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Pandemic and Mental Health

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If you are like me this COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and taxing on my mental health. The Fear and anxiety about this new disease and what could happen is super overwhelming and causing a lot of strong emotions and feelings for me.   Public health actions, such as social distancing, are making me and other people I know, feel isolated and lonely; it is also causing an increase in stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Mental Health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It may also affect how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices during an emergency.  People with pre-existing mental health conditions or substance use disorders may be particularly vulnerable in this pandemic situation. Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior in a way that influences their ability to relate to others and function each day. These conditions may be situational or short-term, but most are chronic or long term conditions. People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

I know for me this has been especially difficult to make sure I keep up with my services. There have been times that I have felt so depressed lately that I would cancel my therapy session thinking I did not need it, but that has not helped or worked in my favor.  During these difficult times especially it is super important to reach out for help and reach out to people that can help get you through. One thing I have found especially helpful is face timing or using zoom to video chat with my family and friends. Even though we cannot physically be together it has helped make the distance and separation more bearable. 

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:

Are you experiencing any of these below symptoms? If so it may be time for you to seek professional help.

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.
  • Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.

Healthy ways to cope with stress during this difficult time:

  • Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19. Contact a health professional before you start any self-treatment for COVID-19.
  • Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

During this time it can be especially difficult to ask for help; you may feel embarrassed or ashamed and there’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. If you need assistance please reach out, there is always someone there to assist you when you are in times of need.

Get immediate help in a crisis

Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health

Medication, Therapy, OH MY….

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There is a lot of controversy now a days between whether to take medication when you have a mental illness or whether not to take medication when you have a mental illness. For me personally medication has changed my life for the better and I would never go back. I remember years ago going through high school and college not feeling 100%. I always felt like I couldn’t focus or like my mood was all over the place. I couldn’t regulate my feelings, mentally I was a mess but I grew up in a family that did not believe in therapy or taking medication. It was rough for me…

 I was struggling in school to keep my grades up, struggling to have personal friendship relationships, struggling in my at home family life and I felt all alone. Nobody saw me and my struggles; growing up in a strong Hispanic family that was super old school they did not believe in therapy or medicine, they just believed that whatever was going on would pass or that I needed to “get over it.”   It wasn’t until years later when I moved out on my own and had a mental breakdown did I actually start going to therapy and taking medicine. I ended up going to a therapist and psychiatrist who did not listen to my needs. I did not know how important this was at the time because this was my first experience with therapy so I was not sure what to expect or how to handle things. I ended up being on medicine that made me extremely drowsy. It made me act out and made my manic episodes even worse. The highs where really high and the lows where really low. I was an even bigger mess then before I started. I ended up trying a serious of medications all made me sick, drowsy, gave me a headache or just did not help at all.

Fast forward 5 years down the line, after a string of therapist, different medications and poor life choices, I started to lose hope until I found one psychiatrist that seemed to understand my needs a little better. The only problem was she understood my needs so much that she just kept throwing all these medications and pills at me. I started taking Abilify, which at first I thought was helping me but it caused me to exhibit super additive personality traits. I started gambling uncontrollability, sleeping around sexually, I started falling asleep uncontrollably. Then because I was falling asleep as a side effect to the medicine, she diagnosed me with a form of Narcolepsy, which ended up having me on two other medications just to stay awake. I still could not focus and the medication was only working half of the time. She increased me to the highest dose on all the medications and added one but it still was not working properly. At this point she changed me to Lithium. The lithium left a horrible taste in my mouth, gave me headaches and constantly put me in a brain fog. Not only that I needed to take blood tests every month to make sure the lithium level in my blood was stable. During this whole process this psychiatrist I was seeing ended up moving to Florida and I got stuck seeing her colleague. Her colleague was horrible he did not listen to anything I said and just kept increasing the Lithium even though I was telling him I was having bad side effects. He ended up getting his license taken away from the board of Psychiatry months later and I found myself back to square one. No therapist, no Psychiatrist and with medications that where not helping me. Again I was ready to just give up and be miserable in life dealing with whatever this mental illness was I had going on since according to the last doctor I was in between diagnoses.

To make matters worse the therapist I had been seeing for two years started to make a lot of racist comments against Hispanic people and African American people when I was in her office. At first I thought maybe it was just a one off type of situation but then she started to make remarks whether under her breath or more in my face every time I was in her office. I ended up having to leave her therapy practice as well as report her for unprofessional conduct. So now I really was alone and not sure which way to go or which way to turn for my mental health. Everything was completely falling apart in front of my eyes.

