Posted in Confessions, Keep Moving: Motivation and Inspiration, Making Sense Analysis, Mental Health, Potential and Worth, Power, Reflection, Self-Care, Self-Talk

Why I Claim my Anxiety and Depression

Mental Illness and Religion

Depression

I struggled with depression for a lot of my teenage years unknowingly; falling into silent spells or isolation cycles were “normal” ways I would deal with how I felt. Because of this, depression remained regular. The pain was me.

When I thought about depression or sadness my mind would drift off to what my former pastors would suggest— praying, fasting, and going to church healed all wombs. I often heard, “mental illness was a weakness, ‘the devil’ is consuming your thoughts to keep you from what God has for you. The only way I could be better was to do what God wants me to do. If you’re continuously doing bad, then it’s your fault. You are not trying hard enough. Do not ever claim depression on your life. Don’t say that out loud! If you say it you are manifesting that demon on yourself.” Frightening, right?

Because of those words, I grew up scared of myself, my thoughts, and God punishing me. I felt relief in my good days but tormented on my bad. Maybe if I tried to be “as holy” as I could then maybe I would feel better. The day never came where just praying and fasting relieved my depressive thoughts though.

Here Comes Anxiety…

When first faced with crippling anxiety, I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and discouraged. I isolated myself and talked to no one about my struggles. It wasn’t real. I tried to push harder even when I felt exhausted. Self-care, mental health, or anxiety weren’t words or phrases I knew much about anyway. I just had to pray, right? My relationship with God is not strong enough. I kept pushing myself well past my physical and mental limits until I couldn’t anymore. The more I dismissed my symptoms and repressed my feelings, the more I felt powerless, hopeless, and weak.

Moving Forward

Writing Therapy

In order to feel better, I challenged myself to think deeper. What do I do to move forward? As I constantly struggled to find peace in my mental turmoil, I looked to my writing and voice for refuge.  The day I felt most empowered, most liberated, and most peace fell on one day, the day I uttered the words “I have depression and struggle with anxiety.”

While I long left the church because I wanted to find myself aside from religious indoctrination, I started writing, and the words I typed and wrote freed me from my thoughts. Thoughts became tangible. Words became ideas I could look at. I manipulated those words to something positive and uplifting. I began reflecting on and discussing what mental health meant for me, asking critical questions combining my pain with creativity. Excitement filled me again. 

Final Thoughts

My projects now bring me to life, they are my medicine. The words I utter, the words I write are my power. I am new, I feel refreshed. I wage war on my mental health struggles, expectations, and stereotypes that bind me and my progress (hence why my writing space/blog is SparklyWarTanks).

Even though I still struggle, I continue to write and think of new and creative ways to express myself. I’m currently planning and hosting events too! There is power in words, whether it’s saying them, writing them, or thinking them.

Claiming my anxiety and depression was not a downfall manifesting struggle and doom to my life, claiming anxiety and depression gave me the power that helped me to liberate my perspective, relieve my mind, and continue on in the progression of becoming myself.

Posted in Keep Moving: Motivation and Inspiration, Making Sense Analysis, Potential and Worth, Power, Quotes, Self-Care, Self-Talk

What is this Pain Doing for You?

When something or someone is causing you pain ask yourself, is this pain teaching me anything or opening up my perspective to ensure and guarantee my growth? In times where toxicity is present but not always apparent, you must determine whether that pain is necessary or toxic.

In terms of building relationships whether romantic, familial, or platonic, the occurrence of issues or disagreement is inevitable. When disagreements turn into manipulation, unnecessary pain, purposeful lack of communication, immaturity, lack of accountability, or one posing as “the parent” if not one is where a line must be drawn.

Remaining in toxic relationships or spaces do not determine your worthiness as a person. Your worth is not manifested by how much pain you can endure as you remain in toxic situations. Loyalty should not be painful. There is no need to wait around and stunt your growth for someone/something else. While pain is a teacher and in specific situations teaches you to become better, in others will cause trauma.

