I know that I’ve been gone for a little while, but life has been a bit of a struggle lately.
As I so publicly share, I am bipolar, which has highs and lows.
For about 2 and a half weeks now, I have been experiencing the lowest “low” I have ever had.
I shut down. I stopped answering my phone. I deactivated half of my social media.
I have now started seeing a new therapist and a new psychiatrist and I am slowly resurfacing.
I had to share with them both the thing that I had been too ashamed to say to anyone else:
That I had spent 5 days in row not wanting to be on earth anymore. Thinking of ways I could disappear without putting anyone else in harms way.
I also wasn’t sleeping.
I remember being up at 2am, searching on the internet places I could go check myself into because I knew that my thoughts were not ok.
I was literally afraid to be alone with myself.
I just kept thinking how everyone would say, “No, not Shelby. I didn’t see this coming.”
I went to work everyday, helping others and putting a smile on my face, but no one knew deep down inside that I was falling apart.
Someone asked me, “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”
The answer is simple: because I thought the people in my social circle wouldn’t care and because I didn’t want my coworkers to stop me.
My therapist asked me what words came to mind to describe how I felt at that time. The first words that came out of my mouth were “unloved” and “unimportant”.
“Unloved” because I felt that I invest so much of myself emotionally into my friends and family and I feel as though it is not equally reciprocated.
“Unimportant” because I share the details of my life with the people with which I choose to surround myself, yet they are capable of choosing to take time apart from me or keep from me the important things that may occur in their life.
“Who is the most important person in your life?”
When my therapist asked this question, it hit me. I told her that I knew the answer should be that I am the most important person, but it wouldn’t be true if I said it. I have always put others before myself. Hell, I even made a career out of it.
(Shout out to not being able to close for the coronavirus.)
I’m learning that I don’t have to do everything at one time and that I can take it day by day. I’m learning I need to find specifically what I enjoy and implement that as self-care. I’m learning that it’s ok to take a step back and meet people where they are without sharing as much of myself with them. I’m learning that I can tell people what I need from them and confront them with the truth about how they have made me feel.
I was told that I have no compassion for myself and it’s true. I’m trying to find my way daily. I’m trying to figure out what I need to keep myself healthy and sane. I’m also learning to find my voice and that I can’t always be a “fixer” for everyone else and neglect myself.
I want to be the most important person in my life and that means not hiding anymore.
I’ll be honest in saying that I’m still not ready to talk to everyone again or ready to answer questions about my current mental state. I’m slowly trying to merge my life back with society, but I know it will not happen immediately and that’s alright.
If you or someone you know is struggling right now, please get help. There are hotlines, online resources, etc.
I’m not one to be consistent with pills and prescriptions. It’s a horrible trait, but I stand in my truth.
Due to my struggle with commitment (and I mean that in so many ways, honey), I looked into other ways to deal with my anxiety and depression. I began typing this post a week ago, but something told me not to post it quite yet.
This past Sunday, we suffered a huge loss. The death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna Bryant, has stunned the world and left everyone an emotional wreck. I have struggled to stay on social media longer than 5 minutes at a time due to the emotionally draining posts.
Between the start of the new year and the untimely death of Kobe and everyone on that helicopter, I thought I would share some alternative methods I have tried or methods that I am planning to test out to help cope with stress, anxiety, and depression.
DISCLAIMER: Ya girl does social work for a living. I’m clearly not a doctor. Drink your water, take your meds, and talk to Jesus about what you should or shouldn’t try.
Aromatherapy: I’m not even going to lie to you guys. I have diffusers out the wazoo. I keep one in my office at work and I keep a couple in my apartment. Different essential oils can trigger different moods. If you want to read up more about how oils work and what scents can give you what you may need at the moment, click here.
