Mental Health Monday – Keeping a Journal

Standard

Living with mental illness or mental health issues or as I like to refer to it, recovery lends itself to keeping a journal. You don’t need to be a “real” writer to keep a journal. My kids all keep notebooks of some kind, and I’ve kept travel journals for trips and retreat/spiritual journals. I’m about to embark on my second Lent journal.
There are also so many options out there for any style of journal-keeping, whether longhand, calendar diary, record-keeping, bullet points, or sketching. Or you can dabble in all kinds, both to keep it fresh but also to experiment and see which type suits you better. I do several types all in the same physical book.

Pinterest is a great place to find and explore the varieties of journal styles that are out there as well as discovering journaling prompts to help you along. We can all use a little push now and then.

You can buy premade journals for specific areas or fancy blank journals or create your own with a small three-ring binder. These can be found online at Staples, Target and online as well as local boutique shops.

The possibilities are nearly endless.

Types of Journals

BulletBujo (this is a brand and a style), Dear Diary, Travel, Sketchbook, Prayer, Memoir, I even have a writer’s planner journal

Evernote is a good way to keep a journal digitally.

Things to Record:

Continue reading

Travel Thursday – Anxiety

Standard

​As much as I love the idea of traveling, and the actual visiting places, the anxiety associated with the anticipation of planning is one of the most debilitating and horrible things to deal with. It’s something that needs to get done, or the trip itself is a no-go, but starting the planning…

And it isn’t even the actual planning. I love the listmaking, and the reading the tour books, researching what i want to do when I get there. It’s the starting. The monumental decision of putting the money into non-refundable tickets. Hitting that send or buy or submit button takes three times as long as filling out the information on the forms.

In the case of our Ireland trip this summer, it isn’t just buying plane tickets; it’s renting a car. There’s the anxiety of finalizing the search with a credit card number, but there is also the shortness of breath and shaking hands just thinking about driving in the UK again.

After eight years back, I thought I was ready. The memory a cry in the distance, but the closer it gets to reserving a car and planning a route from the airport to the cousins and the cities, and the ferry to Wales, my stomach jumps up into my throat and I feel a choking sensation. I can’t imagine what it will be like to get on the plane with this feeling gnawing at me.

It’s almost unbearable, and there is no earthly reason to feel this way at this moment, weeks in advance of actually having to do it.

My kids are coming, so compiled in all of that stress is the stress of pretending that there is nothing to be anxious about to soothe their own normal, rational fears, so I must hide my own, some irrational fears, but fears all the same.

I feel quite sick writing about it right now.

I vividly remember the white knuckles, the terror of every intersection, every roundabout, reminding myself to breathe, the post-it note on the dashboard telling me to turn into the left lane, always the left lane, thanking G-d at every church passed, the slight sound of scraping as I inched too close to the town wall.

It’s all coming back to me.

Not the feelings a few years later that maybe I could do it again; I got through it once, and it wasn’t that bad, but the anxious screaming IT WAS THAT BAD, PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME!!!

But as with all things, it will be okay.

Between that time and now, I have received many tools to get me through this one little hitch that seems so overwhelming, but I can get through it; I know it.

One of those is a diagnosis and treatment for the elevated anxiety that falls into the not quite normal range of emotion and brain chemistry as well as the same for depression, not entirely unrelated, but the destination will assist in alleviating any extra. I have a therapy session planned for a week prior as well as reconciliation with my priest. Not for anything specific, but you know…anxiety and such.

Another thing was something I heard at one of my first masses, actually it was at my first healing mass, the anointing of the sick. My entire life, no matter how severe, no  matter how stressful, no matter how bad, I would tell myself that it would be okay. I didn’t necessarily believe it, but just saying it to myself did have a calming affect.

At that first anointing, my priest quoted St. Julian of Norwich, subseequently a new found favorite of mine.

All will be well.

All will be well.

In all manner of things,

all will be well.

How perfect, and how needed, then and now.

Yes, I’m still anxious, and som of it will be debilitating, but all will be well.

