I’m feeling beyond overwhelmed today when I probably should be feeling excitement and joy knowing that in just a few short hours I will have the honour of witnessing my eldest nephew (who was the ring bearer at my wedding 26 years ago) marry his beautiful Bride-To-Be.
As you all know by now the past ten (plus) days have been some of the most trying and challenging days of my journey and my self-worth has sunk to an all time low.
I have next to zero self-compassion left in me and I have no clue whatsoever how to be kind to myself.
But I have learned the art of how to fake it til I make it in social settings.
I have learned the art of smiling through my depression and anxiety in social settings.
And I’m pretty good at engaging in some great conversation too.
Somewhere along my journey I have mastered these skills and learned how to present myself as “normal” in social settings, but I also know by now how much confusion this often presents for others.
In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me how great I seemed while in a social setting I’d be a very rich lady by now, but for now I just have to take it as an opportunity to open up important conversations (let’s never forget the many faces of Depression that Robin Williams and so many other famous people wore).
The truth is I may present myself in many social settings that way because I never leave home without my mask on, metaphorically speaking; and trust me when I tell you there have been plenty of bathroom stalls I’ve had to hide in while in the midst of a panic attack or worse, been in a fit of hysteria amongst a crowded room.
This is what scares me most about how I am feeling right now. I’ve been so vulnerable lately that even the most joyful moments will have me running to the nearest bathroom stall or worse.
Anyone living with a Social Anxiety Disorder knows how I am feeling today even though everyone experiences it in different ways, but no matter if you feel awkward engaging in conversations, entering a crowded room, making eye contact with strangers, going to a party or giving a speech in public most individuals with a social anxiety disorder have an overwhelming fear of being judged, embarrassed or becoming the center of attention; and many more, like myself will then spend days or even weeks afterwards depleting even more of their mental energy with negative thoughts, ruminating about how we presented ourselves in thus situation.
For now though I am just trying to focus on the moment, take as many deep breaths as needed and practice my grounding exercises (oh and have my CBD oil on hand at all times too). My mask, metaphorically speaking will be ready for whatever social distancing I may need tonight. And I know that no matter what, my family will be by my side just in case I need an extra layer of protection.
September can be a very stressful month for many. It often means saying goodbye to the mindset of carefree summer days.
Add in so many uncertainties surrounding the Pandemic into the mix and this September could likely be even more challenging for many more.
If you feel more stress in September, YOU are not alone.
With the kids heading back to school, changes in routine, jam packed schedules, many unknowns, a change of seasons, shortening daylight hours; anxiety and overwhelm are certain to play a big role in many of our lives during the month ahead.
September is also “National Self-Care Awareness Month”.
Self-care knows no boundaries, unfortunately neither do anxiety and overwhelm.
Everyone can benefit from practicing self-care. It’s not SELFISH!
So take advantage of it in the month ahead and make self-care an important part of your daily routine.
Pay attention to how you are feeling.
Communication is key.
Healthy boundaries are imperative.
Practice being kind to yourself and tell your guilt to fuck off.
How do you prepare for Stresstember?
How do you ease back into a routine?
What is one thing you look most forward to in September?
***Leave your emojis in the comments as to how you are feeling about the month ahead.
My baby is 18 today and in the Jewish religion the number 18 is very significant and meaningful. In Hebrew “18” is pronounced “Chai” (‘Hi’) and when translated to English, it the means “life”; so I thought it was only fitting to remind you today how on this day 18 years ago, you made our “life” complete (it says so right there in your birth announcement).
This past year has been anything but easy yet I find myself in absolute awe of you and all that you have accomplished despite it being so challenging and met with so many obstacles and disappointment.
But as you enter into this next chapter on your journey today that we like to call “Adulthood” just remember that it’s okay to look back on your past, but just don’t stare at it too long. Hold on tight and let your creativity and curiosity continue to guide you as the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. -Eleanor Roosevelt
Your dad and I are both so proud of the beautiful, smart, adventurous and artistic young woman you are becoming and we are truly mesmerized by your determination and resilience as we watch you work your butt off to keep making all your dreams come true.
Wishing you all the happiness in the world today and always.
Throughout the Pandemic I have followed all the necessary precautions set out by the Government, by Science and by our Health Officials and although it may come as a big surprise to many of you but for the most part the Pandemic itself has not intensified my symptoms of Depression and Anxiety; infact in some ways it’s done just the opposite (I will save that for a later blog).
My steady decline in my Mental Health over the last while has truly had very little to do with the Pandemic itself and much more to do with many other personal factors that were already there long before Covid-19 was ever a thing.
