self care

Re-Direct, Re-Frame, Re-Train

Hi beautiful dreamers!

How many of us have thought and speech patterns that we know aren’t that great? Whether it’s a bad habit of mentally putting yourself down after being clumsy or the way we say “sorry!” after everything, regardless of what’s happening – I think everyone has something that they do without thinking that tears themselves down more than it builds up.
Many people can go through life and be just fine with a few negative thought patterns. It doesn’t affect them. I’m not one of those people. I have several very distinct patterns that can quickly turn into nasty spirals if left unchecked.

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Especially since the pandemic hit, my weekly therapy sessions have become a staple of my routine. I even had a minor panic moment this last week when my therapist said she was going to be on vacation. How would I ever survive?!
Joking aside though, I do rely a lot on the accountability and safety of that hour every week. And a big portion of what I work on outside of those sessions is reframing the negative and harmful patterns that I have, both in my thoughts and my words. She helps me find ways to rephrase things and recognize patterns that I wouldn’t necessarily notice on my own.

It’s a lot of hard work!

The longer a particular pattern has been in place, the longer it takes to work through it. These patterns are, quite simply, memorized brain responses, so the process of re-framing a thought really means re-training your brain. Which equals some hard work because thoughts are sneaky and like to creep through when you’re least expecting them. It’s a daily thing and can require lots of conscious effort for quite a while, depending on how long it has been a habit. Just like any other habit that you might want to create or stop, your brain’s habits are also challenging.

Half the battle!

For me, half the battle sometimes is simply recognizing a pattern that I don’t want to continue. This is where a therapist can come in handy because they are listening to you and hear things much more objectively than you do. Plus they don’t have your history with whatever pattern or thought process it is, so they can point out things that you might not otherwise see for yourself.

Some examples might be…

Following a spiral of worst-case scenarios in your head.
Mumbling “stupid” under your breath whenever you drop something.
Judging yourself mentally every time you catch your reflection in a mirror.
Apologizing for being enthusiastic about something when talking to a friend.
Immediately assuming someone is mad at you because they don’t respond right away.

And so on and so forth. There are a million different examples I could give, but I’m sure the ones I mentioned already struck a chord with a few people. It’s hard to acknowledge these things sometimes, but being able to recognize and point out a negative pattern is the beginning of the road.

In my personal life…

I do rely on my therapist a lot to help me recognize when I’m speaking in a way that isn’t positive or loving to myself. Having that outside voice helps a lot. I have found my own patterns though in the past, usually by flipping through past journal entries that end up making me cringe. Sometimes even by listening to someone else and realizing that they’re not being kind or gracious to themselves has flipped a switch for me, causing me to acknowledge that I do the same thing to myself. Ouch.
As I mentioned, acknowledging the pattern as a problem is half the battle. Once I see what I’m doing wrong, I’ll notice it every time and sometimes that’s enough to stop me in my tracks. Other times, especially when its something that I’ve been internalizing for many many years, its a lot harder. In those situations, I usually have to dig a little deeper inside myself and find the root of that pattern. Maybe its something that I was told as a child that I shouldn’t have clung to, but did anyway. Regardless, if I can find the root of the issue, I can start to work through it and make a stronger effort to change my habits, and my heart as well. It’s challenging, for sure, but so very worth it. There are days that I struggle more than others, but that’s what life is, right?
Is there a thought or speech pattern that you notice in yourself that isn’t kind or loving? What is it that you need to begin that change in yourself?


Love, kindness, and lots of light,
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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, mental health, 0 comments

The Basics of Setting Boundaries

Hello beautiful people,
I wrote on Tuesday about how difficult some days are and gave a few ideas on how I’ve been dealing with them, maybe even making them a little bit better. This whole week has been a bit hard for me – I’m working through some personal stuff and learning about my limits, including what it means to set boundaries.
Boundaries are one of those things that people can get offended about really easily. Especially when it comes to setting limits with people, it can easily come across as being rude or selfish. And it really shouldn’t be that way, not if we do it with the right attitude and with a spirit of love.

