Mental Wellness: Real Life vs. Virtual Life

Last May I was sitting in the waiting room of my mechanic’s shop waiting for my car to finish with an oil change and I saw this story. I clicked on the link and read through it and fought back tears in the waiting room. I got my car back and got back into the office and read the story again. And read it again. And about a dozen more times. I sent it to my boyfriend. A month later I went to the doctor to get blood work done as I was experiencing extreme fatigue. For the 2nd time in 6 months, I was so completely fatigued that I couldn’t stay awake past 7pm and everything exhausted my body and my mind. My blood work all came back normal and my doctor suggested that I go on anti-depressants because she believed that my fatigue was due to me being stressed out and depressed. I didn’t do it – I’ve always been against medication. I hate taking drugs. Not the point of the story. But the point of this personal story is that what is discussed in that article I linked is so extremely true. We look for so much validation in our life and social media makes it instant. It’s instant feedback and instant validation. For the person posting something. But for others, it’s just a scrolling highlight reel of everyone that you are friends with or follow.

This quote from the article has always resonated with me.

Yes, people filter their photos to make them prettier. People are also often encouraged to put filters on their sadness, to brighten their reality so as not to “drag down” those around them. The myth still exists that happiness is a choice, which perpetuates the notion of depression as weakness.

The myth still exists that happiness is a choice, which perpetuates the notion of depression as weakness. That quote forever rolls around in my head. Sometimes getting knocked back to just a memory and other times feeling fresh and right before my eyes. I have sat down in conversations where individuals talk about depression and that “it’s just so sad that people choose that life.” No one chooses to be depressed. No one wants to have those suffocating feelings of worthlessness. No one desires to live that kind of life. But yet, we hear stories like Madison’s and think, “why didn’t she just talk to someone? Why didn’t she just cheer up? How could anyone like that ever be depressed?”

There is no mold to fit for depression. And it’s not just something that you can just “snap out of”.

Many times I get irritated with people (to be fair I get irritated with people on many things) who believe that wellness is just eating healthy and working out. Yes, those are important parts to it. But your mental health…your mental health is so important. And there is never anything wrong with seeking help.

Although to be transparent, here I am a 28 year old educated individual (educated in psychology of all things) embarrassed and frustrated with the fact that a year ago a doctor told me that she thought I was depressed. And I decided to just run out my frustrations because seeking help was too expensive for my health care plan.

I’m not really sure why I’m publishing this – it’s not well written, it’s not anything ground breaking or new…but it’s raw and it’s me and it’s my feelings. The linked article is about Madison Holleran the U or Penn runner who committed suicide. It’s sad, it’s raw, it’s true, and it’s powerful. And if you have to read only one article, read that. Share it. Pass it on.

Mental Wellness: The Should and the Push

I recently stumbled on a blog from a guy who runs in the fast group at run club. I never talk to him and rarely talk to anyone in the fast group (or any group outside of my friend and I) mainly because I don’t feel “good” enough to converse with people in the fast group. These guys are like royalty to me. They run high mileage, big races, fast times…and I just sort of…well run, occasionally. Times that I put up aren’t impressive, just a bit above average and it’s to be expected. I don’t put a lot of work or effort into my fitness. Yet I expect to excel at races.

I keep finishing races feeling like I should feel happy and accomplished but I actually feel disappointed. I’m disappointed with my marathon. I should have trained harder, I should have ran faster, and I should have finished within my time frame. I had it in me. I’m disappointed with my half marathon. I should have ran faster out of the gates, I should have put some extra training miles in last week, and I should have been able to break 1:50 which would have allowed me to place.

And I should remember all of this every single day when I’m being lazy reading blogs and watching tv instead of running and cross training. If I want to be even considered a smidge of a runner, I should be busting my ass and run as often as possible.

Getting to see a glimpse into someone’s mind who is a far superior athlete than you is fascinating. Slightly motivating. Definitely overwhelming.

I should stop reading his blog and wash my dishes and prep for tomorrow which should include laying clothes out to get an early morning run in.

Mental Wellness: Growing Up

I have these random “aha” moments in my life when I realize, yup, I’m an adult. Today’s came when I went to the dentist to get my very first cavity filled. I hadn’t been to the dentist since I got my braces off at 18 (I’m 26 now) and so I was terrified of going. I saw Scrinina (blog, twitter and instagram – if you don’t know her, you will. She’s amazing! I adore her!) went to the dentist back in May for the first time in almost a decade and that coupled with Eric saying “you will never go” (I love nothing more than proving people wrong and he knows it) made me muster up the courage to make a dentist appointment. My first in 8 years and my first since picking up bulimic tendencies for a couple of years.

