need one for? What’s the point? Is just to be cool and be a part of the in crowd at school? One of the things that people need to communicate to others is the dangers of social media. As a parent, wouldn’t you monitor what your child is viewing or posting online? If I was a parent, I would watch their accounts like a hawk and shut down what I don’t like.

Again, it’s your life and you make your own choices. But as a society, the correlation between social media and mental illness is nothing new and will continue to get worse if things don’t change.

 

 

 

The importance of mental health education in the workforce and at home and in society.

golden rule

Remember this adage as well as the other one: “Do unto others as you would have others do to you. Or if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

The way we treat people in this world is sickening. Do you remember the old adages mentioned above? Has someone like your parents, grandparents, and other loved ones drill these adages into you? For me, it was my parents. Teaching your child or loved ones about respect is very important. Take a good look at the world we live in. People are mistreated over anything and everything like their: their race, their beliefs, their looks, their bodies, to how we raise our kids and etc. Trolls constantly spewing hatred online towards other people and they do this mocking just to make themselves feel important.

Elvis Presley made it loud and clear in his hit song “Don’t be cruel”. Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true. So right on the head. Why do people feel the need to be cruel to their fellow man and woman and child? Whatever happened to the “Golden Rule” and a thing called “Respect” by the great Aretha Franklin??? 

This “Golden Rule” education should always start at home. What people need to realize is that everyone is different. We all come from different ethnic backgrounds and we come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t make fun of something that you don’t understand: that’s prejudice. Don’t be like that. People aren’t born to hate. You can debate that last sentence but it’s the truth. You are taught to love, taught to respect others and you are taught to behave as well. This is life lesson 101. If you treat someone like an ass (Excuse my language), then you will be treated like an ass.

I’m a total believer in the “Golden Rule” and I don’t take it lightly when someone breaks this rule: EVERYDAY. It could be another person saying or treating me or someone else that I know in a very unruly manner and as for myself: I will instill the “Golden Rule” inside you until you’re blue in the face. Especially for us mental health sufferers, I refuse to let any non-sufferers mock us sufferers because what they don’t even know or will understand nor bully anyone living with mental illness. Many customers and co-workers over the years have been such bullies towards me. One of the worst comments (this is the condensed version) a district manager said to me was: “You should be at home, not working. You’re not management type. You’re strange.” OK! Hello, may I speak with Human Resources, please? Oh yes, I was verbally harassed by a superior from my old job. I called HR on him and reported him. He didn’t know let alone cared that I suffered from depression. His comment about me being at home was old-fashioned coming from him. In his culture and beliefs, women should be at home taking care of the children and making dinner ready for the master to come home. FYI, I don’t have kids and I’m not married, so why would I stay at home for? My car, my schooling at the time, and my house aren’t going to pay for itself by not working. Imagine the war of words that ensued after this comment was said.

I talked to head of HR and the regional manager and said that he’s very unprofessional and straight up rude. I could’ve walked out of that management job, but I didn’t. Only a quitter, quits. I’m the opposite of that. I’ve had my share of harassment, verbal abuse, and bullying because of my depression. There have been a few (I mean) a few district managers that really know me and adore me as a manager. Some of them would recommend me for a higher position versus others. My current district manager isn’t one of those. The first time he met me, his first impression was so WRONG on so many levels. From the outside, he thought I was just a young inexperienced manager that’s very introverted and doesn’t project the image of a store manager. My previous manager told me this and he noticed that I seemed rude because I don’t smile and didn’t seem friendly. Let’s see, I have depression! That’s tough, right? Are you going to be happy and have a smile painted on your face everyday? NO! When you’re under the gun and stressed because business is so busy, are you going to be peppy? NO! My experience as a manager was more extensive than he guessed.

When we first met, I said: “First off, it’s a pleasure to meet you. However, don’t assume you know me upon your first impression. You probably think I’m no more than 21 when in fact, I’m almost 35. I have a business degree and spent 16 years working in retail and in management. So, I’m qualified, maybe a little overqualified. You think I’m rude and unfriendly. You don’t know me. We just met. How do you know that I’m rude? And most importantly, I suffer from depression. Do you? Do you know what it’s like?”

