“Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that.”
“Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that.”
Google says: “Self destructive behaviors are any behaviors that negatively impact our mind or body by the life choices we make. Most people are unaware of their self destructive habits. Usually there is some problem with handling or expressing feelings. Self harm/mutilation is a pattern of intentional self injury not death.”
For people who are fortunate enough to not have any mental health issues, self destructive behaviors might seem like an odd concept. Why would anyone intentionally ruin what they have. When you think of self destructive behaviors you might think about self harm, or substance abuse. Would you think of impulsiveness? Sexual promiscuity? Laziness?
Ever since I remember first showing symptoms of anxiety and depression, I’ve been prone to self destructive behaviors. They’ve ranged from the typical self harm, drinking more than I should, to the maybe not so typical : laziness, sleeping all day, not using my full potential, taking the “easy way out”. In high school, I was promiscuous, which was just the type of self destructive behavior my brain craved. No I didn’t enjoy it, yes it came with a lot of regretful mornings and days I couldn’t bare going to school because of the ridicule. I hated it, and it made me feel awful about myself. At the time, I didn’t recognize this as a self destructive behavior. I thought I was the “fun” girl. It wasn’t until later in life that I could see the behavior for what it really was.
Later in life, the self destructive behaviors changed to sleeping all day, only to feel awful and useless when I woke up. Or intentially cancelling plans that I knew would help my mental well being. Or being so impulsive, when I KNEW I should be thinking about my decisions more, and knowing the consequenses would be bad, but doing it anyway.
It’s hard to explain why someone would engage in these behaviors, when it’s so obvious that they can ruin everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Part of me still doesn’t know why I do what I do sometimes, but from what I feel it’s kind of like this:
When part or most of your life is filled with mental illness, trauma, mental or emotional abuse, etc, your inner monologue begins to change. The voice that tells you, “you can do it!” changes to “You might as well give up, you aren’t worthy of happiness”. It begins to put you down, and make you believe that failure, and disapointment is what you deserve. It makes you feel like if you don’t ruin what is going well, something else will, and it’s easier to cope with something you’ve ruined yourself.
It’s a cycle that’s extremely hard to break. Ultimately, your entire way of thinking needs to change. These thoughts come when you feel low. When you feel insecure and undeserving of love, or happiness, or sobriety. It’s hard to flip a switch in your brain and tell that inner voice that , no, you do deserve all of these things. This won’t change overnight, and I am definitely not a pro. But with a lot of perserverence, you can start to drop those behaviors that have been holding you back so much.
One of the easiest things you can do when those feelings of self destructive behaviors start to show, is combat it with doing something that makes you happy. I can’t put enough emphasis on how unhappy these thoughts can make you feel. You begin to dwell on them and they become almost an obsession. So, do something you enjoy. If your brain is telling you you don’t deserve love and you should just end this relationship that makes you happy, go for a walk. If you’ve been sober for a week and having thoughts of “you’ll never be able to do this you might as well give in”, paint a picture or listen to your favourite song.
what I’m trying to say is change the atmosphere. Change what is happening outside of yourself, and inside it will change to, or at least start to.
one thing that is not always so easy to do, is argue with yourself. Debate with yourself. If your brain is telling you you’ll always be fat, so you might as well cheat on your diet; tell yourself you can be whatever you want to be, you are able and worthy of self improvement.
I won’t lie, this is hard sometimes. You’re literally telling yourself that what you’re thinking is wrong. It takes work, but it’s effective.
Don’t associate with people who want to bring you down. There are people that feel better when other people feel worse. It’s not just bullies. It can be family members or friends who have been there forever. They are battling their own issues, but if you are trying to better yourself, you need to surround yourself with people that make you happy.
Take care of yourself. You can’t always stop the behaviors. You can’t be happy all the time. You can’t completely take these urges to destruct away. But with consistently working on yourself, be it doing something you love, eating a healthy meal, surrounding yourself with people who only bring you joy, it can get easier to tell those thoughts to fuck off.
A helping profession is any job that either addresses a problem or assists in the growth of a person, physically, psychologically, intellectually, emotionally or spiritually. This can be a counselor, doctor, social worker, therapist, elderly care worker, or in my case, a Youth Care worker. (There are many different professions included in the helping profession category)
These jobs often call to people who have suffered trauma in their lives. Many of the people I personally work with have told me stories of bad childhoods. This unfortunately comes with a lot of mental illness, and a lot of struggles when it comes to the daily duties of the job.
Personally, my job consists of, but is not limited to, cooking, cleaning, playing with kids, watching movies and having fun. It is also filled with teaching, de-escalating crisis situations, consequences, and tears. My job can be full of laughter, happiness, and learning successes, and it can be filled with anger, paperwork, police visits, hospital visits and learning set backs. There are great days where I come home feeling accomplished and there are days where I come home and break down, feeling like my job is pointless and doing more harm than it is good.
