Depression · Mental Health

The Importance of Community and Mental Health

Thank you Mai for letting me use you creation 🙂

I have been having a writer’s block if you want to call it that. I have had a hard time thinking about what I want to write and as much as it has been bugging me, it has also helped me live more in the present moment. The thing is, writing is very therapeutic for me and helps me articulate feelings and experiences. Lately, I have been trying to not be up in my feels and part of me hasn’t felt inspired to create. I just got done mediating and I know it is suppose to help us think less but instead I started thinking about how I know what I want to write about! So, here we are.

This time last year, I was having a really rough time mentally. I was going through a job change, pressures of school, marriage troubles, finance issues and mainly feeling lost and not knowing what I was doing. My husband travels a lot for work and he was gone all the time and I was feeling very lonely. This lonely feeling that I have had for 15 years of being on my own. When my grandparents passed away when I was 15 I felt very alone in my feelings and alone without them. This feeling led to anxiety but more then anything it led to a dark depression. This overwhelming feeling of sadness of not feeling enough, insecure, sad, hut, and just physically blah. This feeling came rushing back and a chain of frustrating events led to me feeling hopeless and tired of fighting. I remember feeling very suicidal that day in September 2019 and was just done running this rat race of feelings. My husband was overseas so the time change meant I couldn’t call him and we were arguing and so I didn’t feel comfortable sharing that at the moment. For some reason, I called my mom even though we didn’t have a close relationship but she out of everyone understands suicide and depression the most. She has struggled a lot with it and so I know that she could relate and get it. We had a great conversation and I actually ended up sharing on social media later that day how I was feeling. I never thought I would share something so worrying and vulnerable on social media. When you are down you don’t want extra attention or questions and people wondering what is going on. You want to hide from the world and you don’t want to be seen in this head space. That was the thing I would hide a lot from the world and people I care about. I used to be super emotional and share my feelings but I started to not feel as comfortable and would close in more. This moment was huge in my story because I look back a year later and I am so thankful I did start sharing. I began sharing on social media when I was struggling with anxiety or depression and used my voice. I started a blog in December to document my mental health struggles but to also link them to mental health topics to help others. The one thing missing since I moved to Georgia almost 5 year ago was having a sense of community. The thing is that it was really hard to make friends in a new state especially being older. I met a few great people but I wanted more and to be involved in more things. Over the last year here are the 3 things that changed my life.

The Yoga Studio

I got a job a a yoga studio and this completely changed everything in my life. I started to meet so many great people who were free and open to being their true selves. I met people who I could share a lot with and ones who have been there for me through a lot of challenging times. I was able to connect to so many great people and started connecting more to myself. I have always loved yoga and having a yoga studio to go to where I know most of the people always felt like home to me. I had that in California and deeply missed it when I moved. Here is an event I went to in December and we did sun salutations and had glow party. This is where my sense of community started and I am forever grateful.

Soulful Sunday

I started to meet like minded people and people who inspired me to be myself. I met two amazing people who had an event called Soulful Sunday which was a safe space to mediate, journal, talk, share, embrace who we are, and the main thing connect. My beautiful friend Sheri is a energy healer and would do Reiki on us and we would pull cards as well. I love spiritual stuff that gives us the opportunity to explore our true nature and be in the moment. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. Through this event, I met so many wonderful people and had the opportunity to connect with others on a deep level. I felt comfortable to share when I was down and I even had moments crying and releasing so many built up emotions. My friend Vale is the other person who held the event at her store Wanderess Collections. I met her through this event and we became best friends. I would say that she is one of the people who has helped improve my life here in Georgia. I slowly noticed that I was apart of a community based on me being vulnerable and putting myself out there. Slowly, I was pulling off more layers of my shell and I was stepping into my confidence and living my life. These type of events are so important in mental health because it is necessary to feel connected with others and have a sense of belonging. These type of groups make me feel less alone and feel like I can express myself when I am struggling. We were all there for the same thing and I am truly grateful for all of you!

Vale, Dawn, Sheri

Rare Beauty Community Chats

February came along and I was still blogging and sharing a lot about mental health on social media and in conversations. Selena Gomez is my inspiration and someone who I consider my biggest role model. She is the reason why I wanted to start being more open about my struggles and not feel embarrassed for having so many feelings. She started a beauty line called Rare Beauty and the mission is “To shape conversations around beauty, self-acceptance, and mental health. We want to help people get more access to support and services, and help people feel more authentically connected to one another and less alone in the world.” I was instantly excited for this brand because I support anything Selena does because I know anything she does she puts in her whole heart and is genuine about it. They posted about an opportunity to share our story with them about what makes us Rare to have the opportunity to be involved in the Rare Beauty line. This was pre-covid and so I had no idea what to expect if I did get picked. The thing is, most things I have submitted to have thousands of submissions and I really did not think I would get picked. Selena’s fan base is huge and I thought the regular fans that she knows would get picked. The thing is, I doubted myself and was comparing myself to others instead of thinking that who I am is enough to be seen.

I never should have doubted myself because my story was picked and Rare Beauty reached out to me. I could not believe it and lets be real I am still in shock! They invited me to be apart of a Rare Community Chat which would be a zoom meeting with the Rare Beauty team and others who submitted their stories. The team was so nice, natural, authentic, and engaging that it was so easy to open up right off the bat. I was so nervous and thought it would feel like some type of Hollywood thing but it was the complete opposite. I was able to discuss mental health challenges and be vulnerable about who I truly am. I heard so many amazing stories from others and it is amazing how easily we all connected and we still stay in touch. A few months later, I was asked to film a video of myself up to five minutes saying what makes me Rare and my story. I was on vacation when they emailed me and needed it right away and I was scrambling and so nervous! I had the most intense anxiety all day because I wanted it to be perfect. I finally let go and just took some breaths and remembered to be myself. I sent it in but had no idea what to expect from it. Shortly after, I was invited to another Rare Community Chat and the others on the call would be the Rare Beauty team and the others who sent in their videos of what makes them rare.

I remember it was a Monday and I was suppose to go to yoga and almost didn’t make it on the call. Someone from the Rare Beauty team said I don’t want to miss the call and I had this weird gut feeling that something exciting was going to happen. I AM SO GLAD I DID NOT MISS THAT CALL! Selena Gomez hopped on the call!! I almost started crying and really did not know how to act. We were all in shock, honestly! She was so real and genuine and exactly how I pictured her. I was called on first and I thought I would be to nervous to talk but she is so real it was like talking to a good friend. I was able to talk about how I am getting through quarantine and what I am doing to help my mental health during this time. We all talked for over an hour and I was able to hear so many beautiful stories from the other individuals. It was such a real and great conversation and I feel like we could have talked for days. I love conversations that have depth and vulnerability. Especially during this time, where a lot of people are isolated and feel like they are losing hope we need these moments to stay connected.

Today, the promo video went out and it was so surreal to see my face in it for millions of people to see. It is beyond that though, of course I get star struck and excited about this stuff but I had an epiphany. A year ago, I was a turtle in their shell and I was feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere and was feeling completely lost. When I started being vulnerable this opened doors to so many opportunities and opened my heart to a community of great people. I started to realize that I am attracting all of these people by being myself. My story was chosen because of who I am and these people include me because of who I am. I don’t feel ashamed of my weaknesses anymore and I have learned to fully embrace them and love every single part of me. I have realized that this is all apart of my story and I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I didn’t open the door to being vulnerable. How wild is it that people can actually love us for who we truly are and we can truly be set free and happy by being who we are. We let go of any shame, guilt, fear, anxieties, and doubt that associate themselves with not being who we truly are at the core.

If more people embraced who they were instead of hiding behind these perfect filters on Instagram and perfect images of what you think we want to see, then I truly think more people would connect and people would become happier. Connection is so important and it is why quarantining is so difficult and almost deter-mental to mental health. Humans are meant to connect with others and feel physical touch and feel seen and loved. For someone who struggles with depression and feeling lonely being in that situation can be very hard on me. I am so grateful for the Rare Community and all of the communities I am apart of now. I am so excited for what this company is doing and I really do think they are going to make a huge impact. They already have made an impact on me and the other people of the community. We all stay in touch over messages and we always uplift each other on posts and check in. I have never met these people in person but I feel like I have known them for ages.

My purpose of this post was to encourage you to be yourself and put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to share your story. The right ones will want to hear it and will uplift you when you do. The wrong ones will dismiss you, make you feel less then, make fun of you, and make you want to get back under your shell. We will constantly be tested by these people but remember the ones who love you for who you are and hold onto them. I can say that I am the happiest I have ever been and I feel so loved. I still have moments of anxiety and I still am working through some things but I know that I have made it so far. It now doesn’t matter where I live because I know I have a sense of community and I know that I can meet people who are great because I am willing to put myself out there and be myself. I literally manifested this all into my life by taking the first step and sharing my hard moments. Each one of you are rare, amazing, and loved. Be proud of your story because that is what makes you YOU and that is something nobody else has.

The first community chat
The second community chat
Selena Gomez & I ❤
From Rare Beauty’s Instagram

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I hope this will encourage you to take that chance and be who you truly are! If you are struggling with mental health click on my resources tab for more and contact a professional. I love you all xoxo

Light and Love,

Tuscany

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Anxiety · Bipolar Disorder · Depression · Mental Health

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

I was really triggered this week by the news of Kanye West publicly going on “rants” and saying a lot of things that seemed “out there” to people. I noticed a lot of hate against him and a lot of memes making fun of him. Kanye was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about four years ago and publicly had a manic disorder which is symptom of bipolar. I am not excusing hurtful words he said or words that anyone says during a mania episode, but it is important we understand the mental illness aspect. A lot of people struggle with bipolar and some people are misdiagnosed and some know they are bipolar but are to embarrassed to share that they have it or struggle to believe that they do. To be honest, I have called Kanye crazy and have been like what is going on with this guy!? It is human nature to judge when we don’t understand the full gravity of the situation or what is truly going on with an individual. He is a celebrity and so it is easy for the media and people to tear him and his family apart. This is why empathy is so important to have and I have to even remind myself this as well.

