Today, I went back to therapy. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Therapy was the stepping stone to getting my life back & deciding to recover from my eating disorder.
But guess what? It took me a long time to accept that I really wanted & needed it. I thought it made me weak, vulnerable & helpless & that I couldn’t deal with my issues on my own. But when I finally went with it & took my chances, I realized how strong & courageous I was because I consciously decided to take my health into my hands & do what was best for ME. That’s a lot more than I can say for myself at my rock bottom.
Therapy made me recognize that sometimes, it’s okay to take care of myself first.
It taught me the value in positive self-talk.
It helped me figure out my triggers.
It gave me the tools to work through & rise above them.
But it’s not enough to have the tools… I HAD TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN USING THEM TO FIX WHAT WAS BROKEN. Put it this way: If you have a tool box in your garage & tons of things in your home need fixing & repairing but you don’t actually use the tools, those things will remain BROKEN. The same goes for your mental health.
Therapy is the first step but it isn’t everything.
Seeking therapy means you recognize that you’ll probably have to play the most active role & dedicate A LOT of time to the most important relationship you’ll ever have: THE ONE WITH YOURSELF.
Nobody will fix or heal that relationship for you.
Nobody will reorient your thoughts or fix what’s broken if you’re not ready to do that for yourself.
There’s only ONE relationship that’s forever permanent throughout the entirety of your life & it’s your relationship with YOURSELF. If it’s tainted with feelings of self-hate, negativity, guilt, dislike & emotional distance, every relationship around you suffers.
My message to you today & always is to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF & do what you need to do to find mental stability.
For me, that’s therapy, exercise, acceptance, positive self-talk & adaptogens.
What does your mental health need for you to feel your best? WHATEVER IT IS, PRACTICE IT. Even if it’s scary. Even if you’re unsure. Even if you don’t know if it’ll work. Take a chance.
Let’s talk about the top five things that helped me find my mental health:
In my opinion, there is a huge misconception in today’s society over the acceptance that we need & want therapy. A lot of people have a tendency to associate it with vulnerability & with not being able to help themselves on their own. And I’ll be very honest & admit that I too associated it with those things for a few months. I can’t even begin to tell you how many “interventions” were staged & planned by my family members who would show up at my house “suddenly” to try to convince me to go to therapy & threaten that the alternative was to go to the emergency room. In hindsight, I know they did that out of love, but at the time, there was nothing I wanted more than for everyone to just leave me alone.
It took me months to accept that I needed therapy & even longer for me to decide that I wanted it. At first, I was in denial, then I realized the problem was there. But, I refused to face it because I didn’t want my vulnerabilities to be exposed & I didn’t want to talk to a complete stranger about what I was going through & the thoughts racing through my mind because I didn’t even understand them myself.
THEN IT HIT ME. I reached my “WTF” moment. I realized I was slowly killing myself & that I finally had to do something about it to save my life. That turning point NEEDS to happen in order for you to realize that turning to therapy (& other things that we’ll get to later) actually makes you strong. Your strength is in your ability to recognize you need professional expertise from someone who has knowledge in whatever you are going through.
Therapy provides an objective perspective. Sure, your friends & family love you & want to be there for you but they have a subjective viewpoint on what you are going through. Therapy, on the other hand, is a blank slate. As long as you are 100% honest with your therapist, you have the opportunity to recant a story that he or she can have an objective approach on & apply professional knowledge to help you uncover the root causes of what you are going through, how you can link it back to past traumatic experiences, to your personalty traits, social, cultural background & understand your triggers & how to face them differently & in a way that is not detrimental to your health.
Therapy gives you the tools needed to understand, face & tackle what you are going through head strong as opposed to internalizing it or repressing it. It sounds great, right? IT IS. But, you’ll only really see the value in therapy if you get JUST DO IT & GO. Take your chances.
