Tag Archive | #selfcaresaturday

Rest and relief

Dedicated  to Michael Goncalves and the loved ones we have lost to suicide

Early in June, I had a day at work that left me drained, overwhelmed, and maybe even frightened at how low I felt.  I really felt the need to go back into therapy. That difficult moment did eventually pass. I spent decades working on strategies to self-regulate, to care for myself, and to deal with some of the challenges that I face.  I call upon that learning, training, and experience whenever I feel weak. I am grateful to be able to do so for myself.

This past June we lost fashion icon Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain to suicide. This week I lost a former student to suicide. Those deaths made me reflect on my own journey with depression and mental illness.  I have been open about my own struggles with anxiety and depression. I don’t talk about them as much in recent years because they’re not as central to my current experience. There may be times in the future when I face grief, loss, and other challenges of middle age.  My mental health has been foremost in my mind for the greater part of my adult life. It took me years to achieve that level of self-awareness.

The mental transformation that I have undergone took years.  There are times like that summer afternoon when I will feel as if all my progress has evaporated in moments. Suddenly my negative self-talk and  negative self-image will resurface. I may be healthy now but that doesn’t mean my negative self-image still isn’t there. I spent years loathing myself. That part of me still shows up now and then, those thoughts, those ways of seeing and perceiving the world. They don’t go away because of therapy or, for so many people, because of medication. Those negative thoughts and beliefs are some of the ways my mind responds to challenges.

I am thankful for all the work I put in for my mental health. I have known my therapist for half my life. There were times when I saw her once a week. I also took part in support group for three years.  I completed intensive work in various behavioral therapies.. That work was necessary and continues to be instrumental in my life today. I would not have made it through in my profession and in my personal life. I couldn’t be a parent today.

As we grapple with suicide, we are more open to discussing mental health.  It’s important that we recognize we are not professionals. We can’t take the place of professional help.  Some may think having good friends and a loving partner may be all the support needed. That could be. However, I know I needed my entire circle of family and friends supporting my journey, a great therapist, and my entire medical team involved. I am religious so my spiritual life and practices also changed and deepened. Working on my mental health included work in all areas of my life. It was a process.  I learned that I needed routine, discipline, and physical movement. Becoming mentally well took a monumental effort. I needed patience and faith that what I was learning would work. I had to have faith life was going to get better.

It hurt my heart when I learned of Anthony Bourdain’s death. I never met the man but I have read his books and he was fun to watch on TV. We used to joke we would have our own show, Latino couple traveling with toddler. It was easy for us to look at Bourdain and say that he was living the dream.  I was devastated when I learned my former student had died. I think about how he was always smiling, how sweet and happy he seemed. I won’t ever truly know anyone’s story or pain. We each have a journey and unfortunately some end in tragedy. Even though I don’t know what these men experienced, I remember my own struggles. I remember how sad, angry, frustrated, low, and miserable I felt. I remember wanting relief. I won’t ever forget. Those memories keep life in perspective.

I wish those we’ve lost to suicide rest.  I wish everyone grappling with mental illness relief. If you have been blessed with a truly healthy self-image and mind, be grateful. For some of us, it’s a daily effort to be well.  I hope to keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to others.

Bourdain_peru-1024x681

*National Depression Screening Day is October 11.  Learn more at Stop a Suicide Today

Advertisements

Scenes from a fender bender

download

A one woman show

 

Why are y’all texting me right now?

Did I not just say that I was in a car accident?

Now I love your thoughts and prayers and well wishes but I’m really not in the mood to answer questions

When these things occur, I want to call my mom. I want to call my boyfriend. I want to see my daughter. I don’t want to give explanations to my co-workers. Granted, that is the first place I called because that was where I was headed when all this happened.

But can we all just calm down with the texts and voicemails?

Y’all are okay. I like you. but you’re not my priority right now. I’m just saying.

 

So how is this going to work  in terms of getting ready for Carnaval? because my costume is super cute. I know I’ve been slacking on my fitness and diet. However I’m ready to eat clean and really hit the gym. I’m going to have to miss samba tonight.  I don’t know what my back is going to feel like tomorrow morning to lift weights. I really wanted to make my cycle class and boot camp this week. This is not working for getting fit for Carnaval. I can’t really do Pilates or much of anything with my back messed up. I’m hoping this is minor. I’ve been in a few car accidents like this in the past where I was just sitting there minding my own business when somebody plowed into me. I know this will be painful and stiff. As if I hadn’t already dealt with stiff joints recently. I won’t be able to turn my head. I had to be on the phone with the insurance and my medical provider before taking any kind of pain medication or icing my neck and back. This is not part of my fitness plan.