The thing is, why did this recently trigger me? I have had an unbelievably emotional past couple months. Well let’s be real the past ten years. My mom was diagnosed with Bipolar a few weeks ago and so this hit extra hard. I have dealt with her for all my life but in the last ten years it has been very difficult to have a relationship with her. It has been difficult for her to want to live because of her intense mood swings. My mom used to go to a Psychiatrist back in Iowa who was pumping her with prescriptions but not finding the real problem. She has always been very depressed, anxious, excited, mood swings, sleeps for days, manic episodes, delusions, obsessions, rants, conspiracy theories, etc. A few weeks ago, she was suicidal because she just wanted the pain to go away and didn’t think she would ever get better. This broke my heart to hear and scared the heck out of me. I immediately called the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255. I was able to speak to a trained professional and figure out what to do. When someone says they don’t want to live anymore WE HAVE TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! This can be so overwhelming and in the moment of panic it can be hard to know what to do. They were able to recommend a hospital for her to put her on a 72 hour hold, then to inpatient, and hopefully outpatient after. Finally, the Doctor said my mom has diagnosed bipolar but was never diagnosed properly. He said he can’t believe that previous Doctors never diagnosed her before. I did a lot of research on bipolar so I could better understand it and now it all makes SO much sense.

Here is some of my research on bipolar to help everyone better understand it and to spread awareness about it but tune in to the bottom where I share more of my experience of being the daughter of someone who has it and how it has mentally impacted me and my family.

What is Bipolar?

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020)

Bipolar, is also known as manic depression, and is a chronically recurring condition involving moods that swing because the highs of mania and the lows of depression. Depression is the most pervasive feature of the illness. The manic phase usually involves a mix of irritability, anger, and depression, with or without euphoria. When euphoria is present, it may manifest unusual energy and overconfidence, playing out in in the bouts of spending or promiscuity, among other behaviors.

Misdiagnosed is common; the condition is often confused with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder. Biological factors probably create vulnerability to the disorder with certain individuals, and experiences such as sleep deprivation can kick off manic episodes. (Psychology Today, 2020)

(This part really got me because my mom was diagnosed ADD when she was in Iowa and they pumped her full of medication for it and a very high dose. The Doctor makes a lot of money on Pharmaceuticals and so instead of caring for the patient it can be all about the money, unfortunately. I even thought my mom was schizophrenic because of her intense conspiracy theories; which schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in these situations since they don’t look into further testing for bipolar)

3 Types of Bipolar Disorders

  • Bipolar I Disorder– Defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depressive symptoms and manic symptoms the same time) are also possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder– Defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypo-manic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes that are typical Bipolar I Disorder.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) – Defined by periods of hypo mania symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years (1 year in children and adolescents)

Signs and Symptoms

During manic episodes they may:

  • Feel very “up,” “high,” elated, or irritable or touchy
  • Feel “jumpy or “wired”
  • Have decreased need for sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Talk very fast about a lot of different things
  • Feel like their thoughts are racing
  • Think they can do a lot of things at once
  • Do risky things that show poor judgement, such as eat and drink excessively, spend or give away a lot of money, or have reckless sex
  • Feel like they are unusually important, talented, or powerful

During depressive episodes they may:

  • Feel very sad, “down,” empty, worried, or hopeless
  • Feel slowed down or restless
  • Having trouble falling asleep, wake up too early, or sleep too much
  • Experience increased appetite and weight gain
  • Talk very slowly, feel like they have nothing to say, forget a lot
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feel unable to do even simple things
  • Have little interest in almost all activities, a decreased or absent sex drive, or inability to experience pleasure
  • Feel hopeless or worthless, think about death or suicide

(Sometimes people may experience both manic and depressive symptoms in the same episode)

Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis and treatment can help people with bipolar disorder lead healthy and active lives. Talk to a Doctor or other licensed health care professional first. The Doctor can do a complete physical exam and medical tests to rule out other conditions. A mental evaluation is important as well and then referral to a trained mental health care provider, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.

Treatments

Certain medications can help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder and it may take trying a few different medications before finding one that works best. These generally include mood stabilizers and atypical anti psychotics. Other medications can help with sleep and anxiety. Health care professionals will often prescribe antidepressant medications to treat depressive episodes. Combining the antidepressant with a mood stabilizer can help prevent a triggering manic episode.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, is also called talk therapy and can be an effective part of the treatment plan. Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of treatment techniques that try to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. They can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Treatment may also include CBT or Cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Everyday things you can do to help

  • Regular Exercise
  • Keeping a life chart: keeping track of moods and talking with a licensed provider
  • Therapy
  • A structured and regular schedule
  • Healthy environment
  • Safe outlets to talk to

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

Genetic and environmental factors can create vulnerability to bipolar disorder. Life events like childhood trauma are thought to play a huge role in bipolar disorder. Research know that once bipolar disorder occurs, traumatic events precipitate its recurrence. Incidents of interpersonal difficulty and abuse are most commonly associated with triggering the disorder. I have noticed that unresolved trauma really plays a part in bipolar which is important for individuals to try and work through the trauma, in order to help manage the manic or depressive episodes.

Resources

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 which is available 24/7

Crisis Hotline: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7

If you are thinking about harming yourself or thinking about suicide

  • Tell someone who can help right away
  • Call your licensed mental health professional if you are already working with one
  • Call your doctor or health care provider
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency department or call 911

If a loved one is considering suicide

  • Do not leave him or her alone
  • Try to get a loved one to seek immediate help from a Doctor, health care provider or nearest hospital or call 911
  • Call the suicide hotline (that’s what I did and they were a wonderful help)
  • Remove access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications

Coping with Bipolar Disorder

  • Get treatment and stick with it. It takes time and its not easy but it is necessary
  • Keep medical and therapy appointments
  • Take all medicines as directed
  • Structure activities: keep a routine for sleeping and eating, and exercise
  • Learn to recognize your mood swings and warning signs, like decreased sleep
  • Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment
  • Be patient; improvement takes time. Social support helps
  • Avoid misuse of alcohol and drugs.

How it has impacted me and my family

I have been dealing with this emotional roller coaster since high-school but my mom has lived in Iowa and hasn’t physically been around for years. I always prayed for her and hoped one day we could have a good relationship. There are other factors of why we haven’t had a relationship but I know a huge one is because of mental illness. It has been hard for me to be emphatic to her because of some hurtful things she has said to me and how she has been missing out of my life for the past 10 years. We have gotten into a lot of arguments and it can be difficult on me and on her. I get mad when she sleeps all day and get mad when she does other things that I don’t agree with. I am frustrated with the mental health system right now. I finally got her some help and she agreed but the inpatient facility she was in was horrible. The workers treated them bad, there were constant fights that would break out, and my mom felt unsafe so she left. I don’t blame her but it’s so disappointing how the system failed her. When someone doesn’t have money they are put into terrible facilities and really just comes down to money. We aren’t rich and don’t have the means to put her in a good treatment center but I wish she could get actual help. I know she would succeed if she was in the right environment that cared for her and made her feel safe. She has always been a great mother and she has a heart of gold. She means really well and she is one of the most selfless people I know. I wish she knew how wonderful she truly was and how we all need her. My brother and sister love her a lot too and I am thankful to have my sister to talk to about all of it. We will not give up on our mom. We know that she can be better but sometimes it gets very discouraging that she won’t. When she recently came back into my life in Georgia a few months ago I was so excited to have her around but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. It wouldn’t be easy to be to connect right away, it wouldn’t be easy to relive a lot of past pain and trauma, it wouldn’t be easy for me to watch her suffer, it wouldn’t be easy for me to watch this roller coaster of emotions, and it hasn’t been easy. I struggle between wanting to do everything I can to help and feeling like I can save her or fix her but then I struggle with knowing that I can only do so much.

Loving someone who has mental illness is really freaking hard and especially when you deal with mental illness yourself. I am diagnosed with anxiety, panic, depression, and PTSD. I am still working through some of my own experiences and trying to heal and be the best person I can be. For years, I stayed away from my mom and other people because I had to set boundaries for my own physical and mental health. To be honest, I am scared to even speak on this publicly for the retaliation I may get. I know that this is personal and some of this isn’t my story to tell, but my heart strings are pulling on me that it needs to be shared. People need to start to do more research, ask more questions and have more empathy. I am trying to have more empathy but the fact I am a very emphatic person means I need to set boundaries and make sure I am taking care of my mental health and myself first. These past few weeks have been really draining and I have had a lot of anxiety. We don’t know what the outcome will be but I will keep praying and hoping for recovery and for change. I will keep learning about bipolar and many other disorders. For the ones who are feeling like me, just know you are not alone! Make sure to go to therapy, journal, baths, walks, breaks from your phone, learn to say no, and take moments for you.

Thank you for reading and I hope this blog post can spread more awareness and help someone in need. Feel free to comment or reach out to me if you would like to discuss this more!

Love & Light,

Tuscany

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Mental Health · self-help · self-love · Uncategorized

8 Ways to Deal With Negative Thoughts

You wake up in the morning but you are rushing because you snoozed for the last hour. The night before, you planned on getting up early, drinking some cucumber and lemon water, stretching, walking the dog, and having time to get ready for yoga. That snooze button just was too easy and the bed was too comfortable to get out of. Yoga is in 20 minutes so you rush out of bed, eat a piece of toast, don’t even brush your hair or teeth, and basically throw clothes on and rush out the door. Already, you are anxious because you have 10 minutes to get to class before it starts. You are upset because you planned to have a good morning and to start it off right but that dang snooze button got the best of you! On the drive, you are talking so negatively about yourself and upset that you didn’t just get up. You get to class with 1 minute to spare and to your luck, the only spot left is in the very front and center of the class. GREAT just to my luck this would happen! The negative thoughts start creeping in… “This is going to suck,” “What if I get sick and can’t lay down,” What if I can’t keep up with the entire class since I haven’t been in a month,” ” I am front and center so I have to keep up or else I will look weak,” “I work here so I have to be a good yoga role model to the other students and to the ones online,” “I am scared I won’t do well,” “I am so mad about myself for not getting up earlier to get in a different spot.” The mind is going wild with so much negative thinking before the class has even started.

Instead of continuing this negative thinking and letting this mindset completely ruin the next 75 minutes of this hot yoga class, you make a huge shift in your thoughts! You start to look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I got this,” “I am strong,” “I don’t have to be perfect,” “I am thankful I made it to the mat,” “I showed up and didn’t fully bail on class,” “I just have to breathe and take it a step at a time,” and just like that…..you feel strong, brave, happy, excited, and you take on the entire 75 minute class like a rock star! What a concept right? If we switch our negative thoughts and start speaking positive affirmations then it can completely transform how you feel about a situation.

Does this happen to you? Do you have moments before going into a situation and you completely already talk yourself out of it before you even had a chance to attempt? This happens to me A LOT! I don’t know if it stems from my anxiety, depression, or lack of self-confidence and trust in good things to actually happen. Along the way, there have probably been situations in your life where you have been let down. Instead of letting yourself down without fully knowing the situation yet, you tell yourself that it already isn’t going to work, so no big deal. This can be a defense mechanism and a reaction to replaying past events and worrying about the future. Unfortunately, these negative thoughts really take a toll and can hold you back from enjoying life experiences, distract you from focusing on what’s really important, make you feel anxious and depressed, and drain your energy. 