Imagine the look on his face when he realized that his first impressions were so wrong. He was embarrassed. This is coming from a from a retired soldier in that was in the army. He was had no idea what he had just said behind my back, but at least he righted his wrong with an apology. But the ignorance that occurs is frustrating to the tee. I felt offended in so many ways. Here’s a man that’s never met before ever in his life and he quickly made the wrong assumption of me. I knew that he was a former soldier in the army and I asked him point-blank: “You fought for this country, right. You were stationed to serve and protect us, right? And you never experienced PTSD or depression before or after your service was up?” He didn’t elaborate on that nor answered the question. His face answered my question. However, when I did experience a violent crime a few months back, he was so supportive and sympathetic towards me. He said: “I know how you feel.” Do you? I’m experiencing PTSD again for billionth time and you know how I feel? Yet you want me to just drop my depression at the door and fake it all through my shift?

Mental illness isn’t something that you can just “drop off” like a deposit into the bank or throwing mail into the mailbox. Your depression stays with you wherever you go. Just because you have a great day and you’re laughing your head off, doesn’t mean that the battle is over. God, no!

Education of mental health and respect both go all long way. Programs such as mental health education should be implemented in every establishment. I mean, does every company really need training on the “Golden Rule” and learn how to treat others with respect including clients as well?? We shouldn’t have to, but then again this world isn’t perfect. Starbucks started “Racial Bias” training in May and as an employee, I said: “What took so long to implement this?” There’s so much diversity in this world. Starbucks is one of the most diverse companies that I’ve ever worked for. I have so many colleagues from different backgrounds, with different lives and beliefs, and I respect that. I’m all for diversity. Again, this “Racial Bias” training is still a work in progress, but it’s a major step in the right direction. Most companies don’t do this. One of the worst companies that I see with so many problems are airlines. No one should be kicked off a plane because of his or her race. You can go to YouTube and check out their numerous egregious acts that have occurred within the recent years.

When I read that schools in two states in the US, were starting to add mental health education to their curriculum, again I said: “It’s about time.” This was long overdue. Way too long overdue. However, this education should be implemented in ALL states and in  ALL schools. This same kind of mental health education needs to be implemented to all establishments in the workforce, too. Think of the change that will occur if all schools and all establishments in the world are becoming more educated in this matter. Would the world change? Maybe, maybe not. Would non-sufferers get the message? Again, maybe or maybe not. I’m not God.

But for change to occur in this world, one thing must happen: we all as humans need to learn the word “RESPECT”. Respect for everyone. Respect for their culture, their beliefs. Respect for people living with chronic health conditions. And so on. It isn’t hard to be the bigger person and open up your mind. Start thinking outside of the box instead of coloring inside of the lines. If you opened up your mind and opened your eyes; and really take a good look, then check out the world for the first time with a fresh perspective.  One person can change anything. One person can set the example for change. You have to be willing to be that change by opening up and expand your horizon.

 

 

Living with low dopamine levels

One of the things that people should never ever call us mental health sufferers is: lazy. You may as well as of put your foot in your mouth for thinking or saying this. Low dopamine levels in your body occurs when you have mental illness such as depression. These symptoms include: lack of motivation, slow and tense muscles, unhappiness with your daily life, chronic fatigue, addictions and cravings.

Remember the adage: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” When you have depression, you can get so tired and have zero motivation to do anything. Any simple and menial tasks such as making the bed, cleaning the house, getting out of bed in the morning and get dressed can be very hard to do when your dopamine levels are so low.

Your once clean house now looks like this:

messyhouse

This house is somewhat similar to what your brain looks like when you have too many thoughts on your mind. There are days when my depression gets bad and I will ignore things like my laundry, the dishes, and my car. I will not lie when I say that my laundry will pile up for a couple of days and since I work everyday, I need clean clothes. I will force myself to start the laundry and my brain will say: “What’s the point? You’ll get those dirty again and you will have to do this over again.” Same goes with the dishes. Some days it will look like a tornado went through my house or my house like I’m on an episode of the show “The Hoarders.” Granted, I don’t have too much stuff, but sometimes I don’t have the energy or motivation to clean house. You may call it laziness. Whatever! I suffer from mental illness and it affects my mood, my thoughts and my behavior. If you had it, then would you feel my pain? My garage looks close the picture below and I’m a huge procrastinator. I say one thing and do another. My old self, before my depression interrupted my life, was always driven and motivated to do things. My new self, NO.