Fast forward a year. I started struggling at work, my depression was at an all-time high. I was acting out on my addictive personality in all the wrong ways. I had become addicted sexually, to drinking, and to gambling. I was a complete mess and going in a downward spiral. I was losing grip on reality and I was not sure what to do. It was my family doctor who finally stepped in and said you need to start going back to therapy and get on some different and better medication. He gave me some recommendations for psychiatrist and that psychiatrist I saw ended up giving me a recommendation to a therapist who was amazing.  I finally felt like I found a psychiatrist who was listening to me. She understood the struggles I had been going through for years and she was ready to help me tackle the issues and not leave me out there on my own to figure things out. She immediately pulled me off the Lithium and put me on another medication to see how it would work for me. She stopped the other mediations and we started from like a clean state she wanted to figure out exactly what was going on with me. She ended up diagnosing me with Bipolar Type 1 disorder, which came with severe depression and anxiety and ADHD/ADD. Once we got the Bipolar disorder under control she moved on the ADHD/ADD and tackled that this was the first time in years I felt like I was actually on the right track. The first time in years that I actually felt some relief mentally. I also started seeing the therapist she recommended to me, Cathy. Cathy has been wonderful. It has been life changing for me to have a therapist to talk to every week, someone I can vent to but also keeps me on track with things. And helps me when I am struggling or having a rough day. I now take Vraylar and Lamictal for my Bipolar Disorder Type 1. I also take Ritalin for my ADHD/ADD and I am telling you I will never go back. These medications have been life changing for me and they have made such a huge difference for me day to day. For the first time ever I am excelling at work. I am focused and doing well, I am doing so well in fact that I have received numerous promotions. I can focus, I can separate and control my emotions and mental thoughts. I do not find myself to constantly be over emotional or out of it. I am thriving in all the right places and finally able to make decisions that benefit me for the better.

My biggest take away that I want y’all to get from reading this is to not give up. Do not be afraid to stand up to a psychiatrist or a therapist and tell them you are not getting what you need. Do not just stay on medications that are not working or helping you. Stand up for yourself and know your body, know your mind; say this is not working for me and do not give up until you find something that does work for you. Having a mental illness means there is something chemically in your brain that is not lining up properly, it does not mean something is wrong with you, it just means that you might need a little help to focus or regulate yourself and there is nothing wrong with that. We need to take away the stigma that you are “crazy” if you go to therapy or there is something “wrong” with you if you take medication or need to see a psychiatrist or a therapist. There is nothing wrong with needing a little help and nothing wrong with knowing you are not okay and reaching out to be a better you. Finding the right medication and right therapy combination is so so so important and I encourage you all to not give up until you find what works for you because there are so many options out there. Don’t just be miserable and keep how you are feeling to yourself. Reach out, get help, there is support out there.

Tips for getting the most out of your medication for Bipolar Disorder

Avoid antidepressants. The treatment for bipolar depression is different than for regular depression. In fact, antidepressants can actually make bipolar disorder worse or trigger a manic episode. Try mood stabilizers first and never take antidepressants without them.

Take advantage of natural mood stabilizers. Your lifestyle can have a huge impact on your symptoms. If you make healthy daily choices, you may be able to reduce the amount of medication you need. Mood stabilizers that don’t require a prescription include keeping a strict sleep schedule, exercising regularly, practicing relaxation techniques, and developing a solid support system.

Add therapy to your treatment plan. Research shows that people who take medication for bipolar disorder tend to recover much faster and control their moods better if they also get therapy. Therapy gives you the tools to cope with life’s difficulties, monitor your progress, and deal with the problems bipolar disorder is causing in your personal and professional life.

Continue taking medication, even after you feel better. The likelihood of having a relapse is very high if you stop taking your bipolar medication. Suddenly stopping medication is especially dangerous. Talk to your doctor before you make any changes, even if you believe you no longer need medication. Your doctor can help you make any adjustments safely.

Finding the Right Bipolar Medication

It can take a while to find the right bipolar medication and dose. Everyone responds to medication differently, so you may have to try several bipolar disorder drugs before you find the one that works for you. Be patient, but don’t settle for a bipolar medication that makes you feel lousy, either.

Once you’ve discovered the right bipolar disorder drug or drug cocktail, it may still take time to determine the optimal dose. In the case of mood stabilizing medications such as lithium, the difference between a beneficial dose and a toxic one is small. Frequent office visits to re-evaluate your medication needs and careful monitoring of symptoms and side effects will help you stay safe

Taking Medication Responsibly

All prescription drugs come with risks, but if you take your bipolar disorder medications responsibly and combine them with therapy and healthy lifestyle choices, you can minimize the risks and maximize your chances of treatment success.

Take your bipolar medication as prescribed. Before you make any changes to your bipolar medication, talk to you doctor. If you don’t like the way the drug makes you feel or if it’s not working, there may be other options you can try. And if you decide that medication is not for you, your doctor can help you taper off the drugs safely.

Keep track of side effects. Using a log, keep a record of any side effects you experience, when they occur, and how bad they are. Bring the log to your doctor, who may have suggestions for minimizing the side effects, decide to switch you to another drug or change your bipolar medication dose.

