Tag: emotional health

A Powerful Story of Anxiety and Overcoming Obstacles

I’m incredibly honored to have my friend, Cat from Frugal Living and Crafting, share her story of dealing with anxiety as my monthly Inspire the Best You feature! Her story of dealing with anxiety and still doing her best to live life the way she chooses is so inspiring to me. I hope you find something in her story that resonates with you as well!

My name is Cat.  I’m 36 years old, and happily married to my husband, Jeff.  We’re the proud parents of a cat and dog, but none of the two legged sorts of kids.  I’m a free-lance writer, and  I also blog at Frugal Living and Crafting.  

I was originally diagnosed with anxiety when I was 5 years old.  I had almost constant nausea, and often had a very difficult time keeping food down.  Trips to multiple doctors gave no answers to why I was so sick, and being afraid of doctors, it only made the situation worse.  It took an ordinary family doctor to figure out that my “illness” was the physical manifestation of anxiety.  I was hospitalized, and given ways to deal with my anxiety when it struck.

Nighttime was one of the most common times for my anxiety to flare up.  Often, when I tried to stay the night with friends, I would end up calling my dad at midnight to come pick me up.  I felt less anxious when I was at home with my normal routine, and knowing my dad was usually awake most of the night.  Many times, I was so thankful to come home that my anxiety abated almost entirely, but equally as many times I would spend the rest of the night ill from it.

I went on to be an anxious teenager, still having most of my trouble at night.  My parents were very strict about my grades in school, and when I knew I had not done well on something, I would often literally worry myself sick about it.  Sometimes I ended up tearfully confessing that I had gotten a bad grade, long before report cards came out, just to get it off my chest.  I typically got grounded anyway, but they were usually less angry if I had warned them first.

Two major events in my life occurred when I was 16.  I started dating the man I would marry in 4 years, and spend the rest of life with.  And my father left my mother and me and moved across the country.  My anxiety was sometimes off the charts because I was so used to having my dad around, especially at night.  But Jeff was my rock, and we often chatted to the wee hours of the night to help me get through them the night.

I muddled through life with my anxiety always in tow.  It was the reason I dropped out of college.  After leaving school, I got a job and still, I muddled through.  About 10 years ago, my anxiety took a turn for the worse and I was having a tough time doing anything.  I was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the same time, and suffering with the symptoms of that as well.  I spent a week in a mental hospital while doctors tried to find medications that would work for me.  In the end, I couldn’t control the anxiety enough to function and I became disabled and had to leave my job.

Living by the rules of my anxiety has been my life since then.  Often, I’m too anxious to leave home, or too anxious to leave home alone.  I worry about everything.  The nights, however, are still the worst by far.  Some nights my anxiety affects me so badly that I feel like I can’t breathe, and end up shaking and sobbing in my bed.  Sometimes getting up and reading helps, other times I can’t focus on the words.  The biggest balm for my soul is having Jeff at home, but he works nights so I am often left to fight my demons alone.

By now I’ve learned a few tricks to head off a panic attack.  Focusing on a deep breath, letting my belly expand as I breathe in, helps.  Simply getting out of my own head and doing some writing or reading a book can also be helpful.  These things are only helpful if I catch it before it reaches the state of a full blown panic attack.  Once that has happened, there’s nothing to do but wait it out and try to recover as best I can afterward.

These days I just take things one day at a time.  If anyone reading this suffers from anxiety, know you are not alone.  It’s a difficult road to travel, but sometimes reaching out to someone, just to talk, can help ease your misery.  If you don’t know who to talk to, feel free to reach out to me at frugallivingandcrafting@gmail.com .  I’m a pretty great listener.

My thanks to Bonnie for allowing me to share my story, and I hope perhaps it helps people understand what it’s like to deal with anxiety, and perhaps abate the loneliness for someone who also fights the battle.  

Dealing with Depression and Anxiety at the Same Time

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

For those of us who deal with both depression and anxiety on a daily basis, it can be hard for us but even harder to describe it to other people. These two things often feed off of each other, or one contributes to the other, but they are also total opposites. I know that I personally feel conflicted, or even frozen with overwhelm on an almost daily basis. It is hard to take action or make decisions when your mind is at war with itself. On the one hand, depression makes me feel sad, unmotivated, uninspired, and hopeless. On the other, anxiety makes me feel scared, overwhelmed, stressed, and frantic or panicky. Both depression and anxiety are things that I have dealt with most of my life, at least since I was a teenager when I first noticed them. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what they meant. To learn more about my story of learning what depression and anxiety mean to me, you can read my previous post on the subject: What Depression and Anxiety Mean to Me.

If you deal with either, or both, please check out Depression Proof, a course full of information and steps that you can take to minimize or overcome your depression. Ironically, even though they can be complete opposites, some of the things we do to treat our depression can work for our anxiety as well. Part of that is because they feed off of each other, like I mentioned above, but it’s also because both are mental issues that we deal with.

