Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

I love sitting in my reading nook under the stairs. I feel a bit like a glorified Harry Potter. Except I chose to make this my space. I didn’t get cast away under the stairs. Quite a difference there. Really, it’s all I have energy for right now with this lousy cold in my nose. Grateful that’s the worst of it. At least it’s not in my chest.

Feeling a little sorry for myself. Needed and wanted this week off so badly and then to be sick sorta sucks.

But I’m one of those annoying people that actually believes everything happens for a reason even if I don’t ever see the big picture. I really do. So I’m grateful for my cold even tho I don’t see the purpose and maybe never will. For one thing it’s giving me the perfect reason to do nothing except enjoy my new nook. Maybe that’s as simple as the purpose needs to be. Else I know I’d be running around

Which, by the way, my niece tried out the nook on her own over Christmas and liked! Made my day. So much better than the disorganized messy storage area it was before. It only took me about 12 years to get it ready. Some projects take a little extra love and time. And sometimes you just have to get off your butt and make it happen. A thought to take you out of 2017 and into 2018.

Happy Wednesday! Take time for you. Find your own nook and make it yours if you haven’t already.

©️2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I am honoured to share this essay by an amazing, bright, witty, kind, thoughtful, talented, strong, funny young woman who navigates her beautiful yet challenging path living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am so proud to know Corey and if you think “everyone is a little OCD” she will kindly begin your education on the subject.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress.

Most people have obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors at some point in their lives, but that does not mean that we all have “some OCD.” In order for a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder to be made, this cycle of obsessions and compulsions becomes so extreme that it consumes a lot of time and gets in the way of important activities that the person values.  – International OCD Foundation

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image courtesy of The Mighty

In the essay, OCD and Me, Corey describes life with OCD as her constant companion.

A mental illness’ strong grasp unfortunately can easily grab hold of someone and never let go. Living in their head every waking moment for the rest of their life. The world of mental illness is a dark and scary place that many people have to experience. Unluckily for me, I drew the short end of the stick and have had to live every second of my life since I was in the fifth grade battling against my own brain with the constant voice of obsessive compulsive disorder. For me, always having an outrageous fear in my head and wanting to hide away from the world have become major aspects of my life and are my version of normal. These voices control every thought, feeling and movement that I have, slowly destroying the world around me that took so long to create. OCD has shown me the struggles that everyone can go through and the different battles we all are fighting.

At the age of eleven I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. At that time I knew very little about it, but I soon came to learn about the extreme stigma and stereotypes around it. The people around me most often would say things to me such as “just stop” or “we all have a little bit of OCD,” however it seemed that no matter how hard I tried I could not just stop the OCD in my head. This realization was what truly made me understand that not everyone had OCD and that not everyone was the same.

OCD deals with severe obsessions and compulsions that often are referred to as rituals. My rituals often consist of counting things, not being able to write with one hand, having to jump over cracks and click my heels together and much more. One of my most harmful rituals involves looking at the sun or lights depending on where I am. Although I know the danger that many of my rituals put me in, I can not stop doing them. There is a constant fear in my head that if I stop doing them, something even worse will happen. I know that this is silly but the thing with OCD is that, even if you know that your rituals cannot change certain events in life, the voice that is trapped inside your head screaming at you, refuses to leave.

As of now, I don’t often realize that I’m doing a ritual and it just seems like everyday life. In the past six years since being diagnosed, I have taken over six thousand pills to help manage my symptoms. However, even if the medication helps with my rituals they often bring other side effects as well. I’ve had to go to the hospital several times due to medication problems, and they have worsened some of my other mental conditions.

In the past years OCD has changed me a lot. It has taught me to keep my head down and to be quiet, and to avoid certain situations, people and places whenever I can. However, OCD has also taught m that we all have our own struggles, and that mine are just located directly behind my eyes.

©2017 Corey

To learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from everyday people living and succeeding with OCD every day.

 

 

 

 

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Today and everyday, we celebrate everyday people, just like Corey, living their lives, following their paths and facing their challenges as they grow into the amazing awesome people they are.

With love, support and determination, we are able to choreograph each step and stumble into our own beautiful and graceful unique dance.

©2017 J Fries/Rise Like Air

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Today I’m home from work sick and I really don’t feel good. But sometimes opportunity comes in the form of what we initially think isn’t so great.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day too.

