Spirituality and Self-help

HOW TRAVEL TAUGHT ME TO LOVE MY OWN COMPANY

I sit in a café in Japan, a coffee and pretty pastry in front of me, idly people watching. I sit alone. I’m not waiting for anyone or on my way to an appointment. I don’t have my phone turned on, a laptop with me or a book in front of me. I’m just enjoying my alone time. When I went to Japan in my early twenties, I didn’t speak the language when I first arrived. I stood in a crowd of people, unable to understand more than two words- alone in a sea of voices.  The sound of people talking rose and fell all around me like the sound of instruments or breezes. Without the distraction of understanding the chatter around me, I was alone with my thoughts, even when I was out and around people. To communicate, I used hand gestures and little words. Without conversation to distract you, you retreat ...

A RELAXING REALIZATION

Recently I noticed how quickly I have been falling asleep for the last couple of months and yes, I do not blame you for asking yourself, “How is that a beautiful realization?” I am getting there. Over the years I had unintentionally gotten my body into the habit of sleeping no earlier than 2 a.m. Strange, I know, but I have my reasons which are rather strange too – I was too busy asking myself why I don’t have what others have, why can’t I afford to travel, why don’t I have a clear skin, why am I not getting straight A’s at school, am I too skinny, have people noticed…the insecure questions were endless. Basically, I used to spend most of my nights beating myself up for not being perfect and not having what other people had. However, there are quite a number of things I did not...

AS WOMEN, HOW DO WE HEAL?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about healing. How do we heal ourselves, as women, from the societal pressure that’s been put on us since we were old enough to read? As women, the odds are automatically stacked against us. We have to work twice as hard for the same reward. For women of color, it’s more like four times as hard. We have to deal with having periods once a month. We have to manage households and finances and families. We have to conform to what society wants us to be as far as the perfect wives, partners, mothers, etc. From a young age, women are told to alter themselves emotionally and physically to fit a mold. We are told to wax our facial hair, but not so much that your eyebrows become single lines on your forehead. We are told to wear makeup to cover our ...

COMPARTMENTALIZATION: THE MYTH

How many times have you found yourself in the midst of struggling with a personal issue but had to force yourself to shut down those thoughts and feelings to take a test or give a presentation? Or went to a dinner with friends or family and failed to spend quality time with them because you were stressed about a conversation you just had with your boss at work? Every day, our schedules tend to conflict with our own inner monologues and subconscious agendas. This conundrum has resulted in the falsely desirable concept of compartmentalization. To compartmentalize is defined as, “to separate into isolated compartments or categories.” It’s what society, and more importantly we, tell ourselves we should be able to do with our lives. Keep personal and work life separate, make sure your hea...

ADVICE FROM THE SECRET PSYCHIATRIST: BIPOLAR

Dear The Secret Psychiatrist, are these feelings of me feeling like I have supernatural powers and feeling really energetic normal?    Advice Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that affects your mood. You can have periods in your life where you have changes in your mood, but then feel well in between. Bipolar can affect your relationships, as well as impact your day to day life. Facts Bipolar disorder affects about 1 in 100 people. Your mood changes can last for a few weeks or months. Causes This is not exactly known. However, research has suggested that an increase in your chance of getting bipolar is down to a combination of physical and social life stresses, genetic links, childhood trauma and environmental factors. Signs The signs range from different individuals dependi...

HOW MY LIFE HAS CHANGED SINCE “EXPOSING” MY MENTAL ILLNESS

I no longer have the right to feel anonymous. I made that choice for myself. When I walk into a room, there is always a possibility that someone in that room knows more about me than I could ever be comfortable with. I made that choice for myself. I log into social media, bracing myself for the backlash. Not everyone agrees with what I do and somewhere along the way, as humans, we lost the teaching of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I find myself in conversation with a friend or family member, praying that we can have a conversation that doesn’t circle back to my illness. It defines me now because I let it. Just like I can’t flip a switch to turn my illness off, I also can’t flip one to un-expose my life. I no longer have the right to feel anonymous. I ...

PSYCHOLOGIST, PSYCHIATRIST, LSW, WHICH ONE?

