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Posts tagged ‘health’

Mental Health Awareness – Speaking Up.

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May is National Mental Health Awareness month. This is something that speaks to my soul very strongly because I struggle with mental health illnesses and so do many of my friends and family members. I, myself, have anxiety disorder, PTSD, bi-polar – type one, and OCD.

Growing up, I didn’t know what was going on inside my head. I thought something was wrong with me. I must be broken, defective. My moods changed without warning. My thoughts raced and I couldn’t get them to slow down. The littlest thing could set me off. I would cry and not always know why. I’d be extra motivated one day and then not at all the next. I was overly anxious and paranoid. I’d feel physically ill when things became too much to handle. No one understood, most especially myself. (I’m still dealing with these things, but I’m informed now and have the support system that makes dealing with all of this easier.)

On top of that, I was molested and physically abused by my mom’s ex, mentally abused and neglected by my father, and my mom retreated into herself, not knowing what to do or how to react, how to help me, especially when she needed help herself. I was placed into a foster home and went to a few and a group home within the span of a few years. I was hit on by one of my foster brothers in one of the homes to the point I ran away. Things weren’t great.

I wanted to die several times between my pre-teen years and even into my 30’s. I wrote notes, made preparations to leave those I loved, and kept it all to myself. Only those who knew me real well even had a glimpse of how much I struggled and even many who thought they knew me, they didn’t realize how much I was hurting. I either come off as really happy go lucky and people have no clue that I hurt at all or I’m the overly dramatic one, just seeking attention. I can be both and sometimes something entirely different.

Growing up, my issues and I were either ignored, treated like something to be shunned, or like everything was just some way of being noticed. Mental health illnesses and abuse are no laughing matter. They are also not things to be ignored or made light of.

I will always speak out about mental health illnesses, suicide prevention, and abuse. I didn’t always have support and in those times is when things were at their worst. Having that support now makes a huge difference. So, I want to reach out and tell all reading this, if you struggle, you don’t have to go through any of this alone.

There are 24 hour hotlines, shelters, and other resources. Also, I’m here to listen, if you feel comfortable coming to me. You do not have to deal with this alone. No one can live your life for you, but there are people out there who can be by your side as you try to push forward, heal, and get help.

If you see any warning signs, if you even suspect someone you know is hurting, please reach out. We may not always ask for help. Be the light for those who may feel lost in the dark and have forgotten there’s still hope…

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Healthy mind, healthy body

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Some know this and some do not, that a healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand. It’s important to take care of yourself, in every way.

A month ago, I joined the Optavia program to better myself, mostly my physical self. What I’ve come to realize is, my mental health is just as important and when you work on them both, they effect each other.

Today, I began a four week challenge within the healthy habits group I’m in, that’s a part of the Optavia program. It’s a weight loss challenge, but it’s more about us as individuals, not for us to compete against one another. This isn’t The Biggest Loser, no one is getting voted off if they have a rough week.

One thing we’re supposed to do is work on a healthy goal each week. This week, mine is to focus on my mental health. I have struggled with mental health issues since childhood. I’ve learned to manage them much better over the years, but they still get the best of me some days. As of late, I’ve been more irritable. The mania has kicked in and I’ve been so short tempered and over stupid stuff.

My grandma just died, a week ago, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. Losing her is the hardest death I’ve had to deal with. I’ve lost family and friends over the years, but no one was super close to me, except one friend, who died nearly two years ago. I still have a hard time with that sometimes, more lately for some reason and now my grandma is gone.

She was not just “Grandma” to me, she was a second mom, a friend at times, and someone I could count on when I felt alone, when I had no where else to go, when I needed help with bills or needed a sitter for my son, or just needed to talk. She has done more for me than anyone else. As I write this, my heart aches. I feel the grief tearing at the scar tissue, ready to burst open to painful wounds.

I feel grief, sadness, and like a part of me is missing. Grief is the unfortunate price of love. I’m glad, in a way, to feel this pain. It means that the love we shared was real, that the connection we had was strong. But, oh, is it ever gut wrenching and sometimes outright debilitating.

Next comes the guilt I feel, over not being there enough the past few years. She did so much for me. When she needed someone to look after her, but wouldn’t admit it, I stepped in.