Storage-Messy

I remembered a post that I saw on Facebook several weeks ago where a woman posted a video of her house looking like the photos above. She said: “This is what depression does to you.” Oh, I can completely relate to that. When I’m at work, I’m focused to a tee on keeping a very neat and tidy store because I have a higher motivation there than at home. In my house, I’m in no mood to do anything.

If only I could instill those OCD cleaning methods from work and apply them outside of work. Take my car. My car is only four years old. From the outside, it still looks brand spanking new. One of the things that I’m guilty of is not getting regular car washes. I’ve only washed it twice since I bought it. It’s a charcoal grey color, but imagine the dust, dirt, pollen and rainwater that accumulates overtime. Yeah, that’s gross. Inside, it’s a little messy. Not disastrous like some that I’ve seen. I’ve seen anything and everything in people’s cars in the drive thru of my store and when I park my car in a parking lot. There are no living things in there or gross things forming, it’s mostly just papers and straw wrappers. If someone were to walk by my car, they would quickly assume that’s I’m a messy person that doesn’t have her life together. Say what you want, but I’m a work in progress everyday.

I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The alarm clock goes off and I want to throw the alarm out the window and go back to dreamland. When I do force myself out of bed, I will neglect making the bed and start my daily routine. We are not all perfect.

My energy for work depends on each day. When Sunday is over and Monday starts, I get very angry. I usually will say: “I hate Mondays. The beginning of another workweek.” It’s easier when you’re younger and when you’re not in school. When I was in school, I would say: “NO! I don’t want to go.” When your on summer vacation or vacation from work, then it’s like kick your feet up onto the table and doing nothing but chill. I’m notorious for just sitting back and just chilling during my vacations from work. Why do anything when you can unplug from the real world and enjoy your time with yourself or with family.

One of the major products that I need to work on is my procrastination. I need to drop that way of thinking and start making changes in my life. Those include my sleeping habits, eating habits, a major cleaning overhaul mostly in my garage and overall lifestyle changes. It won’t be easy, but if I give myself a reasonable timetable and push myself to do this then who knows much better life will be. Remember change starts with you. You have the power to change your life if you don’t like what’s going on in your life. I don’t like a messy house or car. That’s a doable change that I can make. Starting a better eating and diet plan is another change that I can make. This one is also doable, but a little more complicated. There’s temptation everywhere. Too many restaurants out there and too much emphasis on them in advertising and marketing. Try this or try that. The trick with diet and exercise is to start small and take it day by day. Losing weight and keeping it off isn’t going to happen overnight.

Whatever changes that we need to make in our lives in order better ourselves as humans, takes time and planning. Start by making a list of things to do. Make sure they’re realistic, they have a timetable attached to them, and above all, make sure they’re attainable. Little to no motivation due to low dopamine levels in your body is rough, but it’s not impossible to increase them with medication or any other proven method that you have. It can be done.

Meet Miss Anxiety

 

helloimanxiety

Hello! My name is Anxiety and I’m your new best friend! We are going to be together forever and we’re going to do so many things together. We’ll be BFFs, we’ll take selfies together and paint the town red. LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!

Goodbye Anxiety, we will not be BFFs at all. No freaking way. Not in this lifetime and/or beyond. We will not take selfies with each other and we will not be painting the town red. Instead, we will be forever mortal enemies till the end of time. I don’t care for your friendship. I will not “friend you” on Facebook nor follow you on social media. You are not allowed near me nor any other living soul. You are not wanted in this world.

Unfortunately, this pain in the ass or whatever expletive you want to enter here called anxiety, is the spawn of the devil that targets all of mankind. This pain in the @#$ loves to target its prey at all hours of the day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. This giant nuisance has become attached to me like glue. Imagine stepping on gum. You can try to scrap it off, but it’s still there. Or like being super glued. Miss Anxiety is out looking for customers. She’s kind of like a shark in the ocean looking for lunch. Cue the theme from “Jaws”. Once she’s locked you in with her tractor beams, you’re hers (Forever!). It’s like the devil taking your soul when it’s not even for sale at all. A thief robbing you of your most prized possessions: your mind and your body and your soul. Flashback to the 2004 film “Passion of the Christ” and focus in on when Judas is violently attacked by demons. Living with anxiety feels just like that. You’re by yourself and they’re all around you. Their eyes are creepy, their voices and laughter are beyond terrifying. Haunting you, stalking you, threatening you. That scene is very true to life. I can’t watch that movie nor insert a picture from that movie because it’s too scary to look at.