I was terrified. Just terrified. I thought for sure my teeth were all cavities and that the dentist was going to be utterly disgusted by my teeth but I emerged from the chair with stern warnings about flossing and using a soft toothbrush but overall praise on my teeth. I had one tiny cavity that was fixed today (I was in and out of the dentist in less than 30 minutes) and I was on my way. As I was walking out after paying my co-pay (nothing makes you feel like more of an adult than paying your co-pay amirite?), I realized that I’m an adult now. As I was getting ready for bed and remembering that I am due to change my contacts tomorrow and realized that I have only slept in my contacts once since going to the eye doctor at the beginning of May, that I have flossed every day since going to the dentist…that I am working on taking care of myself. First in small ways because as anyone who has ever done consulting with me knows, I love small wins. Ah, now we get to the point of this blog (about time Newton!). Small wins. When you graduate from wherever that lands you in the real world with adult responsibilities, one thing that helps me keep on track are small wins. Small wins with my health, small wins with my fitness, small wins with life. They give you that sense of accomplishment.

So what small wins will you accomplish this week?

Mental Wellness: But First, Lemme Take a Selfie

How many of you have posted a selfie? Raise those arms up nice and high…keep em up…ok so the majority of us have. Having a fab body image day? Take a selfie! Love your outfit/hair/makeup/etc? Take a selfie! Right?

Well, maybe not…a recent study linked selfies to narcissism, addiction, and mental illness. So does it really pay off to take a selfie? The obsession these days of getting the perfect picture and picking apart one’s appearance when selecting the perfect picture is getting out of control. This article introduces a young guy who took selfies to the extreme and would spend hours upon hours taking hundreds of pictures just to find the right one.

Now, I cannot be the only one here thinking…what? These are selfies that we are talking about. Selfies. How is this happening? It’s weird research to me, but I can definitely see the value in this research. It’s a quick read if you are interested and bonus, their sources are linked (hoooray!) so if you want to get even more info on this research, you can.

 

Mental Wellness: Reflection

Awhile back, I wrote a blog post revealing a side of myself I keep locked away from people I know. I made reference to eating disorders being a mental disease as well as a physical disease. I’m currently lounging around watching old episodes of True Life and naturally, I watch all the ones that are related to food and body image. The subject interest me in multiple ways because I can see bits of myself in these people.

You see them looking in the mirror and critiquing themselves and pointing out all their flaws, all their physical flaws. They point out physical flaws and relate them back to how they feel. I always relate this back to me after I engage in b/p behaviors. Because I look in the mirror and see my physical self but the reflection isn’t something I know or respect. The reflection is hatred and disgust. At some point, diets turn from hating the reflection in the mirror to hating the person in the mirror.

The hate isn’t in the reflection. It isn’t in the body in the reflection. It’s something bigger than that.

Mental Wellness: Jealousy.

I’m in a funk. That is for damn sure. And I think a huge reason why I am is because of increased exposure to social media, especially during this time of year plus the type of personality I have. I one time read something on reddit that was in regards to social media and how you are seeing everyone’s highlight reel while you are living your day to day and seeing the “behind-the-scenes”.

Do you ever just feel so overwhelmed by seeing everyone’s highlight reel? But at the same time, dude it’s social media, there is no need to treat it like your diary. So all we ever see is highlight reel upon highlight reel. And with the facebook, the twitters, the tumblr, the google+, the instagram, the youtube, the wordpress, the blogger, the vine, the linkedin…am I missing any? Probably. But with all the social media outlets and your ability to like, favorite, follow, subscribe, friend, etc anyone given any status…it’s no wonder your feeds are full of highlight reels.

And it goes back to how I have been feeling lately. Just burnout on all the highlight reels. And selfishly wishing that I had something to contribute to a highlight reel but feeling stuck in a routine. Feeling jealous of everyone’s lives and their highlight reels. Feeling like my contributions are not enough. Feelings of disappointment. Failure. Rejection. Wanting to prove my worth and not knowing how to do it and if my worth is something that is even worth something.

Mental Wellness: Minimalism

Minimalism is mah jam. I love it. And while I have acquired more things since I started down my path of less things, they aren’t just things to have things. I have gotten into a really good routine of cycling out clothes in my closet that are old, don’t fit me, aren’t in my style aesthetic, or were just something cheap that I got to have a trendy piece. Now I could direct you to an article that you can read all about their tips for decluttering your closet (which let’s be honest, I will, HERE it is) or…I can give you a peak inside my closet…

I have two closets in my bedroom and yes I do use them both.

Starting w/ the far right side

I keep in insane amount of sweatshirts plus all my work tops (long and short sleeve) plus all my work bottoms (pants and skirts). I really need to go through this and cycle out. You can see in the bottom left corner, I keep empty hangers. I refuse to buy any more hangers than I have (which is 56, yes I did just go and count). I then use these bins to separate my socks and under things.

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Next is the other side to that closet where I keep shoes and boxes. Again, in need to a good throw out of things but I sort of get worried that if I throw out everything I want to…I won’t have anything left to wear.