Be aware of potential drug interactions. You should always check for drug interactions before taking another prescription medication, over-the-counter drug, or herbal supplement. Drug interactions can cause unexpected side effects or make your bipolar disorder medication less effective or even dangerous. Mixing certain foods and beverages with your bipolar medication can also cause problems. As well as being a depressant, alcohol can also interfere with how your medication works. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist and read drug labels carefully.

Bipolar Medication alone is not enough

Bipolar medication is most effective when used in combination with other bipolar disorder treatments, including:

Therapy. People who take medication for bipolar disorder tend to recover much faster and control their moods much better if they also get therapy. Therapy gives you the tools to cope with life’s difficulties, monitor your progress, and deal with the problems bipolar disorder is causing in your personal and professional life.

Exercise. Getting regular exercise can reduce bipolar disorder symptoms and help stabilize mood swings. Exercise is also a safe and effective way to release the pent-up energy associated with the manic episodes of bipolar disorder.

Stable sleep schedule. Studies have found that insufficient sleep can precipitate manic episodes in bipolar patients. To keep symptoms and mood episodes to a minimum maintain a stable sleep schedule. It is also important to regulate darkness and light exposure as these throw off sleep-wake cycles and upset the sensitive biological clock in people with bipolar disorder.

Healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids may lessen the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Weight gain is a common side effect of many bipolar medications, so it’s important to adopt healthy eating habits to manage your weight. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs as they can adversely interact with bipolar medications.

Social support network. Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, and having a solid support system in place can make all the difference in your outlook and motivation. Participating in a bipolar disorder support group can give you the opportunity to share your experiences and learn from others. Support from loved ones also makes a huge difference, so reach out to your family and friends. They care about you and want to help.

Feeling Blah…

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Lately I have been feeling blah and not like myself. I realized that I have been in such a funk for so long that I have lost myself. Sometimes in life we get so caught up in other people, other things, work, etc that we forget to take care of ourselves. I forgot how important I was, I forgot how important Amanda is, how she is bad ass, how she is a queen, how she is confident and beautiful. Sometimes when we have a mental illness it causes us to seek satisfaction from other people; it causes us to go so hard for others and forget about ourselves. I can not stress how important self love and care is. My best friend really had to help remind me how important I was because I have been so caught up in others that I have been completely miserable. I really had to take a hard look in the mirror and try and remember when the last time I was really happy was. And the saddest part was that I haven’t been happy in so long that I could not even remember when the time was. That’s not okay and that means something has to change. You can’t be here for others and make others happy if you are not here making yourself happy first. Remember you are the most important person in your own life and nobody comes before you.

Self Love/Self Care Tips:

  1. Start each day by telling yourself something really positive. How well you handled a situation, how lovely you look today. Anything that will make you smile.
  2. Fill your body with food and drink that nourishes it and makes it thrive.
  3. Move that gorgeous body of yours every single day and learn to love the skin you’re in. You can’t hate your way into loving yourself.
  4. Don’t believe everything you think. There is an inner critic inside of us trying to keep us small and safe. The downside is this also stops us from living a full life.
  5. Surround yourself with people who love and encourage you. Let them remind you just how amazing you are.
  6. Stop the comparisons. There is no one on this planet like you, so you cannot fairly compare yourself to someone else. The only person you should compare yourself to is you.
  7. End all toxic relationships. Seriously. Anyone who makes you feel anything less than amazing doesn’t deserve to be a part of your life.
  8. Celebrate your wins no matter how big or small. Pat yourself on the back and be proud of what you have achieved.
  9. Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s incredible the feeling we get when we realize we have achieved something we didn’t know or think we could do before.
  10. Embrace and love the things that make you different. This is what makes you special.
  11. Realize that beauty cannot be defined. It is what you see it as. Don’t let any of those Photoshopped magazines make you feel like your body isn’t perfect. Even those models don’t look like that in real life.
  12. Take time out to calm your mind every day. Breathe in and out, clear your mind of your thoughts and just be.
  13. Follow your passion. You know that thing that gets you so excited but scares you at the same time. The thing you really want to do but have convinced yourself it won’t work. You should go do that!
  14. Be patient but persistent. Self-love is ever evolving. It’s something that needs to be practiced daily but can take a lifetime to master. So be kind and support yourself through the hard times.
  15. Be mindful of what you think, feel and want. Live your life in ways that truly reflect this.
  16. Treat others with love and respect. It makes us feel better about ourselves when we treat others the way we hope to be treated. That doesn’t mean everybody will always repay the favor, but that’s their problem not yours.
  17. Find something to be grateful for every day. It’s inevitable that you are going to have your down days. This is fine and very human of you. It’s especially important on these days to find at least one thing you are grateful for as it helps to shift your mind and energy around what’s going on.
  18. Reach out to family, friends, healers, whomever you need to help you through the tough times. You are not expected to go through them alone.
  19. Learn to say no. Saying no sometimes doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a smart person.
  20. Forgive yourself. You know that thing you did one time (or maybe a few times) that made you feel bad, embarrassed, ashamed? It’s time to let that go. You can’t change the things you have done in the past but you can control your future. Look at it as a learning experience and believe in your ability to change.
  21. Write it down. Head swimming with so many thoughts it’s giving you a headache? Write them all down on a piece of paper, no matter how crazy, mean, sad, or terrifying they are. Keep it in a journal, tear it up, burn it, whatever you need to do to let it go.
  22. Turn off and inwards. Grab a cup of your favorite tea, coffee, wine, whatever your choice of drink, and sit down for a few minutes on your own. No TV or distractions, just you. Think about the wonderful things that are happening in your life right now, what your big dreams are and how you can make them happen.
  23. Give up the need for approval from others. “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” — Dita Von Teese
  24. Be realistic. There is no person on this earth that is happy every single moment of every single day. You know why? Because we are all human. We make mistakes, we feel emotions (good and bad) and this is OK. Allow yourself to be human.
  25. Get creative and express yourself in whatever way you like. Painting, writing, sculpting, building, music, whatever takes your fancy, and make sure you leave your inner critic at the door. There are no right ways to be creative.
  26. Let go of past trauma and wounds. This can be a really tough one and it may be one of those times you need to turn to others for support. The truth is though, when we let go of things that have happened to us it’s almost like a weight is lifted off our shoulders. We don’t have to carry that around with us anymore. We deserve better.
  27. Find your happy place. Where’s the one place you feel totally at ease, calm, happy, positive, high on life? Go to that place when you are going through hard times, or imagine yourself being there. Think about how it feels, what it smells like, what it looks like.
  28. The next time you are feeling happy and on top of the world make a list of your best qualities and accomplishments. It may sound a little corny, but it can be a wonderful reminder when you are having a day that’s less than amazing.
  29. Get in touch with your inner dialogue. If it’s anything less than loving, encouraging and supportive, it’s time to make a change. You deserve to be spoken to in the same way you would speak to your best friend, sister, brother, daughter, or son.
  30. Have fun! Get out there and do the things that light your fire. Enjoy them, enjoy being you and enjoy your incredible life.