2. Color Therapy: So, it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a hippie. Hell, I mean just check out the name of my website. It should definitely not come as a surprise that I believe in the 7 chakras and our ability to manifest different emotions and outcomes through these systems. Color therapy is the idea that you focus on the color of the chakra that you want to align and, in doing so, you can help to heal some of your own physical and emotional problems that you may be experiencing at the time. In order to better understand the colors and the different chakras, feel free to refer to the below chart:
3. Weighted Blanket: No joke. I got a weighted blanket off of amazon a few weeks ago because there was a bomb discount code (shout out to Fat Kid Deals!), and it has been some of the best sleep I’ve ever gotten. You can get different weights for the blankets depending on your size and preference. The pressure of the blanket helps to recreate the feeling of a hug which can increase serotonin levels. Some of the other listed benefits are:
1. Eases Insomnia
2. Helps with Sensory Processing Disorder
3. Reduces Anxiety
4. Fights Back Against Stress
5. Improves Focus for ADHD
6. Eases Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
7. Helps Fibromyalgia Pain
8. Improves Sleep Quality
9. Boosts Mood
10. Promotes Calm
11. Encourages Focus in the Classroom
12. Eases Pain without Drugs
13. Eases Travel Anxiety
14. Helps the Elderly
15. Addresses Symptoms of PTSD
16. Decreases Anxiety in Pets
17. Soothes Symptoms of Panic Disorder
18. Helps Manage OCD
19. Manages Autism Symptoms
20. Recreates a Hug
4. Dieting: People always say, “You are what you eat.” Yeah, right. Like I’m going to magically turn into a big ass piece of broccoli? Jk. I totally understand that phrase completely now. What people mean when they say that is that what you put into your body can affect you mentally, emotionally, and physically, of course. The word “diet” is not to be mistaken with the word “detox” (which will be mentioned on the list later). When I say diet, I do not mean starving yourself and being miserable so that you lose weight. I mean treating your body to foods that help to sustain you. Getting the right nutrients and eating the right things that your body needs can truly be a mood-changer. For example, I’ve tried being vegetarian, pescatarian, keto, etc. Not all of those dietary restrictions have worked for me or for my body (except keto). Listen to your body’s needs and monitor the different things that you are putting into your body. Are you eating to sustain or for personal pleasure? Don’t worry, guys. You can do both. 🙂
5. Yoga: Yoga is one of those things with which I am very much an amateur. This is something on the list that I definitely want to expand upon and dig into a bit more. Check out this TED Talk about the connection between yoga and mental health:
6. Alexander Technique: I know what you’re thinking. “What the hell is that?!” I was the same way when I first read about it, but it’s basically moving our bodies in a meaningful way that requires the least amount of energy, so that we can invest that energy into other things. The alexandertechnique.com describes it is as “a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities. It is not a series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of the mind and body. The Alexander Technique is a method which helps a person discover a new balance in the body by releasing unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities…” Seeing that I have experienced some physical pain since my car wreck, this is for sure a technique that I would want to try.
7. Reiki: This is for sure something into which I have looked. Ya’ll, I even went on to groupon and found some deals for visiting reikis. lol “Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing.” (https://www.reiki.org/faqs/what-reiki) A reiki will work to transfer positive energy into your body based on what area is troubling you the most. I’m not going to lie, I don’t know how well this works, but I will for sure be trying this out!
8. Meditation: There are two primary forms of meditation: concentration meditation and mindfulness meditation. Concentration meditation involves focusing in on one particular thing. It could be your breathing, a visual item in front of you, melodic music playing in the background, etc. Mindfulness meditation is acknowledging the different thoughts that cross your mind but not settling in on just one of them. It is observing your pattern of thoughts, but not getting stuck on any particular one. My favorite thing about meditation is surrounding myself with silence and opening myself up to thoughts I had previously suppressed.
9. Sleep: Sleeping is my favorite past time. I’m sure you all have heard the benefits of sleeping for years so I won’t really get into too much detail here. All I have to say is that the whole “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality is dumb as hell. You’ll be dead a lot sooner if you don’t sleep. Just because you like to get your nap on, doesn’t mean you’re not grinding. Sis, take your ass to bed so you can be rested for work tomorrow. Let your body rest!