Always put your well being first before anything. If you find you are not benefiting from a relationship, space, or situation, relieve yourself of that pain

Posted in Making Sense Analysis, What Just Happened: Personal Anecdotes

You Deserve Some Credit: How I Liberated my Spiritual Understanding to Free my Humaneness

When I was in college I majored in writing and rhetoric and religion.  What made double majoring in these subjects most interesting is the challenges I faced when ideas resonated but also conflicted with what I thought was my religious identification.  Growing up in a conservative sect of Christianity was not always easy as I felt it amplifying my anxiety and deepening my depression.  Confused at the contrast of religion doing the opposite of what I thought it would do allowed me the freedom (in college) to grapple with the reasons why religion was negatively effecting my mental health. While I had many victory moments where I connected and realized how some teachings negatively affected how I viewed myself, I ultimately realized that some “church rhetoric,” deep in my unconscious mind and negative self-talk, was the core reasons why my mental health was being beaten.  First there are phrases like “I’m nothing, but God is everything,” or some other phrases such as “I am not worthy of this life that God has given me,” or “God keeps blessing me even when I don’t deserve it,” and such jargon as that that has flipped my self-image into chaos depicting me as someone who is not worthy or deserving of the things that I have or the life that I live.  Other such talk of being a “sinner” and unable to escape the evil doings of myself, my “flesh,” and my mind also kept me in shame and misery as I always felt I was doing God an injustice by struggling with my mental health.  Not only did I feel shame and guilt all the time, but I was always trying to be perfect in all I was doing.  My perfectionism, a product of my anxiety now that I realize, made trying to become this “holy” perfect Christian girl all the more burdensome and tiring.

It only took but some readings in one of my psychology and religion courses to blow my mind and help me see the reality of such instances where religion can negatively effect ones self-perception in a way that back fires against their mental health. One reading was that of Fromm and his analysis of the humanistic religion vs. that of authoritarian religion.

**Side note: I include and validate women and women’s experiences in the statements below as the rhetoric is heavy on the masculine pronouns.**

Psychoanalysis and Religion By Erich Fromm

“The essential element in authoritarian religion and in the authoritarian religious experience is the surrender to a power transcending man. The main virtue of this type of religion is obedience, its cardinal sin is disobedience. Just as the deity is conceived as omnipotent or omniscient, man is conceived as being powerless and insignificant. Only as he can gain grace or help from the deity by complete surrender can he feel strength. Submission to a powerful authority is one of the avenues by which man escapes from his feeling of aloneness and limitation. In the act of surrender he loses his independence and integrity as an individual but he gains the feeling of being protected by an awe-inspiring power of which, as it were, he becomes a part. (35)”

vs.

Humanistic religion, on the contrary, is centered around man and his strength. Man must develop his power of reason in order to understand himself, his relationship to his fellow men and his position in the universe. He must recognize the truth, both with regard to his limitations and his potentialities. He must develop his powers of love for others as well as for himself and experience the solidarity of all living beings. He must have principles and norms to guide him in this aim. Religious experience in this kind of religion is the experience of oneness with the All, based on one’s relatedness to the world as it is grasped with thought and with love. Man’s aim in humanistic religion is to achieve the greatest strength, not the greatest powerlessness; virtue is self-realization, not obedience. Faith is certainty of conviction based on one’s experience of thought and feeling, not assent to propositions on credit of the proposer. The prevailing mood is that of joy, while the prevailing mood in authoritarian religion is that of sorrow and of guilt. (37)”

What I understood of Fromm’s comparison of both perceptions is the separation between oneself with the world, themselves, and God in the authoritarian religion and the union in humanistic religion.  I became alienated from an identity, from something that revealed in me that I was a life that was worth living and shouldn’t be ashamed of myself.  Me, as a person, as a woman, as a body, should be proud of my life and all that I have accomplished.   My powerlessness and my guilt soon faded with my once limited, skewed, perception of life.

