Journey of Personal Mental Health striving to gain upward momentum out of my stall that my Anxiety and Depression have distracted. Mental Health is so filled with dips that the highs seem so few and far between and not worth the effort of patching life’s current or past potholes. Restoring to me is seeing a mental health professional, personal physician, adjusting individual behavior or habits that have worked, or the present buzz word ‘self-care. Currently, my mental health pit seems insurmountable. Unsure of just a shift or an accumulation of goals that did not come to fruition on schedule, dietary need, or my depression is flaring up for no specific reason. Probably a combination of all.  

Daily life seems so overwhelming between listening and being part of the world as a whole by listening to the news during this time of political transition and change from pandemic lockdown to limited free choice. We are all going through this at different levels and perceptions. For me, life is going to be a continued minimal viewing of the media. In a big world, perspective is how to live well when our media and politicians seem to squabble like children about decisions that either will impact us or only a tiny portion of society. I have mentioned that I often struggle with finding a balance between being aware of the world and not becoming overwhelmed. I am still happy just sticking with reading the Morning Brew and periodically checking headlines on Bing. I am still trying to remember to work through my interaction with the media. The low aspect of my mental health and continuing my personal choice to go simple on my life intersect with the larger country and world picture. I am adjusting to figure out what triggered my digging or exacerbate the downward movement that my mental health keeps digging with no end in sight.

For May, any time off is spent sleeping, which is not like me. From April to Present, I went from working 70 hours a week to 60 hours a week. With that thought, I should not be sleeping. I have more time in my day. In looking back, though, I had to accept that I had many changes take place in the last three months. March 2020 began the confrontational discussion in a society of how the Covid pandemic should happen. Personally, since July of 2020, I have been working two jobs, one home health with two clients and one job as a supermarket cashier and stock person. At the end of 2020, one of the clients I had passed away, which left me caring for one person and still working as a cashier and then training to be a key holder to a team lead, then department manager with the goal of store manager. Since the beginning of 2021, my body has progressively increased in problems. At random times, fifty percent of the day, fingers numb/pins and needles (feel like they are asleep) and arms from the shoulders down; before, panic did check my heart.

With that increase in health and back pain, I had to give up pursuing store management in the retail industry due to the physical nature of retail, the sector that a store manager is required to do as much physical work as those they lead. That said, that saw me leaving the retail, service, and restaurant, industry that I have worked in the last twenty plus years of my life and my employment career goal. The intention is also to leave the home health industry due to the physical and emotional demands of the job. Like retail, this industry is challenging to find employees for, so I am still working full time, intending to move to a part-time or on-call for one client once more staff are found. Everyone deserves to know that they have people that will help when needed.  

Continuing this review of May is realizing that my daughter is struggling with graduating high school and her journey of depression. With this, I found my pride had come into play and felt that I had failed her. Spending time striving to accept and supporting her journey through life with depression is more important than saying I had a child who graduated from high school the ‘normal’ way. Choosing to be happy, she will live well with what brings her joy; there are other ways to achieve that supposed necessary high school diploma. All are weighing my anxiety and depression, reinforcing that I fail because I left retail and was an unsuccessful mom. Still plan to replace the customer service work with travel agent work that has not happened yet; due to my need to be there for my client, as a home health aide is not feasible.  Feasability to do a fantastic job in both industries that need I high level of attention to detail. All these components have triggered my depression to the extent that the feeling of failure has made it difficult to bring myself out. However, I am starting to make progress. The below video from Adam Savage Tested assisted me in striving to think about moving forward and making changes to patch the pothole that I have found myself in. Need to adjust meds and strive to continue to accommodate food, vitamins, and goals.

Adam Savage’s Tested – “Ask Adam Savage: Coping With (and Learning From) Failure May 16, 2021

I know that it is not about depression but since I feel like a failure exacerbated by my depression. Adam’s video helped me acknowledge that feeling and having loss is a part of life. Mistakes made; success is accepting and learning from that. Mental health makes failure feel worse, but success is in acknowledging what happened and how to make changes to strive not to repeat and change habits or behaviors to learn from the ‘failure.’ Acknowledging the failure and realizing that the success is moving forward. Even if you revisit the loss, success is to keep getting up and returning to life’s journey.

I am looking forward to returning to the path of food search. I enjoyed the previous video (UC Davis Health – Brain Foods for Brain Health – Boost Brain Health with Good Eats) about food and health but a little bit more in-depth than my current place to work with since I have bottomed out. I will consider another information source since I am currently at a point of apathy and minimal concentration. That is, reviewing that deep dive will probably keep me stuck instead of moving up; it brings forth the thought of the new buzzword in mainstream media, “self-care .”

Self-care brings images of selfishness and narcissism nevermind I do not have the time for hours of meditation and exercise, never mind the desire to. So I did some research to find out what self-care is from a health and psychology level. One-piece I found on verywellmind.com had 5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life by Elizabeth Scott, MS, from 2020. Another was from Psychology Today titled Self Care 101 by Marie Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W. written in 2018. Another place I went to, which is always my first go when I search out simple answers to start my journey of self-improvement, is Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, I did not find anything explicitly titled Self Care unless it was attached to other illnesses.