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is a psychological treatment that can be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol, and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. CBT helps you manage stress and anxiety by learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, coping self-talk, identifying situations that are often avoided and gradually approaching feared situations. This type of therapy is focused on present problems and is works with problem-orientated situations.  A great resource to find a therapist in your area that does CBT is searching on Psychology Today online.

Cognitive Therapy Exercise:

(My Psychology teacher gave us this example of what a Cognitive Therapy Exercise looks like so feel free to answer these questions for your own personal reflection)

  • I often worry that I _____
  • What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? What do you fear most of all?
  • When you think the worst thing that could happen, do you really think that it’s likely to happen? If so, How could you learn to cope with it?
  • I accept myself even though I ____ (do not use the word “am”)

2. Recognizing where your thought distortions are coming from

When you can recognize the core of where these negative thoughts stem from then it can be very beneficial. We tend to tell ourselves these stories of things that are really not true and these inaccurate thoughts can reinforce negative thinking. When we can really recognize them then we can challenge them.

  • Personalizing: Assuming you are to blame for anything that goes wrong. When someone doesn’t say hello to you in the morning at work and you feel that it is your fault and you must have done something to upset him/her. When really, it is more likely that person is having a hard morning and it has nothing to do personally against you.
  • Black and white thinking: Seeing things as one way or another with no in between.
  • Filter thinking: Choosing to see only the negative of a situation
  • Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst possible outcome is going to happen.

References: Psychology Today

3. Questioning your thoughts

We tend to make up stories in our heads and these stories become what we think is true. When we can step back and look at a different perspective then we can try to see the full picture and defuse the negative thoughts. If a good friend was telling you a story how would you react to what they were telling you? Try to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see if that can help.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this thought true?
  • Is this thought important?
  • Is this thought helpful?

4. Separate from negative thoughts

It is important to try and take breaks from negative thoughts and put in positive ones instead. I know this can be difficult and honestly it really takes practice, patience, self-awareness, and time. Take control of your thoughts and allow yourself a few minutes with the thought but then take a break and start focusing on something positive. When we spend too much time on these negative thoughts then they can completely take over and consume us, to the point we start to believe they are actually true.

5. Let go of the judgment!

I know it can be so easy to judge ourselves and put ourselves down without even realizing it. I feel like it is even harder now a days because of social media and social comparison. This happens to me especially while scrolling through my Instagram feed! I see how people are handling their Instagram for blogs and think wow mine sucks, it could be so much better! These people get to travel the world, ugh, I will never get to do that! I will never be that skinny! I feel so fat! I won’t ever get that promotion! I feel like all of us do this without even realizing sometimes and this can have a huge impact on your negative thought patterns. When you start to have these thoughts recognize your reaction to them, observe it, and then let it go. Another way, is when you are noticing you are judging yourself or someone else in a negative light then start to look for a positive quality as well.

6. Gratitude!

Practicing gratitude is by far one of the biggest helps when it comes to negative self-talk. I highly recommend meditation, writing in a journal, and yoga. These three things have helped me so much because you get time with yourself to really take a step back and be with your thoughts. You actually feel your breath and your heart beat. I always feel so grateful to even be alive and to be able to breathe. It’s those little things that can really put everything in perspective and help you see the bigger picture.

7. Starting the day with affirmations

I work at a yoga studio and one of the students I talk to could feel that I was very stressed. I was very stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. The next day, she gave me a note card with these journal prompts and affirmations and told me to give it a try. At first, I was like how will I have time to do this first thing in the AM? As we heard above I LOVE to snooze my alarm and usually am running late. What if I got up a little earlier and spent 5 min or less answering these questions? Well, I did and let me tell you it really did set the tone for the day and I encourage you to give them a try!

8. Focus on what your strengths are

I know it can be difficult to focus on what you are good at and especially because you don’t want to sound conceded. But let me tell you, it is okay to talk good about yourself and be confident! It is human nature to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive sometimes, but the more you practice focusing on your strengths and how to move forward then the easier it will be to feel positive about yourself. Sometimes, we look into the past and can be upset of how we handled situations, who we surrounded ourselves with, and any thing that has happened that has made us feel less then. I know it is easier said then done but you have to forgive yourself and know that you made that decision for a reason. Every single life decision happens for us and leads us on the right path. When we can be more self-aware and think, “I put myself in that situation because I didn’t have the healthy coping skills as a teen and that is the way I got by.” Sometimes, we didn’t know better or maybe didn’t even have a choice. That is okay! Love every single inch of you and your heart.

I want you to know that I am posting this because I have a really hard time with negative thought patterns. I don’t even realize how much I am negative but I am a lot. The other day, I was driving to the dog park with my Husband and I said, “I really have to go to the bathroom.” He said, “There is a bathroom there we will be there soon.” and then I said “No, they are probably closed because of COVID.” See what I did? I didn’t even wait until we got there to actually see and instead already made up my mind that they were closed! Did I do this to protect myself in case there really wasn’t and I peed my pants? Probably! There are a lot of situations like that where I always shut things down right away without giving it a chance. I know that this will take effort and practice and honestly will probably be a forever thing to work on. The thing is, if we can work at it little by little and realize that we are doing this and why then that makes all the difference. I would love to hear your thoughts below and I really hope this helps!

Love & Light,

Tuscany

Here is me after Yoga this morning feeling AMAZING!

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Life · Mental Health

Life After the Pandemic

Image taken from Google

Honestly, I have been having a hard time thinking about what to write lately. Life has been a little crazy for me and for all of us. I know that we are still in a Pandemic but I really wanted to analyze and think about what life is going to be like after all of this. Some states started their self quarantine earlier then others and some are still in it while others are not. It has been interesting to me living in Georgia because we were one of the last states to close and one of the first to reopen. I have a lot of friends in California and they have been dealing with this a lot longer and way more extreme then how it has been here. May is mental health awareness month so I wanted to shed light on the impacts of mental health during this time. To be honest, I really didn’t know how to deal with all of this at first and I was in complete shock and denial. I think we all were in denial. I was surprised with how I handled it because with someone who has anxiety and panic attacks you would think that I would be freaking out. I was actually weirdly calm and thought something was wrong with me. I was reading how people who have anxiety have been more calm during this Pandemic because they are used to dealing with chaos and are almost numb to it. We also feel less alone in feeling anxiety since collectively everyone is feeling similar ways. This doesn’t mean I didn’t care or worry about myself or my loved ones but I knew that I had no control over the situation. I think we can be afraid to surrender to things because we want control but the thing is we never had control, all we had was anxiety. I started hearing from friends who have never discussed their fears with me feeling so worried about all of this and for once I wasn’t the only one always feeling worry. I actually feel like I started to relate with more of my friends on a deeper level because of all of this. Sometimes we want to control the outcome and especially when we don’t know what that outcome will be. Once we are able to give up control, breathe, and let go of our expectations then we can help ease that anxiety and panic. We have all had to learn Zoom and more technology and let me tell you it has been a learning curve for me and I am sure for you!

During this time, I have seen people connect more then ever and come together to help others. Schools, yoga studios, meetings, DJ sets, brunch and any other social activities have turned into Zoom meetings. People are doing more arts and crafts then ever, creating new things, watching a lot of Netflix, reading more, cooking more, connecting more, using social media for free work outs and realizing that we can basically do everything on technology. It is honestly beautiful the way that we have navigated technology to continue life and keep things going. Although, I wonder if after all of this if businesses, schools, teachers, etc; will continue to use technology instead? I am worried that people will still be so fearful of being around one another that they will want to continue keeping a distance. Parents will be worried about their kids friends coming over and everybody will be wearing a mask. I am worried that concerts and feeling free at them will not be the same. I have noticed that everyone has different opinions and ways of handling this Pandemic and that is OKAY! I have noticed some people really came together to help others but I have also noticed a huge judgement zone of rude people. I know under that is fear and some people react when they are angry out of fear, but it really sucks to see people so mean to others.

Also, I wonder what the mental health impact of all of this will be. I know we focus so much on physical health but being isolated from others can be very damaging to someones well being. Some people have had to stay home in terrible abusive situations which I can’t imagine how hard that has been. People use school or work to escape from abuse and now they have been stuck. I wonder the impact this will have on teenagers who didn’t get to go to Prom or walk for graduation. To the kids, who haven’t been able to see their friends and are sitting in front of a screen all day learning things. To the health care workers who are frustrated, angry, tired, and have no idea how long this will go on for or if there work will ever be the same. There are so many people out of jobs and businesses who are barley going to make it. Businesses who have already went bankrupt and people who are already out on the streets from not being able to afford their bills. To the grocery store clerks, who have been dealing with the pressure and stress of all of this.

There were a lot of birthdays not celebrated how we normally would. I know I was super bummed that my 30th birthday was right when this all started. It was not what I expected at all, but there I go again with EXPECTATIONS! Most of my friends weren’t able to join in on the fun because of it and I was super bummed. Then, I started to see weddings being cancelled or rescheduled and I realized me complaining about my 30th birthday wasn’t as upsetting as that probably was. I know that was a difficult decision for people and its sad because it is such an exciting time. Weddings are something you plan for all year and have everything ready and so I can’t imagine the anxiety and sadness assiscated. Another thing, is babyshowers or pregnant mamas. I personally have two people in my life who are pregnant during this and I know it hasn’t been easy. They have had to be extra careful and have to stay home basically. I know it is hard that they can’t have a traditional baby shower and things will be different when they go into labor as well. I think its okay to be sad or mourn these things. These are all such exciting times in our lives and we should be bummed that things are different. I just really hope that going forward that these things will be normal again. I will say, I have loved seeing all the virtual baby showers and especially the drive up celebrations! I have seen people get in their cars and drive by someones house with music and balloons and celebrate them! A new normal I guess.

I know this all sound scary to think about but this is the reality of the situation. It is really really hard for so many people and for others it hasn’t been hard at all. I want to give my love and support to all of those who have struggled during this time and will continue to struggle because of this. I really get scared to think about the mental health impact this will have on millions of people. I really believe people are experiencing depression, panic, and anxiety for the first time ever.