As my understanding became clear, I became less ashamed of who I was, but I also wanted to create a more wholesome version of myself as well.  I started to ask questions such as who am I? and why am I?  I drifted from the jargon that made me feel distant and unappreciative of my identity and my accomplishments, and all that I’ve done to get my mind free, and I began to create for myself a more liberating spirituality.  God is not separated from the world or from the liberation of my self-acceptance, God is not a man in the sky dictating and limiting access to my confidence or to my belief that I have power and I’m worthy and proud to embrace my humaneness.  Instead, I began to believe that everything is intertwined into a cosmic masterpiece that allows us, as people, to self-realize and love and find strength in ourselves.  God is something in us already that gets amplified and blossoms as we do.  That we have to love ourselves in order to love God, that we have to think we are worthy and powerful in order to reveal God in ourselves otherwise we are limiting our abilities and potentialities.

And as I continue to self-realize and change everyday, I’m learning that my anxiety and my depression is something that motivates me to create and build ideas. That, although my tireless mind is always in a shamble, I always find that I am free and able.  My mental state is something of purpose and I don’t have to be ashamed because I do feel better.  Without the anxiety and depression, I wouldn’t know what it felt like to be a prisoner of my own mind.  Now that I have control over myself, with my experience I can build on love, compassion, and empathy.  It took some time to get to this place, but now that I’m refined I can work and I can build on what makes me who I am.  As I grow I can be happy because I did it for myself, I became free for me.

Posted in Keep Moving: Motivation and Inspiration, Making Sense Analysis, My Trending Stories, Power, Quotes

Freedom Quote: Wage War on Invasive Thoughts

img_20170113_215716_118.jpg

5 Steps to winning the war against invasive thoughts.

Invade

Wage War

Win

Leave a Warning to Others

Walk Away

You have all the power and ability to change your mind and shift the negative energy and make it go away for good.  Don’t give the invasive thoughts the power to take over your mind and make you feel insane.  You are in charge of your sanity and negativity can not take your own autonomy and self-control.  Switch it up right when you feel it creeping up.  Don’t allow your mind to turn on itself.  You are in control.  You will always be in charge. Time to take back your mind. Declare the war. You will win.

Posted in Confessions, Creative Writing, Keep Moving: Motivation and Inspiration, Making Sense Analysis, What Just Happened: Personal Anecdotes

A Personal Confession

These words came with tears so I hope you can sympathize.  This is depth therapy:

Lately I’ve really been hating my body but through the lens of my mind coming out my eyes.  A portal of perspective.  Hear me out.

This is not one of those “pick your head up because things will get better” but a “this is a real life struggle kid so learn from it” pieces so look at this…

Just one picture can twist the notion of a once fooled concept of self-acceptance because you thought you began to love “the skin your in” but the reality of it is…

the concept is once you begin it can never regress but my regression looks so good it resembled progression like walking backwards I wanted to say “I love you” but instead I said…

I thought I got over the feeling that my thighs are not the size of the American dream or the white picket fence or the its not what it seems, but its the rugged and thick concept of oppression and prejudice, the judgemental reality that not all words are the truth or not all smiles signify happiness but covering up the reality because the sacred is watching you, you want to see the day where the light is so bright that all this will soon fade away into an oblivious sense of brainwashing…

I thought I would wake up and it would be one of those dreams where you were running from a symbol of your subconscious fears but its not because the tears were real and so were those people

The ones that said that they want you and would stay, but that was just you talking to yourself because you have to really learn to mean what you say in your head like I will start that today and I will end that tomorrow but you don’t…

Instead you give excuses and let your self-talk ruin your self-image constantly digging the hole you call home 

But this ends today

The body that was once in ruins under the ashes like pompeii will rise and become the volcano that took you from existence.  You are no longer going extinct or becoming a personal museum for onlookers to talk or to taste but you will climb from your ashes into an unknown place.

You will not be scared to be strange or to not fit in because you are the one who is meant to change the existing archetypal skin, the status quo, and the origins.

Today marks a holiday where you declared your independance and come back from war, where you remembered what was and proclaim that your dead exterior will fall and let your new interior reveal itself.

You are not what you were yesterday and tomorrow you will be better than right now. So if you hate your body now, start the process to make that perception change tomorrow.

