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I can’t stop self sabotaging!

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 “I fucking hate when I act like that! Why did I say that?! I’m ruining things. I can’t keep doing this!”

 

This is the internal dialogue that my brain and many other brains naturally spew out after engaging in ____ behavior. Insert whatever behavior it is that you feel is self sabotaging, that you’ve been trying to stop, or that you look back on and cringe. In my case it is being overly critical of those I care about. This is a pattern I’ve noticed over the years and have been actively working on; it’s gotten much better but it’s not until I learned to love even that part of myself that I was able to really let go of the need to be highly critical (I can’t keep blaming it on being a Virgo, right?!). 

In my work as a therapist, I’m often looking for new ways to help people. Throughout this search, I found something called Internal Family Systems and read a book on it by Jay Earley called Self Therapy that has been super helpful!

To over simplify it, it’s basically the concept that we all have an “inner family”; different parts of ourselves that pop their heads out at different times, have different thought patterns and behaviors, and sometimes contradict each other.  

This isn't “split personality disorder”, otherwise known as dissociative identity disorder, which is actually very rare and involves literally having different personalities within you that don’t know what the other personalities have been up to.

Think of this more as those moments where you know you’re engaging in a behavior that doesn’t align with your stated values but you choose to do it anyway, and feel guilty and maybe even bash yourself about it after. 

I’ve tried many years of the self judgment about the parts of myself that I wanted to make better, and to be honest, that hasn’t worked out too well. So instead, I got to know them. I even went as far as to be compassionate towards them. And something strange happened; they softened and something shifted! 

I highly recommend this book, and if you’d like to give this technique a try on your own here are some steps:

 

1) Identify the “problem” behavior: binge eating? Picking fights with your partner? Procrastinating on something that’s super important to you?

2) This step is KEY in helping you to slow down your acting out of the behavior; get to know this part intimately. What do the thoughts, feelings, even the voice and the visual of this part have? For example, if the behavior is procrastination, maybe the thoughts that go with this are “I’ll do it another time I can just go do this thing now”. Maybe this part has a younger age that it sounds like, or it may remind you of another person in your life. In my case, the critical judgmental part was something I internalized from a family member, and when I really thought about the thoughts that came with it they didn’t feel or sound like my own. Once I recognized it I didn’t have to own it as my own and it was easier to notice when that part was coming up!

3) Acknowledge: DONT ignore the “problem”. Take a moment to acknowledge what’s happening and make space for it. This can be as simple as saying “hey, I’m doing that procrastination/judgmental/self sabotaging thing again”. The key here is acknowledgment without judgment; an open noticing what’s there without pushing it away or condemning it.

4) Investigate: Why does this part exist?! Every part of us arose from a need throughout our lives. These parts then can become solidified and develop habits over time that no longer serve us, but let’s assume that every parts original purpose was to HELP. Big mindset reframe! If it is  procrastination, this part may be protecting you from the fear of failure if you begin. Self criticism can often derive from somebody who was criticized throughout childhood as a protective means to “prepare” you internally before you were judged and criticized by someone externally. Self sabotaging relationships may be a part that is trying to protect you from letting someone in and getting hurt again. Beginning to understand that at some level these parts developed to help us can lead us to a more compassionate approach, and help us be softer with ourselves. 

5) Compassionate intervention: Once you have gotten to know the part, what it’s purpose is, and met it in a compassionate way, KINDLY tell it to take a seat. Think of this as coming from your kind, wise self part. A gentle “I know you’re here to help, but I got this” may help this part soften.

 

 

This work on ourselves is an ongoing process, and there’s never an “I’m all done now!”. That’s part of the beauty of this human ride we’re all riding right now; there are endless things to be curious about and to heal through. Here’s to compassionate understanding of ourselves and where we came from, and embracing our capacity for change and healing. 

 

 

Chelle

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Lessons from the land.

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Last week I arrived back home to my routine, familiarities, comfort, and responsibilities after 5 days on a Diné reservation. In 5 days I had heartbreakingly beautiful and painful conversations about social justice, sprituality, and yoga at a summit organized by Yoga Impact. I also had the privilege of being a (first time!) presenter and teaching yoga at the summit, which was an experience for me in and of itself.

It was one of those experiences where so many things you thought you knew about yourself, your healing, and these concepts (yoga, spirituality, and social justice) get broken wide open with no new clearly defined concept.

I'm in that space now. The space where you realize both how much work there is to do and where you feel more connected to the work than ever, because the importance of it has been re-awakened.

This post is a small attempt to put into words what this experience has taught me (although the lessons will always be evolving, and to be honest there aren't really words that I feel do it justice!):

1. INVEST IN YOUR AUTHENTICITY (Thank you Belinda). In a social climate where we're inundated with "how to's" and "should's": "how to heal", "how to be a yogi", "how to love yourself", "how to BE....", it takes ACTIVE investment (investment is energetic and intentional and not always financial, but that too) to show up as your authentic self, particularly if you don't identify with the "supposed to's" we've been getting shoved down our consciousness for hundreds of years. The reason it is an active investment is because it really does require work; unplugging from all that's external so you can begin to feel your way into your authentic self to eventually express it outwards.

2. SAFE SPACES ARE NOT A BUZZ WORD. They are essential to our growth, to our healing, to our remembering. They are the spaces where we can fully breath, an unguarded deep nourishing breath, without fear of judgment or offense to others. Especially when we're talking about issues like social justice and redistributing power, there is a REAL open-ness and unacknowledged pain that is allowed to come to the surface when there is space made INTENTIONALLY for that. During one of our workshops, the facilitator created separate caucuses for people of color to split off from white participants and explore how the topics impacted us. I realized that not talking about difficult dynamics like race and power in certain spaces had become such a norm, that I forgot that it really does take active energy to suppress those emotions. And it wasn't just talking about the concepts, it was acknowledging how they are STILL REAL, and not having to cite statistics and debate to prove that experience. Healing, discomfortand being heard > comfort and being polite. Sidebar: safe spaces are NOT segregation. They are collective consciousness' way to remember how to take up space and to remember their divinity.

3. THERE IS SO MUCH WORK TO DO. And yet, while the work is being done, we can "walk and talk in beauty" (thank you Nanabah); even if the work is messy, it can be done with love, with honor, and with mindful presence. I got a glimpse into the Diné people's reverence for the land, for the matriarchs in their community, and their understanding that we are always in reciprocal relationship to others and the earth. There was this sense of responsibility for what we're each contributing, and also this awareness that our presence and the way we interact with others and the earth has a direct and immediate impact. I was also struck by how inseparate it all is; our bodies, each other, the earth, and that when we nurture all of these we move a little closer to the healing and connectedness that our ancestors are probably all waiting patiently for us to remember (or who knows they may be cursing us out and telling us to hurry up already).