Personally, I had a lot of ups and downs during this time but I was very grateful to get so much time at home with my Husband. He is always traveling for work and never gets a break and so it was very nice having him home finally. We are fortunate that we were able to stay home and have the means to do so. Honestly, it has been so good for our marriage and has strengtened our bond. It has allowed us that quality time together that we usually don’t ever get. I am sure the same goes for you! I think either some couples have either had enough of each other or this is exactly what they needed. I have enjoyed slowing down and just hanging out at home. I know others haven’t had that luxary and it has been harder depending on where you live as well.

My point of all of this is that it really makes you think if life will ever be the same or if zoom calls and gloves and masks will be a new normal? I wonder if kids will ever have a regular school day again and if traveling will ever be the same. I wonder if parents are going to have to teach their kids more instead of teachers? Will parents have to work from home if schools are closed? Will there be activities for after school for all the kids that need that interaction with other kids? This really should make us all aware that we do not have any control and at any moment anything can happen and change. I know it can be so hard to go with the flow but this shows us that things are out of our control. Yes, it is up to us to stay safe and stay home but are we in control of anything else? Nope. Humans need each other and need physical touch so I really hope that eventually we can be hugging and hanging out again.

I hope eventually we will see smiles on peoples faces and not covered by a mask. I hope that we can go travel the world and be with loved ones. I hope that people continue to check in on others, keep connecting, creating, loving, and taking a step back and staying present. We are so used to being super busy and constantly moving that we never take time to just sit at home. I encourage you that even when things get busy again to come back to the moment of being with yourself and remembering whats important. Also, I think we should continue keeping in touch with people and checking on people. I think that this reminded us of what is important, what lasts, and what doesn’t. All of the bars, travels, events, and fun are not everything. These are fun things that we are lucky to be able to do and have but as you can see it can be taken away at any moment. So focus on your relationships and nurting those 🙂

The one thing I will say, is no matter your thoughts on this subject PLEASE be kind to others. You have no idea what someone is dealing with and so let them do what they are going to do. We can not control others and it is not our job to do so. There is a way to say things to someone to show you care instead of accusing them or attacking their character.

I want to know your thoughts…what do you think life will be after this and how have you handled it?

Love & Light,

Tuscany

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Life · loving yourself · Mental Health · Self-Care · self-love

Choose Empathy

“We want to be there for others but not lose ourselves in the process”

This topic is important to me and especially during these times it is crucial we learn how to choose empathy. What is empathy anyway? It’s a very complex word but basically it is the ability to understand and share feelings of another person and being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is truly amazing to have this level of understanding and skill but it can come with some downsides if you don’t fully take control of it and understand it. I decided to research more about empathy because honestly, I knew I have the skill set of putting myself in someone else’s shoes but to what extent is it harmful to our mental and physical health?


3 Types of Empathy:

  • Cognitive: “Perspective taking.” Knowing how the other person feels or putting yourself in their shoes.
  • Emotional: Feeling someone else’s emotions physically almost like they are contagious. This level can be overwhelming to take over the full emotions and mental state of another
  • Compassionate: We understand someone’s tough situation and want to help (basically considering the whole person) This is the “ideal” level of empathy to have. When someone comes to you in tears about a situation and you want to provide comfort and help in any way you can but using your intelligent side of knowing how to handle the situation and not fully take on all the emotions of the other person.

I was so shocked to hear that there are 3 different levels of this but wow it honestly made sense!

Benefits of being empathetic:

  • Being able to be there for someone else and help
  • Being trusted by another person
  • Being a good listener
  • Being a good support system for someone
  • Someone feels seen or heard by you
  • Reduces stress
  • Healing
  • Personal growth
  • Nourishes connections and deepens bonds
  • More awareness
  • Compassion for others
  • Love
  • Transforms conflict to support
  • Makes a positive social change

Negative impacts of being empathetic:

  • Can cause deep suffering
  • Can put you in a dark mental space
  • Emotionally taking on the hurt of others
  • Caring a lot and not being able to not give your all to someone
  • Difficult on mental and physical well-being
  • Rational decision making issues
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Sadness
  • Depression/ anxiety/ panic disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Making excuses for others
  • Obsessing over situations
  • Drama
  • Anger or frustration
  • Isolation
  • Getting taken advantaged of
  • Not having boundaries
  • Losing money or anything you have to help someone else

Honestly, I have always been an empathic person and it is something that has really shaped who I am to the core. I have been through really tough life challenges and I can relate to people on some deep personal levels which has been a really good thing in a lot of ways. Many people have opened up to me and trusted me with some really personal and sad stories which I am so grateful they feel comfortable sharing with me. I have been able to be there for a lot of my friends and family. I try not to judge and over the years I have tried to listen more then just respond. I know that this is a good quality to have because I see the best in people and have a lot of patience (which a lot of people struggle with). It has helped me as well to learn what other people go through, how they cope, how they struggle, and they have helped give me tips to help me in my mental health journey. They have made me realize things about myself in that process and have taught me patience and understanding. The thing is, I have really struggled with being too empathic and it has been a huge reason I get so anxious and depressed. I think because I have been through so much and care so much that I am in stage 2 of empathy of physically taking on the feelings of someone else but constantly working to be at stage 3.

For so long, I would listen to personal issues from family members or whoever and it would make me sad to my core. I would sit there and worry and stress and try to think of solutions for them. I would talk about it with many different people and get people worked up and get myself worked up and upset in the process. I would sit there and cry and feel so sad for whoever to the point it would leave me in a dark depression for days to weeks. I would sit there and worry about someone so much but then all of a sudden they would tell me that they are fine and everything is solved. I wonder, “why in the heck did I sit here trying to come up with a solution if it wasn’t a big deal to begin with and they are fine!?” or they would disappear and I would sit there and worry about if they are alive or how they are doing yet no response. It would literally PISS me off. I felt so taken advantage of and was mad at myself for caring so much. It started to put me in an anger phase of my healing where I would distance myself from anyone who brought this into my life and would shut them out. I would start to not care and really change the way I handled these situations. The thing is, I am not an angry person and I don’t want to shut people out! I want to still be myself and be able to be caring and listen to what people are going through but I knew I couldn’t physically take it on anymore because of my mental health. I really think because I have suffered so deeply and I know how it feels that I don’t want the ones I love to suffer so I want to help. I don’t want the ones I love in pain plain and simple.

I started to go to therapy and the biggest thing I learned was how to set boundaries with my loved ones. This did not go well with some people who do not understand or like boundaries because that means they can’t throw all their shit on me anymore to absorb and I wouldn’t sit there and feel sorry for them. My therapist taught me to literally tell the people, “okay, you have 5 minutes to talk about this and then I don’t want to hear about it again.” SETTING A BOUNDARY! I want to hear you out and be there for you but I will not let it consume every conversation we have and be the #1 person you dump out all your drama too. (Also, I am not talking about someone struggling with mental health or something, mainly talking about people who constantly have drama in their life and feed off that drama and enjoy it- and make big deals out of things and then say aren’t a big deal, and say one thing and do another, etc!) This also means not answering calls if I cant mentally listen to it and to not feel bad about that. To be okay saying no or that I will call you back when I can. Setting boundaries was the healthiest thing I could have done for myself and it is an act of self-care and self-love. You can still be there for someone and support them without taking on the emotional rollercoaster towards your mental health. I have always been a people pleaser and I have wanted to be liked which meant I would invite drama in just to be liked and I would allow people to suck the energy out of me. I would worry SO much about someone else that I would forget about the most important person in my life, and that was me. I realized I wasn’t taking good care of MY mental health and I wasn’t doing anyone any good by worrying about their problems.

I feel like a huge part of my anxiety and depression and have been from worrying about my loved ones (mainly family). I wanted so badly to control the outcome and for them to be okay. I thought I could save them and by me being there that they would make a change. Instead, it almost completely broke me down to the point I didn’t even know how to be there for myself. This has taken a lot of time, therapy, tears, frustrations, arguments, self-discipline, self-awareness, trial and error, boundaries, and self-love. Sometimes, I ended up being so distant from people because they are not understanding my boundaries and I don’t know how else to show them so I just stay away.

I want you to know that being an empathic person is such a true gift and the world needs more of us. People need someone who truly cares and wants to be there for them. They need someone to try to understand or not talk down on them when they are expressing their worries. Especially right now, the world needs more people to understand how others are struggling and how some situations are a lot harder then others. It is SO great to have a deep care for people and want to help them heal or get better.

ALTHOUGH, realize that you can’t change anyone nor should you want or have to. Love someone for who they are and accept them for where they are at. Continue to be you and show your heart to the world.

Be there for people, listen, truly care, try to ask more questions, try to see their side before forcing your own situations of what you been through on them (but use this as a tool to relate if they need guidance), understand that even though you are OK and these aren’t your fears that they are someone else’s and they are VALID. How you feel is VALID! Never let someone undermine you or make you feel like you are making a big deal for nothing because that is not true.

The takeaway from this is, continue to be you but know how to set boundaries, try not to physically take on someone else’s pain, know that just by you listening is enough, know that you are helping others, know when its time to take a step back, know when you need to focus on you, be okay with not answering a phone call or calling someone back right away, learn how to say no in a kind way, learn how to communicate with people if you’re too emotionally depleted to take on anything more, understand that we can only do so much for someone, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped, people are going to do whatever they want no matter how much advice or how many times you have told them and that’s OK, people might be in worse situations but that doesn’t mean your situation isn’t bad! Try to see other perspectives and see where someone is coming from before you judge them or completely shut down their feelings or ideas.

I learned that it was important to take care of my life first and make sure that I am mentally and physical stable. I needed to put MYSELF and my Husband first because that is my core family. I needed to take time away from people who emotionally drained me and to try not to feel guilty or let others make me feel guilty for not being there. Guide people in the right direction and love them but know that I can’t change the outcome of the situation. I am choosing to live a happy life and one that I will continue to learn and work hard at everyday. I am not perfect and I am still learning….I still have my weaknesses especially when it comes to my parents. It is important to not project your anger on someone else and judge someone else for their situation. Ask more questions and try to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself and put your needs first. Have patience for yourself and know that you are making a difference in the world just by that!

I feel like there is still so much more on this topic but I will leave it at this for now..I would love to hear your journey or your thoughts so feel free to comment, send me an email, or message and we can chat more.

We are collectively going through a hard time right now so have empathy for one another. Spread love! Instead of quickly judging someone and commenting something mean on their post- take a step back and wonder why is this upsetting me? Why do I want to post this? Is this nice? Is this kind? Is this necessary? If not, then maybe try to see things from a different light and ask more questions and send a private message and have a conversation. We are all struggling with different things during this Pandemic and with life in GENERAL so just be kind yall!