If you were looking for your purpose in life stop looking because its to be who you are to the people you encounter.  There’s no other purpose but to continuously labor on yourself even if that means sleepless night and uncomfortable situations.  

Life is not meant to work for others, but to work on yourself in the pursuit to become something that will shatter negativity, punch fear in the face and to help others in that same process.

You have work to do so I suggest you take one day at a time to appreciate all that you are because no one will be ready for the power that will be you in the future.

Posted in Making Sense Analysis

No One is Ever Broken 

While its often the case that we struggle on a daily basis about things that bother us, things we can’t change, things that we continuously mourn over, cry over, and can’t let go, its also true that we can never, contrarily, truly be broken.  Struggling with the past, present, and future anxieties often burden our psyches, sometimes even on a physical, emotional and psychological level (as we can see with mental illness being unable to balance the three) we don’t know how to deal with the idea of constant changes and shifts in our lives.  Because of this, I realized feeling a sense of “brokenness” before, that it’s only the “trapped” sensation that we can’t deal with.  

It’s an in between mentality of the before and the unwillingness to change or move on thats the feeling of brokenness.  Its a stuck sensation. The inability to move or make progress.  Not being able to effectively process to a next level in character and being.  Its not being able to let go of the past that is depression, or fearing the future anxiety, or even effectively dealing with emotion bipolar disorders that is the inability to process and deal with the pains and strains around you. It’s not being able to go back to ones once happy stage or comfortable life style or not coping correctly with pain that hinders us from moving on.

By moving on, I dont mean neither forgetting or carrying it with you wherever you go, but instead growing and learning from the experiences that builds character and willingness to become better and stronger. Healthy means of coping means using your life styles, ideologies, and perspectives to break past the window of pain and hardship and using it as a weapon to open your past perspective into something new and more developed.  It’s the spreading of universal happiness and peace, the helping of other people, and the acceptance that you can deal with the pains you endure.  Its important to try not to over exaggerate the current and live in only the present giving yourself enough to endure at the moment of existence. 

We are not broken to the extent of being unable to grow past the weeds of going too far in the past or too deep in the future, but living currently using the past as something learned and the future as on the pursuit of goals.  Don’t feel broken or lost because we just need the current moment to survive and the resources to maintain our livelihood.  Always live for the self now and do what you can now and appreciate the ability to be presently aware.

No one is ever really broken.

Original Photo: Brokenness

Posted in Creative Writing, Making Sense Analysis

Making Sense: Recycling Pain 

Its about that time when you think of everything…

everything thats ever hurt you…
you wallow in the reminiscent pain of every memory…
past and present collide to create a mesh of oblivious insanity…
numb to reality you fall asleep in a bed of a black and white rainbow…
you fall asleep so your subconscious could pick up the pieces and create a story…
Dreams
Dreams that hardly make sense because…
Because not even your unconscious mind can comprehend the severity of repression…
Push the pain back in until the next night….
The next night when you think of everything…
Again

Original Photo

Posted in Making Sense Analysis, What Just Happened: Personal Anecdotes

Why Perfectionism Isn’t Healthy and Caused Me Months of Procrastination and Exhaustion

I’ve been an over achiever for as long as I remember.  I strive to do my best at all times and won’t take any less than almost perfect.  When I was in school, from grade school to undergrad, I would try to do more than was asked and be at the top of each class and level.  I wouldn’t sleep, sometimes wouldn’t eat, until things were done in its longest and most thought out form (still first drafts so it wasn’t perfect) but I would put my all in everything.  From first grade to my last semester in college I continued to run my race of perfectionism but recently noticed it began to effect my health last January.

When I was in grade school I made it my goal to get over a 90 in every test, in every class and do every assignment and go to school every single day.  When I didn’t go to school I would cringe in my skin and worry that I would get too far behind.  A break in my streak occurred in a vocal class in high school I had for four years.  That’s when the “weakest link” phrase entered my psyche.  I couldn’t be perfect in that class and I wasn’t as good as I thought (or at least the teacher made me think so) so I worked my butt off just to get the same results.  Every day I started to hate myself and the class because I couldn’t be the perfectionist I wanted to be.  I liked to sing but I found and believed and couldn’t sing well and I wasn’t good enough.  I compared myself to others and ingrained the “weakest link”mindset in how I thought about myself. When I graduated high school and left the class, my perfectionism got worse, but I began to get tired.