10. Massage: This is another one that can help you to escape what’s currently weighing you down. The power of physical touch (even in a nonsexual manner) can be one of the most effective ways to release stress. I don’t really have to explain to you all why massages are bomb because I’m sure you already know. If you have never gotten one, treat yo self!
11. Acupuncture: I have legit wanted to try this out FOR YEARS. Can I be honest with you guys for a second though and explain why I have yet to do so? No lie, back in the day, I saw an episode of “1000 Ways to Die” and a girl was doing acupuncture and fell off the bed reaching for her cell phone and died, y’all. SHOOKETH TO THE CORE I WAS. But this is on my bucket list to try this year. Acupuncture is known to help with headaches and seeing that your girl has a seizure disorder and gets headaches and migraines on a regular basis, I can’t wait to see if this actually works.
12. Natural, Healing Spaces: I feel as though most people don’t realize how important it is to surround yourself with an environment that is beneficial to your mental and emotional well-being. Only you can determine what that environment may be that works for you. For some people, it is being surrounded by nature, for some it is simply being with family, for others it is the calmness of their own home. Now, I’m a big believer in feng shui and try to practice as many principles as I can from this concept. Feng shui is the idea that the positioning of your furniture and the layout of your space can modify the flow of energy in your home. To read about some of the standard practices of feng shui, check out this article.
13. The Arts: Find your niche. That’s all I can say. Whether it’s drawing, writing, painting, dancing, etc. That creative outlet can be your way to express yourself if you can’t find the exact words to say in a moment. Writing for me is my outlet. I also sketch. I also like attending musical performances and going to art shows. Just surrounding myself with creatives that have poured themselves into their work is relaxing. Get involved with the arts if you’re not and create a space that you can freely be yourself.
14. Hypnotherapy: Do you ever have a glimpse of a memory that you can’t fully recall? Well, it happens to me sometimes and I would love the ability to explore those memories on a deeper level. Hypnotherapy is a trance-like state of concentration conducted by a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy helps you to look inward and can help to relieve anxiety and stress and can even help with any sleeping issues. I really want to try hypnotherapy to see if it truly feels any different than simply meditating.
15. Mindfulness: This one is very simple. It is literally making yourself aware of your 5 senses. I don’t know about you guys, but I get really bad anxiety at times, so this coping method is one that people don’t even have to know is happening. As you feel your anxiety rising, look around you. What do you see? What do you hear? What can you feel with your hands? So on and so forth. Focus your attention on your surroundings and your senses and you will then begin “grounding” yourself.
16. Herbalism: This is the idea of using plants and plant extracts as medicine. There can be healing principles, not only found in the various plants, but also is caring for the plants. Working with plants is known to have a calming effect on people. As far as the herbs, themselves, different herbs have been thought to prevent and/or heal different ailments. Click here to read up on some of the most common medicinal herbs.
17. Detoxing: All I’m going to say is to prepare your stomach if you want to try a detox. I have used detox teas, detox pills, apple cider vinegar, etc. Although detoxing is a good way to reset your body, I usually do detoxing to help me clear a little mental space, as well. Detoxing helps me to really pay attention to what I am letting into my body and it challenges me to commit to something (y’all know your girl has commitment issues). My detoxes usually last 5-10 days and every time I complete one, there is a major sense of accomplishment that I feel. It gives me the feeling of a fresh start every time. You can detox through juicing, eating only certain types of food, only eating raw foods, etc. Try challenging yourself.
18. Sensory Deprivation: Now, I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of this, but this is something I found via the blackhole that is youtube…and I can’t wait to try it. A sensory deprivation tank is literally you laying in a soundproof tank of water, floating around. You are only left with your own thoughts and have no choice but to reflect inward. I don’t know anyone that has actually tried this but it looks pretty damn cool so I’m all in. According to verywellhealth.com, “sensory deprivation tanks are also known to promote muscle relaxation, lower anxiety, and improve depression.” To read up more on how these tanks work and their benefits, check out this article.