Thank you for your constant support and love. I am so grateful to have this blog to be able to share this with you and to be more vulnerable in hopes to help someone else.

Love & Light,

Tuscany

Life · loving yourself · Mental Health · self-love

The day before I turn 30

Wow….I can’t believe I am sitting here writing this as I approach being 30 years old! My birthday is tomorrow and I am just really excited, overwhelmed, and in shock that I made it to 30. If I could tell my younger self this is what 30 would feel like then I wouldn’t have been so stressed about it when I was younger. Everybody has different life experiences and different expectations for themselves. I remember being younger and thinking, “by the time I am 30 I will be married with kids and rich and in my career!” That was the common goal for some people and for others it was just getting through the next day. I thought 30 was this magical number and that I would be so old. I sit here now thinking how 30 is still SO young. 30 is different then 20 though in a lot of ways….I definitely have way more self-awareness and experiences under my belt. My 20’s were a gradual stepping stone of learning lessons and growth. We step into our 20’s thinking we are more adult but really we are still very much a kid. For awhile, life was about partying and turning 21 and going to Vegas. I always thought that I needed to figure out life in my 20’s and sometimes would be down on myself for not accomplishing certain things yet. We are all on our own path and everybody has a different agenda.

School…when it comes to college I am still in school and sometimes I sit there and feel weird being this age still in school. I think it is easy to sit there and compare ourselves to others and where we are at in our journey. We have to remember that we are on the right path and that this path was meant for us and only us. The only person who can judge us is ourselves. It took me awhile to learn that because I would constantly compare myself to my friends who have graduated and be upset that I haven’t. The thing is I am so thankful I am still pushing for an education and working hard because my life could have went a different direction. Some of my friends who have graduated and are in their “career” aren’t even sure if that’s what they want to do. Everybody is struggling with figuring something out so if you feel this way just know you are not alone.

I started my 20’s being broken, lost, confused, hurt, curious, heartbroken, unhealthy, and in a lot of pain. I wish I could have told my 20 year old self that none of that would have mattered and that I would be okay. I mean everything mattered and it all helped shape who I am but I wish I would have went a little easier on myself and told myself I would see the happy other side of life eventually.

My 20’s

Lets talk about friends.…In my 20’s my friends were everything to me and I put a lot energy into this. I had a girl group but I also had many friends from all over the place. I really enjoyed learning and growing with my friends but even if some people aren’t in this next journey of mine I will always appreciate them and have love for them. My sister always told me when you make it to your 30’s you will have a few friends you can count on. She was so right! I am lucky to have a lot of good people but if it really came down to it I realized I would have a few I could for sure 100% count on. I realized quality over quantity is the most important. This is the time where we need to make choices for ourselves and notice who brings value into our life. Who wants to grow with us and who appreciates us and puts in the effort. It is okay to let people go and it doesn’t have to be a big dramatic thing. You can slowly drift and that is okay! I really worried about this a lot when I moved to Georgia because I so badly wanted to hold onto who I had. I tried so hard to hold onto them but then I realized how miserable they actually made me, and how it is more stress then actual enjoyment. We can’t hold onto the past. I would continue to post throwback photos and be sad and miss people from the past, but I realized I needed to see who was in my life RIGHT NOW and focus on that. I focused so hard on making friends in Georgia and let me tell you I know it is important to have friends. I tried so hard to meet quality people and sometimes comprise who I am and what I am looking for in a friend, just to have an actual friend. Sometimes I feel so desperate which is so weird for me because I never had a problem making friends when I was growing up. I realized everybody already has their circles here and groups- and sometimes someone new doesn’t fit into that. I am thankful for the ones who have embraced me and the few who really have been amazing to me. I am starting to accept that I won’t always fit into new circles and I don’t need to beg someone to hang out with me or to be my friend.

Marriage….I am married but that is something I wasn’t sure I would do by the time I was 30 or not or ever. For those who aren’t married yet, do not feel pressured by society and think you have to be. Do not just marry someone to be married and take your time. For the ones who have married young, that is okay too! Everyone is on their own journey. Just know the right person will come along. I think we meet different loves at different times of our lives. I also think the right love comes along once we have learned to truly love ourselves. Know that once you get married the real work begins and do not stop working on yourself…this is when you need to work on yourself the most!

Children.…this is the one that is probably getting to me the most. Obviously, I feel my biological clock ticking as they would say and I know safety concerns go up as time goes on. I do feel pressure in a sense to have children soon because of my age. Although, there are so many other things I have had to figure out before that moment and make sure I can get through school first. My goal was to always finish school first. I think society pressures people to settle down and have a family at a young age. I have noticed in Georgia people settle down a lot sooner, like when they are 20-22 which really amazes me. I think there is so much still to learn and life and so much more to do! In California, I notice people are scared to settle down and they wait well past their 30’s. It really is interesting to me how your direct culture can have an impact on your decisions. I know when the time is right it will happen and I will be so excited to be a mama. I praise all moms out there and want you to know you are doing an awesome job!! I know it is not an easy job and honestly I am terrified of it.

Hangovers…let me just tell you that you do not recover as quickly as you would in your 20’s! IT IS A LOT HARDER! They last for days and you have so many responsibilities it is near impossible to actually party without struggling for days on end. Anyone else feel me on this one!? The thing is, I have noticed with age that I really don’t enjoy drinking anymore. My body rejects it and never feels good after. I have actually enjoyed life without it and feel that I am happier and healthier when I don’t drink. To the ones who can still manage to party like a rock star GOOD FOR YOU…I really envy you haha! COCONUT WATER is an amazing hangover cure and drinking water after every alcoholic drink.

Goals...I had a lot of goals before I turned 30 and let me tell you I have knocked a lot of the list. I finally had my first trip out of the United States WOO! I keep adding to my goals and it is okay if I haven’t hit them all because this is just the beginning. I told myself I would start writing a book when I turned 30- and I have basically started with this blog but can’t wait to go deeper with that. Don’t be down on yourself if you haven’t checked all the boxes- you have so much more time but I encourage you to write some stuff down…I love writing lists and crossing it off when I complete it…feels so accomplishing!

Boundaries…. This has probably been the biggest learning lesson in my entire life. It was always very hard for me because I wanted to please everyone before myself. I would put my needs aside and tend to what others wanted and what their expectations were. I would get emotionally invested into so much drama between family and friends…only to be sitting there upset, while everyone else moved on and was fine. I realized that there is a lot we should stay out of and let people work it out for themselves. That is hard for someone who has major empathy like me and physically feels pain when others do. The thing is, I am much happier now that I have set boundaries and I have started honoring myself and my needs. I think this is something that comes with time and experience.

The fear of aging….this is a big one! I am starting to notice wrinkles and sun spots and wondering why I didn’t take better care of my skin when I was younger? Why didn’t I wear sunscreen and wanted to be tan and look good? Botox is becoming a bigger subject now…I have even had it once in my forehead because of my wrinkles. I get it girls it definitely helps! I am noticing that it feels harder to lose weight and I am not a size 0-2 anymore. I definitely have fear about physically aging but I think it is important to use this as a wake up call to really take care of yourself. I have so much more knowledge now then I did before, and now I can work on my health from the inside and out. Love all of your scars and your body no matter the size or wrinkles.

Enjoy every moment….I am realizing how quickly time is going and the fact I am about to be 30 really makes me excited but freaked out at the same time. Where is time going? Enjoy every moment and enjoy the ones you love. For a lot of us at this age, we might still have parents around or if your lucky even some grandparents- I encourage you to soak up every minute and spend time with each other. Life is crazy and we honestly never know how long we have with someone.

If you are younger then me I want to say do not be hard on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Be proud of where you are and know that the hard times will pass. Understand that everybody has struggles and this will make you stronger.

This is me now 🙂

I am extremely grateful to make it to 30 and I am thankful to be alive. Some people don’t even make it this far and so I feel very fortune to have this chance at life. My hope is to better myself every single day and keep building a strong foundation. I feel like I have so much more to do and so much to see. I can’t wait to become a therapist, yoga instructor, and to write a book (or multiple). I can’t wait to become a mother and to have a family. I can’t wait to just keep growing and see what this next era has in store for me.There are so many things in my 30’s that I am looking forward to and I have so much hope having more awareness then I did before. I am lucky I have been through some hard times because it has given me a different perspective on life and is guiding me to the next chapter. Your 30’s are a significant milestone and I really do feel like I am stepping into a new era of me.

Life Lessons from Tusk:

  • Life can be really tough but use it as a learning experience
  • Others treat you the way you treat yourself
  • Everything is temporary
  • Beneath anger is always fear
  • Happiness is a choice and requires a lot of hard work
  • You will get through your struggles
  • Take risks
  • Listen to your gut, instincts are always trying to lead us in the right direction
  • Don’t beg for others attention
  • Do not change who you are to fit what others want you to be
  • Fall in love, get hurt, but fall in love again. Don’t be afraid to love again!
  • Don’t put your entire worth into another person
  • Accept every hardship and appreciate them
  • Surround yourself with loving and supportive people who have your best interest at heart
  • Don’t worry about being popular
  • Save money!
  • Eat healthy and take care of your body- but don’t be afraid to eat and indulge
  • Work towards your goals/dreams
  • STOP HAVING FOMO! I had this for so long- but instead I enjoy missing out sometimes and being content and thankful for where you currently are
  • Book that trip!
  • Do not base your self-worth and identity off Instagram models and influencers- have your own identity and embrace it
  • Do what you want to do and don’t let others sway your decisions
  • Have great girlfriends
  • WEAR SUNSCREEN
  • Go for your passions
  • Spend time with family
  • Take your mental health seriously and make it a priority. Do not be ashamed of feeling anxious, depressed, or down.
  • Ask for help
  • Every set back is leading you in the right direction
  • Make time to learn something new and to better yourself
  • Show appreciation for others and be kind
  • Take moments to yourself and focus on healing YOU
  • Don’t think you can fix anyone…they have to be willing to do the work and fix themselves
  • Marriage should not be the end goal because it is when the work actually begins on a deeper level
  • COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY
  • TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS
  • Don’t drink and drive!
  • Say how you feel and don’t hold it in but be kind about it and not project anger
  • If you miss someone then text them and reach out- You never know how much someone appreciates this
  • Step out of your comfort zone
  • Write thank you cards…people really appreciate it!
  • Don’t waste money on clothes or new trends

As in Tuscany’s famous words:

LIVE……LAUGH……LOVE………

I can’t wait to step into this new era and in 10 years talk about what all happens next…I am extremely grateful for life every single day. I am thankful for all of the lessons, people, experiences, and every moment that has happened in my life. I am so excited for this next chapter…..bring it on 30!!!