Of all the things that I’ve endured living with the Triple Threat Disease (Depression, Anxiety and Panic Disorder), this one is the strongest of the trio. With depression, I can try to look on the bright side and keep my sanity in check. This isn’t always easy when the rain clouds follow you on a consistent basis, but I’m a survivor. Panic attacks aren’t that bad for me like they used to be. Whenever they strike, I always think about my body. I take deep breaths and relax my fast beating heart rate and very high blood pressure. But anxiety, NO. This thorn in my side runs on a whole different level than depression and panic disorder. This one is leaps and bounds ahead of the other two and is the most annoying one than the other two.

Miss Anxiety will get out her butcher knife or meat cleaver and will strike you again and again like a hunter killer. She won’t stop until you’ve had enough. Abusive, isn’t she? Oh, Yes! She’s left so many scars inside me that I lost count. She doesn’t care where you are and what you are doing, she’s right there always waiting for the kill. That moment ready to strike and BOOM! She’s got you!

Miss Anxiety is like a cyclone in your head. Wind speeds up to 150-200mphs. Violent thunderstorms and lightning are illuminating the sky in your head. Constant torrential downpours are causing dams to collapse and serious rivers to overflow. She is like a Mount St. Helens waiting to erupt and spew hot molten lava everywhere. You can’t escape from her wrath. Her force is like an earthquake inside your body. She registers as a 10 on the Richter scale. Your entire body is shaking and trembling especially during the aftershocks. Her rainfall is enough to flood the entire planet Earth multiple times. It would baffle scientists nationwide. She’s more powerful than any asteroid or any other natural disaster that can strike this world. Mother Nature is scared of her and can’t be found anywhere.

She’s black all black. No colors. She’s not blue, red, green or yellow. Her armor is all black and complete with horns. She’s so terrifying and so butt ugly to stare at, she makes the toughest humans blush and puts the fear of God in them. Scarier than my youngest Chihuahua.

The-Side-Effects-Of-Anxiety

Anxiety will send your heart racing faster than a professional racehorse. Her stench is enough to make you dizzy, nauseous, and even make you throw up or give you diarrhea. Nasty woman. She will wrap herself tightly around your body like a huge boa and will literally take the breath out of you. She asphyxiates you to the point where you can’t even get an ounce of oxygen in your brain. “Inhale the carbon dioxide, not the oxygen” she says. Anxiety will cause distractions inside your head. “You’ll not be allowed to focus at work or school. This is not allowed,” she said as she berates you. She loves to cause brain farts, low to no concentration and splitting headaches, too. Anxiety loves take a sledgehammer to your head and violently, bludgeon you to death. Think of a bad migraine!

Your breathing becomes harder and harder that your chest will start hurting you. She doesn’t care about your body and your internal organs. This is her mission. She’s meaner than the T-1000 in Terminator 2. She’s a lot more advanced than that. One of her favorite hotspots to go clubbing is in your “Fight or Flight” center. That’s her club. Picture her nasty self all dolled up in her outfit dancing to ELO’s hit song “Evil Woman”. From head to toe, she’s dressed in all black. So ugly that she brings new meaning to the word “ugly.” She will party in your system not just at 2am, but during all hours of the day and on any given day. She doesn’t sleep at all and won’t let you sleep either. Chronic fatigue, chronic yawning, brain fogs, and low concentration are the gifts she brings you from partying all night long. She’s restless and relentless.