And I so want to talk. Anyone who knows me even a little isn’t surprised by that I’m sure. I want to talk about Mental Health. I want to talk about the fact that people you know well, people you walk by the street every day, total strangers that smile broadly at you SUFFER from mental illness, things like depression, OCD, anxiety and a plethora of other ones and YOU probably know nothing about it.

I want to talk about the myths, assumptions, stigma. I want to talk about the far too many lives lost every day to mental illness. I want to talk about the families and friends, lovers and children left wondering, trying to make sense, trying to carry one. I want to talk about the hopelessness and the hope. The fear and the courage. The present and the future.

But most importantly, today…

I WANT TO LISTEN…

I WANT TO UNDERSTAND…

I WANT TO SIT WITH YOU…

I WANT TO LEARN…

I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND…

I WANT TO BE QUIET…

I WANT TO BE LOUD…

I WANT TO BE THERE…

AND I AM.

I ask each of you to take time not only today, but everyday to really look, seek out and listen. For those needing help, don’t give up… find it. Talk to someone. And keep talking and keep trying. Please.

I don’t want add any more names to the list. It’s too long. It’s already too personal.

A young man took his life in our area just this week. A friend of his had posted on FB earlier in the summer “My biggest fear is losing people.” A cyber friend had a “lovely smiling” previous coworker taker her own life this past week.

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Bell Let’s Talk

So take the time. Don’t assume. Ask a friend. Be a friend.

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I am here. Reach out. I mean it. Whether you know me or not. I’m here. Please let’s talk. I will listen. You are not alone. Honest, even if it feels that way. Let’s work to change it together.

In memory of all those we’ve lost and in eternal hope that we lose no more.

Related blog: Out Of The Ashes We Rise (in memory of Todd Pidhorodetsky April 21, 1970-March 6, 2010)

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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To anyone ready to give up today I have one huge favour to ask.

 

Please don’t 

Don’t give up
Don’t be alone
Don’t hide it
Don’t feel ashamed
Don’t believe your negative thoughts or pretend

 

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Please

Do keep going
Do ask for help (as many times as it takes!)
Do be open
Do accept where you are, but be willing to change it
Do know it will get better and so will you

 

 

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We care

 

Life has plenty of challenges and it’s easy to find ourselves in overwhelming circumstances feeling alone and unworthy, not knowing where to turn. It can happen to anyone at anytime. But there is ALWAYS hope. Whether today is a day you find yourself short on hope, or with a little extra to share, check out Project Hope Exchange. It’s a unique project that enables people to share hope. Give a little, get a lot.

Think you’re alone? Think again.

 

Give hope. Get hope. All in 30 seconds! What if we could do just that and start spreading hope around the world? We at The Adversity 2 Advocacy Allianceand Life Vest Inside believe we CAN, and we’re thrilled to be partnering to offer you this unique and powerful opportunity. Through Project Hope Exchange, we are collecting, aggregating and sharing 30-second audio messages fromindividuals who have survived some kind of adversity to others who are currently facing that same adversity. And at the heart of our exchange are real human voices. We hope you’ll add yours! (from the PHE website)

 

A closing thought.

Often we are consumed by “what if’s”, all the things that we worry and overthink about.

Today…

what if…

everything you’re going through right now 

is preparing you…

for a dream bigger than 

you can imagine…..

What if……

Just maybe…

Maybe so…

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I was at the Dollar Store yesterday. It was the usual fascinating experience of eclectic people and merchandise.  I happened to be with my mother so we were taking our time wandering down the aisles.

A young man turned into our aisle and I noticed him right away. There was just something about his presence that made me turn my head. He was average build, blond and had on a rather large white T-Shirt with scrawled signatures. In his hand I noticed 2 markers.

He looked at me and in a firm but quiet voice made a single request, “Would you mind signing my shirt? I need to get 85 signatures.” It seemed a rather odd request, and he looked like he had a long way to go.  For some reason, I really wanted to sign his shirt. So I did. And so did my mother (on a side note, pretty huge step outside my mom’s comfort zone. Rock on mom!) As I was signing I asked him what it was all about.

As he began to explain I could see the flush of red creep up his neck but he kept right on explaining.  It was part of a self help class  he was taking. He had to write his biggest fear on his shirt, and then face it.

He said, “My biggest fear is striking up a conversation.” I spread out the back of his shirt and sure enough, in crooked black marker was “I’m afraid to strike up a conversation.”