 

 

I am so very grateful for these lessons, and also really aware about all the different privileges I have that brought me to that space. I'm also seeing how this honoring of the self and the earth doesn't have to just happen somewhere away from home. We are a travelling home, and can always honor and nurture ourselves. There is always space to call out oppressive systems, even if it's ourselves contributing to them. There is always space to remember what's important and what we're really connected to if we intentionally create it.

 

Here's to walking in beauty and remembering,

Chelle

 

 

 

 

 

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You are Deserving. All is coming.

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This is a post that calls out self sabotage. Those sneaky thought patterns and behaviors that help keep away all that is for your growth and your level-ing up, because maybe it's hard to believe that life could really be that good for you. Maybe you doubt you deserve it, or have a hard time trusting positive things. Maybe because it's unfamiliar. Our brain is rigged to set out an alarm for unfamiliar feelings, and sometimes we can register good feelings and positive experiences as alarming if it's not something that's a part of our norm.

There's the healing work, which I'm so glad is a regular part of the conversation now. But what about the part of the healing where it's hard to accept when good things come?

After years of self healing work, I keep encountering the truth I've heard but now can see and know is so true: the work is never done; it's always an ongoing process. I've ended connections that don't serve me. I've learned from the enviroments I've been in and filled my spaces with relationships and environments that support me. And now that all these positive things are coming into my life, the next level of work arises: how to accept this abundance?

I have moments in my relationship and in my growing private practice where I'm scanning the situation for the glitch. For the set up. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because my experiences have taught me that things have to be hard: relationships are supposed to have lots of drama. Work is supposed to be unmanageable and stressful.

How crazy is that?! Unhealthy patterns become so familiar that even if they're not present, I'd find myself sometimes wanting to create  them, to make an issue, to "test" the validity of whatever good thing is now present in my life.

At a subconscious level, I know I have a belief system that relationships don't work out in the end; because in my childhood that wasn't what I saw.

I also have a false negative belief that social workers are overworked, underpaid, and burnt out to the point that they have a hard time enjoying life because of what I've seen in the clinics I've worked in.

So this is one of the steps: calling out these falsities that have been taking up space in my head but not paying rent. These beliefs add no value to my life. And even more reason to evict their asses: they AREN'T TRUE!! Healthy, loving relationships exist, and they can happen simply by relaxing into the flow of connection. Working in a helping profession can be both enjoyable and profitable. Life does not have to be hard, chaotic, or dramatic for it to be authentic.

The beauty of this life is that with awareness and discipline, we can choose our thoughts. Our repeated thoughts become our beliefs. Our beliefs can become our realities. We can actively curate a reality that welcomes health and abundance into our lives.

This is a call to action to the highest part of myself. The self doubt, self sabatoge, and critical parts of me come up when something is new, because they are trying to protect me; they don't know what's happening and the unknown can be really scary. I am now dedicating all of my being to acknowledging these parts as they arise, and not allowing them to dictate my reality. This has to do with RESPONDING, rather than REACTING.

RESPONDING: Listening. Deep belly breaths. Acknowledging. Leaning into discomfort. Curiousity about the unknown. Trusting the process. Believing in the abundance of the universe.

REACTING: Lashing out. Shallow chest breathing. Fear based approach. No room for listening; racing thoughts. Adrenaline pumping. Fight or flight. Scarcity mindset.

I challenge you to take an honest look at what gets in the way of you accepting all the greatness you deserve. What do those self sabotage thoughts sound like? What triggers those thoughts? What do you begin to feel in your body when you're reacting from a fear based place? Write it down. Recognize what's happening while it's happening and pause. Breathe deeply 5 times, 10 times, 15 times; however many times it takes to release tension in your body.

Let's get intentional about how to respond to these parts rather than reacting so we can design the lives we are meant to live, rather than repeating old habits we've downloaded from our environment. Let's upload new beliefs that serve us and grow us.

I'm waking up to the beauty of what's within me. What's within all of us. Working through the "muck", the difficult parts, the painful parts, allows me to reach new depths of beauty. What is it time for you to work through?

 

Here's to responding from our highest self,

 

Chelle

 

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Transgenerational Trauma

***discaimer*** I am not assuming that all people of color, or people who have had cycles of abuse within their family line, are currently affected by historical/transgenerational trauma. This isn't an "all or nothing" discussion, and is purely based off of my interactions with clients and my personal viewpoint on life. I completely understand that many people don't feel connected to this narrative at all, and that's okay!

 

Last week I met with a client for the first session. He was articulate, friendly, and seemed like the kind of person whose present day life was "all together" (whatever that means, right? Because um none of us have it all together but I digress). As he talked, it was obvious he wasn't quite sure what it was that brought him in other than an unsettled, disconnected feeling that he couldn't put his finger on. 

We meditated on each chakra to see what was there. As he opened his eyes, he cried as he sensed the disconnect he felt with his root chakra. The root signifies our connection to our tribe, to the earth, to our family, it's all about where we came from. This young black man knows and loves his family, but felt a deep pain in his being of disconnection from his ancestry. 

That session was so powerful to me, especially because I rarely hear people having this conversation about the real live present day impact of historical trauma. It's almost like it's become such a normal part of life that we aren't fully aware of it.

Historical trauma is defined as “a constellation of characteristics associated with massive cumulative group trauma across generations” (Brave Heart, 1999).

“The sign of ultimate oppression working is when the oppressor can take away his hands, stand back and say ‘look at what they’re doing to themselves.’”— Jessica Gourneau, Ph.D.

What this means is individuals can feel the impact of trauma that has been transmitted down through generations, even if that individual didn't directly experience the trauma! A person may internalize emotional abuse and a sense of unworthiness, and unknowingly pass this down to their children directly or indirectly; we mirror behaviors that we grow up seeing, and without consciously knowing, can continue these patterns throughout generations. For people of color, we still have present day systems that re-enact the oppression that "ended" 140 years ago, which only reinforces this cycle.

In the case of my client, as we got in touch with where he was feeling the most pain, he talked about feeling a disconnection of "where he came from", and felt that even the language he uses daily isn't his own but he has no awareness of what his native tongue is. In that moment, it was as if he was grieving the pain of his ancestors. The forceful kidnapping of Africans for slavery was making it's presence known in his being, and made it's way into the room with us.

