Forest bathing

Lately I’ve been spending as much time as I can outdoors. I’ve found that after a hike or even a short walk on the beach with Kona, I’m a little lighter and my mind is less crowded. 

My most favorite are the longer hikes through the quiet woods. I feel safe, mainly because of Kona, but also the peace that lives among the trees. I imagine the ancient wisdom that lives in the trees and how with each falling leaf, they pass on their magic to the growing plants below. 


In Japan, doctors actually recommend some patients to visit the woods in what has become Shinrin-yoku or, “forest bathing”. The concept, talked about here, speaks of restorative benefits to body and mind. 

After my time outdoors, I feel myself having shaken free the tough encrusted layers of the days and weeks before, like a snake that shed the skin that feels too small. 

I’m ready to let myself feel all the emotions that will come, and that I’m better prepared to handle them. I know the anxiety and depression will return from it’s waiting place on my horizon…but I know a place to come back to that can help. 


I’ve breathed in, and saved some of the peace I’ve found to carry with me. 

I hope others can find a way here to shed some of their weight…and let the wind through the trees carry it away. 

Tiny Conquests 

Today, I went to the gym. 

Now that may not seem like something to post a blog about, but that’s exactly why I’m doing it.

I haven’t exercised in about 2.5 months. Before that, I was always at the gym or going for a run. I lived for that rush of endorphins after a solid workout. 

Lately though, I’ve been exhausted and my drive to do anything has been at an all-time low. If I didn’t have to be at work, I would have accomplished nothing. 

I dragged myself to the gym after work today and put in a good 45 minutes of sweat-inducing cardio.

I congratulated myself after. I internally gave myself 2 thumbs up. Instead of punishing myself for being so lazy, I’m being kind to my mind and body.

This is what we need more of: cheering ourselves on even when we just get out of bed.

Because sometimes even getting out of bed is a huge accomplishment for those with mental health issues.

Let’s make a commitment to go easy, be more kind and compliment ourselves on those tiny steps we take.

They make all the difference.

Sex, drugs, & the eventual toll

The pressure to perform is everywhere: Look sexy, be sexy, feel sexy. Do it for you; do it for your significant other. 

It’s important for the success of your relationship that you ‘put out’ on the reg. This thinking is set in stone everywhere I look. I can’t deny it either, though…

But what happens when the medication you take wipes out any sex drive you may have had? 

This recently happened to me. Or well, to us, my husband and I. 

My SNRI, along with life stressors, completely deleted any notion of sex from my mind. I didn’t think about it, I didn’t even know how much time went by  since the last time we were intimate. 

I didn’t realize it until my inattention was made known to me. 

Then came the guilt…the feeling that I was letting our relationship take a back seat. My emotional health was so important that I never really thought about his. 

So I stopped taking them. I wanted my sex drive to resurface. I wanted to be sexy. I wanted to feel sexy. 

After a few days, I became so unbelievably agitated at something Kona had done, something trivial that my reaction was unwarranted. 

Instead of snapping at me or getting angry, Nathan asked if I had forgotten to take my medication. He told me nothing was worth me allowing my depression and anxiety to take over my life, not when I have a way to stop it. He held me as I fell apart in front of him. 

That moment changed me, unbeknownst to him. 

I resumed my SNRI but I felt the guilt fall away and I saw my husband as a person that fights with me, a champion for my mental health.

I know it won’t be perfect. I still have days where the last thing I feel is pretty, let alone sexy. All I feel is the blanket and couch surrounding me, numb and lost. 

But together we have grown, and learned and love deeper than ever before. 

It’s tough, but worth it. 

By my side

As nice as it is taking time to be thankful on this particular day, I feel it’s important to be grateful every day for all of the little things that sometimes go unnoticed:

The moments in between dark times…where I can breathe freely with none of the static in my mind and chest; 

My husband that listens without trying to fix things and knows I need to just be;

My sister that allows me the opportunity to share things I’ve learned, and to learn more;

My few but close friends that are precious gems in my life…bringing their own facets of light;

My furbaby Kona, that has given me the best therapy a life could offer.

All of these things I know I have taken for granted on many occasions but without one, I’d most surely fall apart.