“Wow, 85 new conversations!” That is really something to be proud of I told him. We spent a few minutes chatting and wished him well.  I could hear him in the next aisle, “Hi, would you mind signing my shirt.”

Now the evening  before I had faced one of my own fears. I had to give a presentation to maybe 30 people.  Something I’ve done before, and I faced it well, didn’t even break a sweat though I was happy when it was over. But I well remember the days when sweat would have literally been running down my back at the thought of doing that.

I really empathized with that young man. As my mom and I reflected on his bravery, I remarked, “You know just talking about what he’s doing is making my heart race and increasing my anxiety and I’m not even the one having to do it!”

Another woman who had been in our aisle and witnessed what happened turned to us and said, “I feel exactly the same. I’m almost in a panic thinking about it! I feel like asking him what class he’s taking because I want to make sure I don’t!”

Facing our fears, publicly.  Never an easy thing to do. But like so many things, so very worth it. I sort of wish I would have stopped him and asked what class he was taking. So I could be sure to sign up. Facing fears never ends.

What are you writing on your shirt? What are you going to finally face today?

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Sometimes things just come to you, and they make sense.  And then you have to stop what you’re doing and write it down.  That’s what happened to me yesterday when I was feeding the chickens.  Yes, feeding the chickens, all 25 of them. And the duck.

My brain tends to work in metaphor and analogy a lot. Apparently yesterday was no different.  When the boat is rocking you have to find your sea legs and sometimes what we need to do seems to be counter intuitive to everything we think we know.  But sometimes…. that’s exactly what we have to do.

 

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Depression and anxiety are like being on a ship in rough seas.  All of a sudden your whole world, literally the deck beneath your feet is lurching to and fro, throwing you around mercilessly.  Unable to keep your footing, you’re getting drenched by the crashing waves. Your stomach matches the lurch of the deck as you slip and slide, feeling like you have lost complete control over everything including yourself. All you want to do is make it to the head and die but here’s the thing…

While every fibre of your being is screaming get below deck to the head… any sailor will tell you the solution is actually to

  • Stay above deck
  • Stay in the fresh air
  • Take deep breaths
  • Keep your eye on the horizon where you want to go
  • Don’t fight the lurch Rock and Roll with it
  • Vomit over the rail but not into the wind

It probably won’t be fun or easy, but when the sun comes out, which it will, and the waves recede, which they will, you’ll walk the deck sure-footed again in warm gentle breezes with  a grin upon your face.

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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** This post was edited February 7th 2016

I just received word that a friend from years ago just took his own life, just after his birthday, just before he was ready to start a new chapter in his life, retirement.

I am gutted. I haven’t spoken with him in years and in truth, didn’t know him well in the first place, but I knew him.  I talked with him, laughed with him, enjoyed his creative talent.  Now to know yet another life is gone because the mental pain became greater than the alternative, at least in his opinion is almost unbearable .

“No one knew”

Maybe one word, one action, one smile would have made a difference. Maybe not. We’ll never know.

But today I will ensure I consciously do all I can to make every contact I make count.

In the UK last year over 4000 men took their own lives. Something has to change now.

I ask for your thoughts prayers and positive energy to be sent out wide today, to everyone who is struggling.

We all need each other. Even when we think we don’t.

In the piece “Why Men Kill Themselves” Paul McGregor is candid in what he has to say.  He knows what he’s talking about from very personal experience.  He suffers from depression and his father took his own life because of his own depression. Like so many others, once the slide began for his father there seemed no way to stop it. This is what we must change.

Because that uncomfortable feeling around talking about or even thinking about suicide is just one reason suicide has become the leading killer of men under the age of 50.

Why do men kill themselves?

In fact, why does a man take his own life every 2 hours in the UK alone?

Why is the suicide rate increasing year after year and why out of all of the suicides last year, a massive 76% were men?

While I’ve experience episodes of depression I admit I’ve never reached that level of despair.  I’ve always wondered how that happens, where does the mind finally say enough is enough and actually believe it.  Paul McGregor is the person who has finally made it understandable for me. And it shreds my heart to know that any one of us could reach that place.

After listening to numerous people who survived their attempts on suicide and reflecting on my Dad’s suicide, a lot of them talk about the pain in which they wanted to end.

Not wanting it to hurt anymore, wanting the pain they’re going through to go away.