 

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Ah yes, on to the other closet. This side is really empty. Top corner I have PJs and jeans (I’m down to two pairs of jeans and a pair of capris) and then my suits, cardigans and dresses.

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On the other side, I have long sleeve tops that I don’t like to hang, long sleeve running tops and plain tank tops and then the tshirt zoo. At the bottom of this closet are my dirty clothes.

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I have mentioned that I get my clothes ready to go the night before, I use this guy to help me out. I will hang up my workout clothes and my work clothes up on this in the morning so I just grab and pack.

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The final thing is that I always keep a laundry bin of clothes to donate so that during the year, I can just set them aside in a set place and know that this is my bin to donate. If I don’t reach for an item after I put it in, I’m good to donate it. I try to donate about 4 times a year or whenever I have time and the basket is getting really full.

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So obviously my closet isn’t the neatest thing in the world and I do have stuff that I need to go through and donate, but it was a look inside my world. Like I said, I only have 56 hangers (and 10 of those are in my coat closet…the shame…I don’t even use that many jackets). And I am pretty good at my one in one out policy. Minimalism is something that I love and something that has really taught me how to be grateful for what you have, give to others, and that a fulfilled life doesn’t necessarily been a life filled with things.

 

Mental Wellness: The Gift

One of my favorite movies of all time, of all time, is The Ultimate Gift. I love it so much. But this post isn’t about that movie. Well, in a way it is. One of my friends on the Facebook (I like to put articles in front of social media…I just do it) shared an article from HuffPo on how your insecurities can actually help you determine what your gift is (gift theory…I’m not 100% on it, but the article explains and has links). I have never heard of gift theory before reading this article but I really like how you can make a positive spin on something negative. Because, let’s face it, we all have insecurities. But how can we turn these insecurities into something positive? I think this is where gift theory comes to play. Because you work to find out what your “core gifts” are. Ken Page, psychotherapist and author of the post, suggest that your core gift is actually something that you may find shame in or not see as a gift. HOLY CRAP! I bet there is a bit of reframing in gift theory! Sorry, nerd moment there.

Anyway, I’m sharing this article and theory not because I’m an expert in these, but because I think it’s interesting. I think it’s something to think about. And I think it’s something that can help you grow.

Mental Wellness: Just Some Well-Written Truth.

Which by the title, you already know…this girl did not write the article.

But seriously, this is going to be one of those posts where I just tell you, just take the time and read this article…because it is … just a gorgeous article. Which I know sounds weird to say, but just read it.

One of my favorite truths in this article is “some kind of failure always occurs before success”. I don’t always like to use the word failure (I prefer set back) but man alive is this true.

Just…all of them…

Just read it. I’m not trying to be lazy with this post. It’s just…when someone writes something that well, you don’t want to mess it up. It’s a good article.

 

Mental Wellness: I Had No Idea

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week:  I Had No Idea.

I wrote back in October about my own personal struggles with eating disorders.  Eating disorders are much more than just restricting or purging. There is so much more than the physical aspects of eating disorders. So many people had no idea that someone close to them is struggling with an eating disorder. And part of me feels like the stereotype that women are just never happy with their bodies and it is the norm to be on a diet helps perpetuate this secrecy. It’s not (or at least should not be) the norm to just be disgusted with your body and to restrict or purge or self medicate with food. Binge eating isn’t just about someone shoving their face full of food. That isn’t the problem at all. That is usually their solution to a bigger problem.

The stats from NEDA just make my stomach churn and my heart hurt for those that are struggling and who will be struggling. 50% of girls use unhealthy behaviors to lose weight. 50%. 50% are restricting, purging, smoking…are treating their bodies that crap just to be thin. What can start out as an innocent and simple diet can spiral out of control so much faster than anyone can imagine. My bout with restricting started out as an innocent little diet and spiraled down to eating some bread, carrots, and grapes that I would eat throughout the week. Stepping on the scale once a day turned into a total obsession and became 20 times a day and frustration that I had to be at school and couldn’t weigh myself. My first time purging was a simple solution to losing control and spiraled into purging every meal and barely being able to keep food down.

I never knew. I never ever knew that any of these things would lead down these paths. I never realized that critiquing and criticizing my body would turn into a complete a total obsession. I never knew that hating my reflection would turn into hating the person staring back at me. I never knew how far I would go and how much I would lose myself. I never knew how much it would change me.

Eating disorders are a real mental health issue. Please, if you get nothing from this, know that eating disorders are not to be joked about. They are a serious issue that should be taken seriously. If anyone ever opens up to you personally about their struggles. Don’t ever dismiss them. Please recognize their strength and how incredibly remarkable and strong that individual is. And support them. Whatever that means to them. The bottom line is love them. Because their eating disorder is a part of their story, not the entire story.