Therapy is great, BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s one thing to have a tool box sitting in your garage & a million things to fix in your house, BUT if you don’t use those tools to repair the issues, those things remain BROKEN. In the same vein, if you don’t use the understanding & tools therapy gives you to react & respond to your triggers in a different way, you will remain hurt & broken too. Your mental stability will remain unchanged. Point is, you need to be ready to actively participate in therapy, implement what you learn & apply it to your life. It’s not enough to sit on a couch in front of a professional if you don’t take anything home with you (figuratively, obviously).
- To read more about how to know you’ve found the right therapist: How To Know You’ve Found “The One” & By “The One”, I Mean, THERAPIST!
I know, you think I’m crazy. Am I really suggesting that you have to sit down & talk to yourself? Yes. It’s probably one of the most beneficial exercises you will ever do. Everyone practices it is in a different way. If you have to, sit in front of a mirror and talk to yourself. If it works for you to journal, blog or write down your thoughts, do that. If it works for you to just sit & reflect, meditate, or participate in a yoga class, do that. You need to find what works for you to help reorient your thoughts.
Nobody, NOT EVEN A THERAPIST, has the ability to reorient your thought processes. Reality is, your thoughts control your actions. If you are not actively working to take control back from whatever is controlling you & your thoughts by encouraging yourself that you have that power & ability to dominate how you react to triggers that once made you feel one way & will not make you feel differently if you look oat them from a different eye, then, as harsh as it sounds, therapy won’t serve you much. Think of it this way: if you’re in recovery from an eating disorder & you set up a doable & realistic meal plan with a nutritionist & you go home and go back to your safe foods or starve yourself all over again, what’s the point of the meal plan? Sure, it exists. But, if it’s not being implemented, its existence means nothing
In the beginning of recovery, there were days where I lay in bed for hours on end talking to myself & fighting with my thoughts. They told me one thing & I had to tell them something else. It’s not easy, but it’s doable & with time, it gets easier. One thing I learned is that what facilitates it (& makes it less awkward) is to engage in an activity that relaxes your mind that you can associate with self-talk. Whether it be cooking, baking, walking, blogging, listening to music, meditating, yoga, etc… find an activity that you can associate wth self-talk. Just like therapy, you’ll only see the value in positive self-talk when you actually begin to do it & see results.
Eventually, self-talk will help you realize & see the worth in cultivating & building your relationship with yourself where you feel happiest in your skin & trust yourself more than anyone in this world. Reality is, YOU ARE ALL YOU’VE GOT. Of course, your family & friends love & adore you and support you wholeheartedly but you need to love & support yourself too. If you don’t do that for yourself, nobody else will do it for you. If you want others to believe in you, you must first believe in yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the most important in this world.
How do I know that? Because I realized it through my experience with divorce. I won’t lie, my divorce made me feel like I was inadequate. Like I’d never be a good partner, wife, mother. It made me think I failed as a person & didn’t have the capability to be someone else’s partner in life. Eventually, I realized that the entire experience happened so I could realize I had to love myself first before I could love anyone else. Today, I see my divorce through a different eye; as a blessing in disguise. It happened for a hell of a reason & I could not be more thankful that I’m at a point in my life where I know that I must first have a good relationship with myself before I can cultivate meaningful, real & long-lasting ones with others.
- To read more about my divorce & how I opened up, click here: Edit #129010321: What You’ve All Been Dying To Know & Why I’m Finally Opening Up About It.
- To read more about how I healed my broken heart, click here: How To Heal A Broken Heart a.k.a. My Top Google Search For Weeks #NoShame
- To read more about the importance of the relationship with yourself, click here:
- To read more about self-talk, click here:
Today, exercise is one of the primary ways I cope with my anxiety. I was offered prescribed anxiety medications more times than I can count on my two hands & every time I was offered it, I won’t lie, I wanted it. I wanted it because I wanted the anxiety to go away FAST. I was wiling to do anything to make it go away faster. I’m human & as human beings, we want things instantaneously & that was something I had to fight every time I contemplated. Every time I thought it through, I realized that my addictive personally wouldn’t be conducive to me eventually getting off the meds & coping with my anxiety on my own. And so, every time I thought it through, I hesitantly said no. I turned to exercise instead. I hoped for exercise to help me be able to work through my emotions & take myself away from the things distracting & triggering me. And guess what? IT CHANGED MY LIFE.