Fall Television, Mondays, and October

Standard

I mentioned last week that I was out of town, and so I missed a few days here. My plan for the fall is to have new posts Monday through Friday, and see how that schedule goes for me, as, a writer and you, the reader. I’ll be putting up a poll later to see which of those daily features you’d like me to continue this season.

Each week, I have tried to choose a theme and keep it in mind to focus on. October is one of those extremely busy months in actual activities in my life, and monthly awareness in the world. World Mental Health Day was just a few days ago. October recognizes awareness and celebrations of:

Breast Cancer
Domestic Violence
Fire Prevention and Safety
LGBT History
Black History in the UK
Literacy
Pregnancy and Infant Loss
The Holy Rosary

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day and today is Columbus Day in the US, Thanksgiving in Canada, and Day of the Race in Mexico.

October is also ridiculously busy for me with family fun and stuff going on at the schools with fall festivals, back to school nights, recreation nights, eight week writing workshop, applepicking, my son’s birthday, Halloween, and this year, our school district celebrated its Centennial.

Busy.

Continue reading

Mental Health Monday – MY Coping Tools

Standard

For this penultimate Mental Health Monday for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I thought I would offer a few of my personal coping mechanisms and tools. I usually go through my things that work until they don’t and then go for the less good ones. You never know which combination of tools and mood will break out of those bad days.

As much as I love fall, October in particular, I find it a bit more stressful than the rest of the year (until late spring). It’s hectic. The school’s want so much, the weather changes throughout the day from summer to later fall, and then back again. We’re close enough to Christmas that we’re worrying how we’re going to pay for it all. The church is beginning its new year at the end of November, and this year I have a few new responsibilities on that front. My son’s birthday is in October, and from then until the anniversary of my mother’s death the first week in December, it’s like a ticking bomb, counting down to her death, like it did in retrospect eleven years ago.

I try to get myself set up with a retreat; not always feasible especially monetarily. I also have my writing group that meets for eight weeks in the fall. Except that it was cancelled last week for this season. *headdesk*

I guess in addition to giving you some helpful hints and resources, I’ll probably be using many of them myself.

First is my writing workshop. I need it. Desperately. My plan? Go to the library anyway at the time the workshop would have taken place, and work on my two books. They’ve been waiting in the wings for too long. One is a travel, essay, spiritual journey to and about Wales, and the second is the horror of buying my house. The first one is too much emotion, and the second one is too much anger, so I can’t handle them for very long. Now, I have a dedicated eight weeks to put a dent in their outlines and direction.

Second is it’s list season. I’ve told my family already: If it isn’t on my list, it doesn’t exist. I knew they knew I was serious when they didn’t comment on my little rhyme. My advice is to put absolutely everything on the list, including reminders to eat and go the bathroom. You’d be surprised how often you’ll forget without that check up on yourself.

My list for tomorrow looks something like this:

Kids to school
Get dressed
Mass
Target – toilet paper and Dawn
Groceries – cheddar cheese, rice, and Yartzeit candles (for Yom Kippur)
Breakfast
Continue cleaning my work space while Supernatural plays in the background
Write Friday’s fandom post about Gishwhes
Check Gishwhes site for updates

Seriously, no item is too small or too big. Too big use several steps, so break them down and pat yourself on the back when you complete something.

Third, I mentioned Supernatural as background noise. This is my comfort sound, especially the earlier seasons. Find what you like but don’t need to pay 100% attention to. It could be music. Talk radio. Nature sounds. We all have that one thing. Find yours.

Fourth, comfort food. Macaroni and cheese is an old standby (Kraft in the blue box), but last week I had the most intense craving…..and then I had the most amazing peanut butter and banana sandwich on toasted wheat bread that I have had in a long time. It was……fantastic.

Fifth, it’s okay to just sit and do nothing. Watch TV. Listen to music. Read a book or better yet, a magazine, so you don’t need to give it the same attention as a book. Take a nap if it will help.

Sixth, catch up on Netflix. I can heartily recommend Sense8 (warning for language, sex, adult situations, and violence) and Parks and Recreation (warning for sexual talk and adult situations).

Seventh, take care of yourself. Say no to people if you don’t have the spoons. It’s okay, and don’t apologize for taking care of yourself.