It made me think about how many other ways this historical trauma plays out in our day to day, particularly as people of color. If we looked at the history of black people in America as the lifetime of one person, the timeline may sound as follows: 

A child is kidnapped from their home, where they had a strong sense of culture, pride, and identity. They are forcefully taken to a new unfamiliar place where they are abused in all different ways. As they grow older, they learn that the way to survive is to assimilate to the people in power, which sometimes means denying their own identity and even degrading parts of their culture that they originated from. As they grow into an adult, they begin to question the way they were treated and are still being treated. Even then, they are accused of "playing the black card", experience microaggressions in their daily lives, and their experiences are often dismissed or minimized. They quietly repress these emotions in a continued effort to survive in a space that was not necessarily created for them.

The person above will still get things done. He/she will still be able to love, create, evolve, and rise. BUT, that doesn't mean that these struggles aren't real and that they shouldn't be talked about, and that there isn't real healing work to do.

I share this (very very oversimplified) narrative not because I think that there hasn't been progress, and not to emit an "us" versus "them" dialogue, but because I think sometimes it's ignored because it's uncomfortable to talk about: slavery was only legally ended about 140 years ago and that there are still very real effects in Americans' daily life. Part of the nature of abuse and trauma is to often deny the seriousness of what happened. It can be really painful to acknowledge what's happened. But healing is often calling what's happened out of the shadows into the light so that it can be repaired.

 

This intergenerational/historical trauma can happen in a variety of ways; cycles of abuse handed down through generations carried by a tide of secrecy and shame. Cycles of addiction as a means to cope with pain that noone talks about openly. These hand me down pains that we give and we get.

There is no clean cut way to have an answer to these problems, because they are deep rooted. But I have hope that cycles can be ended. I see the work being done in my community, and think of generations to come that will not have the same hand me down hurts because of the work that's being done. How powerful is that? That we have come to a place that we can heal the pains of our ancestors, and that many people are being called to repeat the healing work of their ancestors; we are here because of them and their resilience, and can simultaneously begin new cycles of healing and end cycles of pain. 

And when we were done with our session, I could feel that he felt lighter. I saw that he had a level of awareness that connected him not only to his struggle but to himself as a whole. Healing happens when community and connection is created not despite pain, but including pain. I'm grateful to have witnessed his level of pain but also his level of connection to himself, because it reminded me of how resilient the human spirit is.

Here's to paying attention to what hurts so you can heal it,

Chelle

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Choose again

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This trip was meant to be “the” trip. On some Eat, Pray, Love shit. I booked it 6 months ago, and counted down the days. I booked a bus tour, a food tour, and visualized myself all peaceful and discovering new things about myself for my FIRST solo trip. I got to the check in at the airport, and....

"Ma'am, do you have your travel visa?" 

Travel visa?! What do you mean!

But, there I was. A woman who hadn’t researched enough to know it was needed, and the sad look I gave this woman with the perfectly groomed bun (how did she get it like that? i wish I had asked but it wasn’t the right time) didn’t really help. The sad stare I gave her didn’t make her change her mind either; It was just awkward and eventually she told me to “step to the side please ma’am”. The E-Visa I frantically applied for on my phone wouldn't go through in time, and before I knew it I had missed my flight.

My brain scanned possible story lines: I could throw a self pity party, as the helpless victim: “why didn’t I get any notification I needed this?! How was I supposed to know? :: quick calculation of money lost, then fantasizing of all the things I could do with that :: whyyyy meeee”

The self critic (I'm really good at this one, this was very tempting): “you’re so irresponsible I can’t believe you didn’t do your research, someone should take your adulting card”

The little kid having a tantrum (another familiar favorite): “fuck this place I’m going to pout and make a scene because life is supposed to be fair and this ISN'T FAIR!”

BUT in that moment something happened.

I realized that sometimes, shit happens, and I really do believe it’s for reasons that are often out of our awareness but cause a ripple effect that is greatly needed for the big cosmic plane. I realized had a choice: I could fight reality and make myself feel worse, or I could accept what was happening and respond to the reality rather than reacting.

I booked this trip with the intention that I would go solely for the experience, with no pressures and expectations. And grace in the face of unexpected changes is quite an experience. And it was happening right there within that disappointment. So I chose again.

I chose to be in charge of what I’d do with my time and my attention. Because isn’t that life? I mean, yes, people travel successfully all the time and this didn’t just “happen” to me; I did contribute and it could have been prevented. But don’t things just not work out sometimes? Even if you contributed to the situation, does that mean you have to live and dwell in your unmet expectation after you extract the lesson?

So much of our heartbreak and melancholy are a result of unmet expectations. That relationship you swore was “the one”. That other person that just doesn't GET IT no matter how hard you try to "fix things". That job you wanted so badly and over time realized it wasn’t exactly what you thought it’d be. The expectation that others will do for you what you’d do for them.

Expectations lead to disappointment for sure. I'm not saying to not have standards for life; but let's accept the reality in front of us rather than always wishing for it to be so different, and respond in ways that meet our needs to the best of our ability! Spoiler alert: sometimes that means walking away. Living in expectation and disappointment is sometimes more familiar then walking away from a situation that we know isn't working and walking towards the unknown.

So for my "failed" trip, I chose again to let go of the expectations I had for my time. I walked away from the trip I thought I was supposed to be on, and I booked a small room in the Catskill. I landed on a bar called Hi-Lo, which coincidentally was showing the Italian film “The Great Beauty”, and sipped at my prosecco with a tear running down my face because of the beauty and humor of the film. And how fucking delicious my empanada was.

If I had fixated on what didn’t happen, and held onto how my trip didn’t go according to plan, I’d have missed so much.

Like the fact that the woman behind the counter made sure I didn’t forget my passport because I was a hot mess. The smell of lavender in my hot soothing bath. The feeling of the fresh crisp sheets of an unfamiliar room that means I’m “away”. And the smell of French press fresh coffee in the morning. Stumbling upon a Buddhist temple that was beautiful and awe inspiring.

Now, I’m not suggesting you travel internationally without checking if you need a visa. Im also not saying that me having the privilege to book a trip like this compares to some pretty devastating disappointments that happen in life. I’m saying, when things that are no longer in your control happen and aren’t what you expected, choose again.

If your attention and energy aren’t focusing on ideas and experiences that help you thrive, choose again.

If you’re waiting for life to turn out just as planned in order to feel satisfaction, choose again.

Shake yourself free of expectations and the timeline of “should’s” you’ve inherited from who knows where, and slow down. Feel the breath move in and out of your lungs, know that things are working in your favor somehow and somewhere, and know that you have a choice of what your focus on: choose what makes you come alive, even if it’s not the storyline you thought it’d be. Don't be afraid to step away from what's not working and into the unknown, because there are some really amazing experiences waiting for you there.