Confidence… The Internal Battle

Lately my confidence has been really bad. Mentally I have been struggling and it’s starting to really weigh on me. Over the past couple of years my confidence has dwindled more and more. For some reason I have just found it hard to have that confidence I once had and the love for myself I once had. I have put on some weight, and some other things have changed that are adding to this as well. It makes me question myself and my own self worth… Having a mental illness just adds to the stress of my lowering confidence. It makes me dwell and makes me constantly rethink things. It makes me look at myself harshly and hold myself to almost an unachievable high standard. I have constantly been comparing myself to others and it is honestly making me miserable and unhappy with my life. When I look back my confidence has always been an issue but is been getting worse as time goes on. Some days i wake up and I am ready to take over the world other days I really struggle and can’t even look in the mirror.

Self-confidence can be one of the most important feelings that we pursue in our lives.   We all want to feel confident in ourselves and our identities, but at times it can be hard. We’ve tried the power poses and the tips and tricks around building confidence, and while these confidence tricks might give us a temporary boost in our self esteem, we are often left back at square one, feeling like we haven’t made much progress

So what’s missing here?  Why is it such a struggle to cultivate such a simple feeling? Why is it so hard for us to feel good or happy with and about ourselves?

Often, it’s because the guidance and advice that we receive around building self-confidence attempts to change us from the outside-in.  It tells us how to speak, how to work, and how to act.  We strive for an ideal that is outside of ourselves, and when we inevitably fail to meet this ideal, we find ourselves once again struggling.  The key to building confidence is to build it from the inside-out.  For a moment, forget about who you think you’re supposed to be, how you think you’re supposed to act, dress, or speak.  Instead, turn inwards and connect with your truest authentic self, and build your confidence from the inside out.

10 Powerful Ways to Be More Confident

1. Be Specific – What Are You Not Confident in?

First things first, let’s get specific.

In order to tame the demon, you’ve got to name the demon. Where do you lack confidence? When do you feel self-doubt and your negative emotions creeping in? Where do you feel your skills or abilities are limiting you? Where would you like to have more confidence?

Once you get specific, it won’t feel so overwhelming as you’ll have something tangible to tackle.

Maybe you want the confidence to go out on your own and start a new business? Or maybe you’d like to go back to school to get the degree you’ve always wanted? Perhaps you’d like the confidence to go on an adventure or take a trip you’ve been thinking about for some time

2. Uncover What Gives You Confidence

This is personal, so it will vary from person to person. There’s no one size fits all approach to confidence and what works for one, won’t always work for another.

How can you figure out what gives you confidence? Think about a couple times in your life when you felt most confident.

3. Be True to You

One of the surest ways to lose confidence is try to be someone else. One of the best ways to build your confidence? Be true to yourself.