You can threat to fight her. You can tell her to stop. But sometimes, she’ll just blow smoke up our butts and declare victory over us. This is a constant battle that I fight with everyday. My inner fighters have formed their own alliance. Their own cartel. And their very own army. Everyday, these anti-anxiety fighters suit up and prepare for battle. They go over their battle plan and lock ‘n’ load their weapons. This is an ongoing war inside my head and they won’t stop until the big bad wicked witch of West is dead and buried. She won’t even have any time to curl up those legs because they have already killed her.

anxiety symptoms

These freedom fighters in my head fight the war on a daily minute by minute basis. They don’t eat, sleep, nor stop. They fight until the job is done. Granted, there have been numerous casualties and other Special Forces have been called into action. They fight for my life, my happiness, and my sanity. Honestly, if I didn’t have an arsenal of help, I wouldn’t be here. Miss Anxiety, the beast, would’ve won and erupted in evil laughter. She’s the grand daddy of them all and is one of the hardest to kill, but she is beatable. You can fight her with anti-anxieties, therapy, and with a positive attitude. Never succumb to her and let her win like a bully. Be the bigger person and take her out in a healthy way.

Somedays, her wrath is overwhelming and other times, it’s bearable to a certain extent. Somedays, she’s like an infectious disease or a cancer that eats away at you. She devours you like a dog devours a bone. How you deal with her is different from others. She’s taken 25 years of my life away from me. I can’t have it back because it’s gone forever. So what if she continues to take some more years away. She’s making me more powerful as each day passes. She’s pretty much losing power by giving me her power. I will fight her with every fiber of my being. She does make the “Big Bad Wolf” look handsome because she’s that butt ugly of a beast. We all have the power to defeat her. It’s inside of you and you need to find it and carry it with you. Don’t lose that power.

seconds of anxiety

This is my brain on anxiety. This is your brain on anxiety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Wish you were here/Comfortably numb” by The Triple Threat Disease Trio

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail
A smile from a veil
Do you think you can tell?

We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Runnin’ over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here (Sung by the great Pink Floyd)

Hello, hello, hello
is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anybody home?
Come on now, I hear you’re feelin’ down
Well, I can ease your pain
and get you on your feet again.
Relax. I need some information first.
Relax. Just to face the facts.
Can you show me where it hurts? (Again by the great Pink Floyd)

saddepress

Living with depression is a constant battle that is fought on a daily basis. This is not just for the weak, but also for the strongest, too. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate at all. It rears its butt ugly head whenever it wants to. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you have, it will target you and set it’s eyes on you. My innocent inner child would have no clue what do if I didn’t have someone close to me also suffer with this. If my mother didn’t inherit mental illness and I was the lone wolf in this battle, I don’t know what would’ve happened to me.

One of my favorite rock groups is Pink Floyd. My dad introduced to me to their music when I was younger. Every time I hear “Wish you were here” and “Comfortably numb”, I stop dead in my tracks. I will listen and sing along to the songs and it affects me.  I can completely relate to the songs and their lyrics. Look at them closely and listen to both of the songs and you can hear the emotions in the music and also in the melody of the song. Can people really tell the difference between “blue skies from pain” or “when you’re feeling down, I can ease your pain”?

The answer is NO. Read the picture above. This is the worst part of depression. If no one ever felt like this before, then they wouldn’t have a clue as what it feels like. For me, depression is like “swimming in the same fishbowl year after year” in “Wish you were here.” This would be the Triple Threat Disease’s sophomore effect called: “Wish you were here & Comfortably numb.” This effort sweeps the airwaves of my brain on a daily basis like a broken record. It’s more annoying than any other hit song that has hit the airwaves such as “I got you babe” by Sonny and Cher. Love Cher, but I can’t stand this song.

Living in darkness and in a fishbowl swimming the same laps over again is brutal. It’s like there’s no light at all. Someone turned off the power in your head and you’re stumbling around trying to find the nearest light switch when there is none. Life is like a being swept up into a tornado and you can’t stop it if you could.

Imagine yourself in a crowded room and you scream at the top of your lungs, but no one hears you. That’s me. How do I survive everyday when I feel like I’m driving down a dead-end street? I get out my coping strategies and take a good look at myself in the mirror. Life is hard and death is inevitable. But take a deep breath and take baby steps. Relax yourself and clear your mind. Easier said that done, right? Take stock of what you have. I have family, friends, dogs, and others that love and care for me. That’s one point there. Yes, I have a job, a car, a home, and some money to name, but those are mostly material items. I do have my health and but I do have get my butt back into shape. I’m not the slender girl like I used to be. So there’s another couple of points there. But I’m still here. I’m still fighting the good fight. Somedays are diamonds and somedays are like disappointments. Oh well, we can’t have great days every day!