Exercise taught me so many things that are worth far more than the way I look. It taught me that disconnecting from the things weighing on my mind is so much more beneficial & worthwhile than letting those things hinder my life. It taught me that if I can pull through the physical struggle of a workout & how strenuous it is, I can also pull through mental struggle. It made me view challenge from a different perspective. Physical & mental challenge were no longer things I hated or resented & thought I couldn’t do, but rather things I was ready & wanted to tackle with determination & resilience.
Exercise taught me to view challenge as an opportunity to be better, do better & for growth. It helped me see the value in small victories. Every time I could do something I couldn’t do a week, month or two months ago, the small physical victory allowed me to realize that small victories mentally are just as important, if not even more. And so, I began to view every little victory in recovery as a success & accomplishment & this helped push me farther in my journey. I learned to appreciate life, the little things.
Today, I can say with utmost certainty that exercise is the main way I find release. As I mentioned earlier, it’s about so much more than how I look & I always say this, if you’re committed to a routine, physical results will come naturally because it’s a consistent part of your life. BUT, the mental aspect is so much more important & will provide you with a sense of self-love & worth, a feeling of control over your mind & thoughts. I walk into a workout sometimes with horrible, negative thoughts & all my triggers activated & I leave a different person. I feel alive & in control. Every workout is an opportunity to better myself both physically & mentally, to disconnect & to focus on one thing & one thing only: leaving the workout feeling amazing (& better than when I walked in) & most importantly, with a fresh, new, different & positive perspective & light.
One thing I want to mention that I think is super important to consider is that there’s a time and place for everything. I only started exercising when I got approval from my treatment team. AND YOU MUST DO THE SAME. Exercise in recovery can be a very slippery slope & more detrimental to your mental & physical health than you think. If you’re not weight restored or if you’re not mentally stable enough, it can easily become an addiction. Addictions with one thing can transfer over into an addictions with other things. Trust me, those are not chances you should be willing to take. Do not rush into it before your body & mind are able to tolerate it & before professionals agree that you are physically & mentally read to do it. And when you are approved? Start slow! I started with yoga in May & then only registered at the gym in July! Your time will come!
POINT BEING: Exercise has saved my life.
- To read more about exercise & how I use it as therapy, click here:
- To read more about my thoughts about exercise in anorexia recovery, click here:
Adaptogens are calming, soothing herbs that have been used in Chinese & Ayurvedic medicine to help boost energy, balance hormones & relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, etc. Adaptogenic herbs boost mood & revitalize the body, mind & soul without the side effects & withdrawal symptoms experienced with prescribed anxiety medication (these symptoms can be even more intense for people with addictive personalities).
Ashwagandha is my adaptogen of choice, but I’ve tried many others & still take some others in powder form, such as; chaga, reishi, cordyceps & Ginseng. Adaptogens act to hep the body to be able to respond to physiological, emotional, physical, environmental stressors, external or internal, that trigger anxiety & affect the adenal glands and nervous system. they help the body be better able to respond to stress and anxious situations by helping the body reach a state of homeostasis.
If your body is not producing enough hormones to be able to respond to these stressful situations, it will produce more. But, if your body is over-producing these hormones, they have the ability to suppress stimulatory hormones that might be stimulating the stress & anxiety & making you feel it more than the average person would. stimulate the production of certain hormones. In this way, the body reaches a state of balance, where it’s able to cope with triggers, anxiety, stress & remain calm, both in the physical state & mental state. If your adrenal glands re overactive, they will calm it; if your adrenal glands are under active, they will activate hormones needed to make them function optimally.
