I’ve been told my whole life that there are two things you should never talk about openly: religion and politics.
And while I have a very liberal-minded attitude and I live more of a spiritual life rather than be devoted to a specific belief system, there is one thing that annoys the hell outta me as someone who lives with a mental health issue. There is one thing that makes me cringe a little on the inside, and that is when I’m told this:
“Thoughts and prayers are going to make [your PTSD] better.”
There’s an old belief that everyone wears different masks.
If you’re lucky enough to have zero qualms about the skin you live in and are 100% living your best self behind no walls and no masks, then I extend a “Bravo!” to you. Loving and accepting yourself for who you really are must be a freeing experience; to live your life regardless of what other people think and loving all the flaws and quirks that make you, uniquely you.
But for the rest of us who still struggle with appreciating our flaws and being comfortable in our own skin, sometimes we put on masks to present an “ideal” version of ourselves in order to save face (no pun intended). We present these “faces” to the world for many different reasons. To display a sense of confidence, to hide anxieties or worries, to “mask” qualities in ourselves that may seem “undesirable” or “annoying” according to societal standards. Even though we are moving into an age where differences are uniting us and quirkiness is admired, many of us are still too afraid to reveal our real faces, to show our true selves.
By wearing these masks, we create two different versions of ourselves, two different faces: the ideal person we want to be perceived as and the “real” us who we think doesn’t deserve gratification.
And just as we separate ourselves into who we think we should be and who we really are, my PTSD also presents itself as two faces. Keep Reading!
If you’re a person who changes their outfit five times before heading out the door, raise your hand.
Now before anyone starts pointing fingers, I’m not judging. I am also picky about the clothes I wear, despite always reverting back to ol’ faithful (a tee-shirt and skinny jeans). As an adult woman, there is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes it depends on the occasion, sometimes it depends on my mood, and sometimes it depends on the weather pouring out of the heavens. (It’s hard to wear skits and dresses in a place where it can get up to -30°C without freezing to death.)
And while I have the potential to throw on five to ten different outfits before heading out the door – ignoring the eye rolls and the endless “You’re beautiful no matter what you wear!” from my fiancé – is not always warranted from being “just picky”. It sometimes stems from something greater, something more profound.
Sometimes my PTSD is the demon lurking in my closet (and in my fashion choices).
Putting my own story out there was both the scariest and greatest thing I could have ever done. Opening up about my battle with PTSD and GAD has been both a solace and a therapeutic experience for me.
And while I am proud to stand up and fight for all those out there still suffering in silence, I realize there are days where I need the same support. There are days where I need someone to advocate for me.
I take a great deal of pride in being the first line of defence, someone brave enough to put their own pain in the spotlight to help make a difference, to help someone suffering in silence. It is a heavy burden and the ultimate reward to voice my opinions and to turn my own suffering into something positive. Being this vulnerable (and exposed) while walking this path has been humbling, but there is a price to be paid for putting my pain on display. There are sacrifices to be made in order to help someone else.
But the bigger question is this: Would someone else do it for me? Keep Reading!
Music is one of my greatest healing tools when it comes to my mental health.
2017 was a killer year for me, especially when it came to my mental health. For the first time in six years, I felt like myself and I didn’t have any major depressive episodes (that lasted for months at a time). It was a milestone that I am so grateful for. Not that I’m trying to diminish the impact my PTSD has on my mental health, but for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about starting another year off to a good start.
Has every day been great? No. Have I had my moments where my PTSD kicked my ass? Yes! But the one thing I’ve learned about my mental healthis that I take it all in stride. I take it day by day. I can’t predict how my mental health will play out over a week, let alone a month, or even a year. That isn’t something I have control over. The best I can do is take a deep breath and keep moving forward.
But I’m still determined to make the most of 2018, regardless to what the future has in store of me. I’m going to have some crazy and wild moments this year (and I finally get to marry the love of my life!), so in keeping my best foot forward, I’ve been keeping my music updated on my phone. I’ve been creating lists of kick-ass songs to help motivate me through the battles and songs to help me when I’m feeling a little bruised and battered.
By finishing another manuscript to one of the many novels I am working on. (Cue loud cheering!) After months of hunkering down and locking myself up in my writing den, I finally finished my NL novel, which is now officially titled, Where the Land Meets the Sea. Hopefully, with much luck and wishful thinking, I can get it published later this year.
But besides finishing another novel that I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into, I’m sure like many of you, I too sat down and wrote out some New Year resolutions and some goals I wanted to have completed by the end of 2018, both personal and professional.
And while maybe I have already broken a few of them (cutting back on Tim Horton’s ice capps…I am failing miserably so far!), there are some things in my life, no matter now much I plot and plan for, I have no control over.
Here we are at the end. Somehow most of us managed to survive the Christmas season mostly intact and if you’re anything like me, you spent the last few days in a haze of confusion while filled up on too many sweets and too many home cooked meals. It didn’t even really occur to me how close New Years Eve was until my friend texted me and asked what she could bring to our NYE party.
This time next week, the big man in the red suit will start making his rounds around the world, delivering treats and presents to everyone who was good this year. Kids will be leaving out milk and cookies (and maybe some carrots for the reindeer), and parents will be scrambling to wrap last minutes gifts and stock stuffers. (Ahem…I mean for the gifts that Santa won’t be bringing ;)!)
These next seven days are probably going to bring around chaos, both at work, at home, and of course stores and malls will be jammed packed with people who leave their shopping to the last possible minute. Homes will be bustling with laughter and cheer, while kitchens bubble with aromas of Christmas baked goods and preparations for large holiday feasts.
And while there is enjoyment in the chaos, these last ditch-efforts to prepare for a perfect holiday experience can be overwhelming. And if you’re like me, living with a mental illness that prevents you from processing stress on a normal-functioning level, these chaotic moments are severely overwhelming. It only takes one little thing to go wrong, or too much noise, or sensing someone else’s frustrations or tension to make me waver. It takes virtually nothing to send my brain into overdrive and suddenly I’m an anxious mess. Keep Reading!