And although I have not allowed all the fear mongering or blatant disrespect, intolerance and judgment towards one another that I see every time I open up my Social Media feeds control my emotions I have grown more and more anxious lately wondering if life will ever feel “normal” again.
As I look back on the last 6 plus months I feel as though the Pandemic has taken us through many different stages, and when I examine those stages closely I can see that they are the same 5 stages a person will often go through when grieving a loss and for months now we have all been grieving the loss of life in some form or another.
The 5 stages of grief which can easily be transferred to life during a Pandemic are as follows: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness & Depression and Acceptance.
Way way back at the end of 2019 the world watched and listened to what was unfolding in China and for several months prior to it reaching the rest of the Globe, if we can all be honest here for just one second, how many of us actually watched in “denial” while clinging to a false, “preferable reality” that this virus wasn’t really going to affect our lives.
And even as it crept closer and closer to us, we were still very much in “denial” as to the kind of impact it was going to have on our lives, but boy oh boy, it didn’t take long before our “denial” turned to “anger”.
We quickly (and rightfully so) became very frustrated and began to put blame on anyone and everyone we could. We angrily wondered how the fuck this could have happened to us and who would of let this happen to us all the while as we sat at home in self-isolation.
Then, as more and more information from the Government, Science and Health Officials came to light we entered into the “bargaining” stage of grief and started our negotiations with the experts. “So you’re telling me that if I stay home or stay 6 feet apart from anyone outside of my bubble or I wear a mask when social distancing is problematic or I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands constantly then after 14 days in quarantine our life can go back to normal, right?”
Well we all know now that it’s alot more complex than that and our “bargaining” and negotiation skills have fallen short, which after months of trying to make the best of this very shitty situation our denial, our anger and our bargaining skills have turned into a deep “sadness” or “depression” for many people around the Globe.
Many of us have lost so much during this Pandemic and many of us have reached a point where their sadness or depression makes them feel as though this is a losing battle, that all our efforts are hopeless. It’s also made us question an inevitable future and our own mortality too.
But there is still one final stage of grief and it’s probably the most important one of all. If we are to find the strength to move forward and learn how to navigate life in our new “normal” then we must first learn “acceptance” of it. Collectively we need to figure out ways to proceed both cautiously and safely because “acceptance” will give us the power to control whatever lies ahead.
We all cope with grief in our own way and in our own time. We may not all go through each of the 5 stages, and maybe none of them at all but no matter your process we all need to remember that we are all in this together.
Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? I have found myself pondering this question quite a lot, especially lately as I continue to battle many difficult setbacks in my life right now. Many of the setbacks I’ve been battling of late effect the wellbeing of my family too but many more of these setbacks have also led me to the brink of suicide for several weeks now.
According to the Greek Philosopher Aristotle everything does happen for a reason, always. He says that “Every experience in your life is designed to shape you and help you grow into the highest and mightiest version of yourself.”
Sometimes though when you are in the throes of a particularly difficult or painful period in your life it can be really hard to understand its purpose or to find any positive meaning behind it.
With the help of my wonderful therapist I have learned so much about myself in the last few years and I have gained a much better understanding of my past as well which has in turn given me the courage to let go of a lot of old wounds in order to heal.
I’ve been able to create an overall picture of myself in my head as I find the strength to let go of some of those wounds that have caused me great pain in my life and it is beginning to make perfect sense now.
And over the last couple of years I have also been taught many valuable lessons amongst all the chaos and sadness through quiet introspection. I have begun to accept that everything may very well happen for a reason but that it’s not always so easy to embrace it all of the time even though I know in my heart that it has been “designed to shape you and help you grow into the highest and mightiest version of yourself.”
The other day I posted a blog titled “Socially Distanced Holiday Traditions” where I talked about how difficult the holidays have become for me over the last many years and how this year many of those social pressures, obligations and expectations that so often make it difficult for me to enjoy the holidays in the first place had been decided for me due to Covid-19.
Sadly, it almost felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could actually take in the beauty of some of our holiday traditions this year without all the added anxiety from too many social pressures, obligations and expectations.
I felt way more in control and much less guilty than in holidays past and I was also looking forward to spending some (socially distanced) quality time with other family too, even if it meant having to freeze our asses off in the crisp Fall-like weather in order to do so.
But none of that ended up happening because just hours after posting my blog the other morning, Jacob came home from work feeling sick for the second time in just over a week (after being perfectly fine only hours earlier). This time though he had many more flu-like symptoms than the last time. He complained of body aches, chills, a dry cough and he felt warm to the touch so off he went again for yet another Covid test and then we waited, and waited some more in anticipation of his results while he lay locked away (again), alone in his room in the basement for what felt like an eternity (I’m pretty sure though it felt even longer for Jacob).
