mental health

Sage

Oftentimes when others walk away or inflict hurt upon us, we are left questioning ourselves. We dissect every memory, moment and action to search for answers of what went wrong. Our self worth begins to crumble.

Sometimes, what happens is that the toxic person who hurt you is bringing you down in order to justify their actions. People don’t like to own up to their mistakes or take responsibility for their actions, and they get away with it by adding insult to injury.

While you are feeling blindsided, broken or down, they get you to believe that it is all your fault. Just remember that you are going to get through this and you will look back and appreciate your growth and outcome, as hard as it may be to see now.

mental health

30 Day Mental Health Challenge

Check off each day as you go. If you miss a day, go back to it and complete at the end.

Feel free to share any of your challenges and activities on Instagram with #30DayBlu

  • Day 1: Write a list of your goals for the month
  • Day 2: Put your headphones on and go on a 15 minute walk.
  • Day 3: Treat yourself! Whether it is a concert, hot bath, massage or ice cream… you deserve it.
  • Day 4: Write a letter to someone who hurt you and then burn it.
  • Day 5: No phone for the evening! Shut off your phone before dinner and don’t touch it till morning.
  • Day 6: Start a new book or continue reading the book that you haven’t finished yet.
  • Day 7: Compliment 3 complete strangers
  • Day 8: Plan a mini adventure for your next day off. Check out a nearby town. Go to a museum or garden, for example.
  • Day 9: Reach out to a person you have been out of touch with; ask them how they’ve been.
  • Day 10: Clean your closet and donate what you don’t use or wear anymore
  • Day 11: Try something new! Go to a yoga class or an art class.
  • Day 12: Look in the mirror and tell yourself 3 great things about yourself
  • Day 13: Cut something toxic out of your life. Examples: a bad habit, toxic relationship, sugar addiction.
  • Day 14: Health day! Smoothies, salads and clean eating. Focus on health and nutrition today.
  • Day 15: Spend 15 minutes stretching and focusing on breathing.
  • Day 16: Do something nice and unexpected for someone.
  • Day 17: Be present. Make eye contact all day, with each conversation you have. Even if it is the cashier at the grocery store. Be aware of your surroundings and listen.
  • Day 16: Get a jar and fill it with all the loose change you find throughout the day. Label it with your choice: vacation, anniversary, Christmas funds, new shoes, massage…
  • Day 17: No social media till noon! Check on your list of goals for the month or catch up on a day you missed.
  • Day 18: Learn something new. Spend 15 minutes reading or researching about an interesting topic.
  • Day 19: Art day! Create something: a drawing, poem, painting, or anything of your choice. Check Pinterest if you are drawing a blank.
  • Day 20: Think of something you have done that you regret or are ashamed of. Forgive yourself. You are human and we make mistakes and grow from them. Think about what you learned. Follow with a self-care activity.
  • Day 21: Send a card or letter to a good friend or family member.
  • Day 22: Clean your nightstand, wash your bedding and plan to go to bed early tonight. No tv or phone! Focus on breathing and visualize the ocean or mountains.
  • Day 23: Forgive someone who never apologized. Think about how you were hurt and let it go. You owe it to yourself, not them.
  • Day 24: Donate some items to the Humane Society, local food pantry or women’s shelter.
  • Day 25: Do something outside of your comfort zone.
  • Day 26: Make that doctors appointment you have been putting off… your annual check up, routine bloodwork or that follow up and never went to.
  • Day 27: Check on your strong friends. Ask them how they are doing, reach out and give them an opportunity to open up. Those who appear put together sometimes have silent battles.
  • Day 28: Clean your vehicle. If you don’t have a vehicle then clean your bathroom or office.
  • Day 29: Photo day! Take photos of throughout the day to show your perspective through your eyes, but in black and white. Get creative.
  • Day 30: Pay it forward
mental health

Are Antipsychotic Medications Safe?