Having a positive attitude and outlook for life is important. If I didn’t look at the positive spectrum then who knows what would happen? My mother is notorious for thinking in terms of the “worst case scenario” and this is not how to approach your life. For as long as I’ve known her, she always been like this. She’s a little bit more stubborn than me. She likes the “light switch off” and I prefer to have the “light switch on”. I can’t stand living in the darkness and having a negative outlook on life. I just can’t. This world is nowhere near perfect and will never be, but there still is hope and brightness that exists. There’s great humanity that exists out there, you just have to find it. It could be right there in your face or a long ways from you. How you handle mental illness day by day is so different for everyone. I’m sure there’s a lot of positive sufferers like me that have a great outlook on life and there’s probably a lot of negative sufferers that don’t have a great outlook, too. Remember a trick learned in Cognitive Behavior Therapy: “Change your ways of thinking.” Think positive, you’ll be positive and vice versa.

It does help that this is only temporary (because life is short) and I refused to think of mental illness as “lifetime prison sentence.” If I thought that way, then who knows where I would be. I probably would’ve tightened up that noose around my neck and called it a day. But I don’t. Any and all nooses, shackles, or handcuffs that my depression attaches to me with, I destroy them all. I burn the noose. I rip the shackles off and steal the keys to handcuffs and free myself. I refuse to let this battle take my life. Trust me, living with demons everyday is tough. I know! But think and be POSITIVE! You can fight it with everything you have. I do! I put on my boxing gloves and start pounding those demons one by one like the “Great” Ali. I don’t stop until each one is dead and is totally KO’D. I do all this without drugs, alcohol, and violence. I have my inner strength and my spirit fighter doing all the work along with medications. Yeah, medications help, but my inner self outpowers them all. Find your inner strength and your spirit fighter and tackle each day; one day at a time. No one said life was easy or fair.

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Heed the wish that Aladdin made to Genie! Unshackle yourself everyday and face it with a positive outlook. Also enjoy watching this movie! The late and great Robin Williams made this one of my favorite Disney films, period!

 

Writer’s Block!

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Ever have one of those moments were you can’t concentrate at all? Yes! Do they ever happen more in the morning time before you consume your daily cup of java? ME! Or how about not being able to concentrate at all before your shift is up and need a pick me up? Me, too! My favorite moment was trying to keep my focus in science, history and math class. Oh God, did I hate those classes especially math. I’m not a math wizard at all. Anything like trig or calculus would cause my brain to explode out of frustration.

As a writer, I experience writer’s block which can be a royal pain in the butt. You could be in the middle of writing something and lose your train of thought. Man, I hate that! A simple distraction could be my phone ringing, my dogs barking, the doorbell ringing, or the neighborhood kids just being kids. You may often be like me and get very frustrated and you may bang your head against the wall. Don’t do that! Not very wise.

But imagine living with mental illness on a daily basis and experiencing one of mental illness’s most annoying child: zero concentration! I hate this spawn of mental illness. The Triple Threat Disease has various children named (but this one irritates me the most): depression, panic, anxiety, no concentration, no sleep, and no energy, little to no appetite and many more. These unruly kids kick and scream their way inside your head and will not stop until they get what they want. When you can’t concentrate, it’s like someone adjusting your crystal clear 20/20 vision and turning it clockwise and counterclockwise back and forth that you become blind as a bat. Imagine your head is like a mailbox that’s filled to the brim with incoming letters and mostly, junk mail. It sucks!

Trying writing, or staying focused at work or especially in school when you’re trying to focus on what the teacher’s talking about. It’s not easy. So many times, I will be at work, or at home or out somewhere even in my car, and I will forget what I’m doing. I will be working on a schedule or talking with a customer and my mind will go blank. At home, I could be doing housecleaning or taking the dogs outside. There have been times when my dogs will bark and scratch at the door because I forgot to bring them in after their trip outside to the bathroom. Oops. Thankfully, they’ve only been out there for a very short time in the Texas heat.