It is in these moments that I realize how fragile we are as people. I screamed at the impact. I screamed from shock and fear. It was a primal screen, the scream of a startled animal. I felt  so powerless in that moment. I didn’t know what else was going to happen. Would the impact hurt me? What happened to my car? What if that airbag had deployed? I could have suffered broken ribs or a broken nose. I cried later. I started to think about my daughter. What if it had been more serious? My life didn’t flash before my eyes. I barely  had time to even understand what had happened. I would want my life to flash before my eyes. I would like to remember every moment that’s been meaningful to me. Every moment is meaningful, even those moments when I’m incredibly weak and not my best self, like when I’m reprimanding my daughter over something stupid or snapping at my spouse over something stupid. I take it all for granted. I had a Thornton Wilder Our Town moment of realizing how precious it all is: the spilled orange juice, the dirty dishes in the sink, the dirty dishes in the sink, the funny text messages with friends, work being so tedious, steamed spinach, cold water. I don’t want to leave my daughter. I wouldn’t want her to cry or need me or miss me for the rest of her life.  I’m grateful that I’m all right because I can see M again, hold her, and tell her I love her. I can’t promise her anything because it’s not mine to promise.

On the plus side, I get some time off. God knows I’m done with the tomfoolery at work.  I’m so ready for spring break. I’m going to read and watch Netflix. I aspire to be a woman of leisure. Hand me the ice pack and remote.

Worst foe

“I been movin’ calm, don’t start no trouble with me

Tryna keep it peaceful is a struggle for me” by Aubrey Drake Graham

 

To all the fake traitorous former friends in my life and those of my loved ones:  You tried it!

 

Let go when a friendship falls apart

Can’t let it hurt your heart

Most friends who turn out to be false aren’t worth grieving

 

I gave you my time, my energy

I cared for you like I cared for my best friends or for my family

You played me

This is how you paid me

You betrayed me

How am I supposed to feel sympathy for your stupidity?

I have no pity left  

I don’t care about the hours spent giving you advice through conversations, through phone calls, through text messages

I care about myself which is what I should have been doing instead of looking out for your fool self.

Go lose yourself in your addictions, your questionable relationships, your time wasting

You need help, not my health.

I will pray for you but I won’t speak to you.

You took.

You damaged.

You go.

I will be tempted to be vengeful but I know that is not me. That is my anger against you. I refuse to give in to it.  

I have wasted enough of myself on you.

I will leave you in peace and I expect you to do the same.

Don’t speak on me

Don’t speak to me.

Do not come for me.

 

An enemy is an enemy

but a friend turned enemy is the worst kind of foe.

Please go or I will have to let you know.

That’s a side of me I don’t want to show.

I know better now

I know who you are

You’re not going to get far if this is how you do those that show you love

Now go on.  Go do you.

Let the universe handle you

ides_of_march 02

those damn Ides of March 

Betrayal

From Dangerous Liaisons

Literally back on the mic

563630_10150846592507784_1861641797_n

Though I began writing fiction at 9, I started writing personal reflections in my monthly column in La Voz de Berkeley when I was at Cal. I then created a blog, Mujer Hollering, inspired by that column, and more recently, my blog, Mujer Evolving. While writing fiction is a long-term goal, my #40blogsfor40days challenge is a great opportunity to share my work and honor my voice.

Smart-Voice-Recorder-Main-recording-interface.png

I have suffered from writer’s block for many years partly due to time management. So am I going to complete this writing during Lent?  I decided to solve the problem this year by beginning my blogs as voice recordings. During my morning commute, I have been recording five minute voice memos to capture my thoughts. There’s plenty of writing material whether it’s personal experiences, music, TV, or themes I have pondered.  The commute has allowed me time to do some uncensored reflecting. When I’m at the computer, I get stifled by the desire to wordsmith or produce a clear and concise piece in a short amount of time.  Drafting differently gives me a chance to voice my ideas.

Then it is time to transcribe. I don’t type it word for word. I do some revision as I go. Sometimes I stop the playback as I tend to speak quickly.  I don’t want to lose any key ideas. Once it’s transcribed, I read it. I start the editing process. I take out repetitious phrases. I rearrange paragraphs. I add topic sentences, details, commentary, and transitions. I was an English teacher for thirteen years so I have those skills to help me produce a polished piece of writing. The verbal rough draft and more intense editing process has allowed me to produce work that is much more coherent. I’m excited that this may be an opportunity to fully commit to writing on a more regular basis.

typed-writer