Liking Yourself, Mental Health Awareness

Be weird and enjoy it.

Those of us with mental illnesses have no need for extra reasons to feel down. More often than not, it seems, we tend to feel down about ourselves. It’s a very hard habit to break. Make a mistake at work? I suck. Say something awkward in a conversation? I’m a weirdo. Did I forget to do something?! I’m an idiot! People like us are hard on ourselves.

I’ve recently been trying to change how I look at myself. It has taken me years but I think I’m starting to win. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m starting to feel okay with myself. I’m starting to accept myself for who I am. I’m acknowledging the parts of my personality I think people find weird and I’m being okay with being different. That’s huge for me.

I won’t sit here and say it was easy but I definitely don’t want anything to think it’s impossible. You CAN like yourself. I used to let my weird quirks hold me back. It doesn’t help that I’ve had people point them out to me. You know what did help? Taking a good look at the people who have always inspired me. I realized that some of the people I’ve looked up to throughout my life have also been a little weird or at least different as far as social conventions go. It made me realize that being different doesn’t mean I’m unlikable. Standing out doesn’t have to be something I’m ashamed of- I can embrace it.

You can be different. You can stand out. Don’t let it be the thing that holds you back. Let it be the thing that empowers you. Nobody ordinary ever made headlines. Ever hear of a boring inventor? No! They’re all eccentric and had their own unconventional ways of doing things. Read up on some of the most successful people in the world. They have a unique way of doing things or thinking about things and look where that got them. Compare that to your office full of coworkers. Everyone in your office is doing things the same way, afraid to go outside of the box. Go outside of your box! Decorate your box. Invite people to your box. Get a new box that has lop-sided walls and doesn’t close right.

Society tends to make people feel bad for being different and yet being different is how you stand out. In business, you have to stand out or you’ll never beat your competition. The point I’m getting at here is that from now on the next time you start feeling bad about how different you are from other people just remember- you could be boring like everyone else.

Go out there and be weird.

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Mental Health Awareness

Office Life

Working full time while depressed can be a real challenge. It’s even more difficult when you’re stuck in a corporate office. That’s where I’m at right now. I’ve always imagined myself being self-employed but just never knew what to do. Because of that I’ve been stuck working in corporate hell until I figure something out. Corporate life already sucks for some of us but when you’re depressed AND have dreams of getting out of the 9-5 life it can be crushing.

Sure, a full-time job isn’t all bad. Steady income, plenty of people to talk to, growing opportunities, blah blah blah. The problem is that while you’re guided to think you’re doing it for yourself you’re really doing it for someone else. Yeah, you’re busting your ass so someone else can grow THEIR company, not yours. Not all of us are okay with that, and it is certainly okay if you are, but for those of us who let our own minds defeat us all day the office life is like living in mud.

I live for Saturdays. All week I’m just dying to get there. I don’t get excited about much else. (That hurt just to type out.) I’m in school for what I used to think would be a great career but really, unless I find a way to do it independently, I’m just training for another corporate job. A life of servitude. I dwell on what I could be doing. Maybe I could use my degree to find a way to be self-employed. Maybe I can find other means. The problem is that I’m in a rush to find whatever that thing is so I never stop to really think about what I would enjoy doing. If I force myself into something I could still be unhappy.

I’ve been trying to make myself relax and just think about ideas and work slowly on improving myself instead of rushing into the first thing I think of. I’m trying to get myself to come to terms with the fact that it will take some time before I reached my ultimate goals. With that being said I’m actually a little calmer and I’m starting to look at all of my options more realistically. I have been able to narrow things down and see what are plausible opportunities. I’m also finding out what my true passions are. That feels like progress.

If you’re feeling stuck right now and want something new, I know this sounds counter-intuitive but slow down and just let yourself think about where you’re at and where you want to be. The rat race of normal life can be overwhelming for people like us and you’re probably dying to get out. You can, you just have to take little steps. If you see little bits of progress let that be your motivation to keep going. A strong word of caution: do NOT get stuck in the habit of wishing for overnight change. That puts the pressure of the entire plan on you and you will get overwhelmed and quit. Just take little steps. Even if you only work toward your goal for 1 minute a day. You’ll see little bits of progress and not only will you feel good about the work you’ve done, you’ll also feel more hopeful about your future.

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Mental Health Awareness

How to Saturday

Today is Saturday, my favorite day of the week. Why? Because I get to do nothing all day if I choose. I usually wake up when I want, relax for a bit with some coffee and about an hour or two of video games, then go out for some groceries and then to the gym. That’s usually about it.

When coming home from my grocery run today I noticed the parking lot in my complex was emptier than usual, even for a Saturday. I thought, “Well, it IS Memorial Day weekend so people are probably going out of town for…I don’t know, stuff.” Then it dawned on me- what DO people do on Saturdays? Am I the only one that uses my days off to sit around and avoid leaving the house? Holy crap, am I turning into THAT guy?