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This is usually the face I make when I can’t concentrate at all. What can you do? I hate this so much when you’re trying to focus on going to sleep but your mind has other plans. Imagine you’re lying in bed and your eyes are closed. You’re trying to relax and take a few deep breaths. Well, the mind loves to rev up their engines at night and makes it hard for you to focus on sleeping.

This is one of my biggest peeves. I hate it when so many thoughts race through my brain like it’s some racetrack in my head. Even at work or at home, I can’t stay focused on something because my anxiety and panic disorder loves to play with me. Annoying isn’t it.

There are things that you can do to help with concentration:

  • Take baby steps. Focus on one project at a time instead of multiple projects all at once.
  • Eliminate your distractions: (This is kind of hard when your at work or at home with two noisy Chihuahuas.)
  • Set some time for yourself. It doesn’t hurt to take a moment to be by yourself.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  • Be in the moment. Stay focused on what’s happening now and not about your past or future.
  • Take a breather and relax your mind.
  • Create a list detailing your distractions. Example, if you’re working on a project for school and a thought such as “What should I do after school?” comes then write down. It will help clear your mind and stay focused.

Remember this is not all inclusive and pick whatever works for you.

Back to School–Mental Health 101

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Hard to believe that in a couple (short) weeks, school will resume once again. For those starting their education and those continuing their education, the big day is getting closer and closer. For some parents, they are probably relieved that they’re kid(s) will be out of their hair and back to the confines of school getting their education. Every summer around this time I would be MAD. I hated when summer vacation ended so quickly and the new school year arrived. I was your typical child that had to be dragged into school kicking and screaming. “NO! I DON’T WANT TO GO!” That was me from kindergarten all through high school. It’s not that I hated school, I just didn’t want to go. Not that I was a bad student, I was quite the musician in music class and graduated with a B-C average. I was more into music, and English class, and which friend was hosting a cool party over the weekend. Yes, I was a little “monster” in high school and may have had a little too much fun instead of focusing on my studies. Oh well, we go around life once, right?

With that aside in a previous post: “The Importance of Mental Health Education in Schools” is an important post to re-read and a vital discussion to have with your children as they head back into the halls of a classroom. If you recall, two states in the US are requiring “mental health education” in their curriculum and I was excited. Honestly, this kind of education should’ve been implemented YEARS AGO. I was in high school during Colombine, during 9/11 and my high school had a popular classmate commit suicide off campus. What I remember during those tumultuous times, was that the entire school was watching CNN Live and watching the horror of Columbine and 9/11. Everyone was dead silent. The principal went over the PA speaker and said: “What can we do as a society to prevent this from happening here and anywhere?” Great question.

Educating society on the importance of mental health is very important to me and is also the first step in the process. Hello….this blog is helping by raising awareness for people living with mental illness and educating others that don’t have mental illness. Mental illness is NOT a new thing. If you look at the various cowardly acts of violence that have occurred in schools nationwide, there is something that triggers people do something like this. In the case of the Santa Fe and Parkland High School shootings, the suspects acted irrational and cowardly in a violent manner that could’ve been prevented. Former classmates knew that the suspect was “off” and noticed a change in their behavior. Family members probably thought that there wasn’t nothing wrong. If you claim that there’s nothing wrong and one of your relative’s (or your own child) commits a heinous act like, then you’re living in denial.

Education about mental health should start at home. One of the many life lessons that you teach your children should include this. Why, you may ask? Because teenage and childhood depression are at an all time high. Especially, school shootings and…suicide. My parents drilled in so many “Parent Talks or Lectures” in me that they could write a book or host a parenting seminar called “Parenting 101”. Remember that no parent is perfect, but communication is a huge part of a relationship. I was a child of depression and it got worse in high school and college. I could’ve been one of those kids that committed suicide (but I didn’t), I could’ve shot someone (but I didn’t), and could’ve racked up quite a lengthy rap sheet (but I didn’t). My mother has depression and schizophrenia and she talked about her struggles in private. My father (doesn’t have mental illness) was big on communication. After my diagnosis, I started becoming more introverted, withdrawing from school, ignoring my studies, became angry, sad, moody and bitchy, and started dressing differently. My father was the one that got me ready for school all the way to high school. You couldn’t fool this smart guy with a Ferris Bueller scam like in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Nope, he never fell for it.

