Monday, 30 May 2011

Have You Ever Called Someone Crazy?

I have chosen Eminem's "Beautiful" just for the lyrics.    
 In the spirit of Mental Health week (which was last week) I thought I’d write about the stigma surrounding mental disorders, as I’ve had many conversations with friends this week about this and it hits close to home. There have been some beliefs that mental illness is a choice rather than an inherent condition, which is a load of crap. This belief leads to many people trying to deal with their illness alone as they feel ashamed and like failures because they can't get out of their slump. While there is a definite personal responsibility in choosing to better your life and receive treatment after you've recognized the issue (i.e. counseling, medication), one does not choose this type of life. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 18 and I certainly did not choose that. First of all, being labeled with some sort of medical term is a personal challenge in itself to accept, as you are suddenly stuffed into a box, shaken around and dumped out as a bunch of symptoms and behaviours. I don’t want to be stuffed into a box!!! I’m claustrophobic!!!! Pft. Any sort of personality traits, feelings, reactions, or situations you go through is said to be the disorders problem and that makes you feel like you’ve lost all individuality in this world. It’s actually quite frustrating and is why many people don’t like to get diagnosed at all (for any sort of mental illness) because they then become a label. Nowadays as well, labels and medication are being thrown at people who go into the doctor’s office with a few symptoms, before even getting a proper assessment. My friend was telling me the other day that her physician prescribed her an anti-depressant because she came in crying one day. That’s pretty scary. And regarding ADD and ADHD, children are taking Adderall, Biphentin or Ritalin like they are freaking vitamins. Maybe they are not focusing or are hyper because they are five years old and have energy and don’t understand what the hell you are saying and get bored?! How about that? Or maybe all those drugs are causing mental disorders because their brain chemistry is being altered and their brain cells are being destroyed due to the misdiagnosis!
   Nevertheless, anxiety and bouts of depression have been prevalent in my life for quite some time (which comes with ADHD), and several family members have suffered through varying forms of mental illness. I flip flopped on my acceptance of the disorder as I didn't want to believe that I was somewhat defective or seen as crazy or even stupid. I didn't want people to go aww or see me as some kind of case. I chose to discuss this topic because there are so many marred perceptions within our society regarding mental disorders. Images of people with straight jackets in psychiatric wards surrounded by padded walls or people that talk to themselves have been popular within movies, or television when they are trying to portray a mentally ill patient. This obviously does happen, but it isn’t all of what mental illness is about.  Most people probably don’t even know that they are sitting next to someone at work who suffers from addictions, depression, manic-depression, anxiety, OCD, or maybe even Schizophrenia.  Although more and more people are opening up about their struggles (even celebrities), there is still a fair bit of judgment and lack of compassion that keeps people from sharing their experiences. The society we live in makes it hard to be different in ANY sort of way, whether you are of a different race, have a physical disability, or want to sing songs that aren’t within social ideals, so living with a condition that may not be seen as “normal” in societal standards is seen as being weak, shameful and embarrassing for some.  I mean, who wants to be judged by anyone or be perceived as “crazy” by numerous people??  This angers me as who gives anyone the right to judge another when they haven’t lived in their shoes? I have been very fortunate to have many supportive people around me that I can talk too, and my experiences in life have enabled me to become a shoulder to lean on for people who have not been so lucky. I have friends come to me professing their relief and happiness that they have found someone to open up to about their struggles. They have stated they feel like they are alone with this disorder or are misunderstood. That saddens me as no one should feel the need to hide such a major part of themselves, or feel alienated or ashamed. This goes for any situation in life really, from people that are being abused to people who have three nipples – no one should have to defend who they are and what they are going through. It’s the hiding and trying to deal with illness alone that creates the larger issues in life and can worsen the condition you have.
    So with all this said, let’s get rid of the stigma people! There is just no need for it.  We will all have to deal with shit in our lives, and mental illness is just someone’s shit.  What's needed is more compassion and more education to change around the perceptions. This is just my opinion though :)
Hope everyone has a great weekend :) xo

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Have You Ever Lacked Confidence?

Hey All!

Sorry it’s been a while, but things have been crazy lately! I was sick with the flu for a bit so all of the energy in my body was draaaaained out of me and I had no brainpower to write. I think it was my body telling me it had enough of me running around. I for once felt no guilt in just lying around doing nothing, and watched a total of five movies in three days, which was glorious! As well, my new nephew was born!! His name is Colin Andrew Warren and he is absolutely adorable. A joyous day for sure!