19. Binge Watching: This can actually be a good thing or can completely fry your brain and have you looking like Rue from “Euphoria”. If you don’t get that reference, then IMMEDIATELY go binge that show after you finish reading this blog post. Now, like I said earlier, I’m no doctor and I don’t the real stats on this, but all I can say is that binging shows takes my mind off of what else is going on with me a solid 9 times out of 10. There is one downside of binge watching shows: wtf are you supposed to do with your life when the show is over? Solution: FIND ANOTHER SHOW. *kanye shrug*
20. Reflexology: Reflexologists believe that applying pressure to certain areas of the hands, ears, or feet can have certain health benefits in relation to certain organs and body systems. I’m sure you guys have seen those little shops around certain neighborhoods that offer these services. This is something that I’ve seen advertised at a fairly affordable price so this is something I will challenge myself to try within the next couple of months or so. Check out the chart below for the different parts of the body that reflexologists believe can be effected by applying pressure:
Have you guys tried any of these methods? If not, which one do you think you would be down to try? Leave a comment and let me know!
Don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the #WriteOnWednesdays posts that I release every other Wednesday right to your email!
P.S. This is just another reminder that Immortal WhIIskey will be released 2/2/20 so be on the look out!
The older I get, the more I realize that Erykah Badu was really onto something.
“Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold onto, is you, is you, is you”
After getting into my car wreck back in October, I realized how much baggage I had.
The mental, the emotional, and the physical things around me all just seemed to weigh me down. Everything felt so heavy and ya girl was TIRED.
As I began to work through some of my emotional trauma, I realized how unimportant many of the material things I had were.
“One day all them bags gon’ get in your way…so pack light”
So I started thinking about the literal baggage I had. The “stuff”.
I began looking into minimalism and what exactly that meant.
“Simplicity”. That’s all I wanted.
During my depressive episodes, I have a hard time with cleaning and putting away my clothes so you can only imagine how many mounds I had in my room and on my closet floor. I’m sure my cat enjoyed it, but life can’t always be about Ziggy.
I remember looking at all the stuff I let accumulate around my room and thinking, “Why the hell do I have so much stuff?!”
I immediately went to the closet and began to rip items off the hangers. I took shoes from the shelves and tossed them in a box. I went through my drawers and threw out those bras that fit too small (I’ve finally accepted the fact that these thangs ain’t going nowhere).
Think I’m joking about donating most of my closet?
As I pulled crap out of my closet, I began to feel lighter.
The more I embrace the minimalist lifestyle, the more I realize the emotional and mental effects of living this way.
I cringe at over-indulgence now.
This also means don’t look at my photos too hard because you guys are going to realize I wear the same things over and over again. lol
I want to live in such a simple way that I don’t have to worry about the haziness of “things” getting in the way.
I am a strong believer that energy can be tied to items. So, letting go of things that were from ex-friends, ex-boyfriends, ex-family members, etc. helped me to also release that negative energy that may have been weighing on me emotionally.
“Girl I know, sometimes it’s hard and we can’t let go
Oh when someone hurts you oh so bad inside”…
“If you start breathin’ babe
You won’t believe it, it feels so much better”
I’ve said all this to say:
GET RID OF THAT EXCESS SHIT, SIS.
If you don’t need it, why do you have it?
That applies to people, things, whatever.
Look around you and only keep the essentials. Keep what doesn’t distract you.
Just because there’s an attraction, doesn’t mean it’s not a distraction! (Damn, I need to add that line to my next book)
Basically, Badu says it best:
“Bag lady, let it go let it go let it go let it go oh
Girl you don’t need it
Bet ya love could make it better”
Stay blessed, my friends!
P.S. Immortal WhIIskey (the second installment of my Immortal Whiskey book series) will be released 2/2/20. Check back next week for more details on the book!