Love and Light,

Tuscany

Anxiety · Mental Health · Panic Disorder · self-help · self-love

Anxiety & Panic Disorder

My story:

I have been so excited to speak on this topic because it is very special to me and I have quite a lot to say about it. Honestly, even though this post may seem like a lot- I have been through even more but by the time I tell you every single story I would have an entire book series. When I was younger I had no idea what anxiety or panic attacks were. I remember being fifteen when I had my first panic attack and I will never forget that moment. I remember feeling severe chest pain, excessive sweating, dizzy, and insane tunnel vision. I had no idea what was going on at the moment because I was so young and did not have that sort of awareness yet. This was after my grandparents who I lived with and helped raise me passed away one after another when I was starting Freshman year of High school. My dad decided to pick up and move us out of California and to North Carolina where it was cheaper. All of these huge life changes of losing my grandparents, moving, and leaving important relationships behind was very tough on a fifteen year old kid. I remember having several panic attacks my sophomore year of high-school but again, I had no idea what was going on. Shortly after living in North Carolina for a full month I moved back to California and lived with my sister. I basically told my parents I would kill myself if they kept me there with them. I was very behind in school and had to go to a continuation school in a not so great area of Orange County. I did not fit in there and felt scared most of the time. This is when depression set in and I started to go through A LOT of feelings this year. I was in a very toxic relationship with someone who was verbally and physically abusive. He would hold me down and choke me and hit my legs so people couldn’t see the bruises on my face. Force me to have sex when I didn’t want to…. I didn’t have parent supervision during this time since my parents were still in North Carolina and my sister was at work all the time. I would basically be able to do whatever I wanted and whenever. I remember wanting to be stoned so I wouldn’t have to feel what I was going through. I wanted to be completely numb to all of my feelings of fear, panic, stress, and anger. I was constantly sad and crying and I thought about killing myself regularly. I was also hanging around older people so I was introduced to a lot of different things during this time. Junior year came around and I got out of that toxic relationship by having to change my phone numbers, friends, and move from where I was living. The one thing that continued after that relationship was being on Xanax. I was introduced the previous year and I absolutely loved the way Xanax made me feel and I felt like I could handle anything when I was on it.

Senior year I started hanging out with the wrong crowds and was in another intense relationship. I also didn’t like going to school and had a lot of anxiety about facing other people. Soon after that I did independent studies which was only once a week. I graduated from a continuation school called Shores because of how behind I was in schoolwork. Thankful I graduated though! I didn’t like facing other people and having to explain to them why I was down it was really hard. I was very popular growing up and so I always felt like a lot of attention was on me and I had this image to be liked and be social. It started to become very draining being that person.

I got back together with someone from middle school who I loved a lot. He was sober at the time and I was trying to be as well. We loved each other and had a lot of great times together. Unfortunately, both of us were pretty broken and so as time went on and us being teenagers we fell into this toxic on and off relationship. A LOT of anxiety came from this relationship and created a lot of fear inside of me. The relationship really took a toll on me and many times he made me feel like I was worthless and that I would never be good enough. I lived with my mother again for a short time and that was a very toxic environment. We argued all the time and my mom was going through a lot of issues and had really bad mental health issues, and that is when the drinking started with her as well. I was constantly in survival mode and would stay at different friends houses or my boyfriends parents house. I remember having to sleep in my boyfriends car at times since his parents wouldn’t let me stay over because I had no where else to go. I never had stability and never knew when I was going to have to move, if I could afford rent, if my ex was going to leave me again, if my ex was going to upset me again, if my mom was going to be alive and well, and if my dad was going to recover from a quadruple bypass surgery or if him and I would have a relationship. Things started turning around when I was 18-19 and I moved to Santa Monica and started working for Red Bull. I met some really amazing people and this started to change my outlook on life. I felt confident and was around empowering women who lifted me up all the time. I was still dating that ex but this is when the cheating really begun and when he would cheat on me often and I would find out through his friends. He was in and out of trouble all the time so I was constantly on edge about getting a call from jail, or getting calls from his family to check how he was doing. He did a lot of really hurtful things to me that caused me a ton of anxiety and pain. A lot of verbal abuse happened in this relationship. He really tried to tear down my image of what people thought of me- but mainly he made me believe I was worthless and would never be good enough.

I will not say that I was perfect but when someone is that manipulating and puts you down, you start to believe it and then act out in certain ways for attention. Also, when you are already in such a low point in your life and don’t have self-esteem of course things are going to happen. He moved away and a few months later I followed him. I will spare all the details but he put me in a really terrible situation (I acknowledge that I did put myself there as well but still). Found out he was cheating on me, we got kicked out of the place were were staying and basically were homeless. I moved back in with my mom and had to sleep in the living room on a mattress and this was a really bad situation. My ex told his parents I stole their gas card (Even though he did- and had it the entire time and would fill up everyone’s gas tanks and trade it for money). So we were done- and I was always the one to blame! This put me in a really really dark space. He broke up with me, made his parents believed I was bad and crazy, and then I was back with my mother, and lost some really amazing friends since they didn’t agree with me moving there in the first place. I was very much in love with this person and the pain we kept putting each other through was really hard on me. Being in such a dysfunctional and intense relationship at that age really took a toll on me. I always just wanted to be loved but all I really knew was craziness and never had role models of a healthy relationship. My life was always crazy so that is exactly what I attracted into my life.

Shortly after this, “somebody” hacked my Facebook and put pictures up everywhere of me in lingerie. This was sent out to literally everyone. Family, co-workers, friends… and it was so humiliating. These photos were only for this one person- and I couldn’t believe this happened. It happened on my 20th birthday! It kept happening in and off and this was very traumatic for me. Being perceived to people as a “slut” or as someone who is worthless is a really terrible feeling. Especially when the one person you love is also telling you these things daily.

My anxiety was so bad that when I was 20 I ended up in the Hospital with stomach ulcers and a rash all over my body. I was so sick throwing up and basically pooping out a lot of blood and had to spend a week in the Hospital. I couldn’t hold down foods and was a complete wreck. I remember the Doctor being so shocked that I was only 20 but had ulcers. I knew why, because I was constantly stressing and on edge. It is crazy how connected our mind and body are! I didn’t have ways to manage my stress and I would hold a lot in. I didn’t have many people who understood me or good coping skills so it was really hard on me. When you are young and don’t understand these constant feelings of insecurity, instability, fear, and anxiety then it it easy to find ways to “not deal” with it. I would surround myself with people who partied and would go out and drink to forget how I was feeling. Sometimes I would drink too much and would end up blacking out. This led to a constant cycle of regret, fear, and non stop negative self-talk. This continued through my 20’s but I will spare you all the details but lets just say a lot of trauma happened.

I had a life altering experience happen to me about five years ago and that is when my anxiety got even worse. I will talk about this at a later post, but just know it was very traumatic and I have a lot of PTSD from it. This situation happened because of the build up of so much anxiety, panic, depression, self-doubt, and not feeling in control of my emotions and my life. I almost died in this situation and I will never forget that turning point of my life. This situation really opened my eyes and basically woke me up and kicked me in gear. After that, I moved to Georgia and moved away from the past in California. I was able to finally start dealing with all of these emotions and figure out why I was the way I was. I started to be very fearful of being in the car (because of a bad car accident), couldn’t be in party situations with previous friends, couldn’t be around certain people, and it was even hard to go into work some/most days. Even though I was away from all of my triggers, these feelings were still very much there and there was A LOT I needed to unpack and figure out.

In Georgia, we have a lot of thunderstorms and tornado warnings and scary weather situations give me extreme anxiety. I do not like situations that are out of my control and I have always been in survival mode. When you live in “fight or flight” mode for so long and you are just trying to survive- it is very hard to feel grounded and realize these fears are not in my control- but it is okay and I will be okay. I also notice there there has been many times my anxiety has been so bad about facing people when I feel down- and so I haven’t been able to go to work or complete daily tasks. It has been crippling many times… and that is when I call out “sick” but most of the time it is mentally sick… which usually isn’t as acceptable. This is why the past 6 months I’ve had to leave the corporate world and be in better jobs for my mental health.

There are a lot of situations till this day that I will have a huge panic attack over and I can’t handle life. I am constantly worried about losing the ones I love or something bad happening to them. I have been constantly worried about my parents even though it’s out of my control. I always want to control the outcome of situations, but when in reality I can only control how I respond to them. My husband travels a lot for work and I will obsess over if something happens while he is there. If I am going on a trip with girlfriends I obsess over every detail of what we are doing and I start to worry about how I will be able to handle these social situations. I have anxiety in my relationship/marriage now of whenever we would have a disagreement-if he was going to leave me. These are things that I was used to and conditioned to believe were okay. Understanding that this is not normal and to learn better ways to handle conflict. luckily, my Husband is so supportive and understanding. He knows about all of this and he has been a huge reason I have been able to heal and get better. He has loved me for me and he has treated me with so much respect, and is just such a loving and caring man. He makes me feel so confident and pushes me to be the best. I am so thankful I met such a wonderful man who I love so freaking much. He has helped me grow in so many ways.

What does Anxiety & Panic feel/look like?

FYI: I am not a Professional! These are the symptoms I have felt and personally go through. Please consult a Doctor to get evaluated 🙂

  • Over-analyzing
  • Over-reacting (You feel like you are- but do not put yourself down for this!)
  • Constant sweating
  • Constant worry of the future and past
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessing
  • Anger
  • Frequent urination
  • High-blood pressure
  • Urge to drink water constantly
  • Feeling like you can’t breathe
  • A lot of “what if” questions
  • Hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Crying
  • Taking everything personal all the time
  • Feeling not good enough
  • Feeling not in control
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea or stomach issues (mind and gut are connected)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Crying when under a lot of pressure
  • Indecisiveness
  • Having certain Phobias
  • Not being able to be around people (social anxiety)
  • Thinking of something bad happening
  • Asking a lot of questions because of the fear or what could happen
  • Living in regret
  • Isolation
  • Feeling guilt or shame

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY:

  • Don’t tell them to get over it
  • Don’t tell them not to worry
  • Don’t tell them they are freaking out for no reason
  • Don’t tell them they are creating their own reality with these worries
  • Don’t tell them they have nothing to worry about
  • Don’t tell them to chill out
  • Don’t tell them how they should feel
  • Don’t tell them “it’s no big deal”

Managing my Anxiety & Panic attacks

“Your Anxiety was your companion to survival when you needed it”- Athena

I will tell you right now that I am still working on it because it is something I will ALWAYS have to work on. This is apart of me and this will not just go away, BUT I have found ways to manage it and be able to live my life and not keep myself in my room all the time. My anxiety led to a lot of isolation and then that would lead to depression. I get very lonely and a lot of past emotions are stuck deep down inside of me. These mental illnesses are so intertwined because it is a chain affect. I would get anxiety about going out with my Dad but then the next day I would feel regret for not going, and be like “what if something happens to him” which that fear still is going, and then I would continue to not make plans with people, and then depression would set it. I would be sad that I wouldn’t see people I love and be upset at myself for not going. It was a constant cycle and I have started to acknowledge these feelings but accept them. It is okay if I don’t feel like going somewhere- and not to force myself to do things I don’t want to do. My intuition is so strong and anxiety is my intuitions way of telling me the situation is not good for me and to also honor when I am tired and need to stay home and rest. The people who love you should understand!