Finding self-care instructions geared toward specific illnesses got me shifting my idea of self-care as a level of selfishness started transitioning toward self-care, which I have always strived to do but stop short. After all, I am always putting others first because I think it is selfish to think of myself when others are hurting. Looking over my past and what I have currently read, I cannot care for others, bringing me joy. Therefore, I do not take care of myself. Unsure of why I never connected that I have strived for self-care in all my years of adulthood. 

Great I have acknowledged self-care is okay, but how do I keep implementing when I am currently wallowing in a pit of self-perceived failure—going to start with the list of 5 from Ms. Scott since thinking straight is difficult. The definition of Self-Care in this article is, Self-care describes a conscious act one takes to promote their physical, mental, and emotional health. There are many forms self-care may take. For example, it could be ensuring you get enough sleep every night or stepping outside for a few minutes for some fresh air.

 Another piece of the article that struck me was that I was on the right track now that I understood the building-resilience when faced with aspects of life you cannot change but still thrive. Ms. Scott’s five areas that create or maximize the best self-care are looking at Physical, Social, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional.

She had the four questions (see article for the total question) condensed to adequate sleep, diet, awareness of health, exercise.   

Let’s review the personal breakdown: sleep is not an aspect I can fix until the client (quadriplegic and I have 80% of the care needs) gets more help. For those who care, my day starts at 5:30 am and ends at midnight; work from Monday to Thursday is 8 am to 4 pm and goes back at 7 pm, and finishes at 11 pm. For the most part, Friday is a day off to catch up on sleep and house chores. Saturday is 8 am to 1 pm; Sunday is two hours at lunch and then back at 7 pm to 11 pm. For those who say change your hours, I cannot; as an individual, if I do not go over six sometimes seven days a week, this individual does have the physical ability to handle day-to-day physical care needs. The individual has an amazing mind. But getting up to get a drink just cause the individual wants to is not possible unless set up to do so. Emotionally, it would be worse knowing the selfish choice I was responsible to make, caused an individual not getting up and living their day to the best. We all deserve to live to the maxim of our capabilities and be supported to do so.  

Next in the question’s diet is something I can work on, which is a constant struggle due to no appetite. Over the years, but mainly in the last six months, I have gotten a routine that seems to help. It is just sticking to it. I have found that I am not hungry in the mornings, so I mix either a chocolate flavor or unflavored protein or meal supplement with my coffee. Lunch is something I pack. Dinner is whatever I cook for the family. I carry beef jerky, nuts, hydration water additives, and protein powder with me in my work bag for when I am hungry, and it is snack time. Additionally, I strive to drink 4 – 24 oz bottles of water, next on the hit parade of self-care.

Taking charge of health was initially a little confusing. Is that not what you are doing with sleep and diet? Then I thought this probably means my mental health or any physical medical needs, hypertension, thyroid, etc., which prompted me to use my Fit Bit app more and purchase a glucose and blood pressure machine. The glucose machine is that periodically I have tested slightly high during blood work, but also both parents were juvenile diabetics, so that is a constant fear of mine. Okay, for me, the next is my kryptonite.

Exercise ick to be immature. Employment has always been physically demanding, so I never thought I needed to. I was getting 10,000 to 15,000 steps in a work shift. So why did I need to exercise? Asthma made it difficult to find exercise appealing. I am fat, and my husband married me fat, so why bother ‘killing’ myself doing something I find painful or boring? Knowing none of those were good reasons and making better choices never really clicked. After all, my whole body is having problems because I did not exercise my body as a whole, just my legs and arms. That came from a visit with my chiropractor, where I mentioned the workpiece. What was said clicked for me? Yes, I exercise while working, but I am only exercising certain areas of the body. What I need to do is exercise the other aspects of my body. For some reason, that clicked when other times I never got the importance. So okay, I need to, but how do I fit this in. Starting small but also how. How is locating something online that makes sense and is an easy start? Below is what I found, and I plan to start July 11, 2021, and see if following this for a month was doable with my current life schedule and how and if it helped. If it does not it is on me not the presenter one must follow though to succeed, just watching.  He also presents in another video the math of the exercise routine if that interests you.

Mark Wildman – 3 Best Exercises for Overweight People 

From there, I intend to have it in my calendar to look at Number 2 on the self-care life by Ms. Scott. 

So there you have it the delay in my writing was from living in the bottom of a pothole of mental health goo of defeat and self-hatred. Honestly felt that I was stuck forever and living in my own La Brea Tar Pits. So it is nice to see the top edge of my pothole and again slowly fill in and re-root my life back to functioning and creative goals and enjoyment of life. As is the theme of my life, a blog life is a journey, and there are many potholes and paths our life can take. It is how we live with mental and physical health that defines our journey and interaction with those around us. So keeping journeying forward and patching in the potholes of self-discovery, it is worth finding the failures and successes. There is no actual failure, just a revamp toward a better success. 

Faith Journey

Below is a sermon by Tony Evans about not giving up that has also helped me realize that we all hit bottom but we have support and direction we just need to change our perception of the world around us and the interaction which is ever moving there will be lows and highs.  Goal is to move forward even during the lows.

When You Feel Like Giving Up – Sermon by Tony Evans uploaded November 13, 2016

Works Cited

5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life, By Elizabeth Scott, MS  Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Updated on August 03, 2020, https://www.verywellmind.com/self-care-strategies-overall-stress-reduction-3144729, 7/10/2021

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