It was hard to think positively (or to think of much else) knowing what the outcome could be and knowing just how shitty he felt (I lay awake that entire first night convincing myself that I too had Covid! #anxietysucks). It was the longest 48 hours ever but thankfully once again his results came back negative.
The whole situation made me think of the Yiddish adage “Man Plans, and God Laughs” and just how much life is truly so unpredictable and how quickly unexpected changes can occur in your life; big or small (which is basically the journey I’ve been on for 6 years now!).
I had the best intentions and the best laid plans for the first time in many years when it came to a holiday celebration and as I mentioned above I was actually looking forward to a much less overwhelming Rosh Hashanah this year. In the end it may of still turned out to be another very overwhelming holiday while we waited for Jacob’s results but at least we got to enjoy some quiet family time together (with Jacob on Facetime) and lots of delicious festive food (I think Jacob is secretly starting to enjoy being waited on hand and foot 🙂 even if the first chance he got to be released from what’s beginning to feel like a dungeon he bolted for the nearest exit up the stairs and to the kitchen!).
For many Jews around the world tomorrow night marks the start of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) which has traditionally been a time for celebrating with our family, friends and community but we all know that this year the holidays (much like Passover and Easter were in the Spring) are going to look and feel a whole lot different which can and will likely cause many people to feel the “holiday blues”.
I mean who can really blame anyone by this point for feeling “blue” (regardless of your religious beliefs or faith), seeing as it’s now been more than 6 months since we have been able to “traditionally” celebrate squat with our family, friends and community.
Over the last many years, holiday gatherings and celebrations of any kind have been incredibly difficult for me and whether it’s the social pressures, the obligations or the expectations that come along with it, together they all just seem to exacerbate these feelings further.
Depression brings with it a high level of discomfort that is truly unexplainable to many who have never experienced it before. This is also where having a severe anxiety disorder comes into play and when you mix the two together it can make life feel pretty lethal sometimes.
We will still be celebrating the holidays this year just with a lot less social pressures, a lot less obligations and a lot less expectations than usual and for me this is somewhat of a relief which I know may sound selfish to some.
We will bring in the New Year as always and still with many of our same traditions as always but just at a more socially Covid accepted distance but still just as meaningful and sweet.
Wishing everyone celebrating (however that may be) a very happy, safe and healthy New Year.
Yesterday morning I went to an aqua fit class which I have been doing very regularly throughout the summer months, but until yesterday I hadn’t been to class for a couple of weeks. It was to be one of our last classes of the season and afterwards we were invited to stay for the afternoon relaxing by the pool, enjoying each other’s company and feasting on a delicious catered lunch hosted by my friend whose pool we have so graciously been using all summer long.
There was a chill in the air yesterday morning, something we hadn’t felt before then but it is September after all and to be expected. I wasn’t sure when I awoke yesterday morning if I could find the strength to push myself to get to the class at all as I had not had a good night the evening before; and knowing just how crisp the air felt, I lay in bed filled with anxiety, curled up under my weighted blanket until about 20 minutes before class was to begin, telling myself all the reasons I shouldn’t go. It’s not like this was anything new to me, I go through this crazy babble and negative self-talk every single time I leave my home, even when it’s something I know I will likely enjoy.
Well I made it to class as you already know even though I was a few minutes late and when I arrived everyone was in the pool warming up but I took my time to ensure the best and most successful outcome. I slowly and cautiously approached the water and then I gently dipped my toe in the water (as though it was my first time ever getting into a pool) to check the temperature.
We’ve all heard the saying “Dip your toe in the water” before and yesterday I both literally and figuratively did just that. I more often than not have to tread very lightly in everything I do because I can (and do) easily get overwhelmed and become very vulnerable whenever I try and push myself too much or take on too much all at once which just winds up sabotaging my health and wellness further. Some days may be easier than others to push through my depression and anxiety (but not lately) and having learned the art of how to fake it til I make it or smile through my pain can sometimes give me the strength to “dive right in” like I did yesterday (thanks also to Jenn for making the water super warm).
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Every 40 seconds a life is lost around the world to suicide and that is just not acceptable.
It is more important than ever before that we keep talking about suicide because the more we talk about suicide, the more we encourage others to as well. The more we talk about suicide, the less alone someone may feel. The more we talk about suicide, the more change we can make happen. The more we talk about suicide the more lives we can save.
Talking about suicide may not be easy and can also be very uncomfortable (trust me I know) but it’s relevant and it’s a conversation we need to keep having; not just for today but every single day. Talking about suicide may help bring a glimmer of hope or relief to someone’s pain and desperation or even become the light into their darkness.
Collectively these efforts are all key to suicide prevention. Suicide can be prevented.