You’re still here, so why not spend time finding the smile in a strangers face, noticing nature wherever we can, really tasting that first sip of fresh coffee, and feeling the sensation of crisp sheets on your skin. Feel the feeling of your body working for you and your ability to see your world around you and hear the sounds of your day. Find where in your life there is space for gratitude, because what you pay attention to will grow!

 

Heres to letting go of the focus on the struggle of the missed expectations, and just enjoying this journey,

 

Chelle

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Dear body, I’m sorry.

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I got my first physical in 4 years the other day (I know, shame on me, but I finally got to it!). I stepped on the scale, and DIDN'T CARE WHAT I SAW.

I know, some of you may not think this is a big deal. Or may think because someone is physically active and has a certain body type, that they should not have a difficult relationship with the scale.

But for me, someone who had a "magical number" she had to see on the scale (or else I'd feel like shit) that I clung to from high school to college and even after, not caring about that number anymore is a big deal.

Because there was a time when I felt like I had to do a certain number of crunches every day. When I calorie counted and needed to run it off on the treadmill. When family members frequent warnings of "you'll get fat if you eat like that" replayed in my head over and over, to the point where I'd do it to myself and couldn't fully enjoy a meal.

I'm not writing this thinking that my story is a unique one, and I know my story is a mild one compared to the struggle many people have with their bodies and food.

I've participated in and witnessed women bonding about the diets they're on, guiltily confessing how "bad" they were with their food choices, and sarcastically shaming their bodies out loud. Language holds so much power, and we can sometimes be so cruel to ourselves.

I don't think there's one way to talk about the foods we eat or to talk about our bodies that is the "right" way. I do think that the way we're bombarded with images of what an ideal body type looks like, having a healthy and loving relationship with our bodies is definitely hard work.

Questions to assess the state of your relationship with your body: How do you feel when you look in the mirror? If you were to write down the words you use to describe your physical self, how does that feel? Are you more critical of your own appearance than you are of others?

The turnaround for my relationship with my body was awareness (thank you therapy and yoga practice); because had you asked me at the time, and I might not have even realized how unhealthy the language and the standards I was placing on my body were. I just thought it was normal to want to look differently than I did, or to fear natural changes that our bodies go through (especially as women)!

I slowly became more aware of what I was zoning in on in the mirror, what unrealistic standard I was holding myself to, and what kind of language I was using to myself about what I saw. I began to value building strength and different abilities in my body, rather than valuing how much I weigh.

Changing the way we think and interact with our bodies and our weight is a BIG FUCKING DEAL. And I know that my struggles aren't half as bad as what many women (and some men!) go through, but it's a big enough deal that I had to speak on it and in a way that shared some of my personal experience.

If I could talk to 17 year old Rachelle, which is really when many of my struggles with my body began, I'd tell her this:

1. You are worthy of love and acceptance, no matter what a scale says.

2. Your body does so many incredible things for you, and you're missing it. You're missing how lucky you are to be physically abled in the way you are, because you're picking yourself apart.

3. Eat the cannoli. Fuck the calorie count.

4. Exercise to find ways to feel good in your body, not because you think it makes you "good".

5. I'll say it again, because you need to hear it. You are WORTHY. Right now, not 5 pounds down from now.

 

 

Here's what I would teach her that I had to learn along the way:

1. Spend time finding the beauty in yourself. Zone in on the good. Find that beauty mark. That curve you like. The color of your skin. Whatever it is that you can recognize as beautiful, spend some time there and really observe your own beauty. If at first it's hard to identify what it is, spend more time practicing looking through loving eyes (the way you do when you're in love with someone else) instead of using critical eyes.

2. Whatever you're most critical of, find ways that these parts of your body are working for you. Belly pokin out? It's digesting stuff for you though, ALL THE TIME. You'd die if it wasn't doing what it was doing. Put a loving hand on whatever part you're most critical of, and send it loving gratitude for it's function in giving you life.

3. Surround yourself with representation of beauty in all sizes. There's not enough of it in the mainstream media, so you may have to look for it. Thank goodness for social media for giving us so many different unique types of beauty to appreciate.

4. Love up on your body. Run a hot bath and enjoy soothing your body in this way. Give yourself a massage all over. Pick your favorite scented lotion, and take your time putting it on. Cook a decadent meal just for yourself to nourish your body with great food. Treat your body like it belongs to someone you care about!

5. Practice it all, multiple times. Because many of the messages around us tell us we have to change ourselves in some way to be beautiful. So this whole accepting ourselves as we are can feel unnatural and will take practice. Over time, you can build a loving relationship with your body, but like any relationship, it is work!

 

 

Here's to deprogramming the culture of self hate that has us always looking outside of ourselves to feel worthy, and learning to love and accept ourselves for the amazing beings that we are.

 

You're good enough juuust where you're at,

Chelle

 

Disclaimer: Our relationship with food and our bodies is LOADED. Sometimes these habits and urge to control our weight can lean towards eating disordered behaviors, in which case getting serious help is needed and never something to be ashamed of (actually, it means you're pretty fucking brave). LiveWell in the Albany Area helps people recover from eating disorders (518-218-1188) .

 

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Finding balance when you're stressed the hell out!

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bal·ance, noun

an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

"although her job was stressful, she maintained her life-work balance"

 

Okay, so that's the definition, but HOW?!

We have all these different "parts" of ourselves with different responsiblity in different realms: a "work" self, a "partner" self, a "parent" self, a "friend" self, along with whatever other identities are important for you to uphold. Maintaining all these areas of our lives can get SO stressful, and that is the case for the majority of people.

In the US alone, 77% of people experience physical symptoms of stress, and 73% experience psychological symptoms caused by stress (www.stress.org).  That's crazy. We're really all walking around here stressed the hell out.

I have grown up in what was sometimes a chaotic and high stress household. My job as a social worker for the past 5 years can be stressful and at times chaotic. Because of this ongoing exposure to stress, I thought being stressed out was pretty normal and became desensitized to it.  In the past I haven't even known that my stress level is rising, until I get to the point that I'm overwhelmed and start shutting down!

I have had to LEARN how to know when I'm stressed the hell out, and  how to slow down and take care of myself before it gets to the point that I'm burnt out. Emphasis on learn, because a.) I'm still always learning about my process, and b.) ANYONE can learn how to do this too.

You are not destined to live a stressful life; you CAN learn how to manage it in a healthy way.

The other thing is, stress isn't bad. Sometimes it can motivate us to problem solve, let shit go that isn't meant to be in our lives anymore, and it is a normal healthy part of our human experience.