I took care of her on my own for over a year. It got increasingly difficult and eventually, I left and let my uncle step in. I feel awful. I made sure her home was clean, her meds were taken at the proper time, fought with her to shower and use her walker, paid her bills, ran her errands, did her laundry, made and transported her to appointments, cooked meals, and kept her company. It was difficult, but things seemed to be managed. I left and the house got destroyed all over again and she became a shut in.

I feel angry at myself for walking away when it got too hard and angry at my uncle for not doing more. He’s a big part of why I stepped in in the first place. I thought maybe though that things would be different this time. My mom also said I needed to focus on my son and relationship with my now husband. She told me not to feel guilty, that I was doing what I needed to do for my family. Yet, a part of me still feels so angry with myself. I need to let it go, but not sure how. I need to stop being angry with my uncle for letting things get the way they did, with my other family members for not being there at all, and with others, who like myself, maybe could have done more. I need to let go. She was old, unhappy, and in pain. It was time for her to be called home.

Something else weighing heavily on my mind is my son and this court situation. I need to stop obsessing over what I can’t control, give it to God, and pray for the best outcome for my boy. It’s easier said than done though. His well-bing and happiness are so important to me.

I fought the good fight, as it were, nine years ago. If I’m being honest, it went the way it needed to back then. I didn’t see that at the time. I didn’t lose and neither did his dad. Our son won, because he finally had a set schedule with me and that was much needed. His dad retained placement and I saw that as a slap in the face, but now I know it was what was best at that time.

Things have changed drastically over the years and I, along with many others, no longer feel this is what’s best, not for him or anyone closely involved. He has been asking us for years to have primary placement given back to me. His dad either ignored him, said let’s give it more time, or outright said it’ll never happen. I tried to work with him for years on this, but he won’t budge. Our son finally told me last summer, “He’ll never change his mind, Mom. You’ll need to go to court to make it happen.”

I held out hope for a little bit, with every bad thing that happened, I hoped his dad would see this change needed to happen, but he’s just dug his heels in more. So, I decided I was done waiting and would honor my promise to my son, he’d asked me to promise that I’d never give up on him and that I’d fight to bring him home. So, that’s what I’m doing. It’s been stressful on everyone. I pray it goes well, that it’ll all have been worth it. I just want to see my son happy and successful.

It feels good to write about these things, to get them off my chest and not feel judged, like I need to vindicate or explain myself. It’s freeing to express my thoughts and feelings. I hope doing this more will help me live less bogged down mentally and become a better version of myself. I hope this will lead me to take better care of myself, in all ways.

I got a diffuser and essential oils for sleep and stress aides, better pillows to help with sleep, joined the Optavia program to help with my physical and emotional health, am working on praying more to help with my spiritual health, and am now turning back to my writing as well, to help myself grow. Here’s hoping and here’s to my health!

The Not So Little Girl That Can & Will

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It’s easy to complain about something, but not always so to change things. Sometimes the motivation we need is buried underneath doubt and fear.

I’ve been overweight for a few years now and I’ve sure done a lot of complaining about it, but not nearly enough to change things. I’ve just finally gotten so uncomfortable in my comfort zone that I’m really trying to turn things around.

I’m tired of being jealous of my friend’s and family members’ weight loss progress, angry at myself for not taking better care of me, not liking what I see in the mirror, not being able to do active things without getting winded so easily, and just, well, being tired. And, I’m tired, too, of just complaining about all of this.

It’s time for change. My husband and I have been putting our daughter in her stroller and going for walks a fair amount of evenings since my daughter was a couple of weeks old, but I knew I needed to step that up a bit.

So, we’ve increased the number of evenings we go walking, for starters. I started working out on my own at home and during that, I’ve had my two month old getting her tummy time in. I have started slow, so as to not overdo it. Today, I changed things up and my workout consisted of strapping my daughter to my chest in her rider and walking 2.5 miles. It sure feels different walking with 10.10 pounds attached to you than it does without!

I’ve also been cutting my portions down while eating and trying to eat healthier as well. I know that losing this weight is going to take exercise and eating better, so I’m trying to do both.

Be patient they say, yes, I know they’re right. Losing the 80 pounds, as of my last doctor appointment – three weeks ago, is going to take time. I want to do this right, the healthy way.

