Living With Depression and Anxiety as a Young Woman in Her 20s

“…focusing on myself this past year has been a roller coaster of emotions but I’ve made improvements and I know I will continue to do so…”

In today’s society, there is a stigma placed around mental health and, in particular, depression and anxiety. Some people have a hard time grasping how depression and anxiety can affect someone so deeply that it leaks all over and affects every aspect of their life. As a 26 year old woman, I have dealt with depression and anxiety for over half of my life.

I’ve gone through and put my family and friends through the ringer at times whether it was my battle with self-harm or my questionable life decisions. I’ve been on medication for most of my struggles and continue to stay up-to-date with my prescriptions through my psychiatrist. While I stand by the idea that medication isn’t for everyone, it certainly has been and is for me…at least for now.

Having such an up-close experience with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety, there is one factor that, for me, seems to affect it the most: environment. This applies to both personal and professional environments, especially when one directly affects the other.

In the situation of my last relationship, it got to the point where I would no longer go out with my friends for fear of upsetting my ex. In my mind, I would rather sacrifice spending time with my amazingly supportive friends than deal with him being upset and verbally abusive when I came home. I couldn’t even truly be myself as he would constantly berate me for my “childish interests” such as enjoying Disney or playing on a community quidditch team. As a result, my frame of mind was severely affected.

I would end up in tears daily, regardless of if I was at work, in public, or at home, and spend a lot of time and effort trying to cover it up to make myself look okay.

I started sleeping more to avoid the stress of being at home. He could sense my depression and would insist that my mood was the cause of his temper and irrationality. When the verbal and emotional abuse first started, going to work became my refuge. It was a place I could get away and be myself without being judged or put down. However due to technology making everyone so frustratingly accessible, he soon began to consume me at work as well. My work performance suffered as a result and that is when I started to see that no matter how hard I tried, nothing would be good enough and that I couldn’t help him in the way he need to be helped.

After moving back in with my moms, it took a while to start feeling like myself again. I had moved into a more ideal home environment, but that meant leaving some people that I love behind. My friends were all very understanding of my decision to leave, but that didn’t make leaving them hurt any less.

Moving back to Pennsylvania meant finding a new job. The job I got as a mental health worker at a psychiatric residential facility for youth came with its own stress. While that kind of stress was one I had dealt with before at previous jobs, it wasn’t one I was keen on returning to. But I needed a job and this was a decent one that I could get quickly.

Working with kids who have constant suicidal ideations and/or erratic and aggressive behaviors puts a toll on the employees’ minds and bodies. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always super stressful and I really did enjoy the work I did with the kids. However the days that were stressful, were usually filled with enough stress for at least a week. I stayed at that job for a year and had definitely reached a point where I needed a less stressful job and one that pays better. The mental health field is one that is severely underpaid and that in and of its self adds a whole other stressor.

Last month I started a new job as a living well specialist working as an advocate and support for youth and adults with disabilities. It has been going extremely well so far and I have high hopes for my future in this position. I’ve been taking is so much new information that sometimes my brain feels like it’s going to explode, but I’m working on my organization along the way so that I can reference back to everything I’ve learned. I have already noticed a rise in my mood and have been experiencing less anxiety. There have been the occasional setbacks, but overall things have been looking up!

Photo: TCP Photography

Another part of my life that I attribute to having been less depressed and anxious is getting back into quidditch again. Quidditch is a part of my personal environment that I severely missed and desperately wanted to get back into. Joining the Philadelphia Freedom team has made me happier than I have been in a very long time. I’ve been able to find a family in them and I’m so grateful for their love and acceptance.

So how do I live with depression and anxiety as a young woman in her 20s? While medication definitely helps regulate my symptoms, taking life day by day is the best thing I can do for me right now. I have a few friends that I can be completely honest with about how I am feeling and they have been amazing supports during my low and high points. I also talk to my mom a lot. She has her own mental health struggles and understands a lot of what I say on a personal level. I also attend therapy about once a month and I cannot stress enough how beneficial therapy can be!