Setting Boundaries

Recognize a Need

I’m not talking about someone you don’t like and just don’t want to talk to anymore. Unless you have a deeper intention behind it, that’s probably bordering on being a little rude. But recognizing when someone is a constant drain on your emotional and mental health or understanding that unless you can agree to disagree there should probably be certain topics that are off-limits? That’s totally okay. It’s one thing to do things that are uncomfortable or out of our comfort zones sometimes and a completely different thing to allow anything and everything into our lives – that’s unhealthy.  Certain situations just need to be worked through, others need boundaries and limits.
It’s hard to know sometimes. I totally get it. I’m the first one to question my decisions in these kinds of situations and I tend to waffle back and forth before making up my mind completely. Just remember – that thing I said about a spirit of love? That thing helps qualm those uncertainties and fears 99% of the time.

Know Yourself and Your Limitations

Have you taken the time to understand yourself and your own limitations? That can be key to knowing how to handle external influences. There are certain areas of life in which I have set boundaries for myself – not because of other people exactly, but because I know what my triggers and weaknesses are, which enables me to avoid situations and circumstances that will bring out less than my best.
It’s so easy to blame other people for our own lack of self-control or whatever the problem might be. And I don’t say this to let everyone else off the hook because I think everyone should be working on being the best version of themselves. But the reality is that we don’t have the power to change other people. We CAN work on ourselves. And by demonstrating good self-care and setting boundaries, we can actually help others more than we might think. But first and foremost, it’s about knowing our own limitations and understanding who we are.

Know What To Do

When it comes to the actual process of setting a boundary, that’s where it can get a little tricky. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. One of the easiest things you can do is curate your social media feeds. You don’t necessarily have to block people or whatever, but there’s a lovely little “unfollow” or even just a “mute” button on Facebook for the times you need it. (Not that you should only be seeing the people who agree 100% with your opinions, but some people have no concept of limits or useful discussion and that serves nobody.) It’s the little things sometimes.
Other circumstances aren’t nearly so easy though. Sometimes it’s choosing not to go somewhere where you know you’ll be around someone who always seems to push your buttons. If and when you can handle being around that person again, you can re-evaluate that limit, but especially if you’re working through something and you know that talking to that person would undo the progress you’ve made, maybe its best to just stay away for the time being.
I am the QUEEN of ghosting people, but I’ll also admit that it is not a healthy way to deal with things. Something I have done before though, is responding to someone when I’m in the right frame of mind and then muting or hiding them on my phone so that I don’t have to handle the conversation until I’m ready. Don’t feel the need to respond to everyone right away.
Doing something similar in person is a lot harder and I’m still learning how to handle that. For me right now it’s been holding my tongue when other people are having a conversation that I have strong opinions about if I know I’m not ready to discuss things fairly and properly. Sometimes it’s leaving the room. Both of those are getting easier to do, and something I’m trying now is what I call “exiting” a conversation. If things are getting heated or frustration is building up, there should be no shame in saying, “This conversation isn’t healthy for our relationship. Why don’t we come back to this when we’re feeling calmer and more in control of our feelings?” Being firm and actually walking away if needed would be the next step.
Sadly, there is still a lot of judgment passed on those who choose to set boundaries for themselves. It can be hard to hear that someone doesn’t want to speak to you, I get that. But, again, we’re not going to change each other’s minds by having a yelling match. Choosing to have a calm, insightful conversation is much better. And if someone isn’t capable of talking about certain topics without getting hateful or judgmental, then the consequence may be distancing yourself for a little while, as painful or hard as it may be.
Is there an area of life that you feel could use some boundaries or limitations for your own emotional or mental health? What’s holding you back from setting that boundary?

Love and kindness,
I’m always here for you.

 

Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, mental health, 0 comments

Therapy Experience

Hello beautiful humans and dreamers,

I’ve spent the last week in a lot of thought, taking in the social situations that the world has been dealing with. I’ve been listening, learning, understanding more and more about other people. It’s been fascinating, saddening, enlightening, and a whole host of other things, but I’m happy, in a way, that people are actually having hard conversations and standing up for other people. I have felt the need to stay quieter than normal, to allow others the chance to speak while I listen, and it’s been a much needed time period. I’m going to return to my regular posting schedule now, with a lot more awareness and empathy.