When you are battling mental illness, you sometimes feel like taking care of your own needs is more than what you can handle. In a helping profession, you take care of several other people’s needs and sometimes yours get put on the back burner. It’s a balancing act, and self care, although important, sometimes get’s put on the bottom of your list.
These are some small but effective ways to navigate your mental illness while working a helping profession.
Take your meds
If you take any medications, remember to take them! Days can get busy, if you work residential you don’t get breaks, and it’s hard to focus on yourself when your clients need your help. But set an alarm, and remember to take your meds.
Eat healthy foods
whether you work in a group home, a hospital, in an office close to fast food restaurants, it’s often easier to grab something quick or eat what is on the menu. At my job most of the food is heavily carb and cheese based and can make you feel lethargic and overall just gross. I find when I make the effort to make something healthier, or bring my own lunch I feel much better. Also, EAT. I know when my anxiety is running high, when shit is hitting the fan at work, I just don’t eat. Make sure you are fueling your body to help not only your clients, but yourself, the best way you can.
Sometimes people forget how effective just talking to someone is. Having a counselor who you can go to about anything, including work, is one of the most powerful things you can do to keep your sanity at work.
Have a sense of humour about it
I can’t count how many times I have laughed with my co-workers about something that was scary at the time it happened. It is a proven fact that people in helping professions have a dark sense of humour, and although i’m not telling you to make fun of your clients, there is often a staff office for a reason. Laughing about situations that caused you mental stress helps, and it’s usually one of the only things that helps me leave it at the door when I go home.
Yes, Self care really is important
I always felt like the amount that my co-workers told me to practice self care was verging on annoying. I mean, they really drill it into your head. But as it turns out, they’re right. Take care of you, Because if you can’t take care of you, you can’t take care of your clients. Grow a plant family, take a hot bath, or binge watch that tv show. Whatever makes you happy.
Burn out is normal, and nothing to feel ashamed about
This isn’t really a tip, but a reminder. I’ve burnt out, twice actually. Don’t feel ashamed if you realize a month in, 6 months in, or 10 years in, that you need a break, or that the job isn’t for you. Be confident with your decisions, whether that be leaving for good, taking a break, or working on yourself. Sometimes, even when it is time to leave, people can feel guilty because their clients need so much and they feel like they’re abandoning them. But the fact is, you need to do what makes you happy, and although a helping profession is rewarding in many areas, it’s not for everyone. Take care of you.
Think of when you were at the lowest part of your life. When you felt like you couldn’t get any worse. When you felt helpless, or hopeless and you just couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. For me, that was in October of 2017.
I was working a job that I couldn’t handle. A job that I could no longer leave at the door when I went home. Every day I went in was like another brick added onto my back. If I wasn’t having panic attacks, I was crying. I was overwhelmingly sad and almost relapsed with self harm. I felt like I was broken.
I have always had these struggles, but in October they felt like they had grown bigger than me. Like I was small in comparison to them. Like I wasn’t me anymore, I was only my illness.
I didn’t laugh anymore, I didn’t dance, I didn’t talk to my friends.
My days consisted of sleeping in til 1:00 pm, crying in the shower, and forcing myself to leave the house for work, only to have panic attacks in the bathroom once I was there.
I was at the end of my rope, and there wasn’t a net to catch me when I inevitably fell. I couldn’t do anything but try to pick up all of my pieces and try.
So I tried.
It was a Wednesday at 11:00 am, I was experiencing yet another anxiety nightmare and woke up in a full blown panic attack. I immediately called my mom, saying the words I never thought I would: “I need to go to the hospital”
I’ve never been on medication for my anxiety and depression, I had never spoken to anyone, I had never tried to get help. I never felt “sick enough” to so I suffered in silence. But at this point, I felt like it was my only option left.
So after a 7 hour wait in the emergency room, I got some time off work and was advised to seek counseling. The next day I called the local community mental health office to make an appointment. I saw a counselor every 2 weeks and did CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). It helped. I finally felt like I could see a tiny light way, way, way down the road at the end of the tunnel. Every session the light seemed closer and closer, until it was time to go back to work.
This was hard. I mean really, really hard. It felt like everything came back. I started having panic attacks again, started feeling depressed. I could feel myself slipping back into that hole that I wanted so bad to be out of. I felt so stuck, like I had no control.
Then one day, it hit me. I had ALL the control. Sure, maybe I didn’t have control over what chemical inbalances I was dealing with, but I could control my surroundings. That day I gave my resignation, asked to be put on the casual list, and applied to university. I started eating healthier, lost 15 pounds, and started working on regaining “normalcy” in every area that it had disappeared in. I worked on my sleeping cycle, my relationships, my self esteem. I finally felt like I could breathe. I still suffer with anxiety, with depression. I still have days where I need to remind myself how far I’ve come with my coping skills and managing this ball and chain of mental illness. But I’m happier. And I have the support system I created by seeking help to thank for that.
I guess the point I’m making, is even when you feel like you’ve done all there is to do, when you feel like there’s no way out of this black hole you’ve fell into, you’re not broken. Get help. Call someone. You’re not alone, and you got this.