Every day, I need you guys. 

And for every day, I am grateful. 

Dandelions 

I’ve been very diligent in taking my medications over this past weekend. My depression is held at bay, yet the anxiety worms through the cracks like stubborn weeds. 

I spent the weekend at Disneyland with my sister celebrating her birthday. It was so nice to get away and be in a new place. During our time, we had a lot of heartfelt conversations…we dived deep into emotions and thoughts of the past and present…and hopes about our futures. We have such similar emotional responses to things. It’s comforting that there’s someone like me but also worrisome: I don’t want her going through the things I have. 

I know I have zero control over how my sister feels and reacts to things…I just hope that I can be a resource she knows she has within her reach. 


So thankful for the good times. 

Pale horse 

I have forgotten my medication for the past 2 days and lately the effects are a lot less forgiving than before. 

The nightmares have me waking up in a cold sweat full of fear. The days drag on and in them comes anxiety that grips my insides…moments that have me frozen in a state of insurmountable panic. I stare off in a daze until it passes. 

I’ve somehow managed to drive home completely unaware of how I did it. 

But…I can only blame myself for forgetting something I can’t live normally without. 

What I wanted, frankly, was someone who would argue me out of the things that I was thinking. -Agatha Christie, The Pale Horse 

 …As I take this pill I also take with it the fear that my life is inextricably tied to it. 

It’s as much a part of my life as anything could be and I’m bitterly grateful. 

Cheers…

Friday Feature: Episode 1

I got the privilege to interview a very close friend of mine. Sometimes you meet someone and you just click; as if your own life story was on their bookshelf and they understand you. That’s what Coral has been to me. Many thanks to her for this opportunity…

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How would you describe your association with mental health?

When you grow up poor mental health is viewed as a luxury – when your family is struggling to meet basic human needs mental health becomes an ailment for the privileged and wealthy. Not only growing up poor but also Catholic, mental health is not only seen as a ‘luxury’ but shameful and something viewed as a ‘dirty’ family secret. Since I can recall I have experienced this internal battle between my own depression and the negative perception of mental health implemented on me as a child. Now in my mid 20’s with beliefs completely contradictory to those I was raised in, I still find a piece of myself interpreting my depression as a shameful burden to burry within which is completely contradictory to my education.

 Have you ever tried to attribute your thoughts and feelings to reasons other than mental health issues? If so, why?

Most definitely! I think a woman’s experience with depression is much different than a man’s – primarily because of the gender stereotypes and characteristics society identifies as ‘female’. Women are inflicted with this intense pressure to always appear cheerful and welcoming, forever donning the perfect smile. A woman experiencing depression will obviously not abide by those guidelines so we are not only carrying the burden of our mental health, in my case depression, but we are carrying society’s standards as well. Prior to accepting my depression I would attribute my ‘episodes’ (as described by my family) as being overly exhausted or not eating enough or healthy enough or being ‘moody’ all of which I have come to learn are symptoms of depression. I think I would create these excuses because of the shame associated with mental health and because people expect certain behavior and characteristics from not only women but from Coral (me!).  

 How long have you dealt with issues of mental health, whether yourself or others?

I honestly believe I have been experiencing depression since my preteen years but due to the lack of conversation within my family I didn’t have the proper vocabulary to identify what I was experiencing. Now in my adult life I have found solace with my sister who also experiences depression.

 What are some things people have said to you that helped you, and what were some things that were not helpful at all? 

The two women closest to me, with the exception of my mother who doesn’t view mental health the same way as I do, have undoubtedly helped me. Their help isn’t from the things they say but more so the unwavering support and understanding. When I am experiencing depression I don’t need uplifting words – the power of having women in my life that understand what I am experiencing is invaluable.

 

“You have the power to get yourself out of your funk”

“You’re choosing to be like this, snap out of it”

“You just want an excuse to be down”

Those are some things I’ve been told that obviously do not help when you’re depressed and are said by people ignorant to mental health.

 What would you like to say to your younger self if you had the chance?

Pull the power you have deeply stored within your being – and remember there is an essence to being a woman that cannot be snuffed, especially a woman with experiences both good and bad. You got this bitch.