When you’re trying to be someone you’re not, every part of you resists it. You are not everyone else. You are you. And the more you can understand who you are and what you value the stronger you will be.

When you stray away from who you are, you lose confidence because it’s ‘just not you’.

4. Remember You Are 100% Smart

When one of my daughters was in the 4th grade, her teacher gave an assignment called 100% smart. In this activity, the kids had to make a pie chart and identify what percentage smart they were in each of the following areas; people, self, body, math, word, music, art.

For example, my daughter was 25% body smart, but only 5% art smart. This was such an insightful exercise for her and something I have shared with many clients over the years. She realized that even though she lacked confidence in art, there were so many other areas where she excelled.

This is true for everyone. So, maybe you’re not the best public speaker, but are you a great parent, smart with your money, or creative?

Too many people spend way too much time trying to improve, change, be more of this or less of that. Instead, what if you spent more time acknowledging your talents, skills and successes?

5. Stop Comparing Yourself

Nothing zaps your confidence more than comparing yourself to others. Especially now, with social media and the wonderful opportunity to judge yourself against so many others! Lack of confidence comes from a gap in where you see yourself and where you think you should be.

Imagine you are preparing to give a big presentation or speech. So you do your research, which includes watching some of the best speakers in the world doing their Ted Talks. Of course you are going to feel inferior.

6. Realize You Are Enough

This may sound a little bit corny, but try it. This positive affirmation will resonate at a deep level and have a powerful effect on your subconscious.

I am brave. I am strong. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am confident. I got this.

7. Acquire New Skills

Since confidence is often directly linked to abilities, one of the best ways to build your confidence is to get new skills or experience and step out of your comfort zone.

Growing your skills will in turn grow your confidence. And please, as you work on building your skills and expertise, don’t mistake a lack of perfection for a lack of ability. No one is perfect. But if you’ve got a perfectionist bone in your body (like I do), it can make you think that just because you’re not the best, that you’re not good at all.

Make sure to check yourself – am I really not good at this, or am I not good as I want to be just yet?

8. Change Your State

Changing your physical and mental ‘state’ is one of the quickest ways to access a feeling of confidence. To do this, you need to know what the state of ‘confidence’ looks, feels and sounds like for you.

  • Remember – Think of a specific time, associated with feeling confident. Sink into that feeling deeply and moment by moment relive every detail.
  • Imagine – Imagine how you would feel if you were confident. How would you act? Feel? Be?
  • Modelling – Think about someone you know who exudes confidence. Imagine what that person would do.

9. Find Yourself a Cheerleader

Yes, while I understand confidence is a state from within, you can also boost your confidence by the people you choose to spend your time with.

10. Just Do It

When Nike came up with this slogan in the late 80’s, they knew just how to get the general population off their butts and moving. Turns out, this is a great strategy for being more confident too.

“Before your head hits the pillow tonight, remind yourself of the things you did right. Let o of the things you could have done better. Be patient with yourself and remember that big things are achieved not all at once, but rather one day at a time.”

Source: https://www.lifehack.org/683919/how-to-be-more-confident-the-definitive-step-by-step-guide

It was one of those days… Now what? …

Photo by Jan Kopu0159iva

Today i woke up in the worst mood ever. I did not sleep well and I just knew today was going to be one of those days… ugh… que the inconveniences right? Do you ever just have the worst nights sleep and then you wake up feeling so blah and just not with it?

There really is something to that waking up on the wrong side of the bed stuff; believe me I know and today was one of those days. Everything made me angry today, everyone made me mad; for all intensive purposes I was ready to fight people (not literally lol). I took my medication a little later then usual and it just threw my whole mood off even further. It’s hard when you have a rough day like this to bring it back, it’s hard not to fall further and further down the rabbit hole. But with anything and mental illnesses especially, if you just give in or give up then they get worse. The symptoms get worse, the feelings get worse or more intense, so giving up is the last thing you actually want to do. Giving up is never and has never been option.

No matter how close you get to the edge you can always pull yourself out. I was so angry today, and I had to sit there and ask myself why? what is causing all this anger? what is making me so mad and unhappy today? Did something happen? No… The only thing that had changed was me not sleeping well the night before. Its funny how something like that throws you off. But something small like that is something major for someone with Bipolar disorder or another mental illness and you have to know how to handle it. Self care is huge and there are 10 easy steps to take to help you enhance your mental health on days you are struggling just to simply make it through a half hour of your day.

