A perspective post
I haven't blogged like this in a while. I have been guilty of overthinking things to write about ever since my blog went public. I am not just free-writing for me, or giving little thought to the outcome.
I always know when it's time to sit down and just write it all out. The thoughts in my mind go much slower, smoothly, and it is as if I am telling a story to another person inside my head. I then know it is a good time to empty my mind.
My day was spent binge-watching a Netflix series with 2 friends. We ordered thai food and were wrapped in blankets. It was a good day. But, at one point I started to get scared it wasn't going to stay that way.
It's fun to binge-watch a good series full of drama and suspense, but me being me, I believe it drains me after a while. My friends noticed I was shutting down, and as much as I didn't want to be, I wasn't sure why either. "I'm okay, just tired."
I wear my heart on my sleeve, emotions all over my face. I am loud, silly, sarcastic, a story-teller, so when I shut down it is quite obvious that something is wrong. There is just no hiding it.
I felt overheated, a buzzing in my lips, a sick feeling in my stomach, and the feeling just reminded me of one thing: anxiety attack.
For no reason. I wasn't worried about a thing, I was with 2 people I felt comfortable with. Why does my body do this? Anxiety attacks out of nowhere? Is it because I am adjusting to a change? I shouldn't be this scared by this feeling..I probably just need to learn how to accept it more. Am I going to start feeling dizzy next? Yeah, that usually comes next.
I was jumping to conclusions. With good reason, I suppose.
I knew how it began, so I knew what would come next.
"What if I start crying, and they ask why? I don't know how to explain that I am having an anxiety attack for no good reason at all. But I'm not really having one. How do I explain I think one is "coming?" Oh great, now I am fighting back tears. Just watch the show, Haley."
The feeling passed, just as it always does. I was left feeling drained. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to curl up in my bed, ask my friends to leave, cry a little, get some emotion out in writing, and recharge. But- I also didn't want to be alone.
With these two friends, it is perfect. We can be goofy, a support for one another, go out and do things together, but also be alone together. We can be in the same room, with little energy at all, barely talking, without it being 'awkward.' I liked that, and I needed that. So, I let them stay. I needed the company.
I think it is great how I am so invested in finding ways to help myself. At the same time, I find it difficult to separate a necessary "time" to think about these things. While watching a show with my friends, I was trying to analyze in my head what could possibly be causing this anxiety, or this empty, drained feeling inside. That is a lot of energy I use up on thoughts.
I love the friends I have. Even if I shut down for a little while, they don't push me to be any different, and they look forward to seeing my energy again as much as I do.
Those things mean a lot.
I am able to be happy, and I've come so far, but I do have moments when I just fall out of it. Smiling depression? Walking depression? Fighting depression? Whatever you call it.
It's hard hearing, "please Haley let's go somewhere." and "C'mon Haley you've been in your room all day." when I know I truly need the mental break. At the same time, I know that is encouragement over any guilt-trip.
Do you ever get so caught up in your own thoughts and emotions, (and for lack of better words)- pity. Once you are given some perspective, another outlook, you start to feel better though guilty for being so blindsided?
That happened to me today. I was so caught up in my head while worrying about an anxiety attack returning, and feeling sad and empty for no reason at all. To me, that was the worst thing I could think of in the moment and the only thing in my mind. It just happened to be during the show I was watching where I grasped the perspective I had needed in that moment.
The idea was: Parents who didn't want their kids, and no one else there to take them in.
My heart just sank. I have to draw a diagram in order to explain my huge family to people. If that were ever me... I would have a line of people willing to take me in..
It wasn't a "other people have it worse" outlook; but a "remember the good you do have" outlook.
I have a line of people behind me, and so much support, even when my self esteem has me questioning it.
It's difficult to get out of my own head.
I feel lost with the things I am struggling with, and what I don't have. When I push those aside, and truly acknowledge what I do have, it is almost powerful how much perspective can affect your mood.
Alright, Haley girl, we need to talk.
Something isn't working here. But maybe it isn't supposed to.
I called a friend from my car after my therapy appointment. When she picked up the phone, I answered her hello with a grunt. "Yeah?" she said jokingly. "Yeah." I said. "What happened?"
I left therapy fighting back tears. I don't know why this is so hard for me. Every question that is asked gets a response of "I don't know" or "I'm not sure" when normally I could write a chapter of a book with each answer.
How I resonate with the empath title? It's easy to write about, but embarassing to talk about?
I write things down and bring them in, but once read aloud I realize how foolish it sounds, or by then I am over it.
I am given specific options to choose from, but each choice makes me think, "Well I want this because, but I also don't want this because-"
I am left feeling stuck.
For someone who cares so much, I show myself to not care at all.
It is as if each word that crosses my mind is being filtered before it is said, leaving me speechless.
It is such an uncomfortable feeling, not knowing what to say, but wanting to be heard.
I spend so much time outside of therapy, planning, to get the most out of my next appointment. It's like I forget how to speak when I get there. I am reminded that this is "my session" and I become inevitably frustrated with myself that this keeps happening. I choose to sit in silence, fight back tears, and try to think of what on earth I'm doing.