When you think of it, dieing is physically painful…

But the pain they’re in at the time of making that decision is far greater than the physical pain they’ll endure.

Something I’ve never really shared before stands out to me here…

When my Dad decided to walk infront of a lorry reports from witnesses say after the collision… he smiled.

 

After I read that I felt physically ill.  Somehow I could finally understand at a level I was never able to before. ** I finally understand that the pain is as harsh, as strong and maybe even more unbearable as any physical pain can be.  The pain is real, it is not imagined or exaggerated. It is not temporary and it cannot just be pushed aside. If medication and treatment isn’t working there is no fix to give temporary or permanent relief. And in that moment of absolute endless pain, there is no sight of light or hope or anything other than the unquenchable desire for it to be over.

I was suddenly taken back to when I gave birth to my first born. I was as prepared as any mother to be could be, but there still came a point where I thought, what have I gotten myself into, I can’t do this, make it stop now.  I don’t for an instant pretend that this is the same, but my own experiences with depression and giving birth, the dots were finally connected. I finally got it, or at least I’m starting too. I’ve lost my arrogance about how to “fix it”, maybe that’s the biggest part of understanding. I hope the connection I’ve made will make me a better friend, a better supporter, a better person all around. **

Paul not only knows the pain, he’s reached a point where he is unafraid to ask the questions that need to be asked. He’s starting the dialogue, offering solutions, offering hope.

Paul offers 4 things to start the process of changing the stigma of mental illness into a move toward mental health

  • Think about it, talk about it, do something
  • Shift societies attitudes through dialogue and the media
  • Change our language of suicide
  • Treat it

 

Let’s do all those things and more.  And let’s start today, right now, this second.  One small word, one small smile at the right moment does save lives.  Take every opportunity to make a difference.  I believe that’s what we’re all here to do.

Namaste

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©2016 J.Fries/Rise Like Air

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This is a really to the point blog. Too many people are surrounded with toxic people in their lives but don’t recognize it and instead believe the story and actually make excuses for them instead of distancing or removing themselves from the toxicity. Ah we humans are truly an interesting bunch, far too willing to allow ourselves to be slowly poisoned it would seem. Spoiler alert: Never too late to change, never too late to heal, never too late to choose.
“When the music changes, so does the dance.” – African Proverb

Source: Beware the Signs of Toxic People in Your Life

 

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Photo credit: ©2015 J Fries

Photo credit: ©2015 J Fries

If you’ve been following us on twitter and Instagram during the month of May you’ll have noticed pictures of nature and the hashtags #NatureIsCalling and #30x30challenge. The David Suzuki Foundation challenges us to be active and get out and enjoy nature for 30 minutes each day during the month of May.

Over the past three years, the 30×30 Challenge has inspired tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds of workplaces and schools to cultivate the nature habit. They took to the great outdoors, doubling their time spent outside. Our research showed that participants were sleeping better, felt calmer and less stressed. Impressive results for a half hour a day! ~ 30×30 Challenge

Participants are encouraged to post their pictures, video and stories each day using the hashtags #30x30challenge and #NatureIsCalling and to tag @DavidSuzukiFDN. Each week a draw is made for a sponsored themed prize.

We already know fresh air and exercise are good for our physical health but many of us forget that it’s equally important for our mental health as well. Studies have shown that people suffering with depression and anxiety can find significant relief by engaging in nature and exercise.

The Minding Our Bodies project was started by the Canadian Mental Health Association in Ontario Canada and ran from 2008-2013.  They were partnered with Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, Nutrition Resource Centre, YMCA Ontario and York University.

The goal of the project was to change how we treat Mental Health problems by also promoting physical activity and healthy eating for people with serious mental illness to support recovery. Why? Because that’s the direction the evidence points.

In March 2013 Elizabeth Lines, a health promotion consultant provided the following facts:

  • Total annual health care spending in Canada is now over $200 billion (CIHI, 2012); in Ontario, health care spending consumes over 40 percent of the provincial budget. Finding ways to contain health care spending is a priority.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide (WHO, 2012) and a leading contributor to the economic burden of disease.
  • Chronic stress is pervasive, and related to depression and the development of chronic disease.

She goes on to talk about studies showing the positive effects of nature simply from viewing it.