10 Things to Do to Enhance Your Mental Health on those Tough Days:

  1. Take a walk outside. Make sure to walk slowly and notice all the beautiful and positive things surrounding you
  2. Take 10 slow deep breaths. Remember in through your nose out through your mouth
  3. Jog in place, do some small exercises because movement helps stimulate your brain and your body
  4. Create a daily goal for yourself. What steps do you need to accomplish this goal today?
  5. Identify those negative thoughts and feelings you are having. Once you identify them, replace them with more positive ones
  6. Color or draw
  7. Acknowledge what you are going through. It is okay to be honest about what’s going on just do not give in or let those emotions take complete control of you
  8. Meditate. You would be surprised how helpful just 5 minutes of clearing and refocusing your mind and thoughts can be
  9. Tell yourself you are awesome and you are doing a great job; because honestly you are and its about the small wins
  10. Do one thing that you love each day; no matter how big or small make sure to do one thing that you love daily

Friendly Reminder:

Remember to give yourself permission on tough days to unplug and regroup. You can’t be there for anyone else if you don’t take care of your mental health first. Bad days don’t last forever, they always get better; Remember even after rain and clouds of gray comes sunshine, rainbows and lots of smiles.

Did you do one thing you loved today?

Did you do one thing to show yourself that you love you?

What did you do for yourself today?

High Sex Turmoil… The in’s, the outs, the struggles..

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Have you ever felt like you and your partner are not sexually matched? Like one of you wants it more then the other? Or maybe you guys had sex a lot at first and as the years went on things changed and now you guys barely have sex and barely touch each other now.

I have a really high sex drive and I personally feel like I have never met anyone who sexually matches me or is on the same level sexually as me and that makes it really hard to be sexually satisfied. Having a mental illness magnifies the feelings and magnifies the fact that I have a high sex drive because it makes me become hyper focused on it. I become over sensitive to my needs not being met and it is so hard. I get upset, I over react, I get mad, and I feel neglected. It makes me feel unwanted and constantly like I am unfulfilled. It’s almost like a drug. I feel like I need it all the time and I want it all the time too and it makes life so much harder.

Most people can ignore the fact that they are not having sex like they “need to” or like they “want to.”  But not me; it drives me crazy inside and out. My whole mood changes, i become down and angry and I just can’t control it. I have been working on it in therapy and my therapist, she has been coming up with exercises for me to try. Slow breathing, meditating, refocusing of my energy and my mood, but sometimes it just doesn’t work and I get angry.  I don’t mean too and it’s not life or death but I just don’t know how to handle it and sometimes there are things not even medication can control. My medication does a really great job at controlling my emotions and at controlling my ups and downs with manic episodes but it just doesn’t work when it comes to sex and my emotions.  

Having a high sex drive is also hard on your partner/partners especially if you are not sexually matched with them. Not everyone is the same sexually and sometimes it is just hard to find your equal.  If your partner and/or you are willing to adapt then it makes things easier, but if one or both of you are not then you have to sit and analyze if being together is really worth it and if you will be getting what you need out of the relationship moving forward. People can only take so much, and sometimes two people just don’t go together and that’s okay. You have to decide how important sex is to you and to your relationship. Yes sex is not the end all be all when it comes to relationships, but sometimes it is more important to one person then another.  For one person not having sex or poor sexual experiences may be a deal breaker, for others they can adapt and get used it.

For someone with a mental illness simple things that certain people can adapt to may be magnified and those may be complete deal breakers and that is okay.  You need to do what is best for you in the long wrong. You need to do what will help you mentally put your mind at ease. Sometimes I forget that me having a high sex drive is also hard on the people or person I am with. It could make them feel inadequate or like they are less then because they do not match my sex drive. Mentally this can be draining and exhausting. But if you are willing to work on things with your partner and you feel it is worth it then you do whats right for you and everything will be alright in the end. 

I haven’t yet figured out where having such a high sex drive comes from. Whether it’s a chemical in balance, or I was just born this way. Either way it is something I struggle with constantly on a day to do basis. One day my therapist or psychiatrist might figure it out or there may be a study or research that is done somewhere to figure out why some people have higher sex drives then others. But until then I will just continue to work on me and this day to day with my partner and hope it will all turn out okay. 

September 27, 2020

Written By: Amanda Paige Medina

Feeling of Comparison… destroying you on the inside…

Do you ever wonder if you will ever be happy with yourself?  Do you worry that if you can’t be happy with yourself hat no one else will ever be happy with you? Does it make you paranoid and second guess everything all the time? It’s a constant cycle of insecurity that I go through and I am sure many of you do too.

It’s hard for me to see my significant other speak to others and not feel like something is wrong with me, to not feel like I have an issue or what’s wrong with me that’s causing him to speak with or look at others. A lot of time’s i get so far into my own head that it becomes hard for me to pull myself out from those negative thoughts. A big part of having a mental illness and dealing with it day to day is the overthinking aspect.  You constantly are comparing yourself to others, overthinking, over wondering, over doing, over feeling. You feel things ten times more because there is something in your brain that makes you feel like you have to. 