How come things don't matter as much to me when I get in there? Or am I just fearing judgment?
My friend even said how I write so eloquently, "but when you speak it can come out so jumbled." She then said, "Haley sometimes when you speak I am like..wait what the fuck are you saying?" I laughed and joked back saying, "Maybe I should just sew my mouth shut like Coraline and walk around with a mini whiteboard and an expo marker."
Writing is how I express myself. It works for me.
My friend even said, "Maybe you should just do therapy over email that way so you can just get everything out easier?" Not a bad idea..
However, I need the social interaction to practice these things. I've already come so far, I can't just give up yet. This takes work.
I almost just need a confidence boost. I need to hear someone point out all that I'm doing right, that it's okay to feel what I feel, that I'm not as difficult as I think I am. I just need reassurance, a boost to keep me heading in the right direction.
I'm going to try something.
I go back to school next week. I have a long break from therapy at home, and I have an on-campus counselor if needed.
I need to start having faith in myself, so maybe I should give myself some room to do so.
Sometimes just by doing this, writing in my bedroom, I am able to let things go, and discover new insights all on my own. Sometimes that's all I need to do. Sometimes forcing myself to speak makes me feel worse.
When I go back to campus, I'm going to give myself time to settle back in.
I am not where I was last year. Maybe I am running out of things to say, because I really am doing okay? If I go once a week, I am most likely "over with" last week's issue. I'm going to stop being so hard on myself; trying to figure things out all at once. I'll suggest going to counseling every other week, or every 2 weeks instead.
Give myself time to just be.
I have been blessed with the community I have found through blogging.
I have been emailing a new found blogger friend, and social worker from Canada; Robin. Just from reading each other's words, we have formed a connection among our personalities. It is amazing how you can get to know a person through their writing. I admire her gentle soul, and her offered support towards me, without even really knowing me as well.
Perks of sharing your story! Finding your voice, forming connections, and reaching others!
Like me, Robin has an interest in learning about her true self, how she fits in this world, and accepting herself for who she is.
She resonates with the empath title; her sensitive self, drawn to energy, intuition.
Empath or not, we all can benefit from this.
I reached out for her to help me, or offer some words that would spark something in me to help myself.
"I have trouble in therapy deciding in my head if the problem is how I'm feeling, or if it's the fact that I am not accepting myself." I wrote last week.
I struggled to explain my thoughts to the best of my ability, so I was given the task to send to a piece of my writing about the topic for my next appointment. Still, I found it complicated to find a "why." I just knew that I wasn't happy with some aspect of me that needed "fixing."
I messaged Robin, and was surprised by her quick response. We set up a time to chat.
We talked about labels, and how all it is social construction.
When it comes to mental illness, I find this incredibly frustrating. We are believing that we "are" these labels or we "have" these labels. How do we truly know what we need help with when all that these problems are, are labels? They are constructed by society.
R; We forget that we have choice. If being labelled as having social anxiety works for you, then that's great! If you feel like you are just shy. Then that's great too. If you resonate with the empath label, that's wonderful. If you don't, again, great.
What labels resonate with me?
I thought about it.
H; "Social anxiety; INFJ (Such a fitting description of me)
depression resonates with me too, however the label itself doesn't include all the factors that contribute to it for me. and I believe I resonate with the empath label, I'm still learning about it though!"
"Maybe it's a difficult question to answer because I've been using those labels as a safety net in order to explain how I feel easier."
R; Hey, using those things as a safety net is what they are meant for. Labels are meant to
a) build community and connection and
b) get people the right resources and supports.
It is all a social construction. If it helps to use the labels, then use them. If not, you don't have to.
I related it to an issue I have dealt with before:
Letting labels or feelings define me as a whole.
As much as I need to avoid allowing these labels to define me, I find that I am also searching for a label to define me. I'm looking for a "reason" or a "category" or some place that just makes sense for me to be in.
Maybe then I would be happier? I wouldn't feel so alone? I wouldn't be too hard on myself? This would make more sense?
Robin helped me realize something, that was hard for me to accept, but does help to know.
R; It's hard when you don't fit it to the 'norm' (be it race, religion, gender, personality, ability). An invisible hierarchy exists and we are taught young that being 'human' means being a certain way. And when we don't fit into that, we can get really down on ourselves.
Empaths and empath ability isn't very well known... so it makes it even harder to exist in the world. To those who aren't as sensitive, energy is invisible. It doesn't exist to them. So even when we try to explain ourselves to the world, the majority of the world can't hear us. Over time I've developed ways of being in the world that are supportive of who I am as a sensitive person. I always stay close to exits at malls, I don't go out in crowds, I listen to music on the bus, I date really stable, grounded guys. But I've had to learn all of that on my own, because the world doesn't get it yet. But it will! When people like you and I continue to blog, and reach out and share our experience.
Being an empath is a gift. "When you are born into a world you don't fit into, it means you are here to create a new one" so maybe part of why you are feeling incredibly confused about yourself has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with a society that isn't made for you to accept yourself.