The easiest way to describe my blog lately would be as a mental health platform. I use it mainly to talk about ways to deal with mental health issues, to advocate for better care, break stereotypes, and create more dialogue about these chronic issues that plague our society. Just under 50 percent of all Americans will experience mental illness in some form during their lifetimes, yet there is still an immense amount of stigma surrounding their experiences.

One of the starting points for most people dealing with mental illness should be to see a counselor, therapist, or psychologist. But less than 35% of people will actually take that step. And many people, even if they do see a counselor or psychologist, will avoid talking about it to others because they are afraid of being judged.

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I saw a mental health counselor while I was at university. I went almost every week for about four months. I was finally referred to a wonderful facility after the Tiny Princess was born, and started seeing my current therapist approximately 2-3 months postpartum.

Even though I had been in therapy before, it was difficult to go back. It was just as hard for me to take that step and accept that the extra help was actually needed. Now that I’ve been going regularly for almost 6 months, it’s a lot easier to discuss with others.

Going to see someone is not a cure. Not in any way, shape, or form. Some psychologists or psychiatrists do prescribe medications or other therapies that can help, but right now there are no true “cures” for mental illnesses. That is a whole different topic, however…

There are plenty of times when I don’t feel like going (or logging on, in the current COVID situations, all my sessions are through video chat) or I think that “oh! I had a good week, I don’t need to talk to her yet.” In reality, sometimes those are the most productive and important sessions of all. When I’ve had a good week, it can be incredibly insightful to talk to someone who can decipher what was different and how I can replicate that in the future. On the days I “don’t feel like it,” she can encourage me to work through those feelings and come out on the other side with new strategies and fresh motivation. It doesn’t really matter what mindset I have going into a session though because it’s always good to be able to talk to someone who is there to listen without judgment and is 100% focused on helping me find a way through it.

It’s easy to think that going to see a counselor or therapist means giving up on yourself. It’s easy to think that you’ve failed and can no longer do things on your own. In reality, it’s the complete opposite. It takes strength to say “I need help.” It takes courage to face the issues in your mind and work your way through them and having someone to coach you through that struggle can only help.

Everyone faces different struggles and each of our minds work just a little bit differently, but I can honestly say that seeing someone who is trained in mental health can be the first step towards understanding yourself a little bit better. I might not have regular panic attacks or be drowning in depression like I was in the past, but the benefits that I’ve seen from my weekly sessions are enormous nonetheless.

I’m going to write up some more informative posts in the future about finding a therapist and possibly tips for getting the most out of a session, but for now, I simply wanted to share my experience.


Love, light, and kindness, particularly to those currently being oppressed,

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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, Life of a Writer, Lifestyle, mental health, 0 comments

Win the Battle

Hello my lovely dreaming readers!

I talk a lot about how depression is a rough road with a lot of ups and downs. And every word of it is true. The struggle of managing a mental health issue is never a straight line, its always a zigzagging path and you never really know what’s coming next.

But time and time again there’s always one idea that comes back into my mind. I’m honestly not even sure when or where I first saw or read it. Probably on some blog somewhere. Wherever it came from, it always provides some small degree of comfort and hope.

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You’ve won every battle so far.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a super profound idea, but the first time I saw it, my mind was definitely blown. I happened upon it when I was in a deep dark hole and there seemed to be no way out. I was despairing, there was no hope, and I was ready to give in. While those words didn’t pave the way out of my darkness, they reminded me that I had been at this point before, sometimes even deeper.

And I had won those battles. Every single one of them.

I had come out the other side, usually stronger. I had battled depression and won, more times than I cared to count.

And that thought was, and still is, the thought that kept me going. Kept me fighting for the light at the other end of the tunnel.

Because if I had won this battle before, what was stopping me from winning it this time?


Maybe these words don’t strike you as strong as they did me. Maybe this is your first time fighting this battle so you can’t resonate the same way. But depression will never be stronger than you. It will never be stronger than the power of love.

It is an incredibly hard battle to fight, but it is not impossible. Not as long as you keep fighting.


As always, with the power of love and kindness,

Katharine Marie

Posted by katharine_marie in Depression, mental health, 0 comments