NOW…how about that pesky confidence issue. Has anyone ever felt fear of the unknown, or fear to start something new because you lacked faith in your abilities or yourself? Well that’s me in a nutshell. I have struggled with rather low self-esteem for a good chunk of my life, mainly regarding the confidence to go after my hearts desire. Despite my extroverted personality, I have always been a rather timid and cautious person when it comes to starting new ventures or going after what I want in life. I truly admire the fearless individuals who do everything in their power to make their dreams become a reality, and in such a passionate and driven way.  I often wonder “why can’t I do that myself? Why do I get in the way of my own self??” I mean I’ve had the drive to get jobs that I want, or have been very resourceful and driven when it came to gathering funds for certain excursions and such, but when it comes to the bigger things in life, such as going after my dream of becoming a writer for instance, or searching for a new job that fulfills me, I totally shut down and freeze. The “what if” questions start flooding my head, as well as all the excuses as to why I can’t pursue those avenues.

“What if I can’t live up to the expectations of others?”
“What if I fall flat on my face when I try this out?”
“I don’t have the talent like those other people.”
“I’m too old to start to become a writer, or a dancer, or an actress.”
“I have too much on my plate already.”
“I need to wash my hair.”
“Well Cindy said that she tried to get her book published with no luck so why would they care about mine?”

How debilitating right? There are so many walls put up just to avoid the potential failure I may experience. I’ve mentioned before the intense energy I feel inside that is just itching to come out, and I get frustrated knowing that that energy and potential is being wasted due to my own ridiculous fears. It’s the only thing holding me back really. I feel that I won’t be able to handle the great things that could potentially come my way, or that my opinions, words, or stories won’t really amount to anything in people's eyes. I feel that everyone else's ideas are more intelligent or full of wisdom then mine. It’s obviously a self-sabotaging pattern, and one that is slowly starting to stop. I swear. The law of attraction states that you are what you attract, so if you think negatively you will attract negativity and more roadblocks along the way because that is what you are focusing your energy on. If you think positively, and truly commit and believe in a passion of yours, things will come to fruition. It certainly takes discipline to think this way and is something that is difficult in this day and age. We are so fast to self-deprecate instead of self-love, and I almost feel self-absorbed when I say nice things about myself or accept a compliment. Starting to believe that I can fulfill my destiny and have patience in the process of life is the first step to increasing my confidence and live the life I truly desire. Truly loving yourself and following your heart is so important, and allows you to start manifesting the joy that life is supposed to provide. 
   Eliminating the desire to live everyone else’s dream while running away from my own is another way to manifest that joy as well. Trying to squeeze into someone else’s shoes, while struggling to grasp concepts that you are not entirely passionate about is not a productive path to go down. I am learning that no one is meant to know everything, and some people have different brains to do certain things.  I'm terrible at math, so trying to become a mathematician would not only be torturous but also foolish, as it would be going against everything I’m about! I think the envy that I feel towards other people’s professions or lives is not about the job they are doing, but the joy they are feeling towards their life, and the confidence they exude while doing it. I think "oh...they seem to like this, maybe I will too and become the superstar they are!" Uh...yah. Not so smart all the time. Comparing yourself to someone else gets you nowhere. Obviously it could turn out really well if you find true passion in that profession or lifestyle, but it’s not always the case.
     I read something today from Oprah Winfrey that fit this blog. It said, "Each one of you has your own platform. You can help somebody, you can listen, you can forgive," she said. "My greatest wish for all of you ... is that you carry whatever you are supposed to be doing and don't waste any more time." Well you go girl Ms. Oprah!!!! No more wasting time! It IS a waste of time swimming in a sea of negative thoughts about ones self and not carrying on what we are supposed to be doing. What good does it do? It just keeps you stuck in a life you don’t want to be living in. Life can certainly be hard, but finding the confidence, love and joy in your heart and being able to exude that in daily life, makes life so much more enjoyable and fulfilling. I picked the song "Firework" by Katy Perry because that's my anthem for this year. I've cried a couple of times because the lyrics are just so perfect for where I'm at in life. I am ready to ignite the light and let it shine for the world to see. I'm sick of floating around and being scared of living my full potential. So here goes nothing people!! I hope everyone has an amazing weekend!!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Have You Ever Been Able To Just Slow Down and Sit Still??