I used to do stuff. I used to have things to do on Saturday and now I use it as an excuse to specifically do nothing. I especially avoid socializing unless it’s with someone from out of town who I really want to see. At this point I’ve realized what my anxiety has turned into. I’ve always been somewhat of a hermit but I still used to go out and enjoy myself. Now the thought of leaving the house makes me nervous. The thought of going out in public makes me nervous. Even going out to see family and friends makes me uncomfortable.

My anxiety has grown into a monster that steals joy from my life. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your days off indoors with a good game but spending every Saturday by yourself while watching everyone else go out and have fun makes you feel kind of weird.

This makes me think maybe I am letting my anxiety control me too much. It might be time for me to take back control before I become even more reclusive and socially awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to prefer staying in with a game every now and then but I think getting used to going out and enjoying time with other people will do me a lot of good.

If you are also falling into this same rut, try to take little steps out of your comfort zone to see if that helps. That’s what I intend to do and I’m sure I’ll be back on here to give an update on the progress.

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Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized

Racing Thoughts

I don’t know about you but I deal with a lot of restlessness. More specifically, though, I’m talking about racing thoughts. If you’re unfamiliar with that term it means that several different ideas or thoughts are scrambling to take priority in your mind leaving you feeling like you have to provide a solution to all of them at once. This is maddening and is not only draining but also makes you feel very anxious. This is because every thought is fighting for priority so all of them are floating around the top, jam-packed.

Think about it like a computer. Imagine you have multiple OS’s installed on one computer and somehow it was trying to run all of them at once. For those of you who are not tech savvy it means you’ll get burned out quick and probably give up out of stress.

For some of us, this is a regular occurrence. It sucks down your energy and somehow leaves you with no completed task! How frustrating is that?! While I don’t have a silver bullet for you, I do have a suggestion that has helped me when my mind wouldn’t shut up. Write or type it all out.

Really? Yes, really. For me, it is like acknowledging the thoughts and giving them attention so your brain calms down about them. Then, with the permanence of having them on paper or a word/notepad doc, you know you can address them later and that usually helps relieve some of the anxiety. It might not completely alleviate the issue but it does have a soothing effect.

Give it a shot the next time you find yourself filled with rampant thoughts, unsure of how to deal with them. Take a second, stop what you are in the middle of, and start typing (or writing) away. If you have a lot of tasks you need to complete – write those out. If you’re just trying to relax and have something nagging at you – write that down. You can treat it like a journal entry. Sometimes that in itself helps you feel better. You might start working a problem out as you’re writing it and realize a solution, thus putting the thought to rest.

Writing in general can be therapeutic and I highly recommend it for any big thinkers but for people who frequently deal with racing thoughts I definitely suggest you give it a shot and see if you get some sort of relief from it.

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Mental Health Awareness

It’s easy as do re mi, ADD/ADHD, 123…

I’ve never actually been diagnosed with either but I’ve always thought I must be afflicted by one of them, given that I’ve never been able to sit still and no matter what I do cannot focus on anything for more than a few seconds at a time. Don’t even get me started on short-term memory. Whether or not I do have one of these disorders, I definitely sympathize with anyone dealing with them.

It is extremely frustrating trying to get through school when you can’t settle your mind long enough to read your assigned chapters. It is also discouraging when you’re in a team trying to work on a project and you have no idea what is going on because you keep spacing out or have forgotten what your current task requires. After a while, it starts to take a toll on your self-esteem. You start asking yourself if there is something wrong with you. You feel like a failure because for whatever reason everyone is working hard and knows exactly what they have to do and your mind is a blank slate. Well… not so much blank as much as it is pre-occupied with other things. It’s just that none of those things are helpful in that moment.

Here’s some light at the end of the distracting tunnel – I’ve recently stumbled upon ADHD lectures by Dr. Russel Barkley, thanks to the good folks at https://www.reddit.com/r/ADHD/. Not only does he explain what is really happening inside the brain of someone with the disorder but explains how to treat it.

I noticed while watching one particular video that some of the things he mentioned regarding habits and the best ways to handle them matched pretty closely to my experiences. He suggests a modified Pomodoro Technique, the 25:5 rule, and says people with ADHD benefit more from shorter bursts like 10:3. If you’re unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique I suggest looking it up if you are in school or tend to have a heavy workload. Essentially it’s about working in chunks and taking breaks in between. This keeps your mind fresh so you stay motivated. He said something about our “Executive Function” tank, which is our motivation to complete tasks, and how you’ll notice someone with ADHD can play video games for hours and yet can’t sit down and complete homework for more than a few minutes. It has to do with immediate rewards. It made sense, at least from my standpoint. My whole life I’ve loved video games and could sometimes play them for hours at a time and yet when it came to homework, even if the content was not exceptionally difficult, I could not complete it unless I did it little by little. I just never felt motivated to do it all in one shot.

I highly recommend looking up lectures from Dr. Barkley. You might learn a lot about yourself and hear suggestions about how to work more effectively. If you’re not currently getting professional help, after watching his lectures you may want to consider it. I know I am!

And as always, if you aren’t the one experiencing problems but have someone in your life who is, please do your best to be understanding of them. It helps their self-esteem and is really important for mental health awareness. People tend to feel alienated when they have mental health issues because of the negative connotation it has always held so let’s try to stifle that, shall we?

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