Why It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

I recently saw that sesame Street had introduced an autistic character into one of their episodes (see clip below)

People with anxiety related disorders often think there’s something wrong with us, that we’re somehow not normal. Well let me tell you that societal norms are a lie and I think the sesame Street episode in someway speaks to this though doesn’t necessarily go as far as they should into the idea. I think they get it right in saying Julia has a “Julia way” of doing things but I think they miss out on saying that when you don’t understand someone’s actions that they may not reflect on you but it’s just “their way” of doing things.

For me throughout much of my younger life I felt like an out cast because I thought I was “different”  because I made weird noise and did strange things (Tourettes) and would get anxious when my OCD acted up. I was lucky my mother reached out to the tourettes society of Canada who came in a spoke to my classmates and explained something similar to sesame Street that there was nothing wrong with me it was just “Dave’s way” of doing things.  This really helped my classmates sympathize with me and also made me feel more at home with myself. We all have “our way” of doing things the societal norm is a lie. 

As I grew up and into my teen years I learned to accept that I had my own way to do things abs the ticks grew less and when they did happen I learned how make them appear as if they were just a weird cough or stretch it was a good kind of “behavior modification”. The thing about “the way” that we handle situations  I is that it changes. The “Dave’s way” of my elementary years is far from the “Dave’s way”  of today. It really came down to patience, awareness and support (again God bless my mother for being there and helping assure me that it was in fact chemical imbalances and not a problem with myself). 

So now let’s get practical. How to get your way:

1) Realize that your condition is a part of who you are but doesn’t define you. It’s just your way of doing things.

2) Realize that you can take steps to change “your way” this is important because though maturity can help you with your issues without action your way can become even more of a problem. As I touched on before cognitive behavioral therapy is one method that has been proven effective along side medication. 

Until we speak again. Keep fighting the monster.

– The Survivor

“It’s Not Me It’s My Mental Health Disorder” A Mental Health Mantra

This article was originally going to be for my OCD fam (holla at your boy…But it has to be an even amount of times…Sorry OCD pun) but it really applies to anyone with a mental health disorder. It’s the concept of seperating your rational self from your mental health disorder.

I didn’t want to make this article very long because there’s a ton of good content on it however I did want to touch on it as it is the concept behind why I started this blog. So repeat after me “it’s not me it’s my mental health disorder” now do that as you slowly breathe in and out (I made an app for breathing at www.breatheandbecalm.com). Good for you! Step one taken. 
I find that by using this mantra always in the back of my mind I’ve really begun to come to terms with the reality that there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m not weak or “messed up” (though sometimes we all feel like a mess) my mental health disorder is a part of me but it’s not who I am as a person therefore it can be controlled. It’s the monster that needs to be fought and though you may never be free it’s symptoms through patience, self control, personal growth, medication (if needed) and therapy if possible (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been used very effectively see resources at end of article) though they may never go away it is possible for the symptoms to become manageable (ie my tourettes which is now managable).  Until we speak again, keep fighting the monster.

– The Survivor

What To Do When You’re Feeling Positive.

When you live with depression and anxiety most days you don’t know how your mood is going to turn out. That being said on days like today I am feeling positive and I am enjoying it. I think this is what feeling normal is like so I’m really savoring the moment.

It’s days like today that I really remind myself of how much I have to live for, to keep this in mind (write it down if you need to) then think about or read it when I am having a rough day anxiety or depression wise. I usually include people who care for me (often referring to them name), having a roof over my head, Food on the table. 

Sometimes even during the good days it’s hard to do but really dig deep even look at things internally for example (I am thankful for my ability to think outside the box), remember a joke you told? You can be funny right? If you’re still having trouble ask someone who loves you parents, significant other etc. to tell you all the things they value about you. Take these to heart they aren’t saying these things to impress you (they already love you).

I also like to suggest that you use the days you are feeling positive to share the love. I know struggling with anxiety and depression a smile from a stranger can make a world of difference. So take the opportunity to smile at people as you pass them by, even if they are total strangers, you never know what they are going through. I also like to look people in the eyes as often as possible, it makes them feel valued (don’t you find the same?). Finally remember to tell those that you love, that you love them and appreciate their support. They love you unconditionally even when you don’t love yourself.

It’s really important to savor the moment and share the love, remember that if you seek help and keep working at it you can get through the ups and downs of life.

Until we speak again keeping fighting the monster,

– The Survivor

Living With Uncertainty

Uncertainty sucks for someone with mental illness, it’s the things that fuel our fears. For someone like myself who lives with moderate to severe OCD (though it’s gotten better as I’ve learned to cope) it’s the thing that causes my mind to go in circles, rhuminate on a topic as they say. 

One of the things I’ve learned through therapy is that accepting uncertainty is a big factor in making living with OCD easier. 

This is really hard when you’re afraid you left the stove on and it could burn down the house, even though you’ve checked and confirmed that it’s off 5 times heh. Thoughts like this happen to me many times a day and it sucks but thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy I’ve learned to be more comfortable with uncertainty like this eventually you learn to identify these thoughts and accept them. Accepting that maybe you left the stove on and it could burn down the house is kind of weird but when you remember you checked it already it becomes normal and re-assuring and I’m learning more and more to trust that.

So I sit on the street car thinking about it and write this blog, I remind myself that uncertainty doesn’t always have to be bad. Uncertainty is brings opportunities it’s what fuels exploration, it’s exciting. I need to remind myself of this constantly to get through my day. In the end nothing stays the same and things get better, this I’m certain of. 
Until we speak again, keep fighting the monster.

– The Survivor

Here’s What I Do When I Get Confused By My Depression.

“Why are you so sad? Your life is great! Just Be Happy” – Society 

Today I thought it would be a good idea to talk about how illogical depression is. No I’m not saying you are wrong for having depression, I’m saying depression doesn’t make sense and it isn’t fair. However for us with chronic depression its something we have to accept as a facet of our lives.

I’m going to use my own life as an example here. I have a day job that I can say is close to being a dream job by most people’s standards, live in a nice condo and have a loving supportive family. I should be happy however many days I just feel sad, like there is no happiness, I don’t want to smile, I don’t want to talk, I just want to be left alone to curl into a ball and not exist. 

There’s a lot of things you can do to help with this (I am definitely pro medication when needed, exercise is important and many other things) but it always feels like it takes so much to do these things. One of the most important things I’ve learned to do is to call out the depression. So often we just accept the depression like “I guess this is just who I am” but it’s not true. 

Depression is not who you are, you are a beautiful human being which was created for love. You however are currently in a depressive state, I found by separating myself from my depression and learning how depression comes and goes I can accept the fact that I may be currently in a depressive state, it’s a part of me but not who I am. 

If I continue living my life, pushing through my depressive days and seeking help I can eventually be relieved from my depression. I know seeking help can be one of the toughest things to do but it’s necessary.

Until we speak again keeping fighting the monster,

– The Survivor