Like the Little Engine that Could, I think I Can!” I’ve tried and failed before, but rest assured that I’m not quitting. I refuse to give up. I have too much to live for. So let’s do this!

Any motivational tactics, tips, or advice anyone is willing to offer is welcome! ♡

 

Sometimes procrastination can be harmful…..

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I was on yet another form of birth control and this one, like most of the ones I tried, made me gain weight. I didn’t start to do anything about it until recently. Because I waited so long, I am now 180, my asthma is the worst it’s ever been, it hurts to do simple things like tying my shoes, and so on. I am really starting to suffer way more than just my clothes not fitting right. I wish I’d have been proactive about this sooner. However, I have begun to workout at the gym with my boyfriend, am logging what I eat and drink each day, and have a few sessions with a personal trainer who has now come up with a workout plan that works for me. I am on the path to a better and healthier me. Take a tip from me, don’t wait too long, start working on a better you now, while you’re here to do so.

It’s not, “I am” for that would define me….

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Upon talking with someone this evening about mental health issues, I realized he was right about something and wanted to address it.

Mental health issues should NOT define someone. Saying, “I am bi-polar, schizophrenic, A.D.H.D., etc” sounds more like a definition of who one is. When one has cancer, they don’t say, “I’m cancerous.” When one has Cystic Fibrosis, they don’t say, “I’m C.F.” So, why do people so often say, “They’re bi-polar.” or even those with mental health issues say, “I’m schizophrenic.”? I have been guilty of doing this myself. Yet, I do not let any of it define me, control me, or own me.

No more, “I am bi-polar.” or “I am schizophrenic.” I have bi-polar disorder and I have schizophrenia. But like a cancer patient, there are treatments. Though I have gone the traditional medication and therapy route before, that’s no longer my routine. It does work for many and I don’t knock it for those who truly need it. However, in society today, doctors are so quick to dope people up. Medication isn’t always the answer and it’d be great if they would explore all possible options. I stand behind those who truly need to take the medicine to lead a normal life, but not behind those that don’t.

Living with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia hasn’t been easy. I have had these problems since childhood and at that time, didn’t know what was going on. I was so confused and scared. I didn’t understand why my brain didn’t work properly. Once diagnosed first just with depression and anxiety issues and then later with bi-polar and schizophrenia (as I slowly opened up to one psychiatrist about the voices and visions), I let it beat me. So often, I would use it all as a crutch, an excuse to do the things I did. I have had trouble keeping jobs, friends, boyfriends, relationships with family members going, etc. My mood swings were out of control and I saw no way out, no way to control things. I figured that would be how my life would be, forever spinning out of control. The visions and voices frightened me, to the point I have lost so much sleep over the years and for a long time, no one knew about them, no one, not even family or close friends. Only over the last year have I begun to confide in others about this because I am no longer ashamed. It is a part of me, so I am done hiding it.

Like I said before, I used to take medication for the bi-polar and depression. I have taken so many now, I have forgotten some of them. Some worked, some didn’t. When I’d have a lapse of insurance or just not feel like it, I’d not take them anymore. I’d try on and off to battle my brain without or sometimes I was just tired of trying period. I have also been to more therapists and psychiatrists than I can remember. I will admit, it’s been nice to have a non-biased opinion now and then, someone to talk to who didn’t know everyone in my life, someone who could be objective.

Things are different now. I have successfully lived and battled with it all without medication for roughly four years. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to work around the disorders. I didn’t fully understand them or myself, so I suppose then I needed the help of the medication and definitely the therapy. But, little by little, over the years, as I grew and changed…I learned how to triumph. I decided that I was strong enough to not let it win, not let it beat me, not let it define me. I am so much more than any disorder. My arthritis, bad vision, asthma, etc don’t define me either. What I have or deal with is not me, it’s just a part of me, not me as a whole.

I am Carissa. There are many facets to me. Not one single part can truly tell you who I am. You have to get to know me and see every side of me to really get a good picture. I am many things to many people. I am a mom, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, an aunt, a friend, a girlfriend, a passerby on the street or at the store, a singer, a writer, a photographer, a bowler, a dreamer, a winner, a loser, a Christian, a believer, a doubter, a listener, a talker, an Empath, and so on. Even with all of that, there is still so much to who I am. So as I first stated, I am Carissa. Not one thing about me will ever define me, even if others out there think otherwise.

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