I am a firm believer that everyone should have genetic testing done. Genetic testing will show which medication you do or do not metabolize as well as which medications you may have an abnormal reaction to. This includes blood thinners, seizure medications, pain medications and psychiatric medications.

Pharmocogentics testing for CYP450, CYP2D6, CYP2D19 genotypes will show personalized information on metabolism for antidepressants and antipsychotics. The MTHFR gene mutation is common in up to 40% of the population and can also alter the response to medications and actually can be the culprit of mental illness alone. The CACNA1C gene is responsible for flow of calcium into neurons and is linked to 5 mental health disorders.

Doctors treat mental illness like a one-size-fits-all standard diagnosis and treatment. Mental illness can be a result of many factors, such as a biochemical imbalance (vitamin deficiencies) rather than simply requiring SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) or blocking certain receptors. You have to ask yourself, “why does this medication’s adverse reactions include reactions that you are trying to treat?”

Some of these medications can increase the risk of getting diabetes, lower sex drive due to hormonal changes, cardiovascular disorders, involuntary muscle movements, seizures and even a drop in white blood cells.

FDA approval of an antipsychotic medication does not mean it is effective. The FDA only sees one or two of the best studies shown for short-term effectiveness. After 1987, doctors were shocked to have to admit that SSRIs could cause fatal reactions and induce psychosis, mania and depression (Gantt 2018). In fact, none of these drugs are allowed to claim that they may prevent suicide.

In Taking Sides: Psychological Issues, it states that at least 90% of the infamous homicidal school shooters were already under the care of a psychiatrist (or psych drug prescriber) and were either taking or withdrawing from one or more psychiatric drug. The other 10% are simply unknown due to their medical files being secured by authorities.

It is safe to say that these medications can do harm and may not be safe for everyone.

References:

Gantt, E. E., & Slife, B. (2018). Taking sides: Clashing views on psychological issues, 20th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

http://www.mensahmedical.com/what-are-biochemical-imbalances/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033318206700299

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-integrationist/201409/genetic-mutation-can-affect-mental-physical-health

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Rare Disease Day

It is Rare Disease Day so obviously I am jumping on this moment to raise awareness. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and a rare type, called cardiac-valvular EDS or cvEDS.

Hypermobility is very common with EDS. There are many, many other health issues that fall under the umbrella due to this collagen defect. Imagine your joints are like rubber, frequently popping out of place from even just a hug or rolling over in bed. Sometimes these joints stay out of place or wear down. It is a painful disease to many.

This does not only affect joints but can also affect your organs.

We are all different and we call ourselves Zebras because in the medical field, doctors and nurses are trained that when they hear hooves to look for horses not zebras. This mentality has caused me to go undiagnosed and medically neglected for my entire life, up until I had genetic testing last year. Despite my heart issues and frequent ER visits, being young and seemingly healthy has had me labeled as drug seeking or having anxiety attacks.

The reason why is because EDS and dysautonomia (dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system) does not show up on routine blood work. I have never done drugs, besides cannabis, and even after open heart surgery and a broken sternum I did not even finish my pain meds prescription. I have been treated as if I were an IV drug user, because in my area that is the only reason someone of my age would have this extent of damage to their heart. I am so incredibly thankful to now be taken seriously with a diagnosis, but it is bittersweet because this syndrome is progressive and for me, my heart is always at risk. In my recent echo, I have developed a dilated aortic root. This is beyond scary to me because EDS, especially cvEDS comes with aneurisms. Dealing with this type of diagnosis as well as chronic pain and illness is mentally exhausting.

I am passionate about awareness is because it took so fucking long to be heard. I suffered for so long not taking proper care of myself and not knowing the correct treatments. I have been called a hypochondriac by exes and have hidden behind a mask for years. I want others to know they are not alone and I want medical professionals to see us.

Health, mental health

How Can Anyone Heal With Toxic Positivity?