We worry about not living up to our own dreams.

Oftentimes, we are so overwhelmed and stressed out that we worry if we’ll ever be able to go after our own dreams and achieve a life we have so desperately wanted for as long as we can remember. We are so frozen in place, working to feel some kind of hope, motivation, and calmness that will allow us to do something productive with our lives. I spent many years in this endless cycle, just keeping to myself and not trying, because everything else was just too hard.

We worry about looking lazy to other people, while a battle rages on in our minds.

We see it, that others think we are lazy, unmotivated, and choosing to live like we do. However, they can’t possibly see the battle that is raging in our minds. Our depression and anxiety is silent, invisible from the outside. No one can understand what we go through in our own minds. Even those of us who are inflicted with both depression and anxiety don’t fully understand what one another go through. I know that I personally feel so stressed sometimes that I’m frozen in place by my own feelings of overwhelm, unable to break through that barrier and actually do what I need to do.

We worry about not being able to control our own actions.

Sometimes we can’t control our own actions. You might be wondering how that is even possible because if anyone has control over our own actions, it’s us. Right? Well, when we deal with depression and anxiety, we don’t have full control over our own actions. An anxiety attack can happen at any moment, and no matter how small that attack is, we might flail around or look like a deer caught in the headlights because we simply can’t function. Bigger anxiety attacks reduce our control even more. Fortunately, I’ve only dealt with anxiety attacks a few times. However, sometimes even when I am just feeling super anxious, I do not feel as if I have full control over my actions. I may make involuntary movements or say things I wouldn’t have otherwise, or I may yell when I normally don’t like to yell.

We feel too much, yet nothing at all, at the same time.

With anxiety, we feel way too much at once. We get overwhelmed and overstimulated. On the flip side, with depression, we don’t feel enough or anything at all. We are sunk into a pit of despair and hopelessness that we don’t know how to get out of. I have tactics that help me get out of my depression, but if I don’t notice how fast I’m slipping or how far I’ve slipped into depression, it is that much harder to work my way out of it. I liken the experience to digging myself out of quicksand. Each step in the right direction could be taken away by one misstep, and send me deeper into the pit, causing me to start all over again. Same with anxiety, I have ways to deal with it, to help me feel less anxious in some situations. However, both depression and anxiety can appear out of nowhere or become a problem without me realizing that they have appeared until it’s too late.

We may view sleeping as the only escape we have, if we can even sleep.

Sleep is the greatest escape we have, but sometimes we suffer from insomnia when we are dealing with depression or anxiety, or both. Then even if we do fall asleep, we may suffer from bad dreams or nightmares. When I’m feeling anxious, I deal most with having trouble falling asleep, having bad dreams, and just simply being very restless. Sleep should be restful and invigorating, but instead it can be a means of escape or a torturous experience, depending on the person and their experiences.

This is only a glimpse into what it is like to deal with both depression and anxiety. The point is these issues hit us all differently. Those who don’t battle with both depression and anxiety may never understand what we go through. That’s okay, but we can spread awareness and hope that more people begin to understand what these issues do to us and screw with our life.

If someone you know suffers from depression and anxiety, please let them know that they are not alone and that there is always help and hope for them! If you are the one who suffers from depression and anxiety, I want you to know this too. There are so many of us that deal with one or the other, or both. Please remember that you are not alone and there are always options to find help and improve.

Depression Proof is one of the best resources that you can have to help you with your depression, and maybe even your anxiety, because it will walk you through what you need to know and do to help yourself. You will learn more about what depression is, in general as well as what it means for you. You will learn ways to deal with your depression and how to put them into practice. It is important to take a peek at the course because you don’t have to suffer in silence!

 

 

 

 

~Bonnie~

 

5 Things That Dogs Can Teach You About Emotions

I am very honored to have Luna Lupus from www.luna-lupus.com here to share her excellent expertise on what dogs can teach us about emotions! Since taking in my new puppy a month ago, I’ve become a lot more passionate about how much our dogs (and other furbabies) can give us in return for the care and love we give them. They offer us so much and they really can teach us a lot. I know my puppy has taught me a bit more about perspective as he constantly reminds me of what is most important! I hope you enjoy Luna’s post, it is very enlightening!

Dog owners like say that dogs are our biggest teachers. They teach us things about dog training, patience, communication and the power of unconditional love. But often times, if we only give them a chance, they can teach us more than that; they can teach us so much about ourselves. Dogs, like humans, are sentient beings with a wide spectrum of emotions. Just like us, they can be happy, angry, afraid and even depressed. Their emotions are not to be underestimated. As somebody who has been surrounded by dogs all my life and have done a fair share of work on my mental health, I started to notice the parallels between the way dogs and humans process trauma and emotions. Truth be told, we are not that different. However, our furry best friends can teach us some very important things.