For me it takes a lot of daily reminders and a lot of self awareness for me to not feel this way; but that doesn’t mean I do not have my moments of insecurity.  It’s like you have this person that you love so much and you don’t want to share them because you want them to love you so much too.  Then when you see them look at someone else, or maybe flirt with someone else it makes you feel like why am I not enough.  It make’s you feel insecure; not in a jealous way but in a why am i not enough way.  It’s not your significant other telling you that you are not enough, it’s whatever is going on in your brain that is telling you to feel a way about this because you are not enough. Those feelings are part of having a mental illness and they feed into other aspects of life that go beyond relationships. It feeds into work, when you compare yourself to others. Maybe one of your coworkers got praise for a project but you didn’t so now you are wondering if your work was good enough. It feeds into friendships, you compare yourself between you and maybe your friends other best friend wondering who is more important to them or who like more.  It could feed into your family life, maybe you have siblings or a lot of cousins and you are constantly wondering who the favorite is and if that’s you.

Comparison is a sickness, it’s a mental illness all on its own.  Everyone wants to be unique and we all are in our own ways, but that doesn’t mean we  don’t compare ourselves to others. As Humans we are constantly wondering what someone else has that we don’t, are they better then me at this? do they have more of this? why are they doing this like that ? what is wrong with me that I didn’t get that? It’s a sickness honestly and the best way to get over it is to just stop. You have to learn to recognize when you are having those negative emotions of comparison because those emotions are toxic.  On some level a small amount of comparison is healthy because it makes us better but the amount of comparison most people go through on a day to day basis is not. I myself suffer from high levels of comparison on a daily basis and it’s hard. It is hard to live that way as stated above. 

Somethings that help me when i find myself slipping into those toxic emotions of comparing myself to others is, I stop and I ask myself what will I get out of comparing myself to this person? Does comparing myself to this person help me or shape me in anyway?  Will I gain anything emotionally, mentally or physically by comparing myself to this person? I take a deep breath and try to understand why I am comparing myself. Am i suddenly feeling insecure about something, is something about what is being said bothering me ? And if so I need to express that so I can stop comparing myself. Is this person better then me? No, so why am I comparing myself. I find being conscious and aware of my negative and toxic comparing myself emotions really helps to bring me back and center me so that the comparison stops. Not  comparing yourself will always be hard but the more aware you are, and the more you work to overcome those feelings the better at not comparing yourself you will become. 

September 25, 2020

Written By: Amanda Paige Medina

The Power of Saying No

Photo by Valeria Ushakova

It took me a long time to realize that part of my identity is saying No. Part of protecting my mental and emotional health is the power to say NO. I used to want to please everyone. It used to make me afraid if I told someone No would they be unhappy with me, would they be mad or get upset with me. I used to hate saying No.

A lot of times people who suffer from mental illnesses struggle to say no, they struggle to find the courage to stand up for themselves and to stand there ground. You already suffer from having a mental illness that is affecting your brain and your thinking but then on top of that the illness tells you if you say no the person will be mad so this causes anxiety. The fear of disappointing others used to cause me such severe anxiety that I would physically curl up and cry. I would have panic attacks because i was just pre-worrying about how the other person would feel or think. Even if it was something I did not want to do or that I could not do, I would always find away because I was so afraid to Say No. I was so afraid to say No I don’t want to do that or No I can’t do that, or No i won’t do that, or No that will hurt me in some way. So I never did and I always just figured it out and figured out a way to go above and beyond for the other people/person, but they never went above and beyond for me so it always hurt me in the long run. 

The most powerful thing I ever realized and that I ever did for myself was learn to say No. No I don’t want to do that, No that’s not for me, No that is going to hurt me, No I do not like that. Once I started to say no, i started to be able to put walls up to protect my mental and emotional health. No became my visible shield. One day after a long period of distress, i sat there and I asked myself, “why am i so unhappy, what is going on that makes me feel this sad and miserable repeatedly?” After much thought and contemplation, the answer always stemmed back to me. I just needed to learn to say no, and mean it. 

I had to learn that if someone did not accept, or like my boundaries I had set for myself, that was not a “me problem,” it was a “them problem.”  Once I realized the walls that I put up were constructed as a force field to protect my own heart and mind, it was easier to recognize that their disapproval was no longer an element of importance.  I had to learn that nobody is going to die from me saying no; they may be mad or upset with me, but I had to teach myself to be okay with the outcome. I had to constantly remind myself that I was doing what was right for me.  In a society where we try so hard to be socially acceptable and people pleasing individuals, I am here to tell you a hard truth that honestly it’s okay to put yourself first.  your mental and emotional health is so precious, and if you do not protect it, it will just cause you so much pain and sorrow.  It took me a really long time to realize that nobody is worth sacrificing those things for, and that people who love you would never put you in a position to sacrifice your own mental and emotional health in the first place. they would never want to be the reason you suffer.  

So to the people in my past who where putting me in those tough situations, I’m happy to say I outgrew them.  I had to acknowledge those individuals did not care about me in the way that I had glorified them in my mind. They were people. Perfectly imperfect people. Instead of becoming resentful over the past and the years of discomfort, I chose to take control of my present, and change my future.  For all these reasons, that’s why I had to learn to say NO. 