For example, Ulrich (1984) found that hospital patients who could view the outdoors through a window recover from surgery faster than those with restricted views; that students who watched a stressful film recovered faster in a natural setting (Ulrich, 1991); and that prisoners with a view of nature show stress symptoms less frequently (Moore, 1981)

In another study from Sweden being in nature also showed marked health benefits.

A Swedish study of the rehabilitative impact of nature on crisis response found that the simple experience of being in nature was most rehabilitative for those experiencing the highest levels of stress. Walking in nature also had a positive effect, though the difference was not as great. For those experiencing low-to-moderate stress levels, social interactions in the natural setting contributed more to stress reduction (Ottoson and Grahn, 2008).

Studies have even shown interactions with nature can improve attention and we seem to be in short supply of attention spans.

Some findings suggest that the benefits to attention of walking in parks are greatest for those with the greatest deficits. Along with attention improvements, walking in nature as opposed to an urban setting reduced anger, improved positive affect, and reduced blood pressure (Hartig, Evans, Jamner, et al., 2003).

All this amazing evidence lead to the question what about putting nature and exercise together?

In a systematic review of 11 studies comparing the effects of activity (walking or running) in an outdoor natural versus indoor environment, Thompson Coon, Boddy, Stein, et al. (2011) found that many of the self-report findings suggested greater improvements to mental well-being (moods, feelings) from outdoor than indoor activity. Benefits included “greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.… Participants reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date” (p. 1761). However, the authors caution that these measures were taken following single episodes of exercise, with unknown effects on adherence; moreover, methodologies tended to be weak and varied, making it difficult to compare results and interpret findings. Participants again were usually young adults, with an average age of 25 years.

While not all the findings so far are definitive, it’s fairly certain that at least some level of benefit is derived. The website and Literature review are worth reading in their entirety. The Literature Review also lists all the sources of studies and various useful links.

It’s beneficial all around. It’s inexpensive. In most cases it’s easy to do. Where I live it’s really easy. I live with over 160 acres of nature surrounding me yet there are days where I still have to force myself. Maybe the weather isn’t inviting or I’m feeling guilty about a too long to do list. Whatever the reason often I’m pushing myself out the door.

This challenge and some nice spring weather have made the commitment easy. Walking the trails around me every day made me intently aware of the subtle changes that happen around me that I don’t notice. How one day there were patches of tiny violets where the day before there was barely a patch of green showing amongst the leaf debris from last fall.

One morning I commented that the tiny buds on the native aspen trees would soon burst into green. When I walked along that afternoon the buds had burst open during those few short hours creating a green shadowing  in all the treetops. Noticing subtle changes, seeing the process rather than just the result has been an unexpected reward of this challenge.

I’ve also realized that by the time I’m done I’ll have a nature streak of 30 days! Somehow that feels validating. And once I have a streak going I’d really hate to break it. So just maybe I’ll have formed a healthy habit and I won’t feel guilty even on the busiest of days. Summer certainly makes it easier. Gardening, outside chores, lazy days at the lake. Hoping the momentum will also carry me through the long cold months we experience.

The Literature Review ends with a sobering thought,

According to 2011 census data, more than 86 percent of Ontarians live in urban areas. Meanwhile, the natural environment continues to be degraded or eliminated by advancing urban and suburban sprawl, commercial/industrial land use and climate change; natural settings are disappearing.

While leaving the door open for real change.

The challenges are great. But, perhaps the mounting evidence that a “dose” of nature is good for health will contribute to the preservation and maintenance of the natural environment, as well as directly improve quality of life and reduce the health care burden.

They also have their final evaluation reports available online here.

I’m learning to love nature in all it’s forms, in all it’s seasons. It’s fun, it’s good for my mind and it’s good for my body. Are you ready to play?

Sound like a great idea but think you don’t have time or aren’t close enough to nature? Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • Map out where the green spaces in your area are and plan a visit to each one
  • Plant a flower box garden on your balcony
  • Find a community garden group and become a member
  • Local greenhouses or public atriums are a great place to visit and relax
  • Start a community group to create or refurbish a green space

With a little creativity you’d be amazed how much time and nature you can enjoy starting right now.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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What's your "lucky charm"?

What’s your “lucky charm”?

There’s a secret you need to know.

Lean in and listen closely.

You are your own best good luck charm.

You carry it with you all the time

And everywhere you go.

Seems obvious now doesn’t it?

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air Thanks for stopping by, we always appreciate it.

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