 

Here are 5 things that your dog can teach you about emotions!

1. Feel your emotions

As humans, we like to repress certain emotions that make us (or those around us) feel uncomfortable; most common ones tend to be anger, sadness and fear. It’s a coping mechanism that we pick up at the earliest stages of our life. Dogs, however, are different. They feel the emotions in all of their entirety, they don’t worry whether or not they should be afraid or angry, they simply let their emotions be. I have been surrounded by rescue dogs for the last couple of years non-stop and even though they have been through some really rough things, they never cease to impress me with their ability to let emotions run through them freely.

2. Express your emotions

Closely correlating to the first point, expressing your emotions is the next step from feeling them. With dogs, this is usually the same thing – as they feel it, they express it. People, on the other hand, like to overthink things. When we feel angry with someone we love, we wonder if we should tell them or just keep quiet. When we feel sad, we wonder if we can show it on the outside or rather pretend to be happy. Allow dogs to teach you that expressing your emotions is liberating. Think of your dog when you come home from work. What does he do? Chances are, he goes nuts for you! Jumps up and down, runs around the house, barks in excitement because you just came home and that makes him the happiest. Dogs are not afraid of being too much. Every time you question whether expressing your emotions will make you seem “too needy” or “too sensitive” or “too out there” … think about your dog when he is angry, scared or happy. He is liberated and emotional at the same time. He is liberated because he is emotional! Expressing your emotions is not only healthy, it is also a freeing experience. Give it a chance.

3. There’s no such thing as bad emotions

Before you ask “But what if I want to express a negative emotion?” let’s tackle it straight away! Dogs understand that there are no bad emotions – humans don’t. Every single emotion has its purpose. When you encounter abused dogs you really start to understand that. Let’s take an example of a dog who is afraid of other dogs. When he is faced with another dog he will clearly express his emotions of fear; his tail will go between his legs, he will lower his head and turn it to the side, he might even begin licking his lips. He is visibly afraid. This is good. Why? Because he is clearly communicating with the other dog, saying “I am not a threat to you.” Every dog owner who is familiar with basic canine body language can tell the signs that I have just described (lowered tail, lip licking, head lowered and turned to the side) are calming signals. He is trying to get the other dog to back off. Can you trace this back to your own life?

When you are afraid, it’s your body’s way of trying to protect you. When you are angry, it’s your body’s way of giving you power to set boundaries. When you are sad, it’s your body’s way of demanding rest and emotional introspection. All of these emotions are positive and important. Just like a dog communicating with another dog, your emotions can help you recognize your needs and help you communicate them to other people.

4. Your emotions can be misplaced and that’s okay

Can emotions be misplaced? Of course they can. Both humans and dogs can find ourselves facing strong emotions in situations where they don’t necessarily serve us. To continue with the example I have described above, if the dog is suddenly acting fearful around every single dog he encounters, even when he is in no danger whatsoever, that fear would be misplaced and a result of a trigger. This is a very common symptom of anxiety and PTSD. It’s about experiencing great fear in completely neutral situations. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon everything we’ve discussed so far! You should absolutely:

  • recognize your fear (or other emotion)
  • express it
  • see how it can serve you

Let me give another example, a human one this time. If you keep getting angry at your partner and you can’t understand why, instead of beating yourself up about it, take a close look at that anger. In which situations does it occur? How long does it last? What does it remind you of? Every time I open the doors of my home to another rescue dog I pay close attention to their emotional responses and try to see if there are any underlying patterns that need to be resolved. Once I recognize their misplaced emotions, we can start working together towards a better mindset. Emotions are like a compass; they show you where you need to look, what you need to pay attention to and give you a great opportunity for personal growth.

5. Don’t allow your emotions to hold you hostage

At the end of the day, you are more than your emotions. When dogs are faced with a situation where they are angry or sad, they don’t contemplate it for the rest of the day. They are present in the moment and they let it go once it passes. They don’t dwell on their emotional responses. I know that accepting your emotions won’t happen overnight, but if you do nothing else today, at least give yourself a promise that you won’t allow your emotions to hold you hostage anymore. Don’t feel guilty for feeling a certain way, don’t worry about it all day long; look to your dog if you need to be inspired by somebody who is a master at living in the moment, no matter which emotion was running through him five minutes ago. From angrily barking at a squirrel to show her who’s boss, to lying on your couch in a relaxed manner, all within minutes. Dogs just get it: life is too short to live in the past.

I hope the next time you look at your dog, you don’t just see your fur baby and fellow adventurer; I hope you see a teacher, a guru. I hope you give him a chance to teach you even more about yourself. And above all, I hope you accept yourself with all of your emotions – just like your dog does, every single day.

 

Luna C. Lupus is a freelance blogger and a mom to her rescue dogs. She specializes in positive pet training, responsible dog ownership and helping people with challenging dogs. You can find out more about her work at www.luna-lupus.com