But when stress doesn't let up and it's constant, our body is continuously releasing stress hormones that literally eat away at our physical health, causing physical health issues and shortening the years we're alive. Stress can also lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Externally, stress is always happening and is a daily reality. But internally, we do have a choice in how we respond to it, and those choices can either improve or deteriorate our lives.

Choices I've learned and am still learning.:

1. LEARN WHAT STRESS LOOKS LIKE FOR YOU: my stress didn't look the way it does for friends and family, and I've had to learn specifically what mine looks like so I can respond and take care of me when I need to. For me, when I'm stressed, I sleep more. I procrastinate. I want to order takeout. I cancel plans with friends. I have thoughts of everything being "too much". I've learned that when I start to notice these behaviors, I'm stressed the hell out! Take some time and even write it down: what does it look like when you're stressed out?

2. STRESS IS A SIGNAL to sometimes slow down. I used to ignore when my "check engine" light was going off and I was clearly getting overwhelmed. I'd assume that if I pushed through and ignored it, it would go away. It took about 28 years to learn that I have to pay attention to my body and emotions so that I can be my best self. I've learned that if I ignore the signs, it just leads to a bigger meltdown for me down the road. Nowadays, I notice the signs of my stress and make it a point to schedule a yoga class, listen to a podcast that makes me feel good and light hearted, or to hang out with a fun friend that I can just laugh with. Even though I want to curl up, order takeout cannolis (yes, I've ordered $12 worth of cannolis before to meet the minimum delivery total), and drown in a pity party of how hard life is, that actually makes me feel worse. So I listen to my signals and I respond to them by taking care of me in a healthier way than I have before.

3. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET. Our way of bonding as humans is often complaining about how busy life has gotten. I'm working on changing my language. I used to use a rhetoric of "ugh life is so busy, I have to do x,y, AND z" as if this proves some kind of worth or connection as a human. Instead, I'm working on noticing all the things I "get" to do. I get to make a living and have money to pay for my apartment! I get to have plans with people I care about! I get to have family members that I care for, and am fortunate enough to have the ability to help them with things. Instead of seeing certain responsibilities as duties or burdens, try to shift the mindset to seeing them as opportunities that other people would love to have.

4. BUDGET YOUR TIME. Anybody else ever ran their credit card bills up and figured out that they may need to write down some of their spending to figure it all out? (slowly raises hand). Time is no different. If you're feeling overwhelmed, your energy account is overdrafted. It's time to get intentional about where you're spending your time and what your priorities are. Try using a planner at the beginning of the week and budgeting out EVERYTHING, including relaxation, self care, work, family time, bae day/friend time, and email/call times. You'll be surprised at how much time there is that may not have been budgeted in to meet your priorities, and once you gain more control over your time, you will feel less overwhelmed.

5. BALANCE IS AN ILLUSION. You are ONE person. You can not give 100% to everything all the time. Sometimes, one area of your life may have to sacrifice some of your energy and attention so that another area of your life can grow. We live in a society of illusions: instagram feeds and snapchat stories, where people can show their results and not the messy process. Equal balance in all areas of life is a lie. Different areas of your life will go through different phases, where some will require more attention than others. The goal isn't 100% perfection in all areas, the goal is to be in harmony with where you are in your life and what brings you the most satisfaction.

6. BE PRESENT. Slow down, tune into what matters the most right now, and focus there. When you are ready to move on, move on and be fully present in the next step, next moment, or area of life. Sometimes we are thinking about so many different things at once, we cheat ourselves out of being efficient in what we're doing at the time, and also really enjoying whatever it is we're doing at the time! This includes relaxing. When you schedule in relaxation time, RELAX. This doesn't mean you are doing nothing while thinking about your to do list; it means you enjoy the act of simply being!

 

So here's to acknowledging that life is messy, we humans have complicated lives, and everything definitely isn't going to be equally balanced. STILL, that doesn't mean we have to feel stressed the hell out, or that we can't find harmony in our lives, because we absolutely can.

 

har·mo·ny noun

the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole.

 

"delightful cities where old and new blend in harmony"

"the harmony of the whole structure"

 

Wishing you harmony instead of balance,

 

Chelle

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2017: The year I accepted abundance into my life

  Photo by Jamel Mosely   

Photo by Jamel Mosely 

What??! 2017 is almost over??? Is it me, or did time go into hyperwarp speed? Time moves so fast sometimes. I feel like that's why it's so important to take stock of what has actually happened in the past year, to reflect, to extract lessons, to give ourselves credit for the things we've done and what we've been able to move through.

If 2016 was the year of learning to trust myself, 2017 was the year of actually accepting good things into my life. In 2016 I made so many changes to get where I am now: abrupt, big changes. With those changes came the belief that if I had a new job, a new location, a new relationship, a new apartment, I'd have this new sparkly happiness, right?

WRONG. 2017 was the year I came face to face with my constant self doubt and inner self critic. I got my LCSW, was able to receive amazing private clients for yoga and therapy, met supportive new friends and an amazing guy, but still realized that nothing external could fulfill the void that was still there. I realized I could have an endless amount of accomplishments and new connections, but if I didn't truly believe in myself I wouldn't be able to fully experience it, accept it, and enjoy it.

This past year I got real about this inner work. I identified where these limited beliefs about myself came from by going to therapy often (oh, hi, childhood shit there you are again). I faced old pain by acknowledging experiences I hadn't fully acknowledged in the past. (P.S.: this will always be an ongoing process, with new depths to explore. Healing work is ongoing and never straight forward!).

I learned what it is to really be kind and gentle with myself.

I took a good look at the limiting beliefs I had about love ("nothing ever lasts, people always leave/hurt you/they ain't shit"), and I got real about thinking in alignment with the life that I want and the reality that we attract what we believe in ("I can trust others, I can let someone in. I am deserving of a healthy loving relationship"). I took a good look at the beliefs I have about money ("there's not enough, social workers are always broke") and am rewriting that narrative for myself ("I am living a financially abundant life while helping others"). I worked on aligning my thoughts, time, and energy with the basic and true concept that I am worthy.

2017 was a year of looking that negative self talk directly in it's face and saying "look, I get it. I get where you came from, I understand you're trying to protect me, but you aren’t true anymore and can take a seat". Of feeling the fear of intimacy in my relationship and opening up anyway. Of realizing that I create my reality with my thoughts, and it can either be limiting or expansive: I choose to expand.

This past year has laid the foundation for me to really shake shit up and move out of my comfort zone in 2018. I now understand it had to start with my mindset and unlearning the limiting mindsets I've picked up along the way about myself.

What lessons have you extracted from 2017? What kind of energy are you intentionally bringing into this New Year?