There are definitely days that are much worse than others, and in those times the motivation to write and do the things I love is very low. But those days are coming less and less as time goes by. Focusing on myself this past year has been a roller coaster of emotions but I’ve made improvements and I know I will continue to do so.

My advice to other young adults struggling with depression and anxiety is to be honest about how you are feeling. Those around you can’t read minds and even if you just want to be left alone, tell them you’re not in the best space but would prefer to be alone for a bit. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can be anything from a crisis hotline to a friend to vent to. I tried handling things all on my own for a long time before I finally reached out and trust me, it helps. If you feel you need a little bit more one-on-one help, I strongly encourage you to look into therapy. A lot of companies these days have Employee Assistance Programs that can help connect you with someone and maybe even provide some free sessions!

There is no “cookie-cutter” way to deal with depression and anxiety, this is just how I view my journey with them and how I try to keep myself going. Navigating your mental health can be frustrating and exhausting…just remember that even if today sucked, tomorrow is brand new and has the potential to be the best day ever!

Until next time…

Love always,

Caitie ♥ 

5 Low-Key Coping Skills For When You Can’t Walk Away

Ever get stuck in a spot where your anxiety is sky-high, but you’re surrounded with no real exit strategy? Maybe you’re at a work meeting or a concert with friends and the chances of you being able to slip away are slim to none. Yeah, me too. The trapped feeling that is quick to follow only makes things worse and harder to handle. 

When it happens to me, it’s usually when I’m at work. My job can get pretty damn stressful at times and it takes all I have not to freak out. There are also times where it is calm and leaves me time to think. Sometimes when I think too much, my anxiety skyrockets but most times I still can’t walk away. 

Having a coping skill with you everywhere you go can be the best way to combat anxiety and it might be easier than you think. To have a coping skill with you doesn’t necessarily mean you have to physically have something with you and let’s not forget that not every coping skill will work for every person–everyone is different, requiring different things to calm them. 

That being said, here are five low-key coping skills to try next time you can’t step away…

Deep Breathing

This is a coping skill that is widely overlooked. Truth is, taking some deep breaths could be just what you need to keep yourself calm. Sometimes this is all I have at my disposal at work and while it definitely isn’t my first choice of coping skill, I make it work!

Deep breathing can help lower heart rate as well as relax the body’s muscles. Try following the inflating shape, syncing your breathing!

Fidget Cube

Fidget cubes are perfect for work meetings when you start getting restless but need to pay attention. They are discreet and can be used under a desk or table to keep from distracting others! I don’t currently have one of these but I really wish I did!

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is whimsical in nature due to its true variability. Different scents can trigger different responses. Carry a small spray or scent roller (or hand sanitizer in my case) of whatever scent gives you the relief you’re looking for! Some scents that promote relaxation and stress relief are lavender and eucalyptus. I, personally, carry eucalyptus spearmint hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works with me.

Neck Rolls

Built up stress and anxiety can contribute to muscle tension along with everyday activities such as driving or working on a computer. Taking a minute to stretch and roll your neck can help relieve that tension and even improve your mood once that tension is lifted a bit!

I find myself stretching out and rolling my neck a lot lately so it definitely wasn’t a surprise when I got a massage last week and the masseuse told me my neck and shoulders were extremely tense and full of knots. However, when I do stretch it feels better at least for a little bit. 

Slime/Putty

Slime may be a fun craft to do with kids, but I, a 25-year-old woman, love me some slime. In fact, I recently made some slime for myself with one of my best friends because she had bought a kit and we were bored! Now I use that slime all the time.

This is a coping skill that can help keep your hands busy and your mind focused on something other than what is around you. It can be made or bought in small batches so it has easy portability! I bought a mini one that I keep in my backpack!

Personally using four of these five coping skills, I am confident that they could work for others! All you have to do is give them a chance! The girls I work with use all of them, though they tend to tell me to shove it when I suggest they try deep breathing…

I’d love to hear what coping skills work for you, especially those for when you’re in a situation you can’t walk away from! Drop a comment below ↓ 

Until next time…

Love always,

Caitie ♥ 

All About Mental Health Stigmas

The mental health sector has faced negativity from the beginning of time and, unfortunately, that negativity probably won’t go away any time soon. What people need to realize, though, is that mental health is a much bigger issue across the world. The World Health Organization and the WorldEconomic Forum reported that mental illness is the largest economic burden of all health issues worldwide. In 2010, $2.5 trillion was spent on mental health and it is projected to reach $6 trillion spent by 2030. That’s a shit ton of money. You would think that with all of that money being spent, people (especially employers) would put more emphasis on taking care of your mental health as well as their own.