Just remember It is okay to say no; there is nothing wrong with that and you owe no explanation to anyone for doing what’s best for you. 

September 22, 2020

Written By: Amanda Paige Medina

Negative people… Misery loves company…

Negative people need drama like they need oxygen. Stay positive, it will take their breath away. 

I absolutely love this quote; I truly believe that misery loves company and being an empath I used to fall into that trap all the time. I used to be the one who always tried to help people and always tried to be that shoulder to cry on, but then i would internalize the other persons feelings and it would put my mood in the toilet. Then even after that some people still would choose to be negative and see the glass half full. You can not fix someone’s negativity. You can not change someone’s mind who just is set on wanting to be negative all the time. And this was something I had to learn. I always wanted to be that savior, that person that made everyone happy and all that did was get me hurt because i was not protecting myself so it was affecting my mental health. You have to always protect your sanity and mental health before you do anything else.

This world today is filled with negativity. Its in the media, its on the radio, its on tv; there is just so much negativity going around that it is hard to protect yourself at times. But you have to find ways. Do not let the negativity and the negative people in the world, make you become a negative person. Do not let all the hate in the world turn your heart cold. Sometimes i just shut the world out, i turn the news off for a couple of days, i turn the radio off and listen to Spotify, I just do things that make me feel positive to not allow the negativity in and that’s what you have to do. The world has turned ugly and I don’t even recognize it anymore and I refuse to give into that, I refuse to become one of these people filled with hatred and negative emotions, one of these people who are just miserable all the time. And nobody should allow others to bring you down to that level. 

Go out on a walk, get a massage, take a bubble bath, meditate, listen to music, dance in the Kitchen, cook a meal, take a nap. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself positive and upbeat during these hard times in the world. And remember misery loves company, so make your own solo path. 

September 20, 2020

Written By: Amanda Paige Medina

Looking Back…

Photo by Alex Azabache

Doing you ever take a second to look back on your life; To look back and see how things used to be? how far you have come? where did you come from? where are you going? what type of person you are becoming? are you moving forward or backwards? 

I was sitting today because i had some down time and I took it as a moment to reflect. To reflect on my life and how far I have come. I think to often we do not give ourselves enough credit. We have this little person in our heads that constantly is telling us to do better, be better, act better; Make more money, lose weight, try harder. I know for me this little person inside my head is just never satisfied. The little person inside my head is always telling me I need to do better and that can be mentally draining at times. It can be emotional, it can be a deterrent to what I am trying to accomplish in life, it can be really hard. So i think it is important and i constantly am reminding myself, that it is okay to cut myself a break from time to time. It is okay to cut myself a little bit of slack. I get so hung up on all the little things, whether big or small, I always want to be perfect, I always want to do everything myself and Take over the world. Which is perfectly fine and I will never stop trying to take over the world, but I think it is okay to trust in others a little bit now too. Cut myself a break from time to time and sit down, slow down, drink some hot chocolate while watching the sunset, read a book, lay down, start to write. Just doing little things that help give myself a break. 

I have to give myself credit because i have come so far. When i look back on the last 5 years of my life, from what i can remember, I really have come a long way. I went from financially struggling, barely making it, barely living paycheck to paycheck, abusive relationship, Mentally unstable, couldn’t make it through my day, behind on bills because i couldn’t pay them all. Basically just really struggling and not making it in life. I was so severely depressed and suicidal i did not even know if i was going to make one day to the next. Now fast forward five years to where I am now. Own my own house, my own car, Amazing job with unlimited growth opportunity, financially stable and not struggling anymore, not living paycheck to paycheck, all my bills are paid and on time, there is food in the fridge, healthy relationship status, mentally feeling good, on medication and bipolar disorder is controlled. Just overall in a much better place, mentally, emotionally and financially. My health is still a work in progress, but because everything else in my life seems to be falling into place that is a problem I can deal with. I am so much happier now then the person I used to be. The person I used to be was just so done with life. She was not happy she actually was miserable. And i forget sometimes to be proud of myself. To be proud of all the hard work I have put in, To be proud of how far I have come, To be proud of all the opportunities I have taken advantage of that have helped shape me into the person I am still becoming and grow. We have to take time to be proud of ourselves. Give ourselves credit where credit is due. And as I sit here and reflect I can’t help but be proud of the woman I have become so far and the woman I still am growing into. Everyday I push a little harder, Everyday I come a little further, And everyday I become A little bit more proud of me. 

I am Open and Ready To attract Abundance into my Life 

I am looking forward to what is coming today 

I set smart goals and I take action

I focus on what Matters

I am a powerful Person

I accomplish what i set out to do 

I am living my Dream

I am living my Full Potential 

I express my Creativity 

September 18, 2020

Written By: Amanda Paige Medina