 

Here's to facing discomfort and enjoying the process of growth,

 

Chelle

 

***SHAMELESS PLUG*** 

 

Join me for a 2 hour workshop to shed what’s holding us back and bring our intentions of growth into this new year! 20$ for group discussion, journaling, Yoga, and meditation. Hope to see you there!  

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Yoga Bliss on the Blvd, 140 Erie Blvd. in Schenectady

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When the holiday season is triggering af

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The holiday season is a time that always makes me feel like there are 2 realities happening at the same time: we have the shiny holiday cover package; the commercials with family members that seem to always be smiling as they spend money, family planning and shopping, and sparkling decorations galore. 

Then there's the reality bubbling right underneath the surface for many people. As a therapist, I get a window into this reality that affects so many people. Crisis visits for suicidal thoughts go up. Attendance to appointments go up. Depression and anxiety go up. 

I'm not saying the holidays aren't actually a joyful time for many people, because I know they are. But for some families, it's their first time celebrating without having one of their loved ones present. Or maybe you're trying to maintain your sobriety from alcohol and drugs, and the holidays are a huge trigger for you to want to use.  Or maybe you've done some work on being a healthier you, but your family hasn't done the work and they are still caught in the same unhealthy patterns that bring up old emotional wounds.

It can feel really isolating to have a hard time around this time of year, and see everything around you look polished and beautifully decorated. Sometimes the collective strength of the "celebration" vibe may make you want to stuff any "negative" emotions into a box and put it in the attic of your brain while you plaster a smile on and go to the next holiday gathering.

You don't have to do that. That exhausting thing where you pretend you're okay; it often makes things feel worse. The only thing you really have to do is honor you. Let's shift the mindset from meeting external demands, to meeting your internal needs. Give yourself permission to nourish you first and foremost.

Here are some ways you can celebrate yourself and your emotional health for this holiday season:

1. Practice checking in with your emotions. So much of our suffering builds because we don't actually acknowledge how we're feeling each day. Especially when the holiday season is a busy one, it's easy to cram our own emotions on the backburner and tell ourselves we'll get to it when things slow down. Spend some time alone with yourself. Maybe you take 5 minutes at the end of each day to just ask yourself how you're doing, and to write down the response. What comes up may not be pretty sometimes, but just the act of treating yourself as if your emotions matter is a healing practice. It's also a great practice to begin to notice that emotions change, and nothing lasts forever. By putting difficult things down on paper, it can also be a way of offering up your emotions; of seeing them and acknowledging them but realizing that you are not your sadness, your anger, or your grief. They are however a part of your experience that need acknowledgment.

2. Assess how involved you want to be in family gatherings. What is the current state of your emotional health? How much energy do you have to be present and interact with family? As we grow and develop, the hopes are that we evolve into a truer representation of ourself and not just what we have been programmed to be. SOMETIMES, family can be dysfunctional af and being around them can feel stifling to your evolved self. Be honest and kind with yourself when knowing if that's the case; maybe you don't fit in with dysfunction anymore and need to make contact with loved ones in small doses. It's okay!

3. Find your soul family. There's the family we're born into, and then if we're lucky, there's our tribe. It could be one person or more than one, but these are the people that "get you" and honor who you are. They acknowledge your strengths and make you feel good about who you are. If the family you're born into becomes overwhelming, or if grief and loss are very present during this time of year, seek out your soul family to refill your cup. Maybe you plan a good vibes exchange, where you share letters of appreciation with your tribe.

 

4. You don’t have to show up to everything. You can skip it this year if you need to. You are allowed to rest, even when it feels the rest of the world is a whirlwind of busy-ness and holiday planning. The quality of your presence at what you do attend will be so much higher if you’ve taken some much needed time to relax.

 

The most important thing to remember is that you get to choose how you spend this time, so pour energy into what fills you up, especially if this is a hard time of year for you. Also know, you are definitely not alone.

 

Here's to saying no to anything drains your energy, and saying yes to yourself!

Chelle

 

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No, you can't just "get over it". And here are 5 reasons why.

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In a time where the #metoo movement is calling attention to sexual abuse and degradation towards woman, and where it feels like weekly you're learning about a new man in a position of authority that used his authority to sexually exploit and abuse women, it's hard to ignore that this is an epidemic.

And that awareness is a good thing. We need to shine the light on the shadows and the way people are hurting underneath the surface so we can address the problem. It's hard to know where to even begin to work towards undoing patriarchy's undermining of women's rights to their bodies and safety, but calling it out is a necessary step.

But we have to have a conversation about what's left when you have been abused. About how sometimes, although a person can have survived abuse, it can leave you with a lingering feeling that you are never really safe. People who have survived trauma do the best they can to cope with the painful memories, the guilt, and the shame. Sometimes a person may use an excess of sex, drugs, alcohol, self harm, creating chaos in relationships, or any other numbing or distracting behaviors that can then lead to a whole other range of issues for a person. And on top of all of that, if the person is able to open up to others about what they went through, they could possibly have to deal with people who don't fully understand that experience and tell them "it happened ___ years ago, it's time to move on now", or question the survivor about whether the event(s) "really" happened the way they say they did, dismissing that person's whole experience.

The truth of the matter is those who have endured abuse want nothing more than to be able to be fully in the present and let go of the past. It just isn't always that easy. I'm not saying this is the way trauma and abuse manifests itself for everyone, but I think it's important to talk about how this kind of pain can take a very long time to work through, and there are physical, emotional, spiritual, and even neurobiological reasons why. If you are a survivor of trauma, know that there's no one way to heal. You may never talk about it and that's okay. You may want to talk about it as part of your healing journey and that's okay too.

My hopes are that you KNOW you aren't broken. Because you aren't, and you are not what happened to you. My hopes are that these facts will reinforce that this healing work is work, and the fact that you're here and showing up for yourself every day is something honorable even if it doesn't always feel that way.

There are many kinds of trauma, and it's important to know that not everyone who experiences trauma becomes traumatized. It's also important to know that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US have the capacity to heal from the things we've been through.

 

Here are 5 reasons why, no, you can't "just get over it":

 

1. Traumatic memories don't get stored in the same way normal memories do. That trip to the grocery store from the other day? That memory is a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. However when trauma occurs and the brain registers danger, our limbic system or "fight or flight" brain gets activated, and the parts of our brain that control language, perception of time, and memory are not as active. What that means is that sometimes you literally don't have the language for what happened to you, you can have a sense that the trauma never really ENDED, and when certain memories are activated they can feel like they are occurring RIGHT NOW even if it was years ago.

