Laughter, considered “the best medicine” and I would have to agree. Through so many of the hard moments that my son, Philip, faced, he still would laugh and smile. He was always trying to make others happy, even when he was holding the weight of the world on his shoulders. He had an amazing sense of humor, often very sarcastic like me.
When Philip passed away, I was adamant that his funeral not be somber, he wouldn’t have wanted that. He would want everyone to smile and laugh like he did, up until the end. So, we reminisced about his life and shared funny stories, for there are many involving him. It was amazing to hear others speak fondly of their own experiences with Philip and it uplifted us all during a very difficult time.
I still keep laughter in my life, even though there are days where I cannot hardly stop the tears. Some may feel guilt for having happiness when they have lost a loved one so tragically, but I do not. I know that laughter, happiness and a smile are all the things that keep Philip’s spirit alive. © -Mac
“It is only when we feel deprived that we resent giving to others. Self-care does not mean you stop caring about others; it just means you start caring more about you. Start thinking about yourself more and others less. Since you have a choice between taking care of someone else, or giving to yourself, try choosing yourself sometimes.” ~Beverly Engel, The Right to Innocence
The world is giving us lots of imput, and constantly things are coming at us, all while we are being faced with choices. There are times I feel my mind slipping, getting caught up in these things that are really unimportant and of no consequence. Control of my depression and anxiety will start to fail. Then I begin to feel that I am no good to anyone and a fog settles into my mind. I’m in the fast lane but I’m about to cause an accident because my vehicle’s ‘check engine’ light is on.
More and more I realize how important it is for me to take time to pause. I need to renew self so that I can get through life as a mom, wife and person. I have to make this time a necessity and not just a luxury. Call it a mental health day or call it ‘me’ time, but it is what keeps me sane.
What types of activities do I do with this time? Well, everyone’s idea of what is enjoyable differs. But, some activities, no mater the person, can be quite theraputic. I have found art, journaling, meditation and yoga are useful for everyone. There is much scientific research that backs this up. I can attest that these are all amazing ways to bring my mind back into focus, clarity and at peace.
As for other options I choose to do with my free time– I enjoy hanging out at Starbucks or walking around my favorite store, going to the library, strolling on the beach and doing photography. These pastimes are inexpensive or free, but do so much to help me feel refreshed and get my motor running properly. So, I hope that you will be sure to take moments to relax and renew yourself too, remembering to slow down once in a while before you crash and burn.
I’d like to touch on the topic of anxiety. This is a mental health ‘issue’ that touches my family immensely. Between myself and one of my children, we have the market cornered on life with anxiety. It is a genetically inherit trait, along with depression, both running on my side of the family. Unfortunately, my two teenage children and I have depression as well.
My youngest also suffers with social anxiety. Influencing all facets of life, from the struggle to be at extended family events, making friends, ordering a meal or engaging with a cashier. As a teenager these are things most would consider fairly mundane parts of life and take for granite even, but this is not the case here. The anxieties at times can affect life for the whole family. Unannounced anxiety enduced nausea or panic attacks; these can interrupt family outings or keep us from even making it out the door. And, although my two teens are best friends and can engage each other with ease, I do worry what life as an adult for my child will look like. Cognitive therapy (CBT) is a useful tool that we do have, but anxiety will still always play a part in life.
My anxieties are a bit less apparent as I do not have trouble with interactions or engaging in public. My anxiety tends to be in the form of stressful situations. I can have panic attacks when my mind takes over a situation. Whether I begin to feel claustrophobic or I feel like I may be in a confrontational situation. These can send me, but not always, which is the disconcerting part. I find having a strong mind and being in control, keep me centered and away from the panic attacks. Relaxation, meditation and time to myself are great therapies for me, along with good support from my family.
Life with anxiety does not have to be all-consuming, but it can be. However, overall I believe our family has learned to cope with it and just go with the flow most of the time. Afterall this is really all we can do, as well as, being super supportive and understanding of one another. Strength as a family unit is certainly a key part of successful daily living with mental health struggles.© ~Mac
I let you in, under my skin
Keeping you all for all time, but became a mime
Inviting you to go, you said no
Then want you to stay, hope I can live this way
A bird in a cage, filled with rage
Damn depression you suck, with you I’m stuck
Confusing my reality, set me free
The cycle is just insane, but yet you’re my bane
I push you away, beg you to stay
I must except this reality, you’ll never let me be
Afraid what I’ll find, in my mind
The fog keeps me in denial, it makes me so vile
Continuing I cope, filled with hope
That one day I’ll be free, no longer a you and me©
I was contemplating what a good piece would be for today, and came up empty. Really, like feeling a bit dry, running on low. I feel the need to keep it real here. It is important and also encourages others who struggle, as I do, to do the same. My life and emotions are just zapping me these days. I have a bit going on in the personal baggage department. And, then of course the holidays and all those mixed feelings, as I shared here. Shorter, cooler days and less sun also aid in my depression and insomnia flare ups.
So what do you do when things just get too overwhelming? Or like myself you find you’re running on empty?
Well, I have found that blogging has been a great therapy for me. But, it’s not always a place I can freely flow with every thought. So, finding a creative outlet elsewhere has been key for me too, over the years. Drawing and music are valuable to me. I can sit for hours just putting pencil to paper and playing a collection of eclectic artists. I go from heavy medal and hard rock all the way to piano music. With my creative flow it takes on a personality of its own. I will figure out as I go, as the music moves me. Sometimes it’s interesting what comes out at the end, often quite based on my musical connections.(Be sure to see my drawing below.)
Last, I cannot express how much finding kindred souls has helped! Through blogging I have found many that connect with me on different levels of understanding and empathy. Those that touch base with me daily and extend words of kindness to me. Going perhaps on just a vibe from an emotional piece I’ve written. These I cannot treasure enough. It is salve to the soul to have these connections.
Empathy is a beautiful and refreshing quality, but can also be abused by others. As an empath, I find myself at times drained. The world likes to siphon strength from me, down to my heart and soul, until nothing but my shell remains. The arts, writing, music and blogging- these are the fuel that I must use to refill and empower myself. It does take time and effort, but I do know that this too shall pass.
I cannot emphasize enough how much it means to me when you leave a comment, even just a “hello” brightens my day. So, thank you!
The below came of listening to Poison’s “Every Rose Has A Thorn” and Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” 🙂
©Every Rose by SBDMB (MM)