My anxiety has improved SUBSTANTIALLY since I started incorporating ashwagandha. Just to give you guys an example of how bad my anxiety used to be, I remember when I was still following my stringent meal plan in recovery, I used to sit in traffic & have anxiety attacks over the time I would get home to have my snack. If I was going to be “late”, I’d speed home, switch over to the “emergency lane” & do everything I possibly could to get home on time. In the process, I was huffing, puffing, feeling suffocated & having full blown anxiety attacks… YES, OVER A TIME ON A MEAL PLAN. My anxiety made me put my life in danger. I know, it sounds crazy. And I look back at the person that I was & it scares me, But, this is the reality of anxiety & I am just being open with you guys.
Ever since I started incorporating adaptogens, they allowed me to be more logical, to control my thoughts and to not et the anxiety get to a point where it takes over me & where I can’t control my attacks. The triggers are still there, but I know how to respond to them & that makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
I just want to put it out there that if you do take anxiety medication, I am not condoning you or criticizing your choices. Not taking them was a personal choice I made & this is what worked for me. The only way to know if it’ll work for you is through trial & error. Your anxiety should NEVER dominate your life & you should do what you have to do to follow suit.
To read more about anxiety & how I cope, click here:
- Opening Up About My Anxiety & Why Some Weeks Are Harder Than Others.
- Opening Up About One Of My Biggest Triggers & How I Learned To Face It Differently.
- (Much-Needed) UPDATED Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements Routine a.k.a. A Tough Pill To Swallow (JK, You Get Used To It!)
- The Brain VS. Mind Question & Why You Don’t Need To Justify Your Struggle For It To Be Real.
- Anxiety: Be A Voice, Not A Victim.
- What Is Anxiety? & My Top Natural Remedies (& A Few Other Pointers!) For Coping with Anxiety.
To read more about adrenal fatigue, click here;
- Adrenal Fatigue: The Ins & Outs – My Experience With It, What Is It? How Does It Feel? & How You Can Fix It
You need to reach a point in your life where you accept your reality & know that whatever you are going through, there is a reason for it. You might not know the reason today, tomorrow, in a year or two. But, true acceptance can only happen when you know there is a bigger greater cause & purpose for what you are going through. Whatever journey you’e on, you’re on it to build a better you, a better tomorrow & a better future for yourself. There are things you ned to learn in this journey, right now, in this moment, that will lead to your better tomorrow.
Easier said than done, right? I KNOW!! Acceptance is one of the hardest things to do for us, right? We hate to have to accept things beyond our control, things that don’t go our way. But, that’s life. Things sometimes don’t go our way for a reason & that reason is a greater good.
How do you accept losing your mom & best friend? How do you accept a divorce? How do you accept that you will constantly have to fight triggers & eating disorder thoughts? You accept them because they are blessings in disguise & are there to teach you valuable lessons, to teach you to be strong, to allow for personal growth. These are things you will come to know only once you shift your mindset to BELIEVE in them. Once you do, you accept & only once you accept will you be able to tackle the issue, illness, disorder, struggle in a real & genuine way & get to a place where you truly want to get better.
Acceptance goes hand in hand with therapy & positive self-talk and motivating yourself to reorient your thoughts. In order to accept, you need to know that what you’re going through gets better but also that what you’re going through is there and is your reality. Instead of suppressing it and repressing it, face it. I speak from experience when I say that inevitably, repression comes to the surface one day or another. Your body eventually reaches a point where it can’t take it anymore.
So when something happens, GRIEVE & do so properly. Eat the chocolate. Bawl your eyes out. Eat the tub of ice cream. Do what you have to do to let the emotions out. Once you let them out, know that the emotion is harboured within you & you need to feel it every now & then if it comes to the surface. DON’T REPRESS IT. Feel the sadness when you have to. Take something from every experience & ask yourself what it taught you.
I hope this post was helpful! This is just me being really honest with you guys about my mental health issues, ups, downs & struggles & sharing what has worked for me. I’m still not 100% there & I don’t know if I or anyone ever will be. I believe we are ALL on our own personal journeys, and those journeys are constant. We all have our struggles & this is why it’s so important to be kind & to help one another out whenever possible!
If you guys have found other ways to cope with your anxiety or other mental health issues & are open to talking about them, feel free to share them in the comments below. I love learning from you guys, xox!