Now hear me out, I’m sure many of the people who write tips like these do actually struggle day to day with anxiety, but sometimes when I read them I’m like “seriously”?
Here are 5 real tips, from someone who really has anxiety.
this is a classic activity that is really easy, but really effective. Do you ever feel like you’re floating away? like your brain is so busy on other things, like bills that need to be paid, or a social event coming up that really has you feeling the heeby jeebies? Like you’re not really “here”. This activity is perfect for bringing you back to wherever “here” is. It is grounding and helps kick those bad thoughts out, even if it’s only for now.
5,4,3,2,1 is an activity where you either think or say out loud 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you smell, and one thing you taste. Yes it sounds trivial and childish, and yes it is a practice children suffering with anxiety use, but it works wonders for people of all ages.
Personally, it is an exercise I do almost every night in order to fall asleep and I promise, it works.
2. Stop trying to push away the scary thoughts
There are a ton of mental illnesses that come with intrusive thoughts. Some people without any diagnoses have them too. It’s the inner voice that beats you down. It can range from “stop doing this, you need to think about the essay you’ve been procrastinating” to “you are worthless, nobody likes you”
Unfortunately, these thoughts are a part of life. With anxiety can come more of these thoughts. Personally I have struggled with trying to not think about these when they pop up. Meaning, I hear my inner monologue tell me I’m garbage, or it’ll tell me all of the things I should be doing, but I’m not. I try to push them out, which ends up doing the opposite. I end up dwelling, freaking out, and spiraling into a panic attack.
It sounds dumb, but what works for me is just allowing them to happen. Yes, they come, they are scary, and they suck. But they pass.
I listen to my inner monologue, acknowledge it, maybe make a plan to approach the topic at hand later in the day, and they pass.
They’re going to happen, and they’re going to suck, but if you think “nope, not thinking about this what else can I think of”, you’ll end up always coming back to the thing you’re avoiding. Especially at night before bed.
I know, it’s the worst. Nobody wants to clean their house or apartment when they can barely get out of bed. But do it. Trust me.
Have you ever had a bad day or a bad week and your surroundings just start to fall apart? (yeah me too) How can you clean up your surroundings when you can’t even clean up your act? Put on some tunes, get into some comfy clothes and go at it, because a clear space is a clear mind, and when you crawl out of the cave that is a depressive episode/anxiety episode, you’re not going to want to crawl into a pig sty.
bonus: rearrange some furniture, open a window, buy a plant. Your space reflects your brain and your brain reflects your space.
4. Ditch the caffeine
Listen, Coffee is my savior. It is my church, it is my god, it is my soul mate. I get it. But when you feel your anxiety starting to rise and things starting to get on your nerves, drinking a coffee, especially if you like them strong, will only make it worse.
It’s only going to raise your heart rate, which adds to that shaky “off” feeling you are already experiencing from having high anxiety.
Have a tea, then have a coffee later or tomorrow, because coffee is life.
5. Get out of bed
Yes the bed is warm, yes it is soft and safe. Yes you can roll yourself up in a cocoon and disappear from the world, which seems great. What could be better?
I can’t even count how many times I have cancelled appointments, cancelled hanging out with friends, even called in sick to work because I felt like I “couldn’t” get out of bed.
But you need to get out of bed.
The world is scary. But it is great. You can’t do anything from inside your blanket cave. You can’t help anyone, or make anyone smile, or pet any dogs from inside your bed (unless you know, you have a dog). Yes it is safe, yes it is a comfort zone, but life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
I know this tip sounds like something your mother who doesn’t understand would tell you. “Just get out of bed” sounds patronizing, but it’s not. This is the best tip I can give you.
So just get out of bed, even if you feel like the blankets have turned into roots of a tree trying to pull you in every time you dig your way out. Try, because even when you feel like you have nothing to offer, you can still always TRY.
My name is Jessica, I’m 22 and I’m kind of a walking disaster. I am slightly addicted to coffee, I have a cat named Benjen, and I’m cripplingly impulsive. I recently quit my job and enrolled in university (hello, impulsiveness) and I hope to be a sex therapist when I “grow up”. But that’s enough fun facts for now.
So, why did I want to start a blog?
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. It’s not the best, in fact it’s kind of shitty. But like everything in life, it’s just something you need to find the good in. For me, the “good” is helping at least one person.
I’ve always wanted to reach people. To make them feel like they aren’t alone. I’ve tried YouTube, where I shared my struggles, my accomplishments, my good days and bad. But as exciting as having a YouTube channel is, some days I just couldn’t roll out of bed and put on my face to sit in front of a camera. It is the sad truth of mental illness.
I have bad days, and I have great days.
I am anxious, but I am optimistic.
If you are interested in what I have to say, for any reason whatsoever, feel free to join me along this journey of self-exploration-whatever this is.
Thanks so much! Keep an eye out for e-mails!
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