We are programmed to praise positivity and joy while shunning grief and sadness, which isolates those who need help. As children grow after years of being told to behave and smile, they become adults wearing masks. Our bodies suppress anger, pain, sorrow, suffering and negative emotions that we are not allowed to acknowledge. These buried feelings grow with no release as we walk rampant, showing our teeth to the world to presume only happiness exists within us.

Relationships deepen through vulnerability. People need to open up about their fears, not tuck them away to pretend life is perfect. The world sees strength defined as being tough and resistant to anything other than joy. Sensitivity is seen as weakness.

People need to open up about their sorrows, not hide them with a smile that says “I’m fine.” People need to discuss their anger, not bottle it up. People will explode. People will crumble.

How can anyone heal in an environment that doesn’t allow basic human emotion to breathe?

We are all responsible and need to change our way of thinking so that we can make others feel safe to talk and reach out.

Our culture is designed to suppress half of our basic human emotions, leaving us depressed actors.

It is time to face the reality that life is not perfect and human emotions are not linear. Life is hard and pretending that we are all okay is dangerously exhausting.

Stop telling people to suck it up or that they will be fine. Ask how you can help, listen, and pay attention to the subtle details. Check on your strong friends, your happy friends, and your quiet friends.

Take off your masks and let others know it’s okay to not be okay. It is okay to cry, to grieve, to be angry, to feel lost and to feel frustrated.

We are not robots.

We can’t heal by dreaming of rainbows to swallow our pain and trauma. We heal through a process. We prevent crumbling by expressing emotions. We cannot continue to build a stigma that negative emotions equal weakness. It is time to change the rules.

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Waking Up in Pain

Mornings are hard. When you think of Sundays, you think of sleeping in and waking up to the sun finding it’s way to to you. You think of sitting up, a nice stretch and a moment to admire the open window sharing hints of a beautiful day.

The reality is that you wake up from pain. And you have woken up several times already but you hurt too much to go back to sleep and the sun is up now, so you may as well get out of bed. Lying in bed hurts. It isn’t this relaxing thing where you can leisurely sprawl out in bed and feel like you are on a cloud, melting into your mattress. No, you have to move because one position makes your tailbone go numb and another hurts your collarbone and lying on your stomach makes your back feel broken.

So, now you get up and everything pops back into place. Almost everything. Your left hand and lips are tingling and numb but it only last a few minutes. You walk to the bathroom, holding on to everything you pass for stability so that you don’t fall. Even when you sit down, reaching to wipe is excruciating and demoralizing. It breaks you just glimpsing into the future, wondering if are going to need help wiping your own ass one day. Then, as much as you want to crawl back into bed and melt into your significant other, you quietly walk out of the room so you can find something to do and walk off the pain of sleeping.

Your head is killing you and you are nauseous as if you are hungover. As you walk to the kitchen, everything fades away and you can’t see. Your body starts to feel fuzzy and go numb, just like before you pass out. You don’t typically fully pass out so you know you can just keep walking through it as long as you hold on the way there. You are a pro and have smiled and held conversations while on the brink of passing out but you know it passes and this is your norm.

When pain levels are high, your morale is low. Your dreams and ambition slide over to the back burner. Sometimes they even get put away into Tupperware to decay in the back, hidden behind the fruit. Sometimes the sunshine creeping in through the window looks so far away. But you just get through this. You hold on to the idea of your next good day, whenever that may be. You find hope in new remedies and whatever ways you can try to have control over your health. You find hope in the people who support you and your loved ones.

“Mornings are hard. When you think of Sundays, you think of sleeping in and waking up to the sun finding it’s way to to you. You think of sitting up, a nice stretch and a moment to admire the open window sharing hints of a beautiful day.”