I needed time to process everything she said, but when I did, I could feel my perspective growing wider and I was reaching a new insight.
Some people might go cross-eyed by attempting to think this way. Why spend so much time overthinking and overanalyzing?
I know that overanalyzing is not good for your health. It's exhausting.
However, this is how I live. Overthinking is a weakness of my personality.
I am not sure how to stop it all together, but I am sure I can better control it.
I can treat it like a filter. I need to have awareness.
I need to work on removing the negative overthinking from my life. The worries, the "what ifs."
Right now, I feel like I need this far more than it could hurt me. I'm analyzing myself, because I know I don't fully accept/have faith in myself, but I'll get there.
To start off, I have a perfect excuse to blog over anything else. I got my wisdom teeth removed yesterday and as fun as this is, I'm happy to be covered up in blankets, watching movies, computer on my lap, and snow falling down outside my window.
I am known for carrying self help books on my shelf, pinning wellness hacks on Pinterest, and doing crafts to boost my self esteem. I try to educate myself the best I can to learn new ways that may help myself.
In my dorm at school, I have a book on crystals and their healing power.
The power of energy healing is new to me, and when I first heard of it I did not have much interest in it. Because how much could it really help? Still, the idea intrigued me. I did a lot of research on the 7 chakras, and the influence they have on the human body if there is an imbalance.
This article from yoga.com explains how you can tell if your chakras are blocked.
It had been recommended by many people that I try reiki.
We have had reiki on campus, but I hadn't signed up for it. I was planning on trying it when I returned to campus and finding a reiki master nearby, but then I thought- why wait? Why not try it while I'm home?
My aunt gave me the name of a local reiki healer about 15-20 minutes from my house.
I went online, read her site, her services, and booked the appointment just like that.
I filled out some of my medical history online prior to the appointment as an intake form, and the next day I went for 11:30 am.
When I got there, the lady greeted me in her driveway. "I was surprised to see your age." she said. "I don't usually get too many young people for reiki."
She also said, "I was surprised after reading your medical information too. For a young girl, your cardiovascular history, and hashimotos disease." I laughed, "yeah I'm a grandma."
It made sense for me to be there. It made sense to try it out. My overall health, and my body can get out of wack, and I'm still young. Why not learn these things now? Even if it is "surprising."
She brought me inside and explained exactly what she was going to do. "All it is" she said "is energy." The movement of her hands, the use of a crystal pendulum. I was lying on my backside with a cozy blanket over my legs, and meditative music playing softly in the background. I kept my eyes clothes and tried my best to relax. It wasn't difficult to.
It was weird. I could feel a buzzing sensation over my lips, at times I wasn't sure if she was even touching me, and her hands would get much hotter against some places in my body than others. I had read that would happen.
All it is, is energy. Energy that is already within us, that is in some places in our bodies more than others.
I was incredibly relaxed as the time went on, and very curious to hear what she would say when she was finished.
I almost fell asleep.
She told me when it was time to sit up slowly and I wiped my hair out of my face.
She said that the 2 chakras that were the most blocked, and needed the most time spent were crown and throat.
So what does that mean?
If your Crown Chakra is blocked, you may feel indecisive; worry that your life is meaningless and suffer from depression. Also, this chakra is negatively affected when we get too attached to material things and lose the ability to let go. To start healing, meditate and do more of those things that make you feel peaceful. Learn to think of yourself as a part of the Universe (as opposed to, for example, being a professional belonging to a company).
Blocked Throat Chakra is usually associated with self-expression problems, deception, manipulative communication. The key to healing your fifth chakra is to be honest with yourself and others. Sing, talk to yourself, write a blog - do things that stimulate your ability to communicate with yourself and with the world.
When this was explained to me, it made so much sense. I struggle with self confidence, and self expression. I often hold things inside, and don't say as much as I am thinking.
How can I help this?
I need to have faith in myself.
I need to find ways to express myself. Little did I know that writing is a way to open up your throat chakra as well. To push myself even further I can share my writing with others, read aloud, and get my message across.
It was an interesting experience. These things that I could tell about myself inside, were confirmed by a test of the energy balance inside me.
"Do you worry a lot?" she asked.
I nodded and jokingly gave wide eyes.
"yes, that came up a lot."
Came up a lot?
How? How does this work?
I'm still learning about the practice, and the little adjustments I can make to my lifestyle to improve my overall wellness.
Would I try it again?
Maybe, down the road, yes. It would be interesting to see how things would change.
So whether I had this reiki session or not, I do know I have the same areas to work on.
Faith, and self expression.
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Which will bring me to my next post very soon.
We are all so quick to give advice to others when they open up about the tough stuff.
People don't always take advice very well when they see things from only one point of view.
From experience, when it comes to mental health, do not give advice unless someone asks you for advice.
Don't pretend you understand.
simply be there for support.
"I'm here for you."
"I'm sorry you are going through such a difficult time."
"I'm not leaving."
"I care about you."
"You are so important to me."
Those words can go a long way.
It's hard to know what to say when someone is going through a tough time.
Instead of risking the wrong words, at an attempt to just say something, turn to confirmation of your support first.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.