Mental health stigmas can be separated into two categories; public and self. Public stigmas can often lead to self-stigmas within mental health patients.

Public Stigmas: come from negative beliefs about people with mental illness. This usually involves a negative emotional reaction or interaction. The mindset of the public stigma is that mental illness is something to be feared and contained.

Self-Stigmas: come from a person with a mental illness having negative beliefs about themselves. This often results in people with those negative beliefs not seeking proper treatment and ultimately getting worse.

Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigmas

  • Proper self-care: find what works for you. Running, binge-watch Netflix, volunteer…the possibilities are endless.
  • Proper treatment: there is no shame in asking for help. Finding the right course of treatment can make a world of difference, so sometimes patience is necessary.
  • Self-education: do your research! But also make sure you’re getting your information from the right places.
  • Be open and honest: mental health is not something to be tabooed. Helping to show that having a mental illness does not mean you can’t function in public will only aid in decreasing public stigmas.

The best way to change these stigmas is through education and training. It is common for some people to be scared of professional punishment at their workplace due to having a mental illness and they are unsure of how their boss might view it. For example, police departments are slowly starting to realize that more training on how to interact with people with a mental illness is necessary. In turn, police departments do not always consider how mental health could affect their officers. Most departments only mandate treatment once something bad has happened.

I was extremely fortunate to be a part of a team in Massachusetts working as a foster care caseworker that put self-care and mental health at the forefront of pretty much everything. Every time I went into supervision I would be asked what I was doing for my self-care. Our program director even set up outings for us which included activities like escape rooms or ending the day early to get food and drinks as a team.

When I left that job, it was very unexpected and quick due to the situation I was in. And by quick, I mean within a matter of days. I can not express how grateful I am to how my boss and co-workers responded. All they cared about was that I was safe and making the right decisions for my well being. The job I have now as a mental health worker (direct care staff) had me fill out a self-care card on my first day of orientation and asked that I have it with me while working. 

Don’t let anyone dull what sparkle you have by labelling you based on your mental health. You are more than that and deserve more than that!


Love always,
Caitie ❤

To The Person Lost Inside Of Their Own Head

They say you’re supposed to be safest with yourself. But what if inside your mind is the most dangerous place?

You’re an over thinker. You think of every single possible outcome but you tend to focus mostly on the negative ones. In your mind, good things don’t happen to you–or when they do, something bad is surely not far behind.

That negativity seeps in from your mind to your body and you don’t do anything remotely productive for days. Staying in bed, going in-between sleeping and binge-watching Netflix, seems like the best thing in the world because you just can’t bring yourself to get up.

When you do get out of bed, you’re rundown and tired but try to compensate with exuberance. Except that doesn’t always work out. You put on a front and act as happy as possible because that’s how you want others to see you. Happy.

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Your thoughts get so loud that the anxiety peeks out as tears show up uninvited, but you’re in public so you try so hard to hold them back that it physically hurts. You’ve gotten pretty good at hiding it, but sometimes you can’t stop them so you excuse yourself because crying in public is frowned upon.

Due to all of this, you’re pretty sure you’re just crazy despite several others telling you the opposite. Your mind rallies behind the negative thoughts and feelings until you feel as though there is no positivity left within you.

If any or all of these sound familiar, know that you are not alone. I know all of these things to be true because they’re me, too. I get so negative in my mind that I’m all but fully convinced that I’m going to be stuck for the rest of my life. Stuck in one place, doing one thing, with just one person: myself.

Being alone in the present isn’t what freaks me out. Being alone for the rest of my days with 20+ cats for company is the scary picture in my mind. I fear I’ll never get to see all that I want to because I’ll never get out of the financial hole I’ve found myself in. I get stuck on the thought that I’m not good enough to do or be anything but what my life and self currently are.