Therapy has been a huge help in me managing anxiety and I highly suggest it for people. I started with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which retrains your mind to go in a different direction. You discuss different situation and they give you the tools on how to understand why you are thinking a certain way, actually process it, and then change your way of thinking. I started going to therapy once a week for 4 years so believe me it really takes time and patience with yourself. I no longer hide these fears and I think it is very important to honor yourself and not put yourself in situations you do not want to be in. YOUR MENTAL HEALTH is important and if someone is a threat to that then you need to set boundaries or discontinue the relationship. I also started to cut out people who were bad for my mental health and only surround myself with people who I could be my true self with. For so long, I wanted all these friends and people to like me but now I’ve learned that I would rather have fewer friends who won’t judge me or make me feel less then. Being around people you can be honest with and who really love you is very important. When you have a great support system and ones who understand your mental health- then it really helps. I am so thankful for some of my friends because they know I have anxiety and so when I start to get anxious and ask a lot of questions- or if I disappear and don’t talk to them, they understand and will not cut me off for it. They will check on me and ask how I am doing and genuinely care about how I am. I have been practicing yoga for 10 years but let me tell you when I constantly go to yoga, then my anxiety and panic are a lot less. I feel a lot more confident and I can manage my stress better- so I highly recommend trying if you haven’t yet!

I know that I have went through a lot in my life and it all started at such a young age. I never had stability or people to count on when I needed them the most. I quickly got into bad relationships with people who I wanted to “complete me” and then would end up lowering my worth to people who did not deserve it. Always being in survival mode and having to just continue to make money to pay bills and to survive really took over my life. I wasn’t able to just be a kid and always had to be the responsible one for MYSELF to survive. I was a parent to my own parents when I needed parents the most. This is why I wasn’t able to truly process what I have been through and why so much built up. Even though I have stability now in my life and my own house- I still unintentionally have fears and things I worry about. When you use anxiety to survive most of your life then you are used to those ways of handling/ thinking about situations. I am so thankful now that therapy has given me the tools to finally deal with these things and to completely transform my life. I have more acceptance when it comes to my parents, and am starting to learn that they had their own issues they were dealing with. They loved me but they both had depression and other issues and it was difficult for them to even love themselves. I think when we start to have compassion for people and start to understand why they do or don’t do things, then we can actually learn forgiveness. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt not having them there for me when I needed it, or that I didn’t need more structure from them- or that certain relationships that treated me badly didn’t freaking hurt to my core (or that I’m making excuses for them) but in order for me to heal it is about forgiveness and having empathy for others. I have truly forgiven my ex for all of the hurt and we’ve actually had discussions about things at an older age and I feel a lot of closure and I use it as a learning experience. I’m thankful for these experiences because it’s made me who I am today. I am starting to listen to myself more and be grateful for all of these experiences. I know what is best for my life and SO DO YOU. I have forgiven myself for putting myself in bad situations and lowering my standards. I have forgiven myself for being a certain way and not treating myself good. Never let anyone tell you how to handle your life or that you don’t deserve greatness, because you DO! I am very grateful for all of the challenges because now I am able to help others and share my stories.

What helps my Anxiety?

(FYI, I am now an Affiliate with Amazon! All of my recommendations will be highlighted as a link. Click that link and it will go directly to the product I recommend from Amazon)

  • Knowledge of anxiety- and knowing the symptoms and how to overcome them
  • Therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • DBT workbook: Click on that for the direct link to Amazon. This gives you a bunch of exercises and teaches you mindfulness and what your triggers are/ and how to overcome them
  • Yoga (helps sooo much!)
  • Meditation: There are a lot of great apps out there! I love Insight timer
  • Journals. Here are some I recommend, Zen as F*ck: A Journal for Practicing the mindful art of not giving a Sh*it, The Anxiety Journal, Present, Not Perfect: A Journal for slowing down, letting go, and loving who you are, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety:Daily prompts and practices to find peace
  • Diet adjustments- Whenever I eat clean and healthy I have less anxiety and feel a lot better. Too much fast food and salt make me feel worse
  • Less Caffeine: I have switched to matcha green tea or pure green tea
  • Check out my website with Arbonne (click this link to go directly to my site and purchase) I LOVE the energy fizz sticks and they don’t give me anxiety after drinking them
  • CBD Oil: I am an affiliate with this brand click the CBD oil link to go directly to the product
  • Herbal remedies: St John’s Wart, Magnesium, Valerian root, L-Theanine, B Complex, Ashwagandha, Melatonin, Fish oil
  • Probiotics: The gut is very connected to your mind…healthy gut/healthy mind 🙂 Grass fed Collagen Peptides with Type 1 & 3 Probiotics from Garden of Life
  • Take baths! Dr. Teal Epsom salt soaking solution Lavender
  • Essential Oils! I love lavender oil and I keep a diffuser next to my bed when I sleep and one at my desk
  • Weighted blankets if you get anxiety at night time
  • Medication: I had to use medication like SSRI’s for awhile which help with anxiety and depression, sleeping medication, & medication for panic attacks (Please discuss with a professional about this)
  • Support groups: There are so many support groups online. I love Peak of Panic. I am in a group me with 300 others and you can talk about how you are feeling that day- and share stories and share tips to others. Follow her on Instagram and ask to join her group
  • Being more assertive: Speak up about your boundaries and expectations for others. Let people know your triggers and how you feel about certain things. This has helped me a lot!
  • Get enough sleep
  • COLD RAGS! When I have a panic attack and get really hot..then I love getting a rag and making it wet and putting it either on my forehead or back of neck…it really soothes me
  • List your fears and put them in order. Least to worst: and explain why these are your fears? It is nice to have it down on paper to really see what is going on
  • Have a good support system of people you can trust and rely on
  • A schedule: Having a schedule really helps me but I can’t overwork myself or else I get too stressed and my anxiety builds up
  • Time management: Give yourself an extra 15 min in the morning to wake up. Whenever I rush out the door then my anxiety doubles and I start to get angry
  • Don’t put yourself in situations you don’t want to be in: YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not doing something
  • When having a panic attack: Take control of your breathing and start counting to 50. Keep your mind focused on your breath. Breathe, touch, and smell. Use your basic senses and use whatever you have to get your mind to focus on that- instead of the worry
  • Walking: Walking at least 4-5 times a week has helped me so much. Being out in nature really calms my mind and exercise is really good for anxiety
  • Do not drink: I know whenever I drink alcohol it makes me feel worse and can lead to a lot of anxiety
  • Make lists of what you need to get done
  • Set time out of everyday to take at least 5-10 minutes to be with yourself and breathe
  • Have compassion with yourself

Books I recommend:

Clink the links to go directly to Amazon to purchase

I believe in you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I really hope that my story can help you feel less alone in this. I am always here if you need extra support or have any questions. You are not alone in this and you can manage this with the right help. Do not be afraid to ask for help! Speak up to people and let them know what you are going through. Take deep breaths. Also, I would love to hear from you and your experiences with anxiety. I am here if you want to share your story! 🙂

Love & light,

Tuscany

Depression · Mental Health · self-help

Fighting the Darkness of Depression

I have been wanting to talk about this topic for a while, and I have also got quite a few requests on how I cope with it. I wish I could say “overcame” it but I am still dealing with it off and on, and as I write this, I have been in a down spot so it has been difficult to even start writing about it.

Depression is such a heavy word and to people who don’t deal with it or know much about it, they may think it looks like someone who looks very sad or down. Not true! There are a lot of times I have been depressed but I have posed for photos smiling and posting acting like everything is great. Sometimes we are trying to fool even ourselves, and want the world to think everything is okay. We also don’t want to come off like we are complaining or not being grateful. People want to see the highlights on social media and want to see the happy photos, right? Although, I am learning through this journey the more open I have been about feeling depressed- I have connected on such a deeper level with people. Once I started stepping into who I am and sharing that with the world, and not being ashamed of it is when I started to get my control back and started to give myself more grace. Not saying my “identity” is being a depressed person, because no it is not. It does not DEFINE me, but it is apart of who I am and I have accepted that.

What does depression look like on me (& maybe the same for you)

  • Overload on social media to get attention
  • Ignoring people for days
  • Not being able to talk on the phone
  • Lying in bed & zoned out for days
  • Hard to connect with others, but longing a deeper connection
  • Wanting to go out and have a social life, but feeling too down to face other people
  • Can’t focus on work, school, honestly on any daily tasks
  • All over the place with emotions
  • Days that are very HIGH and you feel very excited, motivated, inspired, and share a lot- but then come down off that and feel isolated and alone
  • Buying things (online shopping) to make yourself feel better at that moment
  • Constantly looking back at the past
  • Eating fast food, or indulging a lot of food that feels good for that second-for some not eating
  • Binge drinking, and going out when you are upset
  • Excessive guilt and blaming yourself
  • Shaming yourself and speaking badly of yourself
  • Sitting in the bath and listening to very sad songs
  • Thoughts of harm to get rid of the pain
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Feeling like a dark cloud is constantly over you and you are trapped

My story:

 My depression started when I was a freshman high school but at the time, I had no idea that’s what it was. I remember always listening to sad music and watching sad movies to sit there and cry. I would actually crave this kind of sadness, almost like I started to become obsessed with being sad or down. I always longed for “more” and would get into this fantasy world, instead of being present in the world I had in front of me. There were many factors of why I was depressed, so my feelings were completely valid, but I did not channel this energy correctly at the time. What’s the correct way anyways? I would drown the pain being surrounded by the wrong crowds, smoke, pills, drinking, unhealthy relationships. I didn’t know how to process my emotions; all I knew is that I had a lot of emotions. I was always (and still am) known for being very open about my life, and to some people that can be a lot. I used to be too much for people and I used to think that was a flaw of mine, and that I needed to stop sharing so much of myself. I felt so judged and felt embarrassed about who I was. I didn’t want people knowing my mistakes or knowing that part of me that made bad decisions because she was hurting. At that young age, a lot of my friends didn’t understand this kind of deep hurt. They were just regular high school people and trying to live it up and have fun. They were worried about what college they were going to go to, and I was just hoping I made it through another day. I was so envious of this and felt jealous of their lives. I would constantly compare and get mad at myself for how my life was.