One time, my counselor and my teacher contacted my parents about my homework and behavior. They saw me go from an extroverted happy child to a sad introverted child that kept to herself. They asked both of my parents: “What’s going on? She’s a great kid with great potential. Something is not right.” They were right. My parents talked with me until I was blue in the face and I had to admit that depression was kicking me in the butt. I needed help before it was too late.

Talking shouldn’t be that hard. We all communicate in our relationships with people. Why ignore something as serious as mental illness. For me, the most awkward parent conversation was “the sex talk.” When I was younger, this was the weirdest conversation to have. But it’s important and natural to talk to your kids about sex ed. You may panic and wonder how you are going to approach your child about talking about mental illness. Trust me, talking about mental illness with your child isn’t easy. I don’t have kids, yet. And I can only imagine that conversation. This type of conversation is something to ponder about. Talk it over with your significant other, your doctor, friends, family or someone else close to you that you can fully trust to talk about it. Think about what you’re going to say to your children. How do you start that conversation?

Great question: How do you start the conversation? Get out your laptop, iPad or legal pad and a pen and start writing down ideas. Brainstorm first, and do some research. There are tons of websites devoted to mental illness. You probably would fall out of your chair reading the statistics on people including children and teens living with depression and mental illness. It also wouldn’t hurt to consult with your primary doctor and voice your concerns about how to start the conversation with your child about mental illness. You can even read blogs about people that live with mental illness like me! There are more on http://www.nami.org. (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

After you’re done gathering facts, statistics, and stories of mental health sufferers; now comes the hard part: talking! Sit your child or children down and have a heart to heart (serious) conversation about mental health and our society. Talk in a firm and concerned voice to your child or children and educate them about this. Let yourself talk or lecture first, then present some research, and start a Q & A afterwards. Let them ask you all of the questions that they want to. But always instill in your child is that this is serious and they shouldn’t mock or criticize a fellow classmate that may have this disease. One of the parent talks that I remember was the “Everyone is different” lecture. There was a kid in my class that had epilepsy and would go into seizures. I asked my parents why this kid was so different from the other kids. I didn’t know what epilepsy was at the time. So I asked and my parents told me.

An example of a conversation can start out like this (This is up to you!): “First and foremost, I love you and we need to talk about something serious. Mental health. There are so many people living in this world including people of your age group that live with mental illness. Mental illness is a serious and life-threatening condition that causes changes in the brain that affect your behavior, your thoughts and your mood. Illnesses include depression, anxiety, panic disorder, schizophrenia, Bipolar I and II disorder and etc. This can cause you to become hospitalized and will endanger your life if you self-harm yourself and/or an innocent person. Most kids your age are usually depressed, going through so many emotional and hormonal changes, and it’s a confusing time.” Again, this is just a sample. You can start with this and divulge it more into a lengthy discussion with your child or children.

It does help to mention (and recognize these if this does happen) the crucial signs and symptoms of mental illness:

  • Withdrawal from society and schoolwork
  • Abandoning friends and family
  • Loss of interest in things
  • Little to no energy
  • Behavior changes such as mood
  • Decrease or increase in their appetites
  • Violent behavior
  • Possible drug or alcohol usage
  • Self harm such as cutting, committing suicide, or talking about killing themselves or someone else
  • Too much time on social media (Keep an eye on this one!)

The list is not all-inclusive, but this a guideline of the major symptoms. Also talk about suicide and violence. This is very important. I’ve witnessed suicide attempts by my own mother. One of my classmates pulled a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. Yeah! Frightening.

Being open and honest with your child helps them in so many ways. If you didn’t talk about mental illness with your child, what are you going to do if they do become depressed and you don’t do something. What if they take their life and you didn’t know that they were suffering? What would do you? What would you have done to prevent it? Remember that aside from teachers, your child or children interact with friends and you, too. If they all tell you that something is “off” with your child, don’t sit back and do nothing. Communicate with them and get the conversation going. Get help! You can’t be naïve and think that mental illness only happens to some people. It can happen to anyone. Take a good look at the world that exists out there. It’s both a loving and cruel world. There’s so much stigma on us sufferers that deal with this on a daily basis. And that’s because most people are uneducated this matter. We need to talk and end the stigma ourselves. So before you send your child or children back to school, think about this before the bell rings.

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Let’s TALK!