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I think I’m crazy because my thoughts won’t stop and won’t gravitate anywhere near positivity. They consume me and make trying to do anything else an intense struggle. I meditate, work out, write, and more to try to distract my mind into motivation. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does long enough for me to forget about the things that stress me out for a bit.

You may have gone through some shit to get your mind where it’s at or you might not…and let’s not forget that everyone’s definition of “going through some shit” is different. For me, my last relationship really messed with my head from the verbal/emotional abuse and manipulation. I’ve been struggling long before that, but a part of me broke over the last couple years.

If you are someone who knows a person lost in their head, please be patient. It’s a tough road to journey on and it doesn’t help to have others saying things like “suck it up, it gets better” or “you’re just being crazy, you’re fine”. Instead, be supportive and ask if there is anything you can do to help. Honestly, most of the time the answer will be nothing. It’s literally the thought that counts! Everyone needs a little help now and then even if it’s just needing a shoulder to cry on.

If you’re like me, we are stronger than we think. These feelings are not forever and will fade with time and work. How much time is impossible to say. It sucks now, but finding your way through is all you can do.  Whatever we’ve gone through, it’s happened and we can’t change that no matter how much we want to.

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We are all different. Find what works for you and your mind. Meditate every morning or throughout the day if needed. Watch a sappy movie with your favorite wine (or in my case, tequila) and get a good cry in. Check if your employer has an employee assistance program that offers free therapy sessions.

This blog is a safe space for everyone and especially those on their road to self-recovery. Comment anonymously if you choose, but remember that we are worth every bit of effort to get our minds back on track! Together we can lift each other up during our lowest times to thrive and live our best times.

Love always,

Caitie♥

What Should Have Been

I started this blog with a purpose and had so many goals when I published my first post. Don’t get me wrong, I still have those same goals in mind. I simply lost my way a bit these last couple of months. I let my mind wander and get focused on several other things. Some real and worth the focus and some that kept me trapped within my own mind.

What I wanted was to be posting two blogs a week, growing a following of readers who enjoy and believe in what I publish. That is still what I want and what I am striving for. I want to be able to begin my van life journey sooner rather than later but it has not exactly gone to plan.

The biggest part of my recent life that swayed me from blogging is freelancing. I’ve picked up a couple of side jobs writing blog and Instagram content. Putting so much time into writing content that would make me money set aside the writing that was supposed to be my therapeutic path back to happiness.

Since my last blog post in July, I have lingered in a strange limbo state of depression and being just okay. This is one of those things that I just can’t explain. I don’t have a clue why the depression sank over me like it did. I don’t know why I have yet to shake it off and return to my new normal. I’ve discussed it with my therapist and she confirms that there does not necessarily require a cause for depression to take over. It is a disorder that is always inside me regardless of any medication I may take. Depression can be an unpredictable beast.

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So what I had hoped to be a thriving blog has turned into a fizzling collection of articles. What I had hoped would be a fruitful road to my dream lifestyle has turned into a hazardous, disappointing journey thus far. But that’s how life is, isn’t it? A rollercoaster of unpredictability and failures before a life of success and consistency.

I have a lot of ideas and goals that I would like to make a reality. I see a lot more for myself than what I am right now. I’m still on my road to recovery and will be for some time. But as I go through day after day, I know I am meant for something more than Netflix binges and working a low-paying youth worker job. I respect my job and those who do it with me, but it is not something I plan to do for any significant amount of time. I strive for a more ideal and creative way of living and I plan for that to include my form of income.

Things very well might not work out the way I imagine them to. I definitely hope that they do and I am willing to work hard to make it happen. It would be a disservice to myself not to try. The support of my friends and family help me to believe in myself. In fact, it was my mom who questioned me about my blog’s inactivity. She bugged me about it for a couple days until I talked to her about it. It was that small conversation that kind of snapped me into writing therapeutically again.

So here is to the reboot of my therapeutic journey through this blog. Not all posts will be like this one and act as a journal. In my mind, it is a very adventurous journey so I hope you stick around to be a part of it!

Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie♥

8 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Zen

In my opinion, for all it’s worth, yoga is a fantastic way to either start or end the day. For me, I have been doing my best to do 15-20 minutes of yoga every morning after/while drinking my smoothie. I’m not a huge breakfast person but I know it’s, as they say, the most important meal of the day so I drink a nice, big green smoothie.

I have a pretty high-stress life right meow, so I’ll try pretty much anything to help myself relax a little. So I started poking around the web, mostly on Pinterest. I had done yoga before, although that was to a class that could probably have passed as yoga for bodybuilders.

While I’m no expert, I’ve done quite a bit of research on different yoga poses to implement into my own routine to help de-stress. Here are my 8 favorites that help me improve my zen:

WARRIOR I

All of the warrior poses help to build stamina and strength and Warrior I is a great place to start. This pose helps open up the hips while working to strengthen the core and legs. The slight backbend really allows the body to open up and stretch out.

CAT/COW

This is technically two poses, but they make such a good combination that they really should just be lumped together perminately. This combination pose is great for people with back pain as it helps to stretch out the spine and hips.

DOWNWARD FACING DOG

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This pose is the pretty much like the king of yoga poses. It does it all; arms, shoulders, hips, spine, and legs. Enough said.

PLANK

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I. Hate. Planks.

However…this pose is AMAZING for helping build core strength. I do it for that reason alone because core strength is an area I need to work on. This pose also helps build strength in the wrists, arms, and shoulders.

SEATED FORWARD BEND

Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend yoga Pose) for Beginners (1)_1

If your hamstrings and calves need a good stretch, this pose should be in your yoga routine. I’ve had this in my own routine and it definitely burns the first few times. But having done it almost every morning for a little while now, I can feel a difference.

CHILD’S POSE

Again, for those with back pain, this is a good pose to practice. By extending your arms out in front of you, it allows your spine to stretch out and get some relief.

TREE POSE

This pose is great for improving balance and I definitely need help with that! A good tip is to find a spot straight ahead of you and focus only on that spot while you take deep breaths. It helps me from falling over at least!

CORPSE POSE

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It might sound silly, but sometimes it’s good to just lay down and breathe. That’s exactly what this pose does. I find it best to end my routine with corpse pose to give my body and mind a quick break before moving on with my day.


I won’t say that some days I struggle with the motivation and desire to do yoga in the mornings. Most recently, I’ve struggled to even pull myself out of bed. So if my darkness gets the better of me, I always try to get some yoga in at some point in my day, even if it’s late at night.

Basically, don’t sweat it if you’re low on motivation sometimes. It happens and it won’t last forever. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself!

I’d love to hear what your favorite yoga poses are! Leave a comment below!

Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie♥

Adventures With Albus: Gettysburg College

It’s been a bit since I’ve updated the blog and what better way to get back on track than with a new Adventures with Albus! This past Sunday, my moms and I took the whole gang over to Gettysburg College for some sun and fun.

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It was VERY hot out so we were prepared with plenty of water and walking in the shade as much as possible. The pups got their fun in by chasing a couple of squirrels up trees.

20180701_110948155772524.jpgSomething fun I got to try out on this adventure was the new pet carrier backpack I ordered off Amazon! Let me tell you, this purchase was definitely worth it! I say that very prematurely as Albus has only been in it once and it didn’t go exactly as planned.

He jumped out, effectively trying to hang himself as I was a good cat mom and clipped him in. This was easily fixed since my mom was there and was able to help me get him on the leash. While Albus gets adjusted to the bag, I’m going to go on outings with my moms and the dogs as much as possible to have some extra support.

On the way back to the car, I put him back in the bag because I knew he wouldn’t walk there on his own. He had an accident and let’s just say I’m very glad I had the kitty bath wipes with me! I’m also glad I had enough sense to line the bottom of the backpack with a pee pad just in case. I think this accident was more to the fact that he had to use the bathroom but his litter box was in the car. He was definitely nervous, as he always has been with carriers, but I am confident that he will adjust.