“Comparison is the theif of joy.”

I started to hold a lot in and not deal with feelings, and just act like everything was okay. I remember always feeling so exhausted every morning and not being able to talk to people. Going into work and everybody would be bubbly and talkative, and it would give me anxiety to even have conversations with people. Sometimes I would call out of work because I could not face dealing with people in general. I did not want them to see me down, and I felt like it was written all over my face. I stopped wanting to share things with people because I stopped trusting others, and started feeling like I had to be more selective. I felt like people could use it against me, and I did not want them knowing I was weak. I was always a “social butterfly” from a young age, and I wanted to keep that up but so much was going on that I was really losing myself throughout this sadness. For so long, I had to be strong and to continue to survive. I was always in survival mode and that weighed very heavy on me. This is a lot for someone in their teens and twenties to deal with, and it starts to catch up on you.

With my image, I didn’t want to feel like I always had issues or “drama” because didn’t want people to not want to be around me. I know it can be intense to hear things all the time, and you don’t want others to worry about you. I learned this from being on the other side of worrying about someone with depression and hearing about situations a lot. Depression heavily runs through my family and I have seen A LOT of hardships.

At times I would feel like a bad friend for not going and hanging out, or not calling someone. Luckily, I have found a great support system that understands me, and I have been able to tell them these things and now I don’t feel as bad. I definitely have my moments though! I do have moments of feeling crazy, like why am I feeling this way when I have a roof over my head, food, loving husband, friends, family, and I AM HEALTHY AND ALIVE. I feel like I come off ungrateful since I do have so much, and then I say well some people have it WAY worse than me, so why am I sitting here sobbing? Yes, people do have it worse, but that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid and true. Honor those feelings and acknowledge them! When you are going through something, it is very real for you and so do not feel bad for feeling that way.

My depression got really bad before I moved to Georgia and I was going out more, and using tactics to “not deal with it.” I was making bad decisions and felt so exhausted from these feelings for so long. I started to feel super depressed again while living in Georgia because I felt very alone. It always goes back to that feeling of being alone, feeling lonely, lack of connection, guilt over the past, and comparing myself to others and their progress in life. It started to get to the point where I couldn’t go to work or do normal activities. I felt like I was always looking backward and into the past and living there. I would constantly go through old photos, post old photos, and would wish things could be different. This is when I knew I needed professional help, and I was so scared to get it but I was more scared to keep living in these thoughts.

How therapy helped and gave me the tools to heal

I was actually really proud of myself for getting professional help, and for those of you listening do not be ashamed if you do! That is a sight of strength. I have learned it is okay to ask for help, and that I do not need to keep living my life this way, and it is time to rise above. Therapy is where it started and wow that has changed my life. First, I tried Cognitive behavioral therapy which is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. It focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortion’s and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems. I would go into therapy and tell her current situations going on, and she would help me change the way I think about them and the way I react. It was about training my brain to change my “usual” response and to rewire it to a healthier response. These tools helped me a lot! I started to be able to communicate my feelings more and be able to understand myself better. I realized I am not crazy, and that there are reasons why I think this way. I stopped going to that therapist and saw another and it was more basic therapy that worked better for me. I loved the tools from the first, but never be afraid to switch therapist if the one you have isn’t working for you! I love the one I have now and have seen her for three years. She has helped me understand things on such a deeper level, and it is crazy how much comes from our past, and how we are used to handling things. She has been able to really help me work through past stuff and find the strength to create boundaries and loving relationships that will last and to mainly love myself and to not be so hard on myself. My feelings and experiences were very valid and so are yours!

Psychiatry experience

My therapist recommended seeing a Psychiatrist for me to get on medication and this is when a whole new world started. For those of you curious about these appointments, they are an EXPERIENCE, to say the least. I went to my first appointment, and there is a student in school who is the assistant asking me over 100 questions and to rate my feelings about topics on a 1-5 scale. This is so scary because you almost don’t want to be honest about your suicidal thoughts, so you don’t get committed on a 72-hour hold, and you also don’t know how you truly feel. It is a weird experience, and there is no in-between or being able to explain the reason you feel this way. It is based on numbers, facts, and way different than therapy. Then, I met with the nurse and talked to her about my situation, and then the Doctor came in for like 1 min and handed me my prescriptions. It is very business-like and not a “feel good” experience. I left there with 4 prescriptions, and was more terrified than ever! At the time I was planning a wedding, dealing with my husband traveling for work, personal issues, and working and school full time. I needed these meds in order to handle all of this, honestly.

My medication journey

I started my journey with anti-depressants, sleeping meds, and two different anxiety meds. It was very hard because you can’t drink on them, and not like I drink much but the occasional wine I had to be very careful about. Then the weight gain started and this really made me mad! I kept wondering why I couldn’t lose weight, and it made sense because I was on so many medications. The anti-depressant I was on was an SSRI that have fewer side effects than past anti-depressants. For those who don’t know, SSRI is Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by limiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, which increases the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the receptor. Basically, it increases your level of serotonin and makes more available to pass further messages between nearby nerve cells.

I will say medication truly saved my life and helped me connect more to people again. I was able to make phone calls, hang out with people, go to work, work out, and have a healthy relationship with myself. I would highly recommend medication to anyone who thinks they need help and do not feel ashamed for doing so!

Getting off anti-depressants

A few years later, I got to a point where I wanted my body to be more natural and to let go of all the meds. I felt happy and in a better place so thought I could do it. You are supposed to slowly wing of anti-depressants and I did and followed all orders. Although, it was one of the hardest things I ever went through last year. I was having brain zaps, out-of-body experiences, depression, anxiety, fatigue, hard to connect with others, and basically, all my symptoms came back. I thought I was never going to be the same and thought this would never end. During this time, I highly suggest you eat really healthy, get a lot of sleep, and make sure to have people you trust to watch you and support you. Continue therapy because I think that is one of the main things that got me through it. I still take meds to help me sleep, because at night is when I get super anxious and start thinking about so many different topics. I think of things I need to get done, things I have been lacking on, and just things in general. My mind races and I can’t turn it off, and so the sleeping meds and have helped me so much. When I get good sleep then I can be functional the next day, and it also helps me with my depression. After a very LONG 5 months winging off these meds, I started to feel back to normal. Although, I still have very big highs and low lows so I am never against going back on them if I need them.

The Silver Lining

I started being more grateful for my flaws, and for my journey. My heartaches, setbacks, and pain are what has made me a stronger person, and someone who has a story to tell. Through my stories I have been able to help others, and that is something I have always wanted to do but didn’t know-how. I would try to help others see the good in them because I saw their potential, even when they didn’t. That can be very draining and exhausting! This also put me in very toxic relationships of trying to be a “fixer,” when really, that person needs to work on themselves and I can support and love them for who they are. The real energy needs to go into me and worrying about that. It doesn’t mean you are being a bad person, and it is okay to be selfish. Selfish always sounds like a bad word, but YOU NEED TO BE. You need to put yourself first, because if you don’t take care of you then you can’t have loving relationships with others. I am still working on this, but I can say that I have overcome a lot. I have found healthier ways to cope with and actually deal with my emotions. I try not to avoid what I am feeling, but the most important lesson I can give you from my experience is…..

“It is OKAY to feel down, feel your feelings, but do not stay in them”

This was a very hard lesson for me to learn, and I still struggle with it. I think when I would sulk for too long, and continue that sad playlist then I would stay down and in this endless cycle that I could not pull myself out of. I have to put on upbeat music and have to do more things that light my soul on fire, and that inspires me. I have to do more things for me, and do things that make me feel confident, happy, and alive! Your feelings are valid and I hope this post makes you feel less crazy and less alone in your feelings.

“Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness”

What has helped me fight the darkness

  • Don’t do things you don’t wanna do & don’t feel GUILTY for not going
  • When you are exhausted learn to rest and not be hard on yourself for doing so
  • Do activities that make you feel happy
  • Therapy: CBT, DBT, or regular mental health help
  • DBT workbook: From Amazon, it is a workbook that gives you exercises for learning mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation & distress tolerance
  • Getting out into nature
  • Medication(Seek out professional help for this and do research)
  • Showering, washing my face, brushing my teeth! (These simple tasks can even be difficult when feeling down)
  • Less drinking and going out. Alcohol is a depressant and it is easy to drink the worries away, but it can end up bad if you go out in that mindset
  • More me time (Self-care)
  • Yoga
  • Opening up about my depression and talking about it, and to talk to people when I feel down and get support
  • Having people you can trust and talk to
  • Creating boundaries
  • Vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Don’t look back at the past, use it as a learning experience and make peace with it.
  • Focus on the PRESENT 🙂
  • Essential oils: Lavender and Frankincense oil are amazing combos! (I always have a diffuser by my bed and in my office) I also spray lavender on my pillow before bed to help me calm down and relax before sleeping
  • Meditation: Apps I use are; Headspace, Insight Timer, Simple Habit, & Mindbliss
  • Journaling: This is very healing and feels good to let things out and down on paper
  • Having my dog helps me get out of bed and forces me to get outside for walks- which can be difficult but ends up helping my mood overall
  • Eating healthier: The body and mind are connected and we store a lot of stress in our gut, and that can lead to stomach issues and more.
  • Connecting with other like-minded people
  • Self Help Books: *The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, *YOU ARE A BADASS by Sincero, *10% Happier by Dan Harris, *Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
  • A fun/uplifting playlist (Spotify has ones based on mood)
  • Allowing yourself to feel sad and acknowledging the emotions, working through them, but not staying in that down mindset
  • Forgiveness (Forgive yourself and others)
  • Have compassion for yourself and be thankful for all you’ve overcome
  • My grandma Duffy taught me to put makeup on and get dressed because when you look good you feel good- and feel more confident

You got this

I just want to say if you are struggling right now with depression you are not alone, and you will overcome this. I hope these tools will help and I hope my story will help you feel less alone. There are so many resources so do not go through this on your own. You are loved, valued, and seen. By the way, I am not a professional so this is all based on personal experience and what I have learned along the way.

Sending love and light

XOXO

Tuscany

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