*On the pain scale of 1-10, I have never been under a five. My one is a five. I am not wanting sympathy but what I am wanting is to be honest about how I feel instead of hiding with an autopilot response of “I’m fine.” I want to raise awareness for people like me so they don’t feel alone, and for people without chronic pain so that they can understand their loved one or friend. We live in a world of sucking it up and smiling through the pain. We are suppressed and depressed with a bottled soul. It isn’t right. Be real and let others be real so they they aren’t lost and alone.

mental health

Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity is a thing. We are raised to suck it up and smile. Well, fuck that. I want my friends and family to be real. I want to know about your shitty day. We all have those days. I want genuine. Raw. I don’t want you to fake anything for me or anyone else. Let people feel safe! Break the stigma of bottling shit up and autopilot responses like “I’m fine, and you?” Mental health is an epidemic because we all participate in hiding, making everyone feel alone. It’s time for change.

mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Are You Still In There?

When bad days turn into weeks. When your strengths are suffocating. When your dreams drift too far. When nothing seems fair. When tears turn into fears. When you get lost. When you feel defeated. When you stop feeling. You aren’t alone.

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

The Grey Area of the Medical Field

The grey area is a state that doesn’t live on one side or the other. It is nomadic and intermediate; the blurry line.

The grey area is where many undiagnosed, dismissed and neglected health issues live. For some, they got tossed back and forth between doctors and never really helped by any, or are just getting by with the small crumbs of progress over a span of time.

The grey area is also the wait. It’s waiting for the inevitable, irreversible and impending progression of a particular diagnosis. It’s knowing a risks but having no control or peace of mind. Sometimes you float in between acceptance and anger.

The grey area is where the people who don’t fit in the one-size-fits-all category call home.

Many of us only know the grey area, constantly hoping someone will understand us or send out a rescue team to bring us in.

Awareness is for us, in the grey area, looking to fit in somewhere, to make sense, to have answers, to not be neglected or alone.

Share your fire until it lights up the sky, defining a new meaning and growing into a new path where those who were once lost can be found.

mental health

Spring Home Makeover 

*Published in The Beachside Resident February 2019 issue

Throughout our lives, we receive gifts and collect items. Whether it is from a vacation, retail therapy, your birthday or hand-me-downs, we accumulate a lot of stuff! It piles up and consumes our living space each day. Think about your junk drawer or the to-do list pile on your desk, the back of your closet or even your pantry. There is so much that we do not utilize and yet we still continue to shop for useless items. 
Chances are, 80% of your junk draw is trash or has another place it belongs. If you haven’t been maintaining your clean home groove, your living space may start to feel a little disorderly. A cluttered or chaotic space can cause anxiety. Getting your stuff in order gives you a pleasant feng shui, which is like a positive energy flow. 
Most of us have a busy life juggling kids, school, a relationship, friends, work or whatever other million things you have on your plate. The last thing you want to do is add cleaning your entire home to the list. Don’t. Do not overwhelm yourself. There is no need to turn your house upside down, lose sleep or forget to shave your left leg because your brain has turned into jello. Relax and watch some Netflix. 
The plan is to find small projects weekly, monthly, or whatever routine you can handle. I personally love to do these projects on Sundays. I let the sun shine through the windows, play Alabama Shakes on my speakers, light some incense and get to work. I make the process feel therapeutic. I always have a little box tucked away to fill up; my goal is to fill it throughout the month and donate it. I also have the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality of old belongings. Unless they are sentimental or something of use, throw it away or put it in the donate pile. Now, the “does this bring you joy?” question for each item is not always relevant. My hammer doesn’t bring me joy (that would probably be a red flag) but I need it. However, the ugly snowman candy dish from 2011 can probably find a new home. 
Organizing your items in a way that they can all be seen is brilliant. Marie Kondo’s method uses shoeboxes as dividers and folds shirts in a way that you can view them all instead of digging around and unfolding everything by accident, to find what you need. Personally, I love using baskets to add another shelf to a surface, such as a desk or end table. You can stack them for more storage space and they are lightweight, inexpensive and easy to change up. 
While you are decluttering, you can simmer hot water on the stove with orange peels, cinnamon sticks and cloves as a natural way to make your home smell amazing. Now you have learned how to be productive without getting overwhelmed! What home project are you going to do first while you get your dance on?