This blog entry is set to Bruno Mars' "The Lazy Song"

Has anyone had difficulty being able to just sit and do nothing or slow down in their life? I was listening to the new Bruno Mars song about being lazy and thought to myself, “I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN DO LAZY!!!” It’s rather sad actually.  I find it extremely difficult to just sit around the house, twiddling my thumbs, keeping my mind at rest. My days off are generally spent saying to myself “this is enjoyable…this is enjoyable. I’m going to sleep in. I’m not going to do anything today.” Pace pace PACE PACE PACE…pet the dog…check email…check Facebook…silence silence oh my god more silence…go out on the balcony…lie on my bed…stare at the ceiling.  THEEENNNN…that just ends. Those thoughts are slowly replaced with “have to clean the house…need to walk the dog…have to write people back…need to go get food…need to call this person….need to call that person…have to do my laundry…god I need sex one of these days…eff my life…why am I here! I don’t want to work anymore.” Maybe I have too much energy, or maybe life today is just super stimulating that it’s hard to be able to relax now, but whatever the reason is, this way of living and thinking has got to stop!  Western culture has been conditioned to think that something always HAS to be done. That we have to stay productive or the boss will mention something to us (even though they are out playing golf somewhere while we are stuck inside on a beautiful day trying to file boxes of papers...not bitter). That we have to run around and look like we are busy or else people will think we are just…well…lazy or maybe lacking ambition. That we have to work a bazillion hours because that will lead us to “success”, all while ignoring our own selves in the process. We run ourselves down to achieve these outward things that in the end don’t really mean anything, leaving little time for peace and relaxation. If you go to Europe for instance, they actually take time to enjoy life and family. Their lives aren’t centered so much around work but more on having a life and taking care of it. It’s SO important to take things in, unwind and reflect but these practices always end up being pushed to the wayside. I work three jobs right now and I have got to tell you, it leaves me in a pretty ungrounded state! I’m like the Tasmanian devil whirling around to each job and activity, all while not fully being present because of my bustling about. I work 15 hour days Monday and Tuesday, have Wednesday to Friday to tend to my responsibilities, go to the gym (which has been put off for two months now…oops), catch up with friends and family and perhaps spend some time with my crazy dog, and then back to work again on the weekends. It’s a ridiculous way to live and you start to live on autopilot which eventually leads to getting burnt out. Time starts to fly by more and more quickly without really knowing what you did from point A to point B (perhaps asking questions such as "Where did I park my car?" or "Shit...when did I get on the highway??"). It doesn’t feel like I’m living a quality life, but a life that is just there and being wasted with things I’m not entirely happy doing. It’s quite pathetic that I can only think of two times in my 32 years that I felt completely relaxed and blissful sitting still, without a care in the world, and both of them involved rainy days.  One memory was an afternoon I got sent home from Fantasy Fruit Market (I worked in their garden centre when I was 17 or 18), as it started to rain. I was so excited because I was able to just lie on the couch and read a book and listen to the sound of the raindrops hitting against roof and pavement.  I remember allowing my body to just sink into the couch, fully stretching out while feeling the misty breeze flowing through the windows, and feeling ever so content with my life. It was such a simple thing I was doing but I haven’t been able to forget it.  The second memory was probably 15 years later (yes FIFTEEN!! GAH!) when again it was raining and I had a day off from my cafĂ© job on the weekend. I rented the movie The Secret Life of Bees with Alicia Keys, curled up on the couch with the blanket my grandmother crocheted me, draped over me, and watched in bliss. It was a fabulous afternoon! I’m not saying that I haven’t had fun in my life, but the fun times are always full of stimulation, other people annnnnd perhaps some alcohol.  These events are just feeding into my need for constant movement, which is ok to experience, but it has to be experienced in a more balanced way.  I mean, how in the world do we get in touch with ourselves and figure things out about ourselves if we don’t even give ourselves time to do that?? The answers to our own soul’s questions are within and this requires quiet moments by yourself. It’s almost like we all fill our lives up with stuff to do, and noise around us, to avoid seeking our truth, and avoid doing the work it takes to change and to get where we are supposed to be in life.  It’s much easier to whirl around in our comfort zones, until we crash and or are forced to make a change and be still (like having your foot run over by a tractor or something).
      I have challenged myself this year to really slow down and start to take more time for myself to really be present and quiet. I’m making an extra effort to be aware of my surroundings when I’m going out for a walk, such as noticing the trees, the flowers, the smell in the air, and my footsteps on the ground.  When I was in Arizona, I was told to go on a hike through the Red Rock trails and really sense the energy of nature, walking in silence and appreciating it. It was a humbling experience because I realized how much nature we have destroyed even though nature is constantly giving its resources and essentially its life to us. How greedy and selfish of us to just take it without regard. That’s a different story altogether though. I am challenging the rest of you to take some time to actually be still as well and to really think about how much time you spend with yourself, and how much of that time is spent feeling content and relaxed. I know for me it’s not very many hours of my week and I want that to change. We only have one body and soul in this lifetime and it needs to be taken care of much better than this! I have to put some premium oil in this engine, and let it sit in the garage a little more. And as Bruno Mars says maybe "I'll just strut in my birthday suit and let everything hang loose" more often "cause today I swear I'm not doin' anythin', nothin' at all!" Yeehaw!!

Those are my thoughts for now. I could write more about this but I don’t want to make this into a novel! Have a great rest of the week!!!