Thursday, October 5, 2017

An Array of Battles

The second guest post this week comes from Brandy Nacole on her journey, the importance of being aware, and making sure you check in with the people you know and love in your life. So please give her a warm welcome. :)

Also don't forget to check out the other hosts' blogs/booktubes for more posts. :)
Shannon from It Starts at Midnight 
Inge from Of Wonderland
Taylor from Stay on the Page 
Vlora from Reviews and Cake 
Taneika from Flipping Through Pages

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Mental health comes in an array of battles, and no one battle is harder than the other. Personally, I deal with depression and anxiety. However, my brother deals with ADHD and dyslexia. My dad, who is my rock star and will always be, has severe depression, anxiety, and ADHD. The crazy thing about all of this, I didn’t know or understand any of it until I was diagnosed with it myself. I wasn’t aware.

It’s funny how oblivious we can be to the real problems around us until they happen to us. A best friend could go home and cry themselves to sleep because their anxiety got the best of them and they missed out on a great opportunity. We’d never know. Your favorite cousin who was putting on a fake smile for everyone at the family dinner on Sunday, you never knew it was fake. What about that neighbor who can’t read. Or the other neighbor who has to have the television down real low because high pitched noises scare him due to his PTSD. Are we aware of these people?

There are several types of mental health issues, the spectrum is huge. However, no matter the title, each one has their own battle and way of being dealt with. The key, no matter the lifestyle one leads, is raising awareness to all these issues and making people understand this is a real condition.

Insert Eye Roll.

Okay, yes I deserve the eye roll. It’s an easy thing to say, isn’t it? Just spread the word and once everyone is informed they’ll understand and everything will be peachy. Ha! I wish. If that was the case I wouldn’t be writing this article right now because everyone would be aware and understood what I’m referring to. Reality check, that isn’t the case.

Six years ago, when I was diagnosed with severe anxiety, I didn’t fully understand what that meant. Before my first panic attack I had no clue as to what anxiety really was. I knew people could feel anxious in certain situations, but never did I think it could control a person the way that it does. This disease, because that’s what it is, is all consuming. I didn’t understand that until it happened to me.

My first panic attack happened in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping, for no apparent reason. My husband rushed me to the hospital. I was shaking, throwing up, heart racing, and I had no clue what was happening. My fear; I thought I was dying. By the time doctors looked me over and took some test, my heart rate was back to normal and I wasn’t shaking. That’s when they came in to tell me I’d had a panic attack.

Here’s the big shocker I found out two days later, it doesn’t stop. My body attacked me over and over and over for months. I was having panic attacks about my panic attacks because I truly feared them. This reaction set off another reaction that has disabled my body since then. Now, my anxiety can consume my thoughts if I let it, when six years ago I didn’t have that problem. I was a go with the flow person. I didn’t analyze or overthink anything. Those scary months changed my life and opened my eyes to true anxiety disability.

Oh, but let me tell you, it got better. Once I learned to somewhat control my anxiety (with medication that didn’t work and only suppressed the issue and if I had the time and wouldn’t be banned from ever writing again I’d tell you all about these addicting, horrible medications and how they don’t work but only suppress the problem) then came the depression. Yeah, that’s fun! Want to know what triggered the depression… the anxiety.

Yep, it’s true. My anxiety had robbed me of a lot of things I had once enjoyed and continued to do so. When events were happening or an opportunity arose, my anxiety kicked in and convinced me I wasn’t good enough, it was a waste of time, blah, blah, blah. This type of thinking and overanalyzing typically won out and I’d skip whatever I was supposed to do. Hello depression! You guessed it, I became depressed because I let so many great opportunities pass me by.

Over time, I became more aware of what was happening, the symptoms, the all-consuming power both of these diseases can have on a person, and I began to fight back. Sure, I still have my days. I’m not even going to lie about that. But, it’s not every day and now I’m aware and understand the signs and symptoms and how to handle them. My main go to for handling anxiety and depression: walks, yoga, meditation, and massages. Relaxing the mind on a daily basis is key, as is stretching those tense muscle.

A little about each technique I use:
1.  Walks: You don’t have to walk a marathon, and if you can run even better. Stay focused on the movement, the sounds around you, the beauty of the sky. Stay at peace. Don’t let your mind wander to the reason you are walking, then you’re defeating the purpose.
2.  Yoga: My schedule is a hectic mess. I’ve tried taking yoga classes, but the times available always conflicted with my schedule and I usually ended up missing half the classes. Instead, I do basic yoga stretches for five minutes in the morning and again before I go to bed. This 10 minutes of my day has become a life changer for me. Most wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. It helps me get my day started and then helps unwind my muscles at the end of the day. I used to have stress knots in my shoulders that were so painful because of the way I carried myself. Not anymore!
3.  Meditation: This one is a little harder for me, but it’s because I’m not one to sit still for long. I do use this technique in the office and while I’m driving if I’m feeling overwhelmed. Yes, it’s possible while going about your day. Take a deep breath and focus on your breathing, give your mind time to relax. It’s like rebooting your computer when it locks up.
4.  Massages: No, this is not an excuse to go get a massage and be spoiled. Massages can be rather therapeutic. As I’ve mentioned, I used to have stress knots in my shoulders real bad. After talking with another friend who was going through the same thing, she told me to try getting a massage. For six weeks I went once a week to get a full body massage. The knots were worked out and then the therapists mentioned yoga. I still go get a massage once every two weeks, but the yoga has helped so much with keeping the knots away. 

It wasn’t until I was aware, though, that I began to understand. It wasn’t until I was aware that I was able to help my dad, who had suffered for years. It wasn’t until I was aware that I was able to explain it to my friends and family. This is why mental health awareness is so vital to our society. So many people do not understand how disabling it can be, how to handle it themselves, or that there are even other family members who suffer from the same thing. There are too many people who say nothing because they are ashamed. My question, what is there to be ashamed of? This is a natural response to something that has happened in your life or that has been passed down to you. It is NOT your fault in any way. The best chance of beating it is to become aware of the triggers, the symptoms, the disabilities it can cause, and then, fight back. Let the people around you know so they can help you fight back.

Don’t sit around scared.
Don’t sit around wondering what happened to Bob and why he’s so moody.
Get informed for yourself, for your neighbor, for your best friend, for your family.
Live afraid and fight back. 

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Thanks so much for participating, Brandy! Brandy is an author of fantasy and paranormal fiction, which you can check out through her website. You can also find her on Twitter (@authorbnacole). :)