Wednesday, June 3, 2015

On the Path to Healing

I was nervous about posting my last blog entry, but I'm glad I did. After I published it I felt relieved and got a sense of calmness. Opening up about personal things like that can be very hard for me, but the more I talk about my experiences I find that it makes me feel better and that I'm not alone.

So with this post I wanted to talk about some of the things I've been doing to cope with depression and anxiety and the healing process. I'll start with talking about the spiritual group meeting I mentioned in my last post. I found the group online and it seemed like an interesting group and something I wanted to learn more about. The day of the meeting I almost didn't go. I started making excuses as to why I should just stay home: didn't feel like driving an hour to get there, didn't feel like coping with meeting new people, didn't want to go by myself to a place I'd never been to before. Then the group organizer sent me a message about how she was excited to meet me. So I took that as a sign that I needed to leave my comfort zone and just quit worrying and go. When I got to the library and walked into the meeting room, I instantly felt pretty comfortable there. I felt soothed and comforted by the people and energy there, which was just what I needed. I won't go into the whole meeting but I did talk about some of the things I had been going through. I was actually kind of surprised at myself for opening up to this group of people as I'd normally rather listen and watch from the sidelines when I'm in a group of people. I'm glad that I felt comfortable enough to speak though. I was touched by many things that people said and by their own stories.

One thing that stands out to me is when one man started talking and one thing he talked about (and I'm paraphrasing here) was how I needed to look in the mirror and tell myself I was beautiful everyday. He said how dare we judge ourselves and question the way God made us. That really struck a cord with me. Part of what I've been working on is self love. I spent so long hating different things about myself. So after that I started to tell my body that I loved it, that I loved it just as I was now. Instead of thinking that I could love myself more if I was thinner, prettier, less flawed, I told myself I loved me now with all my flaws. Even if I didn't believe it deep down, I would keep saying it. I would say I love my fat belly. Haha Even though I don't, and I'm working on losing weight and being healthier. It's like I had to accept the person I was right now in order to heal and let go of those old thought patterns in order to become a better person.

We are so hard on ourselves sometimes. I am so much more critical on myself than any other person is to me. It's something I'm still working on, but I'm learning to love and care and nourish my body instead of punishing it for being human. My flaws make me who I am. I'm learning to accept and love all my flaws. I'm also learning to be patient with myself. I didn't get to this weight and unhealthy state overnight, so I shouldn't expect things to change overnight. I try to take one day at a time and if I make mistakes I accept them and tell myself tomorrow is another day and not beat myself up.

Another issue I've struggled with a lot is insomnia for a long time. My sleep patterns have always been off. I'm trying to regulate them more but I'm still a night owl and stay up all night a lot of the time and sleep during the day. It's so frustrating to be tired and just want to sleep at night. My body wants to stay up all night and sleep during the day a lot of times. Sometimes I just can't sleep no matter what, but another big part of it is that I just feel safer sleeping during the day. At night is when those old dark thoughts and feeling come into play sometimes and I don't feel at peace enough to fall asleep. The one good thing about staying up all night is that it seems like my creativity comes out then. I've started to draw and paint again after years of not doing that. It feels so good to pick up a paintbrush and swirl the color across that paper! It's something I've missed very much.

One thing I've found to cope with relaxing enough to fall asleep are sleep hypnosis videos on youtube. Jody Whiteley has so many videos and a lot of them are made specifically for depression and anxiety. They don't always work, but a majority of the time they do. Even if I don't always fall asleep, they do still usually make me feel more relaxed.

Another thing I've been doing a lot and learning more about is meditation. I've listened to a lot of guided meditations online. It's really been amazing how much that has helped. Prayer and meditation are my most important tools to healing. 

I also use some essentials oils. I have found some blends that really seem to help especially with the anxiety. It's something I'm still learning about, but they have made a difference.

I also use some supplements that help, especially when I remember to use them reguarly. One is inositol and another is magnesium.

One of the hardest things to be consistent with is exercise. I get bored with it very easily. Also I'm lazy a lot of times. Haha But walking really helps with the depression. Just being outside makes me feel better. I listen to fun music, or to something relaxing, depending on my mood and what I need at the time. Usually once I get outside and start walking I enjoy it. It's not even really about exercising to lose weight now. Being outside in nature has given me a lot of peace.

Being better and healthier is a process. I know I still have a ways to go. But I've started the process and that's the hardest part sometimes. I try not to beat myself up and quit after I have setbacks. If I quit things for a while, I just pick back up when I can instead of quitting completely.

I've also learned that all these things are things I need to do daily. For a long time I'd practice all this for a while and would feel better and then quit because I was feeling happier. Then of course I'd go through a low point. Then I'd start the whole process again. Even if I'm feeling good, I still have to do the meditations and all the other things. I have to do the upkeep and the work in order to stay better. It's not something just to do when I'm feeling bad, it's something to do all the time so that those low points don't come as often. It seems like common sense to know that it's a lifelong process, but when I'm feeling happy my brain wants to think that I'm better and don't need to do the upkeep anymore. But depression is not really something that's cured like that. So I'm working on making a better routine and doing the things I know that help keep me less depressed and anxious.

These are the main tools and things I'm doing now to get healthier. My mind is starting to change its old thought patterns. It's not always easy but I'm learning how to cope and what to do when the depression wants to come back. And that it's ok to just have a day where I hide away from the world as long as I know that I can't stay in bed forever and start going back to old routines and patterns.

I'm lucky to have my family and friends be supportive too. I'm very thankful for them. My boyfriend plays a huge part in my support system. I know he loves me and is there for me whenever I need him and that I can always talk to him about things when I need to. He can make me laugh and pull me out of my head when I'm feeling down. My best friend and her family are also a big help. They've done a lot for me over the years that I've known them and I love them very much. And of course my parents and sister are very supportive. My mom's strength has always given me strength. I remember when I was going through a rough spot, her telling me that we were strong and we didn't give up. She's always told me I could do anything I put my mind to. My dad's compassion for people and strong faith also inspire me. My sister who is one of my best friends. I'm so thankful to have a sister I'm close to. Someone who gets me and my weirdness. We always have fun together and I love her hugs.

So I'll close this now. Wasn't really planning on it being this long, but that's ok. It feels good to talk about it now. The more I talk about it and open up, the more it feels like I'm finally releasing all the negativity and darkness. I know it's still a journey, but I'm not scared anymore to work through my problems. And not having that fear is so freeing.

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