Mental Health is becoming less taboo which is a wonderful thing. Many times in conversation a friend will bring up the need or want to talk to someone. There are so many options. Do you go to a licensed social worker? Do you see a psychologist? Do you see a psychiatrist? What are the differences? How do I know what I need? Is it possible to have remote counseling because I have a busy schedule? I am going to attempt to answer some of those questions in this post. The main difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that a psychiatrist has gone to medical school. They can prescribe medication and help with medication management. Psychologists focus on different types of psychotherapy and typically treat patients with coping skills and behavioral intervention. The most frequent t...

YOUR WORST FEARS HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED

It happened again, I realize as I scan the room and take in the aftermath of my latest binge. Numerous bags, wrappers, cans of diet soda, remnants of microwave low-carb meals, what I can assume was once a bowl of popcorn based on the grease and salt dusting the bowl, combined with marks from my fingers swiping against the plastic, in an attempt to devour every last morsel. During these moments I found myself reflecting on a seemingly bleak future, wondering into the vastness if I would ever feel hope, attempting to imagine a reality in which I could make eye contact with myself in the mirror instead of the flitting glances I allowed myself at the time. That reality seemed to fall from my imagination as quickly as the box of Oreos to my left had been devoured. This feeling of loneliness and...

LET’S TALK ABOUT SUICIDE

When Kate Spade took her own life, my Twitter feed was on fire with opinions. There was sympathy…but there was also judgment. People were shocked, wondering aloud how she could be so selfish, leave her family behind, and on and on. I bet that Kate Spade thought she was doing her family a favor. She wouldn’t be a burden to them anymore. Not even a week later, Anthony Bourdain took his own life. I wonder if he was thinking the same. I have personal experience with depression and suicide. I have attempted it; the first time at age 14, but I have a better support system now and feel stable. When I was in the black hole of depression, I felt that I would be doing everyone a favor if I didn’t exist. They wouldn’t have to deal with my moods, feed me anymore, listen to my problems. I wouldn’t have...

HOW TAROT CARDS CHANGED MY LIFE

I was 14 years old when I purchased my first ever pack, Astrotarot by Russell Grant. Since then, a pack of cards has never been far from my side. My initial use of tarot cards was, of course, consumed wholly with what they could tell me about my love life. When my Wiccan dad and stepmum would read for me, all I was waiting for was the card that told me that true love was coming. Alright, forget true love, really I just wanted a nice boyfriend, a bit of a snog. Like many teenagers before me, the world revolved around me and my desires, and so for some time, that is how I used the cards; as prophesier of how likely or not I was to get hooked up. For years and years, those cards were barren on the boyfriend front. It was frustrating. But it reflected truth. Compared to many of my school frien...

HEAD, HEART, SOUL

I can hear it. The crying, the sadness, the despair and hurt. She has been here a long time, but finally I found her. I see her in the distance. “Hello. Found you J” GO AWAY! She’s scared now. She did not think I would look here. “I can’t do that.” Yes you can, just walk away damnit! Just go! Please! Leave me alone! “You can’t stay here. Let’s go.” NO! I’m staying damnit! This is all I know now, all I’m meant to have. She wipes away her tears with the back of her sleeve. I could go, I know I can. But if I leave she’ll never come back. It has to be now. I’ve left her for far too long; I was too scared to come and find her. She fled fast when it happened. One minute she was beside us and the next—gone, vanished into thin air. Talking down to her like this will not get us anywhere. I sit besi...

MY DECISION TO SEEK COUNSELING

It had been months and I was still waking up with my hands clenched in the morning. I was an expert at blocking out stress. As much as my mind denied the outside pressures, my body still pushed through to show me. At the deepest hours of the night when my subconscious could roam free it chose to leave me clues for the morning. A clenched jaw, clenched fits, a charlie horse in my leg or a restless nights sleep. Anxiety has a funny way of coming and deciding to never leave. Like a needy relative it shows up on your doorstep with a suitcase and no money – promising only a few days on the couch, but days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months. And my anxiety was here. All of it. Both feet planted in the dirt looking me square in the eyes and demanding to be heard. I couldn’t ig...

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