*FAST FORWARD FOUR YEARS*

As my last year in college progressed I noticed that I didn’t want to do anything and lacked the motivation and drive to wake up in the morning.  I dreaded every day and would leave my assignments to the absolute last minute (not a good idea for perfectionist tendencies and results).  Because I was a perfectionist procrastinator I started to feel my anxiety peak at its all time high because I had lots to do and no motivation to do but the guilt of my perfectionism at the forefront of my anxiety and minor depression.  I feared I would disappoint my professors and damage my GPA so I pushed myself beyond my limits (health wise) and found myself exhausted and unhappy.

I was tired.  My body.  My soul.  My motivation.  Me, I was tired.  I wanted to leave it all there in my campus apartment because I couldn’t do it.  I was plagued with panic because it was a lot and I didn’t believe I could do it.

Despite the struggle of getting up in the morning everyday for a year I managed to get two 4.0s (surprisingly) first in all four years.  I wasn’t proud of myself really.  I felt I was supposed to get it.  I’m a perfectionist.

Now, at the end of the summer a Syracuse University graduate I’m still exhausted and I don’t get up early.  I do one thing and I’m tired. I want to sleep all the time and its been three months.  Shouldn’t I be rested? Well I’m not.  I just want to spend time with my family and not have to put in effort to be perfect.  I don’t want to try anymore to make others happy.  I want to be happy.

If you read through all that I’ve written and find yourself to be a perfectionist, its okay…you don’t have to be.  If you’re a hard worker, great! Keep working hard, but don’t let failure or what people say to you make you feel your not working as hard as you are.  Don’t compare yourself to anyone and don’t push yourself past what you can take.  Take breaks you don’t have to be perfect.  One or two or three “low scores” isn’t bad nor is lost opportunities.  Sleep and be proud of yourself.  Be vocal to the ones who care.  Don’t wait till you’re too drained to say you need support and please love yourself, say no when necessary.

From someone who is still exhausted from years or perfectionism, know that its okay not to be at the top.  Try your best.  It is good enough.  Your effort will reap its harvest.

Posted in Making Sense Analysis, Self-Talk, What Just Happened: Personal Anecdotes

Making Sense: Toxic Phrases

Joel Osteen Quote 

There are just some things that have happened or that have been said to me that live with me everyday and haunt me at the latest hours of the night

“You are the weakest link”

“I’m disappointed in you”

“I love her more than you”

“I don’t want to put in any effort for you”

“Nah, she ugly”

“You weren’t competative enough”

“Theres nothing I can do to help you”

“You’re a dub”

“I think you should change your profile picture because you are confusing people”

“You are affecting your family”

“Stop being discouraged”

“Get over it”

“People are watching you”

“That’s a sin”

“..but in the Bible it says”

“….going to hell”

“Don’t you want to go to heaven?”

“What happened? You can do better” 

“You can’t do that”

“You’re not supposed to hang out with those type of people”

“I don’t care what you think”

“Oh, I didn’t invite you because…”

“You think too much…”

“Stop saying you’re depressed…”

“God is watching you…”

“Relax its not that serious”

While some of these phrases may seem harmless and others in need of more context, they have been a guide to how I think about myself, how I view situations and circumstances, and how I approach new opportunities.  These phrases have been a hindrance to my mental growth and well being. 

In order to take away from things that have been said that may have scarred and affected how you think, you have to use them as fuel.  Let them scab up and fall off of how you perceive who you are. Use them as excess motivation.

Let what is said to you build you up even if it hurt you.  Let it build your confidence, bravery, power and self-image.  Turn every phrase into a positive, a tactic that can’t halt your progress.

Everyone has those phrases of people who drilled a perception in their head,  use them.  Make them amo.  Make them “I heard that before” phrases that don’t bother you. Move above and beyond.  Move forward.