Some good news though, Albus didn’t drool AT ALL when in the car. This is wonderful progress for him in his journey to getting more used to the car. He also didn’t hide and get all mad at me when we got home like he used to, so more progress!!

Honestly, if the backpack carrier doesn’t work out, I won’t be super heartbroken. A little sad, yea sure, since the backpack is fluffing cool! But Albus’ comfort level is more important to me. If anyone has used a carrier like this for their cat, I would love to hear what works for them! I know every cat is different and some cats just like being in carriers…but any advice is welcome!

Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie ♥

WTF is Kombucha??

I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately, trying really hard to eat well and work out every day, even if that’s just some yoga in the morning. A health drink, that I used to turn my nose up at without even having tried it, recently became a new love in my life.

I had been seeing all these glass-bottled health drinks for a while but at the time, I had no interest in health drinks and would just stress eat and drink soda. Then a couple months ago, I passed it in the store and thought I’d give it a try. When I first saw the term ‘kombucha tea’, I just figured they were another tea brand. Little did I know, they were very different from your average Arizona tea. So when I first tried it, I was caught off guard by it’s vinegary, slightly bubbly taste and texture. It also probably didn’t help that I got the one with chia seeds in it…

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of chia seeds. I put them in my smoothies and on my avocado toast all the time. If you haven’t seen what chia seeds look like after soaking in liquid, they get surrounded by little squishy sacks. So the texture of those amid the weird, unexpected taste that followed made me cringe at first. I’ll admit I was pretty ready to just chuck the whole bottle and go get some Arizona Arnold Palmer.

However, I think about my friend Amber who is really into organic food/drinks, holistic remedies, and all that shit. I had asked her what it was one time and she said it was really good and really good for you. She had definitely said what it was, too, but it didn’t seem to have registered with me what she really meant. But what really stuck with me was that she always said not to judge stuff by the first sip. So I held my judgement and tried it again. Let’s just say I got used to the taste.

Kombucha has been around for a very long time. I’m talking ancient. It’s base is tea, then sugar and ‘SCOBY’ (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). Then all that is fermented into kombucha! At first I was skeptical since one of the main ingredients is sugar and it is claiming to be healthy. So I delved deeper into my research and found that the yeast and bacteria actually eat the sugar to release the CO2 that gives the bubbly carbonation. While it doesn’t take all of the sugar away, it takes most of it out. That’s science for you!

That being said, kombucha does have quite a few health benefits that make it worth getting used to the bizarre taste and/or texture.

Heaps of Probiotics

The probiotics are basically just bacteria. Except this bacteria is good for a healthy belly. They help with digestion and can help with weight loss.

Loads of Antioxidants

If you can fit antioxidants into your diet through food or drink, do it. It has been shown that getting antioxidants that way is more effective than supplements. This is a good way to amp up your liver!

Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

This is more-so connected with the fact that kombucha uses tea as the base. Green tea is the best, leading to better health effects. It is even shown that green tea drinkers are 31% less likely to develop heart disease.

There are a lot of suggested health effects there have yet to be proven but are in the works. For me, what is proven is enough for me. I’m not super crazy about being healthy and still eat things I want like pizza or Oreos. However I try to eat it less frequently and implement more healthy options. I do like salads, quinoa, wraps and such so it’s not hard for me to find things.

I’ve seen a lot of articles in my research about making your own kombucha. However those articles say that it could be pretty disastrous if you mess it up…so I’ll stick to buying mine! My sister likes it and has been drinking it lately as well! She’s been more dedicated to her health journey so far than I have so I use her a lot for inspiration and motivation to keep going with my health goals.

Next time you’re walking through Whole Foods or the organic section of your grocery store, pick up a bottle of kombucha and try it out! It’s definitely not for everyone but if you don’t try, how will you know?!

Sorry if this post seems lackluster as, I will admit, it was rushed a bit. I’ve been busy the last couple days painting a wall for my mom! I also wrote half of it while also hosting and cleaning tables to makes some extra $$$!

Be on the look out for some guest blogs coming in the future! I’m also happy to say I’m getting my foot in the door with freelance writing and content/social media managing! Full-time travel here I come! Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie❤