2. Trauma can be registered by the body even more than in your conscious awareness. A study cited in Bessel Van Der Kolk's book The Body Keeps the Score (amazing book on trauma if you want to learn more about this) cites a study that found a connection between experiences of trauma and auto immune illnesses. The rationale was that after experiencing trauma, the body has registered the threat of the external world so deeply that even the physical cells of the person are not able to trust outside of themselves; they literally attack their own cells. Let that register: trauma can impact the physical body on a cellular level.

3. Repression is real. Sometimes in order to survive, memories are blocked out or may feel like a dream/blur. This is a protective mechanism of the brain to help the individual continue to function (and also part of the memory part of the brain, the hippocampus, sometimes shutting down during the traumatic event). What sometimes happens is that later on fragmented parts of memories may be triggered and come into awareness even years after the trauma occurred. That can be SO confusing and unsettling for a survivor!

4. Traumatic memories sometimes get stored in the same rationale as the age of when the trauma occurred. That's a loaded sentence, so I hope this makes sense: when we are younger, we think the world revolves around us. This sometimes extends to when bad things happen to us: we may assign blame to ourselves even if that blame does not belong to us. Even if our adult self understands that a child can't possibly be responsible for abuse, the memory may get stored as if it was our fault, and our adult selves may be carrying this burdensome thought pattern around.

5. The reaction of loved ones to the trauma can further traumatize a person. Say you go to a loved one about something terrible that happens to you, and they either imply that it was your fault, or outright don't believe you? That can make it even harder later on in life to open up to yourself and others about these difficult experiences.

 

If you have experienced trauma and it's something you still struggle with, please treat yourself with care. Gingerly and tenderly, because this stuff can go very deep. Don't be afraid to reach out for help if it's needed: working with a therapist whom you trust can really help the healing process. These things that happen to us even though we don't deserve them, they can cause so much pain, yes. But they don't define us, and there is nothing we can't heal ourselves through. Finding a community that you can be vulnerable in is important, and finding grounding practices to begin feeling safe in your body can be so healing as well. You are love and you are worthy, and be patient with your healing as it is definitely a process and takes time.

 

Sending you love,

Chelle

 

 

Resources:

Sexual Assault & Crime Victims Assistance:
24-hour Hotline: 518-271-3257
2200 Burdett Avenue
Troy, NY 12180

518-271-3445

 

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

 

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Self Care Toolkit: things to help you love up on your mind, body, and soul.

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Hi babies! I've been thinking alot about self care lately, not only because it is central to my own emotional/physical/spiritual health, or because I recently talked about it on the wonderful Goddess Talks podcast (see how I did that shameless plug there?), but because I'm learning how active we each have to be in this life if we want to get the most out of it.

And I don't mean active in terms of how much we can produce or get done, I mean active in behaving in a loving and caring way towards ourselves, so we can be fully in touch with all this life has to offer. This is by no means a prescription for what self care has to look like for you, but just a collection of things I've picked up along my way that help me care for myself. Many of them are free or low cost, because self care is NOT a luxurious spa day that only a few can afford (I mean it could be, but caring for yourself intentionally is for EVERYBODY). Self care is purposefully choosing how we want to live and making sure that what we take into our lives is raising our energetic vibrations. Take what you need from below, and leave the rest!

 

Love up on your mind:

Be intentional about what you consume.

Podcasts:

Black Girl In Om: Hosted by Lauren Ash and Deun Ivory, this podcast talks all things wellness, self-care, and self-love for women of color.

Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations: I mean, come on, it's Oprah. She picks her favorite interviews with thought-leaders, light workers, and wellness experts.

Hey, girl.: Hosted by author Alex Elle, she interviews women who inspire her. This podcast covers topics ranging from entrepeunership, to heartbreak, to self care, to mental health, and beyond.

Books:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: this fictional story follows a young man's journey across the world as he looks for his purpose. I swear no matter what stage of life you're in, this book will speak to you in some way. A quick and easy read, but it has enough depth that it can be read again and again!

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes: She's not only the creator of Scandal and Grey's Anatomy, but she also is an incredible author. I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book, and couldn't put it down once I started it. She tells her own story of letting go of self limiting beliefs to fully step into her power.

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hayes: Louise Hayes emphasizes the power of our words and intentions and how they help shape our life. Affirmations for every ailment you could think of are in this book, as well as great journalling prompts.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur: A book filled with poetry separated into the 3 different stages of having trauma be a part of your life experience. As you read through the different sections, you can see Rupi healing from a survivor to a thriver.

Planner:

Passion Planner : I've found that part of my self care is getting all my "to-do's" out of my head and onto paper. Once I can prioritize my tasks and manage my time, I can really invest the time I deserve into taking care of myself. I even write in time blocks for my self care, whether it's taking a bath, putting on a face mask, or sitting with myself and listening to my own breathing. I love this planner because it also includes inspirational quotes, spaces to include what you're grateful for, and coaches you through breaking down big goals to small action steps.

Journal:

Any piece of paper, anywhere. Sometimes emotions get intense, and rather than be reactive it can help to write it out and just explore why you're feeling what you're feeling. It also is a great way to allow yourself space to process any intense ish you've been holding in or dealing with.

 

Love up on your body:

Because, endorphins.

Yoga: (predictable)

Yoga with Adriene: I LOVE her videos. She's down to earth, has videos for all levels (and physical abilities), and even has videos specifically to address depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Even when I'm not in the mood to practice, just by throwing on a 10 minute yoga video with Adriene I can feel my mood shift. She's the shit!

Exercise:

Workout routines: Bodybuilding.com has HUNDREDS of workout tips, plans, and nutrition plans FOR THE FREE. I do well with a plan and structure (Hi, I'm a Virgo), so I always get an extra boost of motivation when I start a new workout plan and it helps me not fall off of my healthy routines.

Self Massage:

Ayurvedic healing encourages daily self massage with oils to release stress, decrease impact of aging, improve sleep, increase circulation, and lubricate your joints. Even if it's just 5-10 minutes after a long day of rubbing your own shoulders with some massage oil, or giving yourself a good foot massage, it really does make a difference.

Essential Oils:

Lavender is one of my favs, but there are several other essential oils that have great emotional and physical health benefits. Whether you put it in an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom, or rub some on your hands to practice some deep breathing with, lavender essential oil sends a signal to your parasympathetic nervous system so your brain will RELAX.

 

Love up on your soul:

It's all within, but sometimes we need a little help getting there.

Meditation:

 I love using the Calm App for daily meditation reminders, quotes, and gold stars when I meditate (I love gold stars). I also recently downloaded the 72 names of god app and the meditation prompts and visuals on there are bomb; anytime I open it up I instantly feel calmer! If you aren't feeling using an app, just stop anytime throughout the day and put one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Count 5 in and out breaths, paying special attention to each inhale and exhale. Voila, you are an expert meditator (that's not a thing).

Therapy:

I'm not saying this because I'm a therapist, I swear. Ever since I found the RIGHT therapist (key word, right, because sometimes it does take a few tries), I have noticed so much personal growth. You have a neutral non judgmental person that you can air out any issues you're having, and it can help bring a different perspective on issues and give you tools to practice to handle life's many challenges.

Create:

 Recently for my birthday, I made a vision board using paint and magazine clippings. I threw on some Jill Scott and just zoned out. There was something about creating something with my hands and getting lost in the moment creating that helped me feel like I was getting in touch with my highest self. Whatever it is for you, whether it's music, crocheting, writing lyrics/poetry, whatever, reflecting your own creative light outwards is a way to recharge and renew yourself especially if you're feeling drained or disconnected.

Affirmations:

Words. Are. Powerful. Either to drain your energy or to raise your vibrations. Be intentional about what you think, speak, and write down and know that it can change your life. Post powerful phrases up in spaces that you are in the most. It sounds very "self-help"-y, but it really does change the way you feel when you repeat powerful words out loud. Here are 35 affirmations that I've found to be really helpful.

Nature:

Go outside and notice what's around you. If you have access to trees, really look at them and meditate on the fact that they are your external lungs! We are always exchanging energy with our environment, and when you are close to the source of energy itself (nature), there is something so energizing and grounding about that. Even if it's just putting your feet in a patch of grass if that's all you have access to at the time, do that! Feel the earth beneath you, feel supported, and take some deep breaths.

 

 

These are just a few tools that have helped me along the way, but I'd love to hear how you have learned to take care of yourself over time. What is your favorite self care practice?

 

Love, light, stardust, unicorn sparkles, allat, etc.,

Chelle

 

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6 things I've learned about high functioning depression

 

I wanted to make this a generic post about high functioning depression. Because I'm a therapist and I can play it off like it's about my clients (which it easily could be, I see many people who struggle with this as well). But honestly, this is about me. When I experience depression (usually when my self care isn't fully on point), it doesn't look like the stereotype of Major Depressive Disorder you may have in your mind: I'm not stuck in bed for days, I'm not crying all the time. I'm still going to work, hanging out with friends, taking on new projects, sometimes making myself too busy to avoid how I feel. High functioning depression can creep in under the surface, and if it's not acknowledged or treated, can grow to be a larger problem.

Here are 6 things that my experience with depression has taught me, and that I continue to re-learn:

1. Just because someone can eloquently express how they feel, does not mean they are okay. Just because they can smile, respond appropriately in social settings, and look like they have it all together, does not mean they have access to their inner joy. There are so many people who suffer silently because they feel the weight of having it all together all the time. To those people I hope you know: it's okay to not be okay. We all are a mess sometimes. I'm still learning to take off the socially acceptable outer mask when I'm having a moment (with people I trust), and that It's okay to be vulnerable.

2. Some days I can be in touch with how beautiful the world is; I can look up at the sky and feel like I am so lucky to be able to breathe in that very moment. When depression creeps in, I can't access that part of myself. I can't think my way to it, I can't positive affirmation my way to it, I can't breathe my way to it. I can't "cope" my way out of it (I have tried like a hamster running on a coping skills wheel and just ended up frustrated with myself and like I am fighting my own feelings).

2. Over time I have learned to ride my waves. I know that when it comes, it will also leave. I am lucky enough that the depressive moments I've gone through are few and far between, because I know other people where it is a daily/hourly/minute by minute struggle. When those waves come, they feel like they are going to swallow me whole and I will never remember what it's like to be afloat. I have to consciously remind myself of my strength and that it will pass, because it does. And I eventually find my way back to myself. Every time I do this, it's a little easier to remind myself the next time that it will pass and that those thoughts and that feeling is not who I am, it's just a part of my experience in that moment. 

3. Self care is imperative for my survival. My yoga practice isn't a fad, it isn't some cute thing I do to get abs. I don't eat healthy because I want to watch my figure. I don't make sure I get adequate sleep because I am secretly a little old lady. I have learned over time that physical movement to release, doing things that help me access my spirit and highest self, putting good food into my body, and giving my body the rest it needs are the only chance I have at accessing joy and being able to feel and heal my way through my dark moments. I see my therapist regularly even when I'm doing really well, because if I take a preventative stance for my physical health why not do it for my mental health? Mental health issues are a very real thing in my family and I can't play with how I take care of myself, I don't have that luxury.

4. I need people around me that won't flinch when I'm in my darker spaces. I need people to not be afraid when I tell them I feel like I'm sinking. I need those friends that will hold my hand, look me in my eye, and just tell me they're in there with me until I come out of it. That in itself makes the load feel a little lighter.

5. I am learning how to communicate what I need. To let go of the shame in admitting that sometimes I'm a hot mess. That it's okay to feel down even when from the outside everything is going right. I'm learning that I can be both healthy, happy with so many things in my life, and also have shadowy dark moments.

6. I am grateful for my shadows and my darkness. I don't see them as debilitating. They are heavy af sometimes, but I see myself as someone who feels deeply. Everything. All the time. Anyone who knows me well knows I appreciate things out loud, OFTEN. I will annoyingly commentate on everything I enjoy. I soak in the good qualities of people and the world around me. But I'll also feel pain really deeply, and I don't think I could have one side without the other, and it is a reminder of how full and intricate this life is. It also has taught me how to hold space for others that are in deep emotional/psychic pain. I'm grateful to be so in tune with all of it, and for the way it's forced me to learn and know myself, and to heal myself.

 

 I know I am far from alone and there are many people who experience this too, but are afraid of or ashamed to show/acknowledge their darker sides. Who isolate and don't talk about what's really going on for fear of judgment. That is such a painful way to live, denying a whole part of your lived experience. So I'm opening up about my experience in hopes that maybe someone can recognize themselves in this and that may bring some kind of comfort.

And also because, can we remove the stigma already? Experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other experience on the mental health spectrum doesn't make you any less human. It is a part of your human experience and there are ways to work through it, but it can't be worked through if we don't acknowledge it! Sometimes slowing down, acknowledging our WHOLE experience of how we feel, and getting support can save our lives. Healing is messy work, but being able to be fully in touch with life is SO worth it. We don't have to figure it out all by ourselves. If you need help or can relate to this at all, don't be ashamed to reach out to a therapist or even a friend  to have an honest conversation about how you're feeling and what you need.

Sending you love, light, and even shadowy dark healing vibes,

Chelle

 

 

 

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